Berrien County Cadets and Coeds at Georgia’s “West Point”

Cadets on parade in front of North Georgia Agricultural College, 1891. Jonathan Perry Knight, of Rays Mill, GA attended the college around the late 1880s.

Cadets on parade in front of North Georgia Agricultural College, 1891. Jonathan Perry Knight, of Rays Mill, GA attended the college around the late 1880s.

For over 125 years  “Georgia’s ‘West Point’” has been a college destination of choice for students of Berrien County, GA.

North Georgia Agricultural College (now known as the University of North Georgia), at Dahlonega, GA was founded in 1873 as a military academy  where military duty was obligatory for all male students over the age of 15. Cadets at the college drilled daily in artillery, infantry and other exercises.


1893 Tifton Gazette advertisement for North Georgia Agricultural College.

The school’s 1938 Undergraduate Bulletin noted:

North Georgia College was originally organized and administered on a military basis which system has prevailed from the date of its founding. The college has been classified by the United States Government as an “essentially military college,” being one of eight colleges in the United States so designated. It is the only one in Georgia, and, since “essentially military colleges” endeavor to emulate the traditions of West Point, North Georgia College has well been called “Georgia’s ‘West Point.’” General Robert Lee Bullard, formerly Commandant of Cadets and Professor of Military Science and Tactics, referred to the college as one of the two finest military schools in the country.

1910 Valdosta Times advertisement for North Georgia Agricultural College.

1910 Valdosta Times advertisement for North Georgia Agricultural College.

Among those from Ray City who served in the Corps of Cadets at North Georgia  were Jonathan Perry Knight (1872-1953), Alexander Stephens Knight (1883-1966); William “Harry” Luke (1923-2000); James Arthur Grissett (1932-2010), and Joe Donald Clements (1931-2014).

Other cadets and coeds from Nashville, Berrien County, GA were:

  • W. M. Giddens, who pursued a business degree at North Georgia in 1898;
  • Alexander Stephens Knight (1883-1966), brother of E. M. “Hun” Knight, was a sub-freshman in 1898; became a pharmacist in Nashville, GA; later moved to Atlanta, then Palm Beach, FL.
  • Alvah William Gaskins, (1885-1934) merchant of Nashville, GA, graduated from North Georgia Agricultural College in 1907; buried Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA
  • Archie Wardlaw Starling,  1922 sophomore cadet at NGC. Later served as editor of the Nashville Herald; buried Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA
  • William Lawton Clyatt, (1902-1987), of Nashville, was in the preparatory program in 1923; buried Old Providence Cemetery, Union County, FL
  • Robert Felton Bullard, (1908-1969) an NGC freshman in 1925 pursuing a B.S. in Communications; later served as Director of the Southeast Region for the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation; buried Westview Cemetery, Nashville, GA
  • Junius Vanvechton Talley, (1907-1963) an NGC freshman in 1925 pursuing a B.S. in Communications; later elected mayor of Nashville, GA; buried Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA
  •  John Parrish Knight; sophomore in 1925 was seeking a B.S. in Mine Engineering;
  • Charles Verne Parham and William Lamar Parham (1907-1932) were brothers  attending North Georgia College in 1925, Verne as a senior cadet and Lamar as a freshman. Lamar was killed in a plane crash at Randolph Field, TX in 1932.
  • Wilmot Earle Bulloch, graduated in 1928 with a B.S. in Mine Engineering;
  • Marion June Akins, 1929 NGC freshman cadet, was seeking his bachelors degree;
  • Shelby Jackson Morris was a freshman cadet and tackle on the 1930 North Georgia football team;
  • Wilson Connell entered North Georgia as College as a freshman cadet in 1937 and served in the military during WWII;
  • Marie Sirmans, a 1938 freshman coed at North Georgia College;
  • John Franklin Miller, (1921-1999),  a freshman cadet in 1939; buried Westview Cemetery, Nashville, GA
  • Donald Rowan, (1920-2006)  1939 sophomore at NGC, was a grandson of Lucius Galveston Outlaw and Della Sutton Outlaw ; joined the Army Air Corps  and was assigned duty in the Hawaiian Islands for the duration of WWII;
  • Walter W. “Buddy” Dickson, (1920-1997) in the NGC Corps of Cadets in 1939 and served in the Army Air Corps during WWII; buried Westview Cemetery, Nashville, GA
  • Donald Willis, (1921-1981) was a resident of Nashville, GA when he entered the Corp of Cadets  at NGC in 1940; served in the Army during WWII; buried Oak Ridge Cemetery, Tifton, GA.
  • Jamie Connell, (1920-1973) graduated  from NGC and enlisted in the Army in 1943, becoming a navigator-bombardier in the U.S. Army Air Force during WWII;
  • John David Luke, (1921-2004) 1940 sophomore cadet, North Georgia College;  In WWII served in the U.S. Army Air Corp, P-40 Pilot Instructor, Luke Field, Arizona; buried Westview Cemetery, Nashville, GA
  • William Henry Mathis, (1922-1993) of Nashville, GA. 1940 Freshman, Corps of Cadets, North Georgia College; buried Westview Cemetery, Nashville, GA
  • Edison “Eddie” Brodgon, (1918-1984), of Alapaha, GA was an NGC  sophomore cadet in 1940 – Enlisted in the Army, July 18, 1941; buried Riverside Missionary Baptist Church, Berrien County, GA
  • George W. Chism, of Nashville, GA. 1940 freshman cadet at North Georgia College.
  • Donald Keefe,  of Nashville, GA; son of turpentine operator Roland E. Keefe; 1941 sophomore cadet at North Georgia College; joined the Army Air Corps and served in Europe; died in France during WWII.
  • Jacob Jackson “Jack” Rutherford, (1924-2004), a 1942 NGC freshman Cadet. Served in the Army in WWII; buried at Douglas City Cemetery, Douglas, GA.
  • William “Harry” Luke (1923-2000),  born  in Ray City, GA; moved to Nashville, GA as a boy; 1942 Freshman cadet at North Georgia College; flew with the 390th bomber squadron during WWII; flew in the Berlin airlift, 1949; career Air Force officer; ret. 1973; buried Alabama Heritage Cemetery, Montgomery, AL.
  • William D. Alexander,   of Nashville, GA. 1942, Freshman cadet at North Georgia College.
  • Bill Roquemore (1923-1997),  of Nashville, GA. 1942, sophomore cadet at North Georgia College. Enlisted in the Army in 1943; Served in WWII as a Martin B-26 bomber pilot; married Nell Patten; operated Patten Seed company in Lakeland, GA. Later mayor of Lakeland; buried City Cemetery, Lakeland, GA.
  • James A. Grissett (1932-2010); born and raised in Ray City, GA; 1951  Corps of Cadets, North Georgia College; later received a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Tech.
  • Joe D. Clements (1931-2014), of Ray City, GA; North Georgia College cadet 1949-1953; joined the Army after graduation; later moved to Rome, GA.
Jonathan Perry Knight, 1902.

Jonathan Perry Knight grew up in Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA and attended North Georgia College in the 1880s (photographed 1902).


James A. Grissett, 1951, Corps of Cadets, North Georgia College

James A. Grissett, 1951, Corps of Cadets, North Georgia College


Joe Donald Clements, 1931-2014

Joe Donald Clements (1931-2014), of Ray City, GA. 1953 Corps of Cadets, North Georgia College.

Jamie Connell, of Nashville, GA. 1940 sophomore at North Georgia College

Jamie Connell, of Nashville, GA. 1940 sophomore at North Georgia College.



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Ray City Prosperity Proclaimed Amid 1929 Stock Market Crash

In 1929, less than 30 days  after Black Tuesday and  the beginning of the stock market crash,  the Nashville Herald was running stories to bolster the local Berrien County, GA economy.  The Ray City “booster” story assured readers that the bank in Ray City was financially strong,  and that trade was brisk among the  businesses of the town.

The Nashville Herald, front page, November 21, 1929


In keeping with the policy of the Herald to boost and build up all sections of Berrien County, Mr. A.W. Starling and myself spent Monday afternoon in the interest of a Ray City Community page which appears in another section of this edition.  Upon our arrival, which was the first stop we had ever made in this enterprising town, we were greeted by our old friend, Mr. C.H. Winderweedle, of the firm of Johnson and Winderweedle, who do a general mercantile business and carry in connection a high grade line of groceries.  Mr. Winderweedle showed us every consideration and was one of the first of the business men of the community to sign up for one of the spaces in the booster page.  He was quite a bit more optimistic than some of th merchants called upon and stated that although his was a new firm that he was well pleased with their beginning and intimated that with the bargains they were offering that the and his partner anticipated a continued growth in trade.

Our next stop was made at the Citizens Bank of Ray City, where we had the pleasure of meeting Mr. John D. Luke, the popular and efficient cashier of the institution.  Mr. Luke is a man of very pleasing personality and during our short conversation we can very easily understand why the banking institution of which he is the head has prospered as it has.  As we understand it the Citizens Bank of Ray City is one of the strongest financial institutions in the county and its business is growing steadily as will be shown by the last financial statement as called for by the superintendent of state banks.  It has total resources of over $150,000, and deposits of over $100,000 and shows that it has no notes and bills rediscounted.  Berrien county is justly proud of its banking institutions and conservative business men do not hesitate to place the Citizens Bank of Ray City along with the head of list.

We casually visited the firm of Swindle and Clements and were surprised to find the class of merchandise that a large force of clerks were busy dispensing to a large number of customers who were continually pouring in and out of the store.  In fact their rush was so great that it was several minutes before we could interview Mr. Clements, and when we did he readily agreed with our proposition to assist in boosting the county and he and Mr. Swindle readily signed up for one of the ads on the Ray City Booster Page.  While in his store we were what might be termed a “victim of circumstance” insamuch as we spied a string of jack fish, which were so near uniform size that we became attracted to them and after getting their weight, bought the six pound string for the insignificant sum of 90 cents.  Mr. Clements stated that his firm always has a supply of these fresh water fish on hand, which are alive when brought to his store, and supplies the lovers of the finny tribe with fresh oysters at all times in season.  Their meat market which is operated in connection with the store is modern in every detail and is equipped with Frigidaire cold storage apparatus, insuring their patrons of always receiving the most sanitary meats.

Upon a trip of this nature it is natural for one to become fatigued and need refreshing so we made a call upon the C.O. Terry Drug Store, the proprietor of which is familiarly known as “The Accommodating Druggist.”  Dr. Terry, himself waited upon us and true to his slogan proved to be very accommodating.  Being a very busy man dispensing cold drinks, filling prescriptions and waiting upon the trade in general, we did not get to spend as much time with him as we would have like, but a careful survey of the store convinced us that he was modern in his ideas and carried a choice line of drugs as well as druggists sundries.  Another noticeable feature was a large sign across the rear end of the store reading “Sargon” which is evidence enough within itself to show that he is the leading druggist of his section.

Just before taking leave of the little city it was our pleasure to visit the garden of Mrs. J.H.P. Johnson, which is a marvel, especially considering the dry weather.  Our observation of the garden and surroundings, convinced us that there is no danger of the family going hungry unless they should suddenly become too weak to pull up vegetables, milk a cow, kill a chicken, or clean a hog, as there was plenty of evidence that this family believes in living at home.

The above trip was an eye-opener to us, and our suggestion is that the people of Berrien County should “Know Your County Better.”

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker.