Notes on Sarah Malinda Clements

Sarah Malinda Clements (1862-1947)

Sarah Malinda Clements was born March 12, 1862 in Berrien County, GA. She was the youngest of 13 children born to David G. Clements and Gincey Sirmans.  She was a sister of Levi Jordan Clements, who was the patriarch of the Clements sawmill business at Ray City.

Sarah’s parents were pioneer settlers of the area. They were married in Lowndes County, GA on January 1, 1835.   Her father came with his parents to Lowndes County about 1832.  Her grandfather William Clements and William A. Knight had been neighbors in Wayne County, GA, and her aunt Anne Donald Clements had married Levi J. Knight in 1827. Her mother was  Gincey Sirmans, a daughter of Abner Sirmans and Bettie Kirkland. Abner Sirmans, his brothers, and father, Josiah Sirmans, were among the first permanent settlers of Clinch County, GA, having arrived there in 1822. Her aunt Elizabeth  “Betsy” Sirmans married Etheldred Dryden Newbern, another pioneer settler of Berrien County.

Sarah’s father and both of her grandfathers, fought under the command of their friend and neighbor Levi J. Knight in the Indian Wars of 1836-1838.  David G. Clements, William Clements and Abner Sirmans all served with Captain Knight’s Independent Company. David Clements was among those who took part in the Battle of Brushy Creek, one of the last real engagements with the Creek Indians in this region.

Soon after marriage, David G. Clements acquired lot of land 406, 10th district, on which he lived and farmed until his death. He was cut into Berrien out of Lowndes County, 1856. In Berrien County, the Clements home place was in the 1144th Georgia Militia District just north of Ray’s Mill (now Ray City), GA.

lot-470-471-maps-w-roads-ac

In 1854, Sarah’s sister, Elizabeth Clements, married William Gaskins. The Clements were neighbors of William Gaskins, son of Fisher Gaskins.   The Gaskins were another of the early pioneer families of Berrien County.  William Gaskins came to the area with his father and brothers, John Gaskins and Harmon Gaskins, with their large herds of cattle,  about the same time the Knights and Clements were homesteading in the area around Beaverdam Creek (site of present day Ray City, GA).

At the outset of the Civil War, Sarah’s father and brother, John C. Clements, answered the call of General Levi J. Knight to form a company of men for Confederate service; their names appear on an 1861 muster roll of the Berrien Minute Men.  John C. Clements served with Company K, 29th Georgia Regiment; David G. Clements later appears on the 1864 census of southern men who were excluded from the draft on account of age.

1870 census enumeration of 8-year old Sarah Clements in the household of her mother, Gincey Clements. https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu0135unit#page/n438/mode/1up

1870 census enumeration of 8-year old Sarah Clements in the household of her mother, Gincey Clements. https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu0135unit#page/n438/mode/1up

Sarah, born during the Civil War, grew up on her father’s farm during the Reconstruction period in Georgia.  She attended the local country schools and was educated through the 5th grade. It appears that she lived in her father’s home until his death in 1888.

Although  Sarah married twice, she was not lucky in love. She did not marry until the age of 36.

1880 census enumeration of Sarah Ann Clements in the household of her father, David G. Clements. https://archive.org/stream/10thcensusl0134unit#page/n379/mode/1up

1880 census enumeration of Sarah Ann Clements in the household of her father, David G. Clements. https://archive.org/stream/10thcensusl0134unit#page/n379/mode/1up

In the Census of 1880, 18-year-old Sarah Ann Clements was enumerated by Census taker Lacy Elias Lastinger in her father’s household. Also present was Sarah’s older sister Mary Ann, to whom she was devoted for life, and their siblings.  Next door were Sarah’s sister, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Clements, and her husband William Gaskins. Also neighbors were William’s niece Mary Evelyn Gaskins and her husband George W. Fender.

On October 26, 1898 Sarah married William J. “Bill Jack” Knight.  He was born in 1860, but otherwise little is known of his history. The ceremony was performed by Albert Benjamin Surrency in Berrien County, GA.

Sarah Clements

Sarah Clements

Sarah Clements and William J. Knight are enumerated together in the census of 1900 in their Rays Mill home. Sarah’s spinster sister, 59-year-old Mary Ann Clements, had also come to live in the Knight household.   Sarah’s brother, John C. Clements, and his family remained as neighbors, as did George W. Fender.

William and Sarah owned their farm near Ray’s Mill  free and clear of mortgage.  Only one offspring was born of this union, but the child died young.

William J. Knight died on January 22, 1909 at his home near Ray’s Mill, GA.

Obituary of William J. Knight, husband of Sarah Malinda Clements

Obituary of William J. Knight, husband of Sarah Malinda Clements

Tifton Gazette
January 29, 1909

Information reached here Monday of the sudden death of Mr. “Bill Jack” Knight, a prominent resident of the Ray’s Mill district. Mr. Knight had been slightly indisposed for two or three days.  After eating a light supper Friday night as he was sitting at the fireside he suddenly fell over and died.  Mr. Knight was fifty years of age and was married about seven years ago to Miss Sarah Clements, of this place.  He was laid to rest at the Beaverdam burial grounds.  – Milltown News.

The widow Sarah Knight was enumerated (as Sarah Clements) in 1910 with her sister Mary Ann Clements in their home just east of Ray’s Mill.  They were neighbors of John B. Fountain and Frank Gallagher.

Some time before 1920 Sarah married for a second time, joining in matrimony with James W. Suggs.  He was from Dooly County, GA, a son of Malinda “Lynne” Proctor and Wright Suggs.

Sarah and James W. Suggs were enumerated together in the Census of 1920, at their farm on a settlement road near Ray’s Mill. Sarah’s sister and constant companion, Mary Ann Clements, resided with the Suggs.  On adjacent farms were Parnell Knight and Henry D. Bennett.

The 1926 Influenza epidemic reached its peach in Georgia in March;  1926 was the worst flu year since the pandemics of 1918-1919 which had claimed 675,000 lives in the U.S. and more than 30 million worldwide. Sarah’s sister, Mary Ann Clements, at the age of 86, succumbed to Influenza, dying  on March 26, 1926.  She was attended by her nephew, Dr. Henry W. Clements, who was a son of Rowena Patten and Levi J. Clements.  She was buried at Empire Church Cemetery.

Death certificate of Mary Ann Clements, March 26, 1926, Ray City, GA

Death certificate of Mary Ann Clements, March 26, 1926, Ray City, GA

Sometime between 1920 and 1930 James W. Suggs died, leaving Sarah widowed for the second time. Sarah, now on her own, boarded in the farm home of Sherrod Winfield Fender and his wife, Lula Bell Smith. Sherrod was a son of George W. Fender, and a neighbor of Henry Studstill, Arrin H. Guthrie, and Phil McGowan. Also lodging in the Fender household was Chester Nobles.

Sherrod W. Fender died in 1931, but Sarah continued to live with the widowed Lula Smith Fender. The 1940 census shows Sarah Suggs enumerated as a “companion” of Lula Fender.

1940 census enumeration of Sarah Clements Suggs in the Ray City, GA household of Lula Fender.

1940 census enumeration of Sarah Clements Suggs in the Ray City, GA household of Lula Fender.

Sarah Malinda Clements Suggs died April 8, 1947.   She was buried at New Ramah Cemetery at Ray City, GA. (Lula Fender was a member of the New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church.)

Grave of Sarah Clements Suggs (1862-1947), New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA. Image Source: Robert Strickland, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=52222556

Grave of Sarah Clements Suggs (1862-1947), New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA. Image Source: Robert Strickland, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=52222556

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Elizabeth Roena Patten Clements (1858-1951)

Elizabeth Roena Patten Clements,  matriarch of the sawmill family of Ray City, died in 1951. She was the widow of Levi J. Clements and  a daughter of William and Elizabeth Register Patten.   In the early 1920s the Clements Lumber Company  was the largest business in Ray City, GA.

Obituary of Roena Patten Clements.

Obituary of Roena Patten Clements.

Valdosta Times
Friday, February 2, 1951

DEATH CLAIMS MRS. CLEMENTS OF RAY CITY

Mrs. Levie J. Rhoena Clements, 93, passed away at her home in Ray City this morning about 10 o’clock. Funeral services will be held at New Ramey Primitive Baptist Church at Ray City at 3 p. m. Saturday. She is survived by a daughter, Mrs. Lillie Gaskins, five sons, Dr. H. W. Clements, Adel; J. L. Clements, Fort Meade, Fla; W. G. Clements, Ebb, Fla; and J. I and J. S. Clements of Ray City.  Twenty grand children and 28 great-grandchildren also survive. Mrs. Clements was born in Berrien county and was a resident of that section all her life. Pallbearers will be the grandsons. Elder Marcus Peavy, pastor at Ray City, will conduct the services.  He will be assisted by the Rev. John W. Harrell, pastor of the Ray City Baptist Church. Wiseman Funeral Home, Adel, will direct the arrangements.

Funeral of Roena Patten Clements was held Saturday, February 3, 1951 at New Ramah Baptist Church, Ray City, GA

Funeral of Roena Patten Clements was held Saturday, February 3, 1951 at New Ramah Baptist Church, Ray City, GA

Mrs. Clements Is Laid To Rest

     Funeral services for Mrs. Rhoena Clements were held Saturday at 3 p. m. at the New Ramah Baptist Church.  Services were conducted by Elder M. C. Peavey and the Rev. John W. Harrell.
Mrs. Clements died Friday morning after an illness of several months.  She was a member of an old and prominent Ray City family.
Amazing Grace and I’m Going Home were sung by a mixed choir.  Interment was in the churchyard cemetery.
Active pallbearers were Donald Clements, Hugh Clements, Mason Clements, Kief Clements, J. I. Clements, Jr., Ralph Clements, Austin Clements and Dr. Fred C. Clements.
Honorary pallbearers were H. P. Clements, J. H. Swindle, Y. F. Carter, L. H. Webb, W. A. Clements, P. N. Sirmans, R. P. Swindle, C. W. Schmoe, Morris Johnson and H. W. Nelson.

Roena Clements 1858-1951, New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Roena Clements 1858-1951, New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Children of Elizabeth Roena Patten Clements and Levi J. Clements:

  1. Henry W. Clements, M.D.,   b. 1877, Ray City, Berrien Co., GA ,   d. 6 Feb 1952
  2. Lucille “Lillie” Clements,   b. 17 Feb 1879, Berrien County, GA,   d. 25 Apr 1967
  3. Lucius Jordan Clements,   b. 26 Dec 1880, Berrien County, GA ,   d. 20 Dec 1965, Ft. Meade, Polk County, FL
  4. Pearle E. Clements,   b. 6 Oct 1882, Berrien County, GA,   d. 9 Sep 1904
  5. William Grover “Bill” Clements,   b. 1 Oct 1884, Ray City Berrien Co., GA ,   d. 30 Jul 1984, Cross City, Dixie County, FL
  6. Joseph S. Clements,   b. 14 Aug 1886, Berrien County, GA,   d. 23 Aug 1963, Berrien County, GA
  7. James Irwin Clements,   b. 14 Aug 1886, Berrien County, GA,   d. 9 Feb 1965, Berrien County, GA

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Feb 4, 1911 Ray’s Mill News Items

Rays Mill news items appearing in the Feb 4, 1911 Valdosta Times were about the business and social scene in the new town.

The Valdosta Times
 Saturday, February 4, 1911, page 7,
Rays Mill News Items

     Mr. A.L. Bridges has moved into his new building here.
     Mr. W. L. Swindle, of Nashville, has accepted a position with his brother, Mr. J.S. Swindle, of this place.
     Miss Leslie Langford returned to Rays Mill Wednesday night from Vidalia.
Mrs. L.  J. Clements is spending a few days in Milltown this week.
    Mr. G. V. Hardee, druggist of this place, moved in his new building Wednesday.
    Mr. I. Burkhalter made a business trip to Nashville Wednesday.
    Mr. Floyd Fender, of Tifton, is visiting Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Fender for a few days.
    Mrs. Baskin, Mrs. Terry, Mrs. Dr. Clements, Miss Fannie Clements and Miss Lessie Carter represented Beaver Dam Missionary Society at the missionary rally in Valdosta last Tuesday, January 31, and lunch was served at the Tabernacle. They report a good meeting, also a pleasant time for all who attended.
    Mr. A. L. Taylor, of Nashville, has bought Mr. J.T. Webb’s store.
    Mr. W. M. Carter, of Rays Mill, visited Tifton last Saturday returning Sunday night.
    Mr. W. H. Terry made a business trip to Valdosta Wednesday.
    Mr. George Norton spent a few days in Macon last week returning Monday night.

Ray City News appeared in The Valdosta Times, Feb 4, 1911.

Ray City News appeared in The Valdosta Times, Feb 4, 1911.

Austin Lawrence Bridges was a merchant from who came to Ray City in 1909 with his bride, Della Pope.  He bought a house on Jones Street and opened a dry goods store.

William Lawrence Swindle was a farmer of the Ray City area and former Sheriff of Berrien County.  He was a brother of James S. Swindle, and son of James Swindle, Pioneer Settler.

Leslie Alma Langford was the daughter of William E. Langford and Mary Virginia Knight, and sister of Luther Etheldred Langford. In 1918 she married Walter Greene Altman. At the time he was a clerk working for Nix & Miller Company, a sawmill in Ray City, GA, but shortly thereafter he became an ice dealer.  Later Walter owned a cafe where Leslie worked as a waitress.

Mrs. L. J. Clements was Eugenia  Watkins Clements, wife of Lucius J. Clements. Her parents were Sarah and Thomas H. Watkins, of Whitesburg, Carroll County, GA.  She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from La Grange College in 1907.

Gordon Vancie Hardie was a druggist and entrepreneur of Ray City.

Isaac Burkhalter, Jr was born 1863 in Clinch County, GA just weeks before his father, Captain Isaac Burkhalter was killed at Gettysburg. Isaac Burkhalter, the son, made his home at Rays Mill some time before 1900 with his wife, Marentha Sirmans, where he engaged in farming until his death.

Wilson W. Fender was the owner of the Fender Hotel in Ray City.  His wife Lena Fender was in millinery. His eldest son was telephone lineman Floyd Fender, of Tifton, and his younger son’s were Ike and Lutie. Ike Fender was a telephone operator and Lutie Fender was a soda jerk.

The Ladies of the Beaver Dam Missionary Society

  • Mrs. Baskin mentioned in the story could have been one of several Baskin women: Mary Ann Harrell Baskin, second wife of James B. Baskin; her step-daughter, Fannie Ellen Hagan Baskin; or another of the Baskin wives.  The Baskin family  helped found the Baptist Church at Ray City.
  • Mrs. Terry was Nebbie Luckie Terry. She was a daughter of William F. Luckie and wife of W. H. E. Terry, also mentioned in the article.
  • Mrs. Dr. Clements was Pauline Nelson Clements, wife of Dr. Henry Warren Clements. Dr. Clements owned  the second gasoline powered automobile in Berrien County, a Maxwell Doctor’s Roadster.
  • Miss Fannie Lola Clements was a daughter of Martha J. Cements and David C. Clements.
  • Miss Lessie E. Carter was a daughter of Lorenzo D. Carter and Anna Eliza Fender.

Jesse Thomas Webb, who sold his store in Rays Mill, was a son of Mary and John L. Webb, of the Connells Mill District. After selling his store in Rays Mill he moved to Tifton, GA and opened a store there.

William Manson Carter was a son of Lorenzo D. Carter and Anna Eliza Fender, and brother of Lessie E. Carter. In 1917 he worked as a druggist for C. O. Terry.

William Henry Edward Terry came to Ray City about 1910 and built the first brick building in the new town.

Ray City Citizens Fought Creation of Lanier County

In August 1919, the General Assembly of Georgia passed an act to place an amendment to the Georgia Constitution creating Lanier County on the ballot  for the November 1920 general elections.  But in 1920,  as the election approached, there was strenuous objection from the Ray City area.  Many citizens who were well associated with the history of Ray City found that their property would be on the Lanier side of the new county line, including such family  names as Giddens, Clements, Swindle, Sirmans and others.  Desiring to remain in Berrien county, these land owners, led by A.W. Gaskins, filed a motion with the courts to stop the vote on the constitutional amendment that would create the new county.

Atlanta Constitution
Sep 2, 1920

COURT IS ASKED TO BAR CREATION OF LANIER COUNTY

     Hearing on a permanent injunction brought by citizens of Berrien county to restrain Governor Dorsey from advertizing, as required by law, the proposed constitutional amendment creating the new county of Lanier, was set for September 11, in the Fulton superior court, by Judge John D. Humphries, following a short hearing on a temporary injunction on the same petition, which was denied by Judge Humphries.
     The bill was filed by Attorneys R.A. Hendricks, James A. Alexander and W.D. Biue, of Berrien county, and Bryan and Middlebrooks, of Atlanta. The petitioning citizens are as follows:
     A.U. Gaskins, A.H. Giddens, H.C. Clements, R.D. Swindle, John Sirmans, Raygood Lankford, S.S. Watson, L.S. Sirmans, Mrs. Rachel Postick, W.L. Rouse, John C. Sirmans, J.B. Baskins, J.W. Bloodworth, J.J. Porke, Leo Griner, J.H.Patten. S.H. Winderweedles, W.C. Johnson, Mrs. Martha Clements, A.J. Clements, Levi J. Clements, L. J. Clements, Jr., Bud Watson, Bryant Avers, J. L. Lee, Jasper J. Cook, L.S. Simms, J.H. Clements, J. P. Watson, D. Harrell, R.S. Johnson and John Boyett.
     This action was taken to prevent the submission to the voters in the general election in November of the question of the creation of Lanier county, and the petition asks that Governor Dorsey be enjoined from issuing a proclamation authorizing the vote, and that Secretary of State S. Guyt McLendon be restrained from announcing the result of any vote on the question; and that the state superintendent of printing be restrained from printing a proclamation by the governor.
     The petitioners claim that the promoters of Lanier county made a written and signed agreement with the affected property owners of Berrien county as to the part of Berrien county that would be in Lanier county; that the agreement was violated without their knowledge and consent, so that 9,540 additional acres of land, valued at $150,000, was taken into the county. The petitioning citizens represent this extra land, and declare that they did not want to be taken into the new county.

The petitioners request for an injunction was denied. They appealed all the way to the Georgia Supreme court where they lost in the case of  GASKINS et al v. DORSEY, Governor, et al.  The  Amendment issue went ahead in November, and the constitutional amendment to create Lanier county was passed by the voters.

The petitioners, this time led by Dr. H.W. Clements,  then filed  for an injunction to stop the first election of officers in the newly created county, but that too, failed.   While Clements and others appealed to a higher court, the election was held as scheduled on  the first Wednesday in December 1920.

Not to be deterred, Dr. Clements and others again pursued the appeal of two cases all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court, CLEMENTS el al v. WILKERSON et al  and CLEMEMENTS et al v. ANDERSON et al, in an attempt to nullify the creation of the new county.

But in the end the Georgia Supreme court ruled that any decision was moot since the election  of  county officers had already been held and the case was dismissed.

All challenges aside, Georgia voters approved the constitutional amendment on Nov. 2, 1920, which marks the official date of the creation of Lanier County.

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

Henry Warren Clements, M.D.  (1877-1952)

Henry W. Clements was a Physician who lived and practiced in Ray City, Georgia during the early days of the town.  He was one of the many Medical Men of Ray’s Mill (now Ray City), who served the community over the years.

Henry W. Clements went into medical practice  for a short time in Rays Mill, GA after graduating from the Medical College of Georgia in 1900.  A clipping from the Tifton Gazette shows he soon moved to Hahira, and in 1901 he moved again to Lenox, GA

Dr. Henry W. Clements moves to Lenox, GA

Dr. Henry W. Clements moves to Lenox, GA. Tifton Gazette, Feb. 22, 1901

Advertisment of Dr. H. W. Clements, Physician and Surgeon. Tifton Gazette, Mar. 25, 1904.

Advertisment of Dr. H. W. Clements, Physician and Surgeon. Tifton Gazette, Mar. 25, 1904.

In 1908 Dr. Clements was admitted to the Medical Association of Georgia. The Census of 1910 places him in Lenox, GA, but newspaper mentions show he and his wife, Pauline Nelson Clements, were back in Ray City by early 1911.  Dr. Clements was a self-employed physician in general practice in Ray City.  His bookkeeper was Robert Tombs Harrell and he also employed Floyd Lafayette Blanton in farming. According to the 1920 Census, Dr. Clements owned a home in Ray City on North Street, next door to his father, Levi J. Clements.

 Dr. Clements practiced in Hahira, Lenox, and Ray City until the early 1920’s.  Transportation for these years was by horse and buggy and his stable full of horses is well known.  Prior to World War I, the second gas vehicle in Berrien County was a  Maxwell proudly owned by Dr. Clements.

The Maxwell Motor Company produced a model called the Doctor’s Roadster, marketed especially to medical men, as seen in this advertisement from The Medical World magazine.

W.P. Tittle & Co., a Nashville, GA firm from 1911 to around 1925, was the first automobile dealer in Berrien County and handled the Maxwell line of cars. The firm was owned by  W.P. Tittle, C.G. Starling, and D.D. Tittle.

With the growing popularity of the automobile, Dr. Clements found that in addition to treating the sick and delivering babies,  he was now treating accident victims.  In 1923 when his cousin, Homer Clements, broke an arm while hand cranking his car, Dr. Clements may have set the “Ford Fracture.”

Dr. H.W. Clements lived in Ray City, GA and kept his medical practice there until he moved to Adel, GA in 1922.  Adel is just 10 miles west of Ray City;  Homer could have made the trip in 1923 to get his arm treated.

On the night of January 17, 1929 Dr. Clements was called for an emergency response when Rema Sirmans was ejected from a Ford roadster in a one car accident near Sparks, Ga. No doubt, Dr. Clements treated many other automobile accident victims over the years.

Tragically, his own daughter, Hilda Clements, and son-in-law would be killed in an automobile accident at a bridge near Ray City, on December 21, 1941.

Children of Henry W. Clements and Mary Pauline Nelson (1881 – 1954):

  1. Henry G. Clements 1903 – 1948
  2. Harvey J Clements 1905 – 1927
  3. Jaunita P Clements 1913 –
  4. Fred Nelson Clements 1918 – 1987
  5. Hilda Clements 1921 – 1941

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