Tebeauville, Old No. Nine

Previously:

Tebeauville, Old No. Nine

Prior to the Civil War General Levi J. Knight, of present day Ray City, GA, invested in the development of railroads across Wiregrass Georgia.  Two of Knight’s investments were in the Brunswick & Florida Railroad, and the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad, the junction of which was at Tebeauville, GA.   When the Civil War commenced, Knight’s railroads were still being constructed, largely with the labor of enslaved African-Americans. During early part of the war, Knight’s company of Berrien Minute Men was transported on these railroads to their posts at the coastal defenses of Georgia.

Depot at Tebeauville

Depot at  station No. Nine, Tebeauville, GA (now Waycross, GA) was the junction point of the Brunswick & Florida Railroad with the Savannah, Albany & Gulf Railroad and the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad.

Although the Brunswick & Florida Railroad had been chartered in 1837, construction did not commence until 1856.  The track was started at Brunswick, GA but by 1857, only 36 miles of rail had been completed.  If completed, the B&F could move men and materials from ports on the Gulf of Mexico to the Brunswick port on the Atlantic in 24 hours “in case of war between this country and a foreign nation.”  And there were plan that the B&F would make connections to bring passenger and freight traffic to Brunswick from as far west as Vicksburg, MS.

The shortline Brunswick & Florida Railroad would run from Brunswick to the Savannah, Albany & Gulf Railroad station number nine, which was also to be a junction with the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad.  The Atlantic & Gulf was intended to serve the two coastal railroads as a “Main Trunk” stretching across south Georgia.  At Bainbridge, GA  it was planned to serve the steamboat docks on the Flint River creating a passenger and freight connection to the Gulf of Mexico.

The junction point of the B&F, A&G and the S,A&G, was ninth station to be constructed on the line from Savannah and was situated just south of the Satilla River. The eponymous community which sprang up there was No. Nine.  Blackshear, GA. was No. Eight and Glenmore, GA was No. 10.

Philip Coleman Pendleton, agent for the Lowndes County Immigration Society

Philip Coleman Pendleton, agent for the Lowndes County Immigration Society

In 1857, Philip Coleman Pendleton had settled his family at No. Nine before the tracks of the S, A & G  or the B & F even reached the station. At Tebeauville, Pendleton engaged in farming and timber. He also served as postmaster and stated the first Sunday school in Ware county.   (Pendleton had come from Sandersville, GA where he was co-owner of the Central Georgian newspaper, with O. C. Pope, Sr. )

At that time [1857] a Savannah company headed by James Screven, father of the late John Screven, was building a railroad from Savannah to Thomasville. The western terminus [of the Savannah, Albany and Gulf Railroad] was then at a point some twelve or fifteen miles east of Blackshear…The laying of the iron reached Mr. Pendleton’s place about a year later…  The old stage road between Thomasville and Brunswick passed here, with a fork running to Burnt Fort, on the Satilla River. There was a post-office at this place called “Yankee Town.” It was so designated because northern people operated the stage coaches and they owned at this place a relay stable; but it passed away with the coming of the railroad, and Screven named the station ‘Pendleton’. The man thus honored took the first train to Savannah and caused the name to be changed to Tebeauville, after his father-in-law, Captain F. E. Tebeau, a member of one of the old Savannah families. Perhaps a year or so later a civil engineer came along surveying the route for the [Brunswick & Florida Railroad]. When he arrived at Tebeauville he made a side proposition to Mr. Pendleton to run the prospective city off in lots and to give him each alternate lot. Mr. Pendleton did not think that the man was authorized thus to approach him, and suggested that he tell the president of the road to see him in regard to the matter. Miffed at this rebuke, the engineer went back three or four miles pulling up the stakes as he went, and made a curve to miss Mr. Pendleton’s land. If one will stand at the crossing near Tebeau Creek, in the heart of Waycross, and look towards Brunswick, he can see the curve in the road [railroad tracks], caused by this effort of the engineer to make something on the side. – Georgia’s Men of Mark

The tracks of the Savannah, Albany and Gulf reached station No. Nine on July 4, 1859.

By 1859,  60 miles of B & F track had been laid stretching from Brunswick north around the headwaters of East River then westward toward Tebeauville. The B&F junction at station No. Nine completed a rail connection between Brunswick and Savannah, and connected Brunswick with the the “Main Trunk” Atlantic and Gulf Railroad.

 

Civil War era map of the Brunswick & Florida Railroad, running from Yankee Town (now Waycross), GA to Brunswick, GA - Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

Civil War era map of the Brunswick & Florida Railroad, running from Yankee Town, the post office at Tebeauville (now Waycross), GA, to Brunswick, GA – Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

Construction of the A & G  was progressing westward from Tebeauville toward Lowndes County, GA.  The steel rails were imported from Le Havre, France.  There were 1200 slaves at work building the Atlantic & Gulf, making the railroad perhaps the largest single concentration of enslaved people in Georgia. In 1859,  75 percent of railroads in the south used slave labor and one-third of all southern lines worked 100 or more slaves.

African Americans maintaining a southern railroad. In 1859, 1200 African American slaves labored to build the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad across Wiregrass Georgia, laying a little over a mile of track every week. The first train reached Valdosta, GA on July 30, 1860. Image: https://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cwpb.02135/

African Americans maintaining a southern railroad.
In 1859, 1200 African American slaves labored to build the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad across Wiregrass Georgia, laying a little over a mile of track every week. The jubilee train reached Valdosta, GA on July 31,1860. Image: https://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cwpb.02135/

The southern railroads were dependent on enslaved black laborers for construction and maintenance, and sometimes operations. Slaves were either owned outright by the railroads or leased from their owners. “Sometimes owners were actually reluctant to hire out their enslaved laborers because of the extreme danger associated with rail construction and train operations; if they did so, they often would take out insurance on their [human] property from working on the riskiest tasks. Of course, those contractual provisions were not always obeyed, leading contractors and slave owners to the courtroom.” – From Here to Equality.

About 20 miles west of Tebeauville, railroad superintendent Gaspar J. Fulton made a side investment in real estate. Fulton purchased land along the tracks from John Smith, of Clinch county. However, no station was established there until the 1880s (now Argyle, GA).

By February 1860, the A & G track had crossed the Alapaha River near Carter’s Bridge about nine miles south of Milltown (now Lakeland, GA).  By March 12, hundreds of bales of cotton were being shipped to Savannah from Station No. 13 at Stockton, GA, which was described as “‘quite a brisk little place, with its hotel and livery stable’ to say nothing of its numerous refreshment saloons.” There were 50 bales of cotton shipped from “Alapaha” on March 10. By about the end of the month at Station No. 13, there were “about 120 bales of cotton for shipment, and the warehouses crowded with western freight.”  The May 1, 1860 annual report of the A & G [inclusive of the S, A&G] stated that in previous 12 months [during which track was extended from Tebeauville, GA to Naylor, GA] there were 4.8 million feet of lumber and timber shipped over the railroad.

The residents at Troupville, GA, then county seat of Lowndes, were hopeful that the town would be the site where the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad spanned the Withlacoochee River.  By July 1860, the Atlantic and Gulf track extended 62 miles to near the Withlacoochee but the route passed four miles southeast of Troupeville and crossed the river eight miles downstream, sorely disappointing the town’s residents.  The many of the town residents packed up and moved to the tracks, some even moving their houses, and founded the city of Valdosta, GA.

The Satilla was the first locomotive to arrive at Valdosta, July 4, 1860. The engines of the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad (Savannah, Albany & Gulf) were named for the rivers of South Georgia. The Satilla is on exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, MI.

The Satilla was the first locomotive to arrive at Valdosta, July 30, 1860. The engines of the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad (Savannah, Albany & Gulf) were named for the rivers of South Georgia. The Satilla is on exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, MI.

John Screven, president of the A & R reported that the tracks reached Valdosta on July 25, 1860.

The Augusta Daily Constitutionalist reported the completion of the Atlantic & Gulf railroad to Valdosta, GA

The Augusta Daily Constitutionalist reported the completion of the Atlantic & Gulf railroad to Valdosta, GA

When the Civil War broke out, the completion of the Brunswick & Florida, the Savannah, Albany and Gulf, and the Atlantic & Gulf railroads became strategically important, although the threatening “foreign nation” was the United States.  Troops from all over Wiregrass Georgia were mobilized on the railroads. P. C. Pendleton “was engaged in planting and looking after his splendid timbered lands when the war came on… “Tebeauville, though not a town of much size, at the outbreak of the war in 1861, nevertheless furnished several recruits to Colquitt’s Brigade” … [Pendleton] raised a company of volunteers in Ware county and upon its organization became a major of the 50th Georgia Regiment.  – J. L. Walker, State Historian, DAR

During the war, the Sunday School at Tebeauville was superintended by Mrs. B . F. Williams, wife a Confederate army surgeon. Mrs.Williams lived a few miles from Tebeauville at Sunnyside, near the Satilla River. She also helped to organize a non-denominational church “composed of ‘Hard-Shells,’ Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians, that existed and flourished for years in perfect harmony. – J. L. Walker, State Historian, DAR

In 1861 the Berrien Minute Men,  the Confederate infantry company raised by General Knight, traveled on the Brunswick & Florida from Station No. 9, (Tebeauville) to Brunswick.  Per orders,  Captain L. J. Knight took his company of Berrien Minute Men to the Georgia coast where they and other volunteer companies from south Georgia counties were garrisoned at Camp Semmes for the defense of the port at Brunswick, GA (Berrien Minute Men at Brunswick ~ July, 1861).  The Confederate States government compensated the railroads for providing transportation.

Robert E. Lee visited Tebeauville, GA in 1861

Robert E. Lee visited Tebeauville, GA in 1861

Robert E. Lee stopped for a few hours in Tebeauville in 1861 while making a general survey of the Confederate coastal defenses. In a letter to his wife, transcribed in Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee, he referenced the Battle of Port Royal, in which the 29th GA regiment was engaged,  and mentioned plans to visit Brunswick:

“Savannah, November 18, 1861.

“My Dear Mary: This is the first moment I have had to write to you, and now am waiting the call to breakfast, on my way to Brunswick, Fernandina, etc. This is my second visit to Savannah. Night before last, I returned to Coosawhatchie, South Carolina, from Charleston, where I have placed my headquarters, and last night came here, arriving after midnight. I received in Charleston your letter from Shirley. It was a grievous disappointment to me not to have seen you, but better times will come, I hope…. You probably have seen the operations of the enemy’s fleet. Since their first attack they have been quiescent apparently, confining themselves to Hilton Head, where they are apparently fortifying.

“I have no time for more. Love to all.

“Yours very affectionately and truly,

“R. E. Lee.”

In his 1914 Georgia’s Men of Mark, historian Lucian Lamar Knight included:

It is one of the local traditions, to which the old residents point with great pride, that when in command of the coast defense, at the outbreak of the war, General Robert E. Lee stopped for a short while in Tebeauville. Many of the people who lived here then remember to have seen this Man of the Hour who still lives in the hearts of the people today. Among the the citizens who resided here then were the Tebeaus, the Reppards, the Remsharts, the Parkers, the Grovensteins, the Millers, the Behlottes, the Sweats, the Smiths and the Cottinghams.  To this day many old timers refer to the section of [Waycross] where the Tebeauville station was located as “Old Nine”. 

At the time of General Lee’s survey, the campfires of the Berrien Minute Men were made at garrisons defending Darien, GA, the next port north of Brunswick. “As a result of [General Lee’s] coastal survey, upon his return to Savannah 3 days later, he notified the War Department in Richmond of the confirmation of his previous opinion that the ‘entrance to Cumberland Sound and Brunswick and the water approaches to Savannah [including Fort Pulaski] and Charleston are the only points which it is proposed to defend.'”  National Park Service 

The defenses of Georgia’s sea islands were abandoned, their guns and men redeployed to defend the three southern ports. The Berrien Minute Men were moved to garrisons around the port of Savannah.

Ultimately, Levi J. Knight’s investment in the B&F railroad became another casualty of the Civil War.  “The Brunswick and Florida Railroad was in operation up to the fall of 1863, when the Confederate Government seized it under the Impressment Act, tore up the rails, and distributed the property of the Company among other railroads, which were considered as leading military lines. The line of the B&F had become a liability as U.S forces had occupied Brunswick in early 1862.

P. C. Pendleton moved his family to Valdosta, GA in 1862 where after the war he established the South Georgia Times newspaper. His former business partner, O. C. Pope moved to Milltown in 1866 where he taught in the Milltown Academy.

In late 1867 Major Philip Coleman Pendleton again passed through Tebeauville as a passenger on the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad from Valdosta to Savannah, where he was sailing for Scotland.  He was on a mission for the Lowndes Immigration Society to recruit Scottish immigrants to settle at Valdosta, GA, and work the cotton, as Wiregrass planters had an aversion to hiring and paying freed slaves to do the work.

The town of Tebeauville was incorporated in 1866. “In 1869, the State of Georgia provided about $6 million in bonds to rebuild [the tracks from Tebeauville to Brunswick]. The railroad was then reorganized as the Brunswick and Albany Railroad.”  Tebeauville was designated county seat of Ware County in 1873. It was incorporated as “Way Cross” on March 3, 1874. Waycross gets its name from the city’s location at key railroad junctions; lines from six directions meet at the city.

Tebeauville Historic Marker, Waycross, GA

Tebeauville Historic Marker in Bertha Street Park, Waycross, GA,  “On this site stood the old town of Tebeauville. Erected by the Lyman Hall Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, Waycross, GA.

The B&A went bankrupt in 1872 after a bond was nullified by the Georgia General Assembly. It was reorganized in 1882 and was then named the Brunswick and Western Railroad.

The name Tebeauville remained in use for the station at Waycross at least as late as 1889, as evidenced in railroad schedules and newspaper references.

(See source citations below)

Related Posts:

Sources:

Georgia.1836. Acts of the General Assembly of the state of Georgia passed in Milledgeville at an annual session in November and December, 1835. An act to incorporate the Brunswick and Florida Railroad.pg 187.

United States. (1851). The statutes at large and treaties of the United States of America from. Boston: C.C. Little and J. Brown. pg 146

Dozier, Howard Douglas. 1920. A history of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. Houghton Mifflin. pg 79.

Phillips, Ulrich Bonnell. 1908. A history of transportation in the eastern cotton belt to 1860. pg 358.

Georgia Telegraph. Dec 20, 1853. From Milledgeville. Macon, GA. Pg 2

Georgia Telegraph. June 13, 1854. Minutes of the stockholders of the Brunswick and Florida Railroad. Macon, GA. Pg 3

Southern Recorder, May 15, 1855. Brunswick and Florida Railroad. Pg 2

Georgia Telegraph. Apr 8, 1856. Minutes of the Board of Commissioners of the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad Company, First Meeting, Wednesday, Feb 27, 1856. Macon, GA. Pg 3

United States. 1857. Appendix to the Congressional Globe containing speeches, important state papers, laws, etc., of the third session, Thirty-fourth Congress. Naval Depot at Brunswick, Georgia: Speech of Hon. A. Iverson of Georgia in the Senate, January 20, 1957. pg 270-275.

Poor, H. V. (1869). Poor’s manual of railroads. New York: H.V. & H.W. Poor; [etc., etc.. Pg. 337.

Loyless, T. W. (1902). Georgia’s public men 1902-1904. Atlanta, Ga: Byrd Print. Pp 166.
Miller, S.F. 1858. The bench and bar of Georgia : memoirs and sketches, with an appendix, containing a court roll from 1790 to 1857, etc. (1858). J. B. Lippincott & Co. Philadelphia. Pg 170

Milledgeville Federal Union, Nov. 18, 1856. Commercial Convention at Savannah. page 3. Milledgeville, GA.

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1860. M653, 1,438 rolls.Census Place: , Berrien, Georgia; Roll: M653_111; Page: 362; Image: 363.

Mitchell, S. Augustus. 1855. Mitchell’s new traveller’s guide through the United States and Canada. pg 87

Swayze, J. C., & H.P. Hill & Co. (1862). Hill & Swayze’s Confederate States rail-road & steam-boat guide: Containing the time-tables, fares, connections and distances on all the rail-roads of the Confederate States, also, the connecting lines of rail-roads, steamboats and stages, and will be accompanied by a complete guide to the principal hotels, with a large variety of valuable information. Griffin, Ga: Hill & Swayze.

Railga.com. Brunswick & Florida Railroad. https://railga.com/brunfl.html

Walker, J. L. (1911, Nov 11). Tabeauville. Waycross Evening Herald.

Smith and Jones Open Bank at Ray’s Mill

In 1911, B. P. Jones, President of the Valdosta Bank and Trust, and Clarence L. Smith, Vice President, came to Rays Mill, GA on business. Jones’ wife was a daughter of Jonathan Knight, and a granddaughter of Reverend William A. Knight.

Valdosta Times, May 23, 1911 news item,

Valdosta Times, May 23, 1911 news item, “Organized bank at Rays Mill”

The Valdosta Times
May 23, 1911

Organized Bank at Rays Mill

Messrs B. P. Jones and C. L. Smith went up to Rays Mill this morning for the purpose of organizing a Bank at that place to be known as the Bank of Rays Mill.  It will have a capital stock of $25,000.

The Ray City investors received a State Bank Charter and opened for business on August 14, 1911.  The other investors were: J.S. Swindle, J.H. Swindle, M.T. Bradford, W.H.E. Terry, Riley M. Green, and J. F. Sutton, all of Berrien county; and Charles Lee Jones and  J.B. Griffin, of Lowndes county. The Bank of Ray’s Mill  would later be known as the Citizens Bank of Ray City.

The principal banker, Benjamin Perry Jones, was a former resident of Berrien County, and had operated mercantile at Milltown where he also had a liquor dealer’s license.  In 1868, during Reconstruction, Benjamin Jones, along with H. T. Peeples and James E. Williams, represented Berrien County at the organization of the Democratic Convention of the First Congressional District, convened at Blackshear, Pierce County, Georgia on September 16, 1868.

In 1913, a biographical sketch of Benjamin P. Jones was included in A history of Savannah and south Georgia:

Harden, William,. A history of Savannah and south Georgia. Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1913.

p. 747-749

   BENJAMIN P. JONES, the president of the Valdosta Bank and Trust Company has had a long career in business, has won prosperity and influence much above that of the average man, and yet began with little or nothing and for a number of years had a hard struggle with the obstacles of business life. Mr. Jones is one of the prominent citizens of south Georgia, and has been identified with Valdosta from the time it was a small village.

   Mr. Benjamin P. Jones was born, June 25, 1837, in that part of Camden now Charlton county, Georgia. His grandfather was James Jones, thought to have been a native of Georgia, who was a Camden county planter, having a number of slaves, and died there at the age of seventy-five, his remains now reposing in the Buffalo churchyard. He married a Miss Davis, who was upwards of eighty when she died, and they reared a large family of children. They were Primitive Baptists in religion.

   Burrell Jones, father of the Valdosta banker, was born in Wayne county, Georgia, April 29, 1803. About the time of his marriage he bought land near Folkston, living there a few years, and about 1840 returned to Wayne county and located on a farm near the present site of Lulaton, where he made his home until his death in 1877. He married Mary Margaret (known as Peggy) Mizell, who was born in Bulloch county, August 9, 1809. Her father, Jesse Mizell, of English stock and a native of North Carolina, was a soldier of the Revolution under Jasper at Savannah and with Marion during that leader’s valorous excursions against the British. He was with the command when it crossed the Peedee river, first lay blankets on the bridge to deaden the sound of the horses’ hoofs, and in this way surprised the enemy. Some years after the Revolution Jesse Mizell came to Georgia, living two years in Camden county, and then moved into the interior, settling near the present site of Folkston in Charlton county, where he bought land and was engaged in farming and stock raising until his death at the age of about sixty. He married a Miss Stallings, a native of North Carolina and of Dutch ancestry. Mary M. Mizell, the mother of Mr. Jones, spent her early life on the Georgia frontier, and for the lack of educational advantages she compensated by her great natural ability and force of character. Her husband was for many years an invalid, and the care of the children devolved entirely upon her. She reared them to habits of industry and honor, and they paid her all filial reverence. Her death occurred in 1885. Her nine children were named as follows: Harley, Joseph, Benjamin P., Margaret, James B., Nancy C., Harriet, Jasper N. and Newton J.   Harley and Joseph were Confederate soldiers and died during their service for the southern cause.

   Though in his youth he had little opportunity to obtain an education, Benjamin P. Jones managed to obtain an education largely through his own efforts at self-improvement and an ingrained habit of close observation. When he was seventeen he became a teacher, and while he did good service while in this occupation it may be remembered that qualifications for teaching were not very high at that period. Anyone could teach who could find others who knew less than himself, and there was no formality of examination. Intellectual curiosity was a passion with him from an early age, and the time most children give to play with their comrades he devoted to association in company with his elders, thus learning by listening. When he was twelve years old he once attended a court session, listening attentively to the evidence and the charge to the jury. At recess the judge asked why he was so absorbed in the proceedings. The boy replied that it was because he wanted to learn, and then asked the judge why he charged the jury as he did. That was equity, responded the judge, and after explaining the meaning of that word told the boy that if he ever had occasion to make out papers to make them out in accordance with equity and justice and he would sanction them if brought before his court. Chopping cotton at twenty-five cents a day and board was the means by which Mr. Jones earned his first money. A little later he became clerk in a general store at Lulaton, and after a time engaged in business for himself at Stockton, Georgia. Hardly had his trade started when a panic paralyzed all business, and he found himself in debt fifteen hundred dollars, which took him some time to pay off.

   Early in 1861 Mr. Jones enlisted in Company D of the Twenty-sixth Georgia Infantry, and was with that command in the coast defense until the regiment was ordered to Virginia, when he secured a substitute. Confederate money was then plentiful but away below par, and he bought a farm for three thousand dollars, at war-time prices, going in debt for the greater part of this amount. He was busily engaged in farming until 1864, when he enlisted with the Georgia Reserves, being commissioned first lieutenant and being in actual command of his company. The Reserves went to the defense of Atlanta, but from Griffin his company was sent back to recruit and apprehend deserters, and he was on detached duty until the close of the war. After making three crops on his farm he sold the land for four hundred dollars, and with that money and what he had realized from his crops engaged in the mercantile business at Milltown in Berrien county. Nine days after opening his store an epidemic of smallpox broke out, he was quarantined fifty-two days, and at the end of that time offered to sell his entire stock for three hundred dollars but could not find a buyer. Owing to this circumstance he went on with his business, at the same time buying cotton and dealing in live stock, and in four years had so reversed the current of his previous fortunes that he had cleared up fourteen thousand dollars. Then selling out at Milltown he went to southern Florida, where he opened two stores and established a grist and saw mill, and was engaged in business there until 1874, when ill health compelled him to make a change. He sacrificed eight thousand dollars by the move, and then came to Valdosta, which was then a village. Here he bought an established general store and a home for three thousand dollars, and was prosperously identified with the mercantile enterprise of this city for twenty years. In 1894 Mr. Jones organized the Valdosta Guano Company, and in 1906 the Valdosta Bank & Trust Company, of which he has since been president, with his son C. L. as cashier.

   On June 25, 1862, Mr. Jones married Miss Elizabeth Knight, who was born in Clinch county, October 18, 1843, representing an old family of southern Georgia. Her grandfather, Rev. William Knight, was a pioneer preacher in this part of the state. He married a Miss Cone. Jonathan Knight, the father of Mrs. Jones, was born in that part of Lowndes now Berrien county, and spent his life as a farmer in Clinch and Berrien counties. Mr. and Mrs. Jones reared thirteen children, named as follows: Jonathan H., Charles Lee, Frances M. McKenzie; Lillie Roberts, Samuel W., Elizabeth Fry, Benjamin U., Jimmie Staten Green, Eulah Norris, Pearl Mashburn, Lloyd E., Lotta and Audrey Terry.

   Mr. Jones has been identified with the Masonic order since he was twenty-seven years old. He is a member of the Economic League of Boston, Massachusetts, a society for the betterment of mankind. He has been one of the influential men in political life for many years. His first presidential vote was cast for John C. Breckenridge in 1860. He was opposed to secession, in a speech in which he said that if the sixteen southern states would all go out in a body, taking the constitution in one hand and the flag in the other, he would favor the movement with his vote, but not otherwise. In subsequent years he has served as delegate to many county and state conventions, was a delegate to the national conventions that nominated General Hancock and Grover Cleveland, and was also one of the sound-money Democratic delegates of 1896 who nominated Palmer and Buckner. Since 1898 he has not been allied with any party, and as a free lance has supported the individual who best represents his ideas of government.

Etheldred Dryden Newbern ~ Pioneer Settler

Etheldred Dryden Newbern was a pioneer settler of Berrien County and a noted participant in the last Indian encounters in Berrien County (see Martha Guthrie: Babe of the Indian Wars).

Monument for Etheldred Dryden Newbern, buried at Wayfare Church Cemetery near Statenville, GA. Newbern was one of the pioneer settlers of Berrien County.

Monument for Etheldred Dryden Newbern, buried at Wayfare Church Cemetery near Statenville, GA. Newbern was one of the pioneer settlers of Berrien County.

The Newbern’s homestead was located on the east bank of Five Mile Creek, perhaps about eight miles northeast of Ray City. This was probably somewhere in the present day vicinity of the Highway 168 bridge over Five Mile Creek.

The Newberns were the nearest neighbors of Short-arm Billy Parker. The Parker place was located a few miles further to the east, at a spring on the Alapaha River. When marauding Indians  came by the Parker place in 1836, Mrs. Parker and her daughters fled to the Newberns:

…the women ran through the field , a back way, a distance of five miles to the home of Dread Newborn.

Arriving there she related what she had seen, as fast as her fright and exhaustion would allow, for she had run every step of the way, and she was almost overcome with heat and fatigue. On learning this Mr. Newbern realized that the cause of their own experiences of the night before when the horses had become greatly frightened, snorting and breaking out of the horse lot and coming back the next morning. It was supposed that they had become frightened at the sight of the Indians who were prowling around the neighborhood to steal.

A company of men soon collected together, under the command of George Peterson, Dread Newborn, William Parker, and others. The Indians were overtaken at the Allapaha river and three were killed, others made their escape but were overtaken at the St. Illa river [Satilla], at what is now known as Indian Lake, about two miles northeast of the town of Axson, Ga. They were all shot and killed, except one squaw; it was reported that she was captured and shot. Dread Newborn, the son of Dread Newborn, who followed the Indians, informs me that the Indian woman was kept in prison for a while and then by direction of the government was returned to her own people.

Etheldred Dryden Newbern, called Dryden or Dred by some, was born 1794 in South Carolina. He was the eldest son of Thomas Newbern.  Folks Huxford said the name of Dryden’s mother was not known, but some Internet genealogies indicate she was Nancy Christian.   Dryden’s grandfather, also called Thomas Newbern, was a revolutionary soldier.

About 1798 Dryden’s father, Thomas Newbern, brought the family from South Carolina to Georgia,  Thomas Newbern served as a lieutenant and captain in the Bulloch County militia.

Dryden’s mother died about 1803 when he was a boy, probably nine or ten years of age.  His father, a widower with seven young children, quickly remarried and Dryden was raised into manhood by his stepmother,  Kizzie Collins.  Some time prior to 1815, Thomas Newbern moved the family to Tatnall County, where he was elected Justice of the Peace.

It is said that Dryden Newbern served in the War of 1812, although no documentation is known to exist other than the testimony of his son, Dred Newbern. Dryden would have been 18 years old at the time the war broke out, and considering the military legacy of his father and grandfather,  his  service in the Georgia Militia seems reasonable.  In 1814, the British forces occupied St. Marys, GA and made investments against Traders Hill, which disrupted the economy of the entire region. It was during this time that Georgia militia cut the Blackshear Road from Fort Early on the Flint River, around the eastern side of the Okefenokee Swamp, to Traders Hill on the St. Mary’s River.  The British occupation certainly interrupted trade on the Alachua Trail which ran from the Altamaha River through Centerville, GA, then across the St. Marys River and into  East Florida. The resistance of the Georgia Militia against the British and St. Marys and other coastal Georgia incursions is described  in the New Georgia Encyclopedia  article on the War of 1812.

About 1823, Thomas Newbern relocated the family again, this time moving to  Appling County and homesteading on a site about five miles northwest of present day Blackshear, GA. Dryden Newbern, now a man of 29, apparently came along with his father to Appling county for there, in 1823, Dryden married.  His bride was Elizabeth  “Betsy” Sirmans, a daughter of Artie Hardeman and Josiah Sirmans, Sr.  Of her father, Huxford wrote, “According to the best available information, the first permanent white settlers in what is now Clinch County were Josiah Sirmans, Sr., and his family.”

About Dryden’s father, Huxford’s History of Clinch County relates the following:

 OF the Clinch County Newberns, Thomas Newbern was the progenitor. This old pioneer came to this section from South Carolina and settled in what is now Ware County, about 1820. He was married twice. By his first marriage he had three children, viz. : John, William C, and Dryden Newbern. By his second marriage he had five children, viz. : George W. Newbern ; Cassie, who first married Martin Nettles and later Chas. A. Griffis; Lucretia, who married Jack Lee ; also a daughter who married James Sweat, and one who married John Sweat. Thomas Newbern was a prominent citizen of his time. He was elected surveyor of Ware County and commissioned February nth, 1828.  Two years later he was elected a justice of the Inferior Court of Ware County, to which he was commissioned April 28th, 1830. He was also commissioned justice of the peace of the 451 district of Ware County, April 3d, 1833. He is the fore-father of many of Clinch’s prominent citizens.

After their marriage in 1823, it appear that Betsy and Dryden Newbern for a time made their home in Appling County, near the homestead of Dryden’s parents. In 1825, their farms were cut into Ware County into the 584th  Georgia Militia District. From 1825 to 1827 Dryden Newbern served as the First Lieutenant of the militia in the 584th district.

About 1828, Betsy and Dryden moved their young family to Lowndes County (now Berrien) to a site on Five Mile Creek.  They established a homestead about  seven or eight miles northeast of the home of Levi J. Knight,  who had settled a few years earlier on Beaver Dam Creek at the site of present day Ray City, GA. In Lowndes County, Dryden was elected First Lieutenant of the militia in the 664th district. Levi J. Knight was the Justice of the Peace in this district.

At that time the land was still unsettled ,  and the Native Americans who had occupied the territory for so long in advance of white settlers were  being driven out of their ancestral lands.  As Wiregrass historian Montgomery Folsom said, ” The Indians were goaded into madness.”  When open conflict with the Indians emerged in 1836,  Dryden Newbern was one of the first responders in the area.  Sending out the alarm when the Parker place on the Alapaha River was raided, he was among the leaders in the skirmish that routed the Indians (see Short-Arm Bill Parker and the Last Indian Fight In Berrien County). In the Indian Wars,  Ethedred Dryden Newbern served as a  private in Captain Levi J. Knights Independent Militia Company.

Huxford says the land on Five Mile Creek where  Betsy and Dryden Newbern established their Berrien County homestead later became the property of John Fender.  The Newberns then  acquired land a few miles to the east and moved there, making a home on the west side of the Alapaha River.   About 1865 they sold this property, which later came into the hands of George N. Sutton, and moved east to Clinch County. They purchased Lot 256 in the 10th Land District and made their home there for  several years.  When their youngest daughter, Sarah “Sallie” Newbern, and  and her husband, William Franklin Kirkland, moved to Echols County, the elderly Newberns moved with them.  In Echols county, the Newberns purchased land and a herd of cattle; the late 1860s and early 1870s were a time of expansion in Georgia livestock production.

In 1874 Etheldred Dryden Newbern suffered a “rupture” and died.  He was buried in an unmarked grave at Wayfare Church, Echols county, GA.  A monument has been placed in the cemetery in his memory.

Children of Etheldred Dryden Newbern and Elizabeth “Betsy” Sirmans:

  1. Benjamin Newbern (1824-1895) married Nancy Griffin, daughter of Noah H. Griffin. In the Civil War enlisted in 9th FL Regiment. Burial at Wayfare Church Cemetery.
  2. Rachel Newbern (1826-) married Ashley Winn and moved to Florida. Burial at New River Cemetery, Bradford County, GA
  3. Thomas “Tom” Newbern (1828-1877) married Elizabeth Moore, daughter of John Moore. In the Civil War enlisted in Company G, 29th GA Regiment as a private in 1861.
  4. Caroline Newbern (1829-1891) married Edward Morris. Burial  at Arna Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Atkinson County, GA.
  5. Joseph Newbern (1834 – ) married Emily Gaskins, daughter of John Gaskins.
  6. Martha Newbern (1836-1925) married Samuel Guthrie. Burial at Guthrie Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.
  7. John Ashley Newbern (1839-1864) married Mrs. Sarah Ann Sirmans Gaskins, widow of John Elam Gaskins. In the Civil War joined Company H, 29th GA Regiment. Killed in action near Atlanta, GA in 1864. Burial at Arna Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Atkinson County, GA..
  8. Etheldred Dred Newbern (1844-1933) married Wealthy Corbitt, daughter of Elisha Corbitt. In the Civil War enlisted in Company I, 50th GA Regiment.  Burial at Arna Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Atkinson County, GA..
  9. Berrien A. Newbern (1845-1863) never married. In the Civil War enlisted in Company H, 29th GA Regiment. Died of wounds received in battle in Benton, MS on 26 June 1863. Burial at Arna Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Atkinson County, GA.
  10. Sarah “Sallie” Newbern (1848-1921), born November 7, 1849; married William Franklin Kirkland. Died July 13, 1921. Burial at North Cemetery, Dupont, Clinch County, GA.

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Railroad Horror! 1888 Train wreck kills John T. Ray and 30-odd others.

The 1888 train wreck of the Savannah, Florida and Western at Hurricane Trestle near Blackshear, GA  was one of the worst in Georgia history.  The SF&W route ran from Savannah through Valdosta to Bainbridge, with connections to all points. The victims included citizens of Valdosta, GA and John T. Ray, who grew up in Ray’s Mill (nka Ray City), GA.   John T. Ray (1845-1888)  was raised by his uncle Thomas M. Ray, who founded Ray’s Mill along with his father-in-law General Levi J. Knight.

The Railroad Disaster to the West India Mail Near Blackshear, Georgia, an engraving from a photograph published in Harper's Weekly, March 1888.

The Railroad Disaster to the West India Mail Near Blackshear, Georgia, an engraving from a photograph published in Harper’s Weekly, March 1888.

The Hurricane Trestle railroad disaster was widely reported, with accounts and follow-ups appearing in newspapers all over the country from New York to Minnesota.  Transcribed here is an account that appeared in the Valdosta Times, Valdosta, GA:

The Valdosta Times
Saturday, March 24, 1888

Railroad Horror! Frightful Disaster On The Savannah, Florida And Western Railroad Near Blackshear.  Thirty-Odd Passengers Killed! Among Whom Are Some Of Our Colored Citizens. A Broken Axle Causes The Train To Plunge Through Hurricane Trestle.  Full Details Of The Disaster.

We are indebted to visitors to the wreck and to the Jacksonville Times Union for much of the information contained in the following. It was almost impossible to get specials from the scene of the catastrophe owning to the press of railroad work on the wires.

Blackshear, Ga., March 17.  The first section of the fast mail train going west was derailed before reaching Alabaha, one mile from Blackshear.  Upon reaching the trestle the entire train of five cars crashed through.  Twenty persons were killed and as many wounded.  The coaches are a total wreck. The entire community went to the rescue, caring for the dead and wounded. Superintendent Fleming with a large force is now on the spot.

Waycross, Ga.,  March 17.  Train No. 27, the first section of the fast mail came thundering along down the S.F. & W. railroad this morning at the rate of forty miles an hour, when it struck the trestle crossing at Alabaha Creek.  This trestle is fifty feet high and one hundred feet wide.  Engineer Welsh was in charge of the engine and Conductor W.L. Griffin in charge of the train. The engine and tender had nearly reached land on the Jacksonville side of the creek when the front axle of the baggage car breaking, the car left the track followed by others of the train, consisting of the private car of President Wilbur, of the Lehigh Valley road, Pullman car, first and second class coaches, and a baggage and mail car. The coupling between the tender and the baggage car broke loose and the engine reached the other side safely.

In the creek all was chaos and confusion.  The cars were piled on the top of each other,  and the cries of the frightened injured passengers arose from a caldron of death.  Nineteen dead bodies were taken from the wreck as soon as help could be organized.  There may be others yet to be found.

As soon as practical medical aid from Savannah, Jacksonville and Waycross, was secured, and several wrecking trains  soon reached the scene. The passengers were taken out and as far as possible removed to hotels in Waycross.  Hospitals were made of the hotels here,  and the good ladies of the town turned out en masse to attend upon the wounded  and dying.  Six wounded have died since reaching Waycross and it is suspected that others will die to-night. The bodies of eight colored men unidentified are at the depot awaiting identification.  Numerous surgical operations were performed, and at a late hour the patients had all been attended to and wanted for nothing.

Drs. Henry Bacon, Neal Mitchell, John Domingo Fernandez, and Charles J. Kenworthy, all of Jacksonville, FL were the first doctors to arrive at the 1888 train wreck at Hurricane Trestle,near Blackshear, GA

Drs. Henry Bacon, Neal Mitchell, John Domingo Fernandez, and Charles J. Kenworthy, all of Jacksonville, FL were among the doctors to arrive at the 1888 train wreck at Hurricane Trestle,near Blackshear, GA

The physicians who came up from Jacksonville were Drs. Neal Mitchell, J. Kenworthy, J.D. Fernandez and Henry Bacon, and they have done noble work in saving life and aleveing suffering.  They were on the ground before any of the Savannah physicians and have worked like heroes.

Your representative arrived here at 7:15 PM on the Montgomery train, and found the little city wild with excitement. Visiting the “Old School House” first I found there one dead body, that of Mrs. W.A. Shaw of Jacksonville, and eleven wounded persons.  The Grand Central Hotel was next visited and there were found four badly wounded. At the Commercial House there were seven wounded and two dead.  At the depot lay the corpses of eight colored men. At houses scattered through the town are numbers of other wounded.

The number of dead aggregates twenty-seven, about equally divided to color.  Seven of these have died at Waycross this afternoon.  Nineteen persons were killed outright at the wreck, and thirty-five were wounded. The list of those killed outright cannot be verified at this time, on account of the confusion going on at Waycross, to which place the ladies have been brought.  From passengers on the ill-fated train a partial list is made up.

Killed.

Mrs. Marion G. Shaw, of Jacksonville, wife of Captain W.A. Shaw
Miss Mamie Shaw, of Jacksonville, young daughter of the preceding. These two were instantly killed in the wreck.
M.A. Wilbur of South Bethlehem, Pa., son of the President of Lehigh Valley Railroad, who was on the train with his private car.
W.G. Geiger, of Savannah, drummer for Ware Bros. Aged 35.
W. Martin, a tourist of Cleveland Ohio.
Major J. H. Pate, Hawkinsville, Georgia. Aged 60.
John T. Ray and Daughter, of Dale’s Mills, Ga.
P.C. Smith, conductor of the Pullman Car.
Charles Fulton, Master of Transportation of the Brunswick and Western Railway.
W. M. Martin, Union News Company’s agent on the train.
Fred Meynard, of New York.
E.P. Thompson, of North Carolina.
W.H. McGriff, of Savannah, Ga.
Mrs. Kelly, residence unknown.
Cuffie Williams and Charlie Cason, both colored, of Valdosta, Ga.
Caesar Foster and Moses Gale, both colored, of Waycross, Ga.
Charlie Pierce, colored train hand.
One unknown white man, dark hair and brown moustache, supposed to be a minister.
One unknown young lady, white, with plain gold ring, inside which is engraved “P. to K., 1883.”
Also, two unknown negro men and two unknown white men.

Another Account. A Correspondent At Blackshear Describes The Awful Scene.
Special to the Times-Union. Blackshear, March 27.  The first section of fast mail train No. 27, for Jacksonville, leaving Savannah at 7 this morning, fell through the Hurricane Trestle, about a mile and a half east of Blackshear, at 9:30 this morning.  The entire train, consisting of a baggage car, smoker coach, the Pullman car Saxon and the private car Minerva, of President E.P. Wilbur, of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, went down, and all except the last named were totally wrecked. The engine broke loose from its tender and escaped, but the tender went with the cars.  The engine came on to Blackshear and gave the alarm.  All the stores closed and everybody went to the wreck and to the wants of the wounded and dying.

The trestle is about 300 feet long, where the train fell is about 25 feet high. Two thirds of the trestle fell with the cars, and of that standing there is nothing but the columns and the stringers. The cross ties are cut into splinters.

The train caught fire from the stoves, but the heroic presence of mind of Engineer Welsh, who leaped from his engine and put out the fire, prevented an awful cremation.

The accident is supposed to have been caused by a defective truck under the baggage car, and the mark of machinery dragging along the ties extends for several hundred yards beyond the train.

Doctors Smith, Moore, Whatley and Fuller, of Blackshear, were on hand shortly after the accident. Drs. Redding and Walker, of Waycross; Drs. Drawdy and Little, of Jessup, and Dr. William Duncan, of Savannah, were there soon after, and as rapidly as the wounded could be moved they together with the dead, were carried to Waycross.

President Wilbur was fearfully cut in the head and otherwise injured. He never lost consciousness, however, and when the doctors got through sewing up his wounds he dictated a telegram about the accident. His son R.H. Wilbur is badly hurt.

Among those who escaped were Mr. and Mrs. George J. Gould, New York.  Mrs. Gould was bruised some, but not badly.  They are now at the Brown House, in Blackshear.  They were going to Fernandina to meet his father, who is expected there in his yacht.

Blackshear, March 17.  Superintendent Avelihe, Train Dispatcher  Davis and other officials, have a large force of hands at work, but it will be several days before trains can pass. Arrangements have been made for trains to come arround by Brunswick over the E.T.V. & G. and the B & W. roads.

It is a singular coincidence that one year ago the same car of President Wilbur with almost the same party, was derailed near Blackshear. It is also remarkable that during the long years the the Savannah, Florida and Western Railway has been in existence, it has never until to-day killed a passenger.

The ladies of Blackshear did noble service. They were everywhere and many a poor sufferer died easier for their gentle caresses. They never tired but stayed on the ground until the last sufferer was moved. Superintendent Flemming expressed himself as especially grateful to them for their assistance and devotion.

The officials of the railroad were tireless in their efforts to relieve suffering, and all day long, and not until the last wounded one was gone did they turn their attention to the wreck.

A commendable feature of the community was that no discrimination was shown between the races in the efforts to rescue each from the debris and alleviate their suffering, but as fast as found kind hands took care of them.

Many touching scenes were witnessed and many instances of devotion strong in death transpired, as where husband refused to leave wife and wife refused to leave husband.  Newsman Martin saw others were hurt worse than himself, an refused assistance, but in a few minutes he was dead.  Major Pate said he was not hurt and fell back dead.

Mr. Ray, who was killed, was a prominent citizen of Blackshear. He was general manager and part owner of the Dale Saw Mills, near Jesup.  Fears have been entertained for Editor Ellenwood, of the Journal, and Mr. W. J. Balentine, who were expected  home on the ill-fated train.  They have not been found, however, and although unheard from the uneasiness is abated.

In addition to Mr. and Mrs. George J. Gould, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert B. King and Miss Alice Simpson, of New York, are in Blackshear. Miss Simpson is seriously hurt. All the others are in Waycross.

Undertaker Dixon, of Savannah, with about thirty coffins, has arrived and gone on to Waycross. He will take charge of the embalming.

Jno. T. Ray. Mr. Jno. T. Ray, who was killed, was a cousin of Mr. T. M. Ray of Valdosta.  He was a Berrien County boy and raised by the late T.M. Ray, of Ray’s Mill.  Just after the war he married Miss Wilkins the daughter of the late Rev. J.J. Wilkins, of Naylor, in this county, and moved down the road and engaged in railroading. He rose rapidly and then engaged in the saw milling business with J.J. Dale. At the time of his death he was a partner with Dale, Dixon & Co.

His little daughter Mattie, 8 years old, is not dead as at first reported. She has a broken thigh  and other injuries and will likely die.

Mr. T. M. Ray of Valdosta went down to his burial at Blackshear yesterday.

Our Local Dead.

Cuffy Williams and Charles Cason were both colored citizens of Valdosta. Cuffy’s remains were brought up Sunday morning and were buried this afternoon. A large concourse of sorrowing friends and relatives followed his remains to the burying ground.

There was some trouble in Charles Cason, and his relatives did not learn of his death until last night. His remains will likely come up today.

Mr. Charles Fulton, who was killed in the wreck, was recently appointed master of Transportation of the B. & W. He was well known in Valdosta. His aged parents, Mr. and Mrs Silas Fulton, lived many years in Valdosta. He was a brother to Mrs. Patterson of Valdosta.

Biographical Sketch of John T. Ray ~ Ray’s Mill Foundling

After being orphaned at age 6, John T. Ray (1845-1888)  was raised by his uncle Thomas M. Ray, first miller at Ray’s Mill (nka Ray City) in Berrien County, Georgia.  At 16,  he was a soldier in combat in the Civil War. At 25, he worked as an overseer for the railroad, and by age 33  he was a private contractor laying track.  A few years later he was a partner and general manager in the large sawmill concern Dale, Dixon & Co.

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John T. Ray married Sarah E. Wilkins, and by her had five children.  Sadly, their mother died at age 41.   John T. Ray remarried, but within two months was himself killed in a railroad disaster, leaving his orphaned children in the care of their new step-mother.

Grave marker of Sarah E. Wilkins and John T. Ray, Blackshear City Cemetery, Wayne County, GA

Grave marker of Sarah E. Wilkins and John T. Ray, Blackshear City Cemetery, Wayne County, GA

As the following biography portrays,  John T. Ray overcame adversity in his early life and went on to achieve success in business through hard work.  No doubt, he also benefitted from the social and political connections of his adopted family. His uncle was one of the prominent businessmen of Berrien County, and his adopted grandfather, General Levi J. Knight, was a renowned Indian fighter, military leader and state legislator.

Biographical Souvenir of the States of Georgia and Florida, Containing Biographical Sketches of the Representative Public, and many Early Settled Families in These States. F. A. Battey & Company, 1889]

John T. Ray (deceased) was born in Houston County, Ga, October 28, 1845.  His parents were James and Nancy (Lovett) Ray, both natives of Georgia. The father was a millwright and died in 1852, aged thirty-five years; the mother died in 1847, aged twenty-five.  These parents had two children — our subject and Fannie, now Mrs. Wesley Elmore, but whose first husband’s name was Leonard Dasher. This sketch was taken by the writer from the subject himself, at his home, Friday afternoon, February 24, 1888. It is, indeed, with sad heart and faltering hand that we to-day copy that sketch, and the sadness is greatly increased when we are compelled to record the death of one in the vigor of manhood, who had the surroundings of a pleasant, happy home, and the expectancy of a long and useful life. His death occurred Saturday, March 17, 1888, at the age of forty-two years, four months and nineteen days.  Mr. Ray was one of the victims in the accident on the S. F. & W. Railroad. The account as given by the Hawkinsville Dispatch is as follows: “The fast mail train No. 27, leaving Savannah at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning, went through the Hurricane trestle, one and one-half miles east of Blackshear, at half past nine o’clock that morning. The train, consisting of the baggage car and smoker, one coach, the Pullman sleeper, the private car of E. P. Wilbur, is a complete wreck. The accident was caused probably by a broken truck under the front end of the baggage car, causing the cars to leave the track and knock down the trestle. The only car not actually broken into splinters is that of Pres. Wilbur. As soon as the trestle began to go down, the engineer pulled open the throttle of his engine.  The coupling broke between the tender and the baggage car, and the engine bounded over safely, saving the lives of the engineer and his fireman. A gap three hundred feet long was torn out of the trestle, and the train fell about forty feet to the ground below.  Seventeen persons were killed in the crash, and over thirty others wounded, several of whom have died since from their injuries.  The citizens of Blackshear turned out en masse and rendered every assistance possible to the wounded.  Too much praise cannot be given them for their tireless work. The scenes at the wreck, with the groans of the dying and mangled and the silent bodies of the dead, is one never to be forgotten. From the best information we can gather Mr. Ray was instantly killed, but the particulars of his death we have not been able to gather any information.”

The following paragraph is contributed by a friend of the family:

“On the morning of the terrible Hurricane trestle disaster Mr. Ray left his happy wife and little ones to attend to some business in Blackshear, where he owned considerable property. As the writer of this stood in conversation with him but a short time before he boarded the ill-fated train, little did he dream that he was conversing with him for the last time in life. It was some four or five hours after the accident before the intelligence of his death reached us; it fell like a thunder-bolt in our midst. The grief of his heart-broken wife and little ones was heart-rendering indeed, and there was a settled gloom upon the entire community, for Mr. Ray was loved by all classes. Little groups of employees could be seen here and there earnestly discussing the news, many of them hoping, against hope, the intelligence was not true. But when, about dark, it was confirmed beyond a doubt, there was a general out-burst of grief. As many as could get there went to Blackshear the next day to attend his burial in the family burial ground in Blackshear. In his death the community in which he lived sustained a great loss. Honest and upright in all of his dealings, with his fellow-men, and a true friend; he carried with him to his last resting place the love and respect of all who knew him. At the time that the train went through the trestle, Mr. Ray was in the smoking car, having left his little daughter in another coach but a short time before, and was in conversation with the conductor of the train when the crash came. The conductor was not killed. Mr. Ray’s little daughter was seriously wounded and for some time her life was despaired of. She had her thigh broken, and, as it was badly set, it had to be re-broken after it had begun to knit, but she has almost entirely recovered from her injuries. His bereaved young wife has been true to her duties and untiring in her devotion to the little ones who were so unexpectedly left to her for counsel and guidance, and the sincere prayer of the writer of these lines is that God may bless her and help her in training them up aright.           A Friend.”

When a little over sixteen years of age, Mr. Ray enlisted (spring of 1862) in the Eighteenth Georgia battalion, and served until the close of the war. As a soldier, as well as a citizen, he had an enviable record. He never missed a roll-call except for three days, when he was indisposed from jaundice. He did not receive a wound in all that time. He took part in the siege of  Battery Wagner, on Morris Island, and his last battle was at Sailor’s Creek, but three days before the war closed (April 6, 1865); he was captured and carried to Point Lookout, where he remained three months as prisoner. He was released June 27, and arrived in Savannah July 5, 1865. His first business was shoveling on the railroad, which he continued three months, when he was promoted to second boss, which continued four years. The next three years he served as blacksmith and wheelwright; the next year he served as contractor for building a railroad for a saw-mill, then “woodsing” for a saw-mill. He then went into the saw-milling business with Capt. Grace, continued two years, and next located at Dale’s Mills and became a partner with “Dale, Dixon & Co.,” and was in that firm until death closed his labors. His life is an excellent illustration of what can be accomplished where there is will and determination. He began life without capital and with scarcely anything beyond an unlimited amount of energy and pluck, and from a poor boy he rose to an enviable position among the wealthy and respected of a large circle of acquaintances. His life is an epitome of what can be accomplished when honesty, industry and integrity are the principles that give direction.

John Ray was married first in 1866, to Miss Sarah E., daughter of John Wilkins, of Terrell County, Ga. Five children came to bless that union, viz: Charles M., Beula L., Joseph D., Mattie L. and Thomas D. Mrs. (Wilkins) Ray died in 1887, aged forty-one. Mr. Ray’s second marriage was to Miss Georgia I. Mingledorf, of Effingham County, Ga., January 15, 1888. Mr. Ray was a member in good standing of the Masonic order. Mrs. Ray is a member of the Methodist Church.