William Lonnie Royal and the Turkey Heist

William Lonnie Royal  (1897 – 1981)

Lonnie Royal, 1973.

Lonnie Royal, 1973.

William Lonnie Royal was born June 13, 1897, at  Homerville, Clinch County, GA.  He was a son of Gabriel Marion Royal and Vercy Lee Fender. Some time after 1910 his father rented a farm at Ray City, GA and this is where Lonnie grew to be a man.

On June 21, 1917  William  Lonnie Royal married Utha Gertrude Mixon in Berrien, Georgia.  The ceremony was performed by Lyman Franklin Giddens, who was Justice of the Peace at Ray City.  Utha Mixon was a daughter of Mary Elizabeth Clance and William Henry Mixon, of Ray City.

Marriage Certificate of William Lonnie Royal and Utha Mixon, Berrien County, GA

Marriage Certificate of William Lonnie Royal and Utha Mixon, Berrien County, GA

When the 1918  WWI draft registration occurred, Lonnie Royal was 21 years old and living and working at Ray City. He was of medium height and build, with blue eyes and dark brown hair. He was working for Daniel Jackson “Jack” Gaskins, a farmer in the Lois District just west of town. He listed Frank Royal, of Ray City, as his next of kin.

In the spring of 1919 Lonnie and Utha, now with an infant son, were trying to make a home. It’s unclear just how Lonnie came to such a desperate state, but  he was charged in a number of thefts in the Ray City vicinity. The first case involved the heist of a turkey, said fowl being the property of a Mr. Connell. A second case involved the burglary of the residence of Lonnie’s employer, Jack Gaskins.  Mr. Connell may have been Clinton D. Connell, who was a neighbor of Jack Gaskins. The disposition of these cases was reported in the Nashville Herald:

April 4, 1919 - Lonnie Royal was convicted of a misdemeanor theft.

April 4, 1919 – Lonnie Royal was convicted of a misdemeanor theft.

“Nashville Herald:  Two of the cases against Lonnie Royals, a young white man living near the Berrien-Lowndes line, were tried.  He was acquitted of stealing Mr. Connell’s turkey, but was convicted of burglarizing the home of Mr. Jack Gaskins.  The jury recommended that he be punished as for a misdemeanor.”

Lonnie was acquitted in the case of the turkey heist, and apparently the jury took pity on him in the burglary case as they recommended sentencing for a misdemeanor crime.

Lonnie and Utha made their home in the Ray City area for many years.

Children of William Lonnie Royal and Utha Gertrude Mixon:

  1. Samuel Clarence Royal, b.  Jul 26 1918, Ray City, Berrien, Georgia; married Mary Sue Smith; died  March 4, 2008 Louis Smith Hospital, Lakeland, Lanier, Georgia
  2. Clara Mae Royal, b.  Jan 21 1920, Ray City, Berrien, Georgia; died  Dec 25 1923, Ray City, Berrien, Georgia
  3. William Clyde Royal, b.  May 14 1921, Lakeland, Lanier, Georgia; married Dora Brown; d.  Feb 27 1997, Columbus, Muscogee, Georgia
  4. Velma Louise Royal, b.  Dec 26 1922, Ray City, Berrien, Georgia; died  Dec 12 1923, New Bethel Cemetery, Berrien, Georgia
  5. Alva Inez ‘Mickie’ Royal, b.  May 03 1924 Ray City, Lanier, Georgia; married 1) Woodard Bailey, 2) Horace L. Grayson; died  Jan 09 2010, Beaumont, Texas
  6. Gola Wylene Royal
  7. Agnes Kathleen Royal, b.  Jul 22 1929, Ray City, Berrien, Georgia; m. Dale Wilson; died  Dec 04 1972, Phoenix, Arizona
  8. Jewel Christine Royal, b.  Aug 23 1930, Ray City, Berrien, Georgia; died  May 28 1944, Lakeland, Lanier, Georgia
  9. Gladys Helen Royal, b.  Aug 18 1933, Ray City, Lanier, Georgia; m. Ralph Henderson ; died  July 23, 2006, Bryon, Olmsted, Minnesota

William Lonnie Royal died March 2, 1981 in Berrien County, GA.  He was buried at Fender Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Graves of Lonnie Royal and Utha Mixon, Fender Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Graves of Lonnie Royal and Utha Mixon, Fender Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

 

Images and information on Mixon family history contributed in part by http://royalmixon.tribalpages.com/

1951 Beaverettes Couldn’t Miss; Boys Went Afoul at Homerville

Basketball became a part of Ray City School athletics at least as early as 1929. For the next 25 years, with the exception of the WWII years, Ray City teams shot hoops, until the county schools were consolidated in 1954.   According to the 1950-51 school year book, the Ray City School basketball teams played a 20 game season. The boys team was coached by Principal C.W. Schmoe, with A. C. Hesters as manager.

1950-51 Beaverettes, Ray City School girls basketball team, Ray City, GA

1950-51 Beaverettes, Ray City School girls basketball team, Ray City, GA

A clipping from the Clinch County News gives the story of the December 19, 1950 game against Homerville. Among the starters for the Ray City girls were Lullene Rouse, Patricia Bradford and Betty Jo Webb. The boys starting lineup included Curtis Skinner, Jack Knight and Wendell Clements.

Clinch County News
December 22, 1950

The [Homerville] girls played way below par in the Ray City game which was evidenced by the fact that they came out way behind their opponents when the final whistle blew.  The [Homerville] forwards played a good game, but Ray City’s beaverettes didn’t seem to be able to miss no matter what the angle which gave our [Homerville] guards a run for their money.

    The boy’s game was a comedy of errors if fouls are any indication of such a thing.  There were seventy-two fouls called in this game, Ray City’s whole first string going out on fouls. The local [Homerville] boys racked up a score of 62, but if they had played their usual kind of ball the score board probably would have run out of points. The line-ups were as follows:

GIRLS

Homerville
Pantherettes (34)

Ray City
Beaverettes (49)

Gilley, f 15
Blitch, f 9
F. Long, f 5
Newbern, g
Peagler, g
White, g

Bradford, f 9
Rouse, f 10
Webb, f 30
Barnwell, g
Futch, g
Sirmans, g

Substitutions: Homerville, O. Jeffords (2), N. Jeffords,
D.R. Thrift, Daugharty, Champion, Ann Long, and Gaskins.

BOYS

Homerville
Panthers (62)

Ray City
Beavers (49)

McQueen, f 7
Harper, f 21
Norris, c 10
Pickren, g 5
Hill, g 8

Moore, f 7
Skinner, f 6
Knight, c 5
Clements, g 2
Temples, g 3

Substitutions: Homerville, McDonald (9), Jones (2); 
Leviton, Minson, Rice, and Montgomery.  Ray City:
Allen (10), Williams (7),  Lee (2),  McClelland (3),
 Cornelius (4), Luke.

1950-51 Beavers, Ray City School boys basketball team, Ray City, GA

1950-51 Beavers, Ray City School boys basketball team, Ray City, GA. The school yearbook reported, “The Beavers finished their regular season with (14) fourteen wins and (6) defeats. The Beavers were led during the season by Jack Knight with (326) points, Billy Moore with (213) points, and Wendell Clements (130) points.”

Ray City School 1950-51 Basketball Schedule

Date Opponent Girls Boys
Pine Grove L 13-35 L 12-37
Enigma L 42-48 W 70-33
11-14 H Lakeland L 29-34 W 47-17
11-17 Naylor W 48-46 W 53-32
12-01 H Alapaha L 27-36 W 58-35
12-05 A Lakeland L 19-35 W 40-31
12-08 H Nashville L 37-51 L 48-64
12-12 A Willacoochee L 25-39 W 50-9
12-15 A Clyattville L 14-30 L 44-49
12-19 A Homerville W 49-34 L 49-62
01-06 H Pine Grove L 23-37 W 36-29
01-09 A Alapaha W 37-25 W 44-27
01-12 A Nashville L 31-47 L 30-37
01-19 H Clyattville W 20-16 W 56-43
01-30 A Enigma W 43-35 W 77-25
02-02 H Naylor W 24-23 W 39-20
02-06 H Homerville L 35-51 L 45-61
Willacoochee L 14-62 W 69-14
Poplar Springs W 36-35 W 88-31
Nashville L 39-47
Tournament Scores Girls Boys
Statenville W 50-28
Clyatteville W 53-22
Dasher L 29-54
Pine Grove L 45-56

If you would like to read a little more about the history of Ray City Basketball, see the Georgia High School Basketball Project.

Ray City Boys in the CCC

The New Georgia Encyclopedia describes the start of the CCC in Georgia…

Among  the numerous New Deal programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) is remembered as one of the most popular and effective. Established on March 31, 1933, the corps’s objective was to recruit unemployed young men (and later, out-of-work veterans) for forestry, erosion control, flood prevention, and parks development. The president’s ambitious goal was to enroll a quarter of a million men by July 1, 1933.

Despite opposition from Georgia governor Eugene Talmadge, who argued that federal New Deal programs were an intrusion into state government affairs, the CCC was overwhelmingly popular  in Georgia.  Before the corps’ termination on July 1, 1942, more than 78,000 men were employed in 127 camps (approximately 30-35 camps operated at a time) across the state.

Participants in the CCC included men from Ray City,  Georgia who went to work at CCC Camp Company 1413 in Homerville.  Clayborn L. Kelly  of Ray City was an assistant leader for the camp.   H.E. Grissett  and J.W. McConnell were among the two hundred men who lived and worked at the camp.

Photographs of CCC Company 1413, Homerville, GA provided by Linda Angell.

On June 2, 1933, Company 1413 came into existence.  Prior to or sometime during the month of May of that year, a group of men connected with the Army, together with others who were connected with the Forestry branch, arrived in Homerville to ascertain whether or not a Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C.) campsite should be located there.  Their verdict proved to be in the affirmative, so on May 25, Captain Patten, an officer of the Army arrived at Homerville, with fourteen members of the C.C.C. from Jacksonville, Florida, and erected a tent on the present campsite.  On June 2, two hundred enrollees under the command of Captain Earle A. Johnson, 29th Infantry, arrived at the location and by sundown all tents were up and the cots installed, and Company 1413 was off to a “flying start.”

In 1940, Ray City men working in the CCC included Daniel J. Jeffords, and Joseph S. Clements was Foreman at the CCC Camp.

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