Boys Lost in the Swamp

In 1906 two young men, William Franklin “Frank” Shaw and Ben Giddens, wandered into the South Georgia swamp. When it got late and the skies turned stormy the Shaw family, many of whom lived and worked in the Ray City vicinity, mobilized to search for the boys.  (Bryan Shaw, of the Berrien Historical Foundation, has written about his family history in the newsletter, Family of Francis Marion Shaw.)

The Valdosta Times
June 23, 1906

BOYS LOST IN THE SWAMP.

Cat Creek Lads Go Hunting and Failed to Return.

Frank Shaw and Ben Giddens Followed a Rabbit Into a Swamp and Were Unable to Find Their Way Out

Cat Creek, Ga., June 20 – Last Tuesday afternoon Frank Shaw, aged 15, son of Mr. B. F. Shaw, and Ben Giddens, another boy about the same age left their homes to go to the swamp nearby to gather huckleberries. The dogs that followed the boys treed a rabbit in the swamps, which is a bad place and the boys decided to go in the swamp and get the rabbit, when to their great surprise they found themselves lost.     The night was a dark and stormy one and the trees and limbs were falling in every direction.  The boy’s parents became alarmed by the boys failing to show up and they decided to go in search of them.     Messrs. B. F. Shaw and two sons, F. M. Shaw, Bobbie Taylor, John Shaw, W. B. Parrish, Frank Allen, J. S. Shaw, Brodie and Bruner Shaw, all went in search of the missing boys, some going in every direction.  The dogs that accompanied the boys did not come home, which brought great relief to the boy’s parents who realized that if the boys were either drowned or killed the dogs would have returned home.    The boys managed to find their way out of the swamps and got back to their homes about 11 o’clock, completely tired out.

Fortunately, on this day everyone returned safely to their homes.  Both Frank Shaw and Ben Giddens  would later call Ray City home. Frank Shaw, like many of the Shaw family children, attended school at King’s Chapel.

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Death of Ben Giddens

On March 2, 1936 Truby Giddens shot and killed her abusive father at Ray City, Georgia. Stories of the sensational killing made the national news and were published in papers all across the country.

Fourteen-year-old Trudy Giddens (left), and her mother, Mrs. Pearlie Lee Giddens, were jailed at Nashville, Ga., charged with killing their father and husband, Ben Giddens, 48, farmer, assertedly because they were afraid of him.  The girl is charged with the actual slaying. An 11 months-old baby girl whom the mother took to jail with her is shown in her arms.

Fourteen-year-old Trudy Giddens (left), and her mother, Mrs. Pearlie Lee Giddens, were jailed at Nashville, Ga., charged with killing their father and husband, Ben Giddens, 48, farmer, assertedly because they were afraid of him. The girl is charged with the actual slaying. An 11 months-old baby girl whom the mother took to jail with her is shown in her arms.  [Moberly Monitor and Index, Moberly, MO.]

WIFE AND DAUGHTER ARE HELD IN SLAYING
The Atlanta Constitution
 Mar 3, 1936

Girl Says Fear Caused Her To Shoot Her Father at Ray City.

    NASHVILLE, Ga., March 2. – A 14-year-old Georgia farm girl and her mother were charged today with killing her father in his sleep under a plan made assertedly because they were afraid of him.
    Both the girl, Truby Giddens, and her mother, about 40, were jailed on a murder charge but Sheriff O.L. Garner said the daughter was accused of the actual shooting.
    “From what they have told me,” Sheriff Garner said, “they planned the whole thing out.
    “The girl and her mother told me they were afraid of Giddens and that he had been mean to them,” he added.     The father, Ben Giddens, 48-year-old farm laborer, was asleep on a porch at the home.
    “They sent the six other children (all younger than Truby) away from the house.  Truby Giddens, the daughter, said she went out on the porch, pointed a shotgun about 14 inches away from her father’s body and fired.”
    Sheriff Garner said the girl told him her father had been drinking but added he detected no odor of liquor about the body.
    After the shooting, which took place  Sunday, the sheriff arrested the mother and daughter at a neighbor’s house.
    “I brought them by their own house,” he added.  “The mother broke down a little but the girl didn’t.”
    Giddens, the sheriff said, worked for a south Georgia landowner as a “handy man.”  The shooting took place near Ray City in the rural souther part of the state.
    “The girl told me she had never been to school but two days in her life,” the sheriff said.
    Funeral services were held at Ray City today.
    Beside the widow and daughter, nine children survive.