Charles X Jones Was a Leading Spirit of Ray City

In a shady cemetery plot at New Bethel Church, about seven miles southwest of Ray City, GA, lies the grave of the town’s first elected mayor, Dr. Charles X. Jones.

Grave of Charles X. Jones (1870-1933), First Elected Mayor of Ray City, GA

Grave of Charles X. Jones (1870-1933), First Elected Mayor of Ray City, GA

Charles X. Jones was born in Carroll County, GA on September 15, 1870 (or 1869 according to his death certificate).    When Charles  was born  his father, Maj. William Dudley Jones, was 50 and his mother, Martha H. Word, was 45. His father was a farmer at Bowdon, GA and also served as county tax collector of Carroll County. His mother’s parents were John Bryson Word and Amelia Sparks.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, son of Major William Dudley Jones, in Carroll County, Georgia, on June 3, 1880.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, son of Major William Dudley Jones, in Carroll County, Georgia, on June 3, 1880.

Charles X. Jones grew up on his father’s farm near Bowdon, GA in the 1111th district of Carroll County.  Bowden was a progressive community and the site of Bowdon College, “Georgia’s fifth chartered institution of higher education and first coeducational institution. Bowdon was a frontier community of merchants and yeomen who nourished the growth of a school where earnest students of limited means bettered their lives and their communities…Graduates have carried the honor of the institution into our state and national capitals and throughout the world. From her halls have come educators, doctors, lawyers, journalists, judges, bankers, farmers, industrialists, governors, and senators.”  Charles X. Jones was admitted to Bowden College where he completed the full program of study and graduated on July 1, 1891.

Bowdon College, GA, photographed circa 1899. Charles X. Jones graduated from Bowdon College in 1891.

Bowdon College, GA, photographed circa 1899. Charles X. Jones graduated from Bowdon College in 1891.

Jones later attended the medical school in Augusta, GA now known as Georgia Regents University, and received his medical degree  in 1898.

Old Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA. Charles X. Jones graduated with a medical degree in 1898.

Old Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA. Charles X. Jones graduated with a medical degree in 1898.

After medical school, young Dr. Jones came to Berrien County,GA to the Ray’s Mill Community.  He boarded with James S. Swindle and Catherline “Candas” Swindle while establishing his practice.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, physician, in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia, on June 13, 1900.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, physician, in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia, on June 13, 1900.

In 1901, Dr. Jones married 17-year-old Effie J. Mclean; he was about 31 years of age. The marriage ceremony was performed in Berrien County, GA by Elder Aaron Anderson Knight, Primitive Baptist Minister of Ray City.  Elder Knight’s church at that time was New Ramah Church in Ray City, GA

Dr. Charles X. Jones married Effie J. McLean on December 3, 1901 in Berrien County, GA.

Dr. Charles X. Jones married Effie J. McLean on December 3, 1901 in Berrien County, GA.

In 1903, Charles X. Jones purchased a 4 acre tract of land from James S. Swindle along Card Creek, the outflow of Ray’s Millpond now known as Beaverdam Creek.  That same year Charles and Effie began their family with the birth of their first child, Sam Jones.

In the summer of 1905, word came from Bowdon, GA that Dr. Jones’ father had died of a stroke. The obituary was published in the Atlanta Constitution and other state papers.

Obituary of Major William Dudley Jones, died June 19, 1905.

Obituary of Major William Dudley Jones, died June 19, 1905. Atlanta Constitution, June 21, 1905.

Atlanta Constitution
June 21, 1905

Major W.D. Jones, Carrollton, Ga.

Major W. D. Jones, a very highly respected citizen of this county, who lived near Bowdon, died suddenly as a result of a stroke of paralysis yesterday. He was 90 years old. He was the father of the late Colonel J. W. Jones, of Bowdon, and of Dr. Charles X. Jones, near Valdosta.

In 1908, Charles X. Jones’ tract of land was platted into town lots in the newly incorporated town of Rays Mill, GA.  Charles and Effie built the first house in  the  town and became its first residents. This house was located on the lot that surrounds the present Methodist Church. The street which ran past the Jones residence was named Jones Street in the doctor’s honor. Redding D. Swindle was  appointed as the mayor until the first elections could be held, and Jones carried the election in the first casting of ballots for the government of the new town. Mary Etta Swindle, wife of R.D. Swindle won a contest to name the new town, proposing it be called Ray City, GA although the title of Rays Mill persisted for many years thereafter.

The Jones residence was the very first household enumerated in Rays Mill, GA in the census of 1910. Dr. Charles X. Jones was enumerated with a reported age of 39, wife Effie J. Jones (26), and their children Sam Jones (7), Fred Jones (5), Trixie Jones (3), and Charles X. Jones, Jr (1).

Census enumeration of Dr. Charles X. and family in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia, April 15, 1910.

Census enumeration of Dr. Charles X. and family in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia, April 15, 1910.

Dr. Jones was also a banker. When the Bank of Rays Mill was formed in 1911, Dr. Jones  was elected Vice President of the bank, and served on the Board of Directors along with B. P. Jones,  J. S. Swindle, J. H. Swindle, W. H. E. Terry, L. J. Clements and bank president Clarence L. Smith. Later, Charles X. Jones  and Clarence L. Smith served together on the board of directors of Southern Bank & Trust Co., formed 1913 in Valdosta, GA.  The Southern Bank & Trust Company closed its doors in 1918.

A legal notice in the January 6, 1912 edition of the Valdosta Times shows that Dr. Jones had acquired property at the community of Barretts, about five miles south of Ray City. The Dr.’s land apparently fronted on the public road then running from Ray City to Valdosta (now known as Barretts Road) and was bounded on the south by the property of T. J. Taylor.  The 1920 census places Dr. Jones on his farm  at Barretts, where he had relocated and continued his medical practice. This was in the 1307th Georgia Militia District, the Cat Creek District of Lowndes County, GA. In the census of 1920, Jones residence was enumerated by census taker Arthur Walton McDonald, brother of Lacy A. McDonald who was a mailman at Ray City.

1920 census enumeration of Dr. Charles X. Jones, Lowndes County, GA

1920 census enumeration of Dr. Charles X. Jones, Lowndes County, GA

By the time of the 1930 census, Charles X. Jones was about 60 years old and retired from medical practice. His farm place near Barretts, valued at $5000,  was owned free and clear of mortgage. Census record indicate Jones had become a merchant/operator of a dry goods store.  Also in Dr. Jones household were his  son, Charles X. Jones, Jr.,  daughter Trixie Jones Moore (widow of Carl L. Moore), and her children, Mattie Lou Moore and Helene Moore. Trixie Jones Moore, worked as a general merchandise clerk, while Charles X. Jones, Jr. helped with the farm work.

1930 census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, Lowndes County, GA. Now retired from medical practice, Jones operated a dry goods store and maintained his farm in the Barretts Community.

1930 census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, Lowndes County, GA. Now retired from medical practice, Jones operated a dry goods store and maintained his farm in the Barretts Community.

On August 3, 1933 Charles X. Jones suffered an attack of “apoplexy” – a venerable word for a stroke, a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), often associated with loss of consciousness and paralysis of various parts of the body.  Before the day was out he succumbed to death.

Charles X. Jones was a civic minded citizen and an important figure in the incorporation of the town of Ray’s Mill (now Ray City), GA.  He was said to be a leading spirit of the town.

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Showdown in Allapaha

In previous posts Phil Ray, a descendant of Hiram Ray of Berrien County, has shared his research on the land deals and connections between the Ray and Bailey families that ultimately ended in death (see Burrell Hamilton Bailey Sells Out in 10th, The State vs Burrell Hamilton Bailey).

Here is the story  of  how Bradford Ray was gunned down by Burrell Hamilton Bailey on the streets of Alapaha, GA in 1873.

Bradford Ray was the son of  Hiram Ray and the husband of Martha J. Swan.  In 1872,  Bradford’s father, Hiram swapped his place near Cat Creek with Berrien county farmer Burrell Hamilton Bailey for another farm in the 1307 Georgia Militia District, Lowndes County.   When Hiram Ray moved his family to their new place, son Bradford Ray remained behind to work for Bailey as a tenant farmer. But in the summer of 1873 a dispute arose between Burrell Bailey and Bradford Ray over some family matter. On the 23 of June, 1873, while the two men were in the community of Alapaha, GA  the argument turned violent; Bailey shot Ray in the stomach. Bradford Ray lingered with the wound for two weeks before it proved fatal. Burrell H. Bailey was indicted for murder.

Albany News, July 4, 1873. Burrell Hamilton Bailey shoots Bradford Ray.

Albany News, July 4, 1873. Burrell Hamilton Bailey shoots Bradford Ray.

Albany News
July 4, 1873

Pistol Fighting at Allapaha.

ELEVEN SHOTS EXCHANGED
ONE MAN MORTALLY WOUNDED.

Allapaha, Ga., July 1st, 1873.
Editors Albany News: – Quite a serious difficulty occurred at this place (Allapaha, Berrien county,) on Saturday, 21st June, between Bradford Ray and Bill Bailey.  The following are the particulars:
   Some two or three months ago, threats were passed between Ray and Baily, in regard to some family matters, which were carried into effect at this place, as the following will show:
     The meeting of the parties here, I am informed, was a premeditated arrangement. – Soon after their arrival in town, Baily got considerably under the influence of liquor, and fuel was added to the already kindled flame – the long pent-up passions were soon to leap beyond their bounds.  But through the influence of friends, they were kept apart. Baily, with pistol in hand, walked away, telling Ray (who was then making desperate efforts to follow him) not to follow him, if he did that he would hurt him.  After Baily got away all became quiet, until about four o’clock in the evening, when the parties met again in front of Mr. Dormind’s store, where the fatal difficulty was renewed, with the addition of another party, James Brogden, who was very drunk.  Had it not been for Brogden, I am confident that the affair would have passed off without the loss of life.  He approached Ray with abusive language, which caused several blows to be passed between them.  Seeing that Brogden, who was very drunk, was getting the worst of it, he was parted from Ray several times, but could not be controlled.  While this was going on, words were passing between Ray and Baily, who were in ten feet of each other, and as they were about to get together, Daniel Turner came up and tried to quiet the fuss; but by this time the row became general.  Ray had his knife drawn, and Baily his pistol. – Baily told Ray that “if he approached him, he would shoot him.”  Daniel Turner spoke and said: (I did not learn what he said only from Baily after the fight was over)  “If you shoot Ray I will shoot you!”  As soon as these words were spoken, Baily fired at Ray – the ball entering the stomach – then turned upon Turner, fired the second shot, which was immediately returned.  Baily then fired the third shot at Ray, inflicting a painful wound in his left hip.  Ray was at this time retiring from the scene of action.  The balance of the shooting passed between Turner and Ray – fortunately neither was hit.
     The pistols being emptied, all became quiet, and attention was turned to Ray, who was considered mortally wounded.  Baily was arrested by a Bailiff and turned over to Sheriff Mathews, (who was absent from town at the time of the difficulty) and held in custody until Monday morning, when he gave bond;  but as Ray daily grew worse, Baily’s bondsmen became uneasy, and on Friday, 27th, he was lodged in Nashville jail to await his trial at the August Term of the Superior Court, for the murder of a fellow-being.
    Ray lived until Sunday morning, 1 o’clock, 29th ult., when the spirit of the unfortunate man passed away.  Thus were the hearts of two families made to mourn over an irreparable loss.

ALLAPAHA.

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The Ray’s Mill District

Georgia Militia Districts

Many census records, land records, genealogies and histories refer to historical locations in terms of militia districts. The districts defined areas of military and civil authority. Each district provided for the leadership and organization of a militia company, and also for one Notary Public and one Justice of the Peace.  An examination of the history and function of Georgia Militia Districts is provided by the Georgia Bar Journal.

Historically, the  counties of Georgia were divided into Georgia Militia Districts (GMD) for the purpose of organizing local militia companies to defend against Indian raids or other threats. With the formation of new counties in Wiregrass Georgia, new Militia Districts were organized as required by law.  Every able-bodied man between the ages of 15 and 50 who lived within the district was required to serve in the militia, and the company of men in each district elected a captain by whose name the district and company was known, e.g. Captain Knight’s District.  Although since 1804, all militia districts in Georgia were assigned a number, the practice of referring to the districts by the captain’s name persisted for quite some time. 

Here is a detail of Georgia Militia Districts showing the Ray’s Mill District, which includes Ray City, GA, and the surrounding districts. Considering the shape of the 1144th district, it is easy to understand why nearby citizens in the 1329 (Connell’s Mill), 1307 (Cat Creek), and 1300 districts considered themselves residents of Ray City.

Georgia Militia Districts, circa 1950

Georgia Militia Districts, circa 1950

Related information: