Ray City Class of 1930 Didn’t Walk

It is that time of year when communities and schools everywhere celebrate the graduation of their students with the presentation diplomas in graduation exercises.   Sadly, financial exigencies 0f 1930 precluded graduation exercises for the Ray City School Class of 1930.

At that time, the operation of the Ray City school was governed by a locally elected Board of Trustees which also operated under the Berrien County School Board. The local school trustees were elected on the calendar year,  not the school year, and served a two year term.  Thus, the Ray City school trustees elected in January of 1929, Joseph Henry Pascal “Joe” Johnson, Rozzie P. Swindle and Moses Albert Studstill, along with three returning members, Dr. George Hill Folsom, Elias Moore “Hun” Knight, and William Henry Edward Terry, were responsible for the spring semester of the 1928-1929 academic year and the  fall semester of the 1929-1930 academic year.

The Nashville Herald
Jan 24, 1929

Ray City School Trustees named for the year 1929.

The Ray City School Trustee election  was held last Saturday, Jan. 12., and the following citizens will guide the destinies of the school for the year 1929: Mr. W. H. E. TerryDr. G. H. Folsom, Mr. E. M. Knight, Mr. M. A. Studstill, Mr. R. P. Swindle, and Mr. J. H. P. Johnson.

    Both Mr. Studstill and Mr. Swindle offered for re-election, with Mr. J. H. P. Johnson the only new candidate in the race, Messrs. Terry, Knight, and Folsom were held from the last term. Mr. Studstill lead the list with 40 votes, Mr. Johnson 38 and Mr. Knight 6.

    The Ray City school is reported as having had a very fine fall term of school and with the fine corps of teachers and their board of education, on of the best years in the history of Ray City Schools we be completed in June.

The 1928-29 academic year had been quite full of accomplishments for the Ray City School, despite a flu outbreak in January.  But the 1929-30 academic year was a financial challenge, and the school struggled to remain open for the entire nine month school year. Only through the generous contributions of local citizens and by charging students a tuition, was the school able to continue for the full term.

The Nashville Herald
May 22, 1930, front page

Ray City School Closes May 25th

COMMENCEMENT BEGINS TONIGHT AND ENDS SATURDAY EVENING WITH THE USUAL CLASS PLAY

      The Ray City School will come to a close Saturday night when the Senior Class play, entitled “A Hen-Pecked Hero,” will be given.  The commencement will begin tonight with the grammar school program, activities being postponed from Friday night on account of the Nashville Senior Class play.  Due to the school being run on a tuition basis, the commencement sermon and the graduation exercises will not be held.

      The Senior Class has been practicing daily for the past several weeks in preparing for the class play to be held Saturday night.  It is said to be very good and should draw a large attendance on that night.

Cast of Characters

Helen Hallmark, a college senior, Mable McDonald.
Doris Dartless, another senior, Doris Swindle.
Botzky, a rushing Russian, J.T. Smith.
Lilly, Russia’s fairest lily, Edra Byrd.
Barker, a defective detective, W.H. Knight.
Ted Slocum, the football coach, Bernard Johnson.
Mrs. Holden, why son-in-law left home, Beth Terry.
Iantha Brown, the romantic bride, Margaret Carter.
Prof. William Brown, her lesser half, Brown King.
Bud Cedman, with good intentions, J.R. Knight.
Countess Kalmanoff, the cause of it all, Virginia Knight.

      The Ray City school has enjoyed a very successful year and 225 students were enrolled.  At the end of the seventh month, it was feared that the school would be compelled to close down on account of finances, but public spirited citizens and patrons made the nine months term possible by contributions and placing the school on a tuition basis, which furnished the necessary money to continue operations.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

Additional notes:

Mabel V. McDonald was a daughter of Carrie Eugenia Langford and Lacy Albert McDonald. She was a sister of Billie McDonald and Lillie McDonald.  Her father was a rural mail carrier at Ray City,GA serving the Cat Creek area.  Mabel attended the summer course at Camp Wilkins, University of Georgia in the summer of 1931.

Doris E. Swindle was a daughter of Sarah Ellen “Stell” Daniel and James Henry Swindle. Her father was a farmer and merchant of Ray City, and served in the Georgia House of Representatives in the 1930s. Doris attended Camp Wilkins at UGA in the summer of 1931, and went on to attend Georgia State Womens College (now Valdosta State University). She was killed in an automobile accident in 1941.

J. T. Smith was  John Thomas Smith, son of Leila Terry and Grandson of Zack Terry.  J. T. Smith and brother, Edwin, later operated a dairy farm near Ray City, GA.

Edra Byrd was a daughter of Mattie Swindle Byrd, and a granddaughter of Mary Etta and Redding D. Swindle. In 1930, Edra was living with her grandparents. Her grandfather, Redding Swindle, served as Ray City’s first mayor and was a member of the Board of Trustees for the Ray City School.

W. H. Knight was a son of Josie Langdale and Paul Knight.  His father was a farmer of Berrien County.  W. H. Knight was a grandson of Jimmie Gullet and Walter Howard Knight.

Bernard Lamar Johnson was a son of James Randall Johnson and Ruby Texas Knight. In 1930 his father was a farmer near Rays Mill, GA. Bernard attended Camp Wilkins at UGA in the summer of 1931

Beth Terry was a daughter of Charles Oscar Terry and Esther E Russell.  Her father was a pharmacist and prominent businessman of Ray City. In the summer of 1931, Beth attended the summer course at Camp Wilkins, University of Georgia.

Margaret Carter was born and raised in Ray City, GA. She was the daughter of Cora and Yancy F. Carter. Her father was a Ray City Councilman, board member of the Bank of Rays Mill, and operator of the Y.F. Carter Naval Stores, which in the 1930s was the largest firm in the community.  After completing school at Ray City, Margaret attended the summer course at Camp Wilkins, University of Georgia in the summer of 1931. She went on to attend  Georgia State Womens College (now Valdosta State University).

Franklin Brown King was a son of Ida Guthrie and Jim King.  He went on to a long career as a merchant marine.

John R. Knight was a son of Walton and Mildred Knight. He later lived in Lanier County.

Virginia Florence Knight was a daughter of  Carl Herbert Knight and Mattie Julia Hadsock.  In 1934, she married William A. “Bill” Garner. The Garners would later run the Ray City Post Office.

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Feb 4, 1911 Ray’s Mill News Items

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ladies of the Beaver Dam Missionary Society

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

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

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

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

Hod P. Clements and the Dixie Division

Hosea P. “Hod” Clements was born December 27, 1890 in Milltown, GA, a son of Ann Eliza Swindle and John Miles Clements. Hod grew up on his father’s farm, situated on one of the ‘settlement’ roads outside of Ray City.

Hod P. Clements of Ray City, GA, 1911.

Hod P. Clements of Ray City, GA, 1911.

On June 15, 1917 Hod Clements registered for the  WWI draft at Milltown, GA . At the time he was working as a self employed farmer. He was 26 years old, medium height and build, with gray eyes and light hair.  His draft card was processed by C. O. Terry, registrar for Berrien County and also the druggist at Ray City, GA.

Three months later on September 21, 1917, and less than a week after marrying Alma Florence May,  Hosea Peoples Clements was inducted into the US Army at Milltown. His military service records show he was first assigned to Company A, 307th Engineers and trained at Camp Wheeler in Macon, GA.

Artillery Hill, Camp Wheeler, Macon, GA.  October 2, 1917

Artillery Hill, Camp Wheeler, Macon, GA. October 2, 1917. Image courtesy of Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2007664196/

Late in the summer of 1918 Hod shipped overseas where he served from September 17, 1918 to July 5, 1919. There on Oct. 14, 1918, he joined Company F, 106th Engineers. This unit was part of the 31st (old 10) Division  which encompassed units from Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.  The 31st Division was known as the Dixie Division, under the command of Major General Leroy S. Lyon.

WWI Dixie Division arm patches.

WWI Dixie Division arm patches.

Upon arrival in France the 31st was designated as a replacement division. The personnel of most of the units were withdrawn and sent to other organizations. The 31st was at Brest when the armistice was signed on November 11, 1918.

Hosea P. Clements was honorably discharged from the Army on July 13, 1919. Records show he had 0 percent disability at discharge.

After the War, Hod Clements returned to Berrien County, GA and took up farming.

W. H. E. Terry Comes to Ray City

William Henry Edward Terry was born August 26, 1890 in Madison County, Florida. His father, Zachary Taylor Terry, was from Alabama, and his mother, Mary Virginia Pert, was a Florida girl.

In 1900, at age nine, little Willie Terry was living with his family in Macedonia, Madison County, FL. Willie’s father was a farmer. Willie had attended school for two months that year, he could not yet read or write.

About 1910 W. H. E. Terry  came from Florida to live in the new town of Ray City, GA.  At the age of twenty-something, he was tall and slender young man, with blue eyes and black hair. An entrepreneur, W.H.E. Terry became one of the young businessmen of Ray City, building one of the first brick buildings in the community (W.H.E Terry’s Store at Rays Mill, GA). His brother, Charles Oscar Terry, became the town pharmacist, and their cousin Harvey Terry, became the editor of the Ray City  newspaper.

In Ray City, William Henry Terry met Nebbie Luckie. She was the daughter of William F. Luckie, a successful businessman and a big sawmill operator of Ray City, GA (see William F. Luckie ~ Luckie Lumber Mill). On August 23, 1913 William H. E. Terry and Nebbie J. Luckie were joined in holy matrimony. W.C. McGill, Minister of God, performed the ceremony.

Marriage certificate of W. H. Terry and Nebbie Luckie, August 28, 1913.

Marriage certificate of W. H. Terry and Nebbie Luckie, August 28, 1913.

On March 8, 1916 Nebbie gave birth to their first son, whom they named after his father.  A second son followed, Charles Herman Terry, born October 24, 1917.  With a young family to support,  William Henry Terry went into the drug store business with his brothers.

In the meantime, the United States had entered World War I, declaring war on Germany on April 6, 1917.  William  Henry Terry  and cousin Harvey Terry, registered for the draft on June 5, 1917.

1918 Draft registration of W. H. E. Terry.

1918 Draft registration of W. H. E. Terry.

In 1920, William H. Terry lived in a home on Main Street, Ray City, GA. Just a few doors down the street was the home of C. Oscar Terry, proprietor of a drug store.  William H. Terry was working as a retail drug salesman. Effie Guthrie Knight, subject of previous posts, became one of his employees in 1923, hired as a saleswoman at a salary of $150.00.

By 1930 W. H. E. Terry had moved to Quitman, GA where he continued in the retail drug trade. His brother, C. O. Terry, had acquired the drugstore in Quitman (see Ray City Soda Jerk).

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Sargon Once A Sign of Ray City’s Prosperity

Sargon tonic was perhaps the most popular quack medicine of the Depression era.

Among the “Prosperity”  talk in the 1929 Nashville, GA newspaper article of the previous post was an obscure reference concerning the Ray City drug store operated by C.O. Terry.

“Another noticeable feature was a large sign across the rear end of the store reading “Sargon” which is evidence enough within itself to show that he [C.O. Terry] is the leading druggist of his section.”

Sargon, a patent medicine introduced in the summer of 1929 by the G.F. Willis company of Atlanta, was a wildly popular concoction. G.F. Willis was among the largest promoters of patent medicines and had already made millions from a similar quack formulation known as Tanlac.  Through a massive marketing campaign, Sargon was made available only through “Exclusive ” drug store agents. To the readership of 1929, the mere presence of a Sargon distributor in Ray City was evidence of the town’s prosperity.

Across the country, the newspapers were full of Sargon advertisements and testimonials.

A 1929 newspaper article from New York state illustrates the manufacturers promotional strategy:

LOCAL FIRM GETS VALUABLE AGENCY  

 Local citizens who have heard of the amazing results which have been accomplished by Sargon will be interested in the important announcement that this new and scientific formula can now be obtained, in this city. Manufacturers of this revolutionary formula have followed out the policy of selecting outstanding firms as exclusive agents in every city where the new medicine has ‘been introduced.

Leading druggists everywhere have acclaimed it as a triumph in the field of modern medicine and have been eager to be among the first to supply it to their trade. Never before in the history of the world has the progress “of Medical Science been so rapid. One important discovery after another has been made which will have a far-reaching effect upon the health and well-being of mankind. Some of these discoveries are startling in the extreme and absolutely disprove many of the beliefs, practices and theories we have known.

As scientific investigators learn more and more about the human anatomy, the practice of medicine changes—the old is discarded for the new.  As a result of this world-wide medical research, Science has discovered that good health is largely governed and maintained by three vital organs and fluids of the body. These are the liver, the blood and the endocryne glands.   What is more important, we have learned that these organs and fluids can be stimulated and invigorated by certain basic elements.  Having knowledge of these important discoveries, one of America’s leading bio-chemists succeeded; afterword and one-half years of laboratory research, in combining these basic health-giving remedies of the age.

It is called Sargon.

This formula and the formula for Sargon Soft Mass Pills, which are an essential and integral part of the treatment, are the property of the Sargon Laboratories and can be obtained by no other firm or individual in the world.  This new scientific treatment, which represents much of our latest knowledge on modern therapy, has been acclaimed by  druggists throughout America as a triumph in the’ field of medicine. With the needs of their customers uppermost in their minds, leading druggists everywhere have been eager to be among the first to supply it to their trade.

Although introduced in the East since July 9th, Sargon has already become a household word. In Rochester alone, over 16,000 bottles of Sargon and Sargon Soft Mass Pills have been sold and distributed by local firms. Nothing like it has ever been seen before.     As a matter of fact, the marvelous success achieved by this remarkable medicine actually staggers the imagination. The demand for Sargon has been positively phenomenal and is probably unprecedented in the history of the drug trade. In the state of California alone, the astonishing total of eight entire carloads was required to supply the tremendous demand during the first sixty days this remarkable medicine was on sale. Six solid carloads were ordered by Texas firms the first ninety days after its introduction in that state. The success of Sargon in Minnesota has been so overwhelming that the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, are selling it at the rate of $200,000 a year through retail channels alone, to say nothing of the immense wholesale distribution: Over 250,000 bottles have been sold and distributed by Kansas City firms—Memphis wholesale and retail dealers have required more than 150,000 bottles—Atlanta retail firms are selling it. at the rate of 566,000 yearly.   These are actual figures which can easily be verified and the sales in other sections have been correspondingly large.

The ad would go on to disclose that the local drug store had become the exclusive dealer for Sargon, and that large quantities of the product were on the way.

By 1933 the Federal Trade Commission had called the G. F. Willis company to task:  the major ingredients of Sargon were grain alcohol and a laxative.    In stipulation proceedings, G.F. Willis conceded that it’s advertising of Sargon was misleading.  The Journal of the American Medical Association printed an abstract of the stipulation:

Sargon and Sargon Pills.—”Sargon” is a typical alcoholic “patent medicine” put out by G. F. Willis, Inc., of Atlanta, Ga. Willis was the former exploiter of “Tanlac,” a similar alcoholic nostrum. Sargon was declared misbranded under the Federal Food and Drugs Act because of false and fraudulent claims made for it. An abstract of the government’s case against this nostrum appeared in this department of The Journal, Jan. 3, 1931. “Sargon Soft Mass Pills” seem to be a complementary treatment that goes with Sargon and are, apparently, essentially phenolphthalein. G. F. Willis, Inc., has recently filed a stipulation with the Federal Trade Commission agreeing to cease publishing false or misleading statements and specifically to cease claiming: (1) That Sargon is based upon a new or revolutionary formula ; (2) that it accomplishes its results by new and amazing methods ; (3) that it is the result of world¬wide research ; (4) that signed statements approving Sargon pour in from physicians, and various other false and misleading claims. The concern also stipulated that it would cease misstating the official, professional or educational standing of persons giving testimonials, would cease publishing testimonials that had been altered so as to change their meaning, and would also cease using testimonials that had been paid for unless the fact that they had been paid for was given publicity.

Despite the agreement to quit making false claims about Sargon, the quack medicine would remain on the market for years.

Ray City Prosperity Proclaimed Amid 1929 Stock Market Crash

In 1929, less than 30 days  after Black Tuesday and  the beginning of the stock market crash,  the Nashville Herald was running stories to bolster the local Berrien County, GA economy.  The Ray City “booster” story assured readers that the bank in Ray City was financially strong,  and that trade was brisk among the  businesses of the town.

The Nashville Herald, front page, November 21, 1929
RAY CITY A VERY PROSPEROUS SECTION

BY CHAS, HIMSELF

In keeping with the policy of the Herald to boost and build up all sections of Berrien County, Mr. A.W. Starling and myself spent Monday afternoon in the interest of a Ray City Community page which appears in another section of this edition.  Upon our arrival, which was the first stop we had ever made in this enterprising town, we were greeted by our old friend, Mr. C.H. Winderweedle, of the firm of Johnson and Winderweedle, who do a general mercantile business and carry in connection a high grade line of groceries.  Mr. Winderweedle showed us every consideration and was one of the first of the business men of the community to sign up for one of the spaces in the booster page.  He was quite a bit more optimistic than some of th merchants called upon and stated that although his was a new firm that he was well pleased with their beginning and intimated that with the bargains they were offering that the and his partner anticipated a continued growth in trade.

Our next stop was made at the Citizens Bank of Ray City, where we had the pleasure of meeting Mr. John D. Luke, the popular and efficient cashier of the institution.  Mr. Luke is a man of very pleasing personality and during our short conversation we can very easily understand why the banking institution of which he is the head has prospered as it has.  As we understand it the Citizens Bank of Ray City is one of the strongest financial institutions in the county and its business is growing steadily as will be shown by the last financial statement as called for by the superintendent of state banks.  It has total resources of over $150,000, and deposits of over $100,000 and shows that it has no notes and bills rediscounted.  Berrien county is justly proud of its banking institutions and conservative business men do not hesitate to place the Citizens Bank of Ray City along with the head of list.

We casually visited the firm of Swindle and Clements and were surprised to find the class of merchandise that a large force of clerks were busy dispensing to a large number of customers who were continually pouring in and out of the store.  In fact their rush was so great that it was several minutes before we could interview Mr. Clements, and when we did he readily agreed with our proposition to assist in boosting the county and he and Mr. Swindle readily signed up for one of the ads on the Ray City Booster Page.  While in his store we were what might be termed a “victim of circumstance” insamuch as we spied a string of jack fish, which were so near uniform size that we became attracted to them and after getting their weight, bought the six pound string for the insignificant sum of 90 cents.  Mr. Clements stated that his firm always has a supply of these fresh water fish on hand, which are alive when brought to his store, and supplies the lovers of the finny tribe with fresh oysters at all times in season.  Their meat market which is operated in connection with the store is modern in every detail and is equipped with Frigidaire cold storage apparatus, insuring their patrons of always receiving the most sanitary meats.

Upon a trip of this nature it is natural for one to become fatigued and need refreshing so we made a call upon the C.O. Terry Drug Store, the proprietor of which is familiarly known as “The Accommodating Druggist.”  Dr. Terry, himself waited upon us and true to his slogan proved to be very accommodating.  Being a very busy man dispensing cold drinks, filling prescriptions and waiting upon the trade in general, we did not get to spend as much time with him as we would have like, but a careful survey of the store convinced us that he was modern in his ideas and carried a choice line of drugs as well as druggists sundries.  Another noticeable feature was a large sign across the rear end of the store reading “Sargon” which is evidence enough within itself to show that he is the leading druggist of his section.

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.

The above trip was an eye-opener to us, and our suggestion is that the people of Berrien County should “Know Your County Better.”

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker.

Bank of Ray City, GA through Optimism and Depression

The Citizens Bank of Ray City was among the first businesses to advertise in the town’s newspaper, The Ray City News, when it began circulation in 1929.

The Citizens Bank, Ray City, GA – 1929 newspaper advertisement from the Ray City News

In a newspaper clipping from the Jan 3, 1929 issue of the Ray City News the stockholders of the Citizens Bank of Ray City were pleased with the financial reports.

In a newspaper clipping from the Jan 3, 1929 issue of the Ray City News the stockholders of the Citizens Bank of Ray City were pleased with the financial reports.

Ray City News
Ray City, GA
January 3, 1929

 Bank Stockholders Hold Annual Meet

    The stockholders of the Citizens Bank of Ray City held their annual meeting on December 18th – illegible text –
    Examination of the – illegible text – well pleased at the report.
    The same officers and directors were elected for the new year.

In 1929, the Citizens Bank of Ray City, was optimistically advertising for new depositors.

When the stock market crashed, the bank managed to remain in business.  In fact, in July of 1930, the Atlanta Constitution reported that the banks of Berrien County, including the Ray City bank were financially sound.  But by the end of December 1930 the Citizens Bank of Ray City had failed.

 MORE BANKS CLOSED IN SOUTHERN STATES
New York Times.  Dec 21, 1930.

ATLANTA, Ga., Dec. 20 (AP) – A. B. Mobley, State Superintendent of Banks, announced today his department had been asked to take over the affairs of the Union Banking Company of Douglas, operating branches at Braxton and Nichols, the Toombs County Bank at Lyons and the Citizens Bank of Ray City. Cause of the closings was not stated.

“After that bank failed other banks were opened but they all  suffered from the nation’s economic troubles and none were successful. Until, in 1949, H.P. Clements opened a private bank and named it the Bank of Ray City.  It was a state chartered bank operated by Mr. Clements and his son-in-law,  Lawson Fountain. In later years Mr. Clements was forced to retire due to ill health. ”

Bank of Ray City

Bank of Ray City

The Bank of Ray City in 1972. In 1973 the bank was acquired by the Citizens Bank of Nashville. Georgia, and is now the Ray City office of that bank. The old bank building pictured above has since been demolished.

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Ray City Soda Jerk

When Ray City, GA became incorporated in 1909, among the earliest businesses to be established was the drug store. In those days,  the soda fountain was an essential element of the drugstore trade.  The  National Druggist trade magazine, in 1911, published The Practical Soda Fountain Guide  in which they advised drug store owners, “you have a soda fountain, because every druggist is supposed to have a soda fountain.”

In their heyday, soda fountains flourished in pharmacies, ice cream parlors, candy stores, dime stores, department stores, milk bars and train stations. They served an important function as a public space where neighbors could socialize and exchange community news. In the early 20th century, many fountains expanded their menus and became lunch counters, serving light meals as well as ice cream sodas, egg creams, sundaes, and such. Soda fountains reached their height in the 1940s and 1950s. With the coming of the Car Culture and the rise of suburbia, they began to decline. Drive-in restaurants and roadside ice cream outlets, such as Dairy Queen, competed for customers. North American retail stores switched to self-service soda vending machines selling pre-packaged soft drinks in cans, and the labor-intensive soda fountain didn’t fit into the new sales scheme. Today only a sprinkling of vintage soda fountains survive.

The  1910 census of Ray City  shows seventeen year-old Lutie Fender working as a “soda fountain salesman” – a soda jerk. Lutie was the son of Ray City hotelier, Wilson W. Fender, and nephew of Lon Fender, turpentine operator and builder of the Patterson Hotel in Valdosta, GA.

The Fender Hotel was was one of the historic businesses of Ray City. It was located in a wooden building on the northeast corner of Main and Paralleled Street in Ray City, just across the track from the train depot of the Georgia & Florida Railroad.  The hotel was operated by Mrs. Lena Fender. This building was destroyed by fire in 1913 or 1914.

City Drug Co., Ray City, Georgia circa 1912. Image courtesy of Berrien County Historical Society, http://berriencounty.smugmug.com

The soda fountain became a long-time fixture in Ray City,  as in small towns everywhere.   By 1916,  C.O. Terry was in business as a retail druggist in Rays Mill, GA (nka Ray City).  It may be that he had assumed operation of the City Drug Co. at Ray’s Mill by that time.  He later operated Terry’s Drug Store in Quitman, Ga., which became known locally for its soda fountain, among other things.  In his  book, My Whole Life and 48 Years of Small Town Family Medical Practice, Paul Tanner Jr., MD describes the work of a typical soda jerk, working in Terry’s Drug Store around 1940:

 “I went to work at… Terry’s Drug Store, down the street. I was a full fledged Soda Jerk, working in afternoons after school, and Saturdays. They had sandwiches made from ham boiled in the back of the store, boiled peanuts, boiled in the back, pimento cheese mixed in the back, with lettuce and tomato. I went to work after school each day and left after closing at 9 PM. All the soda fountain was my specialty, too. On Saturday I worked from 10 am until closing at 11 PM. I was paid $2.50 a week.  I continued working at Terry’s Drug Store off and on until I graduated from high school.”  – Paul J. Tanner, M.D.

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Bank of Ray’s Mill

The Bank of Ray’s Mill and the Bank of Milltown

In 1905, local investors including some with Ray’s Mill connections formed the Bank of Milltown.  The bank was  chartered March 14, 1905 and the bank opened for business March 21, 1906.

GOSSIP AT THE CAPITOL
Atlanta Constitution. Feb 7, 1905 pg. 7

 Application was filed with Secretary of State Philip Cook yesterday for a charter for the Bank of Milltown, at Milltown, in Berrien county. The capital stock of the new bank is to be $25,000 and the incorporators are J.V. Talley, W.L. Patton, P.T. Knight and L.J. Clements, Jr.

The Bank of Ray’s Mill was organized around 1908 with George W. Varn as president and Lewis M. Marshall as cashier. Its directors were J.H.P. Johnson, J.H.SwindleC.O. Terry, Y.F. Carter, Harmon Gaskins, and Frank Fountain. Wallace Johnson, son of J.H.P  Johnson, began working for the bank when he was fourteen years old.  Lewis M. Marshall served as the bank’s cashier until he was succeeded in the early 1920’s by John D. Luke who held the position until the bank failed during the great depression – probably around 1931.  In 1909 the bank’s name was changed to Citizens Bank of Ray City.

The Annual report of the Treasurer and State Bank Examiner of the State of Georgia for the year ending 1910, still lists the bank as the Bank of Ray’s Mill, with a capital of $15,000 dollars.  That sum would have been about $6 million in 2007 dollars.