Arthur Shaw and Shaw’s Still

In 1908, the opening of the Georgia & Florida Railroad gave Ray City, GA residents a transportation access to the world, and a convenient connection to towns on the G & F route. Among those with a Ray City – Willacoochee connection was Arthur Shaw, son of Francis Marion Shaw and Rachel Moore Allen Shaw, of Ray City, GA.  Arthur Shaw, a native of Ray City, spent most of his life at Willacoochee, GA.

Francis Arthur Shaw (1866-1933), son of Francis Marion Shaw, Sr., was born and raised near Ray's Mill (now Ray City), GA. Husband of Victoria Giddens Knight (first wife) and Gertrude Albritton (second wife) Turpentine still operator. Though a native of Berrien county, and some of his turpentine operations were in Berrien county, he resided in Willacoochee most of his adult life. Was a mayor of Willacoochee. Courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Francis Arthur Shaw (1866-1933), son of Francis Marion Shaw, Sr., was born and raised near Ray’s Mill (now Ray City), GA. Husband of Victoria Giddens Knight (first wife) and Gertrude Albritton (second wife). Turpentine still operator. Though a native of Berrien county, and some of his turpentine operations were in Berrien county, he resided in Willacoochee most of his adult life. Was a mayor of Willacoochee. Courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Bryan Shaw, of the Berrien County Historical Society, contributes the following:

Arthur Shaw, of Willacoochee, was business partners in the turpentine operations with his brothers, Chester and Lacy Shaw, and brother-in-law, William Clements.

The commissary at  Shaw’s Still was operated by Lacy Shaw. Lacy later ended his partnership with Arthur and farmed near the home place of his parents, Francis Marion Shaw and Rachel Moore Allen Shaw, in Lois, GA just off Possum Branch Road. About 1917 he sold his home to Pleamon Sirmans and moved into Ray City and operated a hardware store there before moving to Valdosta about 1927 or so.

The location of the turpentine operation was actually about a mile or so south of Springhead Methodist Church in Atkinson County. The terminus of the Pinebloom railroad which ran through Willacoochee was at Shaws Still which is shown on the early 1900 railroad maps. The intent at one time was for the Pinebloom to terminus at DuPont, however the extension was determined to be financially unsound and it was given up. Very little is visible of the old Pinebloom railroad bed between Willacoochee and Shaws Still. The terminus of the railroad was about where the Henderson Lumber Company had its operation, near today’s Henderson Road and Springhead Church Road. The still site is no longer visible and is on a  private hunting preserve now.
—Bryan Shaw

 

The Ocilla, Pinebloom & Valdosta Railroad, originally called the Fitzgerald, Pinebloom & Valdosta, was a logging road and occasional common carrier owned by the Gray Lumber Company. 

[Benjamin B. Gray, a principal of the Gray Lumber Company and the OP & V,  was a brother-in-law of the notorious outlaw Ben Furlong.  Furlong committed his first murder while employed at Gray’s sawmill at Pinebloom, and thereafter wreaked mayhem up and down the line of the Brunswick & Western Railroad.]

The 52-mile Lax-Pinebloom-Nashville line was completed in 1901-03.

In 1906, the FP&V sold the section south of Pinebloom to the Douglas, Augusta, & Gulf Railway (which was controlled by the Georgia & Florida).  The FP&V continued to operate the tracks north of Pinebloom. (Pinebloom was a flag station on the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad a mile east of Willacoochee with a 1896 population of about 200. The Gray Brothers saw mill was its largest enterprise.)

The line was renamed the Ocilla, Pinebloom & Valdosta Railroad in 1910, and in 1915 the Henderson Lumber Company gained control.

The 1918 Report of the Georgia Railroad Commission listed the OP&V as a 27-mile line between Gladys, a point on the Ocilla Southern Railroad, and Shaw’s Still, which was about nine miles southeast of Willacoochee. Two years later the Commission indicated that the OP&V had been dismantled and listed its successor road, the Willacoochee & DuPont, as a 9.5-mile line between Willacoochee and Shaws Still.

In 1915, when the Henderson Lumber Company acquired the Ocilla, Pinebloom, & Valdosta Railway, it ran from Gladys to Shaw’s Still. In 1918, the Willacoochee & DuPont Railroad purchased the line and reportedly abandoned the tracks between Gladys and Willacoochee the following year (or used them only for logging or hauling naval stores and turpentine). It continued to operate the eastern and southern section of track from Willacoochee to Shaws Still, but apparently was not able to extend the line past Shaws Still to DuPont, a town on the Atlantic Coast Line in Clinch County. In 1922, this track too was abandoned.
Source: http://www.RailGa.com

The Shaw Family Newsletter: FRANCIS ARTHUR SHAW 1866–1933, by Bryan Shaw, relates the story of Arthur Shaw’s life, loves, and business dealings:

Shaw Family Newsletter: FRANCIS ARTHUR SHAW 1866–1933

Shaw Family Newsletter: FRANCIS ARTHUR SHAW 1866–1933

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Farm Home of Matthew Hodge Albritton

Farm Home of Matthew Hodge Albritton
Reprinted from Shaw Family Newsletters courtesy of Bryan Shaw

Farm Home of Matthew Hodge Albritton,  Lois, GA near Ray City

Farm Home of Matthew Hodge Albritton, Lois, GA near Ray City

“The old farm home is located just south of the Old Lois town site, and west up a dirt lane. The deserted home was poorly remodeled in later years and it is now hard to imagine it’s original charm and dignity.

Two of the sons of Francis Marion Shaw married daughters of M. Hodge Albritton. Francis Arthur Shaw’s second wife was Gertrude Albritton, and Lacy Lester Shaw married her sister, Tula.

Hodge Albritton, a wounded Confederate veteran, was married twice; first to Susan Catherine Byrd, who was the mother of Gertrude, Tula, and four other children. His second wife, Laura A. Myers, bore him five more children. He lived several years in Nashville, but later bought this farm in the Old Lois community. In later years he sectioned off pieces of the -property to his children. Many of these children in turn, sold their shares to Gertrude and her husband, Francis Arthur Shaw. Hodge, however, lived in the home until his death, 20 September, 1915. The property is no longer in the Shaw or Albritton family.”

In the Lois community, Matthew Hodge Albritton was a neighbor of Noah Webster Griffin and Lillian Melissa Knight,   Molcie Parrish – wife of Elder Ansel Parrish, and  Sovin J. Knight, among others.

 

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Eliza Allen and Sovin Knight

Eliza Allen (1862-1945),  wife of Sullivan J. “Sovin” Knight

Eliza Allen Knight. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Eliza Allen Knight. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

Bryan Shaw has written about the life and family of Eliza Allen in the Shaw Family Newsletters.  She was a daughter of Barzilla Allen and Rachel Moore Allen and sister of John Levi Allen and William Barzilla Allen.  “She was born October 31, 1862, four months after the death of her father, Barzilla Allen, who had died of measles while serving with the Confederate Army in Charlottesville, Virginia.”

Her mother remarried in 1866 to Francis Marion Shaw,  a veteran of the Civil War who had lost his right arm in a skirmish near Cedar Key, FL in 1864, and who raised Eliza and her brothers as his own children. Eliza grew to womanhood on her step-father’s farm at the community of Lois near Ray City, GA.  “She was educated in the rural schools of the Lois, Georgia community, and attended the Pleasant Primitive Baptist Church with her mother and siblings…. At the age of 17, on June 6, 1880, she married Sullivan Jordan “Sovin” Knight, son of John W. Knight and Candacy Leaptrot.” Sovin’s brother was Primitive Baptist minister, Aaron Anderson Knight, of Ray City. The marriage was performed in Berrien County by William H. Snead, Justice of the Peace.

1880-sullivan-j-knight-marr-cert

In 1878, Sovin Knight was a young farmer who owned 50 acres of land in section 375 of the 10th district, on the northeast bank of Cat Creek,  about four miles north of  Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA.  This was probably part of his father’s holdings. The land was valued at $250 and he had livestock valued at $100. Bryan Shaw describes the land dealings of Sovin Knight in detail in his Shaw Family Newsletters.

Sullivan Jordan

Sullivan Jordan “Sovin” Knight. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

After marriage Eliza and Sovin moved just southeast across Cat Creek to the adjacent land lot 408, to a 113 acre farm situated on Indian Camp Branch.  Within a few years Sovin was farming 412 acres slightly farther to the northeast on lots 364 and 365 on the north side of Indian Camp Bay, about six miles northeast of Ray City.  Sovin worked this farm on Indian Camp Bay for the next twenty years on his own account or on behalf of his father, John W. Knight.  Nearby were the farms of Levi J. Gaskins, John A. Kirkland, and Joe S. Clements.

Children of  Eliza Allen and Sullivan Jordan Knight

  1. Marion Mansfield Knight – born  May 9, 1881, Berrien County, GA; married November, 1906 to Mollie Gaskins, daughter of Levi J. Gaskins ; died March 20, 1940
  2. Effie J. “Sissy” Knight – born  August 15, 1882, Berrien County, GA; married Eldrid “Dred” Guthrie on October 17, 1900; died September 25, 1935
  3. Lillie C. Knight, – born February 2, 1885, Berrien County, GA; died March 12, 1885.
  4. Infant son Knight – Born and died about 1887
  5. Leland Thomas Knight – born  July 17, 1888, Berrien County, GA; married Lillie Sirmans on September 23, 1909; died May 8, 1949
  6. Ada Virginia Knight  – born  January 31, 1889 Berrien County, GA; married Joseph Redding “Buddy” Gaskins  September 1, 1907;  died March 5, 1964
  7. Fannie E. Knight – born  November 14, 1890, Berrien County, GA; married Sanford Gideon Gaskins about 1908; died May 16, 1969
  8. Rossie O. Knight – born  August 28, 1892 Nashville, GA; Never married; Served in France during WWI and with the Army of Occupation in Germany;  died November 16, 1963; buried Pleasant Cemetery,  near Ray City, GA
  9. Ida Lena Knight – born  October 22, 1898, Berrien County, GA married Edgar Ezekiel Hickman June, 1914; died February 17, 1977
  10. Rachel Knight – born May 1, 1901, Berrien County, GA; married Robert Talmage Chism about 1916; died January 7, 1985
  11. Ora Kathleen Knight – born May 16, 1904, Berrien County, GA; married Henry Alexander Swindle November 24, 1920; died June 2, 2003, at Savannah, GA.

Eliza and Sovin suffered a serious setback when the Knight house burned down in January 1909 while they were attending the funeral of  Sovin’s aunt Rhoda Futch Knight.

In January, 1911 Sovin J. Knight sold the remaining farm property in Berrien county to  Dr. Pleasant H. Askew,  prominent physician, businessman and landowner of Nashville, GA,  and moved Eliza and their four youngest children to Brooks county, near Barney, GA.

Eliza Allen and Sovin J. Knight lived in this home at Barney, GA in 1911.  Photographed in 1998.  Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw and the Berrien Historical Foundation www.berriencountyga.com

Eliza Allen and Sovin J. Knight lived in this home at Barney, GA in 1911. Photographed in 1998. Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw and the Berrien Historical Foundation http://www.berriencountyga.com

Shortly after their move to Barney, “on April 16, 1911, just 26 days after the purchase of the new farm, Sovin suffered a severe heart attack and died in his new home. He left his wife of 31 years, a widow with three children, a survivor once again.” Sullivan Jordan Knight was buried at Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA.

After settling the estate of her husband about 1914, “Eliza and her two daughters returned to Berrien county, where she moved into her parents’ farm home just outside of Ray City.  She joined the newly constituted New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church at Ray City by letter of transmission.

About 1917,  she moved with her aging parents into town to a new home located on the north side of Jones Street and just  east of Ward Street.

Home built circa 1917 for Francis Marion and Rachel Horne Shaw was later the residence of Gordon V. Hardie and wife, Addie Hodges Hardie.

Home built circa 1917 for Francis Marion and Rachel Horne Shaw was later the residence of Gordon V. Hardie and wife, Addie Hodges Hardie.

Eliza lived with her parents in their  Ray City home, raising her last two children, until November, 1920, when her youngest daughter, Kathleen was married to Ray City merchant Henry A. Swindle.

Henry and Kathleen took Eliza into their home on Main Street, Ray City, GA, where she resided for the following 25 years… She spent most of those years involved in the social and religious functions of the New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church in Ray City,  an association which she dearly loved.”

Eliza Allen Knight with her granddaughter, Carolyn Swindle, daughter of Henry and Kathleen Knight Swindle.  Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw and the Berrien Historical Foundation www.berriencountyga.com

Eliza Allen Knight with her granddaughter, Carolyn Swindle, daughter of Henry and Kathleen Knight Swindle. Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw and the Berrien Historical Foundation http://www.berriencountyga.com

Ann Eliza Allen Knight,  passed away on November 4, 1945, at the age of 83.  She was buried next to her husband at Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA.

Grave of Sullivan Jordan Knight and Eliza Allen

Grave of Sullivan Jordan Knight and Eliza Allen

Special thanks to Bryan Shaw for research, content and images contributed to this article.

King’s Chapel School

King’s Chapel School
Portions reprinted from Shaw Family Newsletters courtesy of Bryan Shaw

King's Chapel School

King’s Chapel School

Ω

kings-chapel-2

King’s Chapel School

Ω

King's Chapel School

King’s Chapel School

Several schools in lower Berrien county provided the basic education for local families around the turn of the century. The Pine Grove and Kings Chapel schools were filled with the children of Rachel and Marion Shaw. The Pine Grove schoolhouse is no loner standing, but the Kings Chapel school is still weathering the years. It is located just across the county line, and sits just around the corner from its original location.

The two-room schoolhouse has tongue-and-groove wallboards which were covered with a mixture of charcoal and egg whites to create a dull black surface. This sufficed as a blackboard. Each classroom had a wood burning stove for heat. One room has doors opening to each side, while the other has two doors to the front side. A single door joins the two rooms in the center wall. The structure formerly had a porch on the front wall, which was used as a stage for plays and graduation days.

The school also served as a voting precinct. It was in use until the school districts were combined in the mid-1930s.

Today the schoolhouse serves as a storage shed, owned by David Fields. His mother, Eva Pearl Gaskins, taught there a number of years.

 ◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊

1905 Staff

  • M.G. Knight, Principal
  • Susan Parish, 1st grade license, former principal of River Bend School
  • Lillie Brown, Assistant teacher

1905 Students

  • Neta Bradford
  • Susie Mathis
  • Carrie Lou Williams
  • Pearl Smith
  • Ilah Peters
  • Perry Swindle
  • Johnnie Mathis
  • Frank Shaw
  • Lonnie Smith
  • Eugene Mathis
  • Caulie Smith
  • Mansfield Smith

1906 Staff

  • Mr. James B. Peters, Principal
  • Mr. Thomas E. Casey
  • Miss Susie Parrish

1906 Student Officers of the Kings Chapel School Literary Society

  • J.W. Deans, President
  • Leon Parrish, Vice President
  • Lillie McDonald, Secretary
  • Callie Hightower, Assistant Secretary

Other 1906 students:

  • David Mathis, 4th Grade
  • Maggie May Smith, 4th Grade
  • Lonnie Swindle, 4th Grade
  • Arlie Gaskins, 4th Grade
  • Cora Shaw, 4th Grade
  • Mary Deane, 4th Grade
  • Alma Smith, 4th Grade
  • John Deane, 5th Grade
  • Tom Smith, 5th Grade
  • Martha Hall, 5th Grade
  • Caulie Smith, 5th Grade
  • Idella Williams, 5th Grade
  • C.C. Smith, 7th Grade
  • Clarence Bradford, 7th Grade
  • C.W. Bradford
  • Martha Hall
  • Eva Williams
  • H.E. Mathis
  • Charles Dean
  • Ilah Peters
  • Iva Williams
  • F.H. Gaskins
  • Shelly Mathis
  • Susie Mathis
  • Cora Webb
  • Eugene Mathis
  • Billie Peters
  • Perry Swindle
  • Mansfield Smith

1907 Staff

  • John Smith (of Nashville), Principal

Other Kings Chapel Students and Staff

  • Susie Bullard
  • Fannie Bullard
  • Sallie Bullard
  • Jesse Shelby “Dock” Shaw
  • Fondren Willie Mitchell Shaw
  • Mary Idell Shaw,  attended 1918-1924
  • Charles Bruner Shaw, Jr, attended 1930
  • Ina Weaver Brown, taught 1930

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Jehu Patten and the Serpent

Jehu Patten

Jehu Patten (1838-1907)

Jehu Patten (1838-1907)

Jehu Patten was a  farmer in the Rays Mill District of Berrien County, GA and a confederate veteran.  During the Civil War he served first with Company K, 5th Georgia Regiment and later as 4th Sergeant of  Company E, 54th Regiment Ga. Inf. along with John Lee, George Washington Knight, James Madison BaskinWilliam Varnell Nix, Stephen Willis Avera, William J. Lamb, Samuel Guthrie, William Henry Outlaw, Matthew H. Albritton, Benjamin Sirmans and other men of Berrien County who served in the same unit.  In late 1864 he was furloughed home on sick leave and remained there through the end of the war.

Afterward he became a quite accomplished farmer of Berrien County.  The Jehu Patten farm consisted of a home and 260 acres in section 454 of the 10th district, located just southwest of Ray City, near the farms of  Francis Marion Shaw,  Lacy Shaw, and Jesse Shelby Shaw. (In 1902, Jehu Patten sold this farm to John Levi Allen – see http://www.audubon4tet.com/FMS/21_John_Levi_Allen.pdf)

As a farmer, Jehu had an interest in and respect for the natural world.

Jehu Patten captures serpent, November 15, 1895.

Jehu Patten captures serpent, November 15, 1895.

Tifton Gazette November 15, 1895  Pg 3 Mr. Jehu Patten, from up in the Ray’s Mill neighborhood, was in town  this week and had a snake about four inches long and as large around as a straw.  He found the little snake in the road and caught it and put it in an envelope. The snake was the smallest we ever saw.  – Times.

Two months later, the Gazette noted: 1896-jehu-patten

Tifton Gazette January 24, 1896  Pg 4 The writer had the pleasure of visiting Mr. Jehu Patten’s a few days since, who lives near Rays Mill.  The weather was very cold, but after I had been there some time, he took me around to show me the results of his last year’s work.  The corn crib was the first place.  To my surprise I found he had gathered between seven and eight hundred bushels of corn, and one hundred of rice, next was the sugar house, and as I entered the door I found on my right three hundred gallons of syrup jugged and sealed, and on my left, up on shelves, five dozen fruit jars, containing apples, pear and peaches, and under the shelves was ten fifty-pound cans of lard, all full.  Next came the meat-house, and there I found he had 5,000 lbs. of meat, and about 75, or 100, lbs, of sausage, and has hogs enough yet to kill to last his family two years.  His meat was fattened on pinders, and it is ascertained that he has now in the field 80, or 100 bushels.  To go with his meat he has about an acre of turnips.  I did not visit his potato house but judge them by his other crop, and by those on his table. This Mr. Patten made with two mules and two negro boys.  He has enough stored away to supply his family three years.  Shurely, he ought to be happy.  He has raised and reared his children to a high degree of civilization, and has only three children, Miss Emma, J. M. and J. L. Patten, and all three are well educated, especially in vocal and instrumental music.  All are working to the highest aspiration.     Oh that we had more such men as him!  Yours for more,   AJAX.

Children of Jehu John Patten and Mary Ellen Lancaster:

  1. William H Patten (1865 – 1886)
  2. George T Patten (1867 – 1890}
  3. James Marcus Patten (1869 – 1944)
  4. Joseph Lacy Patten (1874 – 1898)
  5. Emma Patten (1879 – )

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Tragedy at Possum Creek

The brief paragraphs that appeared in newspapers could hardly convey the tragedy of a murder-suicide, but there it was.  The incident occurred at the farm of Francis Marion Shaw on Possum Creek Road near Ray City, GA on a late Friday afternoon 112 years ago today, September 21.  James Merritt shot and killed his wife, then took his own life.

The following day an account of the incident appeared in the Richmond, VA Dispatch:

Richmond Dispatch
Richmond, Virginia
September 23, 1900, Page 17

Wife-Murder and Then Suicide

    RAY’S MILL, GA., September 22. – James Merritt (white), aged about 47, killed his wife this morning, with a repeating rifle, and immediately turned the weapon upon himself and sent a bullet into his chest.
     Mrs. Merritt was walking home with a woman neighbor, when her husband arose from a clump of bushes bu the side of the road, and with barely a word of warning shot her through the heart.  Death was instantaneous.
Merritt then shot himself. The theory is that the woman and Merritt were not actually man and wife, but had eloped, leaving other families, and that officers were after them.

The Atlanta Constitution published a brief account with a few additional details:

1900 Murder/suicide in Berrien County, GA

1900 Murder/suicide in Berrien County, GA

The Atlanta Constitution
September 23, 1900

SHOT WOMAN, THEN HIMSELF

Tragedy Near Ray’s Mill on Last Friday Afternoon.

Nashville, Ga., September 22. — (Special.) On Friday afternoon. near Ray’s Mill, a man named Merritt shot and killed a woman named Hutchinson and then shot himself, both dying side by side. It seems they had been living together for some time, and hearing that the sheriff had warrants for them both, he tried to get her to leave with him. She would not. He then went off for a week, then returned, ambushed and shot her. He then told Mrs. F. M. Shaw, with whom they worked that he was going to kill himself. She ran to tell Mr. Shaw, but before she reached the house the rifle fired, and when Mr. Shaw reached him he was dying.

Bryan Shaw, descendant of Rachel and F.M. Shaw, has researched this tragic episode and published an article on the subject, Witness to Murder,  in the Shaw family newsletter.

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Boys Lost in the Swamp

In 1906 two young men, William Franklin “Frank” Shaw and Ben Giddens, wandered into the South Georgia swamp. When it got late and the skies turned stormy the Shaw family, many of whom lived and worked in the Ray City vicinity, mobilized to search for the boys.  (Bryan Shaw, of the Berrien Historical Foundation, has written about his family history in the newsletter, Family of Francis Marion Shaw.)

The Valdosta Times
June 23, 1906

BOYS LOST IN THE SWAMP.

Cat Creek Lads Go Hunting and Failed to Return.

Frank Shaw and Ben Giddens Followed a Rabbit Into a Swamp and Were Unable to Find Their Way Out

Cat Creek, Ga., June 20 – Last Tuesday afternoon Frank Shaw, aged 15, son of Mr. B. F. Shaw, and Ben Giddens, another boy about the same age left their homes to go to the swamp nearby to gather huckleberries. The dogs that followed the boys treed a rabbit in the swamps, which is a bad place and the boys decided to go in the swamp and get the rabbit, when to their great surprise they found themselves lost.     The night was a dark and stormy one and the trees and limbs were falling in every direction.  The boy’s parents became alarmed by the boys failing to show up and they decided to go in search of them.     Messrs. B. F. Shaw and two sons, F. M. Shaw, Bobbie Taylor, John Shaw, W. B. Parrish, Frank Allen, J. S. Shaw, Brodie and Bruner Shaw, all went in search of the missing boys, some going in every direction.  The dogs that accompanied the boys did not come home, which brought great relief to the boy’s parents who realized that if the boys were either drowned or killed the dogs would have returned home.    The boys managed to find their way out of the swamps and got back to their homes about 11 o’clock, completely tired out.

Fortunately, on this day everyone returned safely to their homes.  Both Frank Shaw and Ben Giddens  would later call Ray City home. Frank Shaw, like many of the Shaw family children, attended school at King’s Chapel.

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Connie Moore and the Fargo Convict Camp

Convict labor and guards in South Georgia

Convict labor and guards in South Georgia

Connie J. Moore was born about 1881 in North Carolina. It appears that his father died while he was a young child, and his mother was remarried in 1885 to Charlie Fawcett, also of North Carolina.

Some time before 1900, perhaps as early as 1885,  Charlie Fawcett moved his family to Georgia. In the census of 1900 Connie and his mother, his step-father, and half-brother, Elijah Fawcett, were enumerated in Mud Creek, Clinch County, GA. Charlie Fawcett rented a farm there, and Connie assisted his step-father with the farm labor. Shortly after that, Connie J. Moore relocated with his family from Clinch County to Rays Mill, GA.

By 1903, Moore had given up farm labor and was working as a convict guard for the the Baxter & Company’s convict camp at Fargo, GA. The G. S. Baxter & Company sawmill at Fargo was the largest in Clinch County, and the State Prison System of Georgia had leased more than 1,000 convicts to the firm under the convict lease system.  It was at the Fargo Convict Camp where James Thomas Biggles, of Rays Mill, served his sentence for the murder of Madison Pearson.

The G. S. Baxter & Company sawmill was located at Fargo on the route of the Georgia, Southern, and Florida Railroad. The GS&F opened about 1900 and ran from Macon via Valdosta to Jacksonville, FL.

According to Folks Huxford’s History of Clinch County, GA:

The building of this road opened up a new section of the county hitherto undeveloped. Almost simultaneously with the completion of the road to Jacksonville, a big saw-mill was built by Eastern capitalists on the new road where it crosses the Suwannee River. The town which grew up here was named “Fargo.” The partners in this enterprise were George S. Baxter, E. P. Long and Walton Ferguson.

The town of Fargo was laid out on the banks of the Suwannee River, and is to-day one of the most flourishing towns in the county. It has several stores, a large hotel and other establishments. The mills which are owned by G. S. Baxter & Company, are about the largest in the county.

Around Christmas of 1903, Connie Moore planned to return to his home at Rays Mill but failed to arrive in Valdosta as expected. No trace of his wherabouts could be found. In early January 1904, Francis Marion Shaw and his step-son John Levi Allen, both of Rays Mill, went searching for the missing man, travelling to Fargo, GA and retracing the route back to Valdosta. Connie’s half-brother, Elijah Fawcett worked for John L. Allen, according to later records.

CONVICT GUARD MISSING

Family and Friends of Connie Moore Fear Young Man Has Been Murdered or Accidentally Killed. He Had Money with Him.

Valdosta, Ga. January 8. -(Special.)- The family and friends of Connie J. Moore, a young man whose home is near Hay’s Mill [sic], in Berrien County are greatly distressed over his mysterious disappearance, and fear that he has either met with a fatal accident or been murdered.

The young man was employed as a convict guard at Baxter & Company’s camp at Fargo, Ga., for several months, and wrote to his parents about December 20 that he expected to return home to spend Christmas, and requesting that they have a conveyance meet him in this city. The conveyance was sent on the day appointed, but the young man failed to meet it, and a prolonged search since then has failed to find any trace of his whereabouts. Enquiry at Fargo disclosed the fact that he disappeared from there about the date on which he wrote his parents he would start for home, but no clue was obtained of the direction which he went.

Young Moore is about 22 years old and unmarried. He is a young man of exemplary habits and greatly attached to his mother, communicating with her regularly up to the date of his disappearance. He informed his employers that he would return to his duties after the holidays, and as evidence of the fact that he expected to go back to Fargo left nearly a month’s wages uncollected. It is understood that he had a considerable sum of money when he left there.

F.M. Shaw and J.L. Allen, of Berrien county, were in the city today on their return from Fargo, where they had been in an effort to secure a trace of the missing man.

What ever became of Connie J. Moore is not known.  His Fawcett family continued to live in Ray City, GA through the 1930s.

Milledge Dewey Wood and the First Cotton Blooms of 1912

On June 25, 1912, The Valdosta Times reported on some of the first cotton blooms of the season. The growers were G. W. Carter, of Lois, and Milledge Dewey Wood, of Ray City, GA.

Valdosta Times
June 25, 1912

Messrs. G. W. Carter of the Lois District and M. D. Wood of Rays Mill, were  among the first to send in cotton blooms to the Herald.  They are among the enterprising farmers of the county, and have their crops in fine condition.  We appreciate the favor of these friends in keeping us posted on their farming operations.

Milledge Dewey Wood  was the father of George W. Wood and father-in-law of Creasy Brown Wood, subject of previous posts (see Creasy Brown Wood buried at Dupont, GA).

M. D. Wood was a son of Josiah Wood and Caroline Meeks. His gravemarker gives his birth date April 28, 1862, but from census records it appears that he was actually born in 1860.

At the time of his birth, his father, Josiah Wood, was farming in Macon County, GA near the town of Lanier. But with the outbreak of the Civil War, his father joined Company E of the 4th Georgia Cavalry.  Josiah Wood did not serve long in the Confederate States Army. Due to a disability he was discharged after just one year of service.

Some time before 1870, young Milledge moved with his family to Coffee County, GA, where his father farmed a small place valued at $200.

The 1880 census record for M. D. Wood has not been located, but in 1883 he married Nancy Caroline Rhoden. In 1900, the couple made their home in Dupont, GA where Milledge owned  farm free and clear of mortgage.

By 1910 the Nancy and M. D. Wood had moved their family to Georgia Militia District 1329, the Connells Mill district, near Ray City, GA. Wood rented a farm on the Rays Mill-Cat Creek road, next door to farms of  Lacy Lester Shaw and Francis Marion Shaw.

In 1920, Wood was farming a place outside of Ray City,  on the Nashville Road.  On the farm next door was Gideon Gaskins.

Children of Nancy Caroline Rhoden and Milledge Dewey Wood:

  1. George Washington Wood 1884 – 1960, married Creasy Brown
  2. Joseph Bryant Wood 1885 – 1969
  3. Ely Benjamin Wood 1888 – 1978
  4. Willie Westberry Wood (1889 – 1974) – worked for E.M. “Hun” Knight, and later Clements Sawmill
  5. Laura Wood 1891 – 1973
  6. John Rhoden Wood 1894 – 1996
  7. Celia Caroline Wood 1896 – 1988
  8. Lulu Wood 1899 – 1974
  9. James Oliver Wood 1901 – 1975
  10. Dewey Franklin Wood 1906 – 1988
  11. Eliza Bell Wood 1909-1910

Milledge Dewey Wood died October 31, 1932.  He was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery in Ray City, GA

Grave marker of Milledge Dewey Wood, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Grave marker of Milledge Dewey Wood, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

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Addie Hodges Hardie of Ray City, GA

Addie B. Hodges was born March 15, 1889 in Lowndes County, GA.  When she was a young woman, she moved with her family  to Hahira, GA.   Her father, Irvin “Plimp” Hodges, was one of the merchants in town. In the mercantile business he probably had contact with salesmen in the drygoods line; salesmen like Gordon Hardie. At any rate, Addie and Gordon became aquainted and, by and by, they were married.

Marriage Certificate of Gordon Vancie Hardie and Addie B. Hodges

 Gordon Vancie Hardie and Addie B. Hodges were wed on November 25, 1912 in Lowndes County, GA. Perry T. Knight, Minister of God and native of Ray’s Mill, GA  (nka Ray City), performed the ceremony.

It seems that by the time they married, Gordon had already moved to Ray City, where he had gone into business for himself. 

 The Hardies where part of the social scene in Berrrien county. Although the press didn’t get their name right in the society item below, it was just one of many errors:

Atlanta  Constitution, Feb 8, 1914, pg 8 M
Nashville (news items)

Rays Mill was well represented at the carnival last week. Misses Annie Mae Carter, Margie Dasher, Pearl Hardie Knight, Mr. and Mrs. G. V. Harvie, W. H. LuckieGeorge Norton, J. J.  and J. S. Clements and C.B . Shaw were among the visitors.

 

The year 1919 was a difficult one for the Hardies. That summer, they lost an infant boy. The babe was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

 Sometime after 1924 the Hardies purchased a big white house with a high roof, on the north side of Jones Street on the block between Ward street and Samuel Street.  The house was originally built about 1917 for Rachel and Francis Marion Shaw (See Francis Marion Shaw Historical Site by Brian Shaw).   The Hardies occupied the house for many years. They kept a big garden on the lot west of the house, on the corner of Ward and Jones Street.

Ray City, GA home built circa 1917 for Francis Marion and Rachel Horne Shaw was later the residence of Gordon V. Hardie and wife, Addie Hodges Hardie. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Gordon Vancie Hardie died March 27, 1937 at just 46 years old. He was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Gordon Vancie Hardie (1890-1937), Beaver Dam Cemeter, Ray City, GA

 In the 1950s, the widow Addie B. Hardie was a dear friend and neighbor to Lessie Guthrie Futch.  Lessie and Rossie Futch lived first in a small house next door to the Hardies on the east, then after 1951 directly across Jones Street, opposite the Hardie residence.  Addie Hardie was a frequent visitor to the Futch home.  Most afternoons, Mrs. Hardie would cross the street to visit with Lessie, and to have one of Lessie’s hot baked biscuits. When Lessie’s daughter happened to be visiting, she would do Mrs. Hardie’s hair.

Addie Hodges Hardie died October 9, 1972.  She was buried next to her husband at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Addie Hodges Hardie (1889-1972), Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

The Shaw/Hardie house on Jones Street was destroyed by fire in 1972, and the car shed seen in the background in the photo above was demolished in 2010. The lot where they stood is still vacant.  The Hardie’s big garden is now occupied by a modern brick house.

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