Feb 4, 1911 Ray’s Mill News Items

Rays Mill news items appearing in the Feb 4, 1911 Valdosta Times were about the business and social scene in the new town.

The Valdosta Times
 Saturday, February 4, 1911, page 7,
Rays Mill News Items

     Mr. A.L. Bridges has moved into his new building here.
     Mr. W. L. Swindle, of Nashville, has accepted a position with his brother, Mr. J.S. Swindle, of this place.
     Miss Leslie Langford returned to Rays Mill Wednesday night from Vidalia.
Mrs. L.  J. Clements is spending a few days in Milltown this week.
    Mr. G. V. Hardee, druggist of this place, moved in his new building Wednesday.
    Mr. I. Burkhalter made a business trip to Nashville Wednesday.
    Mr. Floyd Fender, of Tifton, is visiting Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Fender for a few days.
    Mrs. Baskin, Mrs. Terry, Mrs. Dr. Clements, Miss Fannie Clements and Miss Lessie Carter represented Beaver Dam Missionary Society at the missionary rally in Valdosta last Tuesday, January 31, and lunch was served at the Tabernacle. They report a good meeting, also a pleasant time for all who attended.
    Mr. A. L. Taylor, of Nashville, has bought Mr. J.T. Webb’s store.
    Mr. W. M. Carter, of Rays Mill, visited Tifton last Saturday returning Sunday night.
    Mr. W. H. Terry made a business trip to Valdosta Wednesday.
    Mr. George Norton spent a few days in Macon last week returning Monday night.

Ray City News appeared in The Valdosta Times, Feb 4, 1911.

Ray City News appeared in The Valdosta Times, Feb 4, 1911.

Austin Lawrence Bridges was a merchant from who came to Ray City in 1909 with his bride, Della Pope.  He bought a house on Jones Street and opened a dry goods store.

William Lawrence Swindle was a farmer of the Ray City area and former Sheriff of Berrien County.  He was a brother of James S. Swindle, and son of James Swindle, Pioneer Settler.

Leslie Alma Langford was the daughter of William E. Langford and Mary Virginia Knight, and sister of Luther Etheldred Langford. In 1918 she married Walter Greene Altman. At the time he was a clerk working for Nix & Miller Company, a sawmill in Ray City, GA, but shortly thereafter he became an ice dealer.  Later Walter owned a cafe where Leslie worked as a waitress.

Mrs. L. J. Clements was Eugenia  Watkins Clements, wife of Lucius J. Clements. Her parents were Sarah and Thomas H. Watkins, of Whitesburg, Carroll County, GA.  She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from La Grange College in 1907.

Gordon Vancie Hardie was a druggist and entrepreneur of Ray City.

Isaac Burkhalter, Jr was born 1863 in Clinch County, GA just weeks before his father, Captain Isaac Burkhalter was killed at Gettysburg. Isaac Burkhalter, the son, made his home at Rays Mill some time before 1900 with his wife, Marentha Sirmans, where he engaged in farming until his death.

Wilson W. Fender was the owner of the Fender Hotel in Ray City.  His wife Lena Fender was in millinery. His eldest son was telephone lineman Floyd Fender, of Tifton, and his younger son’s were Ike and Lutie. Ike Fender was a telephone operator and Lutie Fender was a soda jerk.

The Ladies of the Beaver Dam Missionary Society

  • Mrs. Baskin mentioned in the story could have been one of several Baskin women: Mary Ann Harrell Baskin, second wife of James B. Baskin; her step-daughter, Fannie Ellen Hagan Baskin; or another of the Baskin wives.  The Baskin family  helped found the Baptist Church at Ray City.
  • Mrs. Terry was Nebbie Luckie Terry. She was a daughter of William F. Luckie and wife of W. H. E. Terry, also mentioned in the article.
  • Mrs. Dr. Clements was Pauline Nelson Clements, wife of Dr. Henry Warren Clements. Dr. Clements owned  the second gasoline powered automobile in Berrien County, a Maxwell Doctor’s Roadster.
  • Miss Fannie Lola Clements was a daughter of Martha J. Cements and David C. Clements.
  • Miss Lessie E. Carter was a daughter of Lorenzo D. Carter and Anna Eliza Fender.

Jesse Thomas Webb, who sold his store in Rays Mill, was a son of Mary and John L. Webb, of the Connells Mill District. After selling his store in Rays Mill he moved to Tifton, GA and opened a store there.

William Manson Carter was a son of Lorenzo D. Carter and Anna Eliza Fender, and brother of Lessie E. Carter. In 1917 he worked as a druggist for C. O. Terry.

William Henry Edward Terry came to Ray City about 1910 and built the first brick building in the new town.

Austin L. Bridges Brought New Bride to Town in 1909

Austin Lawrence Bridges was a Lowndes county merchant in the early 1900s.  In March of 1909, it was announced that he  planned to move his store and bride to the newly incorporated town of Rays Mill (now Ray City), in Berrien County, GA. (see Ray’s Mill has Arrived)

Austin Lawrence Bridges (1883-1953).  As a young man, A. L. Bridges owned and operated a dry goods store in Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA.

Austin Lawrence Bridges (1883-1953). As a young man, A. L. Bridges owned and operated a dry goods store in Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA.

Austin L. Bridges was a son of Phoebe H. Moore and William A. Bridges, born December 18, 1882.  His parents’ home was located in the former community of Sims, GA which was located about 11 miles south of  Ray’s Mill (now Ray City, GA). His father had been instrumental in the construction of the Baptist Church at Ray’s Mill.

Before coming to Ray’s Mill,  Austin had gained experience working in the retail trade in Perry, Florida.

The Valdosta Times
Feb. 17, 1906 — page 7

Entertainment at Perry, Fla.

Perry, Fla., Feb. 15 – Mr. A. L. Bridges entertained quite a number of his friends at the home of Mr. and Mrs. W. T. Calhoun last Monday evening from 8 until 11:30 o’clock on Main street. Those present being Misses Eula Weaver, Maggie Adams, Sadie Greene, Bradley, Mrs. Dubose of Perry, Misses McDonald, of Boston, Robbie Wright, of Jacksonville, Mamie Franklin, Minnie Jones, of Quitman, Winget, of Fenholloway; Messers A. L. Bridges, R. F. Butler, Lee, Adams, Williams, Jones,  Wilder, Calhoun.
    Music was rendered by Messrs. Lee, Bridges, Butler and Miss Maggie Adams.  The entertainment was a very delightful one and enjoyed by all present.  After all the amusing games were over Mr. A. L. Bridges bid his friends adieu, as he returned to his home near Valdosta Tuesday morning with the expectation of spending a few days with relatives and friends.  His friends regret his absence very much, but he expects to return to Perry soon, where he will take up his position with the Empire store.

Even so, Austin  found time for visits to the family home in Lowndes county, where his circle of friends included his future bride, Ardella Pope of Valdosta. Another acquaintance was Verdie Baskin, of Rays Mill.

The Valdosta Times
Mar. 3, 1906 — page 12

Entertainment at Sims, Ga.

    Misses Florence and Pearl Bridges entertained quite a number of their friends last Tuesday evening from seven until 11:30 o’clock at the home of Mrs. W. A. Bridges six miles north of Valdosta.  The affair was complimentary to their brother, Mr. Austin L. Bridges,  who is going to make his departure for Perry, Fla.
    The parlor was beautifully decorated for the occasion, consisting of vines and cut flowers.  The evening was spent very pleasantly in playing amusing games.  Those in attendance were Misses Pearl and Lilla May Dasher, Della and Nannie Pope, Ola Turner, Verda Baskin, Florence and Pearl Bridges, Messrs. John Turner, Cornel Peters, Walton Pope, Austin Bridges, Lonnie Baskins, Leroy Bridges.
    Mr. and Mrs. U. F. Bridges, of Valdosta, are visiting relative and friends at Sims this week.
    Mrs. W. A. Bridges is having her dwelling repaired which adds to the appearance of it very much.

Austin Lawrence Bridges married Della Pope on January 23, 1909 in Lowndes County. The groom was a tall young man, of medium build, with brown eyes and brown hair.

Within a month, the newlyweds had moved to Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA.

The 1910 census shows that the Bridges owned a home on Jones Street in Rays Mill, and that Austin was operating a dry goods store on his own account. In addition, the young doctor Guy Selman and his wife Bessie, also newlyweds, were boarding with the Bridges.

Initially, Austin must have found the dry goods business in Rays Mill quite promising, as he had a new building constructed in the town in 1911. But by 1916 he had moved his business five miles south, across the county line to Barretts, Lowndes county, GA.

Some time before 1935, Austin and Della moved to Dade County Florida.  They rented a home on Sunset Drive in South Miami.  Austin had given up commercial trade and gone into the ministry. The Bridges remained in South Miami thereafter.

In 1940, Reverend Austin Lawrence Bridges was residing at 101 North Red Court, South Miami, Dade County, FL.

Austin Lawrence Bridges died in 1953.

Ray’s Mill has Arrived

In March, 1909, Eugene Ray filed a newspaper article with the date line ” Rays Mill, Ga., March 9. — (Special)”.

“To colonies of people, south Georgia offers special inducements. While it is true that there are in every county and in almost every district small tracts of land for sale, and while it is true that there are in every town men, enterprising and patriotic, who will divide up their real estate holdings to suit the purchaser, yet there are tracts of thousands of acres owned by the wealthy sawmill man, who, having cut the timber off his land, desires no to dispose of it to the farmer and dispose of it in a body. Selling it that way, he would sell it cheaper. I mention these facts in answer to inquiries received by mail.”

“But there is land suitable for every class…”

“Rays Mill, a very new town on the Georgia and Florida Railroad, ten miles south of Nashville, is in this section, and is proud of its location. Less than six months ago there was no town and no sign of it. Today there are at least a half a dozen new store houses completed or being built, and probably twenty-five new residence buildings completed or planned, to say nothing of a half a hundred new cabins for the colored laborer. A two story hotel building is near completion and will soon be occupied. M.E Studstill has a new sawmill here and J.H. Crenshaw has another. Charles H. Anderson and Dr. Guy Selman are putting up a drug store. Mr. Anderson is postmaster and Dr. Selman practices his profession here. A.L. Bridges is another young merchant who will soon move his store to town. Louis Bullard is completing a two story house. And so on — all in five months. The truth is, Rays Mill, the town, has just about ‘arrived,’ or will soon.”


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