Death of Ben Furlong ~ Was it Suicide?

Ben Furlong (circa 1854-1886), Desperado of Berrien County, GA

As Halloween approaches we revisit the scene of Ben Furlong, who was perhaps  most famous ghost ever to haunt Berrien County.

After the 1886 death of Ben Furlong some said his ghost still haunted the scene of his final, heinous crime. In life, Ben Furlong may have been Berrien County’s  most notorious outlaw.  Furlong, a sawmill man when he wasn’t on the bottle, frequented the communities along the tracks of the Brunswick & Western Railroad – Alapaha, Vanceville and Sniff.   He was a wife beater and a murderer wanted for dozens of criminal charges. His infamous deeds were published around the globe.

Furlong died on Friday, September 24, 1886 from an overdose of laudanum, also known as tincture of opium. The compound was commonly available in the drug stores of Berrien County and elsewhere for just five cents a bottle.

Laudanum bottle

Laudanum bottle

Certainly by  the time of Furlong’s death, the dangerous potency of opioids was well known. Still, some thought Furlong’s laudanum overdose was accidental.

The prevailing opinion in Alapaha, GA, the community that perhaps knew Furlong best, was that he intended to take his own life, either out of a guilty conscience or to escape the hangman.

The October 2, 1886 edition of the Alapaha Star examined the question:

 

Alapaha Star, October 2, 1886 questions death of Ben Furlong

Alapaha Star, October 2, 1886 questions death of Ben Furlong

Alapaha Star
October 2, 1886

Was it Suicide?

    There is a difference of opinion as to whether B. W. Furlong committed suicide, but the preponderating belief is that he did. The murder of the colored man, the closing of his mill by his creditors and the effects of a severe spell of drinking were amply sufficient to —- —– —-perate step of his life – that of self-destruction.
    It is reported that he drank two bottles of laudanum Thursday night, about twenty hours before he died, and that when he sank into the last sleep, his breathing indicated poisoning. Every effort was made to arouse him. He was walked about, slapped and rubbed vigorously, but the seal of death was upon him, and he breathed his last about four hours after he fell asleep.
    We are satisfied that Furlong while temporarily insane from the causes we have mentioned, took his own life.

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An Inquest Into the Death of Jesse Webb

Jesse Webb Murdered by Ben Furlong

As previously told,  Jesse Webb was the last victim of Berrien County desperado Ben W. Furlong.  Webb was  shot, knifed, brutalized and, after three days of agony, finally bludgeoned to death with a sledge hammer on September 9, 1886 at Furlong’s Mill.  The mill was situated at Sniff, GA on the route of the Brunswick & Albany Railroad near the county line between Berrien and Coffee counties.

 

1886-0ct-2-alapaha-star-ben-furlong-inquest
Alapaha Star

October 2, 1886

THE INQUEST

Wednesday morning  [September 22, 1886] acting coroner J. A. Slater and a jury of eight men repaired to Furlong’s mill, five miles east of Alapaha. On arriving there several witnesses were summoned. Jim Simmons, col., was the first witness sworn. He testified that the down freight on Tuesday, September 7th put a colored man off and the conductor told Furlong to take him and work him. The man said he —- want work there. When —- left the colored man started —- it. Furlong told him if —–not come back he would f— him full of shot, went in — the commissary to get his gun The negro came back and F—ong handcuffed him and put Lo—- – white man, as guard over —. About an hour from night f— — –gro made a break for liberty. —

— ran to a swamp seve— hu—– yards south of —— —— —– —-
Furlong was about the —– tance behind Lofton. The —ness ran after Furlong, hoping to keep him from killing the ——. Soon after the pursuers and -ursued were lost to sight in the swamp. The witness heard a gun or pistol shot and stopped. In the pursuit Furlong carried a double barreled gun. In a few minutes he returned, without the gun, and said to the witness, “If you breathe a word about this I will kill you.” He afterwards told witness, “If you mention a word of this affair to a living being I know three men that will swear you did the shooting, and your neck will snap.” Tuesday night [September 7, 1886] Furlong, Tom Sharon and J. M. Lofton took Simmons down to where the wounded man lay. They were all armed with double-barreled guns. When they reached the wounded man they told Simmons to assist Sharon in getting the handcuffs off him. While they were thus engaged Furlong drew his knife and tried to cut the wounded man’s throat. Simmons caught his arm and begged him not to kill the man. He then made a lunge at Simmons’ — — —– —- —-

1886-0ct-2-alapaha-star-ben-furlong-inquest-2him. Wednesday morning [September 8, 1886] Simmons took the wounded man a bottle of water. The man begged him to take him to one of the shanties. Furlong refused to let him bring him. Later that day he told Lofton the man ought to have something to eat. He was helpless but could talk. The witness did not see the wounded man after Wednesday night.

Thursday night [September 9, 1886] Furlong set for Simmons and told him he wanted him to go with him that night. Simmons told him he was too sick to go.

Several other witnesses were examined, but we have only space for the most important.

Mr. James Cross, white, testified that he came at night Tuesday the 7th, and that Furlong asked him to go and stay at his house that night, as his wife was frightened about something. He did so. About 9 o’clock Furlong came in but remained only a minute. Wednesday night [September 8, 1886] Furlong, Lofton and Sharon stayed out nearly all night. Thursday night they left about 8 o’clock, returned about 9 o’clock, changed clothes, putting on their worst clothes and old shoes, and left again. They were absent until three o’clock. Witness did not –e —- — — morning their pants were wet and muddy to their knees and Sharon’s coat was wet to the pockets. He questioned them but they would not tell where they had been or what they had done.

None of the witnesses saw the man after he died, nor were any of them willing to say that he had been killed, although they felt satisfied that such was the case. The main actors in this brutal tragedy were absent, one in his grave and the other two had fled.

After hearing the testimony of the coroner, the jury and a number of white and colored men scoured the woods and bays and branches for miles, in search of the missing man, but without success. Not a trace was found as to where his body had been hidden.

When the party returned to the mill, it was given as a rumor that the man had been buried in the horse lot, just back of the commissary

Several men, with iron rods, went to the lot and probed it. In one place the rod went down 1886-0ct-2-alapaha-star-ben-furlong-5— feet in loose earth, but it was not thought at the time it be the man’s grave. It being late in the afternoon [Wednesday, September 22, 1886] the jury adjourned to Saturday, to await the arrival of important witnesses. Just as Alapaha was reached Mr. James Cross came galloping in and announced that the body had been found in the horse lot where the iron rod had sunk in the ground. Several colored men were sent back to guard the body till Thursday morning.

Thursday [September 23, 1886] about nine o’clock the coroner and jury returned to Furlong’s mill. The jury at once repaired to the horse lot and were soon at work exhuming the body of Jesse Webb, this being the name by which the murdered man was said to be known.

After digging a depth of two —and a half or three feet, in the —- –st corner of the lot, between —- — —d and the forage house —- — -ands near the railroad —- —- body was re—– —– —- on his —- — —- —————————- out property. Decomposition had set in and his flesh would peel off at a touch. With the aid of crocus sacks, which were placed under him, the end of which extended out on either side, he was lifted out of the grave and placed in a box.  On examination the skull was found crushed in on the left side just above the ear, seemingly with a large hammer, perhaps a sledge-hammer. On the right side, a short distance from the forehead, and about an inch from the center of the head the skull was also crushed in, the hole being fully an inch and a half in circumference. In the man’s mouth was a roll of waste, such as is used for packing the boxes on car wheels.  The evidence showed that Furlong, Lofton and Sharon were at the commissary about midnight Thursday night, when Furlong asked first Gammage and then Simmons to go with him that night.  What they did after that is left to conjecture, but the presumptive evidence is that they prepared themselves and proceeded to where the wounded negro lay, rammed the waste into his mouth and down his throat, so that he could not cry out when struck, and then crushed in his skull, dragged him a hundred yards through the woods — buggy, hauled him to the lot and buried him.  1886-0ct-2-alapaha-star-ben-furlong-6All this was done inside of three hours.

The jury of the inquest will sit in Alapaha to-day, when doubtless a verdict will be reached.

This is beyond doubt the most brutal murder that has ever darkened the annals of out county.  This unoffending negro was handcuffed and when he made an effort to regain his freedom, was pursued and shot after he was caught. Paralyzed in every limb, he lay in a dense swamp from about an hour before sundown, Tuesday evening, September 7th, until the following Thursday night at 12 o’clock. During all this time he had one drink of water and one meal, notwithstanding he was less than four hundred yards from several houses. Thursday night, at midnight, three white demons, braced with whiskey, which was the real cause of the crime, advanced through the gloomy swamp to where the helpless man lay and murdered him in the manner already stated.

Furlong, the leader in this horrible murder, is in his grave, but his accomplices are still at large. No time should be lost in bringing them to justice.

The first part of this article was — — would be an inquest.

Nathan Bridges and Jesse Woolbright, two colored men of this place, deserve honorable mention for their unceasing efforts to aid the jury in finding the body and for their attention to the jury while hearing evidence.

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The Ghost of Ben Furlong, Berrien County Desperado

More on Berrien County, GA Desperado, Benjamin William Furlong

Back Story on Benjamin William Furlong

The Vanceville Affair

Ben Furlong’s Ghost Haunted Conscience of Berrien Residents

Southern Georgia: Railroad Pamphlet

The Haints of Berrien County

More Haints of Berrien County

Alapaha Star Reports 1886 Demise of Ben Furlong

Ben Furlong (circa 1854-1886),
Desperado of Berrien County, GA

Ben Furlong was perhaps the most notorious outlaw ever known in Berrien County, GA. Furlong, a sawmill man when he wasn’t on the bottle, frequented the communities along the tracks of the Brunswick & Western Railroad – Sniff, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Enigma and Vanceville.

brunswick-and-western

The Brunswick & Western Railroad linked the communities of northern Berrien County with Brunswick, GA to the east and Albany GA to the west, and connected with the larger Plant Railway.

Furlong was a philandererwife beater and a killer, wanted for dozens of criminal charges including the shooting of B&W engineer Chuck Brock and passenger Will Harrell, and cutting the throat of another passenger.  It was said he committed his first murder at the age of 15. Some said after his demise his ghost haunted the scene of his final, heinous crime.

After his September 24, 1886 death  Furlong’s infamy was literally told around the world. But the most detailed accounting of  Furlong’s final days was published in the Alapaha Star, Berrien County’s own “splendid newspaper” edited by Irishman J. W. Hanlon (Hanlon had previously served as editor of the Berrien County News,  Albany Medium, and later edited the Quitman Sun and wrote humorous works under the pen name Bob Wick).

 

1886-0ct-2-alapaha-star-ben-furlong-1a

Alapaha Star

October 2, 1886

MURDER AND SUICIDE

A Negro and — the Body In His Stock Lot – Suicide —- The Negroe’s Body Found —- —- – Inquest – A Horrified —- Etc.

Friday evening of last week [September 24, 1886], after the Star had gone to press news reached town that B. W. Furlong, who has been conducting a saw mill at sniff in this county, was dead, from the effects of a dose of laudanum, taken with suicidal intent. Before going to his room about twelve o’clock he asked his wife to forgive him for all he had ever done, and told her that he would go away from there in a few days and begin a new life. He called his children to him and spoke kindly to them and asked them not to disturb him, as he wanted to take a long sleep. He then went to his room, closed the door and, it is supposed, took the fatal dose. Later in the afternoon some one entered the —m, on hearing a strange —– — —– — dead.

Mr. Furlong had been drinking heavily for some weeks, and his creditors, knowing his business to be in a shaky condition, a day or two before his death had his property attached. Mr. Silas O’Quin, of this place, went down Friday morning to levy on some of his property, and found him rational, but wild-looking. He informed Mr. O’Quin that he had shot a negro about two weeks previous to that time and it was supposed that he was dead. This conversation occured about 11 a. m.

Mr. Furlong’s body was taken to Waresboro Sunday morning [September 26, 1886] for interment.

Immediately after his death rumors of the killing of the negro began to circulate, and on Friday evening [September 24, 1886], for the first time, they reached Alapaha. It seems that Furlong had been short of hands for several weeks.  A negro boarded the B. & W. R. R. at some point and stated that he was hunting work, and that he had no1886-0ct-2-alapaha-star-ben-furlong-2a money. The conductor, knowing that Furlong needed hands, took the negro to Sniff and turned him over to —- was taking to Furlong got off —-Willachoochee,
where he had work. The negro objected strenuously to being put off, and refused to work. Shortly after the train left, the negro walked off in the direction of Willacoochee, but was soon discovered by Furlong, who brought him back, handling him pretty rough in doing so.

Furlong then handcuffed him. That evening, after dark, according to report, the negro slipped out of the commissary and had gone some distance out on the tram-road when he was missed. He was still handcuffed. Lofton, a white man, in Furlong’s employ, discovered the fleeing negro and showed Furlong the direction he had taken. Furlong pursued him with a double-barreled gun, and in a short time the report of the gun was heard. Furlong returned without the negro. Before he reached the mill he met a mulatto who was a trusted employe, who had started after Furlong, hoping to prevent him from shooting the negro. Furlong told him that he had shot the negro and that if he divulged it, he, Furlong, had men there who would swear that he, the mulatto, did the shooting. Later in the night Lofton and the mulatto were sent by Furlong to the wounded man —- — ——— –. — ——- was shot through the neck and was completely paralyzed, except his tongue. When he saw Lofton he said: “if it hadn’t been for you Mr. Furlong would not have shot me.” This mulatto says he carried the wounded man something to eat later in the night. This was Tuesday night. It is reported that the negro lay there until Thursday night, when he disappeared. That night Furlong ordered out three mules, one for a wagon and two to be saddled. Where they went is not known, but the supposition is that the mission was to take the body to some deep water, weight it and sink it out of sight.

Lofton has fled, and his whereabouts are unknown. It is said that he is well connected in Atlanta. The mulatto is named Jim Simmons and is here.

Last Sunday [September 26, 1886] a crowd of whites and blacks went down to the Alapaha river and dragged for the body of the missing 1886-0ct-2-alapaha-star-ben-furlong-3anegro at the bridge at Moore’s old mill, but without success.

It is now rumored that the —- was concealed in a branch — of the mill.

But those rumors would turn out to be wrong, the mill branch concealed no body. An inquest into the fate of Jesse Webb was about to uncover the ultimate cause of death and the true location of the body.

 

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Eugene C. Phillips at Georgia Southern College

Eugene C. Phillips at Georgia Southern College

In 1966, Eugene C. Phillips, of Ray City, GA, attended Georgia Southern College at Statesboro, GA.  Phillips majored in Business Administration.

Eugene C. Phillips, of Ray City, GA, attended Georgia Southern College.

Eugene C. Phillips, of Ray City, GA, attended Georgia Southern College.

Another Ray City student at Georgia Southern College in 1966 was senior W. Ralph Bradham.  Patsy Partin and Garth L. Webb, Jr., of Nashville, GA, were sophomores. Freshmen Ricky Partin and Carol Rowan were also from Nashville, GA.  Carol Bradham and James Roger Lewis, of Alapaha, GA, were seniors and Carleen Chambless was a freshman. Jimmy Abney, of Enigma, GA was a junior.

Georgia Southern Reflector, 1966 year book.

Georgia Southern Reflector, 1966 year book.

Dr. J. A. Fogle of Alapaha, GA

Dr. James A. Fogle,  a surgeon trained during the Civil War, was a physician of Alapaha, GA and an associate of Hardeman Giddens, of Ray’s Mill.  He was well known in Berrien County – an M.D.,  farmer, Mason, census enumerator,  innkeeper, merchant, and Justice of the Peace. In his judiciary role, he notably heard the 1879 case of John Cooper for the murder of Reese Byrd at Paxton’s turpentine farm.

Dr, J. A. Fogle, physician and Surgeon

Dr, J. A. Fogle, Physician and Surgeon of Alapaha, GA

Alapaha Star
October 2, 1886

Dr. J. A. Fogle
Physician and Surgeon,
Alapaha, Georgia

Returns thanks the citizens of Worth, Berrien, Irwin and Coffee counties for patronage in the past, and hopes to merit a continuance of the same. Calls by letter or telegraph promptly attended to. Charges are reasonable.

James A. Fogle was born September 12, 1838 in Columbus, GA. He was a son of Nancy L. Turner and Dr. Jacob Fogle, dentist and prominent citizen of Columbus.

As a young man, James A. Fogle attended the University of North Carolina, receiving the Bachelor of Arts degree  in 1860.

James A. Fogle served in the Civil War. He enlisted as a private in Company G, Georgia 2nd Infantry Regiment on April 16, 1861. He was detailed by the Secretary of War to work in a Confederate hospital. He was promoted to Full Hospital Steward on October 6, 1862. At that time he was posted at General Hospital Camp Winder, Richmond, VA. He was later promoted to Full Assistant  Surgeon on November 14, 1864.

General Hospital Camp Winder hospital ward, Richmond, VA. Dr. James A. Fogle was an Assistant Surgeon at the hospital in 1864. Fogle later practiced medicine at Alapaha, GA.

General Hospital Camp Winder hospital ward, Richmond, VA. Dr. James A. Fogle was detailed as a nurse at the hospital May 24, 1862. Fogle was later promoted to Assistant Surgeon, and practiced medicine at Alapaha, GA after the war.

http://civilwarodyssey.blogspot.com/2014/12/edge-of-obscurity-tracking-ailing.html

On November 1, 1862 Fogle was reassigned as a steward at Chimborazo Hospital No. 3, Richmond, VA.

Chimborazo Hospital, the "hospital on the hill." Considered the "one of the largest, best-organized, and most sophisticated hospitals in the Confederacy."

Chimborazo Hospital, the “hospital on the hill.” Considered the “one of the largest, best-organized, and most sophisticated hospitals in the Confederacy.”
Library of Congress

Fogle was at Chimborazo Division No. 3 in June of 1863 when Green Bullard, of Ray’s Mill, was admitted in the No. 2 Division with typhoid fever. In November 1864, Fogle was promoted to Assistant Surgeon and continued to work at Chimborazo Hospital. The Civil War ended six months later with Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.

After the war, Fogle returned to South Georgia. He took the loyalty oath in Baker County, GA on July 10, 1867.

James A. Fogle, Oath of Loyalty to the United States of America, July 10, 1867.

James A. Fogle, Oath of Loyalty to the United States of America, July 10, 1867.

On April 2, 1868 James A. Fogle married Sarah E. Leonard in Taylor County, GA.

Marriage certificate of James A. Fogle and Sarah E. Leonard, Taylor County, GA

Marriage certificate of James A. Fogle and Sarah E. Leonard, Taylor County, GA

James and Sarah Fogle made their home in Newton, Baker County, GA. The 1880 census shows they employed Sarah Gamble as a live-in cook. Dr. Fogle established his medical practice in Newton.

1870 census enumeration of Dr. James A. Fogle, Newton, GA

1870 census enumeration of Dr. James A. Fogle, Newton, GA

In the winter of 1872,  while traveling near Camilla, GA., Dr. Fogle plunged into a  a flooded creek to rescue a drowning African-American man.

Albany Herald, March 1, 1872 reports Dr. J. A. Fogle's rescue of two men from drowning in Racoon Creek, Camilla, GA

Albany Herald, March 1, 1872 reports Dr. J. A. Fogle’s participation in the rescue of two African-American men from drowning in Racoon Creek, Camilla, GA

Albany Herald
March 1, 1972

Narrow Escape.

We are informed by our agent, Dr. J. A. Fogle, that on the 14th inst. the two negroes of the Panitheopticonicon, while attempting to cross “Raccoon Creek,” had their horse drowned and came near loosing their own lives. Dr. Fogle, although the water was near freezing, swam in after one and rescued him by means of a rope.- Mr. Stokes Walton, with the assistance of Mr. Lee and four or five negroes, constructed a raft of logs and rescued the other. A half hour’s longer delay would have resulted in the death of both parties. Although nearly frozen, they were the happiest beings imaginable when taken out of the water.

This creek should, by all means, have a bridge over it. Last week Dr. Fogle came near losing his own and his horse’s life in the same place. Dr. Kirksey, Dr. F’s companion, lost his baggage, containing valuables to the amount of one hundred and twenty-five or one hundred and fifty dollars. [Camilla Herald.

The two rescued men were employees of the Panitheopticonicon.  The Panitheopticonicon was a religious dramatization presented with a stereopticon, or “Magic Lantern.”  A stereopticon is a slide projector  which has two lenses, usually one above the other. These devices became  a popular in the 1850s as  a form of entertainment and education, and continued in popularity into the 1900s. Mashburn’s 1913 “Possum Supper” for physicians in Valdosta, GA featured as stereopticon.  The Panitheopticonicon was billed as the “Great Religious Wonder of the Age!” where “Adam and Eve pass the scene… with the serpent following at their feet,” and attracted “almost the entire population without distinction of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

Dr. Fogle Comes to Alapaha
Some time before 1879, the Fogles made their way to Alapaha, GA. In the census of 1880 of Berrien County, James A. Fogle was the enumerator for the 4th District. He enumerated himself as 41 years of age, and employed as an M. D. and a farmer. His wife, Sarah, was keeping house.  Also in the household was Sarah’s widowed sister, Frances S. Leonard.

1880 Census enumeration of Dr. James A. Fogle, 1156 Georgia Militia District, Berrien County, GA

1880 Census enumeration of Dr. James A. Fogle, 1156 Georgia Militia District, Berrien County, GA.

In addition to his medical practice, Dr. Fogle opened a drug store in Alapaha.

1886-0ct-2-alapaha-star-ad-fogle-drug-store

Alapaha Star
October 2, 1886

Drug Store

Dr. J. A. Fogle,
Proprietor,
Alapaha, GA

My stock of drugs, medicines, perfumery, toilet articles, cigars, tobacco, etc., is the largest and best selected ever brought to this market.

Prescriptions

Carefully and accurately compounded day or night.

Thankful for liberal patronage in the past, I shall endeavor to merit a continuance of the
the same.

In the spring of 1886, the Macon telegraph reported that Dr. and Mrs. Fogle were opening a new hotel at Alapaha.

Fogle House, Alapaha, GA

Fogle House, Alapaha, GA

Macon Telegraph

March 24, 1886

At Alapaha. Her New Hotel. Her Clever Social People. Her Prosperous Merchants, Etc.,

[Alapaha has]…a new hotel, two stories high, nicely fitted up and well kept. Dr. J.A. Fogle, one of the most clever men you would met in a week’s hard riding, is the proprietor, but his time is mostly devoted to an extensive practice and to his well stocked drug store. The hotel is presided over by Mrs. Fogle, a lady of refinement and most pleasant manner, ably assisted by her sister, Miss Fannie Leonard. The table is bountifully supplied with tempting fare, the sleeping apartments are models of cleanliness and comfort, and the attention to guests is prompt and courteous The commercial tourists are fond in their praise of it, and you know they are, generally speaking, a difficult set to please.

 

1886-0ct-2-alapaha-star-ad-fogle-house

Dr. James A. Fogle died on Friday, January 6, 1888 at Alapaha, Georgia.  His death was reported in the Americus Weekly Recorder. Americus was the home of Dr. Fogle’s sister, Mary E. Fogle, and brother-in-law, Uriah B. Harrold:

Death of Dr. James A. Fogle, 1888.

Death of Dr. James A. Fogle, 1888.

Americus Weekly Recorder
January 12, 1888

Death.

Mr. U. B. Harrold Friday received a telegram announcing the death of Dr. James A. Fogle, at Alapaha, Berrien county, Ga.  As he had been suffering from inflammatory rheumatism, it is supposed that that was the cause of his death.  Dr. Fogle was an eminent physician and the brother of Mrs. Harold.  Mr. and Mrs Harrold left for Alapaha Friday night.

Dr. Fogle was laid to rest at Alapaha in Fletcher Cemetery.

Grave of Dr. James A. Fogle, Fletcher Cemetery, Alapaha, GA. Image source: D & D Fletcher

Grave of Dr. James A. Fogle, Fletcher Cemetery, Alapaha, GA. Image source: D & D Fletcher

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Logging Ten Mile Bay

The early sawmill operations of Wiregrass Georgia required a constant supply of  timber to maintain production and profitability. Smaller sawmill operations could be moved close to the timber tracts where logs were being cut. For larger operation, such as the Clements Sawmill on the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Railroad at Ray City,  logging timber typically involved transporting cut logs to the sawmill by skidder and tram.

Skiddermen like Claudie RoyalRobert Christopher Powell and Lawrence Cauley Hall used two wheel “Perry” carts pulled by a team of horses or mules to drag  or skid felled logs.  According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 1918 publications, in Georgia a typical skidderman worked a 60 hour workweek, for a wage of 22.5 cents an hour, or $13.50 per week. The skiddermen dragged logs from where they were cut the short distance to the tracks of the railway tram, where they were loaded and hauled to the sawmill.  Oxen could be used pull skidders in areas too wet for horses or mules,  but even oxen couldn’t skid logs out of the deepest swamps.

Ten Mile Bay northeast of Ray City was one of the first places in this section where logs were hauled out of the swamp by overhead skidder.

At Southernmatters.com, Bill Outlaw relates how the deep swamp of Ten Mile Bay provided a hide out for Confederate deserters and draft dodgers during the Civil War. You can read Bill’s observations on Ten Mile Bay at http://www.southernmatters.com/image-database/upload/Nashville/Nashville-051.html The fact was, there were significant numbers of Southerners who did not support Secession or the war. Outlaw describes Ten-mile Bay as lying east of a line drawn between Alapaha and Nashville. William M. Avera, son of Daniel Avera and Tobitha Cook Avera, constructed an earthen dam from 1880 to 1884 across the lower end of Ten Mile Bay.  This impoundment at the southern outfall of the bay created the Avera Mill Pond (now known as Lake Lewis), the mill run forming the Allapacoochee Creek (now known as Ten-mile Creek), which is the eastern boundary of the W.H. Outlaw Farm. Beyond the actual bay, a considerable area of land is quite swampy.

Bill Outlaw cites the unpublished papers of W.H. Griffin Jr., (1863-1932) in which Griffin describes the Ten Mile Bay as a deserter’s stronghold:

“Lying in the Northeastern portion of orginal Berrien county, four miles southeast of Allapaha, and six miles northeast of Nashville,lies an almost impenetrable swamp known far and wide as the ‘Ten Mile Bay.’ It is the sourse of Ten mile Creek, a stream running southward through the flat woods of eastern Berrien, flanked by numerous flat ponds and fed by sluggish pond drains until it mingles its wine colored waters with those of the Fivemile Creek,  near where Empire church is located when together they form Big creek, as stream of no mean importance in the county and which, harboring thousands of perch, pike, jack and trout, to say nothing of the unlimited nimber of catfish, winds its tortuos and limpid way on past Milltown to mingle its leave stained waters with those of the Alapaha river…Its denseness, its dreary solitudes, its repulsiveness on these accounts and on account of the numerous wild animals rattle snakes that frequented its fastnesses rendered it a place which the ordinary mortal dredded to enter. It covers an area of about twenty square miles, being about six miles from North to South and a average with of three to four miles. It is covered in water for a portion of the winter and spring season with a depth of anywhere from one to three feet deep, and interspersed with numerous elevated hummocks which lift their surfaces anywhere from six inches to a foot and a half above the water and from a quarter to a half acre in extent.  These hummocks are overgrown with vines and brambles, Ty Ty other swamp growth and thickly dotted with the tall growing huckleberry or blue berry bushes anywhere from three to ten feet high and from which every year thousands of berries are gathered by the neighboring citizens, who often go from a distance of ten miles away to gather berries.  It  takes a stout heart and brave resolution, to say nothing of intrepid courage and a power of endurance to hardships to get a tenderfoot into that swamp a second time. Only the person who has been through the swamp under the direction of native guides is willing to undertake an excursion into this ‘No man’s Land,’ for the chances are that he will become lost and consequently experience the greatest difficulty in finding his way out of the dreary wilderness of bog and fen, bramble and thicket. This dreary place became the rendezvous of many deserters during the war…”

When the Bootle & Lane sawmill brought overhead skidding to Berrien County in 1917 to log Ten-mile Bay, the news was reported in the Lumber Trade Journal.

1917-logging-ten-mile-bay

The Lumber Trade Journal
September 15, 1917

Complete Construction Work

Savannah, Ga. – Bootle & Lane, who moved to Nashville, Ga., from Charleston, S. C.. a short time ago to embark in the sawmill business, have just completed the work of erecting their mill, six miles east of Nashville, on the Georgia & Florida railroad, and are beginning to make their first shipments of lumber to the markets.  This firm purchased a large quantity of swamp timber in that county.  They are now taking logs out of the Ten-Mile Bay with overhead skidders.  This is an innovation in this country as no such powerful skidders were ever seen there before.  There is a large quantity of valuable timber in this swamp, but no one has ever thought it feasible to get it out.

The overhead skidder was powered by a steam engine which could be moved from place to place on a logging railroad flatcar. The steam engine drove a drum around which there was a steel cable which would draw in the logs to drier land where they could be loaded and conveyed to the sawmill. The steam-powered rig could drag logs from the swamp up to 900 feet in all directions.  Where this equipment was used to pull logs along the ground it was referred to as a “ground skidder” or “possum dog skidder.” But when the system of steel cables and pulleys were rigged from trees allowing logs to be suspended and hauled out above the muddy swamp, it was called an overhead skidder. Operating steam powered skidders was dangerous work.  The logs being pulled in would sometimes encounter obstructions.  Then the flying logs could move in erratic and unpredictable direction.  The steam skidders were worked by teams of men, and communications were passed from the crews to the skidder operator by flagmen, such as Henry Howard Thompson of Ray City, who signaled when the logs were ready to pull. The men knew to stay away from a log on the skidder line.

Advertisement for overhead skidders manufactured by Lidgerwood Mfg. Co. appearing in the Lumber World Review, November 10, 1921. Overhead skidders were used by the Bootle & Lane Sawmill to extract timber from Ten Mile Bay, about seven miles northeast of Ray City, GA.

Advertisement for overhead skidders manufactured by Lidgerwood Mfg. Co. appearing in the Lumber World Review, November 10, 1921. Overhead skidders were used by the Bootle & Lane Sawmill to extract timber from Ten Mile Bay, about seven miles northeast of Ray City, GA.

Advertisement for steel cable used in overhead skidder operations, manufactured by Williamsport Wire Rope Company, appearing in the Lumber World Review, November 10, 1921. Overhead skidders rigged with pulleys and steel cables were used by the Bootle & Lane Sawmill to harvest timber from Ten Mile Bay, about seven miles northeast of Ray City, GA.

Advertisement for steel cable used in overhead skidder operations, manufactured by Williamsport Wire Rope Company, appearing in the Lumber World Review, November 10, 1921. Overhead skidders rigged with pulleys and steel cables were used by the Bootle & Lane Sawmill to harvest timber from Ten Mile Bay, about seven miles northeast of Ray City, GA.

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Claudie Belle Hester and the Easter Egg Hunt

Claudey Belle Hester was a student at the Ray City School in 1920.  She was born about 1906, a daughter of Annie L. Jolly and Luther Hester.  Her father died about 1909 and she, her brother and mother went to live with her grandparents, Julia and Colwell C. Jolly.  Her grandparents rented a home on Charles Street in Alapaha, GA. where her grandfather worked at a sawmill.

Her mother re-married in 1913 to John S. Cone, and Claudie went with her mother to live on her step-father’s farm near Ray City, GA.

At age 14, Claudie wrote an essay about an Easter egg hunt at Ray City, and submitted it to the Progressive Farmer for publication.

Claudie Belle Hester's 1920 essay about Easter at the Ray City, GA school was published in the Progressive Farmer.

, Claudie Belle Hester’s 1920 essay about Easter at the Ray City, GA school was published in the Progressive Farmer.

Saturday, May 1, 1920

An Egg Hunt and Candy Pulling

On Friday before Easter our teacher decided that we should have an egg hunt, and we then decided to have a candy pulling at the same time.
The children brought syrup and eggs on Saturday and the boys gathered fuel and built a fire in the stove. Two girls assisted me in cooking the candy. We cooked three lots, the first and last being pretty and white, but the second lot was not quite so good.
While the candy was cooling, we colored the eggs and got them ready for hiding. The candy was soon cool enough to pull, and we helped each other pull it until it was white and brittle.
After we had eaten some candy, we three girls and the assistant teacher hid the eggs. In all we had about 150 eggs, one was a large goose egg. The boy who brought this egg said the one finding it could eat it. We hid it in the mailbox, and guess who found it. The teacher. All the eggs were found but two.

Claudey Belle Hester
Ray City, Ga.

 

Virgil Griner receives teaching license from W. G. Avera, 1915

James Virgil Griner (1896-1951)

Virgil Griner, circa 1912-1915.  Image detail courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Virgil Griner, circa 1912-1915. Image detail courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

In October, 1915 William Green Avera wrote James Virgil Griner, of Nashville, GA to inform him of his license to teach third grade.  Avera, the Berrien County School Superintendent, lived about 8 miles northeast of Ray City, GA.  The notification was on the official letterhead of the office of the County School Superintendent and listed the members of the school board.

1915 Berrien County Board of Education

Image Detail: William Green Avera, circa 1913

Image Detail: William Green Avera, circa 1913

William Green Avera, Superintendent – pioneer educator of South Georgia taught in Berrien, Lanier, Cook and Lowndes counties;  born August 1, 1855; son of Steven Willis Avera and Martha Elizabeth Akins; largely self-educated; married first Eliza Jane Sirmans, second Margaret McMillan; elected 1907 as Berrien County School Commissioner an re-elected to three subsequent terms; died January 10, 1944; buried Avera Cemetery.

 

 

 

Alexander W. Patterson, Berrien County, GA

Alexander W. Patterson, Berrien County, GA

Alexander W. Patterson, President, Nashville, GA –  born February 22, 1857 in Lowndes County, GA; son of James Duncan Patterson and Elizabeth McCranie; married Ella T. Lindsey February 10, 1884;  teacher; merchant; Berrien County Ordinary, Clerk of the Berrien County Superior Court, chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee of Berrien County; chairman of the Berrien County Agricultural Society, 1900.

 

 

 

 

Malcolm L. McMillan, Berrien County, GA

Malcolm L. McMillan, Berrien County, GA

Malcolm L. McMillan, Brookfield, GA   – born October 24, 1853, son of Archibald McMillan and Margaret Young; married Narcissa Henderson; planter and merchant; scribe Masonic Lodge No. 47, Tifton, 1904; Democratic Executive Committee of Berrien County, 1904; commissioner Berrien County Board of Education, 1901, 1905, 1906, 1915; vice president Farmers Club of Berrien County, 1905; delegate Southern Cotton Growers’ Association convention, 1906; president Berrien County division of the Farmers’ Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Georgia, 1906; board of directors, Merchants’ and Farmers’ Bank of Tifton, GA, 1906; board of directors , National Bank of Tifton, 1907-10; died May 1, 1933; buried Turner Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery 

 

 

 

Sankey Booth, Berrien County, GA

Sankey Booth, Berrien County, GA

Sankey Booth, Adel, GA – born May 5, 1877; son of the Reverend Irwin R. Booth and Margaret Rives Knowles; married Mamie Shaw 18 Nov 1906;  pioneer school teacher and administrator of south Georgia; Berrien County School Board, 1914-15; Atkinson County School Superintendent, 1918-1920; Ray City School superintendent, 1924-25; Principal, Morven School, 1917, 1925-26;  Principal, Cecil School; died October 29, 1965;  buried Adel cemetery, Cook County, GA.

 

William Manning Pafford, Berrien County, GA

William Manning Pafford, Berrien County, GA

William Manning Pafford, Milltown, GA – born December 12, 1869; son of Rowan Pafford and Frances Corbett; married Della Holland on February 08, 1900; merchant; constructed Lee-Banks Hotel, Milltown, GA, 1905; Mayor, Milltown, GA, 1915; Georgia House of Representatives, 1923-24;  Commissioner, Milltown Airline Railway, 1927; died February 8, 1930; buried Lakeland City Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

 

 

 

John Henry Rowan, Berrien County, GA

John Henry Rowan, Berrien County, GA

John Henry Rowan, Nashville, GA     -born May 15, 1862, Coffee County, GA; son of William Berry Rowan and Roseanna Porter; married Phoebe America Knight June 17, 1886;  built Reedy Branch School, Berrien County, GA; Postmaster, Hill, GA; Judge, Berrien County, 1904; Notary Public, 1904-1905; Democratic Executive Committee of Berrien County, 1904; candidate for Berrien County Commissioner, 1910 and 1912; died August 31, 1921, Berrien County, GA; buried Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

1915 letter from Berrien County School Superintendent William Green Avera to James Virgil Griner

1915 letter from Berrien County School Superintendent William Green Avera to James Virgil Griner

 

Nashville, GA   10/12 1915

Mr. J. V. Griner
Nashville, Ga.
Dear Virgil
Please write Mr. J. E. Rowe Alapaha for the New Home School. It is a good school.

You made license – 3d grade General Elementary. Please let me know.

Sincerely,
W. G. Avera

The letter was received by Virgil’s father, Joe H. Griner, who forwarded the information on to Virgil at Tifton, GA.

Envelop of letter from Joe H. Griner to Virgil Griner, postmarked October 15, 1915, Alapaha, GA

Envelop of letter from Joe H. Griner to Virgil Griner, postmarked October 15, 1915, Alapaha, GAa

~

Letter from Joe H. Griner to Virgil Griner, dated October 15, 1915

Letter from Joe H. Griner to Virgil Griner, dated October 15, 1915

 

Nashville, Ga
Oct 15th, 1915

Dear Virgil I will sende your letter to you. I got it yesterday. Virgil it isent any use to say any thing about the letter. You can reade it and come on. Virgil you come to Roetown Sunday.  It is there big meeting time out there and I will meet you out there if I can. You come to Allapaha Sunday and go on down to meeting.

Very truly

Joe H. Griner

http://berriencountyga.com/

Joseph Henry Griner, (1856-1934) Berrien County, GA

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James Dewey Calhoun and Mary Elizabeth Brogdon

James Dewey Calhoun was born about 1904 near Ray City, GA.  His grave marker in Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA gives his birth date as June 22, 1904, but his Social Security records listed his date of birth as June 22, 1901.  Census records place his date of birth variously at about 1902, 1904, or 1907.  Based on the research of family members, the 1901 date is probably the most accurate.  He was a son of Samuel Augustus Calhoun and Rachel Bullard, and a brother of Joseph Burton Calhoun. The image detail below, of James Dewey Calhoun and his father,  is believed to date from around 1907.

James Dewey Calhoun as a young boy with his father, Samuel Augustus "Gus" Calhoun. Image detail courtesy of Mitchell Calhoun.

James Dewey Calhoun as a young boy with his father, Samuel Augustus “Gus” Calhoun. Image detail courtesy of Mitchell Calhoun.

James Dewey Calhoun first appears in the census records in 1910, enumerated as “Dewey.”  He was one of nine children in his parent’s household at Ray City, GA. Samuel’s mother was Rachel Bullard Calhoun, a daughter of  Luvellia Ray and Mack Bullard.

1910 census enumeration of James Dewey Calhoun

1910 census enumeration of James Dewey Calhoun

https://archive.org/stream/13thcensus1910po172unit#page/n640/mode/1up

In the 1920s the Calhouns were living  at Ray City, GA  where Dewey’s father rented a place on the Valdosta & Ray City Road. Dewey had a common school education, but by age 12  he was working on the Calhoun farm assisting his father with farm labor along with his brothers. Just around the corner from the Calhoun place was the farm of Elias M. “Hun” Knight, businessman of Ray City and owner of the Mayhaw Lake Resort.

1920-census-james-dewey-calhoun

https://archive.org/stream/14thcensusofpopu235unit#page/n312/mode/1up

James Dewey Calhoun married Mary Elizabeth Brogdon on Saturday, November 24, 1928 in Berrien County, GA.  The ceremony was performed by John G. Hall, Justice of the Peace. Dewey was 21 and Mary was 18 at the time of their marriage. She was a daughter of Thomas Brogdon and Blancett Swilley. Like Dewey, she had a common school education through 7th grade.

Marriage certificate of J. D. Calhoun and Mary Brogdon, November 24, 1928, Berrien County, Georgia

Marriage certificate of J. D. Calhoun and Mary Brogdon, November 24, 1928, Berrien County, Georgia

After marriage Dewey and Mary Calhoun made their home in the Lois precinct of the 1329 Georgia Militia District (Connell’s Mill District), where they began raising crops and children.  Dewey rented a farm next door to the 260 acre farm of Minerva Futch and John L. Allen.   The Allen place (formerly the farm of Jehu Patten) was on  land Lot  454 of the 10th land district (see map), located just southwest of Ray City, near the farms of  Francis Marion Shaw,  Lacy Shaw, and Jesse Shelby Shaw (see http://www.audubon4tet.com/FMS/21_John_Levi_Allen.pdf).  Lon Fender, one of the big timber men  and turpentine operators of the Wiregrass, was also renting a farm nearby.   The census taker who visited the Calhoun family to take their enumeration in 1930 was Perry Lee Pittman.

 

1930 census enumeration of James Dewey Calhoun

1930 census enumeration of James Dewey Calhoun

https://archive.org/stream/georgiacensus00reel338#page/n512/mode/1up

By the 1940s Dewey and Mary had moved their family to Alapha, GA where they rented a home on “Nashville and Nashville” road for $5.00 a month.

1910 census enumeration of James Dewey Calhoun

1940 census enumeration of James Dewey Calhoun

The employment data from the 1940 census shows Dewey was working 24 hours a week for the WPA while Mary kept home and the children attended school. In late 1938 the Work Projects Administration (WPA) began construction of a gymnasium for the public school in Alapaha, GA.

The Work Projects Administration was one of FDR’s New Deal programs, and the census asked if anyone in the household during the week of March 24–30, 1940, was at work on, or assigned to, public emergency work projects conducted by the WPA, the NYA, the CCC, or state or local work relief agencies. The WPA, established May 6, 1935, developed programs to move unemployed workers from relief to jobs. The WPA workers, among other things, rebuilt the national infrastructure, wrote guides to the 48 states, worked in the arts and theater, and assisted with disaster relief. The NYA, established under the WPA, gave part-time jobs to high school and college students to earn money to continue their education. The CCC, created March 31, 1933, employed men aged 18–25 in conservation work in the national parks and forests. http://1940census.archives.gov/about/

Other Work Projects Administration (WPA) projects in Berrien county include an annex added to the west side of the Berrien County Courthouse in 1938. In 1940, WPA workers assisted with the construction of the lunchroom at the Ray City School.  Bill Outlaw described a WPA project digging a ditch in Buck Bay, then called Beaver Dam Bay, on the W.H. Outlaw farm previously known as the Jerry S. “Buck” Sutton Old Home place (See Bill Outlaw’s   Georgia Centennial Farm application for the W. H. Outlaw farm  for interesting commentary on Berrien County farm life over the last 150 years). WPA instructors were also involved with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp at Homerville, GA  where Ray City and Berrien County men were working.

Later the Calhouns were back at Nashville, GA. Census data beyond 1940 has not yet been released,  but school photos from the 1950s show  Mary and Dewey Calhoun’s  children continued to attend at the Nashville public schools.

Children of Mary Elizabeth Brogdon 1909 – 2002 and James Dewey Calhoun (1901-1980)

  1. Charles Rex Calhoun 1929 – 2000
  2. Martha Virginia Calhoun 1933 – 2005
  3. James Dewey “J.D.” Calhoun 1937 – 2013
  4. Howard Vinson Calhoun 1939 – 1979
  5. Densil Calhoun 1944 – 2008
Rex Calhoun, son of Dewey Calhoun, attended 1st grade at Nashville Public School, 1936-37.  Image detail courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Rex Calhoun, son of Dewey Calhoun, attended 1st grade at Nashville Public School, 1936-37. Image detail courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

Class photos from 1954 show Densil Calhoun was attending school at Nashville Elementary.

Densil Calhoun, son of Dewey Calhoun, 4th grade school photo,  1954, Nashville Elementary School.

Densil Calhoun, son of Dewey Calhoun, 4th grade school photo, 1954, Nashville Elementary School.

 http://berriencounty.smugmug.com/Schools/Nashville-Elementary/1954-Classrooms/17024719_X46qXD#!i=1288624316&k=fHz4KBF

The 1972 obituary of Joe B. Calhoun mentions that his brother, Dewey Calhoun was still residing in Nashville, GA.

James Dewey Calhoun died November 3, 1980. He was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.  His widow, Mary Brogdon Calhoun, continued to reside at Nashville, GA but was a member of the Baptist Church in Ray City.  Mary died in 2002 and was buried next to her husband at Beaver Dam Cemetery.

 

for May 6, 2002

Mary Calhoun

NASHVILLE — Mary Calhoun, 96, of Nashville, died May 5, 2002, in the Memorial Convalescent Center of Adel. Born on Aug. 26, 1905, to the late Thomas Brogdon and Blancett Swilley, she was a homemaker and member of First Baptist Church of Ray City. She was preceded in death by her husband, Dewey Calhoun, who died in 1980, and two sons, Howard and Rex Calhoun. Survivors include one daughter, Martha Gurganious of Nashville; two sons, Densol Calhoun of Nashville and J. D. Calhoun of Jackson; 11 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren. Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 7, 2002, in the chapel of Lovein Funeral Home with the Rev. Clarence Luke and the Rev. Fred Hesters officiating. Burial will follow in Beaver Dam Cemetery. Visitation is today after 4 p.m. with the family receiving friends from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. — Lovein Funeral Home.

Graves of James Dewey Calhoun and Mary Elizabeth Brogdon, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Graves of James Dewey Calhoun and Mary Elizabeth Brogdon, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Ben Furlong’s Ghost Haunted Conscience of Berrien Residents

The ghost of  desperado Ben Furlong was said to haunt the grounds of an old Berrien County sawmill when he died in 1886. But it was the lack of justice for his victims that haunted the conscience of Berrien County residents.

A short editorial piece appeared in the Alapaha Star along with other details of Furlong’s crime.

Three weeks ago, B. W. Furlong brutally murdered a defenseless negro and with the aid of J. M. Lofton and Thomas Sharon buried the body in a horse lot with a hundred and —–y yards of his house.  A number of persons, white and black, had every reason to believe that a murder had been committed in their midst, and yet not a syllable was uttered that might lead to the punishment of the perpetrators of this great crime until the principal actor had hurled himself into eternity and his accomplices had fled. The first news of this terrible tragedy that reached Alapaha was on Friday evening of last week, the evening on which Furlong died. At the inquest some of the witnesses testified that they knew they would be killed if they mentioned their suspicion to outsiders, and it was this fear of Furlong that clogged the machine of the law for three weeks. 

Henceforth, let every man, black and white, in Berrien county, to bring the offenders against the law —–punishment —————crimes as the one mentioned above.

 

 

 

 

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