Notes on Sarah Malinda Clements

Sarah Malinda Clements (1862-1947)

Sarah Malinda Clements was born March 12, 1862 in Berrien County, GA. She was the youngest of 13 children born to David G. Clements and Gincey Sirmans.  She was a sister of Levi Jordan Clements, who was the patriarch of the Clements sawmill business at Ray City.

Sarah’s parents were pioneer settlers of the area. They were married in Lowndes County, GA on January 1, 1835.   Her father came with his parents to Lowndes County about 1832.  Her grandfather William Clements and William A. Knight had been neighbors in Wayne County, GA, and her aunt Anne Donald Clements had married Levi J. Knight in 1827. Her mother was  Gincey Sirmans, a daughter of Abner Sirmans and Bettie Kirkland. Abner Sirmans, his brothers, and father, Josiah Sirmans, were among the first permanent settlers of Clinch County, GA, having arrived there in 1822. Her aunt Elizabeth  “Betsy” Sirmans married Etheldred Dryden Newbern, another pioneer settler of Berrien County.

Sarah’s father and both of her grandfathers, fought under the command of their friend and neighbor Levi J. Knight in the Indian Wars of 1836-1838.  David G. Clements, William Clements and Abner Sirmans all served with Captain Knight’s Independent Company. David Clements was among those who took part in the Battle of Brushy Creek, one of the last real engagements with the Creek Indians in this region.

Soon after marriage, David G. Clements acquired lot of land 406, 10th district, on which he lived and farmed until his death. He was cut into Berrien out of Lowndes County, 1856. In Berrien County, the Clements home place was in the 1144th Georgia Militia District just north of Ray’s Mill (now Ray City), GA.

lot-470-471-maps-w-roads-ac

In 1854, Sarah’s sister, Elizabeth Clements, married William Gaskins. The Clements were neighbors of William Gaskins, son of Fisher Gaskins.   The Gaskins were another of the early pioneer families of Berrien County.  William Gaskins came to the area with his father and brothers, John Gaskins and Harmon Gaskins, with their large herds of cattle,  about the same time the Knights and Clements were homesteading in the area around Beaverdam Creek (site of present day Ray City, GA).

At the outset of the Civil War, Sarah’s father and brother, John C. Clements, answered the call of General Levi J. Knight to form a company of men for Confederate service; their names appear on an 1861 muster roll of the Berrien Minute Men.  John C. Clements served with Company K, 29th Georgia Regiment; David G. Clements later appears on the 1864 census of southern men who were excluded from the draft on account of age.

1870 census enumeration of 8-year old Sarah Clements in the household of her mother, Gincey Clements. https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu0135unit#page/n438/mode/1up

1870 census enumeration of 8-year old Sarah Clements in the household of her mother, Gincey Clements. https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu0135unit#page/n438/mode/1up

Sarah, born during the Civil War, grew up on her father’s farm during the Reconstruction period in Georgia.  She attended the local country schools and was educated through the 5th grade. It appears that she lived in her father’s home until his death in 1888.

Although  Sarah married twice, she was not lucky in love. She did not marry until the age of 36.

1880 census enumeration of Sarah Ann Clements in the household of her father, David G. Clements. https://archive.org/stream/10thcensusl0134unit#page/n379/mode/1up

1880 census enumeration of Sarah Ann Clements in the household of her father, David G. Clements. https://archive.org/stream/10thcensusl0134unit#page/n379/mode/1up

In the Census of 1880, 18-year-old Sarah Ann Clements was enumerated by Census taker Lacy Elias Lastinger in her father’s household. Also present was Sarah’s older sister Mary Ann, to whom she was devoted for life, and their siblings.  Next door were Sarah’s sister, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Clements, and her husband William Gaskins. Also neighbors were William’s niece Mary Evelyn Gaskins and her husband George W. Fender.

On October 26, 1898 Sarah married William J. “Bill Jack” Knight.  He was born in 1860, but otherwise little is known of his history. The ceremony was performed by Albert Benjamin Surrency in Berrien County, GA.

Sarah Clements

Sarah Clements

Sarah Clements and William J. Knight are enumerated together in the census of 1900 in their Rays Mill home. Sarah’s spinster sister, 59-year-old Mary Ann Clements, had also come to live in the Knight household.   Sarah’s brother, John C. Clements, and his family remained as neighbors, as did George W. Fender.

William and Sarah owned their farm near Ray’s Mill  free and clear of mortgage.  Only one offspring was born of this union, but the child died young.

William J. Knight died on January 22, 1909 at his home near Ray’s Mill, GA.

Obituary of William J. Knight, husband of Sarah Malinda Clements

Obituary of William J. Knight, husband of Sarah Malinda Clements

Tifton Gazette
January 29, 1909

Information reached here Monday of the sudden death of Mr. “Bill Jack” Knight, a prominent resident of the Ray’s Mill district. Mr. Knight had been slightly indisposed for two or three days.  After eating a light supper Friday night as he was sitting at the fireside he suddenly fell over and died.  Mr. Knight was fifty years of age and was married about seven years ago to Miss Sarah Clements, of this place.  He was laid to rest at the Beaverdam burial grounds.  – Milltown News.

The widow Sarah Knight was enumerated (as Sarah Clements) in 1910 with her sister Mary Ann Clements in their home just east of Ray’s Mill.  They were neighbors of John B. Fountain and Frank Gallagher.

Some time before 1920 Sarah married for a second time, joining in matrimony with James W. Suggs.  He was from Dooly County, GA, a son of Malinda “Lynne” Proctor and Wright Suggs.

Sarah and James W. Suggs were enumerated together in the Census of 1920, at their farm on a settlement road near Ray’s Mill. Sarah’s sister and constant companion, Mary Ann Clements, resided with the Suggs.  On adjacent farms were Parnell Knight and Henry D. Bennett.

The 1926 Influenza epidemic reached its peach in Georgia in March;  1926 was the worst flu year since the pandemics of 1918-1919 which had claimed 675,000 lives in the U.S. and more than 30 million worldwide. Sarah’s sister, Mary Ann Clements, at the age of 86, succumbed to Influenza, dying  on March 26, 1926.  She was attended by her nephew, Dr. Henry W. Clements, who was a son of Rowena Patten and Levi J. Clements.  She was buried at Empire Church Cemetery.

Death certificate of Mary Ann Clements, March 26, 1926, Ray City, GA

Death certificate of Mary Ann Clements, March 26, 1926, Ray City, GA

Sometime between 1920 and 1930 James W. Suggs died, leaving Sarah widowed for the second time. Sarah, now on her own, boarded in the farm home of Sherrod Winfield Fender and his wife, Lula Bell Smith. Sherrod was a son of George W. Fender, and a neighbor of Henry Studstill, Arrin H. Guthrie, and Phil McGowan. Also lodging in the Fender household was Chester Nobles.

Sherrod W. Fender died in 1931, but Sarah continued to live with the widowed Lula Smith Fender. The 1940 census shows Sarah Suggs enumerated as a “companion” of Lula Fender.

1940 census enumeration of Sarah Clements Suggs in the Ray City, GA household of Lula Fender.

1940 census enumeration of Sarah Clements Suggs in the Ray City, GA household of Lula Fender.

Sarah Malinda Clements Suggs died April 8, 1947.   She was buried at New Ramah Cemetery at Ray City, GA. (Lula Fender was a member of the New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church.)

Grave of Sarah Clements Suggs (1862-1947), New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA. Image Source: Robert Strickland, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=52222556

Grave of Sarah Clements Suggs (1862-1947), New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA. Image Source: Robert Strickland, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=52222556

Samuel G. Guthrie of Ray City, GA

Sam Guthrie

Samuel G. Guthrie of Ray City, GA with an unidentified friend.

Samuel G. Guthrie, of Ray City, GA, photographed in Florida with an unidentified friend.

Samuel G. Guthrie Dies in Brunswick; Burial at Ray City

      Samuel G. Guthrie, well known and highly regarded Ray City and Berrien county man, passed away Tuesday, January 9, in the Brunswick Hospital following a heart attack. He was 44 years of age.
     A son of Mrs. Lucy Newbern Guthrie and the late A. H. Guthrie of Ray City, the deceased was born and reared in Berrien county and had spent practically all his life here. He had lived in Brunswick about one year where he held a position in the shipyards.  He was a member of the Baptist church.
     Funeral services were held at the New Ramah church in Ray City Wednesday afternoon, January 10, at 4:30 o’clock, conducted by Elder Charlie Vickers of Nashville, and Elder Orville Knight of Valdosta.  Burial was in the church cemetery.
     A choir composed of N. H. Harper, Mrs. J. I. Clements Sr., Mrs. H. P. Clements and Mrs. Jack Cribb sang two songs, “Asleep In Jesus,” and “Rock of Ages.”
     Pall-bearers were Carroll V. Guthrie, June Eroll Purvis, Emmis Purvis, Archie Peacock, Rudolph Moore and A. T. King.
     Surviving besides his mother, there are four brothers and five sisters,  June Guthrie and Herman Guthrie of Jacksonville, Fla., P. T. Guthrie of Lakeland, and John Guthrie of Ray City, Mrs. J. R. King of Nashville, Mrs. Marvin Purvis, Mrs. O. A. Knight, Mrs. Rossie Futch, and Miss Bettye Guthrie of Ray City.

Samuel G. Guthrie (1900-1945), New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Samuel G. Guthrie (1900-1945), New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

 

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Effie Guthrie and the Knight Brothers of Ray City, GA

Effie Guthrie, daughter of Arren H. Guthrie  and Lucy Newbern, was a lifelong resident of Ray City, GA and many of the Guthrie family connection still reside here.   She married first Ralph Knight.

Ralph Knight was one of the Knight brothers of Ray City, GA:  PaulAdrian, Ralph, and Raleigh, all sons of Walter Howard Knight and Jimmie Gardener Gullette.  There were four Knight sisters; Julia Elizabeth Knight, and Ruby Texas Knight, Dollie Howard Knight, and Laurie Inez Knight.

Effie became good friends with her sister-in-law Julia Knight.  After Ralph Knight was killed in the Otranto disaster of World War I, Julia and Effie sometimes travelled together.  Around 1921-22, the two women travelled by train to New York City on a shopping trip.  Later, Effie married Ralph’s brother,  Adrian Knight.

Effie Guthrie Knight. Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.

Effie Guthrie Knight. Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.

Effie Guthrie Knight and Owen Adrian Knight, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Effie Guthrie Knight and Owen Adrian Knight, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Ralph Knight, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Ralph Knight, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Stella Wright ~ Seeress of Ray City, GA

Stella Reddick Wright of Ray City, Ga

Stella Reddick Wright of Ray City, Ga.  

In the 1930s Stella Wright lived with her family in Rays Mill (nka Ray City), GA.  Stella lived at the south end of Park Street, way out past Arrin Guthrie’s home, at a place on Cat Creek known as Rock Bottom.  Stella was known around the region as a seeress and a healer.

One Sunday afternoon in the late 1930s, the Guthrie family were all gathered on their front porch socializing and sharing the events of the day.  A car pulled up with some people who were looking for directions; they had a woman with them who was ill and wanted to see Stella Wright.  One of the Guthrie grandchildren hopped in the car to show them the way to Stella’s place.  At the far end of the dirt road, they took a little trail down to Cat Creek to a cabin where Stella was found. They all entered the cabin, which was devoid of furniture except for a single chair in the center of the room. Stella sat the sick woman in the chair and began massaging her shoulders and back.  Shortly, the woman emitted a series of enormously loud belches and that was how Stella “healed” her.

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Primitive Baptists at Ray City

A recent document discovery at Ray City Community Library, Ray City, GA was the minutes of the 1962 Union Primitive Baptist Association.

The settlers of the Wiregrass in Lowndes and Berrien county, Georgia were predominantly of the Primitive Baptist faith.  Union Church (aka Burnt Church) on the Alapaha River served the families of early settlers like William A. Knight and his son Levi J. Knight. Primitive Baptist churches became a part of many communities. In 1913, the Knight descendants built New Ramah Primitive Baptist church at Ray City.

Just a few of the Ray City People who were Primitive Baptists:
Cassie Lee Hall, Arrin Horn Guthrie, Effie Shaw Clements, Alfred F. Fender, Minnie Clements Sirmans, Aden Boyd, Elizabeth Skinner Register.

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