Marvin and Arlie Purvis

 

Ray City home of Guy Marvin Purvis and Arlie Guthrie Purvis on the southeast corner of Main Street and Park Street, Ray City, GA.

Ray City home of Guy Marvin Purvis and Arlie Guthrie Purvis on the southeast corner of Main Street and Park Street, Ray City, GA.

Marvin and Arlie Purvis lived in this Ray City home from the 1920s to about 1942.

Marvin and Arlie Purvis lived in this Ray City home from the 1920s to about 1942.

Ray City home of Marvin and Arlie Purvis

Ray City home of Marvin and Arlie Purvis

Guy Marvin Purvis (1899-1975) was a merchant of Ray City, Ga. He was a son of Mary Brantley and Lee Arnold Purvis. For about 20 years he owned Purvis Grocery Store in the town.  His wife, Arlie Guthrie Purvis (1890-1976), was a sister of Effie Guthrie KnightJohn Guthrie, Sam Guthrie.

The Purvises lived in the house on the southeast corner of Main and Park streets. They had a nice houseful of furniture, dining room set, bedroom set in the master bedroom, iron beds in the other rooms. They had a nice little spool-leg dropleaf dinette set in the kitchen. In 1930 they had a radio, which was a rare thing in Ray City in those days. There were only eight radio sets within the city limits, the other owners being James A. Grissett, John D. Luke, Henry Swindle, Walter Altman, John Simpkins, Joseph Johnson and Fannie Parks.  The average cost of a radio in 1929 was around $139 dollars. In terms of comparable “affordability” for an average person in today’s dollars (2010 index) this would be like making a $7,600 purchase (relative worth based on nominal GDP per capita index – see MeasuringWorth.com). The house had a back porch and an outhouse at the very back of the lot.

Behind this house was the farm of Perry Swindle. Mr. Swindle and his wife Cynthia “Cynthy” Swindle.Perry Swindle had a large open truck and hauled goods and animals and people, too. He provided an annual excursion for the Ray City School students to Twin Lakes, GA.

By about 1941 Marvin could no longer make a go of it operating his Ray City store. Right after the Purvises lost the store, they moved about half a mile south on Park Street to live  with Arlie’s sister, Effie Guthrie Knight, for a few months. This was right before WWII and Marvin got a temporary job helping to build the bridge over Beaverdam Creek. He was probably making more money at this job than he had made for quite some time in his failing store. Some of the other Ray City men working on road construction were Cranford P. Bennett, Edwin L. Mobley, Oscar H. Scarborough, and Clementine Mikell.

After a short while Marvin & Arlie Purvis moved into town where they rented some rooms.  They were living in an apartment that had been partitioned off a part of the home of Mrs. Nancy Mobley on North Street. Mrs. Mobley was a widow and  had living with her in the main part of the house her daughter and son-in-law Eloise Williams Johnson and Bernard L. Johnson, and Eloise’s half sister Doris Mobley. Eloise was a teacher at the Ray City School.

Arlie Purvis made a little money baby sitting Jack Patten, son of Mabel Edith Cook and Thomas Penland Patten.

Later Marvin and Arlie moved across the street to live in the house on the southwest corner of North Street and Bryan Street in Ray City, GA.

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An old tintype of Walter Howard Knight

Walter Howard Knight (1859-1934)

Tintype photograph of Walter Howard Knight, Rays Mill, Berrien County, GA. Image Courtesy of Jimmie Mobley.

Tintype photograph of Walter Howard Knight, Rays Mill, Berrien County, GA.  Image Courtesy of Jimmie Mobley.

Walter Howard Knight, a son of  William Washington Knight (1829 – 1863) and  Mary Elizabeth Carroll (1839 – 1906) was born November 28, 1859 in Berrien County, GA.  The tintype photograph above depicts him  in his senior years, perhaps in the 1920s.

Tintype photographs  such as this were made by creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of iron coated with a dark lacquer or enamel and used as the support for the photographic emulsion.  Since the image is produced directly on the medium, tintype photographs normally appear as a mirror image, reversed left to right.  Each tintype is usually a camera original – one of a kind.   Compared to other early photographs, tintypes were very inexpensive and relatively easy to make. A photographer could prepare, expose, develop and varnish a tintype plate and have it ready for the customer in a few minutes.  Tintypes became very popular during the Civil War, and enjoyed their widest use during the 1860s and 1870s. Although prints on paper soon displaced them as the most common type of photograph, the tintype process continued to enjoy considerable use throughout the 19th century and beyond, especially for casual portraiture by novelty and street photographers.

Historical records of Walter Howard Knight first appear in the Census of 1860 when he was enumerated in his father’s household in Berrien County, GA.

1860 census enumeration of Mary Elizabeth Carroll and William Washington Knight, Berrien County, GA.

1860 census enumeration of Walter Howard Knight in the household of his parents, Mary Elizabeth Carroll and William Washington Knight, Berrien County, GA.

1860 Census  https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu111unit#page/n403/mode/1up

Walter Howard Knight had little chance to know his father who went off to fight in 1861 as a Sergeant in the company of Berrien Minute Men.  The Civil War letters of William Washington Knight spoke tenderly of his children as he wrote from the camps and  battlefields,  but he was not to see them grow to adulthood.  Illness was rampant among the Confederate regiments, and Knight was furloughed home sick in 1863.  He died of chronic diarrhea at Milltown, GA December 27, 1863, one month after Walter Howard Knight’s fourth birthday.

After the War, Walter’s mother married William Joseph Lamb who was also a veteran of the Berrien Minutemen (see  William J. Lamb ~ Confederate Veteran).   The census of 1870 shows  Walter Howard Knight was living with his mother, step-father and sisters (Mary Virginia and Lillian Melissa) in the 1144th Georgia Militia District, later known as the Ray’s Mill District. (A third sister, Margaret Ann, had died during the Civil War).

1870 census enumeration of the household of Mary Elizabeth Carroll and William Lamb, Berrien County, GA.

1870 census enumeration of the household of Mary Elizabeth Carroll and William Lamb, Berrien County, GA.

http://archive.org/stream/populationschedu0135unit#page/n439/mode/1up

At age 19, Walter Howard Knight married Jimmie Gullett in Dougherty County, GA.  She was the 14 year old daughter of George M. Gullett and Julia Lindsey. Her father was an insurance agent in Daugherty County.

Marriage Certificate of Jimmie Gullett and Walter Howard Knight

Marriage Certificate of Jimmie Gullett and Walter Howard Knight

According to the Census of 1880, Walter and Jimmie Gullett Knight made their home in the Rays Mill District, near the farm of his step-father, William J. Lamb. Walter, like his neighbors, was engaged in farming.  Property tax records from 1884 show Walter H. Knight did not own the land he farmed, but did own $60 in livestock, $5 in tools and books, and $25 in household furnishings.

1880 enumeration of Jimmie Gullett and Walter Howard Knight, 1144 GMD Rays Mill District.

1880 enumeration of Jimmie Gullett and Walter Howard Knight, 1144 GMD Rays Mill District.

By 1890 Walter had acquired 490 acres consisting of lot 426 in the 10th Land District.  The land was valued at $1 per acre. At the time taxes were assessed he had the farm, $75 in household furnishings, and no other taxable property.  Among the property owners on adjacent land lots were James M Sloan,  Elizabeth E. Knight ( portions of Lot 450), Joseph E. Langford (portions of Lot 450),  and Barney B. Chism on Lot 427.

Partial map of the 10th Land District, showing location of Lot 426.

Partial map of the 10th Land District, showing location of Lot 426.

By 1900 Walter H. Knight was farming land on the Valdosta Road near Rays Mill, GA. The Census of 1900 shows Walter H. Knight owned a farm free and clear of debt, which he occupied with his wife Jimmie, and eight children.  His brother-in-law William E. Langford, husband of Mary Virginia Knight, was farming nearby. Among his other neighbors were Greene Bullard,  and Henry Bullard.

1900-walter-h-knight-enumerationhttps://archive.org/stream/12thcensusofpopu179unit#page/n776/mode/1up

 In October of 1900, Walter’s daughter Dollie  married “the boy next door,” Louis Malone Bullard , a son of Mary Ann and Green Bullard, and moved with her husband to Valdosta, GA.    In 1901 his daughter Julia married David Jackson Rigell, merchant of Ray’s Mill, GA.  (She later married W. D. Sloan, son of her parent’s neighbor, James M. Sloan).

Walter H. Knight and Jimmie Gullett Knight continued farming land near Ray City into the following decades.   In the spring of 1910, their daughter Ruby Texas Knight  was married to James Randall Johnson and the couple made their home next door to her father’s place on the Valdosta Road, Ray City, Georgia. Walter’s eldest son, Paul Knight, was farming nearby. The Langfords farmed neighboring land, but both Mary Ann and Green Bullard had passed away.

1910 census enumeration of the household of Walter Howard Knight and Jimmy Gullette, Berrien County, GA.

1910 census enumeration of the household of Walter Howard Knight and Jimmy Gullette, Berrien County, GA.

https://archive.org/stream/13thcensus1910po172unit#page/n635/mode/1up

It was a terrible blow to Walter and Jimmie Knight when their son Ralph was lost in the sinking of the HMS Otranto in the closing days of World War I. They carried on working their farm through the 1920s. Their daughter Laurie remained at the old home place, but the rest of their children had moved on to their own lives. In 1919, their daughter-in-law Marie “Toni” Poblete Knight, wife of Owen “Adrian” Knight, came to live with them on the farm with her two children Owen, Jr and Ralph. Toni had married Adrian while he was serving in the Army at Ft. Bliss, El Paso, TX.  But at the end of WWI, Adrian had abandoned his young family and disappeared (see Ray City Love Story Told by Betty M. Williams.)

1920 enumeration of Jimmie Gullett and Walter Howard Knight, 1144 GMD Rays Mill District.

1920 enumeration of Jimmie Gullett and Walter Howard Knight, 1144 GMD Rays Mill District.

http://archive.org/stream/14thcensusofpopu235unit#page/n319/mode/1up

Walter and Jimmie kept their daughter-in-law, Toni Poblete Knight and grandchildren with them on the farm for four years, until Toni lost any hope that  Adrian would return to his family.  Toni returned west and obtained a divorce.

Laurie Inez Knight,  the youngest Knight daughter married Horace Webb in 1928.  They made a home on Charlton Street in Valdosta, GA

Adrian Knight eventually did return to Ray City and his parent’s farm. He married his brother’s widow, Effie Guthrie Knight. In the census of 1930, the enumeration of Walter H. Knight’s place shows Owen A “Adrian” Knight and Mary E. “Effie” Knight had a home on the Knight farm.

 

Children of Jimmie Gardener Gullett and Walter Howard Knight:

  1. Julia Elizabeth Knight,  born August 9, 1880; died September 10, 1955
  2. Dollie Howard Knight,  born April 12, 1882;  died March 26, 1956
  3. Paul Knight,  born July 22, 1884; died 1949
  4. Walter Raleigh Knight,  born  November 14, 1886,
  5. Ralph Knight,  born 19 Apr 1889; died in the Otranto disaster  October 6, 1918
  6. Ruby Texas Knight,  born  October 11, 1891;  died June 17 1977
  7. Laurie Inez Knight,  born  April 9 1894; died April 1, 1974
  8. Owen Adrian Knight,  born  October 7, 1896; died  September 25, 1972

Walter Howard Knight  died June 13, 1934.


The Nashville Herald, 
June 21, 1934

MR. KNIGHT DIED AT RAY CITY HOME

	Many friends here of Mr. Raleigh Knight sympathize with him deeply in the death of his father, Mr. Walter Howard Knight, which occurred at his home 
in Ray City last Wednesday.  Mr. Knight was seventy-four years of age and was a well-known and highly respected citizen of his community.  He was a native of 
that section and had lived there all his life.
	He is survived by his wife, four daughters and three sons.  His wife was before her marriage Miss Jimmie Guelette of Albany.  The daughters are Mrs. 
W.D. Sloan of Stockton; Mrs. L.M. Bullard and Mrs. Horace Webb of Valdosta; and Mrs. J.R. Johnson of Ray City.  The sons are Paul Knight and Owen Knight of Ray 
City and Raleigh Knight of Adel.
	There are also 12 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren among the survivors.
	The funeral services were held at the Baptist church at Ray City Thursday afternoon. – Adel News.
Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

Jimmie Gullett Knight died three years later, August 3, 1937.  Husband and wife are buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Graves of Jimmie Gullett and Walter Howard Knight, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Graves of Jimmie Gullett and Walter Howard Knight, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

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John Guthrie ~ Ray City’s Musician Extraordinaire

An old newspaper clipping tells the story of John Guthrie, one of the Guthrie clan of Ray City, GA  and brother of Effie Guthrie Knight.

John Guthrie, Ray City, GA

John Guthrie, Ray City, GA

RAY CITY – It was another typical Ray City weeknight with lots of pickin’ and grinnin’ coming from the back room studio of John Guthrie,  country storekeeper and musician extraordinaire.

Guthrie is a local music legend, dating back 20 years and more when he would teach public school classes of 30 kids – some tone deaf – to play guitar.

Musicians from hereabouts, nearby towns like Lakeland, Valdosta and Adel, gather nightly in Guthrie’s cozy studio –  a slightly oversized room crammed with instruments, especially guitars.

Other folks come too; they want to listen and learn. Guthrie teaches “all fretted instruments and saxophone,” his card says.

But he has strict rules, “teaching only on Saturdays and Sundays. And I won’t teach a kid to play piano. They can’t reach an octave,” he declared.

Guthrie figured he could have easily made the big time long ago… if he had been willing to turn his back on his beloved Ray City and south Georgia.

“This is the best place in the world,” he exclaimed.

It was the tug of Ray City friendships which brought the native son home from a couple of years of drifting with different bands through Florida.

Those were lean times, Guthrie recalled, back during the Depression.

More than once he earned a free supper by masquerading as Jimmy Rogers, a country and western pioneer referred to “as the grandfather of folk music” by Guthrie.

People believed Guthrie when he introduced himself as Rogers whose plaintive ballads seemed to help sooth the Depression’s wounds.

“I’d play and sing. It wasn’t anytime before we’d get a big crowd around. Someone would come along and ask me home for supper,” he recalled.

Guthrie considers himself a very honest man. But those tough days put rigorous demands upon a young musician.

“I was hungry boy. I tell you, I was hungry.”

Conveniently, Guthrie had mastered the guitar by playing along with Jimmy Rogers recordings on an old windup Victrola.

Guthrie explained he could have stayed with the band. Several friends did make it to the big time, finding spots in the Nashville scene or with television or radio.

Although the days of  “all night dances” had an appeal, Guthrie explained he needed something more stable for when he got married.

“Of course, at that time I wouldn’t have married the Queen of Sheba.  I was just on my own without responsibility, playing music and having a good time.”

But a pretty South Carolina girl, vacationing in Winter Haven, Fla., derailed Guthrie’s career plans.

“She smiled at me while the band was on intermission. I went over and we had a talk,” he recalled.

Actually it was several years before Guthrie and the young woman from Chesterfield, S.C. married.

She returned home, but they corresponded.

“Then one day I went up and got her and brought her back to Ray City,” he said.

Guthrie called his wife “my first love.”

“But an old Spanish guitar is my second love,” he said.

“A guitar can talk back to you,” he explained. “It can cry with you, sing with you, be happy with you. There’s no other instrument that can produce the twangy sounds of an old Spanish guitar.”

Electric guitars also have a hold on Guthrie’s affections, but, he noted, “a guitar loses something out of its sound when you use an amplifier.”

Guthrie loves country music. But he also plays classical, Spanish, Mexican and gypsy style guitar music.

And the pop songs of his youth, “songs like Stardust,” he said, “had something to them.”

Contemporary music, he said, is based upon three chords.

“There’s too much repetition,” he complained.

“But those old jazz bands … when they put out a tune, it had something in it.”

Years ago, Lessie Guthrie Futch wrote in the margins of that newspaper clipping:

 “My youngest brother. If he was hungry, he should have been home on the farm with the family picking cotton.”

In his troubadour days, John hung with the ‘Genteel’ set.  While all his brothers wore overalls and worked the farm, he wore a white sports coat and worked the dance halls and social events. But later, he worked hard running a business and working in music to support his family.

http://ia700204.us.archive.org/2/items/JimmyRogers-DaddyAndHome1928/JimmyRogers-DaddyAndHome1928.mp3

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Effie Knight and the 1926 Ford Coupe Installment Plan

Effie Guthrie Knight

 

Effie Guthrie Knight. Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.

Effie Guthrie Knight. Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.

 

After Ralph Knight was killed in the sinking of the Otranto during   World War I, Effie Guthrie Knight had purchased a 51 acre farm located on Park Street  just outside of Ray City, GA. In 1926, this property was valued at $3500.00 and provided Effie with an income of $1500.00.

About 1923, Effie Knight went to work for Ray City merchant W.H.E. Terry as a saleswoman. She earned a salary of $150.00.

In 1926 Effie Knight decided to purchase a new Ford Coupe from Gaskins Motor Company in Nashville, GA. The car sold for $696.00, including finance charges.  She put $208.00 down with  the balance due over 12 months on an installment plan through the Standard Motors Finance Co., Inc, of New Orleans, LA. Effie gave her employer, W.H.E Terry, as a reference on the loan application.  Effie paid off the loan on time and received a “favorable” letter of appreciation from the finance company.

Standard Motor Company correspondence to Mrs. Effie Knight, June 11, 1927. Letter of debt satisfaction. Papers of Effie Guthrie Knight.

Standard Motor Company correspondence to Mrs. Effie Knight, June 11, 1927. Letter of debt satisfaction. Papers of Effie Guthrie Knight.

Perhaps it was the “Improved Ford,” introduced in 1926, that enticed Effie to become a car owner.  For the first time, Ford cars were available in colors other than black and new accessories were introduced including optional front and rear bumpers, and windshield wipers.

A 1926 Ford Advertisement suggestively featured a woman driver with a male passenger, and ran with the tag line “Easier to handle ~ safer to drive.”

The driving control of the Ford car is exceedingly simple, yet always dependable. It effectively reduces the possibilities of accidents – particularly in crowded city traffic. Foot pedal gear changing, powerful brakes, short wheelbase and full visibility, afforded by the all-steel body construction with narrower pillars and large plate-glass windows, are important reasons why Ford owners enjoy such security.  Let the nearest Authorized Ford Dealer explain the many features of Ford cars and demonstrate their easy handling. Get full particulars about convenient time payment plans.

1926 Ford Coupe Advertisement

1926 Ford Coupe Advertisement

The Anneberg telecourse and video series A Biography of America  sums up the rural appeal of the automobile:

 The Model T liberated millions of people who had never traveled more than 12 miles from their homes. That’s the distance a horse could go in a single day. Farm women could now jump into the family Ford and head off to town, anytime they liked. More farmers had cars than bathtubs. When asked why, one farm wife said, “You can’t drive to town in a bathtub.” Ford may have thought of the Model T as everyman’s car, but it was every woman’s car too. Women took to the wheel in droves.

Automobiles were the single most significant consumer product of the 1920s…As Thrift for Women (1930) demonstrates through stories told by individual farm women, the increased mobility of the population even contributed to greater prosperity in rural areas, as motorists stopped to purchase farm products from roadside stands and eat in farm houses where the farmer’s wife brought in extra income by selling produce to or cooking meals for strangers…Automobiles brought the consumer society to the country in other ways too. Would-be rural consumers were able to get to centers of consumption, as chain stores relocated to suburban areas outside of cities and movie theatres took up residence in farm country. A beguiling advertisement for Paramount Pictures in the February 1926 edition of Country Gentleman encapsulates the situation: “Today nobody with young ideas stays home when a few miles by the speedometer takes you to the motion picture theatre. . . . The farmer of years gone by might have been content to wear himself and his family out with all work and no play, but 1926 is a different story. . . . The motor car is a chapter in that story, and good roads leading to better theatres showing Paramount Pictures are another. . . . There all the members of the family may sit together under the same spell of enchantment, refreshed by the wholesome flood of make-believe. . . .” (p. 1) The ad’s emphasis on the family-togetherness of the event reinforces that this is a “wholesome” use of leisure time.

A 1926 advertisement for Paramount Pictures appealed to rural farm women like Effie Guthrie Knight, for whom the automobile was a part of "modern" independence. With a car, it was just a short drive for Ray City residents to shopping or leisure activities like movies, in Nashville or Valdosta, GA.

A 1926 advertisement for Paramount Pictures appealed to rural farm women like Effie Guthrie Knight, for whom the automobile was a part of “modern” independence. With a car, it was just a short drive for Ray City residents to shopping or leisure activities like movies, in Nashville or Valdosta, GA.

Also, 1926 was the year President Calvin Coolidge made off-hand remarks to the Federal Reserve Board that appeared to endorse installment plan buying. Organizations like the Y.M.C.A condemned the practice, while businessmen and finance companies sought the direct endorsement of the President.  The installment loan papers of Effie Knight  show that she clearly embraced consumer loans.

Effie Guthrie and the Knight Brothers of Ray City, GA

Effie Guthrie, daughter of Arren H. Guthrie  and Lucy Newbern, was a lifelong resident of Ray City, GA and many of the Guthrie family connection still reside here.   She married first Ralph Knight.

Ralph Knight was one of the Knight brothers of Ray City, GA:  PaulAdrian, Ralph, and Raleigh, all sons of Walter Howard Knight and Jimmie Gardener Gullette.  There were four Knight sisters; Julia Elizabeth Knight, and Ruby Texas Knight, Dollie Howard Knight, and Laurie Inez Knight.

Effie became good friends with her sister-in-law Julia Knight.  After Ralph Knight was killed in the Otranto disaster of World War I, Julia and Effie sometimes travelled together.  Around 1921-22, the two women travelled by train to New York City on a shopping trip.  Later, Effie married Ralph’s brother,  Adrian Knight.

Effie Guthrie Knight. Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.

Effie Guthrie Knight. Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.

Effie Guthrie Knight and Owen Adrian Knight, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Effie Guthrie Knight and Owen Adrian Knight, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Ralph Knight, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Ralph Knight, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Checking on Citizens Bank of Ray City

Canceled checks drawn on the Citizens Bank of Ray City, Ray City, GA document some of the local businesses that Effie Guthrie Knight transacted with during 1927.

1927 check drawn on the Citizens Bank of Ray City and made payable to Dr. Folsom.

1927 check drawn on the Citizens Bank of Ray City and made payable to Dr. Folsom.

As the check above shows, Dr. George Hill Folsom came to Berrien County, GA some time prior to 1927. He established his home in Ray City where he engaged in general practice. A check in the amount of $1.00 might have been typical payment for an office visit in that time.

1927 check written by Effie Knight to C.O. Terry, and drawn on the Citizens Bank of Ray City.

1927 check written by Effie Knight to C.O. Terry, and drawn on the Citizens Bank of Ray City.

Written the same day as the previous check, this check to Ray City pharmacist, C. O. Terry,  may have been to fill a prescription written by Dr. George Hill Folsom.

Check drawn on the Citizens Bank of Ray City in payment to G. M. Purvis, made out in the amount of two dollars and fifty cents, and signed by Effie Knight.

Check drawn on the Citizens Bank of Ray City in payment to G. M. Purvis

Another check written by Effie Knight  is made out to G.M. Purvis.  Guy Marvin Purvis owned a general merchandise store in Ray City, GA.  Furthermore, he was Effie’s brother-in-law so naturally she’d be inclined to do business there.

 A check made out July 5, 1927 to G.V. Hardie in the amount of twelve dollars and seventy cents, and drawn on the account of Effie Knight at The Citizens Bank of Ray City.

A check made out July 5, 1927 to G.V. Hardie in the amount of twelve dollars and seventy cents, and drawn on the account of Effie Knight at The Citizens Bank of Ray City.

In the 1920s, Gordon Vancie Hardie opened up the first gas station in Ray City, GA. The check above may have been payment for service on Effie Knight’s car.

 

Ralph Knight ~ Ray City Soldier ~ WWI

Private Knight entered service in July, 1918. Was attached to 5th Company, Coast Artillery Corps, Ft. Screven, Ga. Embarked for over-seas in September, 1918, and was drowned on the ill-fated transport “Otranto,” which was sunk off the Scottish Coast in a collision October 6, 1918.

Ralph Knight (1889-1918)

Ralph Knight was one of the Knight brothers of Ray City, GA:  Paul, Adrian, Ralph, Raleigh, all sons of Walter Howard Knight and Jimmie Gardener Gullette.  There were four sisters; Julia Elizabeth Knight, Ruby Texas Knight, Laurie Inez Knight, and Dollie Howard Knight.

Ralph married Effie Guthrie, daughter of Arrin and Lucy Guthrie.

Ralph Knight registered for the WWI draft June 5, 1917.  According to his draft card his birth date was April 19, 1890 although his gravemarker gives his date of birth as April 19, 1889.  The physical description given on his draft card was:  Medium height Medium build, brown eyes, black hair.

Ralph did not return from the war; he was killed in the Otranto Disaster.  He is buried in Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, Georgia.

Effie Guthrie Knight’s home was on Park Street, Ray City, GA.  It  was the home of her father, Arrin Guthrie, and others of her family, although it was owned by Effie.  For all of her life, a large print of the portrait above hung in the parlor of Effie Knight’s home.

October 13-15, 1918 ~ RECOVERING CORPSES FROM OTRANTO WRECK

All through the end of October, 1918 news of the Otranto shipwreck would continue to float across the Atlantic.  Ray City and Berrien County, GA residents waited for news of loved ones; Effie Guthrie Knight waited for news of her husband, Private Ralph Knight. It would be weeks before survivor lists were published. There would be few bright spots; mostly the news was grim and grimmer.

From the Atlanta Constitution:

RECOVERING CORPSES FROM OTRANTO WRECK

Island of Islay, Scotland, Sunday, October 13. – Work of recovering bodies from the wrecked troopship Otranto proceeded without interference today as the sea was calm. Wreckage was strewn along the coast for a distance of three miles. There was considerable debris still floating, and it was believed this was covering numerous bodies.
Six American survivors remain here. They are Sergeant C.A. McDonald, of Galesburg, Ill., and Privates Thomas Kelly, of Augusta, Ga.; Earl Y. Steward of Nashville, Ga.; Noah E. Taylor, of Spruceburg, Ky.; E. Garver, of Cincinnati, Ohio, and William Cooney, of Augusta, Ga.
Private Cooney has pneumonia and his case is critical. All the other men are in excellent condition. Five other survivors, all Americans, have been taken to Glasgow. Two more Americans were brought ashore alive, but they died before regaining consciousness.

Private Cooney would only survive another week before succumbing to pneumonia.

GETTING BODIES FROM WRECKAGE.

Island of Islay, Scotland, October 15. – A British army labor battalion has begun to remove the Otranto wreckage pile in enormous masses in many deep gullies on this savage shore. Only by much laborious and systematic work can the bodies believed to be buried under the wreckage be recovered and it may take several weeks before the task is completed. Other bodies are imprisoned in rocky inlets and great beds of kelp, or tangleweed, as the islanders term it.
The Otranto went to pieces on great rocks a mile out, almost at the very entrance to Machir bay, whose sandy beach might have offered a haven to the disabled transport. A year ago a small steamer stranded in a storm on that beach intact, without the loss of a single life. Here over a hundred bodies came ashore and were recovered easily.
The storm that raged at the time of the loss of the Otranto was so terrific that wreckage was carried by huge waves over the cliffs a quarter of a mile inland. It is regarded as a miracle that anybody escaped, yet with one or two exceptions the twenty survivors who reached Islay shore showed little effect of their fearful ordeal.
Sergeant McDonald, a husky Illinois boy, was hurled by a giant comber into one of the deepest rocky ravines among grinding timbers, broken boxes and portions of the Otranto’s cargo. He climbed out with scarcely a scratch and with strength so unimpaired that he was able to help two others get beyond the reach of the pursuing waves.
Private Robert F. Shawd, of Lebanon Pa., had a still more remarkable experience. According to Shawd, two of his brothers were on Tuscania and both were saved. They wrote urging him to learn to swim. “If I had not taken their advice,” Shawd said, “I would not be alive today.” He tried to jump from the Otranto to the destroyer [rescue ship, H.M.S Mounsey]  but fell into the sea, eventually he was thrown up on Islay.
Several survivors say the cotton-padded collar of their life preservers saved them from fatal blows by pieces of wreckage, and they believe if the heads of the swimmers had been similarly protected many others probably would have escaped. This theory is supported by the bodies found. The consensus of opinion that far more were killed by timbers than were drowned.

About Sergeant Charles A. McDonald:

McDonald, Charles A., Galesburg, IL

Sergeant Charles A. McDonald, of Galesburg, IL, was one of 17 men who survived the swim from the wreck of the HMS Otranto to the rocky coast of Islay, Scotland

Sergeant Charles A. McDonald, of Galesburg, IL, was one of 17 men who survived the swim from the wreck of the HMS Otranto to the rocky coast of Islay, Scotland

Private Battery D, 54th Reg. 1st Army Artillery. Son of Mr. and Mrs. T.W. McDonald; wife, Edythe A. McDonald; born Feb 20, 1896 at Galesburg. Enter the service April 2, 1918, at Galesburg; to Ft. Screven, Ga.; made Corporal May 9, 1918; made Sergeant Aug. 8, 1918; Supply Sergeant Sept. 20, 1918; reduced to private when transferred from 3rd Co., C.A.C., to 54th Reg., Dec. 1, 1919; on Otranto when it was shipwrecked Oct. 6, 1919, off coast of Islay, Scotland; hung on to rafts in water for three hours and swam and floated three miles toshore; in the service 353 days; discharged March 21, 1919.

Clabberville Road ~ Ray City, GA

Clabberville Road

On the south side of Ray City, GA there lies an east-west road today known as Johnson Street, but back in the day this byway was known as Clabberville Road.  Rozzie Swindle had a farm out this road, and it was their dairy activities from which the name Clabberville arose. The Swindles raised cows, and chickens and livestock of all kinds. They sold eggs, butter, and milk  and also clabber, which they produced from the milk.  Clabber was similar to yogurt, although when yogurt was first introduced in the U.S. the comparison was made in the other direction.  To make clabber, fresh milk was strained through a cheesecloth, into crockery bowls which were then placed in a “safe”, a screen enclosure to keep out the flies.  This sweet, unpasteurized milk sat overnight and the next morning the cream was skimmed off the top. Below the cream was the sweet clabber, a semi-congealed yogurt like mass.  The cream was churned into butter.  The clabber was placed into jars and sold.  Effie Knight, of Ray City, GA always used clabber in her biscuit recipe.   The Swindle place was known throughout the area as the source for sweet clabber, which in turn became the origin of the name of Clabberville Road.  Later, one of the Swindle girls married into the Johnson family, and the road subsequently became known as Johnson Street.

What is Clabber?

 “Every one knows that butter is the solid, fatty part of the milk, separated from the fluid portion by churning. But the skim milk, or even the buttermilk, contains a large percentage of white, solid matter, which develops when the milk is permitted to turn to clabber, as a Georgia farmer would call it, but curds, in the language of the cheese-maker. Those who are familiar with clabber, know that if cut in pieces with a spoon, or knife, a large quantity of watery fluid, or whey, separates from the more solid portion. This solid part, when deprived of all the whey, and salted and pressed, is cheese.  The aim of the cheese-maker is to cause his milk to “turn,” or become clabber, without undergoing the souring process.

Sweet clabber was a popular food in the south; in the north it was thought fit only for pigs. Still, clabber was often popularized for its healthful benefits. With the rise of pasteurization the making of clabber virtually stopped, except on farms that had easy access to unprocessed cow’s milk.