Richard McGowen, Slave Boy of Ray City

Richard McGowen, Slave Boy of Ray City

Richard McGowan (or McGowen), an African-American resident of the Ray City area for nearly 80 years, was born into slavery in Duplin County, NC about 1845.

Research on the ancestry of Richard McGowan conducted by Bryan Shaw resulted in an outline which in large part formed the material of this blog post.  Special thanks to Bryan for his contributions. His sources were the Will of William M. McGowan, Jr. 1792; U.S. Census records from 1790 through 1920 from Duplin County, North Carolina, and Berrien County, Georgia; also the Slave Schedule of 1850, 1866 Duplin County Cohabitation Record, tax digests of Berrien County, Georgia, and the estate papers of Hardeman Sirmans. Additional sources for this post include the 1860 Census  Schedule of Slave Inhabitants of Berrien County, GA; 1866 Marriage of Freed People, Duplin County; 1867 Berrien County Loyalty Oath and Voter Registrations; 1894 Colored Voter Registration, Rays Mill, GA; Roots, rocks and recollections by Nell Patten Roquemore, and the 1930 U.S. Census records of Berrien County, GA.  Information which is stated as fact is documented, and presented as most likely or probably. That which is conjecture is presented as a possibility. The history is presented in chronological order.

The McGowan Family

The origins of the family of the slave boy, Richard McGowan had their roots in Duplin County, North Carolina. Richard McGowan is believed to be the descendant of slaves owned by the William M. McGowan, Jr. family of that county.  Willliam M. McGowan, Jr. was born about 1745, son of William McGowen, Sr. of New Hanover County, North Carolina. William Jr. married Mary Dickson in 1767, and by their union they had 10 children: David (c1770), John (c1772), William (c1773), Robert (c1775), Edward (c1777), Michael (c1779), James (c1781), Joseph (c1782), George (c1789), and Alexander (c1790).

William McGowan, Jr. purchased and settled on land in the Grove Creek Swamp area between today’s Kenansville, North Carolina and North East Cape Fear River, north of Highway 24. One biography suggests his land was south of the swamp, however the McGowen African-American cemetery with many unmarked graves is located on the north side of the swamp, between Highway 11 and Sarecta on the Sarecta Road (GPS Coordinates: 34.810733 N 77.996659 W ). The white McGowen family (sometimes spelled McGowan or McGowin) owned hundreds if not thousands of acres of land in Duplin and Hanover counties, NC.  Based on the small number of slaves owned, it does not appear that they had large tracts of land under cultivation.This was consistent with most North Carolina farmers at that time.

William McGowan, Jr.  died in 1792, leaving a will dated October 5, 1792. The will of William M. McGowan, Jr. divided his estate among his children, including the slaves he owned at the time. He willed that his estate be kept together including the slaves until his children were schooled, and all of his debts were satisfied. However he did specifically identify one of his slaves, Will, to be included in son John’s portion of the estate. He also left a “negro wench named Roze” to his wife Mary. He also “lent” her one negro boy named Dick and one negro girl named Nancy, both to be divided amongst the children upon Mary’s death. His will states all his slaves who were not otherwise identified should also go to Mary to work his estate until his affairs were settled, and to be sold off as his minor children reached the age of majority or were married. Was this boy named Dick the son of Will and the grandfather of Richard “Dick” McGowan?

Thus, following the death of William McGowan, Jr. his children and widow continued as landowners and slaveholders in Duplin County, NC. In the 1800 census, son John McGowen is shown  as the owner of 12 slaves.  Son William McGowen owned 5 slaves, son Robert McGowen owned 4 slaves, and widow Mary McGowan owned 11 slaves.

By 1810, John McGowen had 13 slaves, William McGowen had 8 slaves, Mary McGowan had 9 slaves, and James McGowen had 3 slaves.

In the 1820 census, James McGowen had no slaves, Robert McGowen had 13 slaves, and William McGowen had 3 slaves.

By 1850,  the only McGowen slave owners in Duplin County were the sons of William M. McGowan, Jr.: William McGowen, James P. McGowen, and Joseph McGowen.

On the 1850 Census Slave Schedule, Joseph McGowen owned 26 slaves enumerated  as: a female 65, female 58, male 45, male 44, female 39, male 37, male 26, female 24, female 22, male 19, male 18, male 17, male 16, male 15, female 14, female 14, male 14, male 11, female 7, male 6, female 5, male 5, female 3, female 2, male 2, and a female 9 months. James P. McGowen owned 3 slaves – female 50, male 7, and male 3, and William McGowen owned 1 slave, male 18.

In addition to the slaves enumerated in 1850 in the possession of the McGowens,  it appears that two slave boys, Richard and Peter, had been sold by James, Joseph or William McGowan to a Duplin County neighbor, James Dobson.  James Dobson could have purchased the slave boys from any of the three McGowens, but the most likely would be Joseph McGowen as he had the largest slave population.

Marriages of the McGowan Slaves and the Parents of Slave boy Richard McGowan

The parentage of the slave boys Peter and Richard McGowan cannot be stated with certainty.  Records of the Freedman’s Bureau in post-bellum Duplin County, NC provide evidence that their parents may have been McGowen slaves named Thomas and Malvina.

As an almost universal condition of slavery, the slaves of the William M. McGowan family were denied the civil and religious convention of marriage. According to Reginald Washington, African American genealogy specialist at the National Archives and Records Administration, “Slave marriages had neither legal standing nor protection from the abuses and restrictions imposed on them by slaveowners. Slave husbands and wives, without legal recourse, could be separated or sold at their master’s will. Couples who resided on different plantations were allowed to visit only with the consent of their owners. Slaves often married without the benefit of clergy, and as historian John Blassingame states, “the marriage ceremony in most cases consisted of the slaves simply getting the master’s permission and moving into a cabin together.”

Almost immediately after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, federal authorities decreed that marriages of enslaved African-Americans were legitimate and had legal standing.  In some areas the newly created Freedman’s Bureau began issuing marriage licenses to former slaves. Within a year, the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation providing for the recognition of the marriages of former slaves.  According to Learn NC“The North Carolina office of the Freedmen’s Bureau published announcements outlining the provisions of the law: Any couple who appeared before a Justice of the Peace or Clerk of the Court and stated when they began living together as husband and wife, would be issued a certificate and would be considered lawfully married. Bureau officers worked to make all freedmen in their districts aware of the new rules and of the deadlines for complying with them. In response, tens of thousands of freed couples reported their marriages to county courts.”

On August 18, 1866,  two former slaves giving their names as Thomas McGowen and Malvina McGowen went before the court of Duplin County, NC  for “Acknowledgement” of their marriage  and registered their date of “commencement” as 1826.

Records of Thomas McGowan in the 1866 Marriage of Freed People, Duplin County, NC

Records of Thomas McGowen in the 1866 Marriage of Freed People, Duplin County, NC

There was also another Thomas McGowen in Duplin County who, on August 11, 1866, registered his marriage to Malvina Pearsall.  For this couple, the date of “commencement” was 1855. This Thomas McGowen appears to be the possible son of Thomas and Malvina McGowen who “commenced” their marriage in 1826. An interesting note about this couple is that in the 1870 U.S. Census they are living on or near the farm of John Quincy McGowen and Alexander D. McGowen, sons of Joseph McGowen and grandsons of William M. McGowan.

Was the older Thomas McGowen actually the father of Richard “Dick” McGowan? It is certainly a possibility.

The Dobson Connection

The first slave owner who can be identified with a high degree of certainty as having owned the slave boy Richard McGowan is James Dobson, of Duplin County, NC.  James Dobson was a son of Hezekiah and Elizabeth Davis Dobson. The Dobson property was just to the southeast of the lands owned by the descendants of William M. McGowan, near Kenansville, NC.  In fact, the Dobson Family cemetery is east of Kenansville on the south side of Highway 24 just east of North Dobson Chapel Road.

The 1850 Slave Schedule for Duplin County enumerated the six slaves owned by James Dobson as: a  female 27, male 12, male 10, male 8 (probably Peter McGowan), male 6 (probably Richard “Dick” McGowan), and a male age 2.  That same year, James Dobson moved his family and slaves to that section of  Lowndes County, Georgia which was later cut into Berrien County.  About that same time, a number of families were relocating “from Duplin to Lowndes. Among these families were those of William J. Lamb, James Carroll, Jesse Carroll, William Godfrey, Andrew J. Liles, William Best, James W. Dixon and others. These all settled in or around the village then called Alapaha but now named Lakeland, Lanier County.”  Among others coming from Duplin to Berrien in the mid-century were Robert Rouse, William Hill Boyett, John Bostick, Treasy Boyett Bostick and Mary C. Bostick.

James Dobson settled his family and slaves on land lot 333 of the 10th District, just west of Ten Mile Creek in what is now Lanier County. The 1856 Berrien County Tax Digest shows James Dobson owning 7 slaves, with a total value of approximately $4500. That same year, November 11, 1856, Dobson sold two negro boys, Peter, about 13 years old, and Dick, about 11 years old, to Hardeman Sirmans who lived on the connecting land lot number 339 near present day Ray City, GA. In a bill of sale in possession of the Berrien Historical Foundation, James Dobson warrants that the two boys are of sound body and mind. The sale price was $1900.

1856 Slave Bill of Sale<br> Bill of Sale from James Dobson to Hardeman Sirmans for tw.o slave boys, Dick and Peter, dated November 11, 1856. Image courtesy of the Berrien County Historical Foundation.

1856 Slave Bill of Sale
Bill of Sale from James Dobson to Hardeman Sirmans for two slave boys, Dick and Peter, dated November 11, 1856. Image courtesy of the Berrien County Historical Foundation.

Received of Hardeman Sirmons One thousand nine hundred dollars in full payment for two negro boys, one named Peter about thirteen years old the other named Dick about eleven years old which negroes I warrant to be sound and healthy both in body and mind and I further warrant and  defend the right and titles from of the aforesaid negro boys from and against the claim or claims of myself my heirs executors administrators and assigns and from the claim of all and any other person in witness whereof I the said James Dobson have herewith set my hand and seal this 11th day of November 1856.

James Dobson

The Sirmans Connection

The slave boy Richard McGowan was purchased by Hardeman Sirmans on November 11, 1856.  This was just days before  Berrien county was created from lands cut out of Lowndes County, GA including the lands of Hardeman Sirmans which lay just north of present day Ray City, GA.  By the time Berrien County was created, Hardeman Sirmans was already a prominent citizen of the area.  According to historian Folks Huxford, “Mr. Sirmans served in the Indian War as a private in a volunteer company of Lowndes County militia commanded by his father-in-law, Capt. (afterwards General) Levi J. Knight, August 15th to Oct 15 1838. He was 1st Lieutenant of the 664th militia district, Lowndes County, 1845-46, then served as Captain in same district 1847-1851. Mr. Sirmans was a member of the Masonic order, receiving his degrees in Butler Lodge, No. 211, F. & A.M. at old Milltown (now Lakeland) in 1858. He was the brother of  Rachel Sirmans Mattox; she was the widow of Samuel Mattox who was hanged at Troupville in 1843. In 1847, Hardeman Sirmans married Elizabeth Knight,  eldest daughter of General Levi J. Knight.  General Knight was a neighbor of Mr. Sirmans and the original settler of Ray City.

The 1860 Census Schedule of Slave Inhabitants in Berrien County, GA shows Hardeman Sirmans owned three slaves: Male Mulatto, 25; Male Black, 16 (probably Peter McGowan); Male Black, 14 (probably Richard McGowan). The Slave schedule showed Sirmans provided one “slave house” for his slaves. None of his slaves had escaped and none had been freed.

1860 Census schedule of slave inhabitants of Berrien County, GA enumerating the slaves owned by Hardeman Sirmans.

1860 Census schedule of slave inhabitants of Berrien County, GA enumerating the slaves owned by Hardeman Sirmans.
https://archive.org/stream/acpl_slavecensus_01_reel01#page/n134/mode/1up

With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Hardeman Sirmans, a State Militia veteran of the Indian Wars, enlisted in the Confederate Army with the Clinch County Greys. Sirmans spent most of the Civil War in South Georgia patrolling the southern counties in search of deserters. He probably had opportunities to visit his farm and oversee it to some degree. It appears that Richard McGowan remained with the Sirmans throughout the duration of the War.

Hardeman Sirmans Home just north of Ray City, about 1910. The photo was taken after the death of Hardeman, however his wife, Betsy Knight Sirmans is seated at the table, center. Photo courtesy of Patricia Sirmans Miller and the Berrien County Historical Foundation http://berriencountyga.com/

Hardeman Sirmans Home just north of Ray City, GA about 1910. The photo was taken after the death of Hardeman, however his wife, Betsy Knight Sirmans is seated at the table, center. Photo courtesy of Patricia Sirmans Miller and the Berrien County Historical Foundation http://berriencountyga.com/

Richard McGowan, Freedman

After the war, Richard McGowan remained on the Hardeman Sirmans place. The 1867 Berrien County tax digest shows the “Freedman” Richard McGowan was self-employed and that he paid the $1.00 poll tax.  The Reconstruction Act of 1867  allowed all freedmen the right to vote and required states to draft documents providing for black male suffrage. But the poll tax quickly became a device for disenfranchising black voters.  It was not until 1966 that Supreme Court rulings on the Twenty-fourth Amendment, ratified in 1964, outlawed the use of this tax (or any other tax) as a pre-condition for voting in federal or state elections.

It seems odd, but former slaves could exercise their civil right to vote they were also required to take the same Oath of Allegiance as former Confederate soldiers.   Among 0ther former slaves of Berrien County who took the Oath of Allegiance were Moses Riley, Edward Ross, William Adams, Joseph Wilcox, Timothy Wilcox, Edmund Jones, James A. Adams, Alexander Wright, Allen Lewis, Richard Lewis, John Smith, Seaborn Hubbard, Rolin Alexander, Edward Swain, Benjamin Neasmith, Thomas Udderback, Richard Morehead, Henry Brown, John Thomas, George Houston, Frank Head, Hilliard Armstead, Samuel Rose, Jacob Thomas, William Watts, Aaron Wright, Austin Freeman, Daniel Freeman, Madison Daniels, Sandy Thomas, Andrew Wilson, and Thomas Howard.

1867 Oath of Allegiance completed by Richard McGowen in Berrien County, GA.

1867 Oath of Allegiance completed by Richard McGowan in Berrien County, GA.

State of Georgia
County of Berrien

Personally appeared before me this 22nd day of July, 1867, Richard McGowan who states that he resides in the 3d Election Precinct of Berrien County, Georgia, and who makes oath as follows:

“I Richard McGowan do solemnly swear in the presence of Almighty God, that I am a citizen of the State of Georgia; that I have resided in said State for 19 years months next preceding this day, and now reside in the County of Berrien in said State; that I am 21 years old; that I have not been disfranchised for participation in any rebellion or civil war against the United States, nor for felony committed against the laws of any State or the United States; that I have never been a member of any State Legislature, nor held any executive or judicial office in any State, and afterwards engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof; that I have never taken an oath as a member of Congress of the United States, or as an officer of the United States, and afterwards engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or given aid and comfort to the enemies thereof; that I will faithfully support the Constitution and obey the laws of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, encourage others so to do. So help me, God.”

The said Richard McGowan further swears that he has not been previously registered under the provisions of “An act supplementary to ‘an act to provide for the more efficient government of the rebel States’ – passed March 2, 1867 – and to facilitate restoration,” under this or any other name, in this or any other Election District; and further, that he was born in ______ and naturalized by ___________ on the day of ________________,18__ in the ___________

Richard McGowan

Sworn to and subscribed before me date precinct & county aforesaid

A. Marochetti
Register of the Sixth Registration District

The 1870 census shows Richard McGowan, 23, and another African-American man,  Tony Smith, 24, residing at the Sirmans residence.  Both men were working as farm laborers.

1870 Census enumeration of Richard McGowan, 1144 Georgia Militia District, Berrien County, GA

1870 Census enumeration of Richard McGowan, 1144 Georgia Militia District, Berrien County, GA
https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu0135unit#page/n453/mode/1up

About 1871, Richard had met and married Sally Thomas and they started their family with the birth of their son, Billy followed by Jesse, Henry, Aaron, and Minerva.

What became of the slave boy Peter is not known, however the 1870 census lists a Peter McGowen, age 80 and his wife Polly, age 60, living nearby.  Furthermore, an 1867 Oath of Allegiance and voter registration  completed by a Peter McGowan in Berrien County indicates he came from North Carolina to Georgia around 1849. This may be the father or relative of Peter and Richard McGowan, as he would have been about 55 at the time of Richard’s birth. The 1870 Census shows Polly was born in Georgia and the 1880 Census records her birthplace as South Carolina; either way she is most likely not kin to the boys.

By the 1880 census Richard, age 30 (probably 34) and Sally, 25 were still living near the Sirmans and Knight family farms, but in a separate household in Enumeration District 1144.

1880 Census enumeration of Richard McGowen and family, 1144 Georgia Militia District, Berrien County, GA

1880 Census enumeration of Richard McGowan and family, 1144 Georgia Militia District, Berrien County, GA
https://archive.org/stream/10thcensusl0134unit#page/n380/mode/1up

There is no 1890 census record of Richard McGowan; most of the 11th census records were lost after a 1921 fire, and a series of tragic missteps in the record handling left nothing. However, Richard McGowan is listed in the 1894  Colored Voter Registration for Ray’s Mill, GA, indicating that he  remained in the community.

The 1900 census lists the members of the Richard McGowan household as: Richard, age 66 born July, 1833 (probably 54 and born c1845); Sallie, age 55 born March, 1845 (probably 45 and born c1855); Minerva, age 25 born February, 1875; Barney age 9 born March, 1891; Maggie, age 7 born December, 1892; Charlie, age 5 born December, 1894; Fannie, age 3 born March, 1897; and Richard Jr., age 7 months born October, 1899. Sallie had given birth to 13 children, ten of whom survived. She probably lost three children sometime between the birth of Minerva and Barney. Richard and Sallie were living next door to their son Jessie and his wife and step children, still in the Rays Mill District. Other neighbors included Moses Lee,  J. J. and Catherine Beagles, Hiram Beagles, and Elizabeth Beagles.

https://archive.org/stream/12thcensusofpopu179unit#page/n764/mode/1up

1900 Census enumeration of Richard McGowan and family, 1144 Georgia Militia District, Berrien County, GA
https://archive.org/stream/12thcensusofpopu179unit#page/n764/mode/1up

 

In 1910 the McGowan household consisted of: Richard, age 62 (see note regarding ages); Sallie, age 52; Barney, age 20; Maggie, age 18; Charlie, age 16; and Fannie, age 14. The McGowans  were renting a home about 6 miles east of Ray City and just north of Highway 129, next door to Mary Elizabeth “Mollie” Truett and James R. Johnson, Sr. Richard, Barney and Charlie were farm laborers working as wage employees.    The Beigles were still among the neighbors;  ex-convict Thomas J. Beigles and his wife Mary Elizabeth Pearson Beigles owned a nearby farm. It was reported that Richard and Sallie McGowan had been married 30 years (actually 40) and she had given birth to 16 children, only 8 surviving. Richard Jr. appears to be among those who did not survive.

https://archive.org/stream/13thcensus1910po172unit#page/n654/mode/1up

1910 Census enumeration of Richard McGowan and family, 1144 Georgia Militia District, Berrien County, GA.
https://archive.org/stream/13thcensus1910po172unit#page/n654/mode/1up

In the 1920 census, Richard, enumerated as Dick McGowen, age 76, was still renting in the Ray City area, farming and living with Sallie, 64; Maggie, 25; Fannie, 23; and a granddaughter, Florrie, 4. They were living next door to Martha J. Baskin Clements, widow of David C. Clements, and her adult children Grover C. Clements, Albert B. Clements and his wife Connie, and Alma Clements. Nearby was the household of Elick Wright, brother of Moses Wright.

https://archive.org/stream/14thcensusofpopu235unit#page/n322/mode/1up

1920 Census enumeration of Richard McGowan and family, 1144 Georgia Militia District, Berrien County, GA.
https://archive.org/stream/14thcensusofpopu235unit#page/n322/mode/1up

 

At the time of the 1930 Census, Richard and Sallie McGowan and several of their children and descendants were still living near Ray City, GA. The family was enumerated April 25, 1930 in the 1300 Georgia Militia District of Lanier County, GA, which was cut out of Berrien County in 1920.  Richard, enumerated as age 99, was probably about 86 years old.  Sallie was reported as 76 years old. Residing with them was their daughter Fannie, reported as age 39, actually 33. The McGowans were renting a home near Ray City. Fannie was working as a farm laborer.  Among the nearby neighbors were Americus McGee, Floyd Green, Caulie Pevy, Lucius J. Knight, and John and Wealthy Lee.  Richard McGowan is enumerated as a veteran of the Civil War.

1930-richard-mcgowen-census

1930 Census enumeration of Richard McGowan and family, 1300 Georgia Militia District, Lanier County, GA.
https://archive.org/stream/georgiacensus00reel372#page/n520/mode/1up

On August 6, 1930, just a few months after the 15th census, the Atlanta Constitution reported the death of Richard McGowanThe article even further exaggerated the longevity of the former slave, giving his age as 106.  The article also unfortunately confuses Richard McGowen with his grandson, Philmore McGowan, who was the late husband of Molly Reddick McGowan Hall, a Ray City psychic of widespread fame.

It is understood that both Richard McGowan and Sallie Thomas McGowan are buried in unmarked graves in the cemetery at St John Baptist Church in the Barretts community, five miles south of Ray City, GA .

A Note on the Ages of Former Slaves as Reported in Census Records

Because slaves were deprived of civil and human rights  – education, literacy, personal property –  records of slave birth dates, marriage dates, family relations, genealogy or even place of residence may be very difficult to document. Remembering dates, and counting years  was not easily achieved. It was quite common over the course of eight or nine decades for those vital dates to be forgotten, mistaken or erroneously changed for no particular reason especially if not recorded in a family Bible.  Census enumeration of slaves was typically only a count of heads.  Furthermore, the ages and birth dates of any persons were not of particular consequence prior to the passage of the Social Security act in 1935.

Now regarding the age of Richard, Sallie and their children, It appears that the most definable age of Richard was when he was about 11 years of age in the 1856 bill of sale. He was certainly not born in 1833 as listed in the 1900 census. Probably 1845 is the more accurate birth date. He was listed as 24 in 1870, which appears to be about right. It is more probable that Richard was about 54 in 1900, and that he probably died about the age of 84 in 1930. Ages of Richard’s children are probably more accurate if figured from the date of their earliest recording in the census.

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Strange Death Certificate of Charles X. Jones

Charles X. Jones

The death certificate of Dr. Charles X. Jones, physician, banker, and first elected mayor of Ray City, Berrien County, GA poses something of a mystery. The Informant on the Certificate of Death is Fred D. Jones, son of the deceased and resident of Ray City, GA. The death certificate bears out that Charles X. Jones later lived in the Cat Creek District of Lowndes County, GA near the community of Barretts; his birthplace in Bowdon, GA; profession as a medical doctor; death on August 3, 1933; and burial at New Bethel Church Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA on August 4, 1933. The undertaker was John Porter Ulmer, of Valdosta, GA.   However, in other details the Certificate of Death raises questions.

Death Certificate of Charles X. Jones, first elected mayor of Ray City, GA

Death Certificate of Charles X. Jones, first elected mayor of Ray City, GA. Image source: Kenneth

A question about the death certificate immediately arises with the full name of the deceased. In documentation, the name of Ray City’s first mayor appears as Charles X. Jones, but on the death certificate the full name is given as Charles Xenophon Jones.  Other sources have given the Doctor’s middle name as Xavier. Is it possible that Fred Jones did not know his father’s middle name?

Another discrepancy arises in the names of the parents of the deceased.  These would have been the grandparents of the death certificate informant, Fred D. Jones.   The name of the mother of the deceased was unknown to Fred. It is perhaps not surprising that Fred did not know his grandmother’s maiden name was Martha H. Word, since he was only about three years old when she died in 1908. Fred gives the name of the father of the deceased as Amous Jones.  Yet evidence from census and newspaper records document that the father of Dr. Charles X. Jones was Major William Dudley Jones (1821-1905), prominent citizen of Carroll County and resident of Bowdon, GA.

The birth date is also a discrepancy.  The death certificate gives the date of birth as September 15, 1869, but the grave marker at New Bethel Church Cemetery bears September 15, 1870 as the year of Dr. Jones birth.  An 1870 or later birth date is supported by the absence of Charles X. Jones in the 1870 census records.

1870 Census enumeration of the household of William Dudley Jones, Town of Bowdon, Carroll County, Georgia

1870 Census enumeration of the household of William Dudley Jones, Town of Bowdon, Carroll County, Georgia

In the 1870 census Dr. Jones’ father and mother were enumerated in Bowdon, GA with four children residing in their household.  The father, William D. Jones, worked as a shoe & boot maker. He owned real estate valued at $1000 and $100 dollars worth of personal property. The mother, Martha Jones, kept house. Children of William D. Jones and Martha H. Word residing in the home at the time of the July 5, 1870 enumeration were:

  1. William Jones, 22, works in shop
  2. Abbey Jones, 7, at home
  3. Mattie Jones, 5, at home
  4. Thomas Jones, 3, at home

While Charles X. Jones is absent from the 1870 census, he does appear in the 1880 census enumerated on June 3, 1880 at age nine. This age is consistent with a birth date of September 15, 1870.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, son of Major William Dudley Jones, in Carroll County, Georgia, on June 3, 1880.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, son of Major William Dudley Jones, in Carroll County, Georgia, on June 3, 1880.

A further interesting note is thatno doctor was present at the time of death to sign the Certificate of Death.   Instead, the certificate was signed by  A.W. McDonald. The cause of death was reported as apoplexy.  Arthur Walton McDonald was a brother of Lacy A. McDonald who was a mailman at Ray City, GA.  McDonald had known Dr. Jones at least 13 years, having enumerated the Jones household as census taker in the Census of 1920.

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Charles X Jones Was a Leading Spirit of Ray City

In a shady cemetery plot at New Bethel Church, about seven miles southwest of Ray City, GA, lies the grave of the town’s first elected mayor, Dr. Charles X. Jones.

Grave of Charles X. Jones (1870-1933), First Elected Mayor of Ray City, GA

Grave of Charles X. Jones (1870-1933), First Elected Mayor of Ray City, GA

Charles X. Jones was born in Carroll County, GA on September 15, 1870 (or 1869 according to his death certificate).    When Charles  was born  his father, Maj. William Dudley Jones, was 50 and his mother, Martha H. Word, was 45. His father was a farmer at Bowdon, GA and also served as county tax collector of Carroll County. His mother’s parents were John Bryson Word and Amelia Sparks.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, son of Major William Dudley Jones, in Carroll County, Georgia, on June 3, 1880.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, son of Major William Dudley Jones, in Carroll County, Georgia, on June 3, 1880.

Charles X. Jones grew up on his father’s farm near Bowdon, GA in the 1111th district of Carroll County.  Bowden was a progressive community and the site of Bowdon College, “Georgia’s fifth chartered institution of higher education and first coeducational institution. Bowdon was a frontier community of merchants and yeomen who nourished the growth of a school where earnest students of limited means bettered their lives and their communities…Graduates have carried the honor of the institution into our state and national capitals and throughout the world. From her halls have come educators, doctors, lawyers, journalists, judges, bankers, farmers, industrialists, governors, and senators.”  Charles X. Jones was admitted to Bowden College where he completed the full program of study and graduated on July 1, 1891.

Bowdon College, GA, photographed circa 1899. Charles X. Jones graduated from Bowdon College in 1891.

Bowdon College, GA, photographed circa 1899. Charles X. Jones graduated from Bowdon College in 1891.

Jones later attended the medical school in Augusta, GA now known as Georgia Regents University, and received his medical degree  in 1898.

Old Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA. Charles X. Jones graduated with a medical degree in 1898.

Old Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA. Charles X. Jones graduated with a medical degree in 1898.

After medical school, young Dr. Jones came to Berrien County,GA to the Ray’s Mill Community.  He boarded with James S. Swindle and Catherline “Candas” Swindle while establishing his practice.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, physician, in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia, on June 13, 1900.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, physician, in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia, on June 13, 1900.

In 1901, Dr. Jones married 17-year-old Effie J. Mclean; he was about 31 years of age. The marriage ceremony was performed in Berrien County, GA by Elder Aaron Anderson Knight, Primitive Baptist Minister of Ray City.  Elder Knight’s church at that time was New Ramah Church in Ray City, GA

Dr. Charles X. Jones married Effie J. McLean on December 3, 1901 in Berrien County, GA.

Dr. Charles X. Jones married Effie J. McLean on December 3, 1901 in Berrien County, GA.

In 1903, Charles X. Jones purchased a 4 acre tract of land from James S. Swindle along Card Creek, the outflow of Ray’s Millpond now known as Beaverdam Creek.  That same year Charles and Effie began their family with the birth of their first child, Sam Jones.

In the summer of 1905, word came from Bowdon, GA that Dr. Jones’ father had died of a stroke. The obituary was published in the Atlanta Constitution and other state papers.

Obituary of Major William Dudley Jones, died June 19, 1905.

Obituary of Major William Dudley Jones, died June 19, 1905. Atlanta Constitution, June 21, 1905.

Atlanta Constitution
June 21, 1905

Major W.D. Jones, Carrollton, Ga.

Major W. D. Jones, a very highly respected citizen of this county, who lived near Bowdon, died suddenly as a result of a stroke of paralysis yesterday. He was 90 years old. He was the father of the late Colonel J. W. Jones, of Bowdon, and of Dr. Charles X. Jones, near Valdosta.

In 1908, Charles X. Jones’ tract of land was platted into town lots in the newly incorporated town of Rays Mill, GA.  Charles and Effie built the first house in  the  town and became its first residents. This house was located on the lot that surrounds the present Methodist Church. The street which ran past the Jones residence was named Jones Street in the doctor’s honor. Redding D. Swindle was  appointed as the mayor until the first elections could be held, and Jones carried the election in the first casting of ballots for the government of the new town. Mary Etta Swindle, wife of R.D. Swindle won a contest to name the new town, proposing it be called Ray City, GA although the title of Rays Mill persisted for many years thereafter.

The Jones residence was the very first household enumerated in Rays Mill, GA in the census of 1910. Dr. Charles X. Jones was enumerated with a reported age of 39, wife Effie J. Jones (26), and their children Sam Jones (7), Fred Jones (5), Trixie Jones (3), and Charles X. Jones, Jr (1).

Census enumeration of Dr. Charles X. and family in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia, April 15, 1910.

Census enumeration of Dr. Charles X. and family in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia, April 15, 1910.

Dr. Jones was also a banker. When the Bank of Rays Mill was formed in 1911, Dr. Jones  was elected Vice President of the bank, and served on the Board of Directors along with B. P. Jones,  J. S. Swindle, J. H. Swindle, W. H. E. Terry, L. J. Clements and bank president Clarence L. Smith. Later, Charles X. Jones  and Clarence L. Smith served together on the board of directors of Southern Bank & Trust Co., formed 1913 in Valdosta, GA.  The Southern Bank & Trust Company closed its doors in 1918.

A legal notice in the January 6, 1912 edition of the Valdosta Times shows that Dr. Jones had acquired property at the community of Barretts, about five miles south of Ray City. The Dr.’s land apparently fronted on the public road then running from Ray City to Valdosta (now known as Barretts Road) and was bounded on the south by the property of T. J. Taylor.  The 1920 census places Dr. Jones on his farm  at Barretts, where he had relocated and continued his medical practice. This was in the 1307th Georgia Militia District, the Cat Creek District of Lowndes County, GA. In the census of 1920, Jones residence was enumerated by census taker Arthur Walton McDonald, brother of Lacy A. McDonald who was a mailman at Ray City.

1920 census enumeration of Dr. Charles X. Jones, Lowndes County, GA

1920 census enumeration of Dr. Charles X. Jones, Lowndes County, GA

By the time of the 1930 census, Charles X. Jones was about 60 years old and retired from medical practice. His farm place near Barretts, valued at $5000,  was owned free and clear of mortgage. Census record indicate Jones had become a merchant/operator of a dry goods store.  Also in Dr. Jones household were his  son, Charles X. Jones, Jr.,  daughter Trixie Jones Moore (widow of Carl L. Moore), and her children, Mattie Lou Moore and Helene Moore. Trixie Jones Moore, worked as a general merchandise clerk, while Charles X. Jones, Jr. helped with the farm work.

1930 census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, Lowndes County, GA. Now retired from medical practice, Jones operated a dry goods store and maintained his farm in the Barretts Community.

1930 census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, Lowndes County, GA. Now retired from medical practice, Jones operated a dry goods store and maintained his farm in the Barretts Community.

On August 3, 1933 Charles X. Jones suffered an attack of “apoplexy” – a venerable word for a stroke, a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), often associated with loss of consciousness and paralysis of various parts of the body.  Before the day was out he succumbed to death.

Charles X. Jones was a civic minded citizen and an important figure in the incorporation of the town of Ray’s Mill (now Ray City), GA.  He was said to be a leading spirit of the town.

Related Posts:

James Henry Swindle ~ Businessman and Public Servant

James Henry  “Jim” Swindle was a businessman and politician of Ray City, GA.  He was born near Ray City Aug 6, 1886, a son of Margaret Melvina Futch and George Emory Swindle.  A previous post gave his bio from the Georgia Official and Statistical Register.  He was involved in many civic organizations including the Baptist church, Masons, and Lions Club, and served in public offices from Mayor of Ray City to Representative in the Georgia Assembly.

James H. Swindle

James H. Swindle

Jim Swindle was a brother of Leonard Columbus Swindle, John N. Swindle, George Perry Swindle, Roy C. Swindle, and Leonidas A. Swindle.

In the Census of 1900 James H. Swindle was enumerated with his parents and brothers in his father’s household in the Connell’s Mill District near Rays Mill, GA. The Swindle family farm was located on the Rays Mill & Cat Creek Road. Jim and his younger brothers all attended school, while his older brother, Leonard, helped his father with the farm labor.

After the 1909 death of  his father, G.E. Swindle, at Buffalo Lithia Springs, VA , Jim became the head of the household and took over the family farm.

James Henry “Jim” Swindle became a prominent businessman of Berrien County. By 1908, he was involved in the organization of the Bank of  Rays Mill, which later became the Citizens Bank of Ray City.  It is said that the Swindle family owned much of the land where present day Ray City is located, and when the town was officially incorporated in 1909, he became one of the first residents.  In 1912 he married Sarah Ellen  “Stell” Daniel in Nashville, GA, and the couple made their home at Ray City.

J. H. Swindle of Rays Mill was a dealer for the Georgia Fertilizer & Oil Company. 1912 Advertisement.

J. H. Swindle of Rays Mill was a dealer for the Georgia Fertilizer & Oil Company. 1912 Advertisement.

Together with James S. Swindle, James Henry Swindle owned the Ray City Hotel, which stood on the location later occupied by the Clements Fountain. The Swindles employed J.F. Hineley to operate the hotel. The hotel and all of its contents were destroyed, along with several other buildings, in the Ray City fire of Sunday, April 25, 1915.

James Henry Swindle was 30 years old when he registered for the draft in WWI on June 5, 1917.  He gave his occupation as  a self-employed farmer  and merchant working in Ray City, Ga. He was described as medium height, medium build, black hair, and blue eyes.  His draft card was signed by D.A. Sapp.

By 1920 James H. Swindle had located his wife and family in a house on Main Street in Ray City, Georgia. They owned the home free and clear.  Their neighbors were C . Oscar Terry and Leon L. Parrish.  J.H. Swindle was a merchant, operating a grain and feed store on his own account.

Among other elected positions, Jim Swindle served 12 years on the Berrien County Board of Education, including four years as Chairman.

1925 Berrien County Board of Education
D. J. Gaskins, Ch. Ray City
A. L. Akins.. . .Nashville
J. H. Swindle …Ray City
C.B.Harris–. -Enigma
George P. Griffin Nashville

1927 Berrien County Board of Education
D. J. Gaskins, Chm., Ray City
J. R. McLamb
J. H. Swindle, Ray City
A. L. Akins, Nashville
W. K. Sikes

In the census of 1930, Swindle listed his principle occupation as operator of a gin. He owned cotton gins in Ray City, and at Barretts in Lowndes County, GA.

“The J.H. Swindle Gins and Warehouse is another concern of benefit to the entire section.  Plants are located at Ray City and Barrett, being among the most up to date in south Georgia.  Mr. Swindle buys cotton and cotton seed, corn, peanuts, hay and other country produce.  Besides gin and warehouse activities he operates a twelve horse farm.”

Another of his 1930s business concerns was the operation of a bank at Ray City.

“The Peoples Banking Company, a private institution, is owned by Mr. J.H. Swindle, with Mr. E.J. Patten as cashier.  This bank was organized several years ago by Mr. Swindle when Ray City lost its regular bank, so as to carry on the business operations locally and without interruptions.”

Later, J.I. Clements worked for a while as cashier of the Peoples Banking Company.  Jim Swindle’s brother, L. C. Swindle also operated a bank at Ray City, the Farmers Bank.

In 1932 J. H. Swindle again served on the Berrien County Board of Education and in 1934 he was Mayor of Ray City.

On Jan 14, 1939 the Speaker of the House of the Georgia Assembly announced the Legislative Committee Chairmen. James H. Swindle of Berrien was named as chair of the General Agriculture Committee No. 1.   Just a few days later on January 31, 1939 the Atlanta Constitution reported that James Henry Swindle, of Ray City, was declaring as a candidate for State Commissioner of Agriculture.

J.H. Swindle, ‘Just a Small Farmer,’ Says Markets Aren’t Working.
January 31, 1939

By the Associated Press.

  Representative J.H. Swindle, of Berrien, who describes himself as “just a small farmer,” announced yesterday he would seek election as state commissioner of agriculture in 1940.

  Swindle, a veteran of three terms in the legislature, is chairman of the house committee on agriculture No. 1.

  Columbus Roberts, present commissioner of agriculture, concludes his present term in 1940. He has been mentioned as a likely candidate to succeed Governor Rivers.

  Swindle said he would favor revision of the state’s present agricultural policy to give greater assistance to the farmers in disposing of their products.

  “The farmer can dump his stuff anywhere,” he said. “The present system (of farmers’ markets) is not working any special good to the farmers.”

  Swindle urged that the state provide price reporting service as well as a place where farmers may bring their produce for sale. He also suggested that the state assist the farmers “to put his produce in proper shape for disposal” by grading and collecting individual shipments into single lots.

  “I would even be willing to try the auction system,” often results in the price for a commodity being set at an unfairly low level because one or more of the earliest sellers were unaware of the correct price and disposed of their produce below the market level.

  Swindle, a 52-year-old native of Berrien county, has served two years as mayor of Ray city, eight years on the city council, and 12 years on the county board of education, including four years as chairman. He is engaged in farming, operates a cotton gin, and purchases cotton and farm products for resale. He is married, and has two daughters and a son.

In 1941, James H. Swindle was appointed to serve again on the Berrien County Board of Education to replace Henry A. Swindle who had resigned from the Board in December 1940.  In October, the Board members elected J.H. Swindle as Chairman of the Board.

A 1941 mention in the Nashville Herald said:

Mr. J.H. Swindle is a prominent citizen of this city [Ray City].  He owns most of the business buildings in Ray City.  He is our past representative, having served four years.  He owns extensive farms and the gin.  He is a cotton buyer, a cottonseed buyer, and a corn buyer.

James H. Swindle continued his involvement in civic affairs. In the 1940s he worked to bring better roads to Ray City, and in 1947 served on the building committee for the new Ray City School gym.

In 1953 he was elected vice-president of the South Georgia Cattlemen’s Association.

Children of Stell Daniel and James Henry Swindle:

  1. Margaret Virginia Swindle  (Oct 28, 1914)
  2. Doris E. Swindle  (1916-1941)
  3. Grace E Swindle
  4. James Aaron Swindle (1920-1993)
Grave marker of James Henry "Jim" Swindle, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Grave marker of James Henry “Jim” Swindle, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Related Posts:

Military Honors Rendered For Owen Leonard Clements

Owen Leonard Clements and three other soldiers drowned in the Rio Grande during a border skirmish at Progreso, TX on January 26, 1916.

Image detail- military honors for Sergeant Owen Leonard Clements, Corporal Michael F. Ring, Private Perry H. Rhode, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best, drowned January 26, 1916

Image detail- military honors for Sergeant Owen Leonard Clements, Corporal Michael F. Ring, Private Perry H. Rhode, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best, drowned January 26, 1916

Clements was a sergeant serving with Battery D, 4th Field Artillery Regiment, on the Mexican border. Owen Leonard Clements (subject of previous post: see Owen Leonard Clements and the 4th Field Artillery) grew up in the Ray City, GA vicinity and entered the Army as a young man.

The bodies of three of the drowned men were found five days later about five miles down stream from Progreso, as reported in the The Chicago Day Book:

Bodies of soldiers drowned in the Rio Grande recovered.  The Day Book, January 31, 1916.

Bodies of soldiers drowned in the Rio Grande recovered. The Day Book, January 31, 1916.

The Chicago Day Book
January 31, 1916

BODIES OF SOLDIERS DROWNED IN RIO GRAND RECOVERED

Brownsville, Tex. , Jan. 31. – Bodies of three of four United States soldiers who drowned while crossing Rio Grande last week to aid in rescue of two comrades kidnapped by Mexican bandits have been recovered.  They are those of Corp. Michael L. Ring of Lenox Mass.; Private Perry A. Rhodes of Seattle, Wash., and Private Charles W. Wilton-Best of East Boston, Mass.  The two former were of Battery D., Fourth Field artillery, and the latter of Troop A., Twelf cavalry.
     A hat was thrown in river at Progresso, Tex., where men were drowned.  When hat stopped with current at a point five miles below Progreso, two charges of dynamite were exploded in river there.  The three bodies rose to the surface.  None of them bore any wounds, dispelling theory that soldiers were hit by Mexican bullets before they went down.

Additional reports indicated the search for Clements continued:

January 31, 1916 edition of The Day, New London, CT reports on the recovery of the bodies of three soldiers who drowned in the Rio Grande. The body of Owen Leonard Clements is reported still missing.

January 31, 1916 edition of The Day, New London, CT reports on the recovery of the bodies of three soldiers who drowned in the Rio Grande. The body of Owen Leonard Clements is reported still missing.

The New London Day
January 31, 1916

U.S. SOLDIERS NOT SHOT BY MEXICANS

Dynamite Floats Bodies of Three Victims – Examination Shows No Wounds.

      BROWNSVILLE, Texas, Jan. 31. – Use of dynamite has resulted in the recovery today of the bodies of three of the four soldiers drowned in the Rio Grande, Jan. 26,  at Progreso, Texas, when American soldiers entered Mexico in an effort to rescue two companions.  The bodies recovered were those of Corporal Michael Ring and Private Henry A. Rhode, Battery B, Fourth field artillery, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best of the Twelfth cavalry.
    Examination of the three bodies at an undertaker’s establishment where they were embalmed last night revealed no bullet wounds and so disposes of the rumors that they were drowned after being shot by Mexicans.
      Search for the body of Sergt. Owen Clements will continue tomorrow.

Within a few days the body of Owen Leonard Clements was also recovered.   The Army provided a funeral service for the four soldiers with full military honors.

Quadruple funeral for Sergeant Owen L. Clements, Corporal Michael F. Ring, Private Perry H. Rhode, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best, drowned January 26, 1916.  The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, 01167, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Quadruple funeral for Sergeant Owen L. Clements, Corporal Michael F. Ring, Private Perry H. Rhode, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best, drowned January 26, 1916. The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, 01167, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Quadruple funeral for Sergeant Owen L. Clements, Corporal Michael F. Ring, Private Perry H. Rhode, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best, drowned January 26, 1916. The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, 01167, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Quadruple funeral for Sergeant Owen L. Clements, Corporal Michael F. Ring, Private Perry H. Rhode, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best, drowned January 26, 1916. The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, 01167, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Quadruple funeral for Sergeant Owen L. Clements, Corporal Michael F. Ring, Private Perry H. Rhode, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best, drowned January 26, 1916. The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, 01167, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

† † †

Quadruple funeral for Sergeant Owen L. Clements, Corporal Michael F. Ring, Private Perry H. Rhode, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best, drowned January 26, 1916. The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, 01167, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Quadruple funeral for Sergeant Owen L. Clements, Corporal Michael F. Ring, Private Perry H. Rhode, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best, drowned January 26, 1916. The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, 01167, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

† † †

Quadruple funeral for Sergeant Owen L. Clements, Corporal Michael F. Ring, Private Perry H. Rhode, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best, drowned January 26, 1916. The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, 01167, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Quadruple funeral for Sergeant Owen L. Clements, Corporal Michael F. Ring, Private Perry H. Rhode, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best, drowned January 26, 1916. The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, 01167, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

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Military honors for Owen L. Clements, of Ray's Mill, GA. The Schulenberg Sticker, February 11, 1916.

Military honors for Owen L. Clements, of Ray’s Mill, GA. The Schulenberg Sticker, February 11, 1916.

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Gravemarker of Owen Leonard Clements (1886-1916), Cat Creek Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA.

Gravemarker of Owen Leonard Clements (1886-1916), Cat Creek Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA.

1919 Epilogue:

Investigation of Mexican affairs:

Hearing before a subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Sixty-sixth Congress, first[-second] session, pursuant to S. res. 106, directing the Committee on Foreign Relations to investigate the matter of outrages on citizens of the United States in Mexico, Volume 1, 1919:

On January 26, 1916, Pvts. W. P. Wheeler and Biggo Pederson, Battery D. Fourth United States Field Artillery, while swimming in the Rio Grande just south of Progresso, swam to Mexico side. There they were taken prisoners by the Mexicans and carried back from the river. As soon as it was reported to the officers in charge of the commands, believing that it was the intention of the Mexicans to abuse the two soldiers, Lieut. John E. Mort, Second Lieut. Bernard R. Peyton, and Lieut Albert W. Waldron, all of Battery D, Fourth United States Field Artillery, with about 20 men, started across by fording and swimming. All but Sergt. Owen L. Clements, Corpl. Michael F. Ring, Pvt. Perry M. Rhode, and Pvt. Chas. D. Wilton Best landed safely, but those  named were drowned, their bodies being recovered about three days later.
   This detachment was unable to find the two soldiers, though they searched many houses.  Being informed that Carranza soldiers had taken them and would not maltreat them, the expedition return to the Texas side.  On January 27, 1916, the Carranzists commander at Matamoras turned the two men over to United States Consul Johnson and they were soon back on Texas soil.  A court-martial was convened to try the offending officers, who received some minor reprimand, and were detailed for more onerous duties elsewhere.

-30-

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 City.

 Before coming to Ray City,  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 al the amusing games were over Mr. A. L. Bridges bid his friend 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 1918 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. 

Austin Lawrence Bridges died in 1953.

L.C. Swindle Faces Bank Robber at Ray City – February 28,1939

On February 28, 1939, 72 years ago today, the Farmer’s bank at Ray City was the scene of a hold-up. The  Bank cashier was  L.C. Swindle.

Leonard Columbus Swindle was born May 20, 1880, the son of Margaret M. Futch and George Emory Swindle.  He was the grand son of Nancy Jane Parker and James Swindle. As a boy, he grew up on the on the Swindle homeplace near Ray City, GA. Later he lived in Cecil, and Valdosta. In Valdosta, L.C. was employed as a store clerk.

As of September 12, 1918, Leonard Columbus Swindle and his wife Mary Coley Swindle were residing in Barretts, GA about five miles south of Ray City when he registered for the WWI draft. He was a farmer, tall and slender with blue eyes and dark hair.

By 1930, L.C. and Mary had moved back to Ray City,GA. Mary worked as a store clerk and L.C. worked in a cotton warehouse, probably for his brother James H. “Jim” Swindle who owned the cotton warehouse at Ray City.

Later,  L. C. Swindle drawing on his business experience operated and controlled the Farmers Bank at Ray City.  It was there, on February 28, 1939, working as Cashier that he faced the gun of a bank robber.

Atlanta Constitution
March 1, 1939

LONE BANDIT ROBS BANK AT RAY CITY
Early Morning Holdup Man Gets $655; Police Take Up Hunt.

RAY CITY, Ga., Feb. 28.  Police searched for an armed bandit who robbed the Farmers’ bank here of $633 today when he was admitted before the regular opening hour to get change for a $20 bill.
Cashier L.C. Swindle reported the robbery to police and fixed the time at about 7:15 o’clock.  He said he had gone to the bank early to work on some insurance papers.  Someone knocked on the door and asked if he could get $20 changed.
Swindle said such requests before the bank  opens are frequent and he told the man he would let him in.
“He walked to the cashier’s window and laid a $20 bill on the counter,” Swindle related. “I asked how he wanted the money and as I was counting it out, the man said, ‘wait a minute.'”
When he looked up, Swindle said, a gun was pointed at him and the man said “give it all to me.”  Swindle added the man scooped up the cash and warned him to “stay in here,” and fled.
Sheriff N.N. Hughes, of Nashville, came here to investigate the case, and said the cashier described the man. Details were withheld until after search of the vicinity.
Hughes said he would search for two men reported seen near the bank early in the morning.  The sheriff said Swindle was unable to tell him whether or not the bandit was in a car, as the blinds were down and a radio playing drowned out possible motor noise.  Others said they heard a car about the time of the robbery.

Related Posts:

WWI Vocational Rehabilitation of Thomas J. Collins

In the census of 1910,   Thomas Jefferson Collins was enumerated as a teenager living with his family in Ray City, GA.  He was born July 14, 1894, a son of William A. Collins.  By the time of the WWI replacement draft registration of 1917, he was a young man of 22, with medium height and build, light blue eyes and light brown hair. At the time of the registration, he was living in Barretts, GA, about seven miles south of Ray City where he was employed as a farmer.

Thomas was drafted and inducted for service on June 24, 1918 at Valdosta, GA.  He served in the Army and came back to Ray City a disabled veteran.

WWI Service Record of Thomas J. Collins

WWI Service Record of Thomas J. Collins

The Army sent Collins to Auxiliary Remount Depot 316 at Camp Gordon, GA.

According to the U.S. Army Quartermaster Foundation, “The principle function of the Remount Service during peacetime was to procure, process, train, and issue horses, mules, and dogs (1942-1948) for military use and to train personnel in animal management.

Army Mule. Image Source: http://www.qmfound.com/remount.htm

Army Mule. Image Source: http://www.qmfound.com/remount.htm

It was also responsible for purchase of forage for these animals. Another function of the Remount Service was that of  the Army horse breeding program designed to raise the quality of horses. The Remount Service’s principle functions during war were to supply replacement riding horses and the draft animals required to haul ammunition, water, food, and heavy artillery and to evacuate the wounded. World War I was the last major conflict which the United States Army used horses and mules in significant numbers.  The Remount Service was enlarged to meet the increased demands of the Artillery, the Cavalry and other units.  Around 571,000 horses and mules processed through the Remount system of which more than 68,000 were killed in that war.  At the close of the war the Quartermaster Corps maintained 39 remount depots with a capacity 229,200 animals.”

Auxiliary Remount Depot No. 316 at Camp Gordon, GA had a capacity for 5000 horses and mules, and quartered an average of 4015 animals.  It was staffed with 6 commissioned officers and  75 enlisted men. Collins served there as a private in the Quartermasters Corps. Listing of other depot staff  may be viewed at AUXILIARY REMOUNT DEPOT 316 ROSTER, CAMP GORDON, GEORGIA (ca. 1919).

While in Army service Thomas J. Collins was seriously injured resulting in a 50 percent disability.  He was honorably discharged on March 20, 1919 with a Service Connected Disability.  Fortunately, in 1919 Congress passed a law providing vocational rehabilitation for disabled veterans.

 

Red Cross Poster for WWI Wounded Warriors

Red Cross Poster for WWI Wounded Warriors

Legislation for Vocational Rehabilitation

During the summer [1919] the bill introduced into Congress by Senator Hoke Smith and Representative Wm. J. Sears, known as the Smith-Sears Bill, was passed by Congress. This Act provides for vocational rehabilitation and return to civil employment of disabled persons discharged from the military and naval forces of the United States. The bill vests the Federal Board for Vocational Education with power to pass on who may be vocationally rehabilitated, to prescribe and provide courses of vocational rehabilitation, and to provide for the placement of rehabilitated persons in suitable and gainful occupations.

The bill appropriates $1,800,000 for buildings and equipment ; preparation and salaries of instructors and supervisors; traveling expenses of disabled persons in connection with training; tuition, placement and supervision after placement of vocationally rehabilitated persons; and investigations and administrative expenses.

An investigation that has been made by the Federal Vocational Board shows that for every million men in the army 100,000 wounded men will recover. Of this 100,000 men 80,000 will need no re-education; 10,000 should have partial re-education, and 10,000 total re-education. Georgia has about   of the population of the United States, and calculating on the basis of three million men in the army we would probably have about 1,000 white soldiers in Georgia to be given re-education, owing to severe wounds. The Federal Board has divided the forms of education for these men into six groups—Agriculture, Commerce, and Professional, Navy, trades, and industries.

This action on the part of the government is indeed a noble one. An effort will be made, as in other countries, to put the crippled soldier on an independent basis of wage earning and not leave him to eke out his existence as a cripple or in a soldiers’ home, but let him feel that tho a crippled he can be a useful and self supporting citizen.

In 1919-1920 Thomas J. Collins of Ray City, GA was a “Rehabilitation Student” at the University of Georgia.

-Announcement of the University of Georgia For the Session of 1920-1021 with a register of officers and students for the session of 1919-1920, Volume 20, Issue 9 By University of Georgia. PG 287

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REHABILITATION COURSES
 These courses are open only to disabled soldiers, sailors and marines who have been recommended by the Federal Board for Vocational Training.

Special courses are arranged according to the previous education and training of those recommended for vocational training, taking these courses are required to take work in English and mathematics and optional courses in general agriculture or special courses in agronomy, horticulture, animal husbandry, agricultural engineering or poultry husbandry.

The object of these courses is to give vocational training in some phase of agricultural work

The High school quarterly, Volume 7 By University of Georgia, Georgia High School Association, Georgia College Association, National High School Inspectors’ Association, Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Commission on Accredited Schools of the Southern States. PG 6

By 1930, Thomas J. Collins was living in Valdosta, GA and later moved to Hillsborough, Florida.

 

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