Smiths of Ray City

Thomas Jefferson Smith (1864-1946)

Ray City home of Thomas Jefferson Smith and Elizabeth "Lizzie" Sirmans Smith, formerly located on the southeast corner of Main Street and Swindle Street, Ray City, GA

Ray City home of Thomas Jefferson Smith and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Sirmans Smith, formerly located on the southeast corner of Main Street and Swindle Street, Ray City, GA

 

Ray City Home of Tom and Lizzie Smith, front elevation faced Swindle Street. This home was demolished about 2010 to make way for the construction of the Ray City Church of God, and Swindle Street has since been abandoned.

Ray City Home of Tom and Lizzie Smith, front elevation faced Swindle Street. This home was demolished about 2010 to make way for the construction of the Ray City Church of God, and Swindle Street has since been abandoned.

Thomas Jefferson Smith and his second wife, Elizabeth Mahaley “Lizzie” Smith lived in this house in Ray City, GA in the 1940s. Before its demolition in 2010, this house was sometimes called the “Murder House” by local residents. It was the home of an elderly woman who was murdered in a home invasion. She was killed with a cast iron skillet. No one was ever convicted of the crime.

 

Thomas Jefferson Smith grew up in the 1157 Georgia Militia District of Berrien County, GA. He was a son of George and Amanda Smith. He married Jennette P. Shaw on August 17, 1884 in a ceremony performed by Lott W. Sirmans, Notary Public. She was born in 1869, a daughter of Elizabeth Parker and Richard James Shaw, and sister of Rachel J. Shaw. The Smiths lived for a while in the Connell’s Mill District west of Ray City, on the Cecil & Milltown Road where they were neighbors of Botie Peters, Caulie Augustus DeVane, Arren Fountain, and Remer Albritton.

  1. Caulie Columbus Smith, 1885–1968, married Marietta Bass, daughter of Joe Bass
  2. James Mansfield Smith, born September 19, 1887; attended Kings Chapel School; married Zonie L. Wooten, December 1, 1911; died October 18, 1957; burial Pleasant Cemetery near Ray City, GA
  3. Verdie Belle Smith, born October 13, 1889; married Alvin Lee Ray, January 25, 1908; died October 29, 1981; buried New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA
  4. Viola Anne Smith, born 1892; married William U. Davis, January 10, 1915.
  5. Lonnie William Smith, born 1895; WWI Service in SC; married Sudie Green about 1920; relocated to South Carolina; died September 25, 1949; buried Pleasant Cemetery near Ray City, GA
  6. Leila Smith, born about 1897; married Charlie Lamar Ray; died 1924; buried Pleasant Cemetery near Ray City, GA
  7. Georgia Edna Smith, born December 28, 1898;  first wife of Rossie Futch, married December 22, 1918;  died December 17, 1942; buried Pleasant Cemetery near Ray City, GA
  8. Charlie Thomas Smith, born January 7, 1901; married Thelma ?; died October 21, 1945; buried Pleasant Cemetery near Ray City, GA
  9. Owen Newton Smith, born October 16, 1904; died July 29, 1975
  10.  Pauline Smith, born about 1908
  11. Margaret Myrtle Smith, born about 1911

The Smith children attended King’s Chapel School.  Some time before 1920 the family moved to the Cat Creek District, to a farm on the “Ray City & Valdosta Road by Cat Creek.”

Jeanette P. Shaw died July 8, 1922 at the age of 53. She was buried at Pleasant Cemetery, west of Ray City, GA.

On May 3, 1924 Tom Smith married Elizabeth Mahaley “Lizzie” Sirmans in a ceremony performed by Lyman Franklin Giddens.  She was the 32 year-old daughter of Shabatha Fender and Frank John Sirmans,

In 1930, Lizzie and Tom Smith lived in a house on Pauline Street across from Beaver Dam cemetery. This house was the residence of William Creech and family in the 1940s. By the time of the 1940 census the Smiths had moved up the block to a small house on the corner of Swindle and Main Street.

Ray City, GA map detail showing location of 1930-1940s residences of Thomas and Lizzie Smith.

Ray City, GA map detail showing location of 1930-1940s residences of Thomas and Lizzie Smith.

 

Thomas J. Smith died in 1946. He was buried at Pleasant Cemetery next to his first wife.

Graves of Jeanette P. Shaw and Thomas J. Smith, Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA

Graves of Jeanette P. Shaw and Thomas J. Smith, Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA. Image source: Searcher

Elizabeth S. “Lizzie” Smith died December 30, 1967. She was buried at Fender Cemetery, near Lakeland, GA.

Grave of Elizabeth S. Smith. Fender Cemetery, near Lakeland, GA

Grave of Elizabeth S. Smith. Fender Cemetery, near Lakeland, GA. Image source: Hether Pearson Pillman Belusky

 

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Charles Otis Ray Freed From Nazi POW Camp

Charles Otis Ray (1922-1996)

Charles Otis Ray was born June 5, 1922, a son of Charlie Lamar Ray and Leila Smith. He was a grandson of Jeanette P. Shaw and Thomas Jefferson Smith. As a young man, Charles O. Ray lived with his family near Ray City, GA in Georgia Militia District 1329.

Charles O. Ray enlisted in the Army on November 4, 1942 at Fort McPherson Atlanta, GA. His enlistment records show he was 22 years old, 5′ 8″ tall, weighed 138 pounds and was working as a farm hand in Berrien County.  He entered the services as a private.

On October 3, 1944 the War Department reported that Charles O. Ray was missing in action in Europe.  The Jan 13, 1945 edition of the Atlanta Constitution reported that PFC Charles O. Ray, son of Charlie L. Ray, of Ray City, was a prisoner of Germany.

On June 14, 1945 the Atlanta Constitution announced that PFC Ray had been liberated from a German POW camp, along with 41 other Georgians.  The following article appeared in The Valdosta Times

Charles Otis Ray, of Ray City, GA, liberated from a German Pow Camp.

Charles Otis Ray, of Ray City, GA, liberated from a German Pow Camp.

Charles O. Ray Freed From Nazi Prisoners Camp

     Charlie L. Ray, of Ray City, Ga., Route 1, received a V-mail letter this week from his son, Pfc. Charles O. Ray, stating that he is now a free man again, having been liberated after spending 11 months in a German prisoner of war camp.
     Telling of how happy he is to be free once more, Pfc. Ray wrote that he is expecting to return home in the near future.
His relatives and many friends were overjoyed to learn that he was among the many Allied prisoners of war liberated from the Nazis, and that he expects to return to the States soon.
     Pfc. Ray failed to give any details of his imprisonment, preferring to use the limited V-mail space to describe his happiness upon being released from the camp.

After the war, Charles O. Ray married Quilla Taylor.  They lived in Fitzgerald, GA where Charles worked in home construction as a carpenter.

Charles Otis Ray

Charles Otis Ray

Charles O. Ray died Feb 2, 1996  in Lowndes County, GA. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Fitzgerald, GA.

Gravemarker of Charles Otis Ray (1922-1996), Evergreen Cemetery, Fitzgerald, GA

Gravemarker of Charles Otis Ray (1922-1996), Evergreen Cemetery, Fitzgerald, GA

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