More on Andrew Washington Turner and Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans

Andrew W. Turner was married to Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans on March 27, 1892

Andrew W. Turner was married to Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans on March 27, 1892

Andrew Washington Turner, a subject of previous posts  (Andrew Washington Turner and Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans, Ray City News, Jan 3, 1929 ~ M.G. Melton Buys A. Turner Brick Bldgs. ), was born January 1, 1867 in Dublin, GA.  He was the son of Adeline Rebecca Black Reddick and Jesse Turner.  His  mother had been previously married to Captain Daniel Reddick, who was a sea captain engaged in trade along coastal Georgia.  Andrew had two half-siblings who were fathered by Captain Reddick; Susan Reddick and William D. Reddick.

At age 4, Andrew appeared with his family in the 1870 census of Militia District 344, Laurens, Georgia.  His father was a farmer there with $500 in real estate and personal estate valued at $450.  Andrew’s half-brother, enumerated as William D. R. Turner, worked as a farm laborer.   Also in the household was Andrew’s older sister, Henrietta (age 6).

Andrew’s father, Jesse Turner, died some time prior to 1880.  The 1880 US Census shows Andrew Turner,  living with his twice-widowed mother, half-sister Susan (Henrietta ?), and sister Mary Reddick.  They were then living in Berrien County, GA Militia District 1144, in the vicinity of Rays Mill.  Andrew, then age 14, “works on the farm,” the census noted.

It was in  Berrien County, GA that Andrew W. Turner was married to Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans on March 27, 1892.   She was born June 1, 1867, a daughter of Frances Sutton and  Abner Sirmans.  On February 24, 1893, Andrew Turner and his wife bought land from her father, Abner Sirmans. On this land, situated in the Rays Mill community (later Ray City, Georgia), the newlyweds made their home.

In 1900,  the census shows Rebecca Turner living with her son Andrew W. Turner and family in Rays Mill, Berrien, GA and notes that Rebecca was blind.

Andrew and Phoebe Isabella Turner were among the first members of the Ray City Methodist Church, which was organized on October 29, 1910.  Other organizing members were Mr. and Mrs. Will Clements,  Mr. and Mrs. W.F. Luckie, Will Terry, Mrs. Julia Dudley, Annie Lee Dudley, and Marie Dudley.

In 1910  Andrew Turner was working on his own account as a farmer.  Mrs. Turner’s widower father, Abner Sirmans, was living with the Turner family in Ray City,  but had his own income.

Andrew and Phoebe Isabelle raised their family in Ray City, GA.  Between 1892 and 1911, they had nine children:

  1. Lona Belle Turner (3/30/1893 – 5/10/1926) married Edward Holmes Sumner 10/28/1909 in Berrien County, GA, buried at Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery, Polk County, Florida.
  2. Rosa B. Turner (9/22/1894-9/23/1985) married Aubrey B. Shaw on 9/13/1914 ceremony performed by Lyman Franklin Giddens, Justice of the Peace, Ray City, GA. Rosa Turner is buried at Sunset Hill Cemetery, Valdosta, GA.
  3. Minnie Turner (7/5/1896 – 12/2/1987) married George I. Sumner on 12/22/1915, buried at Friendship Church Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA.
  4. Maggie Turner (12/25/1898 – 9/20/1980) married Burie Webster Clements on 5/5/1920, buried at Lakeland Memorial Gardens, Polk County, FL.
  5. Jesse Abner Turner (7/14/1900 – 10/3/1969) married Maude D. Yarbrough on 1/3/1920, buried at Friendship Church Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA.
  6. John S. Turner (8/25/1903 – 7/23/ 1984) married Florrie Olena Reynolds on 5/1/1927, buried at Riverside Cemetery, Macon, GA.
  7. Mittie Mae Turner (1/5/1907 – 10/23/1968) married F.H. “Mac” McColm, buried at Southern Memorial Park, Dade County, FL.
  8. Essie Turner (9/12/1909 – 2/11/1990) married 1) James Nathaniel Hall, 2) Tasca Luther Cole. Buried at Sunset Hill Cemetery, Valdosta, GA.
  9. William Theodore Turner (3/3/1911 – 9/10/1952) Never married. Buried at Sunset Hill Cemetery, Valdosta, GA.

The Turners made Ray City, GA their home through the 1920s.  The Census of 1920 gives Andrew’s occupation as “Cotton buyer” working on his own account.  His son, Jesse Turner, was working as a drayman, for public work. The family residence was located on North Street in Ray City, next to the homes of Levi J. Clements and Lucius J. Clements, operators of the Clements Sawmill.  Andrew Turner was also engaged in the in naval stores and the mercantile business.

In 1922, Andrew W. Turner dabbled in local politics:

Atlanta Constitution
Jan 11, 1922, pg 6

Ray City Officials

Milltown, Ga.,  January 10. – (Special.) – At the election for the town officers at Ray City.  Tuesday, the following were elected: Mayor, L.F. Giddens: councilmen. J.T. Phillips, A.W. TurnerJ.S. Clements, Jr., and J.A. Griffin.  They were installed immediately.

During the town’s boom period he constructed ”two large brick buildings known as the Andrew Turner Buildings.  One of the buildings is two stories high.”  In 1929, the Ray City News reported that this building was sold to M. G. Melton.

Sometime between 1922 and 1929 Andrew Turner purchased a farm situated between Hahira and Valdosta, GA and the family made this their home.  Around this same time period, he suffered a stroke which resulted in paralysis of his left side and impaired his speech.  He recovered use of his left leg sufficiently that he could walk with a cane, but his left arm remained paralyzed.  Andrew’s son, Jesse,  had married by this time but made his home near his father’s and ran the family farm.

Census records show that by 1930 the Turner family had relocated to Valdosta, GA to a home on Valley Street.   Andrew Turner rented the house for $20 a month:  Jesse Turner and his family apparently had an apartment in the same residence.  Andrew’s daughter,  Mittie, was working in a department store;  Jesse was working as an automobile mechanic.

Andrew Washington Turner died 1936.

Mr. Turner Dies After A Stroke
Valdosta Times
Monday, July 27, 1936.

      Funeral services for A. W. Turner, 69, well known resident of this county, who died at a local hospital last night as the result of a stroke of paralysis, will be held this afternoon at 6 oclock at Sunset Hill.
     The body was taken this morning from Sineath’s to the home of Mrs. A.B. Shaw, a daughter who resides at 305 West Gordon Street.
     Rev. L.H. Griffis, pastor of the Church of God, and Rev. C.M. Meeks, pastor of the First Methodist Church, will conduct the services. 
    Survivors are his wife and the following children: Mrs. A.B. Shaw and Miss Essie Turner, of this city; Mrs. G.I. Sumner, J.A. Turner and Theo Turner, of Hahira; J.S. Turner, of Porterdale; Miss Mittie Turner, of Miami; and Mrs. B.W. Clements, of Ft. Pierce.  A sister, Mrs. Mary Johnson, of Macon, also survives.
     Mr. Turner was for a number of years a merchant and cotton buyer in Ray City, but he had made his home in Hahira for a number of years before his death.  For the past two years he had been in ill health.
     His death is the occasion of much genuine sorrow throughout this section.

The Personal Mentions in the same edition of the newspaper noted:

Mr. and Mrs. P.N. Sirmans, Mr. and Mrs. Burns Sirmans, of Ray City, Mr. and Mrs. Terrel Sirmans,  and Mrs. Levi Sirmans of Nashville, were here yesterday to attend the funeral of Mr. A.W. Turner.

Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans Turner  died in 1948.

Mrs. A. W. Turner, 81, Passes Away;  Funeral Today
Valdosta Times
August 30, 1948

     Mrs. A.W. Turner, 81, passed away at the home of her daughter, Mrs. A.B. Shaw, 401, N. Troupe Street, early Sunday morning after a declining illness of several months. She had made her home in Valdosta for about five years, moving here from Ray City.
     Mrs. Turner was born and reared in Berrien County.  She was a member of the Lee Street Church of God.
     Survivors include five daughters, Mrs. A.B. Shaw and Mrs. J.N. Hall, Valdosta; Mrs. B.W. Clements, Mulberry, Fla.;  Mrs. G.I. Sumner, Hahira, and Mrs. F.H. McCullum, Miami, Fla.; three sons John Turner, Columbus, Ga.; J.A. and Theo Turner, Hahira; two sisters, Mrs. Leona Douglas, Ocala, Fla.; and Mrs. Kitty Turner, of Ray City, Ga.  Also surviving are a number of grandchildren and great grandchildren.
     Funeral services were to be held this afternoon at 3 o’clock, at the Carson McLane Funeral Home.
     Interment was to follow in the family plot in Sunset Hill beside her husband, who passed away several years ago.

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Professor Avera Lived Near Ray City, GA

 

 

Image detail: William Green Avera, circa 1905. Image courtesy of Berrien County Historical Society, http://berriencounty.smugmug.com/

William Green “Bill” Avera

 

Bill Avera was a lifelong educator of Berrien county who lived in the vicinity of Ray City, GA. He was born August 1, 1855, in  Clinch County Georgia. His father was Stephen Willis Avera and his mother was Martha Elizabeth Aikins. William Green Avera was the oldest of eleven children, his brothers and sisters being  Winnie Ann, Polly Ann, Sarah O’Neal, Daniel M., Lyman H., Phebe V., Lou, Junius H., Cordelia and Martha.

Upon the organization of Berrien County,  Stephen and Martha Avera brought their young son to establish the family homestead in the new county in 1856. During the Civil War, Bill’s father enlisted and became a soldier of Company E of the Fifty-fourth Georgia Infantry. Stephen Avera saw action defending Atlanta from Sherman’s approach and later in the battles at Jonesboro, Franklin, Murfreesboro and Nashville. The war ended while he was at home in Berrien County on detached duty.  After the war, Bill’s father continued to farm in Berrien County.  In 1877 Bill Avera married and established a household of his own near Ray City, GA.

The home of William Green Avera was located about five miles northeast of Ray City, GA.

In addition to his work as a teacher and superintendent William Green Avera worked for teacher education, being frequently involved in the organization and presentation of “teacher institutes.” In the spring of 1895, Avera co-presented with James Rembert Anthony at a teacher institute held at Sparks, GA, on Saturday, March 16, 1895, their presentation: “Grammar, the Actual and Relative Importance of Parsing and Diagramming.” J. R. Anthony was a teacher from Valdosta, GA. Among others on the program was Marcus S. Patten, who presented “Reading: Teaching to read using Holmes as the text.”

In his 1913 work, A History of Savannah and South Georgia, Volume 2, author William Harden gave the following account of William Green Avera:

   PROF. WILLIAM GREEN AVERA. The career of a man who for the greater part of a life time has been identified with the training and education of the youth is always one of the most valuable assets of a community. Probably no educator in south Georgia has been so long or so closely connected with educational progress and the practical work of the schools as the present superintendent of the Berrien county schools, Prof. William Green Avera. He belongs to a family of pioneer Georgians, and was born on a farm in Clinch county, the 1st of August, 1855.

*****

  Reared in a good home and trained to habits of industry, William G. Avera early manifested special inclination for study and the pursuit of knowledge, and made the best of his early opportunities of schooling. He has been a lifelong student, and when he was eighteen he was entrusted with his first school, located three miles east of Nashville. For thirty-three years, an entire generation, he was in the active work of the schoolroom, and he taught children and children’s children during that time. The aggregate length of his service out of those thirty-three years was twenty-five full years, a third of a long lifetime. In 1907  professor Avera was elected superintendent of the Berrien county schools, and by re-elections has since served continuously in that office. His administration has been marked by many improvements in the county educational system.

   In 1877 Professor Avera was united in marriage with Miss Eliza J. Sirmans. Mrs. Avera was born in Berrien county, daughter of Abner and Frances (Sutton) Sirmans. She died at Sparks in 1905. In 1911 Professor Avera married Margaret McMillan, a native of Berrien county and daughter of Randall McMillan. The following children were born to Professor Avera by his first marriage, namely: Sirman W., Marcus D., Bryant F., Aaron G., Alice J., Homer C., Abner J., Willis M., Lona, and Lula. Marcus D., Homer C., Abner J., and Lula are now deceased. Aaron G. married Fannie Key, now deceased, and has one son, William. Sirman W. married Annie Young and has a daughter named Georgia. Bryant F. married Mary Patton. Alice J. is the wife of William T. Parr, and has four children, J. W.,Stella, Saren and Gladys. Lona married Austin Avera, son of I. C. Avera, sheriff of Berrien county.

   In 1878 Professor Avera settled on a farm eight miles southeast of Nashville, and that was the home of his family until 1904, when it was temporarily removed to Sparks that the children might have the benefit of the superior educational advantages available in the Sparks Collegiate institute there. Prof. Avera’s present home is at Nashville, the county seat of Berrien county. He still owns the old home where all of his children were born and reared, and where his beloved deceased wife and children are buried. Sacred is the memory of this home to the man who has given the best years of his life to the educational and moral upbuilding of this section of Georgia. 

   Professor Avera and wife are members of the Primitive Baptist church, and in politics he is a Democrat.