Ray City Girls and Boys at Camp Wilkins

Ray City School students were among the girls and boys who attended 1931 summer courses at Camp Wilkins in Athens, GA. Camp Wilkins was built in 1924 as the first state 4-H camp in the nation.

According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia,

 “The roots of the Georgia 4-H Club began in 1904 in Newton County as a countywide boys’ corn club. Statewide corn- and cotton-growing contests were held in 1906. Chicken and pig contests were held in 1908. In that same year the program was also extended to black youngsters. Club work for girls began in Hancock County in 1906 and consisted of garden clubs, tomato clubs, and canning clubs. By 1911 more than 1,500 girls were active in the pre-4-H Club activities.  In 1924 the nation’s first state 4-H camp, Camp Wilkins, was built on the University of Georgia campus.”
1925-camp-wilkins

Cooking breakfast at Camp Wilkins, a part of Georgia State College of Agriculture, after a nature hike. Circa 1925-1932. Image source: Vanishing Georgia, Georgia Division of Archives and History, Office of Secretary of State.

 In  the summer of 1931 a number of local Ray City youth and adults attended Camp Wilkins, the first 4-H camp in Georgia.  Camp Wilkins offered  summer course programs June 14 through August 13 through the Georgia State College of Agriculture and the Mechanical Arts in Athens, GA, at the University of Georgia.

“BOYS’ AND GIRLS’ SHORT COURSES AT CAMP WILKINS

A short course of nine weeks is given every summer for the boys and girls who have won scholarships in the different agricultural and home economics clubs of the state. This course is also open to boys and girls who do not win scholarships.

Scholarships in the short courses are given by fair associations, chambers of commerce, women’s clubs, banks, and other public-spirited organizations and individuals who are interested in stimulating education in agriculture and home economics among boys and girls.

Every year more than 2,000 boys and girls take advantage of the elementary instruction which is made very practical indeed and is visualized as far as possible by application and illustration.”

Among the boys attending from Ray City were Bernard Johnson (RCHS 1930), Brown King (RCHS 1930),  Leland Langford  (RCHS, 1939),  J. D. Luke, Billy McDonald,  James Swindle  (RCHS, 1936). The girls were Clyde Carter (RCHS 1936), Margaret Carter  (RCHS 1930), Mabel McDonald (RCHS 1930), Clyde Moore, Doris Swindle  (RCHS 1930), and Grace Swindle, and Beth Terry (RCHS 1930).  Ray City adults Chloe Gardener Johnson   and Carrie McDonald were also at Camp Wilkins, attending a summer course for farm women.   The 4-H activities in Berrien County were coordinated by County Agricultural Agent Donald L. Branyon, and the Home Demonstration Agent was Mary Nell Davis.  In Georgia, there were also Negro Boys’ clubs, Negro Home Demonstration Clubs, Negro Agricultural Agents and Negro Home Demonstration Agents, but none serving Berrien County.  The black division of 4-H was headquartered at Savannah State College (now Savannah State University), and separate events were held for its members in Dublin, GA.
Announcement of the Georgia State College of Agriculture and the Mechanical Arts for the session 1932-1933 with Register of Officers and Students for the Session 1931-1932, Athens, Georgia

Announcement of the Georgia State College of Agriculture and the Mechanical Arts for the session 1932-1933 with Register of Officers and Students for the Session 1931-1932, Athens, Georgia

Camp Wilkins, Athens, GA

Camp Wilkins, Athens, GA, 1925

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Camp Wilkins

Club girls at Camp Wilkins studying home foundation plantings and shrubbery, 1925.  The building is Barrow Hall on the UGA campus.

Horticulture class at Camp Wilkins, Athens, GA

Horticulture class at Camp Wilkins, Athens, GA, 1925

 ♦

Athens, June 17-22, 1929. Farm women's camp, Georgia home demonstration council.

Athens, June 17-22, 1929. Farm women’s camp, Georgia home demonstration council.

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Billy McDonald at the University of Arizona

Billie McDonald, University of Arizona, 1952

Billie McDonald, of Ray City, GA at the University of Arizona, 1952

Billie McDonald, a son of Lacy Albert McDonald and Carrie Eugenia Langford, was born  November 10, 1920 at Ray City, GA.  He was a grandson of William C. McDonald and Jane Lastinger McDonald.

Billie and his sisters attended the Ray City School.  Mabel McDonald graduated from the Ray City  School (then a junior high school) with the class of 1930 and went on to graduate from Valdosta High School in 1932.   Eugenia McDonald graduated  from Ray City High School with the class of 1936, and Billie McDonald graduated with the RCHS class of 1938.  One of Billie’s classmates at Ray City was  J.I. Clements who went on to a long coaching career at Georgia Southern University.

Billie McDonald’s father, Lacy A. McDonald, (1881-1960) was born at Cat Creek, Lowndes County, GA and worked in the Cat Creek District as a rural mail carrier. Lacy McDonald was probably educated at Kings Chapel School near Ray City, as was his sister, Lillie McDonald, who attended the school in 1906.

Billie’s mother, Carrie Eugenia Langford (1894-1984), was born at Rays Mill, GA (now Ray City) on August 31, 1894, a daughter of William E. Langford and Mary Virginia Knight, granddaughter of William Washington Knight, and great granddaughter of Levi J. Knight, original settler of Ray City, GA.  Her parents owned a place between the farms of her uncle Walter Howard Knight and cousin Paul Knight.

Lacy McDonald and Carrie E. Langford were married on January 3, 1915 in Berrien County, GA. The ceremony was performed by Perry Thomas Knight, Minister of God. Afterward,  they made their home at Ray City, on the farm of Carrie’s parents.  Lacy continued to work as a rural mail carrier.  His 1918 draft registration gives his physical description as short and slender with brown eyes and dark hair.

In the summer of 1931,  ten-year-old Billie McDonald, his sister Mabel and their mother all went to Camp Wilkins, the first 4-H camp in Georgia.  Camp Wilkins was a program at the Georgia State College of Agriculture and the Mechanical Arts at Athens, GA, now known as the University of Georgia.  Billie and Mabel were there for the summer-long boys’ and girls camps. Their mother, Carrie McDonald, was there for a week long session for Farm Women.  Also attending from Ray City  that summer at Camp Wilkins were Leland Langford  (RCHS, 1939),  J. D. Luke, James Swindle  (RCHS, 1936), and girls Clyde Carter (RCHS 1936), Margaret Carter, Clyde Moore, Doris Swindle, and Grace Swindle.  Chloe Johnson was there also, attending the summer school for farm women.    The 4-H activities in Berrien County were coordinated by County Agricultural Agent Donald L. Branyon.

Billie Graduated with the RCHS class of 1938.  In 1950, he was enrolled at the University of Arizona.  While pursuing his degree there he was a member of the Ramblers hiking club.

Billie McDonald, of Ray City, GA, attended the University of Arizona in 1950. Billie was a member of the Ramblers hiking club.

Billie McDonald, of Ray City, GA, attended the University of Arizona in 1950. Billie was a member of the Ramblers hiking club.

 The only prerequisite for membership in Ramblers,  Arizona’s hiking club, is an incurable wanderlust. Ramblers departed regularly each Sunday for many points of interest in the Southwest, including Miller Peak, Mt. Lemmon, and Baboquivari Peak. The Rambler pin identifies those who have tramped on a required number of hikes.

Billie McDonald married Lucile “Lucy” Ponsell (Lucy) McDonald (1921-2008). She was born near Waycross GA  and lived in Jacksonville, FL during her early life. She also lived in Arizona, Alabama, Missouri and Mississippi before settling in Ray City, GA. She was a volunteer at  the Ray City library. She was a member of the First Baptist Church in Ray City where she also worked in the church library.

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The Johnsons Were at Home in Ray City, GA

The old Johnson Home Place was near Ray City, GA. It was the residence of Chloe Gardner and Joseph Henry Pascal “Joe” Johnson. Chloe  was originally from Florida (see Family of Chloe Gardner Johnson) and JHP Johnson grew up in Clinch county, GA (see  From the King’s Tree to Ray City: Family of JHP Johnson) , his family having settled there in 1822.

Chloe Gardner and Joseph Henry Pascal "Joe" Johnson. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

Chloe Gardner and Joseph Henry Pascal “Joe” Johnson. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

The Johnsons, Joe and Chloe, came to Berrien County some time before 1918 and made their home near Ray City, GA.  In the 1920s this was perhaps the finest home in the Rays Mill district, its $6000 value being equaled only by the home of Elias Moore “Hun” Knight.

Johnson Homestead near Ray City, Georgia circa 1923. Depicted are Chloe Gardner Johnson and her three youngest children- Robert Bruce Johnson, James Howard Pascal Johnson and Maurice (Morris) Johnson. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

Johnson Homestead near Ray City, Georgia circa 1923. Depicted are Chloe Gardner Johnson and her three youngest children- Robert Bruce Johnson, James Howard Pascal Johnson and Maurice (Morris) Johnson. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

In 1929, the editor of the Nashville Herald called on Chloe at this home while visiting Ray City:

Just before taking leave of the little city it was our pleasure to visit the garden of Mrs. J.H.P. Johnson, which is a marvel, especially considering the dry weather.  Our observation of the garden and surroundings, convinced us that there is no danger of the family going hungry unless they should suddenly become too weak to pull up vegetables, milk a cow, kill a chicken, or clean a hog, as there was plenty of evidence that this family believes in living at home.

Johnson Home in Ray City, GA

After the old Johnson home place burned, Chloe Johnson moved into a small home on Johnson Street in Ray City, GA.  Although they lived in town, Chloe was still a “farm woman” and attended the 1931 summer course for Farm Women at Camp Wilkins, UGA in 1931.

The image below is the Ray City home of Chloe Gardner Johnson photographed on a rare south Georgia snow day in 1958.   This home still stands on Jones Street in Ray City, although the exterior was covered with a type of shingle siding in the late 50s or early 60s .

1958 Ray City home of Chloe Gardner Johnson.  Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

1958 Ray City home of Chloe Gardner Johnson. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

On Jones Street

This house was built for Mrs. Chloe Johnson, postmistress of Ray City, GA.  At that time the post office was located just down the street on the northeast corner of Jones and Paralleled Streets.

2008 photo of Chloe Gardner Johnson's home on Jones Street, Ray City, GA.

2008 photo of Chloe Gardner Johnson’s home on Jones Street, Ray City, GA.

Chloe Johnson’s Bible and Census Records

Chloe Gardner Johnson, long time resident of Ray City and member of New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church, GA kept a record of birth dates in her family bible.

Chloe Johnson's Family Bible page showing birth dates. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

Chloe Johnson’s Family Bible page showing birth dates. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

Joseph H. P. Johnson
and
Cloe A Johnson
was married Dec. 17th 1899

JHP Johnson
was born Feb. 22 – 1869

Cloe A. Johnson
was born Nove. 17 – 1879

Roan Glenn Johnson
was born Nove 17 – 1901

Joseph Wallace Johnson
was born April 23 – 1903

Mildred Lee Johnson
was born Jan. 12, 1905

Floyd Bennett Johnson
was born Sept 16 – 1906

E. Lawton Walker Johnson
was born June 14 – 190

James Howard Pascal Johnson
was born July 31 – 1918

Robert Bruce Johnson
was born Aug – 14 – 1919

Maurice Johnson
was born May 28 – 1922

Bat Johnson
Born Jan 5, 1914

Bess Johnson
Born Aug 1 1912

 Cloe and Joe

In the summer of 1900, the newlyweds Chloe Gardner and Joseph Henry Pascal  “Joe” Johnson were enumerated in DuPont, GA where they were renting a house.  J.H.P Johnson was working as a merchant while Chloe kept house. Six months earlier they had been married at the Methodist church there in DuPont  (see Family of Chloe Gardner Johnson.)   Note the spelling of the bride’s name in the census enumeration,  “Cloe”.   Family members report, “Chloe didn’t pronounce her name like the traditional way, she pronounced it ‘Chlo’. And apparently was pretty insistent on it being pronounced that way!” 

1900 census enumeration of Joseph and Chloe Johnson, DuPont District, Clinch County, GA.

1900 census enumeration of Joseph and Chloe Johnson, DuPont District, Clinch County, GA.

http://www.archive.org/stream/12thcensusofpopu188unit#page/n480/mode/1up

The 1910 census enumeration found Chloe and Joseph Henry Pascal Johnson in the town of DuPont, Georgia Militia District 128o, Clinch County, GA. The census taker’s notations are somewhat confusing, but appear to indicate that JHP Johnson was a farmer and that Chloe and their young sons, Rowan “Glenn” Johnson and Joseph “Wallace” Johnson, assisted with the farm labor. By 1910, other children in the Johnson household included Floyd Johnson, Lawton “Walker” Johnson and Mildred Johnson.

1910 census enumeration of J.H.P. Johnson and Chloe Johnson, Dupont Town, Clinch County, GA.

1910 census enumeration of J.H.P. Johnson and Chloe Johnson, Dupont Town, Clinch County, GA.

http://www.archive.org/stream/13thcensus1910po176unit#page/n1140/mode/1up

 Before the 14th Census, 1920, Chloe and “Joe” H. P. Johnson had moved near Ray City, GA arriving there some time before 1918.  It was around this time that JHP’s stepmother, Caroline “Carrie” Daye Johnson, passed away, his father had died in 1904.  The Johnsons owned a farm, free and clear of mortgage, located on one of the “settlement roads” near Ray City.  Rowan Glenn Johnson, their eldest son, was employed as a salesman in retail drugs. Local histories say  son Wallace Johnson was working for the Bank of Rays Mill by age 14, which would have been circa 1917. But the 1920 census does not document his employment. In the later 1920s, Wallace Johnson worked as an assistant cashier at the Citizens Bank of Ray City.

1920 census enumeration of Joe H. P. Johnson and Chloe Johnson, Berrien County, GA.

1920 census enumeration of Joe H. P. Johnson and Chloe Johnson, Berrien County, GA.

http://www.archive.org/stream/14thcensusofpopu235unit#page/n323/mode/1up

By  1930, Chloe and  “Joe” H. P. Johnson had one of the finest homesteads in the Ray City, GA area, owning a home was valued at $6000. In all of Ray City and the Rays Mill District, only E.M. Hun Knight had a place of equal value.  Although they lived in town, Chloe was still a “farm woman” and attended the 1931 summer course for Farm Women at Camp Wilkins, UGA in 1931.

1930 census enumeration of Joe H. P. Johnson and Chloe Johnson in the Rays Mill Precinct, Berrien County, GA.

1930 census enumeration of Joe H. P. Johnson and Chloe Johnson in the Rays Mill Precinct, Berrien County, GA.

Ray City plays 4 H basketball

In 2006 during the remodeling of a house at 507 Jones street, Ray City, Georgia a small cache of sooty, crumbling documents were retrieved from where they had fallen behind the fireplace mantel. These documents included receipts, letters, postcards, playing cards and photographs, among other things.

One item was a 1931 letter from the county agricultural agent Donald L. Branyon to the boys of the 4-H Club.  The letter refers to a Nashville, GA basketball tournament featuring the team from Ray City.

1931  4-H letter.

Transcript added 12 July 2010:

Nashville, Georgia
March 17, 1931

Dear Club Boys:
Spring is here and it’s time for the acres of corn and cotton to be prepared and planted. The Club pigs should be fed and cared for religiously and the chicks hatched. In short, whatever your Club project is, get busy and do your best.

On Friday night, March 20th, there will be a 4-H basketball tournament at the Shell in Nashville.  Alapaha, Ray City, Nashville Grammar School and Enigma will play. You Club boys are cordially invited to attend these games, which are free.

Trusting that you are doing your best in Club work and asking you to call on me for any help you need, I am

Yours Sincerely,

D.L. Branyon,
County Agricultural Agent.

DLB
ieh

In the summer of 1931, A number of Ray City youth and some adults attended the 4-H summer courses at Camp Wilkins, UGA. Among the boys attending from Ray City were Bernard Johnson (RCHS 1930), Brown King (RCHS 1930),  Leland Langford  (RCHS, 1939),  J. D. Luke, Billy McDonald,  James Swindle  (RCHS, 1936).