Reverend W. Harvey Wages

Reverend W. Harvey Wages

In the 1920s  Reverend W. Harvey Wages served as pastor of the Ray City Baptist Church.  He was tall and slender with blue eyes, an enthusiastic and talented young minister. Reverend Wages would go on to become a leading pastor of Georgia churches, a member of the State Baptist Executive Committee of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and chaplain of the Georgia House of Representatives.

W. Harvey Wages was born June 30, 1889 in Cedartown, Polk County, GA. Some time before 1907, the Wages came from Polk to Thomas County. On December 22, 1907, W. Harvey Wages married Eugenia Wilson  in Thomas County. She was born December 24, 1891.

By 1915 W. Harvey Wages had taken up the Baptist ministry in Thomas County, and in 1920 he was serving as pastor of the Baptist church in Pavo, GA. About 1921, Reverend Wages moved his family to Ray City, GA where he took over as pastor of the Ray City Baptist Church. Within a few months, he was also serving as pastor of the Milltown Baptist Church.

In October, 1922, Reverend Wages gave up the Ray City Baptist Church.

Atlanta Constitution
Oct 28, 1922 pg 6
Pastor Moves
    Milltown, Ga., October 26.-(Special.) – Rev. W. Harvey Wages, who resigned the pastorate of the Ray City Baptist church recently moved his  family here this week that he may be able more carefully to look after the Milltown church. Mr. Wages has been living in Ray City about a year, during which time he was pastor of the Baptist church there.  He has been pastor of the Baptist church in Milltown for several months. 

By 1923, Reverend Wages was also serving as pastor of the Stockton Baptist Church.  He continued to be quite active in many revivals throughout this section, as well as weddings, funerals, and other ceremonies. In 1923, Rev. Wages conducted a revival at Good Hope Baptist Church – Perry Thomas Knight had served as pastor of this church in 1909.

Atlanta Constitution
August 24, 1923 Pg 7


Milltown, Ga., August 23. — (special.)–The revival meeting season is still on in this section.
Rev. W. Harvey Wages, pastor of the local Baptist church, is conducting a revival meeting at Good Hope church in the southern part of Lanier county, near Naylor. Rev. Roy Powell, of Nashville, Ga., is the pastor of this church. The meeting began last Saturday and will go on through this week.



September 29, 1923

Many Weddings in Milltown.

Milltown, Ga., September 29. – Mrs. Lula Sutton has announced the marriage of her daughter, Berta Sutton to Charles Ennis Vizant, of Jacksonville, Fla., which occurred some days ago at the home of her cousin, O. M. Cameron, the ceremony being performed by Rev. E.D. McDaniel of Avondale Baptist church, Jacksonville. Mr. and Mrs. Vizant are at home to their friend at 1546 Roselle street, Jacksonville, Fla.

The many friends of Miss Mary Knight, who is well known in this state will be interested in the announcement by her father and mother, Rev. and Mrs. L. J. Knight, of Milltown, Ga., that Rev. Dr. A. R. Faralane, of Kansas City, Mo. and Miss Mary Knight, of Milltown, Ga., late of Independence, Mo. were married at Independence, Mo., Friday, September 7.

Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Pierce, of East Lanier, announce the marriage of their daughter, Miss Bell Pierce to George Hires, of near Waycross, the ceremony being performed by Rev. W. Harvey Wages, of Milltown. They are living near Waycross.

Miss Audrey Nicholson, the attractive young daughter of Mr. John Nicholson, of Ousley, Ga., was married Sunday afternoon to Will Williams, of near Morven. The ceremony was performed by Rev. A. L. Colson, near Valdosta, being witnessed bu a few intimate friends. The young couple will make their home near Morven, in Brooks county.


1928-harold wages

– In 1928, Reverend W. Harvey Wages suffered the loss of his 11-year-old son, Harold Wages. The boy was buried at the New Shiloh Baptist Church cemetery,

June 9, 1928

Harold Wages Buried Near Thomasville, GA.

Thomasville, Ga., June 9. – Funeral services were held yesterday at New Shiloh Baptist Church, six miles north of Thomasville on the highway to Moultrie, for Harold Wages, 11-year-old son of Rev. and Mrs. W. Harvey Wages, who died Wednesday in Lithonia, Ga. Interment was in the church cemetery at New Shiloh.

Rev. Mr. Wages and his family resided here for some years, removing four years ago to Lithonia, where Mr. Wages is pastor of one of the churches. They have a number of relatives and friends in Thomas county and young Harold, when his family lived here, was popular with a large connection and regarded as a boy of many attractive qualities and fine intelligence. His death was the result of blood poisoning contracted only a few days before he died.



Reverend W. Harvey Wages was active with the Masons, July 23, 1915.

July 23, 1915

Thomas County Masons Meet.

Thomasville, Ga., July 22. – (Special.) The Thomas county Masonic convention which met yesterday with the Coolidge lodge was greatly enjoyed by the large number of Masons in attendance from all of the various lodges throughout the county. The speech of welcome was made by the Rev. Harvey Wages, and other short talks were made by visitors from the different lodges.

The chief feature of the convention was the address of Congressman Frank Park, whose subject, “Masonry, Exposed,” was treated in an able manner.

After a big picnic dinner there was work during the afternoon in the various degrees.

Congressman Frank Park owned a large plantation in Worth County, and had been responsible for organizing the great Possum Banquet, with ‘taters and persimmon beer for President Taft in Atlanta in 1909.

Reverend W. Harvey Wages later served as pastor of Lynn Haven Baptist Church, Panama City, FL.  He died September 27, 1971.  He was buried at the Wilson Family Cemetery, Thomas County, Georgia, USA.  Eugenia Wilson Wages died  June 5, 1977 and was buried next to her husband.

Possums Wanted

An advertisement in The Thomasville Times-Enterprise, December 23, 1919, Thomasville, GA says something interesting about life in this region in the early 1900s.

We are in the market for live possums and
PAY 15c. A POUND for them
in any number

Live Possums Wanted.  The Thomasville Times-Enterprise, December 23, 1919.

Live Possums Wanted. The Thomasville Times-Enterprise, December 23, 1919.

According to numerous South Georgia newspaper accounts, possum hunting was very popular in the early 1900s, and possum was considered excellent fare for special occasions, entertaining guests, or even Christmas dinner.

In December of 1913, a “Possum Supper” was put on by the Mashburn Drug Company of Valdosta, for local doctors and drug company representatives. One attendee of the special event was Dr. A. L. Johnston of Valdosta, who also provided services for Ray City residents.

And the Valdosta Times declared when President-elect William Howard Taft visited Atlanta in 1909, “The great feature of the banquet [was] one hundred fat South Georgia possums, garnished with South Georgia potatoes.”

South Georgia possum was a feast for presidents. Valdosta Times, January 16, 1909.

South Georgia possum was a feast for presidents. Valdosta Times, January 16, 1909.

“Possum” dinner tendered to President-elect William Howard Taft by the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, January 15, 1909. Image source: Library of Congress,

From History of Worth county, Georgia: for the first eighty years, 1854-1934 comes the following information on what was perhaps the greatest possum dinner of all time.

(Worth County Local, Jan. 8th, 1909.)
The County of Worth has volunteered-nay, has asked the honor-of furnishing, free of charge, the one hundred fat ‘possums necessary for the great supper to be given President-elect Taft on the occasion of his visit to Atlanta, the aforementioned animals to be served in accordance with the expressed wish of his Honor.
The following telegrams speak for themselves:

“Sylvester, Ga., Jan. 2nd, 1909.-E. C. Caverly and Mr. Wilkerson, ‘Possum Committee, Atlanta: Worth County asks the honor of being allowed to furnish free to the ‘possum and ‘tater supper, the one hundred fat ‘possums required. Answer promptly, so we can unloose the ‘possum dogs.
“Frank Park.”

“Frank Park, Sylvester, Ga.: We accept with pleasure and gratitude your offer to furnish ‘possum and ‘taters. Unleash your discriminating ‘possum dogs.

“C. E. Caverly, chairman ‘Possum committee,” 

‘taters, ‘possums, and simmon beer.

“Atlanta. Jan 4th,-Not only has the committee been assured on the personal honor of Harry Fisher of Newnan, Judge Frank Park of Sylvester, and others, that all the ‘possums desired will be in attendance, even to the elimination of this product from the Georgia woods, but assurance came today from a lady admirer of Mr. Taft, that ‘simmon beer will not be lacking. She is now making first preparations for brewing a barrel of this exhilerating Georgia drink, for exclusive use of the Taft banquet. There’ll be no champagne or other liquid from foreign vineyard-the Georgia prohibition law forbids.”

“The deed is done! The suspense is over! The slaughter of the innocents is accomplished! The largest and most varied collection of ‘possums ever accumulated in the ‘possum state of the South, went to their fate Wednesday morning, not exactly like lambs led to the slaughter, because they were ‘possums ; and a ‘possum is not like anything else under the sun, except another ‘possum. Neither is there any other creature whose execution is along such utterly original and outlandish lines.

“No stately guillotine towers above the prospective victim-no dangling noose awaits his cringing neck-just a broom-stick and a colored gen’man.

“How the deed was done. The ‘possum, grasped firmly by his rat-like tail, is flopped with some enthusiasm, upon the ground chin down. Across the nape of his neck, is placed a broom-stick, upon either end of which the executioner places a number 11 foot (the number is important). Without delay (for the ‘possum does not take kindly to this procedure) the southern extremity of the animal is smartly elevated by means of that convenient handle, his tail, and-“snick !” It is all over. Another ‘possum has been gathered to his fathers in the great beyond, where perennial persimmon trees flourish, and there is no happy hunting ground.

“Such is the manner of his taking off by Levi Colbert, imported for the purpose from Worth County and retained at the Piedmont, as consulting cook, to assist in the post mortem preparation of a hundred ‘possums for the table of the great. With Levi came Annie Daniels and Mahala Bennett, all of them from the Worth County plantation of Judge Frank Park.

“Immediately after the execution, the ‘possums are plunged in boiling water to remove the hair, dressed and placed in a cold salt water bath for twelve hours, “to kill de animal taste, and bring out de ‘possum taste,” says Levi. Then they are parboiled ‘twel day is f’ree thirds done,” (some authority), after which they are baked with the time-honored sweet potatoes; being basted during this process, with a special sauce prepared after a formula newly invented by Signor John Blocoki, chief cook at the Piedmont Hotel.”

(Note:-“Possums and Taters” are a real resource of Worth County. They are most delicious when cooked together and are the finest in the fall and winter months, persimmon beer comes along with ‘possums and taters in the fall months. What better feast could any one ask?)

You can see more about Taft’s possum dinner at the Georgia On My Mind Blog .

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