Obituary of Jay Sirmans, September 29, 1916

Jay Sirmans was born April 16, 1864 and lived all of his life in the vicinity of Ray City, GA.

Jay Sirmans of Ray City, GA. Image detail courtesy of berriencountyga.com

Jay Sirmans of Ray City, GA. Image detail courtesy of berriencountyga.com

Jay Sirmans was the youngest son of Elizabeth Knight and Hardeman Sirmans, the eighth of their twelve children. His sister Martha Elizabeth Sirmans married Joe S. Clements, who was treasurer at the Clements Sawmill and later served as Mayor of Ray City. His sister Clara Sirmans married Irishman Frank Gallagher and they had a farm east of Ray City. His sister Annie B. Sirmans (1872 – 1963) married John Chilton Matheny; she was later the owner of Ray’s Mill. His sister Valeria Sirmans (1874 – 1961) married James Isaac Lee

On 22 March 1893 Jay Sirmans married Rachel Allifar Smith (born July 30, 1869)  a daughter of Mary Jane Smith and  John Woods Smith.

Children of Rachel Smith and Jay Sirmans:

  1. John Hardeman Sirmans, born February 23, 1899 in Georgia;  died April 28, 1966 in Berrien County, Georgia
  2. J B Mitchell Sirmans, born January 19, 1905 in Berrien County, GA; died July 13, 1983 in Lanier County, Georgia; buried Empire Cemetery.

In 1899, Jay Sirmans gained a bit of local attention after his attempt to capture a large alligator for exhibition in the western states.

Obituary of Jay Sirmans

Jay Sirmans died rather unexpectedly at the age of 52.

Obituary of Jay Sirmans, Ray City, GA

Obituary of Jay Sirmans, Ray City, GA
Tifton Gazette, Sep. 29, 1916 — page 2

Tifton Gazette
September 29, 1916 — page 2

J. Sirmans, Ray City

Mr. J. Sirmans, a well known resident of Berrien county, living about a mile and a half from Ray City, died at his home Wednesday night at 9 o’clock, says the Valdosta Times.
Mr. Sirmans had been ill for about 10 days but his condition was not thought to be serious. His death came as a great surprise.
Mr. Sirmans is survived by his wife and two sons.

Sirmans was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA. He was a member of Woodmen of the World, and insurance through the fraternal organization provided a large and distinctive monument to mark his grave.

Gravemarker of Jay Sirmans, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA. Died September 20, 1916

Gravemarker of Jay Sirmans, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA. Died September 20, 1916

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Portrait of Hardeman Sirmans and Elizabeth Knight

Hardeman Sirmans and Elizabeth Knight

Hardeman Sirmans and Elizabeth Knight , Berrien County, GA

Hardeman Sirmans and Elizabeth Knight , Berrien County, GA

Ray City History
Hardeman Sirmans (1821 – 1896)  Elizabeth Knight (1830 – 1912)

Hardeman Sirmans was born October 25, 1821 in Appling County, Georgia, the son of Jonathan Sirmans and Martha “Patsy” Rouse.

During the Indian War in 1838-39 Hardeman Sirmans and his father served as privates under Captain Levi J. Knight (later General Knight) in the Lowndes County militia. They both appear on the 1838 Muster Roll of Captain Knight’s Independent Company.

In 1847 Hardeman married Elizabeth Knight, daughter of General Levi J. Knight and Ann D. Herrin. She was born in 1830.

According to Folks Huxford,

“Mr. Sirmans served in the Indian War as a private in a volunteer company of Lowndes County militia commanded by his father-in-law, Capt. (afterwards General) Levi J. Knight, August 15th to Oct 15 1838. He was 1st Lieutenant of the 664th militia district, Lowndes County, 1845-46, then served as Captain in same district 1847-1851. For nearly twenty years Mr. Sirmans was a member of the Masonic order, receiving his degrees in Butler Lodge, No. 211, F. & A.M. at old Milltown (now Lakeland) in 1858. He withdrew and was granted a demit Dec. 8 1877, on account of his church’s attitude toward secret orders. He united in 1877 with Empire Primitive Baptist Church and was baptized. On Jan. 21, 1888 he withdrew from the church, but was restored Nov. 21, 1888. On Nov. 26, 1892, charges were preferred against him in his church for voting the Populist ticket in the preceding General Election; however, the church minutes state he ‘satisfied’ the church, Dec. 24, 1892, and the charges were dropped. He remained a member until his death Sept. 21, 1896. His children seemed to have disagreed over the division of his estate, and it was finally divided by arbitration in Berrien Superior Court, March 8, 1897. Mrs. Sirmans died Sept. 6, 1912, and was buried by her husband in the cemetery at Empire Church.”

Before the Civil War, Hardeman Sirmans was a slave owner. One of his slaves was Richard McGowan. For a time after the war, Richard McGowan continued to live on the Sirmans farm, working as a farm laborer.

Children of Elizabeth Knight and Hardeman Sirmans:

  1. Levi Winfield Sirmans 1848 –  married Nancy R. Clements
  2. Jonathan D Sirmans 1850 – 1926 married Nancy Elizabeth Clements
  3. Sarah Malissa Sirmans 1852 – 1898
  4. Lott W. Sirmans 1854 – 1898 married Josephine Knight
  5. Thomas Hardyman Sirmans 1860 – 1931
  6. Martha Elizabeth Sirmans 1862 – 1935 married Joe S. Clements
  7. Joseph O Sirmans 1862 – 1848 married Olive Pearl Matheny
  8. Jay Sirmans 1864 – 1916 married Rachel Allifar Smith
  9. Clara Sirmans 1868 – 1928 married Frank Gallagher
  10. Christiana Sirmans 1869 – 1943 married Joseph Bartow Gaskins
  11. Annie B. Sirmans 1872 – 1963 married John Chilton Matheny
  12.  Valeria Sirmans 1874 – 1961 married James Isaac Lee

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Sea Cruises of Elzie Nathaniel Miller

On March 1, 1918 Elzie Nathaniel Miller, of Ray City,  enlisted  as an Apprentice Seaman  at the Navy Recruiting Station, Atlanta, Georgia. He was 18 years old, a son of Lou and Gillons Miller.

His service record shows that he spent his first two weeks in the Navy at the Receiving Ship at Norfolk VA. A receiving ship is a ship that is used in harbor to house newly recruited sailors before they are assigned to a crew. Receiving ships were typically older vessels that could still be kept afloat, but were obsolete or no longer seaworthy.

From the receiving ship Miller went to the Naval Operating Base at Norfolk for two additional weeks.

From April 5, 1918 to April 27, 1918  he  served aboard the USS Maine. The Maine was a 12,500 ton battleship commissioned in 1902.  During World War I she was employed as a training ship in U.S. waters and many of her smaller guns were removed to arm other ships.

USS Maine, under way, circa 1918

On April 27, 1918 Elzie Nathaniel Miller was attached to the USS Mercy.   The Mercy, had been commissioned as a hospital ship in late January 1918 and based in Yorktown, Virginia. She was  built in 1907 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as the commercial passenger liner SS Saratoga, and was pressed into service as a troop transport before being converted to a hospital ship. During the war  she ferried supplies and wounded men from ships to shore in the U.S.

Passing under the Brooklyn Bridge in early 1918, shortly after being placed in commission.

His service record shows that on May 12, 1918 he transferred to the USS Mine? [perhaps this was back to the Maine].

From June 2, 1918 to September 13, 1918 he served aboard the USS Minnesota. Commissioned in March 1907, the USS Minnesota was a 16,000-ton Connecticut class battleship built at Newport News, Virginia. She served as a gunnery and engineering training ship during World War I.  Two weeks after Miller left the ship she was  damaged by a German mine.

USS Minnesota, circa 1919

His service record shows he spent 92 days as Apprentice Seaman and 163 days as Seaman 2nd Class.

After the war, Miller continued as a sailor.  Records of the Immigration Service show that he was aboard the SS Tacony, sailing from Tampico, Mexico on October 8, 1919 and arriving at the Port of New Orleans, LA on October 12, 1919.  The USS Tacony, an 82-foot patrol craft, was built in 1911 at Camden, New Jersey, as a civilian pleasure craft Sybilla II. The Navy acquired her for World War I service and placed her in commission in May 1917. Tacony operated in the waters of the 4th Naval District for the rest of the conflict. She was returned to her owner in late November 1918, shortly after the 11 November Armistice brought an end to the fighting.

USS Tacony, in port November 29, 1918

In New Orleans, Elzie N. Miller and  28 other men of the Tacony were placed in temporary quarantine.

A few days later, on October 16, 1919 Miller was at the Navy Recruiting Station, Atlanta, GA, where he was discharged from the Navy.

After the service, Elzie Nathaniel Miller returned to Ray City, GA where he married and became a farmer.

Elzie Nathaniel Miller, WWI Service record.

After the war, Elzie Miller returned to Ray City and made his home there. In 1927 He married Elizabeth Gallagher, daughter of Clara Sirmans and Frank Gallagher.   The 1940 census records show Elizabeth and Elzie Miller in the 1144th Georgia Militia District, the Rays Mill District, with their children Elizabeth Nadine Miller and Clyde Nathaniel Miller.

Grave of Elzie Nathaniel Miller, New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Grave of Elzie Nathaniel Miller,  Empire Cemetery, near Ray City, GA

Graves of Elzie and Elizabeth Miller, Empire Cemetery, near Ray City, GA

Graves of Elzie and Elizabeth Miller, Empire Cemetery, near Ray City, GA

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Frank Gallagher ~ Early 1900s Irish Optician of Ray’s Mill, GA

For more about the Gallagher family, and the history of Ray City, GA  see http://www.raycity.pbworks.com

Frank Gallagher was born June 24, 1867 in Northern Ireland.  About 1882, at age 16 he immigrated to the United States, and by the 1890s had made his way to the south Georgia town of Ray’s Mill, GA (nka Ray City).

On March 26, 1899, he married Clara  Sirmans, daughter of Hardeman Sirmans and Elizabeth Knight.  She was born on April 25, 1868 in Berrien County, Georgia.

The Gallaghers made their home just a short distance to the east of Ray’s Mill.

Frank Gallagher Home, circa 1907, located just north of Ray City, GA. Left to right, Michael Gallagher, Clara Knight Sirmans Gallagher holding Ann Gallagher, Elizabeth Gallagher, and Frank Gallagher. Image courtesy of http://berriencounty.smugmug.com/

According to later census records, Frank Gallagher was educated with three years of high school. He was occupied most of his life in farming, but in the 1900 census of Ray’s Mill, GA he gave his occupation as “Optician.”

Did Frank Gallagher set himself up as an Optician with a Sears catalog?  Optometry was an unregulated business at that time. Anyone could purchase a mail order “Opticians’ Outfit’ and instantly become an optician. Advertisements of the time boasted, “no previous experience required,” and promised large profits.   The complete kit with instructional manual  sold for under $30.

1902 Advertisement for “Opticians’ Outfit,” Sears, Roebuck & Co.

By 1910, Frank Gallagher’s optometry career was over,  well before the state of  Georgia officially regulated the practice in 1916.

Clara Sirmans Gallagher died March 27, 1928. She was buried in Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, Georgia.

Grave of Clara Sirmans Gallagher, Empire Cemetery, near Ray City, GA

Grave of Clara Sirmans Gallagher, Empire Cemetery, near Ray City, GA

A tender mother and a faithful friend
Faithful to her trust even unto death

Children of Clara Sirmans and Frank Gallagher:

  1. Michael Gallagher 1900 – 1985, married December 26, 1936 to Niza T. Martin, Lowndes County, GA
  2. Ann Gallagher 1902 – 1995
  3. Elizabeth Gallagher 1906 – 1989

The census of 1940 shows 72-year-old Frank Gallagher living in the household of his widowed daughter, Ann Gallagher, and her children.  Also in the Gallagher household was lodger John Starling. Their neighbors were Elzie and Elizabeth Miller, and William Ernest Gaskins.

Frank Gallagher died April 12, 1846 and was also buried at Empire.

 

Grave of Frank Gallagher, Empire Cemetery, near Ray City, GA

Grave of Frank Gallagher, Empire Cemetery, near Ray City, GA

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