Henry Harrison Knight Wrote City Charter for Nashville, GA

Henry Harrison Knight with wife Mary Susan Ray and their son Levi Jackson Knight circa 1896. The Knight home was at Ray City, GA. Image detail courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Henry Harrison Knight with wife Mary Susan Ray and their son Levi Jackson Knight circa 1896. The Knight home was at Ray City, GA. Image detail courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

Henry Harrison Knight, author of the original city charter of Nashville, GA, was a resident of Ray City. He served in the state Legislature as Representative of Berrien County and as a member of the Board of  County Commissioners  through several terms. In 1885,  The Official Register of the United States listed  H.H. Knight   as Post Master of “Ray’s Mills”, Berrien County, Georgia.

As a part of the Bicentennial Celebration in Nashville on the 4th of July, 1976, his grandson, Jack Knight, presented Nashville Mayor Bobby Carroll with a copy of the charter.

Nashville, GA city charter, 1892

Copy of original city charter presented by Jack Knight to the mayor of Nashville, GA July 4, 1976

Nashville Herald
July 8, 1976

Copy Original City Charter Presented by W. D. Knight

        A highlight of the bicentennial festivities in Nashville Sunday, July 4, was a presentation of a copy of the original city charter from W. D. ‘Jack’ Knight.
        The charter was drawn up by H. H. ‘Henry’ Knight of Ray City, father of E. M. ‘Hun’ Knight, and grandfather of Jack.  He served as representative from Berrien County in 1892-93.
        Passed in 1892 and signed by the governor on Dec. 20 of that same year, the charter stated the city limits extended one-half mile in all directions from the courthouse. Also. W. L. Swindle was elected the first mayor, along with five councilmen.
        Mr. Knight, who was born in 1840, owned one of the first stores in Ray City, and served as commissioner of Berrien County for three years. He also served in the Confederate Army where he was wounded on two different occasions. 
        Mr. Knight was married to the daughter of T. M. Ray for whom Ray City was named. He died in 1899 and is buried with his wife in Beaver Dam Cemetery in Ray City.

WD Knight presents Nashville, GA City Charter to Mayor Bobby Carroll during Bicentennial Celebration, July 4, 1976. Image courtesy of www,berriencountyga.com

WD Knight presents Nashville, GA City Charter to Mayor Bobby Carroll during Bicentennial Celebration, July 4, 1976. Image courtesy of www,berriencountyga.com

More Ray City Women of G.S.W.C

West Hall, Georgia State Womans College, 1945

West Hall, Georgia State Womans College, 1945

From 1922 to 1950 the state college in Valdosta, GA was known as Georgia State Womans College (now know as Valdosta State University”.  A number of Ray City women who attended the college during this period were featured in a previous post. Here are a few more who appeared in available yearbooks:

Doris and Dot Boyette were daughters of Eddie D. Boyette  and Mattie Deen Boyette. Their home was in Lanier County, just east of Ray City.

Doris Boyett, of Ray City, GA at Georgia State Womans College, Valdosta, GA

Doris Boyett, of Ray City, GA, 1942 sophomore at Georgia State Womans College, Valdosta, GA

Dorothy Boyette

Dorothy Boyett, of Ray City, GA at Georgia State Womans College, Valdosta, GA

Dorothy Boyett, of Ray City, GA. 1945 sophomore at Georgia State Womans College, Valdosta, GA

Carolyn DeVane was a daughter of Caulie A Devane and Alma L. Albritton, and sister of Harold Elmore DeVane who was serving in the Navy. She grew up in the Lois community just west of Ray City, GA.

Carolyn DeVane, 1945, Freshman

Carolyn DeVane, 1945, Freshman

Marian Hambrick, sister of Thera Hambrick, was a daughter of Ruth and John O. Hambrick. Her family’s place was in the Cat Creek community, just southwest of Ray City.

Marian Hambrick, 1941, Freshman

Marian Hambrick, 1941, Freshman

 

Louise Paulk was a daughter of  Gladys Daniels and James M. Paulk. Her father died when she was a toddler and her mother remarried Hun Knight. Her step-father was the owner of the Mayhaw Lake amusement park at Ray City.  Her half-brother was Jack Knight, who attended college at Valdosta after the school went co-educational.

Louise Paulk, 1939, GSWC

Louise Paulk, 1939, GSWC

Marilyn Faye Weaver was a daughter of John W. Weaver and Irene Guthrie. The Weaver farm was just east of Ray City in the 1300 Georgia Militia District in Lanier County, GA.

1949-marilyn-weaver-GSWC

Marilyn Weaver, 1949, freshman at Georgia State Womans College.

Related Posts

June 2, 1967 Jack Knight heads up Alapaha Bar

The late Judge W.D. “Jack” Knight, of Berrien County, grew up  and attended grade school at Ray City, GA before going on to college and entering the law profession.  The news clipping below, from the Clinch County News, June 2, 1967 reports that Knight was elected President of the Alapaha Bar Association.

(L to R)  ER Smith, Jack Knight, and Vickers Nugent at a function of the Alapaha Bar Association, 1970.

(L to R) ER Smith, Jack Knight, and Vickers Nugent at a function of the Alapaha Bar Association, 1970. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

Jack Knight

Knight Heads Bar Association

NASHVILLE – At a recent meeting of the attorneys of the Alapaha Bar Association held in Nashville, Georgia at Ivy Restaurant, Colonel W. D. Knight was elected President and Judge.  E.R. Smith, Sr. was elected Secretary-Treasurer.

    The new president is a native of  Berrien County, having been reared at Ray City, attended the Ray City public schools, was graduated with a B. S. degree from Valdosta State College, received his L. L. B. degree from the University of Georgia Law School and has practiced law in Nashville, Georgia for the past 9 years.  He served in the Georgia House of Representatives for 3 terms and is married to the former Jane Stallings and they have one daughter 3 years of age.

    The new officers take office immediately and serve for the year 1967.     Colonel Fred T. Allen of Nashville, Georgia is the outgoing President and Colonel Fed Belcher of Nashville is the outgoing Secretary-Treasurer.

    The Alapaha Bar Association is made up of attorneys in all of the 5 counties which compose the Alapaha Circuit.  These counties are Atkinson, Berrien, Cook, Clinch, and Lanier.  Judge H. W. Lott of Nashville, Georgia is the presiding judge and Vickers Neugent of Pearson, Georgia is the Solicitor General of the Circuit

In 1967 Jack Knight was elected President of the Alapaha Bar Association.

In 1967 Jack Knight was elected President of the Alapaha Bar Association.

Knight of Berrien ~ Jonathan Perry Knight

Jonathan Perry Knight (1872-1953)

Jonathan Perry Knight, 1902.

Jonathan Perry Knight, 1902.

Jonathan Perry Knight was born in Ray’s Mill, GA. in Berrien County on March 14 1872.  A son of John Graham Knight and Mary A. Davis, he was the middle of three children.  His grandfather, Levi J. Knight, served as a major in the Indian War, a major-general in the state militia,  and  as a captain in the Confederate army.

In his basic education Jonathan P. Knight attended the schools of Berrien County. When he was 16 he was presented with a prize by his teacher, W.L. Patton, “For Your Merit in School.”  The prize was a book, “The Life of Daniel Webster“, which was to have a profound and lasting affect on the young man.

Life of Daniel Webster

Life of Daniel Webster

http://archive.org/stream/lifeofdanielwebs00everiala#page/n0/mode/1up

Jonathan Perry Knight went on to study at North Georgia Agricultural College in Dahlonega, GA (now the University of North Georgia).  The college was a military academy and military duty was obligatory for all male students over the age of 15.  The cadets drilled daily in artillery, infantry and other exercises.

Cadets on parade in front of North Georgia Agricultural College, 1894.  Jonathan Perry Knight, of Rays Mill, GA attended the college around the late 1880s.

Cadets on parade in front of North Georgia Agricultural College, 1894. Jonathan Perry Knight, of Rays Mill, GA attended the college around the late 1880s.

Knight later attended Law School at Mercer University in Macon, GA. He was a teacher in Berrien and Lowndes Counties, “and considered the teaching profession as a sacred trust.”

On November 6, 1896 at the age of 23, he married Ada Parrish at Lois, Georgia.  That same year he was elected Clerk of the Superior Court of Berrien County for the term beginning in 1897, and moved to the county seat in Nashville, GA.  To Jonathan and Ada a son was born on May 1, 1898. This was the same day in which Commodore George Dewey led US Naval forces to a decisive victory over the Spanish fleet in the Battle of Manilla Bay.  Just a few weeks earlier, the Spanish-American War had broken out and the newspapers of the time were full of sensationalism. No where was there greater fervor than in Georgia.  “When the United States became involved in war with Spain, Georgia furnished according to population more volunteers than any other State of the Union.”

It seems that the war was paramount in the minds of the Knights, as they expressed their patriotism by naming their new son Dewey Knight, in honor of the nation’s new naval hero. The couple had three additional children, Thelma, Jonathan, and Nell.

Jonathan Perry Knight continued to serve as the Clerk of the Superior Court in Berrien County until 1900, when he aspired to higher political office.  In February, 1900 The Atlanta Constitution reported:

“It is also very probably that Mr. John P. Knight, at present clerk of Berrien superior court, will offer as a candidate for representative in the general assembly. It is not known as yet who will oppose him, but there likely will be one or more opponents.”

As expected J.P. Knight did contend for the house seat, and his opponents in the short campaign were W.L. Kennon and H. K. Hutchinson of Adel.  Ballots were cast on May 15, 1900 and a large voter turn out was reported for Berrien County. On the morning of May 16th, The Atlanta Constitution reported that Knight was elected to the Georgia General Assembly as the Representative from Berrien County.

Representative Knight took to his new office with relish.  During the passage of the Depot Bill, his sensibilities were apparently offended by the “lobbyism and the use of whiskey.” “J.P. Knight, being disgusted with the way things were going, sent to the speaker’s desk a privileged resolution to have the hall cleared of all save those entitled to seats, which when read by the speaker, was refused recognition.”  Apparently, when it came to a question of whiskey,  the other legislators didn’t see eye to eye with the freshman representative from Berrien.  Later, Knight would write a letter charging that there was lobbying and outright “drunkeness” in the Georgia House of Representatives on the day the Depot Bill was passed.

Among his other legislative activities, he was on the legislative committee that visited Dahlonega, GA in December 1901 to inspect the North Georgia Agricultural College. His position on that committee was fitting, since he attended college in Dahlonega.  Georgia’s Public Men 1902-1904 noted,  “He took a prominent part in the deliberation of the House during his first term and also in the recent campaign for the governorship.”

In a report filed from Tifton, GA, The Atlanta Constitution of March 4, 1902  announced that Knight would seek re-election.  Among his expected opponents was Joseph A. Alexander, who had three years earlier represented Ray City murder defendant, J. T. Biggles.

“J.P Knight announces himself for reelection to the house, and it is said that he will be opposed by either Joseph A. Alexander formerly senator, John R. McCranie , former representative, or  F.M. Shaw, Jr., chairman board of county commissioners, who has represented Berrien in the legislature several years ago.  All are prominent and popular and the race for representative should be lively indeed.”23

In fact, the strongest challenge to Knight’s re-election bid was M.S. Patten. As voters went to the polls in June 1909, The Atlanta Constitution printed Berrien election reports filed from from Tifton, GA:

“The race is very close between J.P. Knight and M.S. Patten for representative, with chances in favor of Knight.  When all the votes were counted J.P. Knight was re-elected to the House of Representatives in the Georgia General Assembly. He was appointed to serve on the committees for: Immigration, Invalid Pensions; Mines and Mining; Roads and Bridges; and, Wild Lands.  In the description of the Honorable J.P. Knight given in Georgia’s Public Men, his occupation was given as “farmer and cotton buyer. “

In September of that year, Honorable John P. Knight was in Macon, Georgia where he was entering the study of law at Mercer College. He was hailed in the newspapers as ” one of the most influential members of the next house. His past record in the legislature is highly creditable to him.” Nine months later, in June of 1903 J.P. Knight was among 37 new attorneys who were graduated from Mercer.  The newspaper announcement observed that 24 of the 37 students had college degrees. Knight was one of two married men in the graduating class. The paper noted that as a member of the Georgia legislature, “he has kept the class and professors posted on the acts of Georgia’s lawmakers.” In the individual records of men, Knight was honored thus,

“Hon. J.P. Knight, representative of the state legislature from Berrien county, will receive his diploma with all honor and glory. Mr. Knight, like all modern politicians, gets along with all the boys. He is one of the highest men in the class. He attended college at Dahlonega. In 1896 he was elected clerk of the superior court of Berrien County and held that office until 1900, when he was elected to the state legislature, where he has been ever since. In spite of the fact that the gentleman from Berrien attended to his legislative duties during the last session, he will be honored with a degree. His friends at Nashville, Ga. will be glad to know that he intends returning home to practice his profession.”

Knight was admitted to the Bar of Georgia in April of 1903, and began to practice law in Nashville, the courts of Georgia, and in Federal Court.

In the Georgia state election of 1904, Knight put in for a third term in the term in the House of Representatives in the Georgia General Assembly.  Challenging for the seat was C.W. Fulwood.  With votes being cast on April 20th,  the Atlanta Constitution called the election for the challenger, ” incomplete returns from one of the hardest fought campaigns ever held in Berrien indicate the election of C. W. Fulwood over J.P. Knight for representative by about 200 majority.”  But the next day, with all votes counted Knight was declared the winner.

That year J. P. Knight also served on a local Berrien county committee to solicit and collect funds for the construction of a monument to the confederate general John B. Gordon.

Back in the Georgia Assembly for 1905, Knight served on several standing House Committees. “Knight of Berrien” served on the House standing Committees on Corporations, Education, Penitentiary, Immigration, Manufacturers, Blind Asylum, Auditing, and the Western and Atlantic Railroad.

With the following election of 1906, he was elected to a term in the Georgia Senate. In an interesting note, the Nashville Herald reported on August 13, 1909, “Hon. Jon P. Knight and County Treasurer D.D. Shaw went to Atlanta Tuesday night to help sing the Doxology at the closing of the Georgia Legislature.”

In 1907 J.P. Knight presided as Mayor of Nashville.  He was a member of the state Democratic executive committee, and attended the committee meeting of  April, 1908.  In October he was back in Atlanta.

Atlanta Georgian and News, Oct. 23, 1908 — page 11
Senator Knight Here.
Senator John P. Knight, of Berrien county, who figured prominently in the settlement of the convict lease legislation when that matter was before the state senate, was a visitor at the capitol Friday. He came on business connected with a pardon and was in consultation with both the members of the prison commission and the governor.

In 1909 it was rumored in local politics reported in the Atlanta Constitution that he would run for Solicitor General of the Circuit Court in Nashville, a position being vacated by Will Thomas in a bid for the judgeship of the court.

Atlanta Georgian and News, Oct. 1, 1909 — page 15
Hon. J.P. Knight Ill.
Nashville, Ga., Oct. 1 Hon J.P. Knight, who has represented Berrien county in the lower house and in the state senate, is very ill at his home in Nashville.

He was a Judge of the City Court of Nashville, Judge of Alapaha Judicial Circuit, and he served as Chairman of the Trustees of the City Schools of Nashville, GA for many years.

He put his hat in the ring in 1910 to run for U.S. congressman for the  Second Congressional District to fill out the unexpired term of the late James M. Griggs.  He won the Berrien County vote by a landslide but it wasn’t enough to carry the district.

Ada Parrish Knight died February 1913 in Berrien Co., Ga.

Children of Ada Parrish and Jonathan Perry Knight:

  1. Dewey Knight 1898 – 1983 Spouses: Laura FRASEUR
  2. Thelma Knight 1901 – 1983 Spouses:  Joseph Stanley UPCHURCH
  3. Nell “Nellie” Knight 1905 – 1996  Spouse:  George ERICKSON
  4. Jonathan P. Knight 1907 – 1984  Spouses: Elizabeth BAKER

Jonathan Perry Knight  again ran for state office and was elected the Berrien Representative to the Georgia Assembly for the 1915-1916 term.  He returned again for the 1919-1920 term.

In the 1920’s, Jonathan Perry Knight and his son, Dewey Knight, had a law practice together in Nashville.  It was not unusual to see the law firm of Jno. P. and Dewey Knight mentioned in the legal advertisements in the Nashville Herald as representing the plaintiff in some divorce action, or offering to negotiate farm loans.

In 1924 he returned to the bench to served out an unexpired term as Judge of the Superior Court, and later that year he was elected to a subsequent term serving until December 31,1928.

Jonathan Perry Knight

Jonathan Perry Knight

Following the loss of his first wife  Ada in 1914 J. P. Knight married again, to Gladys Brooks. They had one son, Jack Knight, who served as an Air Force Colonel.

Jon P. Knight died December 28, 1953.

In retrospection, the Historical Notes of Berrien County observed, “He enjoyed traveling, fishing, gardening, reminiscing with old friends, and the radio; he loved Georgia, Berrien County, family, and friends with deep devotion; he despised hypocrisy, snobbery and laziness. He lived in Berrien County all his life – was a real Berrien County product, boy and man.”

Cite: Georgia. (1927). Georgia’s official register. Atlanta: The Dept.].pg 117-118SUPERIOR COURTSALAPAHA CIRCUITJONATHAN PERRY KNIGHT, Nashville, Judge. Born Mch. 14, 1872 at Rays Mill, Berrien Co., Ga. Son of John Graham Knight (born June 23, 1832 in Berrien Co., Ga.; lived at Rays Mill, Ga.; served the four years of the War Between the States in Stonewall Jackson’s Corps; died May 8, 1908) and Mary (Davis) Knight (born near Tallahassee, Leon Co., Fla.; died Sep. 19,1902). Grandson of Levi J. Knight (born Sep. 1, 1803; senator. Lowndes Co.. 1832, 1834, 1837, 1838, 1839, 1840, 1853/54, 1855/56; senator, 5th Dist., 1851/52; member. Constitutional Convention 1868; major-general, 6th Div., Ga. Militia, Dec. 4, 1840-; died Feb. 23, 1870) and Ann D. Knight, and of James and Rena Davis, who lived near Valdosta, Ga.Educated in local schools. North Ga. Agr. College, and Mercer University (law course). Began the practice of law July 13, 1903 at Nashville, Ga.

Married (1) Nov. 3, 1896 Ada E. Parrish (Nov. 1880-Feb. 12, 1914), dau. of John A. Parrish; married (2) June 21, 1915 in Jacksonville, Fla.,Gladys Brooks (born Nov. 5, 1893). Children by first marriage: Dewey of Miami, Fla.; Thelma (Mrs. J. S. Upchurch), Thomasville, Ga.; Nell of Miami, Fla.; John of Miami, Fla.; by second marriage, one child. Jack, age 6 years.Baptist. Democrat. Clerk, Superior Court, Jan. 1, 1897-Oct. 20, 1900; member. House of Rep., Berrien Co., 1900-01, 1902-03-04, 1905-06. 1915-15 Ex.-16-17 Ex., 1919-20; senator, 6th Dist., 1907-08-08 Ex; chairman, board of education, Nashville, eight years; judge, Alapaha Cir. Oct. 21, 1924-date (term expires Jan. 1, 1929).

Hyman Hardeman Sirmans of Ray City, GA

Hyman Hardeman “Brocy” Sirmans (1919 – 1969) of Ray City, GA was a son of Mamie and Daniel W. Sirmans.

Hyman Hardeman "Brocy" Sirmans of Ray City, GA.

Hyman Hardeman “Brocy” Sirmans of Ray City, GA.

H. H. Sirmans  was born on March 22, 1919 at Ray City  just in time to be enumerated in the census of 1920. His father  rented a farm on one of the settlement roads near Ray City.  Next door was John and Anne Sirmans Matheny, and on the adjacent farm, George W. and Mary Fender.

1920 enumeration of the household of Daniel W. Sirmans.

1920 enumeration of the household of Daniel W. Sirmans.

http://www.archive.org/stream/georgiacensus00reel338#page/n372/mode/1up

Hyman H. Sirmans was enumerated in the Census of 1930 in his father’s household at Ray City, GA.  He was 11 years old, and attended school along with his sisters Lerine and Victoria. Edith and Margaret were too young to attend.

1930 enumeration of the household of Daniel W. Sirmans.

http://www.archive.org/stream/georgiacensus00reel338#page/n372/mode/1up

Hyman H Sirmans worked on a Liberty Ship  during WWII.  His service records give his physical description as 5′ 6″ tall, and 228 pounds.

He began his service at sea in 1940, and served as a Fireman/Watertender on the S. S. William G.  Lee.  The William G. Lee liberty ship was built in Savannah, Georgia by the Southeastern Shipbuilding Corporation.

The WWII liberty ship S. S. William G. Lee, photographed after the war.

The WWII liberty ship S. S. William G. Lee, photographed after the war.

The Merchant Marine website provides the following:

“Liberty ship” was the name given to the EC2 type ship designed for “Emergency” construction by the United States Maritime Commission in World War II. Liberty ships were nicknamed “ugly ducklings” by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The first of the 2,711 Liberty ships was the SS Patrick Henry, launched on Sept. 27, 1941, and built to a standardized, mass produced design. (2,710 ships were completed, as one burned at the dock.) The 250,000 parts were pre-fabricated throughout the country in 250-ton sections and welded together in about 70 days. One Liberty ship, the SS Robert E. Peary was built in four and a half days. A Liberty cost under $2,000,000.

The Liberty was 441 feet long and 56 feet wide. Her three-cylinder, reciprocating steam engine, fed by two oil-burning boilers produced 2,500 hp and a speed of 11 knots. Her 5 holds could carry over 9,000 tons of cargo, plus airplanes, tanks, and locomotives lashed to its deck. A Liberty could carry 2,840 jeeps, 440 tanks, or 230 million rounds of rifle ammunition.

As a Fireman/Watertender on the S.S. William G. Lee, H. H. Sirmans would have been responsible for tending to the fires and boilers in the steam ship’s engine room.  His duties would have included tending the boilers to maintain steam at specified pressure, and regulating the amount of water in the boiler,  observing gauges, and cleaning equipment and work area.  He may have also done maintenance and repair work in the fireroom and engine room, and monitored operation of evaporators and condensers used to convert salt water to fresh water.

The William G. Lee  was launched in July, 1944 and made numerous Atlantic crossings during WWII. According to the ConvoyWeb database for Merchant Ships during WW2, the William G. Lee departed from NYC on July 25, 1944 with Convoy HX.301, and arrived at Liverpool, England on August 8, 1944. She departed Methil, Scotland with Convoy FS.1541 on August 11,1944 for Southend, England, arriving on August 13, 1944. She departed Southend, England with Convoy FN.1455 on August 20, 1944, for Methil,Scotland. Two days later she departed Methil Scotland with Convoy EN.425 on August 22, 1944 bound for Loch Ewe, Scotland, arriving August 24. She joined Convoy ON.250 departing from Liverpool and arrived NYC on September 7, 1944. She departed from NYC on October 5, 1944 with Convoy HX.312, and arrived at Liverpool, England on October 21, 1944. She joined Convoy ON.267 departing Southend on November 18, 1944, and arrived NYC on December 5, 1944. She departed Boston, MA with Convoy BX.138 on December 21, 1944, arriving off Halifax on December 23. She joined Convoy HX.328 departing from NYC on Christmas Eve, 1944, arriving at Liverpool England on January 8, 1945. On January 10, 1945, she made the run from Southend with Convoy FN.1598, bound for Methil, Scotland. Nine days later, she made the return run with Convoy FS.1702. She departed Southend with Convoy ON.280 on January 22 1945, arrived NYC on 9 February 9, 1945. She joined Convoy HX.341 and departed NYC on February 28, 1945, arriving at Liverpool England on March 15, 1945.  On 27 March 1945 she departed Southend with Convoy ON.293, and arrived NYC on April 15, 1945. She departed from NYC on May 3, 1945 with Convoy HX.354 and arrived Liverpool on 18 May 1945.

H. H. Sirmans married Marjorie E Garner in 1944 in Baker County, FL 1944  21268

1969 Obituary of Hyman Hardeman Sirmans, Ray City, Berrien County, GA.

1969 Obituary of Hyman Hardeman Sirmans, Ray City, Berrien County, GA.

LAKELAND, Ga. – H. H. (Brocy) Sirmans, 49, of Ray City, died at his home early today of an apparent heart attack.
    He was born and lived all his life in Berrien County.  He was a member of Ray City Baptist Church, the National Farmers Organization and the Farm Bureau.
    Survivors are his wife the former Marjorie Garner; a daughter, Patricia Ann Sirmans of Valdosta; mother, Mrs. Mamie Sirmans of Ray City; four sisters, Mrs. Lerine Harris and Mrs. Margaret Stalvey and Mrs. Edith Peters of Ray City and Mrs. Victoria Bradly of Savannah.
     Funeral services are to be held at 3 p. m. Wednesday at Ray City Baptist Church with burial at Beaver Dam Cemetery. The body is to be taken to the residence late today.
    Music Funeral Home of Lakeland is in charge of arrangements.
    Active pallbearers are to be Jackie Giddens, Murice Lankford, Marvin Harris, J. Bart Gaskins, Clyde Miller, Albert Studstill, James Swindle and Lonnie Plair.
    Honorary pallbearers are to be Walter J. Gaskins, Billy Clements, Glen Lee, John David Luke, Lawson Fountain, Sam Barker, Joe Latham, Jack Knight, Herbert Allen, Thomas Patten and Leland Kent.

Nazi Prisoners at Moody Field Worked Ray City Farms

During WWII roughly 372,000 German POWs were held in about 600 prisoners of war camps operated by the U.S. Army across the United States.  One such prison camp was established at  Moody Army Air Field (now Moody Air Force Base), about 7 miles south of Ray City, GA.

Walter and Herman Schroer, Elias M. “Hun” Knight and Lewis Bauknight were among those who used German POWs from Moody Field to help with farm labor. The Schroers operated a bedding plant farm just south of Ray City and employed more than 100 German prisoners  to pull and bundle the plants.  Hun Knight and Lewis Bauknight had work for about six to eight prisoners each week  during the summer cropping tobacco. In Lowndes and surrounding counties, German POWs  also worked sugar cane, peanuts, and especially timber.

WWII German Prisoners of War in Georgia.
WWII German Prisoners of War in Georgia. Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/51916128@N03/5085141454/

The German POWs first arrived at Moody Field just before Thanksgiving in 1943. News accounts heralding the arrival focused on the economic benefits and the security of the prison camp.

The Valdosta Times
November 22, 1943 

NAZI PRISONERS NOW AT MOODY

Officials of Local Post to Confer Today With City and County Authorities on Labor Activities

MOODY FIELD, Ga. – Officials from this Army Air Forces Pilot School were to confer today with Valdosta and Lowndes county officials in regard to work activities of the German prisoners of war now quartered at this post.

The conference was scheduled in an effort to aid in the labor shortage of this section, which has been highlighted by demands for farm and other labor, depleted by war industries and armed services.

The group of prisoners arrived at Moody Field last week-end and will be under the supervision of Lt. Edward T. Lillis of Arlington, Va., Prisoner of War Camp Commander, who commands the contingent of the 315th Military Police Escort Guard Company, assigned to guard the Nazis. Lt. Lillis arrived at Moody Field from Camp Blanding, Fla.

The Nazi prisoners are being quartered in buildings on the parade ground, near the motor pool of this Pilot School. The Military Police have their quarters in the same area, outside the prison stockade.

In November of 1943, newspaper articles in the Atlanta Constitution were commenting on the POW camps and  laborers  in Georgia.

The Atlanta Constitution
Nov. 23, 1943 

“There are individual [pulpwood] producers in and around Valdosta who have been making shipments weekly in excess of 200 carloads, because of available manpower from farms.  Production is expected to soar even higher after this week, it being planned to put a number of German war prisoners from Moody Field into the woods beginning Monday, and things will move smoothly unless the shipments should cause a shortage in transportation. – 

The Atlanta Constitution
November 28, 1943, pg 14A

VALDOSTA, Ga., Nov. 27. –  Lieutenant Edward T. Lillis, who commands the contingent of the Military Escort Guard Company, assigned to guarding the German prisoners of war at Moody Field, was the guest speaker Thursday at the dedication of the annex and recreation center of the Valdosta Hebrew congregation.

a

Judge William Daniel "Jack" Knight, son of E.M. "Hun" Knight and Gladys Daniel Knight. He served as a judge of the Superior Courts of the Alapaha Judicial Circuit, 1977-1996.

Judge William Daniel “Jack” Knight, son of E.M. “Hun” Knight and Gladys Daniel Knight. He served as a judge of the Superior Courts of the Alapaha Judicial Circuit, 1977-1996.

The late Judge W.D. “Jack” Knight, of Berrien County, was a boy of ten growing up at Ray City when the German POW camp was established at Moody Field.  He later recalled how the German prisoners worked on his father’s farm:

It was 1943 or 1944 , German WWII prisoners were kept in a stockade or prison at Moody Air Force Base.

 My Daddy, (E. M. “Hun” Knight) had a farm located three miles south of Moody Air Force Base in those years. On this farm lived Lewis and Loudell Bauknight, who were “tenant farmers”.  Corn, peanuts and tobacco were the main crops grown, but sometimes watermelons and cucumbers were grown on a “share crop basis”.

My Daddy and Lewis received permission from the military authorities to work a group of these prisoners on our farm “cropping” tobacco.  Lewis would go to Moody AFB early each morning in his old pickup truck and get the prisoners and transport them back to our farm for work. As I recall the prisoners would sit in the back of the truck and the MP (armed guard) would sit in front with Lewis.  There would usually be six or eight prisoners working each time and they would bring their lunch which had been prepared in the “mess” at Moody AFB.

Each group would have one or two who could speak English and they would receive instructions from Lewis as to how to “crop” the tobacco and translate it on to the other prisoners.  When they first began to work they wanted to “crop” all the leaves off the tobacco stalk and had to be told to only “crop” three leaves from each stalk.

They were dressed in military clothes (brown) with a large “PW” on their backs. The all had military issue shoes and were real neat with short hair cuts and most of them had blonde hair.

At this time, I was ten years old and worked on the farm each time that tobacco was gathered and was very impressed by this entire matter.  As I recall, my daddy had to pay each prisoner twenty-five  or fifty cents per day as the military didn’t want people to say we were using slave labor on the farms.

Each time they came, Lewis’ wife, Loudell, (an excellent cook) would prepare a huge farm dinner for all of us who worked at the barn.  She would always give them som of that food and they very quickly began to like it, and the same group wanted to come back to our farm for each tobacco gathering which was once each week during the summer months.
~ Judge W. D. Jack Knight

German POWs at a prison camp in Georgia. Source: http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-592

German POWs at a prison camp in Georgia.  Source: http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-592

Area residents found the German prisoners intriguing from several perspectives.  These were the enemies that the native sons of south Georgia were fighting against;  they were Hitler’s “supermen.”  And they were the economic salvation of the region, in a time when the available farm labor had all been recruited for the war effort.  Many residents would later recall seeing truckloads of German POWs being transported around the region under military guard, to serve as laborers on the farms and timber lands of the Wiregrass.  In an Op/Ed piece, the Valdosta Times commented on the myth and facts of the German prisoners of war that were interned at Moody Field.

The Valdosta Times
Monday, December 6, 1943

HEIL ROOSEVELT

The appearance of German prisoners at work in various places about this section has been creating quite a stir lately. Crowds have flocked to these spots to get a view of the Germans, anxious to see what they look like…only to find that they look just about like the Americans they see on the street every day…exploding in their minds any ideas they may have had about Hitler’s race of “supermen.”

It seems there’s been a false impression made by the rumors going the rounds that the Nazi prisoners are not such good workers. Reports coming in from the pulpwood operators and others employing the prisoners indicate that the prisoners are catching on speedily to jobs which the have never done, and which they have never seen done.

One pulpwood operator, S.M. Hemingway, is quick in telling you that the German prisoners of war are the happiest bunch of fellows he ever saw, and that he ever saw, and that they are easy to guard, since the last thing they seem to have on their minds is the idea of leaving three squares daily, comfortable living quarters and the regular pay they receive … only for a chance to escape to their own bomb-ridden country where they would be again sent into battle to face death.  Their chances of getting back are nil, anyhow.  Mr. Hemingway says that while the Germans are entirely “green” when it comes to cutting pulpwood, they are good workers, and learning fast.  He also states that they are witty, and enjoy a good joke as well as the next fellow.

This writer visited a few of them at work at the Nat Smith brick warehouse one afternoon last week, where they were hard at work unloading fertilizer from boxcars.  They were in high spirits.  One of the prisoners, while waiting to load the wheelbarrows, had drawn on the side of the car, in the dust of the fertilizer, an image of President Roosevelt.  Probably they wanted someone’s picture to heil.

 South Georgians would later recall the impact of the German prisoners, and the positive cultural interchange that occurred, even under difficult war-time conditions.

The Charlotte Observer
May 5, 2002

German POWs Affected the South

  Harley Langdale had a hard time finding ablebodied workers during World War II, so he didn’t hesitate when offered hundreds of strong former soldiers who would cut timber, plant seedlings and clear land.

    The soldiers weren’t American heroes returning from the front. They were German prisoners of war, some of the hundreds of thousands taken to camps in the United States-most of them in the South.

“Some people were afraid of them,” said Langdale, 87. “They thought some would get away but we never did have any serious incidents.”

The camps are an all-but-forgotten part of history, but the prisoners did leave some remnants behind in south Georgia and throughout the country.

Langdale’s POWs came from camps at Moody Field near Valdosta and Fargo, an isolated Okefenokee Swamp town. They planted many of the azaleas at what is now Moody Air Force Base, and there still is a “Prison Camp Road” north of Fargo.

Some 700 internment camps were thrown up in the United States to detain 426,000 enemy soldiers, who arrived sometimes at a rate of 30,000 a month. Some Americans resented the relative comfort and food provided the enemy soldiers. Texans called camps the “Fritz Ritz.”

But Georgians said the Germans won people over.

“I got the impression they were glad to be over here,” said Langdale, chairman of the Langdale Co., a major south Georgia timber company. “I didn’t see any animosity toward us at all.”

Although there were a few Japanese and Italian prisoners, most were Germans.

“The young women from the area…remember they were good-looking and didn’t spit, because they didn’t chew tobacco,” said Renate Milner, a German-born historian in Valdosta who is writing a book about the POWs.

The German internees are still remembered for their skills and hard work. With most of America’s young men overseas, the POWs helped overcome a labor shortage by harvesting crops and doing other physical labor for 80 cents a day.  

About 466 of the 700 camps were in the South; Georgia had 40 with 11,800 prisoners, Milner said.

“The government classified them as unskilled laborers, but in reality they were very skilled carpenters, mechanics and goldsmiths,” Milner said. “They were pulled into the military at 16 or 17, but by then, they had already been trained” in technical schools.

Audrey Peters, 77, worked at Moody Field during the war. The Valdosta woman still has a wooden jewelry box made by one of the prisoners, who carved “Gerhard Todte, Moody Field 1.9.1945” on the bottom.

“They were nice people,” she said. “Of course we didn’t fraternize with them. I tried to locate him, but I couldn’t. I wanted to see how he was doing and thank him for the box.”

Related posts:

For more on German POWs in Georgia, see:

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.

Senior Class of 1951, Ray City School

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