Ray City Girls and Boys at Camp Wilkins

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

According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia,

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

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

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

“BOYS’ AND GIRLS’ SHORT COURSES AT CAMP WILKINS

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

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

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

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

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

Camp Wilkins, Athens, GA

Camp Wilkins, Athens, GA, 1925

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Camp Wilkins

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

Horticulture class at Camp Wilkins, Athens, GA

Horticulture class at Camp Wilkins, Athens, GA, 1925

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

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

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Billy McDonald at the University of Arizona

Billie McDonald, University of Arizona, 1952

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ray City School 1934

Ray City School, 1934

The Ray City School held a junior high school rating until 1936, when it became an accredited senior high school.

Ray City School class photos from 1934. Identifications needed.

Ray City School 4th Grade Class Photo, Believed to be Spring 1934. Photo was inscribed on back " Mildred's 4th Grade Class, Ray City School." The reference may be to Mildred Clements, who graduated in 1939.

Ray City School 4th Grade Class Photo, Believed to be Spring 1934. Photo was inscribed on back ” Mildred’s 4th Grade Class, Ray City School.” The reference may be to Mildred Clements, who graduated in 1939.  Image courtesy of Edith Mayo.

A 1934 newspaper article on Ray City included the following information about the school.

The city of Ray City affords every convenience and comfort for the citizens of the community.  There is a fine school system, which is under the capable and efficient supervision of Prof. P. M. Shultz.  Prof. Ulmer Crosby is principal, and the other teachers are:  Mrs. P. M. Shultz, Miss Jessie Aycock, Mrs. A.B. Baskins, Miss Lillian Ford and Mrs. Eulalie Dickson.

The school has nine grades, with an enrollment of a few over the two hundred mark.  A number of fine students complete the school each year, advancing to higher institutions of learning.  The school system in Ray City is really a big asset, (illegible) a higher type of citizenry.

The school board is composed of the following gentlemen who handle their duties in a most admirable manner and of benefit to patrons and students combined.  H.A. Swindle, chairman, M.A. Studstill, sec.-treasl., C.H. Vickers, J.M. Studstill and W.M. Creech, members.

Ray City School, 1934, Grades 4 and 5. Ray City, Berrien County, GA. Image courtesy of Edith Mayo.

Ray City School, 1934, Grades 4 and 5. Ray City, Berrien County, GA. Teacher, Jessie Aycock. Image courtesy of Edith Mayo.

Ray City School, Ray City, GA. 1934 6th Grade Class. Lillian Ford, Teacher. (Top Row, L to R) Belle Garner, Thelma Sirmans, Velma Wood, Frances Sirmans, Geraldine Brown, Lounelle Futch. (2nd Row) Sarah Hunter, Monafaye Swindle, Hazel Futch, Helen Dubose, D'Ree Yawn. (Bottom Row) H. Cox, Lawson Fountain, Dan St?, Robert Hunter, James "Skinny" Holliday, Morris Johnson.

Ray City School, Ray City, GA. 1934 6th Grade Class. Lillian Ford, Teacher. (Top Row, L to R) Belle Garner, Thelma Sirmans, Velma Wood, Frances Sirmans, Geraldine Brown, Lounelle Futch. (2nd Row) Sarah Hunter, Monafaye Swindle, Hazel Futch, Helen Dubose, D’Ree Yawn. (Bottom Row) H. Cox, Lawson Fountain, Dan St?, Robert Hunter, James “Skinny” Holliday, Morris Johnson.

Ray City School, 1934, Grades 7 and 8. Ray City, Berrien County, GA. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Ray City School, 1934, Grades 7 and 8. Ray City, Berrien County, GA. Boy at top left, Earl Pafford Swindle. Front row, second from right is believed to be Robert Bruce Johnson.

1934 Ray City School, Girls Basketball Team. (Left to Right) Front Row: Johnnie Sirmans, Grace Clements, Louise Paulk, Winona Holiday. Back Row: Helen DuBose, Clyde Carter, Jinnie Johnson, Helen Swindle, Virginia Studstill.

1934 Ray City School, Girls Basketball Team. (Left to Right) Front Row: Johnnie Sirmans, Grace Clements, Louise Paulk, Winona Holiday. Back Row: Helen DuBose, Clyde Carter, Jimmie Johnson, Helen Swindle, Virginia Studstill.

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Ray City, GA Women’s Hoops, 1934

Given public attitudes about women and sports, local school support for girl’s athletic teams in Ray City, GA seems downright progressive.  That progressive optimism was apparent in a 1934 Ray City ‘Booster’ article, which included information on the Ray City School.

Ray City, GA  has always taken pride in its athletic teams.  A Ray City School alumnus recalls the  hometown girl’s basketball team.

“We had a tremendous basketball team, and they’d win. They played basketball all over the county. There were a bunch of schools. I never played on the basketball team, but Edna Francis [Futch] did. Hazel Futch was one of their best players. That was in 1943. They just played on hard courts outside. Some of the places that they played had gyms. They didn’t build the gym at the Ray City School until after I left.”

1934 Ray City School - Girls Basketball Team (Left to Right) Front Row: Johnnie Sirmans, Grace Clements, Louise Paulk, Winona Holiday. Back Row: Helen DuBose, Clyde Carter, Jimmie Johnson, Helen Swindle, Virginia Studstill. Coach: Jesse Webb.

1934 Ray City School – Girls Basketball Team (Left to Right) Front Row: Johnnie Sirmans, Grace Clements, Louise Paulk, Winona Holiday. Back Row: Helen DuBose, Clyde Carter, Jimmie Johnson, Helen Swindle, Virginia Studstill. Coach: Jesse Webb.

While women’s basketball followed almost immediately upon the invention of the sport in1892, for many years there was strong resistance to women on the court.  The Women’s Sports Foundation gives this assessment of the opposition to women’s basketball in the 1930s.

As the game’s popularity grew, so did the backlash from educators concerned that the physical activity was unladylike, inappropriate and unhealthy. This seesaw battle of growth and resistance continued into the early ‘20s, but the balance shifted in 1923 when Lou Henry Hoover, head of Girl Scouts of America and wife of President Herbert Hoover, helped organize the Women’s Division of the National Amateur Athletic Federation (WDNAAF). In 1925, the WDNAAF passed a resolution outlawing extramural competition, opposing gate-receipts, all travel for women’s games and all publicity of women’s sports. The National Association of Secondary School Principals supported the resolution and they, in turn, pressured high school sports associations to disband tournaments. By the mid-‘30s, competitive basketball at elementary, high school and college level in many states had all but disappeared.

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