Thomas Babington McCauley, Locomotive Engineer on the G&F

Thomas Babington McCauley, Locomotive Engineer on the Georgia and Florida Railroad.

The Georgia & Florida Railroad was Ray City, Georgia’s connection to the world.  In the 1920s, G&F trains stopped at Ray City several times a day, with freight and passenger service.  Ray City had its own train depot, and section houses for railroad employees and their families.   A big wooden water tower stood just south of Main Street on the east side of the tracks to provide water for the trains.

The G&F railroad chose Douglas, GA,  about 60 miles northward up the track from Ray City, as the location for its offices and railroad shops. The railroad employed many workers at Douglas, including the porters, conductors, brakemen, firemen, and engineers that ran the trains. Thomas Babington McCauley was one of those locomotive engineers.

Thomas Babington McCauley, Engineer on the Georgia & Florida Railroad

Thomas Babington McCauley (1878-1948), Engineer on the Georgia & Florida Railroad.


Thomas Babington McCauley, Sr., engineer for the Georgia & Florida Railroad

Thomas Babington McCauley, Sr., engineer for the Georgia & Florida Railroad

Thomas Babington McCauley was born on the 4th of July, 1878 in Wilkes County, GA and raised on his father’s farms in Wilkes and Taliferro counties. He was a son of Elijah H. McCauley and Elizabeth S. Beck. His father was a farmer and served as U.S. Postmaster at Robinson, GA.

Thomas B. McCauley’s father died in 1906.  In 1907 he married Carrie Mae Fouts.  McCauley and his brother-in-law, Furman Fouts, went to work as railroad engineers on the newly opened Georgia & Florida Railroad.  By 1910, they both moved to Douglas, GA where the G&F rail yard was located. Both the McCauleys and the Fouts rented houses  on Madison Avenue in Douglas, in a neighborhood full of railroad workers.

Georgia & Florida Engine No. 208 at Douglas. GA in 1948

Georgia & Florida Engine No. 208 photographed at Douglas, GA in 1948

Other locomotive engineers in Douglas, GA in 1910 were John Stewart, Pat Sellers, William C. McKinley, Hiram Handcock, Henry Handcock, John M. Chatman, Theodore Steinecke, John Rolison, Mitchell Drew, James P. Meade, Arthur Sikes, Thomas R. Sykes, Spencer H. Strickland Remer Brown, John C. Tucker, —- Fullerton, Riley B. Sweat, Thomas B. Folsom, William H. Edenfeld, Albert W. Johnson, Calvin Yawn, John E. Yawn.

Working at locomotive fireman were  Thomas Ford, Julius Burton, Ben Jackson, Will Mahorn, Jim Reeves, John Wesley, Thomas McLeod, William H. Dies, Dave Wilcox, Augustus Allen, Joe Button, Milton Thorn, Alvin Lee, Henry Jones and George Kings.

Watt Dishman, John English, George Williams, Jeff Caloway, Tom Thomas, Willie Johnson and Thomas Burel worked at brakeman.

The railroad conductors were John Coleman, Sam Barber, John Rowland, Charlie H. Vaugh, and John H. Renfroe, Jesse Kennedy, Lewis Odum, Earnest E Graybill, Hardee Slaughter, John F. Touchton, Roscoe G. Lufter, Willie B. Lee, Albert M. Barrett and Floyd Mainor.

Thomas Dumes and Fred Brown were railroad porters.

By 1920, Tom McCauley had moved his family some 40 miles up the track of the G&F to Vidalia, GA where he continued as a locomotive engineer for the railroad. The McCauleys rented a house in Vidalia on Church Street about two blocks from the train station.    “Vidalia was an important railroad hub…. With the addition of the Georgia and Florida Line in 1917, the city had five railroads running through it (tracks ran in seven different directions). In 1917, direct lines were available “in busy season” to Savannah, Macon, Augusta, and Florida’s cities, with 10 to 14 passenger trains scheduled daily. In addition, some 500 cars of freight were handled each day. Railroad structures included Union Station passenger depot, two freight depots, coal chute and water tank that supplied fuel and steam power for the many locomotives and a train car service turntable.


Vidalia's Union Station, built in 1912-13 at the junction of the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Railroad (right) and Seaboard Air Line Railway (left). Located at the far western edge of Railroad Avenue, facing the bisected block of Leader and Main streets, the brick passenger depot (Union Station) was a fish hook-shaped building dominated by its two-story corner tower with bellcast conical roof. It also featured a Ludowici tile roof, dormer windows, and wide overhanging eaves with brackets. The water tower, which was the tallest structure in the area for nearly forty years, stood almost directly in front of Union Station. The tank's swivelling hoses pivoted almost 360 degrees, enabling trains to be serviced from either side of the structure. East of Union Station along Railroad Avenue was the first freight depot. Image source:

Vidalia Union Station, built in 1912-13 at the junction of the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Railroad (right) and Seaboard Air Line Railway (left). Located at the far western edge of Railroad Avenue, facing the bisected block of Leader and Main streets, the brick passenger depot (Union Station) was a fish hook-shaped building dominated by its two-story corner tower with bellcast conical roof. It also featured a Ludowici tile roof, dormer windows, and wide overhanging eaves with brackets. The water tower, which was the tallest structure in the area for nearly forty years, stood almost directly in front of Union Station. The tank’s swivelling hoses pivoted almost 360 degrees, enabling trains to be serviced from either side of the structure. East of Union Station along Railroad Avenue was the first freight depot. Image source:


Railroad Engineer Thomas Babington McCauley and children, Harvey McCauley, Jeanette McCauley, Marion McCauley, and Thomas Jr., on a Georgia & Florida Railroad locomotive, probably photographed 1919 or early  1920.

Railroad Engineer Thomas Babington McCauley and children, Harvey McCauley, Jeanette McCauley, Marion McCauley, and Thomas Jr., on a Georgia & Florida Railroad locomotive, probably photographed 1919 or early  1920.

Sadly, Harvey McCauley died shortly after the above photograph was taken.

By 1922 Tom McCauley transferred again on the Georgia & Florida route, to Augusta, GA where he would remain the rest of his life.

On the afternoon of October 28, 1922, Tom McCauley and his fireman, Augustus Harvey Green, survived the derailment of their G&F locomotive.   The Atlanta Constitution briefly noted the wreck in the Sunday edition, October 29, 1922, with some minor errors in the reporting.

Atlanta Constitution reports engineer Tom McCauley is injured in train derailment on the Georgia & Florida Railroad.

Atlanta Constitution reports engineer Tom McCauley is injured in train derailment on the Georgia & Florida Railroad.

Atlanta Constitution
October 29, 1922

Engineer Hurt As Locomotive And Car Derail

Augusta, Ga., Oct 28. – (Special.) – Engineer T. B. McCauley, of Sandersville, was seriously injured when his engine and baggage car of Georgia and Florida passenger train No. 2, bound for Augusta, derailed two miles out of Mitchel this afternoon. Both of his feet were severely mashed and he received internal injuries. He was taken to the Sandersville hospital. The negro fireman, Harvey Green, of Augusta, was internally injured.

The G&F wreck was reported in more detail in the Constitution’s follow-up story on Monday, October 30, 1922

Atlanta Constitution reports 1922 train wreck on Georgia & Florida Railroad

Atlanta Constitution reports 1922 train wreck on Georgia & Florida Railroad

Atlanta Constitution
October 29, 1922

Hurt in Wreck, Engineer Better

McCauley Loses Five Toes When Passenger Locomotive Turns Over Near Mitchell, GA.

        Sandersville, Ga., October 29.- (Special.)- Engineer Tom McCauley, of Augusta, who was injured on the Georgia & Florida near Mitchell Saturday afternoon when his engine turned over, was reported out of danger at the sanitarium here Sunday night.
        McCauley was at the throttle of passenger train No. 2 from Tennille to Keysville, running half an hour late, one-half mile north of Mitchell, while running about 20 miles an hour going around a curve on a crossing, the pony truck jumped the track on an accumulation of sand. The driving wheels followed and the locomotive turned over almost squarely across the track.
        McCauley’s right foot was crushed, making it necessary for local surgeons to amputate five toes. He was also slightly scalded but not internally injured, as first reported. No passengers were injured. The negro fireman, Harvey Green, of Tennille, on of the oldest in service of this road, received a dislocated shoulder and severe bruises.
         The engine was literally demolished, the boiler being stripped clean with exception of wheels. The baggage car was derailed but did not turn over, and the first class coach remained on the rails. Several hundred people gathered at the scene of the wreck today to see the wrecker clean up the debris.
       Trains were able to pass at noon and normal traffic restored. The Georgia and Florida secured the C. & W. C. wrecker and its crew from Augusta, rather than delay waiting on their equipment at Douglas.


Thomas Babington McCauley and family. Tom Babington was a locomotive engineer for the Georgia & Florida Railroad. His right foot was maimed in a train derailment.

Thomas Babington McCauley and family. Tom Babington was a locomotive engineer for the Georgia & Florida Railroad. His right foot was maimed in a train derailment.


Georgia & Florida Railroad Card belonging to wife of retired railroad engineer Thomas Babington McCauley

Georgia & Florida Railroad Card belonging to wife of retired railroad engineer Thomas Babington McCauley


Carrie McCauley, wife of railroad engineer Tom McCauley

Carrie McCauley, wife of railroad engineer Tom McCauley

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Ray City, GA ~ Town is Smaller Now

A sign on the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Railroad indicates the town of Ray City, GA to passing trains. The trains no longer stop at Ray City, although the town once had a bustling depot.


Times Union

Ray City
The town is smaller now, but folks are coming back home

RAY CITY, Ga. – Before the turn of the century there were more than 27 businesses, five doctors, a pharmacy, corn mill, sawmill and several thousand people.

Ray City has changed.

The town now has a population of 725. What remains are a few stores and churches, the remnants of the corn mill – now a restaurant and fish camp – and Victory Soda Shop and General Store, where people meet to exchange news and gossip.

Billy Clements, owner of The Victory and long-time Ray City resident, said the closing of the sawmill and the Depression drove most of the people away, but old residents are “gradually creeping back.”

People come from all over to listen to John Guthrie play his guitar or just talk.
“I could talk all day about music, Guthrie said.

Guthrie teaches music to anyone who wants to learn, and musicians from all over the country meet in Ray City for jam sessions.

Lamar Booth, who runs the fish camp, points out that the Old Mill Pond draws a number of out-of-town fishermen during the summer. The lake is more than a mile wide but only 5 to 7 feet deep.

Booth’s mother, Mrs. Ann Campbell, owns a cafe, which is the main attraction at the pond. People say she serves the best fish dinners in the area.

The original post office and general store were at the lake during the late 1800s, and the corn mill (it opened in 1863) was once the heart of Ray City’s economy.

The town limits form a one-mile circle, located on Highway 37, 15 miles east of Adel between Nashville and Valdosta.

Farming is the main occupation in Ray City now, though many of the town’s people travel to Valdosta, Adel, Lakeland and Nashville for work, according to Mrs. Don Wilson, the town clerk said. Many residents also own or work in local businesses, she said.

Clements said there is not much for people to do after work except hunt or fish and many young people go to other places for entertainment.

He said he likes it there, because “people care for each other and pitch in and help each other when they need it, like a big family.”

William H. Griffin, Wiregrass Jurist

William Hamilton Griffin (1853-1917)

William Hamilton Griffin was born in that part of Lowndes County, GA which was cut into Berrien County in 1856. He became a prominent public administrator and jurist of Wiregrass Georgia, and was involved in some of the most dramatic legal contests in Ray City history.

William H. Griffin

William H. Griffin

William Hamilton Griffin  was born July 18, 1853, on his father’s plantation, located in that portion of Lowndes county which is now included in Berrien county, GA. His honored parents, William D.and Nancy (Belote) Griffin, were also natives of Lowndes county.”

He was a cousin of Bessie Griffin, and Lester Griffin of the Connells Mill district (Georgia Militia District 1329), just west of  the Rays Mill community  (now Ray City, GA),

“The father, William D. Griffin, aided in effecting the organization of Berrien county and was its second treasurer, which office he held continuously until his death, in 1892, except one term, during the so-called -“Reconstruction” period, immediately succeeding the Civil War, when nearly all white voters were, under Federal statutes, practically disfranchised. The father was a soldier in the Confederate service during the latter part of the war and was with Johnston’s forces in the operations of the Atlanta Campaign.”

The paternal grandfather represented Brooks county in the state legislature, though his residence was on land now in Lowndes county. The great-grandfather, James Griffin, was a private soldier in the Revolutionary War.  James Griffin and Sarah Lodge Griffin were early settlers of Irwin County, GA.

William H. Griffin, the subject of this sketch, was afforded only the advantages of the common schools of his native county, the family fortunes, in common with those of most southern families, having been seriously affected by the war. He was educated in the public schools and academies at Nashville, GA. He soon developed traits of leadership and at twenty was elected clerk of the court for Berrien County, an office he held in 1874-5. From 1882 to 1885 he held of the office of Ordinary of Berrien County. While in this office he studied law, and in 1884 he was admitted to the Georgia bar. He at once began the practice of his profession at Nashville, but in 1885 he removed to Valdosta, GA.  There he formed a law partnership with Judge Benjamin F. Whittington, as Whittington & Griffin, this relation continuing for several years.

He was elected mayor of Valdosta in 1892, and served three consecutive terms. Governor William Yates Atkinson appointed him judge of the city court of Valdosta in 1897, for a term of four years, at the expiration of which he was reappointed for a like term, by Governor Allen D. Candler, and continued on the bench until 1905. During his eight years of service he tried 1,358 civil cases and 2008  criminal cases, a total of 3,866. His decisions were carried to the supreme court but 18 times and were reversed in only two cases.

In politics Judge Griffin was a Democrat, having always given that party his unqualified support. He served as mayor of Valdosta, judge of the city court, representative in the state legislature from Lowndes County, Chair of the Democratic Executive Committee of Lowndes County, and as referee in bankruptcy. His elevations to public office were a tribute to his worth and to the respect with which he was held by the community.

He was a member of the local lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and held membership in various bar associations. His chief recreations were fishing and hunting.

William H. Griffin was twice married — first, on May 18, 1879, to Margaret “Maggie” MacDonald, daughter of Dougal P. and Anna (Peeples) MacDonald, of Nashville, Berrien county. Maggie McDonald was born in 1864. Her father was listed on the 1860 roster of Levi J. Knight’s Berrien Minute Men, but he was also enumerated in Berrien County on the 1864  Census for Re-Organizing the Georgia Militia. Maggie was apparently raised by Dr. Hamilton M. Talley, as she appears in his household in Berrien County in the census of 1870. She died in 1890.

William H. Griffin was second married to Miss Carrie Abbott, of Randolph, VT, September 28, 1892. He had two children of the latter marriage—William Abbott Griffin, born in 1896, and Margaret Griffin, born in 1902. William and Carrie Griffin were members of the Methodist Episcopal church South.

William H. Griffin served as attorney for the estate of prominent Rays Mill turpentine man Robert S. Thigpen, engineering some of the largest property deals in Ray City history in the disposal of the Thigpen estate.  Thigpen’s holdings at the time of his death in 1898 included his turpentine plants and naval stores stock at Rays Mill, Naylor and Lenox, GA.

In 1899, William H. Griffin represented James Thomas Beagles, defending him for the Killing of Madison G. Pearson at Henry Harrison Knight’s store at Rays Mill (now Ray City),GA some 12 years earlier. The Beagles case was tried before Judge Augustin H. Hansell. Attorney Griffin made a most eloquent and affecting appeal in behalf of his client, Beagles, for a light sentence, and every one in the court room was moved by his strong and well-chosen words. Beagles was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to only two years incarceration.

In 1906, after his retirement from the bench Judge Griffin entered into a partnership with Hon. Elisha Peck Smith Denmark, and formed the law firm, Denmark & Griffin. E.P.S. Denmark was the husband of Mary Lane, daughter of Remer Young Lane, a Valdosta banker and one of the largest land owners in all of Lowndes County.  Of Judge Griffin, it was said that “He enjoyed the confidence, esteem and patronage of the most prominent and important people and business interests of Lowndes and adjoining counties.”

In the matter of Green Bullard’s estate, William H. Griffin was retained by William B. Shaw to represent the interests of his wife, Fannie Bullard ShawGreen Bullard was a long time resident of the Rays Mill (now Ray City) area, and  owned land out Possum Creek Road and on toward the community of Cat Creek. The Shaws wanted the estate to be administered by Fannies’ brother, Henry Needham Bullard, rather than her half-brother, William Malachi Jones.   The other side of the family was represented  by Buie & Knight in the dispute. Mallie Jones was the son of Mary Ann Knight Bullard by her first husband, William A. Jones.

Judge Griffin’s name was synonymous with integrity. He “walked uprightly, worked righteousness, and spoke the truth in his heart.” He exemplified the best ideals of the profession. He was generous-spirited, and gave liberally of praise and commendation where he thought it due.  When the first train to roll through Ray City on the Georgia & Florida Railroad arrived at Valdosta, it was Judge W. H. Griffin that gave the welcome address at the celebration.

His death occurred at his home in Valdosta, April 15, 1917, and the throng of people, including many lawyers from other counties, who attended his funeral attested strongly the esteem and love there was for him in the hearts
of those who knew him.

Obituary of William Hamilton Griffin

Obituary of William Hamilton Griffin

Post-Search Light
Apr. 19, 1917

Judge Griffin Died Sunday

Prominent Valdosta Jurist Passed Suddenly Away From Heart Trouble – Well Known Here.

    The following account appearing under a Valdosta date line in the daily press Monday will be interest to Bainbridge friends of the deceased.
     Judge Griffin was well known here, and was related to Representative E. H. Griffin, of this city.
    “Judge William H. Griffin, one of Valdosta’s prominent men and a leading south Georgia lawyer, succumbed to attack of heart failure this afternoon at 1:45 o’clock after less than an hour’s illness.  He was alone at his home when the attack came on him, members of his family being at church.  Mrs. Griffin returned home soon after he was stricken and a physician reached his side in a few minutes but was powerless to relieve his patient.
    “Judge Griffin was sixty-four years of age, an active south Georgian, and for forty years a citizen of Valdosta. He was a member of the law firm of Denmark & Griffin, and controlled a large and lucrative practice.  He was a member of the two last general assemblies of Georgia and exerted a strong but conservative influence in that body.  He had been judge of the city court of Valdosta, mayor of the city, member of the school board and active in the public life of this city and section, which loses one of its best citizens in his death.
     “Judge Griffin is survived by his wife and two children, a son, Mr. Abbot Griffin, and daughter, Miss Margaret.
   “His son was in Macon, where an announcement of his father’s death reached him.
    “Judge Griffin’s funeral and interment will take place here probably on Monday.”

Grave of William Hamilton Griffin, Sunset Hill Cemetery

Grave of William Hamilton Griffin, Sunset Hill Cemetery. Image source: Robert Strickland.

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Bright Tobacco Brings Jobs During Depression

Berrien County, GA tobacco crop, circa 1920s-30s. Image detail courtesy of

Berrien County, GA tobacco crop, circa 1920s-30s. Image detail courtesy of

Following the Stock Market Crash of 1929,  Ray City and Berrien County residents looked to agriculture as their economic lifeline .  Then, as today, the area economy was primarily driven by agriculture.  During the Great Depression, agriculture and particularly tobacco production were even more critical in providing jobs for Berrien county.

 “Berrien county is rated as the best tobacco county in the state, and the Ray City section plays a big part in furnishing a good grade of tobacco to make this possible. ”  -1929, Nashville Herald

But before the 1900’s,  tobacco was not at all significant in the farming and agriculture of Ray City, or the region. In the early days of Ray City,  tobacco was really not considered a market crop in Georgia.   The 1876, Handbook of the state of Georgia reported:

Tobacco of very fine quality is grown in any portion of the State, where proper attention is given to it, but it is not extensively cultivated for market, though many farms produce a home supply.

In 1890 the land devoted to tobacco cultivation in Georgia still amounted to only 800 acres, which produced 263,752 pounds, or  about 330 pounds per acre.   The Milledgeville Recorder crop report for the month of June 1892 reflected the general poor condition for tobacco farmers during the drought of that year.

Crop Report Item
Milledgeville Union Recorder, Jul. 5, 1892

Berrien — Weather for experiment in tobacco unfavorable. Where a stand has been secured it is doing well.  About 200 acres planted in this section.

The state publication Georgia: Historical and Industrial reported in 1901 that tobacco was still an experimental crop in Georgia.

     Tobacco has never been a staple crop of Georgia. Yet it can be grown with great success. Many farmers have cultivated it for their own use, and some have made a good profit by its cultivation and sale. Improved facilities for harvesting, curing and marketing it will greatly increase its production. The type of tobacco depends upon climate and soil. Rich lands give one type of tobacco, while other lands, almost useless for cereal crops, yield a tobacco very valuable for color and flavor. Of course the culture and curing of the plant have great influence on the quality. The plant is first raised in seed beds and when large enough transplanted like cabbage and tomato plants. The land used for the crop must be well plowed and harrowed. Before setting out the plants, the land must be marked three feet or more apart each way, and hills or ridges must be made at the intersection of the marks, and in these intersections the plants are set out as soon as warm weather is assured.
     A German farmer in Dodge county who tried tobacco-raising reported that he raised on one-twentieth of an acre 160 pounds of Sumatra leaf tobacco. He was offered $80.00 for the crop, which would be at the rate of $1,600 to the acre. In Decatur county, about eight miles from Bainbridge, is a tobacco farm of 600 acres, which yields the famous Sumatra tobacco of the finest grade.

Tobacco emerged as an economically significant Georgia crop in the early 1900s.  This was partly due to  the arrival of  the boll weevil in 1915 and the subsequent decimation of cotton cultivation.   With the decline in the profitability of cotton,  Georgia farmers  turned to tobacco as a cash crop.

The Aug 19, 1924 edition of the Atlanta Constitution noted the success of Ray City tobacco grower W. M. Creech:

 Valdosta Sells 135, 000 Pounds.

Valdosta Ga., August 18. – A total of 135,000 pounds of tobacco was sold on the local market today bringing an average price  of slightly over 23 cents. W.M. Creech, a grower living near Ray City, sold several lots of quality tobacco aggregating about 10,000 pounds. Prices ranged from 30 cents to 40 cents per pound, averaging about 33 cents and netting him a little less than $3,000.

By 1929 Georgia was producing almost 87 million pounds of Bright tobacco a year.  To a large extent, life in Berrien county was centered around tobacco farming and agriculture in general.  The opening of the tobacco market, the ginning of the cotton crop, truck farming, lumber milling, and production of naval stores were important annual events that bought employment to local men and out-of-town cash to the local economy.

 Atlanta Constitution, Jul 16, 1933


NASHVILLE, Ga., July 15. -(AP) With the opening of the Nashville tobacco market set for Tuesday, August 1, local business and general activities have taken on new life. Hundreds of thousands of dollars will be paid to growers, who likewise will part with it to local businesses.
    Nashville again will operate three large warehouses with two sets of buyers sent here from the most important companies. Besides regular buyers, a large group of independents are expected on the market, as indications point to an improvement in this year’s weed prices.
    All Nashville warehousemen have arrived on the scene to canvas the territory and assist growers in preparing their crop for market.
    The weed crop in Berrien county is extremely fine this year, warehousemen terming it the best in the past several years. Growers are about half through curing the crop, which is expected to be completed shortly following the market opening.  Berrien county’s crop is almost three times as large as last season and by far better in quality than in 1932.
    Nashville, one of the larger markets of the state and centrally located, expects to market around 8,000,000 pounds of the golden weed.
    It is estimated that the south Georgia tobacco crop will place on the floors between  55,000,000 and 60,000,000 pounds.
The opening of the season will mean that many men who have been out of employment will secure jobs.  These workers are usually paid from $1.50 to $2.50 a day.  Hundreds will be used on the floors for handling the weed and others in offices.
   Following the tobacco season the cotton crop will be a source of  further  revenue. Gins here and at Ray City and Alapaha are now preparing for the season and expect long and profitable runs.
  A 25,000-feet per day capacity sawmill is being constructed at Weber, on the Georgia & Florida railroad five miles from Nashville.  Approximately 60 men will be used on the job and paid good wages. It will require five years to saw the tract.
    The T.J. Lowe’s Son & Co. planing mill is now operating on full time with about 25 men employed.  This firm has been running on part time for the past six months, but improvement in local building and trade warranted a longer schedule of operation.
    The watermelon crop this season brought growers some needed money , as well as the bean and cantaloupe crops in the Enigma and Alapaha sections of the county.
    Naval stores operators in this county have taken on new life, due to improvement in the turpentine spirits and rosin prices.


Tobacco Warehouse in Nashville, GA circa 1967, believed to be Planter's Warehouse. The building was torn down in 2010.

Tobacco Warehouse in Nashville, GA circa 1967, believed to be Planter’s Warehouse. The building was torn down in 2010. Image courtesy of

Ferris Moore ~ Ray City Iceman

Ferris Moore (1906-1978)

Born Feb 17, 1906, Ferris Moore was the son of Hattie and J. Lacy Moore, and the grandson of Rachel J. Shaw and James Burton Moore.

About 1929  Ferris C. Moore married Bertice Vickers. The couple first made their home not far from Ray City in Lois, GA  where Ferris worked as a farmer.  Later, they moved to Ray City to live next door to Ferris’ father.  Their house was on the south side of Main Street and just east of Cat Creek.

Home of Ferris and Bertice Moore. Ray City, GA.

Home of Ferris and Bertice Moore. Ray City, GA.

In Ray City, Ferris Moore worked as an iceman. He delivered ice to local residences every other day.  He had an icehouse located on Paralleled Street, next to the tracks of Georgia & Florida Railroad.  The icehouse was a small shed, perhaps 10 by 10 feet. There was a small porch that served as a loading dock.

The  ice came from an ice plant in 300 pound blocks, and the iceman used an ice pick to cut what ever size blocks were needed. An eight pound block of ice sold for a nickel. The ice delivery man worked alone, with the ice loaded on an open truck and covered with a tarp.  Most people had an “ice box”  that served as a refrigerator of sorts,  and an eight  pound block of ice would last just about two days.

The 1940 census of Ray City shows Ferris Moore was a businessman and employer, managing a cold storage facility.  His father, James Lacy Moore was working as an ice dealer.

At times, Ferris Moore took handyman jobs in Ray City.  In 1951, when Rossie and Lessie Futch moved the home  at 507 Jones Street, Ferris Moore helped to paint the interior.

Ferris Moore died July 1, 1978 in Ray City, GA.  He was buried at New Ramah Cemetery.

Ferris G. Moore and Bertice Vickers Moore, New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia

Ferris G. Moore and Bertice Vickers Moore, New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia

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Automotive Entrepreneurs in Ray City, GA

Cars began appearing in Ray City and Berrien County, Georgia for the first time in the early 1900’s.  Dr. H. W. Clements was one of the earliest car owners in Berrien County.  With increasing  automobile traffic, Ray City residents were soon turning to businesses that catered to this new locomotion.

Woco Pep was a gasoline brand featured at Fletch and Mac's Garage at Ray City in the 1940s

Woco Pep was a gasoline brand featured at Fletch and Mac’s Garage at Ray City in the 1940s

On June 5, 1917 when registering for the draft for WWI (WWI: Ray City Goes to WarGordon Vancie Hardie was living and working in Ray City, GA.  At that time he listed his occupation as a self-employed “Automobile Repairer”.   In 1920 he and his wife, Addie B. Hardy were living in a house on Jones Street in Ray City, Georgia.  By that time Gordon had expanded his trades. He was the proprietor of a “beef market” which he operated on his own account.  The Gordon meat market was one of two butcher shops among the historic businesses of Ray City appearing in the Census of 1920.

But other Ray City residents were quickly taking up the automotive service trade. Another going concern in 1917 was that of Sutton & Gaskins. Henry C. Sutton was one of the proprietors and also a mechanic; Barney Gordon Shaw was also employed as an automobile mechanic. Harvey Norvell Terry, son of merchant W.H.E. Terry, was also a mechanic. Jessie Everett Anderson was another young man running a garage in Ray City around that time. In the 1920 census Machiel Gallagher, son of Frank Gallagher, gave his occupation as a wage laborer in an automobile shop. Theodore Hinley, son of J.F. Hineley,  worked on his own account as an automobile driver.   Thad L. Lindsey, who resided with his uncle Jasper Nobles in a house on Jones Street,  was the proprietor of a garage. The garage was probably a good complement to his uncle’s livery business.  In fact, automotive service stations of that period were sometimes referred to as the “auto livery.”

Charles A. Cole was the proprietor of another garage in town.  His father, Jasper Cole, was a blacksmith. There was good sense in this business relationship; as cars became more popular, many blacksmiths became automobile mechanics.  The April 1913 issue of  American blacksmith and motor shop, Volume 13 included articles such as “Welding Automobile Springs” and “Three Emergency Automobile Repairs”, as well as “A Scientific Horseshoe.”

By 1925 Gordon V. Hardie had returned to the automotive service industry. He built the first gasoline station in Ray City, GA, a brick building which stood on the south side of Main Street just east of the tracks of the Georgia & Florida railroad and  southeast of the corner of  Main and Paralleled Streets.These automotive entrepreneurs were just a few of the Ray City businesses operating in the town’s boom period of the 1920’s.

By 1930 the Hardie Filling Station had competition in the service station business.  Moses L. Giddens was a garage and station owner, and  Carl F. Murry was  employed at a filling station.  Charlie J. Shaw was a self-employed automobile mechanic.  In the 1930s, the South Georgia Oil Company,  a gas and diesel dealership based out of Tifton, GA, had a location at Ray City.  Among other automotive business firms operated in Ray City in the 1930s were Ray City Service Station, Norton Service Station, Ray City Motor Company,  Colonial Oil Company,  Highway Service Station,  Standard Oil Station,  Shaw’s Garage,  and Swain Garage.   Wilbur Aultman owned a filling station and lunch stand that was destroyed by fire in 1937.

The census of 1940 shows  Levi J. Futch, Arthur A. Carlson, Willie Wright Ware, and J. B. McSwain all were working as  automobile mechanics.  Herman B. Guthrie was a gasoline station operator, and George Emory Swindle, a son of L.C. Swindle, was an automobile salesman.

In 1945, J. B. “Mac” McSwain went into partnership with D.L. Fletcher to open Fletch and Mac’s Garage in Ray City, GA. Among the products featured at the new service station were Woco Pep gasoline and Tiolene Motor Oil.

1949 Georgia Map, Standard Oil Company

1949 Georgia Map, Standard Oil Company, featured “Okefenokee Swamp Park, near Waycross, Georgia” on the cover.

Related posts:

Fletch and Mac’s Garage Opens at Ray City

Dr. H.W. Clements and the Doctor’s Roadster

1910 Train Wreck in Valdosta, GA

Manassah W. Henderson

Manassah Henderson of Ray’s  Mill, GA was injured in the 1910 train wreck in Valdosta.  Read additional accounts at

Atlanta Georgian and News, Jun. 29, 1910 — page 3

Two collide at Right Angle in
Valdosta Railroad


Thrown in Heap Against Sides
of Car — Cut by Flying Glass
and Otherwise

    Valdosta, GA. June 29 – Ten or twelve passengers were more or less seriously injured in a wreck which occurred in the railroad yard in this city shortly before 11 o’clock today. The rear coach on a Georgia and Florida railroad train was struck at right angle and hurled a distance of 50 feet by a locomotive of the Georgia Southern and Florida railroad at a crossing of the two roads.
The passengers in the coach were thrown in a huddle by the impact, nearly of them being cut by flying glass, while some of them sustained internal injuries.
Among those injured were;
Mrs. Daniels and daughter, of Valdosta.
Mrs. W. F. Martin, of Madison, Fla.
W.T. Staten,
J.W. West,
G.M. Boyd,
W. T. Lane, of Valdosta,
W.M. Henderson, of Rays Mill, Ga.
It is not known yet whether the injuries of any of them will prove fatal.
The wreck appears to have been the fault of the Georgia Southern and Florida engineer.

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Ray’s Mill has Arrived

In March, 1909, Eugene Ray filed a newspaper article with the date line ” Rays Mill, Ga., March 9. — (Special)”.

“To colonies of people, south Georgia offers special inducements. While it is true that there are in every county and in almost every district small tracts of land for sale, and while it is true that there are in every town men, enterprising and patriotic, who will divide up their real estate holdings to suit the purchaser, yet there are tracts of thousands of acres owned by the wealthy sawmill man, who, having cut the timber off his land, desires no to dispose of it to the farmer and dispose of it in a body. Selling it that way, he would sell it cheaper. I mention these facts in answer to inquiries received by mail.”

“But there is land suitable for every class…”

“Rays Mill, a very new town on the Georgia and Florida Railroad, ten miles south of Nashville, is in this section, and is proud of its location. Less than six months ago there was no town and no sign of it. Today there are at least a half a dozen new store houses completed or being built, and probably twenty-five new residence buildings completed or planned, to say nothing of a half a hundred new cabins for the colored laborer. A two story hotel building is near completion and will soon be occupied. M.E Studstill has a new sawmill here and J.H. Crenshaw has another. Charles H. Anderson and Dr. Guy Selman are putting up a drug store. Mr. Anderson is postmaster and Dr. Selman practices his profession here. A.L. Bridges is another young merchant who will soon move his store to town. Louis Bullard is completing a two story house. And so on — all in five months. The truth is, Rays Mill, the town, has just about ‘arrived,’ or will soon.”


Related Posts:


William F. Luckie ~ Luckie Lumber Mill

A business which contributed much to the new town of Ray City, GA was the Luckie Lumber Company.  It was a huge operation run by William F. Luckie and located about 1 mile north of town on the Georgia & Florida rail line.

Luckie sold the sawmill operation to the Clements Brothers some time around 1911.

Mr. Luckie was on the social scene in Berrien county:

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. Luckie,  George Norton, J. I.  and J. S. Clements and C.B . Shaw were among the visitors.

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1922 Ray City Bus Service was Competition for the G & F

By 1922, busses  were providing passenger service in Ray City and south Georgia, and giving the railroads real competition for the service.   The 1922 Bus Transportation book reported the following:

Buses Get all Passengers.—Because it claims the buses operating out of Valdosta, Ray City and Douglas are absorbing all the passenger business, the Georgia & Florida Railroad has petitioned the Georgia Railroad Commission to reduce its passenger service in and out of Valdosta and between Augusta and Tennille. The petition says that passenger trains 6 and 7 between Hazlehurst and Valdosta earned in January 31 and 32 cents respectively per train mile. A bus line, the petition says, operates from Swainsboro to Augusta, by way of Louisville and Wrens, and runs on a schedule just ahead of the passenger train schedule. Of late the bus has absorbed completely the passenger travel between Wrens and Augusta, and left practically none at the other points.

1922 Bus provides public transportation for Pennsylvania bus line.


Image above: From the preceding page of the same issue of Bus Transportation, a photo of a 1922 era bus.  The busses had to be rugged to take the ride on the rough early dirt roads of the day.  There were no paved roads serving Ray City until the 1940s.

By the late 1920s it was the Dixie Bus Line that was providing regularly scheduled passenger service to Ray City.

Nashville Herald. Jan 24, 1929. 





Leave for Ray City, Valdosta, Cly-

attville, Pinetta, Madison 7:40 a.m. 2:40 p.m. Connects at Valdosta for Lake City, Jacksonville, Tampa; at Madison for Greenville, Tallahassee, and Perry, for  Ray City, Lakeland 5:15 p.m.



Leaves for Alapaha, Ocilla, Fitzgerald, 9:40 a.m., 6:40 p.m. Morning coach connects at Alapaha for Tifton, Albany, at Fizgerald for Cordele, Atlanta, Rochelle, Hawkinsville, Abbeville, Eastman, Dublin,  Afternoon for Cordele, Atlanta.

Leave for Alapaha, Enigma, Brookfield, Tifton, 1:00 connects at Tifton for Fitzgerald, Sylvester, Albany, Moultrie, Thomasville, Cordele, Macon.

For further information call the Union Pharmacy, Bus Station.

Your patronage appreciated,

W.I. McCranie, Mgr.

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