Clements Lumber Company and the Company Town

sawmill bladeTHE SAWMILL CENSUS OF 1920

In the early days of Ray City, GA,  the economic engine of the community was sustained by farming and agriculture.  Large stands of original growth yellow pine supported the development of turpentine and lumber industries in the area.

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The Growth of Timber

 “…in Southern Georgia there are millions of acres of magnificent yellow-pine forests suitable for general building purposes, shipbuilding, etc. Within the last few years, Turpentine Plantations have been opened in these forests, for the purpose of manufacturing naval stores. Large quantities of timber and lumber are being annually shipped from Brunswick and Darien, to Northern, European, and South American ports. In the south-eastern portion of the State, the Live Oak—a valuable wood for shipbuilding—abounds.”   -1876 Handbook of the State of Georgia

Lumber and naval stores came to be among the most important  historic businesses of Ray City. The opening of the Georgia & Florida Railway  in 1908 spurred the growth of a sawmill that quickly became the major employer of the town.

The sawmill was the first large mechanized industrial operation in the Ray City area.

Atlanta Georgian and News,
Aug. 23, 1911 — page 13

Want Ad.

FIRST-CLASS circular saw filer wants a position; can give any reference concerning smooth lumber. No booze fighter.
C.A. Reed, Rays Mill, Ga.             26

In the traditional agricultural occupations issues like child labor or safety were personal matters. But as  employment grew in the emerging industrial workplace the risks and concerns of the community also grew.

“A study of the sources of industrial hazards undertaken in the 1930s by the U.S. Children’s Bureau found “the first three industries in frequency of disabling injuries were logging, coal mining, and sawmilling.” Logging, coal mining, and fertilizer manufacturing were the only industries that exceeded sawmilling in the severity of injuries and the number of fatalities.” The Journal of Southern History , Vol. 56, No. 4 (Nov., 1990), pp. 695-724

In 1923, the Nashville Herald reported an industrial accident at the Clements sawmill.  In early February of that year a young boy, son of Math Phillips, had his eye put out at the sawmill, leaving some to wonder if it was time for stricter enforcement of compulsory school attendance.    Sawmills were dangerous workplaces and newspaper reports of more horrific accidents were not entirely uncommon. With the stockpiling of combustible materials, there was a constant ever present danger of fire – a threat that was magnified in steam-powered sawmills where boilers were typically fired with scrap material.

Clements Lumber Company

Over the years this sawmill was operated under three different owners.  The big sawmill at Ray City first operated under the name Luckie Lumber Company, owned by William F. Luckie. It was a huge operation located about one mile north of Ray City on the rail line of Georgia & Florida Railway .  About 1911, W. F. Luckie sold out to Levi J. Clements and his sons.  The Clements Family had experience in the sawmill trade, and the Clements boys were college-educated businessmen.

 Lucius Jordan Clements, with Helen Elizabeth

Lucius Jordan Clements, with Helen Elizabeth “Betty” Clements and Daisy Pearle Clements. Image courtesy of Ron Yates http://www.yatesville.net

The Clements Brothers ran the company, Lucius J. Clements served as General Manager of the Clements Lumber Company, Irwin Clements was a manager at the mill, and Joe Clements was treasurer.

The superintendent of the mill was Melvin W. Rivenbark. Clarence Jones Gray was stenographer and bookkeeper for the firm. James Edmond Hall and John William Sims were Shipping Clerks and Chester Artemis Hall was an Assistant Shipping Clerk. George B. Norton was foreman of the planing mill. William Andrew Hendrix was an engineer and Samuel Arthur Ganas was employed at the mill as a stationary engineer. Morris C. Sumner was the assistant lumber inspector and Timothy Allen Washington was a lumber grader. Willis Gordon Hill was a stave miller. William Haines Joiner was a locomotive engineer and J. D. Melvin was a fireman. Jacob Ed Akridge was woods superintendent. Tom Lott and Elmore Medley were teamsters and Bee Mannin was a log chopper. Robert Christopher Powell was a skidder operator and Ples Phillips worked on the tram road. Will Thomas was a sawyer. R.D. Ward was a machinist. Bashey Wells was a contractor. Freddie Andrew Wheless was a carpenter. Many men and sometimes boys were employed as “sawmill laborers”, others worked as sawyers, teamsters, firemen, foremen, wheelwrights, commissary clerks, or marketmen. Many of the women worked out of their homes, in the occupation of “laundress.” By 1920, the sawmill had grown to a large industrial operation. A ‘sawmill town’ had grown up to house the sawmill workers and their families. The enumerator for 1920 US Census annotated the census forms to indicate the sawmill residents, showing that there were 78 households with 313 residents living in rented homes at the sawmill.  More workers lived in the surrounding area and in Ray City.

While residents of the ‘sawmill town’ had access to all of the goods and services in Ray City just a mile south on the tracks of the Georgia and Florida, the sawmill company also operated a commissary where workers could shop.   In the 1920’s the Clements sawmill provided a cold storage facility for curing meats as a part of the company operations. The cold storage was also available to the people of Ray City and the surrounding area.

NEWS ITEMS FROM RAY CITY

Nashville Herald, February 16, 1923

The few cold days we had last week were fine for people to hang up their meat. The Clements Lumber Company cold storage cured about 76,000 pounds, all of which was removed last week.

Before the widespread availability of electricity and electric refrigerators, cold storage of meat  was an important service to the community.  Poisoning could result from consumption of meat which was improperly cured or  stored.

House at Clements Sawmill

House at Clements Sawmill
Photographed in 2008, this log house was moved to the old Clements sawmill area around 1975-78 by John David Luke. The original structure was built with notched logs, the wing extending to the right, rear was constructed with sawn boards.

By 1923, the Clements were operating ten miles of tram road track to bring timber to the sawmill. The operation also included a lathe mill, and a planer. The mill had a inventory of sawn lumber on the ground with an estimated value of about $30,000.  In 2013 dollar’s that would have been more than half a million dollars worth of lumber.

In 1923 the Jackson Brothers, owners of the Jackson Lumber Company purchased the entire mill operation from Clements Lumber Company for $75,000 in cash in what was described as “one of the biggest business deals pulled of in this section in some time.”

1923-clements-lumber

If the Spring of 1923 brought the town’s biggest economic boom, the fall of ’23 brought its biggest bust.  For on  November 6, 1923 fire struck the big sawmill  at Ray City, GA  devastating the operation  and the local economy.

<strong>Clements Sawmill Site in 2008, Ray City, GA.</strong><br /> This view of the site of the Clements Sawmill, taken from the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Railroad, shows the location of the remaining foundations. In the distance a residential structure that was later moved to the sawmill site. The

Clements Sawmill Site in 2008, Ray City, GA.
This view of the site of the Clements Sawmill, taken from the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Railroad, shows the location of the remaining foundations. In the distance a residential structure that was later moved to the sawmill site. The “company town” which grew up around the sawmill once boasted a population of more than 300 people and 78 households.

~

Clements Sawmill Foundations, 2008, Ray City, GA. Eighty-five years later, all that remains of the Clements Sawmill are a few concrete foundations in a cow pasture located about one mile north of Ray City, GA, on the tracks of the Georgia and Florida Railway. Protruding from these foundations are heavy steel anchoring bolts, perhaps used to secure cutting or planing equipment, or to support boilers used to generate steam power for the mill.

Clements Sawmill Foundations, 2008, Ray City, GA.
Eighty-five years later, all that remains of the Clements Sawmill are a few concrete foundations in a cow pasture located about one mile north of Ray City, GA, on the tracks of the Georgia and Florida Railway. Protruding from these foundations are heavy steel anchoring bolts, perhaps used to secure cutting or planing equipment, or to support boilers used to generate steam power for the mill.

THE SAWMILL AT RAY CITY, GA

1920 Census

The enumerator for 1920 US Census annotated six pages of the census sheets indicate the sawmill residents, showing that there were 78 households with 313 residents living in rented homes at the sawmill.

Name

Relation

Est.Birth

Birthplace

Race

 Occupation

1

Walter Ferrey

head of household

abt 1885

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Lucia Ferrey

Wife

abt 1897

Georgia

Black

Clifford Ferrey

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

Black

2

Will Goodman

Head of household

abt 1887

District of Columbia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Ola Green Goodman

Wife

abt 1879

Georgia

Black

laundress

Charlie Smith

Grandson

abt 1915

Georgia

Black

Henry Matchett

Head of household

abt 1876

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Rebecca Matchett

Wife

abt 1884

Georgia

Black

Lenard Matchett

Son

abt 1901

Georgia

Black

Elmo Medley

Head of household

abt 1892

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Josephine Medley

Wife

abt 1880

Georgia

Black

Edmond Wilson

Head of household

abt 1857

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Emma Wilson

Wife

abt 1875

Georgia

White

Harry Wilson

Son

abt 1901

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Burney Wilson

Son

abt 1902

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer-crossties

Goldie Wilson

Son

abt 1904

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Pearlie Wilson

Daughter

abt 1906

Georgia

White

Rollie Wilson

Son

abt 1908

Georgia

White

Rossie Wilson

Son

abt 1910

Georgia

White

Edna May Wilson

Daughter

abt 1912

Georgia

White

Talley Wilson

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

White

John Browning

Head of household

abt 1895

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Willie Browning

Wife

abt 1897

Georgia

White

Moselle Browning

Son

abt 1914

Georgia

White

Odell Browning

Daughter

abt 1915

Georgia

White

Avanell Browning

Daughter

abt 1918

Georgia

White

Eulis P  Wallace

Head of household

abt 1889

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Louella Wallace

Wife

abt 1899

Georgia

White

Eunice Wallace

Daughter

abt 1916

Georgia

White

Willis G Hill

Head of household

abt 1890

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Leila Hill

Wife

abt 1899

Georgia

White

Otis Hill

Son

abt 1918

Georgia

White

Lon S Westbrook

Head of household

abt 1893

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Blonnie Westbrook

Wife

abt 1895

Georgia

White

J Lester Westbrook

Son

abt 1914

Georgia

White

Eanos H Westbrook

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

White

Randall M Westbrook

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

White

Myrtle J Westbrook

Daughter

abt 1918

Georgia

White

Timothy A Washington

Head of household

abt 1886

Florida

White

Sawmill grader

Viola E Washington

Wife

abt 1887

Florida

White

Eulalie Washington

Daughter

abt 1911

Georgia

White

Eunice A Washington

Daughter

abt 1912

Georgia

White

M Grace Washington

Daughter

abt 1918

Georgia

White

William A Hendricks

Head of household

abt 1879

Georgia

White

Sawmill engineer

Loula Hendricks

Wife

abt 1882

Georgia

White

Willie F Hendricks

Son

abt 1902

Florida

White

Minnie M Hendricks

Daughter

abt 1904

Florida

White

Jennie Vaughn

Head of household

abt 1878

South Carolina

White

Horace Vaughn

Son

abt 1903

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Henry Vaughn

Son

abt 1906

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Edna P Vaughn

Daughter

abt 1909

Georgia

White

Maudell Vaughn

Daughter

abt 1912

Georgia

White

Leon Vaughn

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

White

Leila Vaughn

Daughter

abt 1915

Georgia

White

Annie L Snowden

Head of household

abt 1901

Georgia

Black

laundress

Ed Miller

Head of household

abt 1859

Georgia

Black

Farmer -oa

Jennie Miller

Wife

abt 1870

Georgia

Black

laundress

Charity Adams

Daughter

abt 1879

Georgia

Black

laundress

Lilla Adams

Granddaughter

abt 1907

Georgia

Black

Marvin Adams

Grandson

abt 1909

Georgia

Black

Deothia Graham

Granddaughter

abt 1906

Georgia

Black

Howard Graham

Grandson

abt 1902

Georgia

Black

Farm laborer

Frank Teacher

Head of household

abt 1871

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

Loue Ella Teacher

Wife

abt 1891

South Carolina

Black

Arnie Mathis

Brother-in-law

abt 1900

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Warren P Wright

Head of household

abt 1863

South Carolina

White

Sawmill laborer

C Elizabeth Wright

Wife

abt 1856

Georgia

White

Henry C Smith

Brother

abt 1865

Georgia

White

Jim L Dorman

Head of household

abt 1893

Florida

White

Sawmill laborer

Abbie W Dorman

Wife

abt 1899

Florida

White

J B Dorman

Son

abt 1915

Florida

White

Arlie M Dorman

Son

abt 1917

Florida

White

James P Dorman

Son

abt 1920

Georgia

White

Early A Walker

Head of household

abt 1899

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Ruby M Walker

Wife

abt 1899

Georgia

White

Helma C Walker

Daughter

abt 1917

Georgia

White

Emma C Walker

Daughter

abt 1919

Georgia

White

Isaac B Sirmans

Head of household

abt 1889

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Lucretia Sirmans

Wife

abt 1891

Georgia

White

Jimmie L Sirmans

Daughter

abt 1913

Georgia

White

Ida L Curry

Sister-in-law

abt 1907

Georgia

White

George H Dorman

Head of household

abt 1887

Florida

White

Sawmill laborer

Emma Dorman

Wife

abt 1897

Florida

White

J Cullin Dorman

Son

abt 1913

Florida

White

Ernest E Dorman

Son

abt 1915

Florida

White

M Kathleen Dorman

Daughter

abt 1918

Florida

White

I S Vaughn

Head of household

abt 1887

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Annie R Vaughn

Wife

abt 1894

Georgia

White

Corley Luke

Boarder

abt 1886

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

I Lee Strickland

Head of household

abt 1898

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Ada Strickland

Wife

abt 1902

Georgia

White

D Bash Wells

Head of household

abt 1878

Florida

White

Sawmill laborer

Martha Wells

Wife

abt 1888

Florida

White

Susie May Wells

Daughter

abt 1910

Georgia

White

Ophelia Wells

Daughter

abt 1913

Georgia

White

J B Wells

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

White

Mack G Wells

Head of household

abt 1890

Florida

White

Sawmill laborer

Emma Wells

Wife

abt 1895

Florida

White

Carey W Wells

Son

abt 1914

Georgia

White

Russell Wells

Son

abt 1915

Florida

White

Jervel L Wells

Daughter

abt 1917

Georgia

White

Frank M Hill

BrotherInLaw

abt 1860

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

James J Wells

Head of household

abt 1876

Florida

White

Sawmill laborer

Annie Wells

Wife

abt 1887

South Carolina

White

James C Wells

Son

abt 1913

Georgia

White

Woodrow O Wells

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

White

Thomas Harnage

Head of household

abt 1896

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Ostella Harnage

Wife

abt 1896

Georgia

White

James Harnage

Son

abt 1914

Georgia

White

Elwood Harnage

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

White

Ruby Harnage

Daughter

abt 1918

Georgia

White

Robert James

Head of household

abt 1870

South Carolina

Black

Sawmill laborer

Loula James

Wife

abt 1878

South Carolina

Black

Lewis Gordon

Head of household

abt 1888

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Mamie Gordon

Wife

Abt 1895

Georgia

Black

Will Jordan

Head of household

abt 1869

North Carolina

Black

Sawmill laborer

Mary Jordan

Wife

abt 1875

Georgia

Black

laundress

Bennie Jordan

Son

abt 1901

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Rufus Jordan

Son

abt 1903

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Willie Jordan

Son

abt 1905

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Alice Jordan

Daughter

abt 1906

Georgia

Black

Johnnie Jordan

Son

abt 1911

Georgia

Black

Amos Jordan

Son

abt 1913

Georgia

Black

Aaron Jordan

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

Black

Daisy Jordan

Daughter

abt 1919

Georgia

Black

Will Searcy

Boarder

abt 1876

United States of America

Black

Sawmill teamster

George Emmett

Head of household

abt 1862

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

Anna Emmett

Wife

abt 1866

Georgia

Black

Steve Brown

Head of household

abt 1885

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

Effie Brown

Wife

abt 1887

Georgia

Black

S C Brown

Head of household

abt 1893

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Willie May Brown

Wife

abt 1903

Georgia

Black

laundress

Abraham Brown

Son

abt 1917

Georgia

Black

John H Green

Head of household

abt 1891

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Mattie Green

Wife

abt 1894

Georgia

Black

Claudie Green

Son

abt 1911

Georgia

Black

Lonie Green

Daughter

abt 1914

Georgia

Black

Harry Bright

Head of household

abt 1880

South Carolina

Black

Sawmill laborer

Josephine Bright

Wife

abt 1875

Georgia

Black

Jim Grier

Head of household

abt 1900

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Mamie Grier

Wife

abt 1904

Florida

Black

Rainey Medley

Head of household

abt 1885

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Florence Medley

Wife

abt 1881

Georgia

Mulatto

Pearlie Medley

Brother

abt 1891

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer -crossties

Lillie Medley

Sister-in-law

abt 1897

Georgia

Black

Douglas Smith

Brother-in-law

abt 1880

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Frank Rines

Head of household

abt 1867

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Harriet Rines

Wife

abt 1870

Georgia

Black

George Merritt

Boarder

abt 1920

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

George Davis

Boarder

abt 1856

South Carolina

Black

Sawmill laborer

Riley Bryant

Head of household

abt 1892

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Hannah Bryant

Wife

abt 1898

Florida

Black

laundress

Eddie Young

Head of household

abt 1886

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Mary Young

Wife

abt 1900

Georgia

Black

Henry Lofton

Head of household

abt 1875

Georgia

Black

Sawmill sawyer

Bessie Lofton

Wife

abt 1883

North Carolina

Mulatto

Henry Lofton

Son

abt 1903

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

John Lofton

Son

abt 1905

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Cinthia Lofton

Daughter

abt 1910

Georgia

Black

Willie W Wood

Head of household

abt 1890

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Viola Wood

Wife

abt 1895

Georgia

White

G Willene Wood

Daughter

abt 1915

Georgia

White

Mary N Wood

Daughter

abt 1917

Georgia

White

Willie Bolar

Nephew

abt 1902

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Aurelia Goodman

Head of household

abt 1875

Georgia

Black

Innkeeper boarding house

Joseph Jackson

Boarder

abt 1889

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

Handy Blue

Head of household

abt 1870

South Carolina

Black

Sawmill laborer

Julia Blue

Wife

abt 1872

Georgia

Black

Laundress

Lewis Banks

Head of household

abt 1864

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Easter Banks

Wife

abt 1857

Georgia

Black

Elmer Ratliff

Granddaughter

abt 1912

Georgia

Black

Abraham L Thomas

Head of household

abt 1872

Tennessee

Black

Sawmill laborer

Angie Thomas

Wife

abt 1885

South Carolina

Black

Laundress

Ruther Thomas

Son

abt 1912

Georgia

Black

Malachia Thomas

Son

abt 1913

Georgia

Black

Willie Thomas

Daughter

abt 1915

Georgia

Black

Lillie Thomas

Daughter

abt 1916

Georgia

Black

Abraham L Thomas

Son

abt 1918

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Robert Thomas

Son

abt 1918

Georgia

Black

George Stokes

Boarder

abt 1888

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

Sam Brown

Boarder

abt 1876

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

John McQueen

Boarder

abt 1896

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

Ike Wilder

Head of household

abt 1870

South Carolina

Black

Sawmill laborer

Emma Wilder

Wife

abt 1892

Georgia

Black

laundress

Jesse Freelour

Head of household

abt 1868

Virginia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Ella Freelour

Wife

abt 1867

Georgia

Black

B Manning

Head of household

abt 1890

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Wiley Brown

Roomer

abt 1901

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Arie Brown

Roomer

abt 1897

Florida

Black

laundress

Mint  Manning

Head of household

abt 1874

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Carrie Manning

Wife

abt 1870

Florida

Black

laundress

Robert Blanks

Head of household

abt 1894

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

Ella Blanks

Wife

abt 1892

Georgia

Black

Laundress

Carrie B Allen

Stepdaughter

abt 1910

Georgia

Black

N G Goings

Head of household

abt 1866

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Mariah Goings

Wife

abt 1888

Georgia

Black

Arthur Goings

Son

abt 1904

Florida

Black

Sawmill laborer

Willie Goings

Son

abt 1906

Florida

Black

Mamie Goings

Daughter

abt 1909

Georgia

Black

Merritt Rouse

Head of household

abt 1863

Virginia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Estill Aaron

Head of household

abt 1876

Florida

Black

Sawmill laborer

Ida Aaron

Wife

abt 1886

Georgia

Mulatto

laundress

Inman Aaron

Son

abt 1909

Georgia

Black

Sess Aaron

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

Black

Henry Polite

Head of household

abt 1880

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Otella Polite

Wife

abt 1898

Georgia

Black

laundress

Stella Polite

Daughter

abt 1918

Georgia

Black

Bertha Carter

Head of household

abt 1898

Georgia

Black

laundress

Willie Melvin

Roomer

abt 1902

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Sylvester Williams

Roomer

abt 1900

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Bud Lamb

Head of household

abt 1886

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

Tom Brown

Roomer

abt 1884

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

Mary Brown

Roomer

abt 1902

United States of America

Black

Chester A. Hall

Head of household

Kansas Hall

Wife

abt 1898

Georgia

White

James A Hall

Son

abt 1918

Georgia

White

Van J Pool

Head of household

abt 1883

Georgia

White

Sawmill –shingle mill

Dora Pool

Wife

abt 1883

Georgia

White

Inn Keeprt – Boarding House

Olya M Pool

Daughter

abt 1906

Georgia

White

Erwin W Pool

Son

abt 1907

Georgia

White

Newspaper Boy

Verdie K Pool

Daughter

abt 1911

Georgia

White

R Edna Pool

Daughter

abt 1913

Georgia

White

Charlie J Pool

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

White

H M Dorsey Pool

Son

abt 1918

Georgia

White

F K Hall

Head of household

abt 1856

Georgia

White

J Hollis Ritch

Son

abt 1887

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Noah H Sumler

Boarder

abt 1895

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Thomas A Sheffield

Head of household

abt 1883

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Ida B Sheffield

Wife

abt 1892

Georgia

White

Emma R Sheffield

Daughter

abt 1908

Georgia

White

Thomas J Sheffield

Son

abt 1910

Georgia

White

Laura A Sheffield

Daughter

abt 1913

Florida

White

Harvey Sheffield

Son

abt 1915

Florida

White

Annie Bell Sheffield

Daughter

abt 1917

Georgia

White

Emory A Sheffield

Son

abt 1919

Georgia

White

Gilfred Snowden

Head of household

abt 1890

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Maude Snowden

Wife

abt 1884

Georgia

Black

Augusta Snowden

Daughter

abt 1907

Georgia

Black

Sarah Snowden

Daughter

abt 1908

Georgia

Black

Georgia A Snowden

Daughter

abt 1912

Georgia

Black

Alice Snowden

Daughter

abt 1914

Georgia

Black

Viola Snowden

Daughter

abt 1916

Georgia

Black

Gilford Snowden

Son

abt 1919

Georgia

Black

Willie Morgan

Brother

abt 1886

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Isaac Snowden

Head of household

abt 1887

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Clyde Spencer

Head of household

abt 1900

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Leetta Spencer

Wife

abt 1900

Georgia

Black

Cook-private family

John Hardy

Head of household

abt 1891

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Ruth Hardy

Wife

abt 1888

Georgia

Black

Laundress

Jeroel Hardy

Daughter

abt 1908

Georgia

Black

Will Jones

Head of household

abt 1886

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Rosa Jones

Wife

abt 1895

Georgia

Black

Handy Simpson

Head of household

abt 1898

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

Fannie Simpson

Wife

abt 1900

Georgia

Black

Henry Wright

Roomer

abt 1903

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Charlie Melvin

Head of household

abt 1870

North Carolina

Black

Sawmill laborer

Lissie Melvin

Wife

abt 1874

Georgia

Black

Laundress

Ben Melvin

Son

abt 1898

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Joe Melvin

Son

abt 1902

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Annie Melvin

Daughter-in-law

abt 1900

Georgia

Black

Laundress

Lonzo Williams

Roomer

abt 1870

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Bennie Bolar

Head of household

abt 1892

Virginia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Emma Bolar

Wife

abt 1897

Georgia

Black

Cook –private family

John H Reed

Nephew

abt 1908

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

J Quinton Clements

Head of household

abt 1894

Georgia

White

Commissary Salesman

Eva M Clements

Wife

abt 1892

Georgia

White

Jerald C Clements

Son

abt 1914

Georgia

White

Randall R Clements

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

White

Connie C Devane

Roomer

abt 1885

Georgia

White

Commissary Salesman

Willie Johnson

Head of household

abt 1895

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Callie Johnson

Wife

abt 1897

Georgia

Black

Cook –private family

Robert L McDonald

Head of household

abt 1873

Georgia

White

Sawyer

Lilla M McDonald

Wife

abt 1876

Georgia

White

W Lillian McDonald

Daughter

abt 1901

Georgia

White

Eunice J McDonald

Daughter

abt 1907

Georgia

White

W Talmage McDonald

Son

abt 1908

Georgia

White

Lemuel C McDonald

Son

abt 1910

Georgia

White

Isaac B McDonald

Son

abt 1912

Georgia

White

Lois A McDonald

Daughter

abt 1914

Georgia

White

Fred H Lemke

  Grandson

abt 1916

Georgia

White

James P Devane

Boarder

abt 1865

Georgia

White

Commissary Salesman

Thomas N Crowe

Boarder

abt 1884

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Marion E Shaw

Head of household

abt 1893

Georgia

White

Sawmill Marketman

Marion R Shaw

Wife

abt 1898

Georgia

White

Kermitt A Shaw

Son

abt 1918

Georgia

White

Perry Cook

Boarder

abt 1897

Georgia

White

Farm laborer

Charles E Hughes

Head of household

abt 1871

Georgia

White

Sawmill Section Foreman

Nettie Hughes

Wife

abt 1883

South Carolina

White

Elmer L Hughes

Son

abt 1902

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Fred L Hughes

Son

abt 1904

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Mattie B Hughes

Daughter

abt 1906

Georgia

White

Clyde R Hughes

Son

abt 1908

Florida

White

Glenn C Hughes

Son

abt 1913

Florida

White

Talmage R Hughes

Son

abt 1917

Florida

White

Dave H Cowart

Head of household

abt 1893

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Laura Cowart

Wife

abt 1893

Georgia

White

Donnald Cowart

Son

abt 1919

Georgia

White

Russell Browning

Boarder

abt 1901

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Luke Browning

Boarder

abt 1899

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Manning A Cersey

Head of household

abt 1889

Georgia

White

Sawmill Fireman

Lula Cersey

Wife

abt 1896

Georgia

White

Vera J Cersey

Daughter

abt 1911

Georgia

White

Clinton A Cersey

Son

abt 1913

Georgia

White

Jewel T Cersey

Son

abt 1916

Georgia

White

Robert  C.C. Powell

Head of household

abt 1892

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Lovdie Powell

Wife

abt 1893

Georgia

White

Corrie Powell

Daughter

abt 1915

Georgia

White

Madge Powell

Daughter

abt 1918

Georgia

White

R D Ward

Head of household

abt 1886

Georgia

White

Sawmill Machinist

Mamie Ward

Wife

abt 1895

Georgia

White

Arthur S Ganas

Head of household

abt 1892

Georgia

White

Sawmill Engineer

Ruby H Ganas

Wife

abt 1900

Georgia

White

Jaunita L Ganas

Daughter

abt 1919

Georgia

White

Chester A Hall

Head of household

abt 1899

Georgia

White

Sawmill Foreman

Ray City’s ‘Freakish’ White Quail

In the fall of 1921, L. J. Clements reported shooting a ‘freakish’ white quail near Ray City, GA in 1921. The Clements were prominent citizens of the community; the family owned the Clements Lumber company, a large sawmill operation located at Ray City on the tracks of the Georgia and Florida Railroad.  In the early 1900s, south Georgia newspapers  occasionally reported albino quail being taken by Wiregrass hunters, and one 1914 news item claimed them to be quite common around Brunswick, GA .

The Thomasville Daily Times-Enterprise
November 25, 1921  Page 3

White Quail Killed in Lowndes by L. J. Clements.

Valdosta, Ga,., Nov 25.  – Following close upon the opening of the quail shooting season comes the first white  Bob White of the season.  This beautiful but somewhat freakish member of the quail tribe was killed yesterday by L. J. Clements while hunting on the lands of J. S. Clements about three miles from Ray City.  The bird was full grown, perfectly white all over except underneath the body where there were some of the regular quail markings.  The bird was shot from a covey as it was flushed from the field.

 

November 6, 1923 ~ Big Fire Loss at the Ray City Sawmill

sawmill bladeIt was on this date, November 6, 1923 that fire struck the big sawmill at Ray City, GA.

News of the fire was reported on the front page of the Lanier County News, of Milltown (now Lakeland), GA. The sawmill owners were nationally prominent businessmen and the story was picked by the Atlanta Constitution.

The Lanier County News
Thursday, November 8, 1923, front page

Ray City Mill Had Big Fire Loss Tuesday

The Jackson Lumber Company suffered a heavy loss when their planning mill, dry kiln, a large amount of lumber and a number of tenant houses in the mill quarters at Ray City burned down Tuesday. By dint of hard work just in the knick of time the main mill was saved from destruction.
The fire started at 10:30 in the morning and spread rapidly. The hose available at Ray City reached only half way from the town to the mill, and was not till afternoon, when the Milltown hose was sent over and the fire department from Valdosta arrived on the scene with additional hose that effective work could be done. Had it not been for this timely aid the whole plant would have been wiped out.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker.

Jackson Lumber Company

The Jackson Brothers, owners of the Jackson Lumber Company, had purchased the entire mill operation from Clements Lumber Company for $75,000 in cash in what was described as “one of the biggest business deals pulled of in this section in some time.”  The Jackson Brothers were no strangers to big business deals, and were among the wealthiest businessmen in the south. Among their other Georgia investments were ownership of Tallapoosa Mills in Tallapoosa, GA and they were major stockholders in Couch Cotton Mill of Atlanta.

The Jackson Brothers’ purchase included two weeks run of the mill and all of the lumber inventory. The Jackson Brothers also purchased the ‘Sirman’s Timber’, the largest body of original growth pine that was still standing in south Georgia. Several hundred acres of this timber stand had not been turpentined until 1922. The same timber stand had sold around 1920 for over $100,000 and had been leased for turpentining at that time. The Sirman’s Timber stood between Milltown (nka Lakeland), GA and Nashville, GA.

The purchase was reported by the Nashville Herald on the front page of the February 6, 1923 edition.

CLEMENTS LBR. COMPANY SOLD OUT AT RAY CITY

Nashville Herald, February 16, 1923

The Clements Lumber Company one largest and oldest lumber concerns in this section of the state, was sold at Ray City last week by the Clements Brothers to Jackson Brothers, formerly of Tallapoosa, Georgia.

The Clements Lumber Company has been doing business in Ray City for twelve years, it was stated by the present owners. The Jackson Brothers are mill men of considerable experience. They were formerly in the cotton mill business.

They are said to have paid $100,000 and will assume charge of the plant at once.

The new owners have bought the Lon Fender timber tract, which Mr. Fender bought more than a year ago from the Sirmans estate. It is one of the finest timber tracts in this section of the state. This with the other timber insight affords at least five years running yet, and there is more to be had, it is said, that will run them ten years.

The Clements Brothers have not decided yet what they will do in the future.

The Jackson brothers took charge of the mill in the first week of March, 1923. They had been operating a cotton mill in San Antonio, Texas which they sold to return to their former home in Georgia.  Justin C. Jackson became the president of the Jackson Lumber Company making his home in Valdosta, GA.  Jackson Lumber Company made no immediate changes in the crew operating the sawmill at Ray City. They planned to begin sawing the Sirman’s timber just as soon as the turpentine lease was up.

Unfortunately, just eight months later on the afternoon of November 6, 1923 disaster struck. A fire broke out at the Jackson Lumber Company that threatened to consume the entire operation. According to the Atlanta Constitution, the Ray City Fire department responded – running a fire hose from the town to the sawmill, a distance of one mile. But there was only enough hose on hand to reach half the distance to the mill. The Valdosta Fire Department sent a unit with additional hose to fight the blaze. By the time the firefighters from Valdosta arrived , the dry kiln, planing mill, several employees’ cottages, and 150,000 feet of lumber had already burned and the flames had reached the sawmill. They quickly coupled their hoses to the line that had already been laid by the Ray City firemen and carried the line on to the mill. The firefighters were able to save practically all of the sawmill itself, but the damages were estimated to be $50,000 dollars. The plant was insured and it was expected that the mill would be rebuilt.

The Atlanta Constitution reported the $50,000 loss in a page 21 story in the November 8, 1923 edition.

The Nov 8, 1923 edition of the Atlanta Constitution reported the sawmill fire at Ray City, GA.

The Nov 8, 1923 edition of the Atlanta Constitution reported the sawmill fire at Ray City, GA.

 

Related Posts:

Ray City Real Estate

The previous post, Ray City Land Passed Through Many Hands, discussed ownership of  the land where Ray City is situated going back into the 1870s. By 1895 150 acres of this land had come into the possession of James S. Swindle.

Dr. Charles X. Jones, First Mayor of Ray City

In 1903, James S. Swindle sold four acres of this land to Dr. Charles X. Jones“All that tract or parcel of land lying and being in the County of Berrien, containing four acres, more or less, at the north end of Card the Card dam, and running northward to the Rays Mill and Adel Public Road; thence westward to the southwest corner of Chas. A. Knight and J.J. Swindle land, thence southward to the corner of the lands of I.H. Sutton, M.S. Knight and J.S. Swindle, thence Eastward to the starting point.”

“…in the year 1908 the said tract was cut up into town lots, by the surveyor of Berrien County, T.I. Griffin, and platted for the Town of Raysmill, and that the said town of Rays mill, afterwards became incorporated as the town of Ray City, Ga.”  

The newly platted town of Ray City experienced a real estate boom. On March 9, 1909 the Atlanta Constitution ran an article that included the following account of the new town:

“Rays Mill, a very new town on the Georgia and Florida Railroad, ten miles south of Nashville, is in this section, and is proud of its location. Less than six months ago there was no town and no sign of it. Today there are at least a half a dozen new store houses completed or being built, and probably twenty-five new residence buildings completed or planned, to say nothing of a half a hundred new cabins for the colored laborer. A two story hotel building is near completion and will soon be occupied. M.E Studstill has a new sawmill here and J.H. Crenshaw has another. Charles H. Anderson and Dr. Guy Selman are putting up a drug store. Mr. Anderson is postmaster and Dr. Selman practices his profession here. A.L. Bridges is another young merchant who will soon move his store to town. Louis Bullard is completing a two story house. And so on — all in five months. The truth is, Rays Mill, the town, has just about ‘arrived,’ or will soon.”

About Charles X. Jones, the article said, “It will not, I believe be improper to say that Dr. C. Jones, an older citizen here, is the leading spirit of this town. Dr. Jones has for years served these people, and has done business and owns considerable of the land around here, and he proposes to help his new town along. He is clever and generous and disposed to serve his community. “

Another Berrien County title document goes on to describe  specific Ray City lots owned by Dr. Jones, “That the said Chas. X. Jones sold off city lots and sold lot No I in block No. 2 to J.F. Buckholtz…”

Buckholtz sold this lot on March 18, 1910 to J.M. Deloach. Within a month J.M. DeLoach flipped the lot, selling it to Levi J. Clements on April 11, 1910.  Clements was a well-to-do planter who  owned a home on the town’s newly designated Main Street , and who later owned the Clements lumber mill at Ray City. Perhaps he purchased the lot intending it for one of his sons.

Clements held the lot for about a year and a half but then sold out to William Lawrence Swindle. W. L. Swindle was born and raised in the Rays Mill District, a son of pioneer settlers James Swindle and Nancy Parker. He served three terms as Sheriff of Berrien County.

W.L. Swindle quickly closed a deal conveying the land to Riley M. Green on Dec 19, 1911.  Riley M. Green was an investor and one of the incorporators of the Bank of Rays Mill.

Three years later Riley M. Green sold the lot to F.D. Clifton for $150 dollars.  In 1917, F.D. Clifton  doubled his money, selling the lot to Jasper Nobles for $295.00.

Jasper Nobles constructed a home on the site at a cost of $1200 dollars. In 1919, he mortgaged the house and property for a $1000 dollar loan from the Georgia Loan and Trust Company. In the 1930s the house and lot was sold at auction on the Berrien County courthouse steps for $100.

Jasper Nobles built this house on Jones Street, Ray City, GA on land that once belonged to Thomas M. Ray.

Jasper Nobles built this house on Jones Street, Ray City, GA on land that once belonged to Thomas M. Ray.

J.I. Clements, Jr. Goes to College

J.I. Clements, Jr. Class of 1948, Eastern Kentucky University.

J.I. Clements, Jr. Class of 1948, Eastern Kentucky University.

James Irwin Clements, Jr. was born November 26, 1920 in Ray City, Georgia, the son of James I. Clements and Annie May Carter.  His father and uncle Joe Clements ran the family business, the Clements Sawmill .

The Clements family was among the most prominent families in Ray City.  The Clements sawmill was the largest industry and largest employer in Ray City.  After the Clements sold the lumber business about 1923, J.I.’s father went into the retail grocery business.

In 1940, J.I. Clements Jr. attended Norman Junior College, at Norman Park, GA, where he was engaged in student government.

 

Atlanta Constitution
October 12, 1940

STUDENT OFFICER NAMED

NORMAN PARK, Ga., Oct 11. In a runover election yesterday, J.I. Clements Jr., of Ray City, was elected secretary-treasurer of the student body of Norman Junior College over Warren Horton of Lake Wales, Fla., runner-up, and Earl Swindel of Ray City.  Doyle Rentz, Norman Park, student president, and Brown Pinkston, Tifton, vice president, already have taken over their new posts.

Brand Hall at Norman College, Norman Park, GA

Brand Hall at Norman College, Norman Park, GA

On June, 8 1944 James I Clements Jr enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army.  At 23 years of age, he was married, five feet eight inches tall and weighed 190 pounds.  He had two years of college education and was employed in the category of “Athletes, sports instructors, and sports officials.” He enlisted at Fort McPherson, Atlanta, GA.

 After the war he returned to school, attending Eastern Kentucky University.  He played on the baseball team and was a member of Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society in Education. He received a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education in 1947, and his master’s degree in 1948.

Eastern Kentucky University Baseball Team, 1949. First Row: Left to Right--Capt. Pete Nonnemacher, Roger Parsons, Jimmy Cinnamon, Dick Scherrbaum, Mac McCarty. Second Row: Left to Right--Lonnie Nelson, Howard Bartlett, Charles combs, Luther Wren, J. I. Clements, Jim Thompson, Coach "Turkey" Hughes, Manager Charles Spicer. Third Row: Left to Right--Don Newsom, Ted Dunn, Ed Lewicki, Ray Giltner, Goebel Ritter, Carl Eagle, Jack Meeks.

Eastern Kentucky University Baseball Team, 1949.

First Row: Left to Right–Capt. Pete Nonnemacher, Roger Parsons, Jimmy Cinnamon, Dick Scherrbaum, Mac McCarty.
Second Row: Left to Right–Lonnie Nelson, Howard Bartlett, Charles combs, Luther Wren, J. I. Clements, Jim Thompson, Coach “Turkey” Hughes, Manager Charles Spicer.
Third Row: Left to Right–Don Newsom, Ted Dunn, Ed Lewicki, Ray Giltner, Goebel Ritter, Carl Eagle, Jack Meeks.

WWI Boom for Clements Lumber Company at Ray City, GA

About 1911  Levi J. Clements,  purchased the big sawmill at Ray City, GA from W.F. Luckie and it became the Clements Lumber Company.   The Clements Family had some experience in the sawmill business. The Clements brothers, Lucius J. Clements, J.I. Clements, and J.S. Clements, operated the mill; Lucius served as the General Manager.

World War I brought an economic boom for the Clements’ sawmill operations.

During World War I, Southern yellow pine was the most abundant of all ship materials and was extensively used in building wood ships along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.

During World War I, Southern yellow pine was the most abundant of all ship materials and was extensively used in building wood ships along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.

At first the war reduced the market for southern pine lumber, as European markets were closed and the German navy threatened North Atlantic trade. But as War hysteria grew, lumber became a strategic material. By 1917 the U.S. Shipping Board began discussing the construction of  wooden cargo ships to support the war effort.  The price of lumber rose sharply during the war, nearly doubling from 1915 to 1918.4

Lucius J. Clements continued to serve as General Manager at the Clements sawmill, although on September 19,1918, at the age of 37,  he diligently registered for the draft for World War I along with other Ray City men. His cousin, Hod P. Clements had registered a year earlier.

In a 1973 newspaper interview, Hod P. Clements, reflected on the boom World War I, brought to the Clements Sawmill and his relatives L.J. Clements, J.I. Clements, and J.S. Clements.7

 “When World War I broke out, the Clements’ boys, who are my cousins, sold lumber to the government to build ships, and made about half a million dollars,” he said.

According to Clements, the price of lumber rose from $8 a thousand feet to $120 a thousand feet in a year.

Related Posts:

  1. Fondren-Clements Papers; transcribed by Ronald E. Yates 8/17/2009) http://www.yatesville.net/tngrey/getperson.php?personID=I4423&tree=01
  2. Nashville Herald. Feb 6, 1923.. Clements Lbr Company sold out at Ray City. Nashvillle Herald, Nashville, GA. pg 1.
  3. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Card. Lucius J. Clements. Registration Location: Berrien County, Georgia; Roll: 1556961; Draft Board: 0. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration.
  4. Ships to Nowhere: The Southern Yellow Pine Fleet of World War I Thomas D. Clark Journal of Forest History, Vol. 30, No. 1 (Jan., 1986), pp. 4-16 Published by: Forest History Society and American Society for Environmental History Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4004755
  5. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Card. Lucius J. Clements. Registration Location: Berrien County, Georgia; Roll: 1556961; Draft Board: 0. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration.
  6. United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1920. T625, 2,076 rolls. Census location: Rays Mill, Berrien, Georgia; Roll: T625_235; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 22; Image: 288.
  7. Valdosta Times. 1973. Newspaper clipping. “Natives of Ray City Like to talk about the past.”
  8. Davis, C. G., Clarke, T. W., Drown, F. S., & United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation. (1918). The building of a wooden ship. Philadelphia, Pa: Industrial Service Section, United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corp..

Ray City Alumni of Georgia Normal College and Business Institute at Abbeville, GA

See also Georgia Normal College and Business Institute,

When students in Ray’s Mill, GA sought educational opportunities beyond the common schools of the area, Georgia Normal College and Business Institute at Abbeville, Georgia was one option.  In 1902 cousins Lucius Jordan Clements and Bessie Clements graduated from the Institute. L.J. Clements went on to manage the operation of his family’s business, Clements Sawmill at Ray City.  His younger brother, William Grover Clements, also completed studies at the college and returned to Berrien County to become a teacher. Another Clements cousin  who attended the institute in 1911, Hod P. Clements, later founded the Bank of Ray City.

Students at Georgia Normal College and Business Institute. Abbeville, Georgia, 1911. Hod P. Clements (back row, 3rd from left) later became a banker in Ray City, GA.

Students at Georgia Normal College and Business Institute. Abbeville, Georgia, 1911. Hod P. Clements (back row, 3rd from left) later became a banker in Ray City, GA. Image coutesty of Berrien County Historical Foundation http://www.berriencountyga.com/

Campus of Georgia Normal College and Business Institute in Abbeville, GA

Campus of Georgia Normal College and Business Institute in Abbeville, GA

"Central Hotel" - Dormitory at Georgia Normal College and Business Institute in Abbeville, GA

“Central Hotel” Dormitory at Georgia Normal College and Business InstituteAbbeville, GA

1. The Atlanta Constitution. 30 May 1902. Abbeville College Closes. Atlanta, Georgia. pg 4