Nathan Byrd

Nathan W. Byrd

Nathan W. Byrd was one of the mail carriers for the post offices of Old Berrien County, GA. He carried mail on  the postal route between Nashville, GA and Milltown (now Lakeland, GA) in the period after the Civil War.  This road from Lastinger Mills at Milltown to the county seat at Nashville was one of the first public roads built in Berrien County. The route passed by the residences of Isben Giddens, Levi J. Knight, and John M. Futch, among others residing in the vicinity of Ray’s Mill, GA.

In 1875 Nathan W. Byrd was awarded the contract  to carry mail between Nashville, GA and Alapaha, GA, 13 miles and back, three times a week. The trip was a four hour ride each way.

The 1876 records of the U.S. Congress show in that year Nathan W. Byrd also put in a bid to carry the mail on  the route from Nashville, GA to Allapaha, GA.

1876 mail routes, Berrien County, GA

1876 mail routes, Berrien County, GA

The route was awarded to William J. Nelson of Allapaha, who was contracted to provide the mail service, three round trips a week, for $190 per year.   That sum would equate to about $49,300 in comparative 2013 dollars.

Nathan W. Byrd was born October 6, 1808 and raised in Sampson County, North Carolina.  He was the only child of Robert Byrd and his second wife, Elizabeth Gulley.   Nathan’s father, Robert Byrd, was a veteran of the Revolutionary War who served with the North Carolina militia from about 1777 to 1780. Nathan’s maternal grandfather, William S. Gulley was also a soldier of the Revolutionary War.

As a young man, Nathan Byrd came to Georgia where he met Ellen Gay, of Alabama. On January 24, 1834  the 25 year-old Nathan W. Byrd married Ellen Gay, age 16 and the couple made their home in Stewart County, GA.

Marriage license of Nathan W. Byrd and Eleanor L. B. Gay. August 14, 1834, Stewart County, GA.

Marriage license of Nathan W. Byrd and Eleanor L. B. Gay. August 14, 1834, Stewart County, GA.

Georgia, Stewart County
I do certify that Nathan W. Byrd and Eleanor L. B. Gay were duly joined in Matrimony by me this 14th day of August 1834
James S. Lunsford, M.G.
Recorded this 22nd day of August 1834
Thomas M. Dennis, Clk

 

The following year their first child was born, James Byrd, but the child died in infancy.   A daughter, Mary Elizabeth, was born to the couple in 1837,  and in 1839 a second daughter, Martha, was delivered. The following year their son, William Byrd, was born.   By 1840, the Byrds had moved to Houston County, GA where they appear in the census of that year, along with their three children.

Over the next decade, the couple added three more daughters to their growing family; Sarah (1843), Ellen (1846), and Susan Catherine (b. 1848). The Census of 1850 found them still living in Houston County. Nathan was a farmer with $2000 in real estate. At age 40, with four daughters and only one son, William, age 9, to help with farm labor, Nathan would have found it tough going. But the Slave Inhabitant Schedule in the 1850 Census shows that he owned three slaves.

Also enumerated in 1850 living in the Byrd household was 22-year-old William Gay, farmer. A search of the available records has failed to disclose the exact relation of William Gay, but it seems most likely that he is the younger brother of Ellen Gay Byrd. The parents of Ellen or William Gay are not known, the only clue to their origins being Huxford’s assertion that Ellen Gay was “of Alabama.”

In 1850, Nathan W. Byrd was a member of the Southern Rights Party of Houston County, a party dedicated to repelling “the efforts of the North…to interfere with [Southern men’s] rights in slave property.”  At that time there was grave sectional contention  over the future of slavery in this country.  In September of that year, the United States Congress passed the Compromise of 1850,  a package of five separate bills which defused the political confrontation between slave and free states on the status of territories acquired in the Mexican–American War.

Joseph E. Brown, Governor of Georgia from 1857 to 1865.

Joseph E. Brown, Governor of Georgia from 1857 to 1865.

In Georgia, the Legislature directed Governor Joseph E. Brown to convene a State Convention to consider the impact of the Compromise of 1850 on the state’s federal relations.

Each county was to select delegates to this convention. In Houston County,  Nathan W. Byrd was appointed as an elector to nominate four Houston county delegates to the convention.  In Berrien County, one of the candidates for convention delegates was Levi J. Knight, original settler at Ray City, GA. Levi J. Knight was a pro-Union man and lost out to candidates who favored secession.

The State Convention met at Milledgeville, on the 10th of December, 1850 “for the purpose of taking into consideration the many aggressive measures persisted in by the North upon the institutions of the Southern States, and as far as possible and consistent with the provisions of the Federal Constitution, to redress past wrongs and insure sufficient protection for the future.

The Compromise of 1850, dealing with territory acquired during the Mexican War, had numerous critics despite its passage by Congress. Southerners were upset by the admittance of California as a free state, which gave free states a majority of votes in the U.S. Senate. Northerners protested the inclusion of a tough Fugitive Slave Act, designed to appease Southerners. Several Southern states, including Georgia, had highly vocal secessionist movements calling for immediate secession. The Georgia General Assembly authorized a call for a state convention to determine the state’s course. Howell Cobb, Alexander H. Stephens, and Robert Toombs, who represented Georgia in Congress, wielded their influence in Georgia in support of the Compromise. Of the 264 delegates elected to the special convention in November 1850, 240 were Unionists. A Committee of Thirty-three drafted a response, pages 14-26, adopted by a vote of 237 to 19. In it, Georgia gave a qualified endorsement to the Compromise so long as the North complied with the Fugitive Slave Act and ceased to attempt to ban the expansion of slavery into new territories and states. – Georgia Archives

The outcome of this 1850 Georgia Convention was a statement known as the Georgia Platform.

 Supported by Unionists, the Georgia Platform affirmed the acceptance of the Compromise as a final resolution of the sectional slavery issues while declaring that no further assaults on Southern rights by the North would be acceptable. The Platform had political significance throughout the South. In the short term it was an effective antidote to secession, but in the long run it contributed to sectional solidarity and the demise of the Second Party System in the South.

 

Nathan W. Byrd served as a Grand Juror on the November 1853 term of the Houston County Superior Court.

Up to about 1854, the Byrds continued in Houston County with two more daughters added to the family; Caroline (1851), and Annie (1854). In February, 1854 the Georgia General Assembly passed an Act creating Coffee County from portions of Clinch, Irwin, Telfair, and Ware counties. Seeking opportunity in the newly created county, Nathan Byrd relocated his family. Records show he served as a Grand Juror in Coffee County for the June term, 1854.  Sometime before the 1860 census, William Gay left the Byrd household, or perhaps he remained behind when the family moved from Houston County. In Coffee county, a final child was born to Nathan and Ellen Byrd, a daughter, Eliza, born 1857.

When Douglas, GA was founded in 1855 as the seat of Coffee County, the Byrds were one of the first families in the new town. For a few years they operated a boarding house at Douglas.  Perhaps the location was not conducive, or perhaps the looming war held back development, but the town was slow to develop.  “From 1854, when Coffee County was created, until the 1880s, only a white frame courthouse, a hotel, a store or two, and a few houses occupied the site in the middle of the piney woods.”

National Archive records of Appointments of Postmasters show on October 34, 1856 Nathan W. Byrd was appointed postmaster at Byrd’s Mills, GA. In those days shortly after the creation of Coffee county, the  only other post offices in the county were at Douglas, Ocmulgeeville, and Red Bluff.  Nathan Byrd was succeeded as postmaster by James W. Overstreet on October 13, 1857.

On January 8, 1857 Nathan and Ellen’s eldest daughter, Mary Elizabeth Byrd, then 19, married Littleton L. Albritton  in Berrien County, GA. He was a brother of Matthew H. Albritton.  It was her second marriage; her first husband was a man named Mobley. Mary Elizabeth and Littleton Albritton  were enumerated in Nashville, Berrien County, GA in the Census of 1860.  Nathan Byrd and family were enumerated still living in Coffee county, in the vicinity of Bird’s Mill, GA.

The 1860 Gazetteer of Georgia describes Bird’s Mill as a post office and small village, one of only five towns in all of Coffee county.  By this time daughter Martha had also left home. Their son, William Byrd, now 19, was working as a school teacher.  Nathan Byrd owned $2000 in real estate and $3490 in personal estate. The Slave Inhabitant schedule in the Census of 1860 shows he owned three enslaved people, a 24-year-old black woman, a 3 year old mixed-race boy, and a 3 month old girl. In 2009 dollars his comparative net worth would have been about $1.85 million dollars.

According to Huxford,  the Byrd  family moved to Clinch County in 1861 and made their home at the community of Guest Mill.  Little information is available about the historic community of Guest Mill.  The location of “Guest” is shown on the U.S. Coast Survey Map of 1865,  about nine or ten miles due east of Homerville, GA.  The Guest Millpond Dam is drawn on the modern United States Geological Service (USGS) Sandy Bottom Topo map. Guest Millpond Dam is located in northern Clinch County, GA in the 1061st Georgia Militia District. The dam is located at the latitude and longitude coordinates of 31.1949275 and -82.8606999.

Nathan W Byrd was enrolled in the militia of the 1061st GMD in 1861, and in 1864 he was enumerated there in the Census for Reorganization of the Georgia Militia. He was 55 years old and occupied in farming.  Among his neighbors enumerated in the 1864 census was Miles J. Guest.

Around the end of the war, Nathan Byrd moved his family across the Alapaha River about 25 miles southwest to Nashville, GA where his  daughter, Mary, and son-in-law, Littleton Albritton, were residing. Huxford’s sketch details, “there Mr. Byrd bought a tract of land within the present limits of the town but at that time outside of town. He farmed there and also carried the mails between Nashville and Milltown (Lakeland) for some years.”

On November 28, 1869 Byrd’s daughter, Susan Catherine Byrd, married Confederate veteran Matthew Hodge Albritton,  the brother of her sister’s husband, Littleton Albritton. Matthew and Susan Catherine Albritton  lived first in Nashville, GA, but later made their home near Ray’s Mill in southern Berrien County. Matthew’s sister, Mary Jane Albritton, was the first wife of Thomas M. Ray, of Ray’s Mill.

In the Census of 1870, Nathan and Ellen Byrd, were living in the 1157th Georgia Militia District, centered on Nashville, GA.   Like other men of antebellum wealth in Berrien county, Nathan Byrd had lost most of his net worth after the war. By 1870 Byrd’s assets amounted to just 12 percent of their pre-war value, but he still had a farm.  The 1870 Agriculture Census shows the Byrds were living on 30 acres of land, with three acres improved and the rest in woodlands. The farm was valued at $250 with $10 worth of farm equipment. Byrd owned one horse, two dairy cows and five other cattle, 15 sheep and 15 hogs. All together his livestock was valued at $273. He had 50 bushels of corn, 75 bushels of oats, and 150 bushels of sweet potatoes on hand. He had 60 pound of butter, 110 pounds of honey and 10 pounds of wax. His farm products included two bales of cotton, 400 pounds each, and 34 pounds of wool. The value of “home manufactures” was $106 and the value of animals slaughtered or sold for slaughter was $114. The total value of all farm production including betterments and addition to stock was $682. Nathan Byrd was now 61 years old, still supporting his wife and two minor children.

The 1878 Berrien County tax records show Nathan W. Byrd owned 30 acres of land on Lot 190 in the tenth land district. This lot was on the east of Nashville.

The 1879 records show his neighbors included: John D. Calhoun on Lot 189; Daniel McCranie on parts of 190 and 225; and Levi Sapp on Lot 191; Thomas Asa Baker and his wife Nancy Griner Baker on parts of 191 and 192.  Jane Ivey held an additional 90 acres of Lot 190.

This land was valued at $165 in land and $25 in “town property”. He owned $50 in household furnishings, $47 in livestock, and $15 in other property.

Nathan W. Byrd died at his home January 5, 1881. Mrs. Byrd died March 17, 1901.

 

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Nashville, GA Electric and Water Plants Built in 1907

In the south end of Berrien County it wasn’t until 1923 that Ray City  got electric lights and running water, although some residents installed their own carbide electric systems before that.

Here’s an old newspaper clipping about the power and water plants built in Nashville, GA in 1907. The contractor for the construction of the plant was W.P. Tittle.  Tittle later owned a Maxwell car dealership in Nashville.

Nashville Herald article on town's first power and water

Nashville Herald article on town’s first power and water.

Nashville Herald
February 16, 1956

Electric and Water Plants Built in 1907

      Nashville citizens reached the decision in 1907 that something should be done about improving the water supply and furnishing electric lights for the town.
      After employing engineers to draft plans for a combined water and light plant a contract was let to W. P. Tittle, who built the plant and installed the water mains and electric distributing system.
      After much grief in attempting to operate the light plant a deal was finally completed in 1928 when the Southeast Georgia Power Co., purchased the electric light plant for $50,000. The Southeast Georgia Power Co., in turn sold the plant to the Georgia Power Co., who operate the electric distribution for Nashville today.
       The water plant, which the city retained, has been improved from time to time and additions made until today it is one of the most complete in the state. The water department of the City of Nashville is today serving 1,065 customers through the water meters, quite an increase from the less that 100 customers who began using city water when the plant was first installed.

Additional Notes:

Southeast Georgia Power Co., located at Douglas, GA, served several communities in south Georgia with electricity…

The Georgia Power Company on January 28, 1930, purchased from the Southeast Georgia Power Company the complete electric distribution systems in the towns of Alma, Nichols, Nashville, Willacoochee and Broxton, together with the respective franchises under which these distribution systems were operated. It also acquired certain transmission lines in Baker, Coffee, Atkinson and Berrien counties, between Alma and Douglas, Douglas and Broxton, Broxton and Ambrose, Douglas and Willacoochee, and Willacoochee and Nashville.

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Thomas Babington McCauley, Locomotive Engineer on the G&F

Thomas Babington McCauley, Locomotive Engineer on the Georgia and Florida Railroad.

The Georgia & Florida Railroad was Ray City, Georgia’s connection to the world.  In the 1920s, G&F trains stopped at Ray City several times a day, with freight and passenger service.  Ray City had its own train depot, and section houses for railroad employees and their families.   A big wooden water tower stood just south of Main Street on the east side of the tracks to provide water for the trains.

The G&F railroad chose Douglas, GA,  about 60 miles northward up the track from Ray City, as the location for its offices and railroad shops. The railroad employed many workers at Douglas, including the porters, conductors, brakemen, firemen, and engineers that ran the trains. Thomas Babington McCauley was one of those locomotive engineers.

Thomas Babington McCauley, Engineer on the Georgia & Florida Railroad

Thomas Babington McCauley (1878-1948), Engineer on the Georgia & Florida Railroad.

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Thomas Babington McCauley, Sr., engineer for the Georgia & Florida Railroad

Thomas Babington McCauley, Sr., engineer for the Georgia & Florida Railroad

Thomas Babington McCauley was born on the 4th of July, 1878 in Wilkes County, GA and raised on his father’s farms in Wilkes and Taliferro counties. He was a son of Elijah H. McCauley and Elizabeth S. Beck. His father was a farmer and served as U.S. Postmaster at Robinson, GA.

Thomas B. McCauley’s father died in 1906.  In 1907 he married Carrie Mae Fouts.  McCauley and his brother-in-law, Furman Fouts, went to work as railroad engineers on the newly opened Georgia & Florida Railroad.  By 1910, they both moved to Douglas, GA where the G&F rail yard was located. Both the McCauleys and the Fouts rented houses  on Madison Avenue in Douglas, in a neighborhood full of railroad workers.

Georgia & Florida Engine No. 208 at Douglas. GA in 1948

Georgia & Florida Engine No. 208 photographed at Douglas, GA in 1948

Other locomotive engineers in Douglas, GA in 1910 were John Stewart, Pat Sellers, William C. McKinley, Hiram Handcock, Henry Handcock, John M. Chatman, Theodore Steinecke, John Rolison, Mitchell Drew, James P. Meade, Arthur Sikes, Thomas R. Sykes, Spencer H. Strickland Remer Brown, John C. Tucker, —- Fullerton, Riley B. Sweat, Thomas B. Folsom, William H. Edenfeld, Albert W. Johnson, Calvin Yawn, John E. Yawn.

Working at locomotive fireman were  Thomas Ford, Julius Burton, Ben Jackson, Will Mahorn, Jim Reeves, John Wesley, Thomas McLeod, William H. Dies, Dave Wilcox, Augustus Allen, Joe Button, Milton Thorn, Alvin Lee, Henry Jones and George Kings.

Watt Dishman, John English, George Williams, Jeff Caloway, Tom Thomas, Willie Johnson and Thomas Burel worked at brakeman.

The railroad conductors were John Coleman, Sam Barber, John Rowland, Charlie H. Vaugh, and John H. Renfroe, Jesse Kennedy, Lewis Odum, Earnest E Graybill, Hardee Slaughter, John F. Touchton, Roscoe G. Lufter, Willie B. Lee, Albert M. Barrett and Floyd Mainor.

Thomas Dumes and Fred Brown were railroad porters.

By 1920, Tom McCauley had moved his family some 40 miles up the track of the G&F to Vidalia, GA where he continued as a locomotive engineer for the railroad. The McCauleys rented a house in Vidalia on Church Street about two blocks from the train station.    “Vidalia was an important railroad hub…. With the addition of the Georgia and Florida Line in 1917, the city had five railroads running through it (tracks ran in seven different directions). In 1917, direct lines were available “in busy season” to Savannah, Macon, Augusta, and Florida’s cities, with 10 to 14 passenger trains scheduled daily. In addition, some 500 cars of freight were handled each day. Railroad structures included Union Station passenger depot, two freight depots, coal chute and water tank that supplied fuel and steam power for the many locomotives and a train car service turntable.

 

Vidalia's Union Station, built in 1912-13 at the junction of the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Railroad (right) and Seaboard Air Line Railway (left). Located at the far western edge of Railroad Avenue, facing the bisected block of Leader and Main streets, the brick passenger depot (Union Station) was a fish hook-shaped building dominated by its two-story corner tower with bellcast conical roof. It also featured a Ludowici tile roof, dormer windows, and wide overhanging eaves with brackets. The water tower, which was the tallest structure in the area for nearly forty years, stood almost directly in front of Union Station. The tank's swivelling hoses pivoted almost 360 degrees, enabling trains to be serviced from either side of the structure. East of Union Station along Railroad Avenue was the first freight depot. Image source: https://railga.com/Depots/vidalia.html

Vidalia Union Station, built in 1912-13 at the junction of the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Railroad (right) and Seaboard Air Line Railway (left). Located at the far western edge of Railroad Avenue, facing the bisected block of Leader and Main streets, the brick passenger depot (Union Station) was a fish hook-shaped building dominated by its two-story corner tower with bellcast conical roof. It also featured a Ludowici tile roof, dormer windows, and wide overhanging eaves with brackets. The water tower, which was the tallest structure in the area for nearly forty years, stood almost directly in front of Union Station. The tank’s swivelling hoses pivoted almost 360 degrees, enabling trains to be serviced from either side of the structure. East of Union Station along Railroad Avenue was the first freight depot. Image source: https://railga.com/Depots/vidalia.html

 

Railroad Engineer Thomas Babington McCauley and children, Harvey McCauley, Jeanette McCauley, Marion McCauley, and Thomas Jr., on a Georgia & Florida Railroad locomotive, probably photographed 1919 or early  1920.

Railroad Engineer Thomas Babington McCauley and children, Harvey McCauley, Jeanette McCauley, Marion McCauley, and Thomas Jr., on a Georgia & Florida Railroad locomotive, probably photographed 1919 or early  1920.

Sadly, Harvey McCauley died shortly after the above photograph was taken.

By 1922 Tom McCauley transferred again on the Georgia & Florida route, to Augusta, GA where he would remain the rest of his life.

On the afternoon of October 28, 1922, Tom McCauley and his fireman, Augustus Harvey Green, survived the derailment of their G&F locomotive.   The Atlanta Constitution briefly noted the wreck in the Sunday edition, October 29, 1922, with some minor errors in the reporting.

Atlanta Constitution reports engineer Tom McCauley is injured in train derailment on the Georgia & Florida Railroad.

Atlanta Constitution reports engineer Tom McCauley is injured in train derailment on the Georgia & Florida Railroad.

Atlanta Constitution
October 29, 1922

Engineer Hurt As Locomotive And Car Derail

Augusta, Ga., Oct 28. – (Special.) – Engineer T. B. McCauley, of Sandersville, was seriously injured when his engine and baggage car of Georgia and Florida passenger train No. 2, bound for Augusta, derailed two miles out of Mitchel this afternoon. Both of his feet were severely mashed and he received internal injuries. He was taken to the Sandersville hospital. The negro fireman, Harvey Green, of Augusta, was internally injured.

The G&F wreck was reported in more detail in the Constitution’s follow-up story on Monday, October 30, 1922

Atlanta Constitution reports 1922 train wreck on Georgia & Florida Railroad

Atlanta Constitution reports 1922 train wreck on Georgia & Florida Railroad

Atlanta Constitution
October 29, 1922

Hurt in Wreck, Engineer Better

McCauley Loses Five Toes When Passenger Locomotive Turns Over Near Mitchell, GA.

        Sandersville, Ga., October 29.- (Special.)- Engineer Tom McCauley, of Augusta, who was injured on the Georgia & Florida near Mitchell Saturday afternoon when his engine turned over, was reported out of danger at the sanitarium here Sunday night.
        McCauley was at the throttle of passenger train No. 2 from Tennille to Keysville, running half an hour late, one-half mile north of Mitchell, while running about 20 miles an hour going around a curve on a crossing, the pony truck jumped the track on an accumulation of sand. The driving wheels followed and the locomotive turned over almost squarely across the track.
        McCauley’s right foot was crushed, making it necessary for local surgeons to amputate five toes. He was also slightly scalded but not internally injured, as first reported. No passengers were injured. The negro fireman, Harvey Green, of Tennille, on of the oldest in service of this road, received a dislocated shoulder and severe bruises.
         The engine was literally demolished, the boiler being stripped clean with exception of wheels. The baggage car was derailed but did not turn over, and the first class coach remained on the rails. Several hundred people gathered at the scene of the wreck today to see the wrecker clean up the debris.
       Trains were able to pass at noon and normal traffic restored. The Georgia and Florida secured the C. & W. C. wrecker and its crew from Augusta, rather than delay waiting on their equipment at Douglas.

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Thomas Babington McCauley and family. Tom Babington was a locomotive engineer for the Georgia & Florida Railroad. His right foot was maimed in a train derailment.

Thomas Babington McCauley and family. Tom Babington was a locomotive engineer for the Georgia & Florida Railroad. His right foot was maimed in a train derailment.

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Georgia & Florida Railroad Card belonging to wife of retired railroad engineer Thomas Babington McCauley

Georgia & Florida Railroad Card belonging to wife of retired railroad engineer Thomas Babington McCauley

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Carrie McCauley, wife of railroad engineer Tom McCauley

Carrie McCauley, wife of railroad engineer Tom McCauley

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The “Valdosta Special” opened Georgia & Florida Railroad, October 1, 1908

Georgia & Florida Railroad

The Section Foreman in Ray City was Cauley May.

EXCURSION TO OPEN RAILROAD - The "Valdosta Special" came through Ray City October 1, 1908 to open the main line of the Georgia & Florida Railroad. The picture was made in Nashville, GA, showing passengers to first ride the new line.

EXCURSION TO OPEN RAILROAD – The “Valdosta Special” came through Ray City October 1, 1908 to open the main line of the Georgia & Florida Railroad. The picture was made in Nashville, GA, showing passengers to first ride the new line.

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Georgia & Florida Railroad No. 100 passenger car

Georgia & Florida Railroad No. 100 passenger car

Georgia and Florida Railroad, January, 1955. Wendell and Necie Rogers with Engine 507 at the Nashville, GA depot. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Georgia and Florida Railroad, January, 1955. Wendell and Necie Rogers with Engine 507 at the Nashville, GA depot. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

 

T.J. Sutton and Ed Benton with Georgia and Florida Railroad Engine No. 507 at the depot in Nashville, GA, March 24, 1955. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

T.J. Sutton and Ed Benton with Georgia and Florida Railroad Engine No. 507 at the depot in Nashville, GA, March 24, 1955. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

Nashville Herald
Thursday, February 16, 1956

Main Line of Ga. & Fla. Railroad Opened in 1908.

          The Georgia & Florida Railroad (now Railway) is a part of the rich history of this section of Georgia, and in a large measure has contributed to the growth and expansion of Berrien County, and the counties adjacent.
      This railroad furnished a more stable means of transportation than was available in the early days, despite the multiplicity of small log lines.

Organized in 1906
         The Georgia & Florida was organized by Mr. John Skelton Williams in 1906 and at that time consisted of the following roads:
         The Augusta and Florida Railroad, 49 miles in length from Keysville to Swainsboro.
         The Millen & Southwestern Railroad of 42 miles between Millen and Vidalia.
         The Douglas, Augusta & Gulf Railroad, 76 miles between Hazlehurst and Nashville, via Broxton.
         The Nashville & Sparks Railroad twelve miles from Nashville to Sparks, GA.
         The Sparks Western twenty miles of log road between Sparks and Kingwood.

No Shops

         None of the roads had any shops except the Millen & Southwestern, other than a pair of heavy jacks and such hand tools as were needed in doing the general repair work in the operation of trains.
         The rolling stock was an odd assortment of all sorts of engines, a few log cars, a few box cars and two to four passengers cars.
         Out of this hodge podge assortment of rail lines and equipment the work of creating a going railroad business was started.
         Financial conditions of the railway became critical in 1913 and on March 27, 1915, receivers were appointed, which receivership continued until January 1, 1927 when the Georgia & Florida Railway was sold and deeded to The Georgia & Florida Railroad. Due to disastrous floods and heavy costs the Railroad again was ordered into receivership by the District Court of the United States.
         Despite it’s financial troubles the receivers have done a good job of increasing the rolling stock, installing Diesel engines, etc. and the road now ships the largest percentage of tobacco, turpentine and watermelons than any other road of it’s size.

Nashville Proud of G. & F.

         The Georgia & Florida Railroad continues to be well thought of in Berrien county and Nashville. For Nashville it is the only surviving rail link to the outside world, though passenger and mail service have long since been discontinued.
        The road serves as the principal freight hauler of merchandise and manufactured goods. Since the coming of the Tobacco Market it has to be especially valuable, and goes all out to give service to it’s patrons.
        It’s contributions to the growth of the section through which it traverses have been great, and though at times the railroad itself was in financial jam, there has been no movement that would develop this part of Georgia but the Georgia & Florida railroad could be depended upon to do it’s part.
         The first tobacco market in Georgia was on the Georgia & Florida railroad in 1917, when the farmers as well as railroads were asking for a market. A meeting of business men was held at Douglas and in just one hour the capital was subscribed. When the season opened in the late summer, the Red Warehouse with a floor space of 90×140 was doing business on the Georgia & Florida. The first tobacco was sold for 20 cents per pound, but today tobacco is gold in Georgia.

Georgia and Florida Railroad

Georgia and Florida Railroad

Wilma Harper Shultz Began 60-year Teaching Career at Ray City

Eighteen-year-old Wilma Geneva Harper  began her teaching career at Ray City School in 1928. There, while teaching first grade, she met and married Ray City School principal Prentice Munson Shultz.  The couple worked together at the school until 1941.

Wilma Harper was born in Willacoochee, GA on June 13, 1909, a daughter of Minnie Etta Burns and Youngie Harper. Her family lived in Willacoochee and Douglas, GA before moving to Ocilla, GA.

Wilma Harper Shultz taught first grade at Ray City from 1929-1941. Image source: Jack Johnson

Wilma Harper Shultz taught first grade at Ray City from 1929-1941. Image source: Jack Johnson

At Ray City School, Wilma Harper Shultz taught in a wood-frame classroom building that was constructed as an annex to the brick school built in 1923.  In a 1988 article in the  Rome News,  she reflected on her start at Ray City School and 60 years spent in the classroom.

Wilma Harper Shultz reflects on 60 years in the classroom.

Rome News, December 12, 1988. Wilma Harper Shultz reflects on 60 years in the classroom.

Rome News
December 12, 1988

Retired Teacher Can’t Stay Away

Milledgeville – Wilma Shultz has taught a lot of children, their children, and their childrens’ children in her 60 years in the classroom.

She retired after 46 years as a first-grade teacher in 1974, but retirement could not keep her out of the classroom. She has continued to substitute teach at Midway Elementary School, where she spent most of her career, and at Northside Elementary School.

At 78, the petite, immaculately dressed white-haired woman says teaching is the one thing that keeps her going.

She began in 1928 in Ray City, near Ocilla, where she grew up on a farm. She had set her sights on teaching when she met and fell in love with Prentice M. Shultz, who taught and was principal at Ray City school.

The only requirement for teaching then was a teacher-training course, which she took in high school. She began teaching first grade at age 18.

A year later she married the principal.  

They moved to Milledgeville in 1943, where Prentice Shultz taught math at Georgia Military College and his wife worked at a nursery school. They attended college during the summer, getting their education degrees, completing requirements by 1951.

When Prentice Shultz died in 1976, his wife said, she found her life empty and began substitute-teaching to fill the void left by his death.

“It’s hard to be left alone,” she said.  “I’ve seen people my age give up. But, I like being able to get up and go to the classroom.  It’s my therapy.  It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Teaching, she said, has changed. In Ray City she taught in a house converted to a school. There was no indoor plumbing and no lunchroom.

Her students were rural children unprepared for the academic and social aspects of school.  They were shy and frightened, and they didn’t know how to write or count.

“Today, children start off with kindergarten, so you don’t have that long readiness period in first grade,” she said. “When I began teaching, we had to teach them everything from the ground up.  I would say that when children finish first grade now, it is comparable to children in second or third grade then.

But it’s the things that don’t change, she says, that make her love teaching.

“They are still those sweet, innocent children,” she said.

Wilma Harper Shultz died on September 11, 2002.

Obituary

Mrs. Wilma Shultz, 93, died September 11, 2002, in Greenville.

Mrs. Shultz was a native of Barrow County, but made her home in Milledgeville, Ga., for 58 years before moving to Greenville. She was a graduate of Georgia State College for Women, was a retired elementary school teacher in Baldwin County and was a member of First United Methodist Church.

Surviving are her daughter and son-in-law, Janice and Jimmy
Lyon, of Greenville; and two grandsons, Ray Lyon of Appleton, Wisconsin, and Ken and Candyce Lyon of Charleston.

Services will be Saturday, September 14, at 11 a.m., at First United Methodist Church in Milledgeville, Ga., with Dr. Harold Lawrence officiating. Burial will follow at Baldwin Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

The family will receive friends tonight, September 13th, from 7 to 8:30 at Moore’s Funeral Home in Milledgeville, Ga.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the St. Francis Hospice, 414 Pettgru St. Greenville, SC 29601; or First United Methodist Church Building Fund, 300 W. Hancock St. Milledgeville, GA 31061.

The Mackey Mortuary is in charge of local arrangements.

Grave of Wilma Harper Shultz, Baldwin Memorial Gardens, Milledgeville, GA. Image source: Jack Johnson

Grave of Wilma Harper Shultz, Baldwin Memorial Gardens, Milledgeville, GA. Image source: Jack Johnson

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Chester Lee died of Typhoid Pneumonia

Chester Lee (1887-1908)

Chester Lee, son of Moses Lee and Amanda Clements, had attended the  Georgia Normal College and Business Institute  in Abbeville, GA.    He was a classmate there with Joe and Irwin Clements in 1904, and a number of other young men and women of Ray City were alumni of the college.

A personal mention in th September 9, 1904 edition of the Tifton Gazette. Irwin and Joe Clements, and Chester L. Lee headed to college.

A personal mention in th September 9, 1904 edition of the Tifton Gazette. Irwin and Joe Clements, and Chester L. Lee headed to college.

By  1908 the school had relocated to Douglas, GA and in the fall of that year, Chester Lee was continuing his education at the college.     It was a great convenience that  the Georgia & Florida Railroad line connecting Douglas and Ray City, GA had just opened in October 1908.

Georgia Normal College and Business Institute at Douglas, GA photographed circa 1920.

Georgia Normal College and Business Institute at Douglas, GA photographed circa 1920.

 

But by November 1908,  Chester became ill while at the college.  He returned  to the Berrien County home of his parents to die.

1908 Obituary of Chester Lee, son of Moses Lee and Amanda Clements

1908 Obituary of Chester Lee, son of Moses Lee and Amanda Clements

Valdosta Times
December 19, 1908

A Sad Death at Milltown

       Miltown, Ga., Dec. 17. – Chester Lee, the third son of Mr. and Mrs. Moses Lee, a prominent farmer who lives two miles from town, died at the home of his father yesterday morning of typhoid pneumonic fever contracted while he was at school at Douglas.
       Chester came home about five weeks ago complaining of being ill, and took to his bed immediately, since then all that medical skill and loving kindness could do for him was done, but he answered the call of the grim reaper yesterday morning. All of his brothers and sisters was at the bed side when the end came. Chester was just budding into manhood, and was loved by all who became acquainted with him. He was laid to rest at Union cemetery near here this morning, followed by a large crowd of sorrowing friends.
      His death falls very heavily on his parents, as this makes the fourth child that they have lost in as many years.

Grave marker of L. Chester Lee, Union Cemetery, Lanier County, GA. Image source: Tonya Studstill Long

Grave marker of L. Chester Lee, Union Cemetery, Lanier County, GA. Image source: Tonya Studstill Long

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G & F Railroad To Open with Big Excursion

Road opens with big excursion

Georgia and Florida railroad prepared to open. Atlanta Georgian and News, Sep. 26, 1908

Georgia and Florida railroad prepared to open. Atlanta Georgian and News, Sep. 26, 1908

Atlanta Georgian and News
September 26, 1908

To Open Road With Big Excursion

Valdosta, Ga., Sept. 26. – The businessmen of Valdosta held a meeting at the city hall yesterday afternoon for the purpose of perfecting arrangements for the entertainment of the people along the line of the Georgia and Florida railroad who are coming to this city on the big excursion which the road will run next Thursday. This event will mark the opening of a passenger schedule on the new line between Hazlehurst and Madison, Fla., via Valdosta, and it is said that hundreds of persons are coming to this city from the different towns along the line. Many of them will be strangers who have never visited Valdosta, and all will be given a royal welcome.
The track-layers on the gap of the line between Valdosta and Nashville joined the rails near Rays Mill last Saturday and this week has been spent in surfacing the roadbed and getting ready for the passenger schedule to go on October 1. The road is now in operating order from Hazlehurst to Madison, Fla.

First Regular Train on the G & F, The Valdosta Times, September 26, 1908 Pg 5

First Regular Train on the G & F, The Valdosta Times, September 26, 1908 Pg 5

The Valdosta Times
September 26, 1908

Many are Coming Next Week

First Regular Train on G. & F. will Bring Large Crowds

It Will Arrive From Hazlehurst Next Wednesday with Five Hundred Excursionists to Spend the Day in Valdosta – Crowd Will be Entertained Here.

The first regular passenger train over the Georgia and Florida railroad will reach this city next Wednesday at noon from Hazelhurst, Ga.
The train will leave Hazlehurst that morning at seven o’clock and it will come through by Broxton, Douglas, Willacoochee, Nashville and other places, taking up a crowd of people at each station and bring them to Valdosta to spend the day.
The first train will be devoted exclusively to the white people and the officials of the road are working up the crowd to come here. It will consist of the best class of people between here and Hazlehurst, and the citizens of Valdosta have already decided to arrange some line of entertainment for the visitors.
A meeting will be held tonight to take up the matter and discuss what line of entertainment shall be arranged. It has been suggested that open-house be kept for the visitors and that lunches be prepared and served to them. One suggestion was to tag every guest with a badge, which should admit him to the place where refreshments are to be served. Another suggestion was to have the dinner prepared when the guests arrive and serve it to the visitors in a bunch, so that the citizens of Valdosta will have a better opportunity to meet them and talk with them.
The details of the entertainment will be arranged later, it having already been decided to make it all that it should be. Valdosta never lags when a test of hospitality comes and every citizen will do his part toward welcoming to the city the people on the line of road above here.
It is very probable that the meeting tonight will decide all about what kind of entertainment will be given the visitors.

Cauley Hammond Shaw was Ray City Police Chief

Cauley Hammond Shaw (1883-1961)
Ray City Police Chief, 1914

Cauley Hammond Shaw. Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw and www.berriencountyga.com

Cauley Hammond Shaw. Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw and http://www.berriencountyga.com

In 1914 Police Chief Cauley Shaw was the officer responsible for law and order in Ray City, Ga.

The Shaw Family Newsletter: In the Name of the Law by Bryan Shaw, relates that Cauley H. Shaw served as Deputy Sheriff in Berrien County, 1907; Nashville Police Chief, 1908; Milltown City Marshal, 1910; Douglas Police Chief, 1911; Ray City Police Chief, 1914; Willacoochee Police Chief, 1920; and was the first motorcycle police officer in Valdosta, GA.

Shaw Family Newsletter: In the Name of the Law

Shaw Family Newsletter: In the Name of the Law

Cauley Hammond Shaw was born November 5, 1883, a son of Charlton Hines Shaw and Rebecca Jane Devane.  As a boy, he attended the local schools through the 7th grade. In the Census of 1900 Cauley H. Shaw, age 16, is enumerated in his parents’ household. His father owned a farm near Adel, GA where Cauley assisted with the farm labor. Cauley’s elder brother, Lester H. Shaw, worked as a teamster, while his younger siblings attended school.

As a young man, Cauley Shaw entered the profession of  law enforcement, serving as a Deputy Sheriff of Berrien County in 1907.   On January 16, 1907 he married Julia Texas Peters , in Berrien county, GA. She was the daughter of William Peters and Sarah Mathis, born May 20, 1883 in Berrien, GA.

A year later  Cauley accepted the position of Police Chief in Nashville, GA. The newlyweds were blessed with their firstborn child on February 21, 1908, a boy they named James C. Shaw. Tragically, their infant son died just six months later on September 3, 1908 and was laid to rest in Cat Creek Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA. The following year on October 24, 1909 Julia delivered a second child, Julian C. Shaw. Again, tragedy struck, the newborn surviving just a few weeks. The baby Shaw was interred at Cat Creek Cemetery.

In April of 1910, Cauley and Julia were found in Hazelhurst. GA. They were boarding in the household of Rebecca W. Barber, widow of Dr. John W. Barber. Cauley owned a barbershop where he worked on his own account. Soon, though, Cauley returned to police work, serving as City Marshal of Milltown (now Lakeland, GA) in 1910, and Police Chief of Douglas, GA in 1911.

In 1913 a third child was born to Cauley and Julia, a daughter they named Hazel Annie. By this time, Cauley Shaw had moved his young family back to Ray City, GA where he served as Chief of Police.

Bryan Shaw relates an incident report from the Nashville Herald, October 9, 1914:

Considerable excitement was occasioned here Monday by a report that Cauley and Bruner Shaw and two other young men of Ray’s Mill had been shot about twelve miles down the Valdosta Road. Several gentlemen from here went in an automobile. But when they reached the scene, they found that the wounds were not serious. A negro for whom they had a warrant, shot at them with a shotgun loaded with bird shot.

Again, January 22 , 1915:

 Officers at Ray’s Mill raided a skin game a few nights ago and brought in ten colored men and boys.

The first World War found Cauley Shaw and his family still in Ray City. On September 12, 1918 Cauley Shaw registered for the WWI draft in Ray City. Signing as Registrar on his draft card was the town pharmacist, C.O. Terry. He was 34 years old, medium height, medium build, with blue eyes and light hair. Cauley had given up  his position as Ray City Police Chief to Charlie H. Adams,  and was  employed in farming at Ray City.

1918 Draft Registration for Cauley Hammond Shaw.

1918 Draft Registration for Cauley Hammond Shaw.

By the time of the 1920 census, Cauley Shaw had moved his family to Willacoochee, GA, where he had returned to law enforcement, working as a city policeman. When the Shaws were enumerated on January 2, 1920 they were renting a house on Vickers Street. The Shaw household consisted of Cauley, wife Julia, their seven-year-old daughter Hazel, and their niece Myrtie Smith, age eight.

The Valdosta City Directory shows, in 1923, Cauley and Julia Shaw were living in a home at 406 Floyd Street, Valdosta, GA.  Cauley was employed as a foreman. His cousin, Brodie Shaw, owned  home a few blocks away at 203 S. Lee Street, and was working as a “yardman” [lumber yard?].  By 1925, the directory shows  Cauley was back in police work for the city of Valdosta.  Brodie Shaw had moved even closer, to a home at 307 Savannah Street.

Some time before 1930, Cauley and Julia moved to Douglas, GA where Cauley had served as police chief in 1911. Cauley again took work as a city policeman. They first rented then purchased a home near the corner of Ashley Street and College Avenue.   In 1930, their daughter, Hazel, married John H. Peterson, of Douglas.

Julia and Cauley remained in Douglas, GA.  The census records show Cauley’s 1940 salary as a police officer there was about  $23 dollars a week.

Family of Cauley Hammond Shaw , circa 1953. Left to right John Henry “J.H.” Peterson, Hazel Annie Shaw Peterson, Cauley Hammond Shaw, James Russell Peterson, Juliah Peters Shaw, Benajah Peterson, Mary Juliah Peterson. Front row: Sue Ellen Peterson, John Hammond “Pete” Peterson. Photo courtesy of Susie Peterson and www.berriencountyga.com

Family of Cauley Hammond Shaw , circa 1953. Left to right John Henry “J.H.” Peterson, Hazel Annie Shaw Peterson, Cauley Hammond Shaw, James Russell Peterson, Juliah Peters Shaw, Benajah Peterson, Mary Juliah Peterson. Front row: Sue Ellen Peterson, John Hammond “Pete” Peterson. Photo courtesy of Susie Peterson and http://www.berriencountyga.com

Julia Peters Shaw died March 16, 1956.   Cauley Hammond Shaw died in Douglas, GA on March 28, 1961.  Both are buried in Cat Creek Cemetery, Lowndes county, GA.

Graves of Cauley Hammond Shaw and Julia Peters Shaw, Cat Creek Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA.  Image courtesy of  Cullen and Jeanne Wheeler.

Graves of Cauley Hammond Shaw and Julia Peters Shaw, Cat Creek Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA. Image courtesy of Cullen and Jeanne Wheeler.

 

Witchy Women and Wiregrass Medicine

Among the earliest trained medical men at Ray’s Mill was John Thomas Clower (1830-1893), the son of a Revolutionary Soldier who immigrated from Germany to fight for American independence. A graduate of Atlanta Medical College, John Thomas Clower, served as a military surgeon during the Civil War. Afterwards he came to Ray’s Mill (now Ray City), GA where he practiced medicine in this community from 1870 until 1887.

There were the Medical Men of Ray’s Mill, and there were the home remedies. Ray City had its faith healers, too. In the 1930, one such healer was Stella Wright ~ Seeress of Ray City, GA.

In the earliest pioneer days of Wiregrass Georgia, medical science was little known, and the people depended more on home remedies and faith than doctors.  In 1922, Warren Preston Ward, of Douglas, GA wrote a series of sketches of early Wiregrass Georgia, and among these was a narrative on medical practices of the early pioneers:

Another thing that entered very largely in the economic life of the people was the question of sickness, medicine and the doctor.  There were no doctors in this section of Georgia when it was first settled, for the reason that there were not enough people to support a doctor; but in every neighborhood there was always someone who knew how to give such medicine and plain remedies as were used at that time.  Among the common remedies then in use were oil and turpentine, for colds; red oak bark as an astringent; elderberry bark as a purgative and an astringent.  The wise ones said scrape the bark down for a purgative and scrape the bark up for an astringent.  For cuts and to stop blood, use cobweb; that is spider webs hanging about the walls covered with smut.  Sweet gum and mullen was used for fevers, pepper tea was used for colds; for sprains, use a mixture of clay and vinegar; for stings, use tobacco; for snake bite, use whisky or poultice made of salt, tobacco and onions; for pneumonia, bleed the person during the first stages; for burns, use the white of an egg mixed with flour;  many people thought that fire could be talked out and there were always many old witchy women ready to talk it out; warts, moles and cancers were conjured (whatever that means). Sage, thyme and rosemary were given by nearly all the people and were used for teas.  Another peculiar remedy was for the hives; the remedy was for any person who had never seen their father to blow their breath in the child’s face and the hives would leave right now, so it was said.
     In these good old days old Uncle Stafford Davis was a celebrated cancer doctor of the conjure kind.  People came to see him for hundreds of miles.  They also wrote him letters for his absent treatment.  Many people thought he was gifted from God.  The old man did not charge anything for his services, if you had anything to give him he accepted it with thanks.  He lived to be 106 years old and died soon after the civil war.  Before his death he undertook to transfer his gift of healing to his grandson, Joseph Ward.  Some of the first doctors to practice in this section [Appling] of Georgia were Doctors Rambo and Smith; old man William Ward also done a little homespun practice.  Dr. C.G.B.W. Parker did a large practice, but people relied mainly upon their home remedies and upon advice of the men and women in the neighborhood who had experience in giving medicine and in nursing the sick.

About 1815 calomel came into general use among the common people.  Many persons got salivated and were afraid to use it.  But sure as you called a doctor he used calomel.  If it salivated, so much the better in some cases. During this time of hot discussion, pro and con, some one expressed his disgust at the use of calomel in these lines-

“Mr. Wade was taken sick,
Go, call a doctor and be quick,
The doctor comes and remembers well
To bring a bottle of calomel.

“He turns to the patient’s wife,
Have you a clean paper and a knife?
I think your husband would do well
To take a dose of calomel.

“The patient grows worse quite fast indeed,
Go call a council and make speed:
The council comes, and remembers well
To double the dose of calomel.

“The patient says to his weeping wife:
This nasty thing has got my life.
I bid you all a long farewell,
Let me do so without the use of calomel.”

    One of the sad features of sickness and death in these old days was that each family often had to doctor and nurse their own sick, and when they died they had to make their own pine-board coffin and put them away in their last resting place, often with no friend to offer a word of sympathy, or a minister of the gospel to offer a word of prayer or to point sad hearts to the better day and better time when they should all meet again in the morning of the resurrection.

During the “Age of Heroic Medicine” (1780–1850), educated professional physicians practiced aggressive techniques including bloodletting, intestinal purging (calomel), vomiting (tartar emetic), profuse sweating (diaphoretics) and blistering, stressing already weakened bodies.  Heroic medicine was strongly advocated by Benjamin Rush (1745–1813), trained in medicine at Edinburgh University and one of the “fathers” of American medicine, who also signed the American Declaration of Independence.  While well-intentioned, and often well-accepted by the medical community, these treatments were actually harmful to the patient.

Calomel, a compound of Mercurous Chloride, became a popular remedy for a variety of physical and mental ailments during the age of “heroic medicine.” It was used by doctors in America throughout the 18th century, and during the revolution, to remove “impurities” from the body. Calomel was given to patients as a purgative or cathartic and was often administered to patients in such great quantities that their hair and teeth fell out, along with other horrific side effects.  One characteristic effect appeared in the well-known phenomenon of mercurial salivation –  a profuse flow of saliva in the body’s effort to rid itself of the deadly a poison.  For many patients the cure of Calomel was suffering and death resulting from mercurial poisoning.

According to Steve Spakov, Loyola University, “It is toxic and its toxicity is compounded because mercury accumulates as a poison. It acts as a purgative and kills bacteria (and also does irreversible damage to their human hosts). Some treatments are of historical interest. The three physicians atttending Gen. Washington’s final hours administered calomel to the dying President. Lewis and Clark carried it on their expedition and used it to treat their men’s STD’s. Louisa May Alcott (author of Little Women) suffered from its effects.

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The Last Run of the Iron Horse

On March 24, 1954 engine number 507 was the last steam locomotive to make the run down the line of the Georgia & Florida Railroad which passed through Ray City, GA.   The train, photographed below at its last passage through Nashville, GA,was manned by: Engineer Bo Dell Mead, of Douglas, GA; Fireman C. J. Bush, Pridgen, GA; and Conductor H. T. Sowell, of Douglas, GA.

Engine of the Georgia & Florida Railroad at Nashville, GA, March 24, 1954. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Engine of the Georgia & Florida Railroad at Nashville, GA, March 24, 1954. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

In Ray City, there was was the big wooden water tower which provided water for the old steam engines.  This tower stood just south of Main Street,on the east side of the tracks, next to Marvin Purvis’ Grocery Store.

 

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