Posting Mail at Ray City

Post marked Ray's Mills, GA

Post marked Ray’s Mills, GA

 Levi J. Knight and the first Wiregrass Pioneers to settle on Beaverdam Creek in the area of present day Ray City, GA arrived here about 185 years ago, in the 1820s. At first  these settlers had no mail service at all, but within a year or two a post office was established at Daniel “Big Thumb” McCranie’s place on the Coffee Road. That was a 50 mile round trip for the settlers at Beaverdam Creek to fetch their mail.  Other post offices sprang up to serve the pioneers of Old Berrien County, but no post office was established closer than 10 or 12 miles to Ray City until after the Civil War.

KNIGHT’S MILL POST OFFICE
After the end of the Civil War, the grist mill that General Levi J. Knight and his son-in-law Thomas M. Ray had established on Beaverdam Creek became the site of the first post station serving the present day area of Ray City, GA. This mill was originally known as “Knight and Ray’s Mill” and in 1867 a post office established here was simply referred to as “Knight’s Mill.” In 1870 the United States Postal Service Guide indicated that the postmaster of Knight’s Mill received an annual salary of $12.   The Post Office Department Record of Appointment of Postmasters shows that Green Bullard  was appointed postmaster of Knight’s Mill (later known as Rays Mill) on August 3, 1868. Bullard held the position until June 29, 1871 when the Knight’s Mill post office was discontinued.

RAY’S MILL POST STATION
In 1870, after the death of General Knight, Thomas M. Ray bought out complete ownership of the mill from his father-in-law’s estate. Thereafter the mill and the surrounding community became known as Ray’s Mill. Apparently from 1871 and 1875 there was no post office in operation at Ray’s Mill, and residents were again compelled to take their mail at Nashville or Milltown. In 1876 a local post office resumed operation and according to the Post Office Department Record of Appointment of Postmasters,  Henry Harrison Knight was appointed on June 6, 1876.  The United States Official Postal Guide of July, 1879 lists the post office at “Ray’s Mills,” Berrien County, Georgia, but the postmaster’s name is not given. The Georgia State Gazetteer, Business and Planter’s Directory for 1881-82 also lists the the Ray’s Mill post office. In the 1885 Official Register of the United States, H.H. Knight was again listed as Postmaster of Ray’s Mill, Berrien County, Georgia. His compensation for this service was $36.25. Post Office Dept records appear to indicate  that H.H. Knight was reappointed as Postmaster on May 22, 1886.  His wife, Mary Susan Ray Knight, was officially appointed Postmaster on November 1, 1892.  Joseph O. Sirmans was appointed on October 2, 1899 and served for about a year.  On September 1, 1900 the appointment was given to William C. Johnson (Johnson married H.H. Knight’s daughter in 1907).  The Post Office Department Record of Appointment of Postmasters documents that David J. Rigell was appointed Postmaster of Rays Mill on March 8, 1901.  Ulysses A. Knight took over on August 12, 1902 and was later confirmed as postmaster. Josiah S. Rigell took the position on April 28, 1903.  Post office records seem to indicate that the post office at Ray’s Mill was discontinued effective March 31, 1904 and for a while the mail was sent to Milltown (now Lakeland).

Some local histories say David Rigell, a  merchant of Berrien County, was the first postmaster at Ray’s Mill.  The primary sources, timing and other factors indicate that this was not the case (see David Jackson Rigell ~ First Postmaster of Ray’s Mill? Maybe Not!), but that Rigell served as postmaster in the 1901. It is speculated that the death of General Knight left the position vacant until Henry H. Knight, son-in-law of Thomas M. Ray and nephew of General Knight took an interest in civil service.

In 1909, Eugene Ray reported that “Charles H. Anderson and Dr. Guy Selman, young men, are putting up a drug store. Mr. Anderson is postmaster and Dr. Selman practices his profession here,” in Ray City, GA. The Post Office Department Record of Appointment of Postmasters shows that Charles Anderson was officially appointed Postmaster of Rays Mill on February 6, 1909, and  the Official Register of the United States shows in 1909, Chas Anderson was earning, $82 a month or $984 a year as Postmaster of Ray’s Mill.  That sum might have been comparable to an annual salary of about $35,000 a year in 2007 dollars.

On April 1, 1920, James “Joel” F. Fountain  became the Acting Postmaster. His appointment as Postmaster was confirmed in the U.S. Senate on June 5th of that year. The following year the  Ray City Post Office made the state news when it was dynamited by “Yeggmen“.

The census of 1930  shows James F. Fountain continued as the Ray City postmaster.  James Arthur Grissett and Lacy Albert McDonald were employed as rural mail carriers at Ray City.

By 1934, Mamie E. Fountain, wife of J. F. Fountain, took over as Postmaster at Ray City.

In 1939, the Nashville Herald announced a vacancy in the postmaster position at Ray City:

The Nashville Herald,
February 2, 1939    Pg 1

Postmaster’s Exam Called for Ray City

      An open competitive examination will be held shortly to fill the position of postmaster of Ray City, according to an announcement from the Civil Service Commission, Washington, D.C.
Applications for the examination will close on February 10th.  All who desire to take the examination for this place must file their application by that date.
The place and date of examination will be announced after the date for making applications is closed.
Complete information may be obtained by applying at the post office in Ray City.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

National Archives Record of Appointment of Postmasters, Ray City, GA

National Archives Record of Appointment of Postmasters, Ray City, GA

The U. S. Postal service and census records provide the following on subsequent Postal employees at Ray City.

Name Title Date Appointed
James Arthur Grissett Mail Carrier prior to 4/04/1940
Chloe Ann Johnson Asst Postmaster prior to 4/04/1940
Garth L. Webb Postmaster prior to 4/04/1940
William A. Garner Acting Postmaster 04/02/1955
William A. Garner Postmaster 08/06/1957
Mrs. Florence V. Garner Officer-In-Charge 05/08/1970
Timothy R. McLeod Postmaster 11/27/1971
Jeane U. Camp Officer-In-Charge 06/04/1987
Billy R. Cromer Officer-In-Charge 07/30/1987
Muriel S. Privett Officer-In-Charge 11/05/1987
Jeane U. Camp Postmaster 01/30/1988
Nancy Deloras Courson Officer-In-Charge 01/08/2003
Nancy D. Courson Postmaster 05/17/2003
Flora Parker Officer-In-Charge 07/26/2012
Wayne Putnal and Lawson Fountain at the Ray City, GA Post Office shortly after it opened.

Wayne Putnal and Lawson Fountain at the Ray City, GA Post Office shortly after it opened.

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Dr. Sloan Had Ray City Roots

Dr. William David Sloan (image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/)

Dr. William David Sloan (1879 – 1935)  (image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/)

William David Sloan was born March 12, 1879 in the 1144 Georgia Militia District, the “Rays Mill District.” He was one of 11 children  born to Martha Susan Gordon and James Murray Sloan.

William David Sloan’s parents  came from North Carolina. His father moved the family from North Carolina to Mississippi for a brief stay, then to Echols Co., Ga.; thence to Berrien County, GA in 1871 where he engaged in farming. His father, James M. Sloan, a son of David and Diadema Sloan, was born January 18, 1833 in Duplin County, N.C., and  died November 20, 1894.

In 1897,  W. D. Sloan went with Lane Young to Thomasville, GA to study at  Stanley’s Business College.  The census of 1900 shows 21-year-old William  back in the Rays Mill District living in the household of his widowed mother .  She owned the family farm, free and clear of mortgage, which she worked on her own account, with the assistance of farm laborer Charlie Weaver. William’s mother, Mrs. Martha Susannah Gordon Sloan, died Oct. 25, 1908.

Julia Elizabeth Knight Ridgell, widow of David Rigell, married Dr. William Sloan.

Julia Elizabeth Knight Ridgell  (photo circa 1910), widow of David Rigell, married Dr. William Sloan.

In 1907 William received a scholarship from the Governor.  The August 28, 1907  issue of the Atlanta Constitution noted that W. D. Sloan, of Milltown, had been appointed by the governor to receive a scholarship at the Medical College of Georgia.

He moved to Augusta, GA where he studied medicine at the  University of Georgia’s Medical Department, now known as Georgia Regents University. He graduated from UGA with a medical degree in 1910 and went into general practice, working on his own account.  At the time he was boarding in the household of Charles Conner, of Watkins Street, Augusta, GA.

William David Sloan returned to Berrien County, GA and sometime after 1911 married Julia Elizabeth Knight Rigell.  She was the widow of David Rigell, an early merchant of Rays Mill, GA. She was born August 9, 1880, a daughter of Walter Knight and Jimmie Gullette.

Dr. William David Sloan and Julia Knight Rigell Sloan. (Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/)

Dr. William David Sloan and Julia Knight Rigell Sloan. (Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/)

William David Sloan enlisted in the Army Medical Service in 1917, and served during World War I.

Dr. William David Sloan, Army Medical Service, WWI. (image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/)

Dr. William David Sloan, Army Medical Service, WWI. (image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/)

Dr. Sloan later made his home in Stockton, GA but often visited his many family connections in the Ray City area. In September 1925, he happened to be on hand when little Merle Elizabeth Langford suffered a fatal rattlesnake bite. (Ray City Child Dies From Bite Of Rattle Snake, 1925)

Dr. William David Sloan and his automobile. Dr. Sloan was born and raised in the Rays Mill, GA vicinity.

Dr. William David Sloan and his automobile. Dr. Sloan was born and raised in the Rays Mill, GA vicinity.

In his later years Dr. Sloan suffered from kidney and heart disease.

The Journal of the American Medical Association, March 2, 1935 issue reported the obituary of William David Sloan.

William David Sloan, Stockton, Ga. ; University of Georgia
Medical Department, Augusta, 1910; served during the World
War ; aged 55 ; died, January 10, in a hospital at Atlanta, of
chronic nephritis and heart disease.

He was buried at Wayfare Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, in Echols County, Georgia.

Grave of William David Stone (1879-1935, Wayfare Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Echols County, GA.

Grave of William David Sloan, M.D. (1879-1935), Wayfare Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Echols County, GA.

Julia Rigell Sloan died September 10, 1955.  She was buried at the City Cemetery in Lakeland, GA  next to the grave of her infant daughter, born February 3, 1907.

 

Grave of Julia Rigell Sloan, City Cemetery, Lakeland, Lanier County, GA

Grave of Julia Rigell Sloan, City Cemetery, Lakeland, Lanier County, GA

 

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Theodocia "Docia" Rigell Parrish (1865-1942)

Theodocia “Docia” Rigell Parrish (1865-1942)

Grave of Docia Rigell Parrish, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Grave of Docia Rigell Parrish, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Theodocia “Docia” Rigell was born September 26, 1865 in Clinch Co. Georgia.

She married Aaron A. Parrish February 14, 1883 in Berrien Co. Georgia, son of Matthew Parrish and Sarah Giddens. He was born February 10, 1856 in Lowndes Co. Georgia, and died November 11, 1890.

Docia’s brother, David Rigell, opened one of the earliest stores in the Ray’s Mill, Georgia area.

Docia Parrish died January 15, 1942. She was buried in Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

See more about Docia Parrish and Ray City, GA history see http://raycity.pbworks.com/