A Brief History of New Ramah Baptist Church at Ray City, GA

New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church, at Ray City, GA, was built on land donated by   Elias M “Hun” Knight, John T. “Coot” Knight, Alexander “Bub” Knight, and  Levi Jackson Knight, the four sons of  Sarah “Sallie” Moore and Henry Harrison Knight,  and grandsons of pioneer settler John Knight.

New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church, Ray City, GA

New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church, Ray City, GA

In 1976, B.L. Johnson wrote a brief history of the church:


The land for the church and cemetery was donated by A.S. Knight, E.M. Knight, L.J. Knight, and John Knight, all sons of Henry H. Knight.

On August 30, 1913 the following brethren met and established the new church:  Elder I.A. Wetherington, Unity Church; Elder H.W. Parrish, Salem Church; Elder A.A. Knight, Pleasant Church; Elder E.R. Rhoden, Pleasant Hill; and Elder Ed Lindsey, Ty Ty Church.

Public donations from twenty-five cents on upwards to thirty-five dollars were given to build the church.  Elder A.A. Knight was the first pastor and served for twelve years from August 1913 until July 1925.  He was the father of June Knight,  Mrs. Martha Burkhalter, and Mrs. J.L. Lee, all former residents of the community.

Elder C.H. Vickers succeeded Elder Knight and he served as pastor until December 1970, having served continuously for almost 45 years. Serving shorter terms as pastor were Elder J.R. Stallings from January 1971 to January 1972; and Elder Elisha Roberts from January 1972 until August 1973.  The present pastor, Marcus Peavy, began his pastorate in August 1973.

Brethren who have served the church as clerks are George Mikell, Terrell Richardson, Lloyd Cribb and the present clerk, Austin Register.

There are presently eighteen members of the church.

Ray City Girls run R-C Motor Lines

In the 1930s,  four Ray City girls, Louise Paulk, Helen Swindle, Grace Putnal and Carolyn Swindle attended the Ray City School.

Ray City Girls, (L-R) Louise Paulk, Helen Swindle, Grace Putnal, Carolyn Swindle.

Ray City Girls, (L-R) Louise Paulk, Helen Swindle, Grace Putnal, Carolyn Swindle.

Louise Paulk and Helen Swindle were the older girls. They were team mates on the 1934 Ray City School girls basketball team. Grace Putnal and Carolyn Swindle were about five years younger.  Louise,  Helen, and Carolyn all lived within a few doors of each other on west Main Street in Ray City.  Grace lived down Park Street just outside of town.

Louise Paulk, daughter of  Gladys Daniel  and James M. Paulk, was born about 1920 in Irwin County, GA.  Her father died August 23, 1922 leaving Louise, her infant brother and mother on their own.  In 1927, her mother married  E.M. “Hun” Knight, a farmer and sometimes entrepreneur of Ray City, GA.  Hun Knight was a widower with children of his own.  The blended family made their home in Ray City, and Louise attended the Ray City School.  She graduated with the class of 1938.

Helen  Margaret Swindle was born and raised in Ray City, GA.  She was the daughter of George Perry Swindle and Cynthia E. Pafford. Her father was a prominent businessman and employer, operating a general mercantile store.  The Swindle home was on Main Street, and  when Helen was growing up the Swindle family had neighbors like Dr. Lawson S. Rentz, pharmacist C.O. Terry, businessmen W.H.E Terry and Arthur Miller, and Mayor J. Lacy Moore, among others .

Grace Putnal’s parents were Ellen Gaskins and Wayne Putnal. Her father was a farmer and part-time barber of Ray City. Grace and her family have been discussed in this week’s posts (Wayne Putnal ~ Farmer/Barber of Ray City,   Putnal Family ~ Town and Country, Obituary of Leston L. Putnal)

Carolyn S. Swindle was a daughter of Ora Cathleen and Henry Alexander Swindle. Her father was also a successful merchant of Ray City, and her grandfather, Redding Swindle, served as the town’s first mayor.

In the 1940s, the four young women made their way to Jacksonville, Florida. They appear enumerated together in the Florida census of 1945, living in Apartment #1 at 2926 Cook Street, ,  Jacksonville, FL.  All of the girls were working, either clerking or bookkeeping.

Louise Paulk, Helen Swindle, Grace Putnal, and Carolyn Swindle, all raised in Ray City, GA, were enumerated in Jacksonville. FL in the 1945 state census.

Louise Paulk, Helen Swindle, Grace Putnal, and Carolyn Swindle, all raised in Ray City, GA, were enumerated in Jacksonville. FL in the 1945 state census.

At least three of the girls,  Carolyn, Helen, and Grace were working for R C Motor Lines.  R-C Motor lines was a large interstate trucking company based in Jacksonville. ( You can see additional images of R-C Motor Lines trucks at http://www.hankstruckpictures.com/gruin_r.htm) .  Grace and Carolyn found work there as a bookkeeper,  and Helen was a clerk.  Louise was clerking for another firm.

1950s tractor-trailer rig of R-C Motor Lines, a large interstate trucking company based in Jacksonville.

1950s tractor-trailer rig of R-C Motor Lines, a large interstate trucking company based in Jacksonville.

1914 Box Ball Alley ~ Mayhaw Lake at Rays Mill, GA

In the early 1900s, Box Ball was a popular arcade game that was sweeping the country.  In 1914, box ball made its way to Ray City, GA.  An advertisement appearing in a 1914 Berrien County, GA newspaper promoted a new amusement park and and attractions at Ray’s Mill (now know as Ray City).  The Mayhaw Lake Amusement Park was a business operated by Elias Moore “Hun” Knight.

MAYHAW LAKE AT RAYS MILL, GA – Mayhaw lake is located 1-2 from Rays Mill and is now open. For outings, picnics and amusements, it can’t be excelled in South Georgia. – A fine bathing pool supplied with fine Sulphur water, one of the best Skating Rinks and Box Ball Allers in this Section.  Cold drinks, hot lunches at all hours during day and night; also a good base ball diamond open to visiting teams for match games. – The Georgia & Florida Railroad will give special rates for picnic parties from all points on their line. – For Special Rates apply to T.E. Harris, Commercial Agent Ga. & Fla., Valdosta, Ga. – E.M. Knight, Prop. – Ray’s Mill, Georgia.

Box ball alleys were manufactured by the American Box Ball Company (Holcomb &  Hoke). The company website provides the following information:

Box ball was a modified version of bowling, using smaller balls in knocking down five pins set horizontally across a wooden alley. Lanes were portable and available in three sizes, providing for quick and easy installation in amusements parks, bars and other entertainment venues both big and small. Purchase of American Box Ball Company in 1903 prompted Holcomb & Hoke’s relocation to Indianapolis, Indiana. Fueled by the cross-country success of their fledgling business, the two men built their first manufacturing facility in 1906. Demand for the game remained steady for the next seven years, at which time they concluded that the box ball market was nearly saturated.

E.M. Knight must have regarded box ball alleys as a good investment.  He may have been able to acquire a used alley, or perhaps he purchased direct from the manufacturer.  A 1914 ad touted the potential profits of a box ball alley operation.