Fletch and Mac’s Garage Opens at Ray City

Although cars had been on the roads in Berrien County, GA shortly after the turn of the century, it was not until about 1925 that Gordon V. Hardie opened the first gasoline station in Ray City, the Hardie Filling Station.  Hardie’s  garage was situated on the south side of Main Street just east of the tracks of the Georgia & Florida railroad and  southeast of the corner of  Main and Paralleled Streets.  Within a few years Moses L. Giddens opened a competing garage and filling station and other Ray City automotive entrepreneurs hit the road running.

In 1945, Mac McSwain went into partnership with D.L. Fletcher to open Fletch and Mac’s Garage in Ray City, GA.  Among the products featured at the new service station were Woco Pep gasoline and Tiolene Motor Oil.

Joshua Brooks “Mac” McSwain, born April 15, 1902,  was a son of Mary Frances Gray and William Angus McSwain. He was born and raised near Cedar Crossing, GA in Militia District 43, Toombs County, GA. In 1910, his father was a sawyer and also an employer, but by 1920 he was back at farming.

By 1940, Mac McSwain had relocated to Ray City, GA. He was married to Lelia Vaugh. The McSwains lived with Lelia’s widowed mother, in a house on Pauline Street. Mac was employed as an automobile mechanic.

In 1945, the Nashville Herald announced the new Ray City business venture:

The Nashville Herald
October 25, 1945,  front page

New Garage to Open at Ray City

During the approaching week-end a new garage will be opened in Ray City according to an announcement appearing elsewhere in this issue, under the name of Fletch and Mac’s Garage.  The owners and operators are D.L. Fletcher and J.B. (Mac) Swain, both well known garage men.

The managers stated that they had erected a new building to house the garage and had bought new equipment to carry on auto repair work, electric and acetylene welding.  They will also handle auto accessories and Woco Pep gas and Tiolene oils.

It is understood that this is a muchly needed service in the Ray City area and no doubt the concern will do a flourishing business and serve the area well.

transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

Fletch and Mac's ad from the 1952 Beaver, the Ray City School yearbook.

Fletch and Mac’s ad from the 1952 Beaver, the Ray City School yearbook.

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Automotive Entrepreneurs in Ray City, GA

Cars began appearing in Ray City and Berrien County, Georgia for the first time in the early 1900’s.  Dr. H. W. Clements was one of the earliest car owners in Berrien County.  With increasing  automobile traffic, Ray City residents were soon turning to businesses that catered to this new locomotion.

Woco Pep was a gasoline brand featured at Fletch and Mac's Garage at Ray City in the 1940s

Woco Pep was a gasoline brand featured at Fletch and Mac’s Garage at Ray City in the 1940s

On June 5, 1917 when registering for the draft for WWI (WWI: Ray City Goes to WarGordon Vancie Hardie was living and working in Ray City, GA.  At that time he listed his occupation as a self-employed “Automobile Repairer”.   In 1920 he and his wife, Addie B. Hardy were living in a house on Jones Street in Ray City, Georgia.  By that time Gordon had expanded his trades. He was the proprietor of a “beef market” which he operated on his own account.  The Gordon meat market was one of two butcher shops among the historic businesses of Ray City appearing in the Census of 1920.

But other Ray City residents were quickly taking up the automotive service trade. Another going concern in 1917 was that of Sutton & Gaskins. Henry C. Sutton was one of the proprietors and also a mechanic; Barney Gordon Shaw was also employed as an automobile mechanic. Harvey Norvell Terry, son of merchant W.H.E. Terry, was also a mechanic. Jessie Everett Anderson was another young man running a garage in Ray City around that time. In the 1920 census Machiel Gallagher, son of Frank Gallagher, gave his occupation as a wage laborer in an automobile shop. Theodore Hinley, son of J.F. Hineley,  worked on his own account as an automobile driver.   Thad L. Lindsey, who resided with his uncle Jasper Nobles in a house on Jones Street,  was the proprietor of a garage. The garage was probably a good complement to his uncle’s livery business.  In fact, automotive service stations of that period were sometimes referred to as the “auto livery.”

Charles A. Cole was the proprietor of another garage in town.  His father, Jasper Cole, was a blacksmith. There was good sense in this business relationship; as cars became more popular, many blacksmiths became automobile mechanics.  The April 1913 issue of  American blacksmith and motor shop, Volume 13 included articles such as “Welding Automobile Springs” and “Three Emergency Automobile Repairs”, as well as “A Scientific Horseshoe.”

By 1925 Gordon V. Hardie had returned to the automotive service industry. He built the first gasoline station in Ray City, GA, a brick building which stood on the south side of Main Street just east of the tracks of the Georgia & Florida railroad and  southeast of the corner of  Main and Paralleled Streets.These automotive entrepreneurs were just a few of the Ray City businesses operating in the town’s boom period of the 1920’s.

By 1930 the Hardie Filling Station had competition in the service station business.  Moses L. Giddens was a garage and station owner, and  Carl F. Murry was  employed at a filling station.  Charlie J. Shaw was a self-employed automobile mechanic.  In the 1930s, the South Georgia Oil Company,  a gas and diesel dealership based out of Tifton, GA, had a location at Ray City.  Among other automotive business firms operated in Ray City in the 1930s were Ray City Service Station, Norton Service Station, Ray City Motor Company,  Colonial Oil Company,  Highway Service Station,  Standard Oil Station,  Shaw’s Garage,  and Swain Garage.   Wilbur Aultman owned a filling station and lunch stand that was destroyed by fire in 1937.

The census of 1940 shows  Levi J. Futch, Arthur A. Carlson, Willie Wright Ware, and J. B. McSwain all were working as  automobile mechanics.  Herman B. Guthrie was a gasoline station operator, and George Emory Swindle, a son of L.C. Swindle, was an automobile salesman.

In 1945, J. B. “Mac” McSwain went into partnership with D.L. Fletcher to open Fletch and Mac’s Garage in Ray City, GA. Among the products featured at the new service station were Woco Pep gasoline and Tiolene Motor Oil.

1949 Georgia Map, Standard Oil Company

1949 Georgia Map, Standard Oil Company, featured “Okefenokee Swamp Park, near Waycross, Georgia” on the cover.

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Fletch and Mac’s Garage Opens at Ray City

Dr. H.W. Clements and the Doctor’s Roadster