Eugene C. Phillips at Georgia Southern College

Eugene C. Phillips at Georgia Southern College

In 1966, Eugene C. Phillips, of Ray City, GA, attended Georgia Southern College at Statesboro, GA.  Phillips majored in Business Administration.

Eugene C. Phillips, of Ray City, GA, attended Georgia Southern College.

Eugene C. Phillips, of Ray City, GA, attended Georgia Southern College.

Another Ray City student at Georgia Southern College in 1966 was senior W. Ralph Bradham.  Patsy Partin and Garth L. Webb, Jr., of Nashville, GA, were sophomores. Freshmen Ricky Partin and Carol Rowan were also from Nashville, GA.  Carol Bradham and James Roger Lewis, of Alapaha, GA, were seniors and Carleen Chambless was a freshman. Jimmy Abney, of Enigma, GA was a junior.

Georgia Southern Reflector, 1966 year book.

Georgia Southern Reflector, 1966 year book.

Jim Griner ~ Lawman

Deputy Jim Griner,  Berrien County Lawman

James Benjamin “Jim” Griner , who was Ray City, GA Police Chief in the 1940s, also served as Deputy Sheriff of Berrien County from 1905 to 1915.  (In 1915,  Griner was elected Police Chief of Nashville, GA.)  Below are a few clippings from newspapers around the region  about his time as Deputy Sheriff .

Deputy Sheriff James B. "Jim" Griner, 1906, Nashville, GA

Deputy Sheriff James B. “Jim” Griner, 1906, Nashville, GA

Griner’s ten years of deputy work were filled with escorting prisoners, working the bloodhounds, trailing chain gang escapees,  tracking arsonists, raiding gambling dens and blind tigers, gunfights with desperadoes, and more. He began his law enforcement career as a deputy for Sheriff Marion J. Kinard.

Jim Griner worked as a deputy for Sheriff Kinard, 1905.

Jim Griner worked as a deputy for Sheriff Kinard, 1905.

Tifton Gazette
March 24, 1905

Mr. I. C. Avera, for a long time deputy sheriff, is now city marshal of Nashville, and makes a model officer.  Messrs. J. A. Lindsey and J. B. Griner are Sheriff Kinard’s deputies, and are making good officers.

 

Sheriff Jim Griner and Charlie Israel, 1907

Sheriff Jim Griner and Charlie Israel, 1907

 

Tifton Gazette
April 26, 1907

Deputy Sheriff Griner went to Homerville Sunday and brought Charlie Israel back to jail. He is the young white man who dug a hole in the brick wall of the county jail and made his escape a few weeks ago. Sheriff Screven Sweat of Clinch captured him. – Nashville Herald. Israel is the young man that burglarized the store of J. B. Gunn, at Enigma, several weeks ago.

1908-jim-griner-and-ed-sutton

Tifton Gazette
September 18, 1908

 

Ed Sutton, who was tried and adjudged insane here last week, got away from Deputy Sheriff Griner at Cordele, while enroute to the asylum. The county authorities offer a reward of $25 for him. – Nashville Herald.

Sheriff Jim Griner calls out the bloodhounds, 1909.

Sheriff Jim Griner calls out the bloodhounds, 1909.

 

Waycross Journal
July 2, 1909

Nashville, Ga., July 2. – John A. Gaskins, living in the upper Tents [Tenth] district, six or eight miles east of Nashville, came here and got Deputy Sheriff Jim Griner and his blood hounds to go to his place for the purpose of tracking incendiaries who set fire to his gin house Monday night. The dogs failed to track the offender, however, and Mr. Griner returned to Nashville without a prisoner. Mr. Gaskins thinks he has a clue, as threats have been made against him because he refused to let certain parties fish in his mill pond. The ginnery, which had just been completed was a total loss.

 

Deputy Sheriff Jim Griner captures John Bradford, 1909

Deputy Sheriff Jim Griner captures John Bradford, 1909

Tifton Gazette
December 17, 1909

Deputy Sheriff Jim Griner and John Bradford went down in Clinch county Monday night and captured Dick Studstill, a desperate negro who is wanted in this county for assault with intent to murder. He resisted arrest several months ago, near Sparks, and shot at Sheriff Avera and posse who were raiding a gambling and tiger den. – Herald.

Sheriff Jim Griner in shootout with Beaty Gaskins, 1911

Sheriff Jim Griner in shootout with Beaty Gaskins, 1911

Vienna News
April 14, 1911

Sets Bullets Flying Wildly in Nashville

Adel, Ga., April 11. – News has reached this city of an affray at Nashville Saturday evening in which Beaty Gaskins, a well known and prominent young man, undertook to shoot up the town. He began by shooting at a young man named Knight, and continued to shoot until he had fired nine times. He came near hitting a clerk in Wein’s store and sent a bullet into the county school commissioner’s office in which were a number of teachers, it being the time of the monthly meeting of the teacher’s institute. He also sent a bullet into the office of J. P. Knight, ex-senator from this district. After shooting half a dozen times Gaskin directed his shots into the office of Judge W. D. Buie of the city court, hitting that official and Deputy Sheriff Jim Griner, who was there.
Mr. Griner returned the fire and slightly wounded Gaskins, was then arrested. Later he was released under bond of $10,500. He is a son of John A. Gaskins, one of the wealthiest men in Berrien county.

1913-jim-griner-and-oscar-jones

Tifton Gazette
November 7, 1913

Nashville Herald: Deputy Sheriff Jim Griner left Friday for Belleville, Illinois, in response to a telegrram from the Prison Commission advising him to go after Oscar Jones, who escaped from the Berrien county chaingang two years ago.  He is a lifetime man sent here from Fulton county in 1911.

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Deputy Sheriff Jim arrests Bob Luke, 1914

Deputy Sheriff Jim arrests Bob Luke, 1914

Tifton Gazette
June 12, 1914

Bob Luke, who shot and killed Calvin Lingo about three weeks go, was placed under arrest last week by Deputy Sheriff Jim Griner, of Berrien.  Luke says he killed Lingo in self defense while Lingo was under the influence of whiskey.  He offered to surrender but the coroner’s jury returned a verdict of Justifiable homicide and he was turned loose.  Lingo’s brother had the warrant sworn out for Luke.  George Henderson, the only eye-witness to the tragedy, has also been placed under arrest.

Prisoners escape Deputy Jim Griner, 1914

Prisoners escape Deputy Jim Griner, 1914

Atlanta Constitution
December 31, 1914

Two Prisoners Escape Berrien County Jail

Nashville, Ga., December 30. – (Special.) – J. C. Carter, a white man held in the Berrien county jail here for stealing hogs, and Capers Beach, colored, held for securing goods under false pretense, escaped late last night by sawing a bar in two and climbing to the ground on tied blankets. Love Vickers, colored, reported it to Deputy Sheriff J. B. Griner, but they had already successfully effected their escape. When last seen they were headed for Sparks on the Georgia and Florida track.

Back Story on Benjamin William Furlong

Previous posts on this blog have concerned 1880s Berrien County desperado Benjamin William Furlong.  The story of Ben Furlong, and reports of his ghost, are interesting passages in Berrien County history.  A recent reader comment prompted a further look for Furlong’s trace. (see Ghost.)

Ben Furlong was a  wiregrass  sawmill man and at the same time an outlaw whose infamous deeds were published around the globe. While Ben Furlong had no direct connection to Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA  he was well known to the citizens of Berrien County, and to all of south Georgia. His ‘stomping grounds’ centered around the town of Alapaha, which in the 1880s was the rail head for Berrien County.  Anyone doing business with the Brunswick & Western Railroad risked crossing paths with Furlong. Indeed, his orneriness was known all up and down the B & W line from Brunswick to Albany.  Dozens of criminal charges were levied against him in the Superior courts of Berrien and Dougherty counties.

As previously told, his final victim, Jesse Webb, was  shot, knifed, brutalized and murdered at Sniff Mill, situated on the route of the Brunswick & Albany Railroad near the county line between Berrien and Coffee counties.  Furlong was directly implicated in the murders of at least three other men, and his brother and partner, John Furlong, was gunned down in Texas after fleeing Georgia.  Ben Furlong was feared by foes, friends, lovers and lawmen.  Previous posts provide additional information on Ben Furlong’s “life of singular desperation.”

Ben Furlong was born about 1854 in Louisiana.  Some time before 1869 he came to Georgia with other Furlong family members.  By the age of 15 he was working for his brother-in-law ” in a responsible position” at a sawmill located in Pine Bloom, GA in  Coffee County.  The timber trade is one that he would follow for his short life, when he was not pre-occupied with drinking, drugs, murder, or other mayhem.

Furlong fled Pine Bloom after a fight in which he cut the throat of one of the sawmill workers. He was gone from the area for several years, but eventually returned. He was never charged with the murder.

Later he worked at other Berrien county sawmills at Vanceville and Sniff, GA.

Detail of Augustus S. Mitchell's 1883 County Map of the States of Georgia and Alabama, showing location of Vanceville, Alapaha, and Rays Mill, GA. The mapped location of Pine Bloom is in error - the actual location of Pine Bloom was about two miles east of Willacoochee. [Special thanks to Bryan Shaw for this explanation - see comment below.]

Detail of Augustus S. Mitchell’s 1883 County Map of the States of Georgia and Alabama, showing location of Vanceville, Alapaha, and Rays Mill, GA. The mapped location of Pine Bloom is in error – the actual location of Pine Bloom was about two miles east of Willacoochee. [Special thanks to Bryan Shaw for this explanation – see comment below.]

1880 Census enumeration of Ben W. Furlong in Ware County near Waycross, GA.

1880 Census enumeration of Ben W. Furlong in Ware County near Waycross, GA.

It appears that Ben Furlong married sometime before 1874. In the census of 1880 he and  his wife, Pocahontas (age 22), were enumerated in Ware County in the 1231 Georgia Militia District, near Waycross, GA. Ben was working there as a “timber sawyer” while Pocahontas was keeping house.  Their children were John W. Furlong (age 5), William Furlong (age 3), Benjamin Furlong (age 2) and Charles W.  Furlong (age 4 months.) (see  10th census, 1880, Georgia at Archive.org)

1881 South Georgia Pamphlet.

1881 South Georgia Pamphlet.

The following year, when Ben Furlong was about 27 years old, may have been the high point in his short life. (Here, the timeline of his documented activities seems to differ from the chronology given in the accounts of his life that were written after his death.)   That year, 1881, he and his brother, John Furlong,  were operating a sawmill at Vanceville, GA,  a stop on the Brunswick & Albany railroad a few miles west of Alapaha, GA.  The Brunswick & Albany provided a direct connection to the port at Brunswick, GA and access to world markets. There was a Navy yard at Brunswick, and it was said, “Hardly any other point along the Atlantic, from Maine to Florida, affords such facilities for ship building, with an unlimited supply of materials at hand.”  At Vanceville, the Furlongs were in the perfect position to profit from the demand for lumber and naval stores.

The railroad pamphlet Southern Georgia described Vanceville GA:

Vanceville, at the 125 mile-post, is a new and bright looking little settlement. Here Furlong Bros. have a sawmill which cuts 15,000 feet of lumber per day. They have a tramway started, the engine and iron on the ground. The country is rolling and beautiful. There are many lovely building sites on this road. Nature has made them beautiful, and in a few short years our eyes may be permitted to see beautiful gardens, vineyards and orchards, where now the wiregrass flourishes.

1883 Stock certificate of the Reppard Land, Lumber & Sawmill Company of Georgia. R. B. Reppard provided financial backing for the sawmill operated by John and Ben Furlong at Vanceville, GA.

1883 Stock certificate of the Reppard Land, Lumber & Sawmill Company of Georgia. R. B. Reppard provided financial backing for the sawmill operated by John and Ben Furlong at Vanceville, GA.

Furthermore, the Furlong Brothers secured the financial backing of  R. B. Reppard, a timber magnate of Savannah.  Reppard’s company, the Reppard Land, Lumber & Sawmill Company of Georgia,  owned a dozen sawmills and vast tracts of timber in South Georgia. Reppard invested $30,000 dollars in a sawmill at Vanceville, and set up Ben and John Furlong to run it.

It was perhaps the very success and prosperity of their enterprise that brought about Ben Furlong’s downfall.  Later newspaper reports asserted, “The charge of such a large business turned Furlong’s head completely. He began drinking heavily, neglected his wife and family, and took to the companionship of wantons.”

By July of 1882 the growing aberration in Ben Furlong’s behavior was becoming apparent to everyone. Reports of his alcohol fueled aggression began appearing in the press, even in staid publications such as The  Sunny South,  a weekly literary magazine published in Atlanta from 1874 to 1907.

Sunny South
July 1, 1882

B. W. Furlong a lumber merchant of Vanesville, has been arrested in Albany for shooting at Mr. Will Harrell on the train. Whiskey.

At the western terminus of the B& W railroad  the local newspaper, The Albany News and Advertiser, gave an expanded account of the shooting:

Atlanta Weekly Constitution
July 11, 1882 Pg 3

Shooting on a Train

From the Albany News and Advertiser.
    B. W. Furlong, a prominent lumber man who operates at Vanceville, on the Brunswick and Albany road, was arrested in Albany on Thursday night, at the insistence of Mr. Will Harrell, who swore out a warrant charging assault with intent to murder.  Both parties came up on the train that evening and got into a row with each other. Furlong was quite drunk, drew a pistol and fired at Harrell.  Quite a row ensued before matters grew quiet.  When the train reached Albany the warrant was sworn and the arrest made, as stated.  Furlong was not incarcerated, but was allowed liberty under the surveillance of an attending officer.  He claims to have been crazed by drink, and did not know what he was doing.  He was brought before Judge Warren late yesterday afternoon and waived a committal trial.  Bond was fixed and given for his appearance here ond day next week.

In the summer of 1883, further stories about the excesses and abuses of Ben Furlong were appearing in newspapers all over the state, from The Valdosta Times, The Brunswick Advertiser,  The Columbus  Daily Enquirer, to The Atlanta Weekly Constitution :

The Atlanta Weekly Constitution
August 7, 1883 pg 2

Albany was full of rumors Sunday and Monday to the effect that a Mr. Furlong, of Furlong’s mill, about four miles this side of Tifton, had cruelly whipped his wife, and when she ran from him, he took the large end of his buggy whip, with which he had been beating her, and struck her on the head.  One report was to the effect that he killed her, but it was learned since that such was not true.  The deed was committed on Thursday, and Furlong defied arrest.  A large posse of men, however went down and arrested him.

The Atlanta Weekly Constitution
August 9, 1883 pg 2

A white man named Furlong, in Coffee county, brutally beat his wife – Mrs. Furlong, is in a deplorable condition – not expected to live. Her body is only a mass of bruised flesh, while one of her jaws is broken.  The cause of the trouble was a woman – another man’s wife, with whom Furlong was too intimate.  She has been arrested as an accessory to the crime.

 The Columbus Daily Enquirer
August 7, 1883 Pg 3 Brunswick Advertiser:  A disgraceful affair occurred at Vanceville on the Brunswick and Western road, the past week.  Mr. Ben Furlong, becoming enraged with his wife, chastised her severely with a whip, and because she attempted to get away struck her with the butt of the whip, knocking her senseless. He then stood in his doorway with a double-barrel gun and told all outsiders to keep off, or he would kill the first man who attempted to enter.  He remained master of the situation for several days, and finally surrendered.  Meanwhile his poor wife was lying extremely ill without attention.

By the fall, Furlong was again in trouble in Albany, GA the western terminus of the Brunswick & Albany, which by then had become the Brunswick & Western. The story from The Albany News was repeated in The Atlanta Weekly Constitution:

Atlanta Weekly ConstitutionOctober 18, 1883 Albany News:  B. W. Furlong, who beat his wife so mercilessly in Berrien county some time ago, and who spent several days in jail in this city, has been on the rampage again for the last week or two, and although under bond to keep the peace and for his appearance at the next term of Berrien superior court, has been into two or three more difficulties and making himself a nuisance generally.  Upon learning that Furlong was not keeping his promise to them, and that he was behaving badly again, three of his bondsmen, Messrs. W. J. Nelson, of Alapaha, B. B. Gray, of Gray’s  mills, and Colonel J. L. Boyt, of Dougherty county, notified the sheriff of Berrien county that they would not remain on his bond any longer.  The sheriff refused to relieve them of their responsibility, however, until Furlong was delivered to him.  With the intention of arresting Furlong and delivering him over to the sheriff, Mr. Nelson, accompanied by Mr. A. J. McRea, marshal of Alapaha, started Sunday night to Albany, where they expected to find Furlong.  They met him at Sumner, however, and started back to Alapaha with him.  They did not tell him what their purpose was, but he evidently suspected that something was wrong, and just after the train started, jumped off, and has since been making himself scarce.

A few days later, The Cuthbert Enterprise supplied a brief follow-up report which was repeated in The Atlanta Constitution:

Atlanta Constitution
October 20, 1883 Pg 2

B. W. Furlong, the wife-beater of Berrien County, has been surrendered to the sheriff by his bondsmen. Two indictments against him at the last April term of Dougherty superior court, and Messrs. C. M. Mayo and John Ray became his bondsmen.  There is also an indictment against him for assault and battery.

Columbus Daily Enquirer
October 23, 1883 Pg 3

Furlong the wife-beater, got drunk in Albany, Wednesday night, and has been surrendered by his bondsmen who thought that he had left them in the lurch.

Alarmed by Furlong’s scandalous and violent behavior, R.B. Reppard sent a man to Vanceville to take over the operation of the lumber mill. Ben’s brother, John, didn’t wait to be discharged and absconded with $10,000 dollars of the company’s funds.   He was later shot and killed by a Texas lawman in a dispute over payment in a land auction.

Meanwhile, Ben Furlong’s “reckless and dangerous” behavior continued to infuriate his neighbors.  In the summer of 1884, O.R. Giddens came gunning for Furlong, seeking satisfaction for some wrong. This time fate intervened, and the man was killed before he could confront Furlong.  Perhaps Giddens’ rage drove him to the fatal error…another man killed after crossing paths with Furlong.

The New York Times
June 17, 1884

Vindictive Mr. Giddens Killed.

Albany, Ga. Jun 16.  The night train on the Brunswick and Western Railroad ran over and killed O. R. Giddens, a well-known citizen of Berrien County, near Allapaha.  Mr. Giddens had a grudge against a man named Furlong, and it is claimed, was in waiting for the purpose of killing him. The train was delayed several hours, however, and Mr. Giddens, in walking up and down the track to pass away the time, fell asleep on the track and so came to his death.

Detail from an 1895 railroad map, shows the location, from East to West on the line of the Brunswick & Western Railroad, of Sniff, Alapaha, Enigma, Vanceville, and Sumner,GA.

Detail from an 1895 railroad map, shows the location, from East to West on the line of the Brunswick & Western Railroad, of Sniff, Alapaha, Enigma, Vanceville, and Sumner,GA.

A detail from the   George Cram Railroad and County Map of Georgia, 1885  shows the location of Sniff, Georgia.  According to The Mercantile Agency special edition of Bullinger’s postal and shippers guide for the United States and Canada, January 1883 edition,  Sniff, GA was located in Coffee County, placing it on the east bank of the Alapaha River.  Sniff, GA would be the stage for the final desperate acts of Benjamin William Furlong. In June of 1886,  state newspapers were again reporting on Ben Furlong’s violent encounters,  this time involving the shooting of a Brunswick and Western railroad engineer.

Milledgeville Union Recorder
June 22, 1886 pg 6

Probably Fatal Difficulty

News reached the city [Albany, GA] by the Brunswick train on Wednesday night that B. W. Furlong shot Church Brock, at Sniff, on Wednesday morning.
    The News and Advertiser was unable to get full and reliable particulars of the difficulty, but it seems that Furlong owed Brock some money, and that when the latter asked him for it on Wednesday morning hot words followed.  Furlong cursed Brock, using very severe language, and when Brock started to strike him Furlong drew his pistol and shot him.  The ball taking effect in the abdomen.
   One of the News and Advertiser’s informants stated that Brock had a monkey-wrench in his hand, and another said he did not think he had anything.  We give both statements with knowing which, or whether in fact either, is strictly correct.
    It is thought that Brock will die.
    Furlong is well known in Albany, and Brock has been an engineer on the B. & W. Railroad, but was running as a fireman on a freight train on Wednesday.  He is a Brunswick man, and was carried home on Wednesday.  – Albany News

The Macon Weekly Telegraph
June 29, 1886  Pg 5

    John Brock, an engineer on the Brunswick and Western railroad, was shot while the train was stopping at Lee’s Mill on Wednesday afternoon, by Ben W. Furlong, a mill manager.  The men had some difficulty  previously, on account of a small sum alleged to be due Furlong by Brock, and when the train stopped, Brock went into the depot, and furlong followed, abusing Brock. The latter was about to strike him, when Furlong pulled out a self-cocker and shot Brock, the ball entering his right side and passing out on the left below the navel.  The wound is painful, but not serious.

Just a few weeks following the shooting of Church Brock, Furlong’s despicable behavior slid even further into the depths. The End of a Noted Desperado told the story of Furlong’s torturous execution of Jesse Webb in early September, 1886. Before that month was out Furlong took his own life, overdosing on Laudanum.  Laudanum, essentially a liquid heroin, was also known as opium tincture or tincture of opium. It was an alcoholic herbal preparation of opium that was popular in patent medicines in the late 1800s.     The obituary of Benjamin William Furlong appeared in the Macon Weekly Telegraph:

Macon Weekly Telegraph
September 28, 1886   Pg 11

DEATH OF B. W. FURLONG.

A Well Known Mill Man Ends His Life With a Dose of Laudanum.

Albany News.
    News reached the city yesterday morning of the death of Mr. B. W. Furlong, at his home at Sniff, on the Brunswick and Western railroad, on Friday evening.  He died from the effects of a dose of laudanum which he took, it is supposed with suicidal intent.
    Coupled with other reports as to what caused him to end his own life, it is rumored that he killed a negro not many days ago and sank his body in the Alapaha river.  He had been on a protracted spree just before his death, and had involved himself in a good deal of trouble.
    Mr. Furlong was well known in this city and all along the line of the Brunswick and Western railroad, having been engaged in the saw mill business on this line of road for several years past.  While he was a very clever and companionable man when sober, he appeared to place no value upon his own life when on one of his protracted sprees, and was generally regarded as a reckless and dangerous man.

Related Posts:

Oct 12, 1918 ~ 372 U.S. Soldiers Lost in Sinking of Otranto

OTRANTO SUNK IN COLLISION

October 12, 1918 details of the sinking of the troopship Otranto began reaching the U.S.  Out of 699 soldiers on board, 372 were lost. Berrien County and Ray City, Georgia would pay a heavy toll in the disaster.

The October 12, 1918   Atlanta Constitution carried the story.   Nashville, GA resident Early Steward was listed as one of the Otranto survivors.

372 U.S. Soldiers Lost As Result of Sinking Of Transport Otranto

Fort Screven Men Among the Rescued.
A Scottish Port, October 11. –The following American survivors of the Otranto, all of them privates, have been landed here: Charles E. Smithson, David R. Roberts, George S. Taylor, Earle Garver, Stewart Early [Early Steward], Noah Taylor, William Cooney, Robert F. Schaun, Thomas A. Kelly, Ben Smith, Robert Brown, Joseph S. Richards, William Richards, Emil Peterson, Joseph M. Tollock, Sergeant Charles MacDonald, all from Fort Screven automatic replacement draft, and John E. Wean, casual company, Camp Merritt, N.J.

A British Port, October 11. – A large number of American troops have been lost as the result of the sinking of the transport Otranto in the North channel Sunday night between the Scottish and Irish coasts in a collision with the steamer Kashmir.
The Otranto after the collision was dashed to pieces on the rocks off the south Scottish coast with a probable loss of 372 American soldiers.
Three hundred and one men were taken to Belfast by the British destroyer Mounsey, the only vessel which made an attempt at rescue in the terrific gale when the Kashmir, another vessel in the convoy with the Otranto, rammed the Otranto amidships.
Seventeen men were picked up alive on the Scottish coast.
Of the 699 American soldiers on board the Otranto, 310 were landed. Seventeen were rescued alive at Islay, leaving 372 unaccounted for.

Collision Occurred in Storm.
The Otranto and the other vessels of the convoy were battling with the heavy seas and high winds Sunday morning. The storm was so severe and the visibility so bad that the Kashmir, a former Peninsular and Oriental liner, crashed into the Otranto squarely amidships.
The Kashmir backed away badly damaged, but was able to make port.
As the bows of the Kashmir were pulled from the great hole in the side of the Otranto, the water rushed in, but for a time it did not serve to stop the engines. The Otranto tried to proceed, but made no headway against the gale in her crippled condition.
Within a short time the water put out her fires and the Otranto drifted helplessly toward the rock coast of Islay Island, where most of the Tuscania victims met their deaths.
Thirty minutes after the crash the British destroyer Mounsey, herself damaged by the heavy seas, appeared out of the haze in answer to the distress calls from the Otranto. When the destroyer maneuvered to get alongside Captain Davidson, of the Otranto, warned Lieutenant Craven, commanding the destroyer, not to make the attempt.
When it was seen that Craven would make the attempt anyway the men were ordered to remove their shoes and heavy clothing and try to save themselves as best they could.
The destroyer stood off about 100 feet and the gradually came nearer, against the great odds of high waves and the wind, which threatened momentarily to carry her entirely away from the Otranto or dash her to pieces against the side of the wounded vessel.

Struck Rocks Sunday Night.
The Otranto struck the rocks Sunday night south of Saligo bay, Islay Island, an uninhabited section where the coastline in many places rises straight out of the water to the rocky peaks many feet above.
As the destroyer neared the side of the Otranto the men began to jump from 30 to 40 feet from her decks.  The most experienced sailors of the sailors had better success than the soldiers, many of whom had never seen the sea until this trip.
As the destroyer steered toward the side of the steamer many of the men leaped too quickly and missed their reckoning and dropped between the boats. Some of these disappeared in the water, but others of them were caught and crushed between the boats and the lifeboats which had been lowered to act as buffers. The destroyer was badly shattered.
The captain of the destroyer, each time it was brushed away from the side of the Otranto, again would push near enough for many more men to jump to the deck of his vessel. He described  as a veritable rain the number of men landing on the destroyer.
Many of those who reached the decks of the vessel suffered broken bones or otherwise were hurt. Those who missed the deck of the destroyer went almost to instant death.
Four times the battered destroyer came alongside, and each time the previous scene was repeated. At the end of the fourth trip she had 310 Americans, 236 of the crew, 30 French sailors and one British officer on board. The boat was full and having done all possible, she started for port.
The survivors saw the Otranto drifting helplessly toward the rocks as they pulled away toward the Irish coast.  The destroyer barely had time to send a brief message when her wireless was carried away.  The little overloaded vessel had a rough trip to port.

Soldiers at Attention.
One of the American soldiers on board the Otranto pictured the scene when the vessels collided. Soldiers lined the decks as though on parade, and at the word of command stood at attention like statues. They never wavered, remaining there in military formation, exemplifying during the crisis the noblest traditions of the army for heroism and discipline. The same thing, said the soldier, applied to the seamen.
Numbers of bodies today were being washed up rapidly on the shore. It was reported that 175 had been counted at noon and nearly all of them had been identified.
A seaman on the Otranto described the most tragic moment of the disaster as that when the order came for the men to jump and save themselves. The destroyer looked a very small boat alongside the former Orient liner and many landsmen among the American troops thought themselves safer aboard the larger vessel. This was fatal to many of them.
The victims are to be collected at the most suitable place and buried there.  A boat left Liverpool today with material for coffins, fifty laborers and carpenters and chaplains to conduct the funeral. The grave of every man will be marked and charted.
There were few cases among the dead where identification was delayed. Every man had worn an identification tag on his wrist or neck, but in some instances these were torn off and it was necessary to take finger prints of the men.

Heavy “Y” Man Saved.
An instance of the many rescues by the Mounsey was that of T.L. Campbell, a Memphis lawyer and secretary of the Y.M.C.A. He weighs 220 pounds. He was perched on the Otranto’s rail awaiting a chance to spring upon the destroyer the third time the Mounsey came up. As he leaped the Mounsey lurched away and instead of landing in the middle of the deck, as he had hoped to do, one of his legs caught in the cable on the side of the destroyer. Campbell pulled himself aboard uninjured.

“Just when the destroyer was pulling away the last time,” said Campbell today, “the men lined the rails or stood on the afterdeck waving a farewell. A huge wave struck a crowd of about eighteen privates on the afterdeck and a dozen of them were swept into the sea to sure death, as it was impossible to save persons from waves running sixty to seventy feet high.”

London, October 11. -The news of the collision reached London Monday, but nothing was known of the fate of the Otranto until Thursday morning, when the first reports came from Italy. The storm continued to make further attempts at rescue impossible.  No ships pass close enough to that coast in rough weather to see a stricken vessel ashore.

ROLL CALL OF THE OTRANTO DEAD FROM BERRIEN COUNTY,  GEORGIA

Pvt. Hiram Marcus Bennett, Sparks, GA

Pvt. Jim Melvin Boyett, Milltown, GA

Pvt. John Guy Coppage, Cecil, GA

Pvt. Rufus Davis, Sparks, GA

Pvt. Mack Hilton Easters, Lenox, GA

Pvt. George Bruce Faircloth, Milltown, GA

Pvt. Lafayette Gaskins, Nashville, GA

Pvt. Bennie E. Griner, Nashville, GA

Pvt. Lester A. Hancock, Alapaha, GA

Pvt. Robert J. Hancock, Lenox, GA

Pvt. Arthur Harper, Enigma, GA

Pvt. William P. Hayes, Alapaha, GA

Thomas H. Holland, Adel, GA

Pvt. George H. Hutto, Adel, GA

Pvt. Ralph Knight, Ray City, GA

Pvt. Benjamin F. McCranie, Adel, GA

Pvt. James M. McMillan, Nashville, GA

Pvt. William McMillan, Enigma, GA

Pvt. John Franklin Moore, Adel, GA

Pvt. Charlie S. Railey, Alapaha, GA

Pvt. Tillman W. Robinson, Enigma, GA

Pvt. Thomas J. Sirmons, Nashville, GA

Pvt. Shellie Loyed Webb, Ray City, GA

Pvt. Joel Wheeler, Nashville, GA

Pvt. William C. Zeigler, Sparks, GA

Ray City plays 4 H basketball

In 2006 during the remodeling of a house at 507 Jones street, Ray City, Georgia a small cache of sooty, crumbling documents were retrieved from where they had fallen behind the fireplace mantel. These documents included receipts, letters, postcards, playing cards and photographs, among other things.

One item was a 1931 letter from the county agricultural agent Donald L. Branyon to the boys of the 4-H Club.  The letter refers to a Nashville, GA basketball tournament featuring the team from Ray City.

1931  4-H letter.

Transcript added 12 July 2010:

Nashville, Georgia
March 17, 1931

Dear Club Boys:
Spring is here and it’s time for the acres of corn and cotton to be prepared and planted. The Club pigs should be fed and cared for religiously and the chicks hatched. In short, whatever your Club project is, get busy and do your best.

On Friday night, March 20th, there will be a 4-H basketball tournament at the Shell in Nashville.  Alapaha, Ray City, Nashville Grammar School and Enigma will play. You Club boys are cordially invited to attend these games, which are free.

Trusting that you are doing your best in Club work and asking you to call on me for any help you need, I am

Yours Sincerely,

D.L. Branyon,
County Agricultural Agent.

DLB
ieh

In the summer of 1931, A number of Ray City youth and some adults attended the 4-H summer courses at Camp Wilkins, UGA. Among the boys attending from Ray City were Bernard Johnson (RCHS 1930), Brown King (RCHS 1930),  Leland Langford  (RCHS, 1939),  J. D. Luke, Billy McDonald,  James Swindle  (RCHS, 1936).