Berrien County Cadets and Coeds at Georgia’s “West Point”

Cadets on parade in front of North Georgia Agricultural College, 1891. Jonathan Perry Knight, of Rays Mill, GA attended the college around the late 1880s.

Cadets on parade in front of North Georgia Agricultural College, 1891. Jonathan Perry Knight, of Rays Mill, GA attended the college around the late 1880s.

For over 125 years  “Georgia’s ‘West Point’” has been a college destination of choice for students of Berrien County, GA.

North Georgia Agricultural College (now known as the University of North Georgia), at Dahlonega, GA was founded in 1873 as a military academy  where military duty was obligatory for all male students over the age of 15. Cadets at the college drilled daily in artillery, infantry and other exercises.

1893-north-georgia-college-ad_tifton-gazette

1893 Tifton Gazette advertisement for North Georgia Agricultural College.

The school’s 1938 Undergraduate Bulletin noted:

North Georgia College was originally organized and administered on a military basis which system has prevailed from the date of its founding. The college has been classified by the United States Government as an “essentially military college,” being one of eight colleges in the United States so designated. It is the only one in Georgia, and, since “essentially military colleges” endeavor to emulate the traditions of West Point, North Georgia College has well been called “Georgia’s ‘West Point.’” General Robert Lee Bullard, formerly Commandant of Cadets and Professor of Military Science and Tactics, referred to the college as one of the two finest military schools in the country.

1910 Valdosta Times advertisement for North Georgia Agricultural College.

1910 Valdosta Times advertisement for North Georgia Agricultural College.

Among those from Ray City who served in the Corps of Cadets at North Georgia  were Jonathan Perry Knight (1872-1953), Alexander Stephens Knight (1883-1966); William “Harry” Luke (1923-2000); James Arthur Grissett (1932-2010), and Joe Donald Clements (1931-2014).

Other cadets and coeds from Nashville, Berrien County, GA were:

  • W. M. Giddens, who pursued a business degree at North Georgia in 1898;
  • Alexander Stephens Knight (1883-1966), brother of E. M. “Hun” Knight, was a sub-freshman in 1898; became a pharmacist in Nashville, GA; later moved to Atlanta, then Palm Beach, FL.
  • Alvah William Gaskins, (1885-1934) merchant of Nashville, GA, graduated from North Georgia Agricultural College in 1907; buried Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA
  • Archie Wardlaw Starling,  1922 sophomore cadet at NGC. Later served as editor of the Nashville Herald; buried Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA
  • William Lawton Clyatt, (1902-1987), of Nashville, was in the preparatory program in 1923; buried Old Providence Cemetery, Union County, FL
  • Robert Felton Bullard, (1908-1969) an NGC freshman in 1925 pursuing a B.S. in Communications; later served as Director of the Southeast Region for the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation; buried Westview Cemetery, Nashville, GA
  • Junius Vanvechton Talley, (1907-1963) an NGC freshman in 1925 pursuing a B.S. in Communications; later elected mayor of Nashville, GA; buried Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA
  •  John Parrish Knight; sophomore in 1925 was seeking a B.S. in Mine Engineering;
  • Charles Verne Parham and William Lamar Parham (1907-1932) were brothers  attending North Georgia College in 1925, Verne as a senior cadet and Lamar as a freshman. Lamar was killed in a plane crash at Randolph Field, TX in 1932.
  • Wilmot Earle Bulloch, graduated in 1928 with a B.S. in Mine Engineering;
  • Marion June Akins, 1929 NGC freshman cadet, was seeking his bachelors degree;
  • Shelby Jackson Morris was a freshman cadet and tackle on the 1930 North Georgia football team;
  • Wilson Connell entered North Georgia as College as a freshman cadet in 1937 and served in the military during WWII;
  • Marie Sirmans, a 1938 freshman coed at North Georgia College;
  • John Franklin Miller, (1921-1999),  a freshman cadet in 1939; buried Westview Cemetery, Nashville, GA
  • Donald Rowan, (1920-2006)  1939 sophomore at NGC, was a grandson of Lucius Galveston Outlaw and Della Sutton Outlaw ; joined the Army Air Corps  and was assigned duty in the Hawaiian Islands for the duration of WWII;
  • Walter W. “Buddy” Dickson, (1920-1997) in the NGC Corps of Cadets in 1939 and served in the Army Air Corps during WWII; buried Westview Cemetery, Nashville, GA
  • Donald Willis, (1921-1981) was a resident of Nashville, GA when he entered the Corp of Cadets  at NGC in 1940; served in the Army during WWII; buried Oak Ridge Cemetery, Tifton, GA.
  • Jamie Connell, (1920-1973) graduated  from NGC and enlisted in the Army in 1943, becoming a navigator-bombardier in the U.S. Army Air Force during WWII;
  • John David Luke, (1921-2004) 1940 sophomore cadet, North Georgia College;  In WWII served in the U.S. Army Air Corp, P-40 Pilot Instructor, Luke Field, Arizona; buried Westview Cemetery, Nashville, GA
  • William Henry Mathis, (1922-1993) of Nashville, GA. 1940 Freshman, Corps of Cadets, North Georgia College; buried Westview Cemetery, Nashville, GA
  • Edison “Eddie” Brodgon, (1918-1984), of Alapaha, GA was an NGC  sophomore cadet in 1940 – Enlisted in the Army, July 18, 1941; buried Riverside Missionary Baptist Church, Berrien County, GA
  • George W. Chism, of Nashville, GA. 1940 freshman cadet at North Georgia College.
  • Donald Keefe,  of Nashville, GA; son of turpentine operator Roland E. Keefe; 1941 sophomore cadet at North Georgia College; joined the Army Air Corps and served in Europe; died in France during WWII.
  • Jacob Jackson “Jack” Rutherford, (1924-2004), a 1942 NGC freshman Cadet. Served in the Army in WWII; buried at Douglas City Cemetery, Douglas, GA.
  • William “Harry” Luke (1923-2000),  born  in Ray City, GA; moved to Nashville, GA as a boy; 1942 Freshman cadet at North Georgia College; flew with the 390th bomber squadron during WWII; flew in the Berlin airlift, 1949; career Air Force officer; ret. 1973; buried Alabama Heritage Cemetery, Montgomery, AL.
  • William D. Alexander,   of Nashville, GA. 1942, Freshman cadet at North Georgia College.
  • Bill Roquemore (1923-1997),  of Nashville, GA. 1942, sophomore cadet at North Georgia College. Enlisted in the Army in 1943; Served in WWII as a Martin B-26 bomber pilot; married Nell Patten; operated Patten Seed company in Lakeland, GA. Later mayor of Lakeland; buried City Cemetery, Lakeland, GA.
  • James A. Grissett (1932-2010); born and raised in Ray City, GA; 1951  Corps of Cadets, North Georgia College; later received a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Tech.
  • Joe D. Clements (1931-2014), of Ray City, GA; North Georgia College cadet 1949-1953; joined the Army after graduation; later moved to Rome, GA.
Jonathan Perry Knight, 1902.

Jonathan Perry Knight grew up in Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA and attended North Georgia College in the 1880s (photographed 1902).

 

James A. Grissett, 1951, Corps of Cadets, North Georgia College

James A. Grissett, 1951, Corps of Cadets, North Georgia College

 

Joe Donald Clements, 1931-2014

Joe Donald Clements (1931-2014), of Ray City, GA. 1953 Corps of Cadets, North Georgia College.

Jamie Connell, of Nashville, GA. 1940 sophomore at North Georgia College

Jamie Connell, of Nashville, GA. 1940 sophomore at North Georgia College.

 

 

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Jimmy Grissett, Mailman

James Arthur Grissett (1900-1983)

James Grissett, Sr. was a mail carrier serving the Ray City area, and for some time he served as a U.S. Postmaster. He was a landmark of the postal service in Ray City, his career spanning more than 40 years.

Jimmy Grissett, of Ray City, GA, delivering mail,  June 1970.  Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Jimmy Grissett, of Ray City, GA, delivering mail, June 1970. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

Related Posts:

Portrait of Jimmy Grissett, Jr.

James Arthur Grissett, Jr. (1932-2010)

 

Jimmy Grissett, 1949 Class President, Ray City School

Jimmy Grissett, 1949 Class President, Ray City School

 

Jimmy Grissett, 1948 Ray City School photo.

Jimmy Grissett, 1948 Ray City School photo.

Jimmy Grissett, born December 1, 1932, was one of five children born to James and Lily Crum Grissett. James Grisset, Sr. was a mail carrier serving the Ray City area, and for some time he served as a U.S. Postmaster.  The Crum family had an automotive business in Lakeland. Lily Grisset was known throughout the community for her kindness and assistance to those less fortunate. For years, she played the organ at Ray City Baptist Church.

The Grissetts owned a large farm at Ray City, GA situated between Beaverdam Creek and Johnson Street.  This land also had some frontage on Pauline Street and on Main Street. The house located on Pauline Street across from the Beaverdam Cemetery was owned by the Grissetts, although they never lived there. The house may have been occupied by tennant farmers who rented some of the Grissett land.

As young people, Jimmy Grisset, Anna Martha (sister), Diane Miley, Carroll Brown Guthrie, Herman Knight Guthrie,  and some of the Knight cousins spent summers working at the tobacco barn on Paul Knight’s farm out on Clabberville Road (aka Johnson Street), southeast of Ray City.  At the time this land was being farmed by Herman Guthrie, son-in-law of Paul Knight.

Following graduation from Ray City High School, Jimmy Grissett went on to study at North Georgia College and Georgia Institute of Technology where he received a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1958.

Image:  The Cyclops of 1951, Published by the Cadets and Coeds of North Georgia College, Dahlonega, Georgia.

Image: The Cyclops of 1951, Published by the Cadets and Coeds of North Georgia College, Dahlonega, Georgia.

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James A. Grissett, 1953,  Corps of Cadets, North Georgia College

James A. Grissett, 1952, Corps of Cadets, North Georgia College http://www.archive.org/stream/cyclops45nort#page/37/mode/1up/

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  Image: James A. Grissett, Jr., Blue Print, 1954: Georgia Institute of Technology Yearbook

Image: James A. Grissett, Jr., Blue Print, 1954: Georgia Institute of Technology Yearbook

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Image: James A. Grissett, Jr., Blue Print, 1957: Georgia Institute of Technology Yearbook

Image: James A. Grissett, Jr., Blue Print, 1957: Georgia Institute of Technology Yearbook

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Image: James Arthur Grissett, Jr. Blue Print,1958: Georgia Institute of Technology Yearbook

Image: James Arthur Grissett, Jr. Blue Print,1958: Georgia Institute of Technology Yearbook

In 1934 Ray City was ‘Noted Section’ of Berrien County

Ray City began 1934 on an optimistic note.  A “booster” story from the Nashville Herald praised the farming, education, churches, municipal government, roads and businesses of Ray City.

The Nashville Herald, 
January 25, 1934, Pg 1

RAY CITY IS NOTED SECTION

Excellent Community of Berrien County and South Georgia – Fine Farming Section

In writing about different communities of Berrien County it is next to impossible to neglect the city of Ray City and the large farming territory surrounding it.  The Ray City section constitutes the southern portion of Berrien County, where extensive farm operations are carried on during every month of the year in all lines of endeavor.

The trading point is the city of Ray City, just ten miles south of Nashville, the county seat.  It has a population of around 500 people, all of whom are industrious and hospitable, with fine schools, churches and live wire merchants.  There is no better place in south Georgia to live than Ray City.

The farming population surrounding Ray City constitute an industrious and progressive people.  To a certain measure they are prosperous, because everything to be raised on a farm can be grown on their fertile lands, and each year their products find ready markets, returning to them cash in abundance.  The section is noted for its fine tobacco and cotton lands and is a hog and cattle raising territory of excellent possibilities.

The city of Ray City affords every convenience and comfort for the citizens of the community.  There is a fine school system, which is under the capable and efficient supervision of Prof. P. M. Shultz.  Prof. Ulmer Crosby is principal, and the other teachers are:  Mrs. P. M. Shultz, Miss Jessie Aycock, Mrs. A.B. Baskins, Miss Lillian Ford and Mrs. Eulalie Dickson.

The school has nine grades, with an enrollment of a few over the two hundred mark.  A number of fine students complete the school each year, advancing to higher institutions of learning.  The school system in Ray City is really a big asset, (illegible) a higher type of citizenry.

The school board is composed of the following gentlemen who handle their duties in a most admirable manner and of benefit to patrons and students combined.  H.A. Swindle, chairman, M.A. Studstill, sec.-treasl., C.H. Vickers, J.M. Studstill and W.M. Creech, members.

Ray City is not short either along the spiritual line, having four active churches as follows:  Baptist, Rev. Walter Branch, pastor; Methodist, Rev. F.A. Ratcliffe, pastor; Primitive Baptist, Elder C.H. Vickers, pastor; Christian, supply pastor.  The Baptist and Methodist churches conduct Sunday Schools, and young people’s organizations.

The affairs of the city of Ray City are in the hands of men who apparently have the united support of the people, as the entire body was recently re-elected to office.  J. H. Swindle is mayor, and the councilmen are:  G.V. Hardie, Y.F. Carter, H.P. Clements and W.M. Creech.

The standing committees for the year 1934 are:  Water and lights, G.V. Hardie and Y.F. Carter; Street, W.M. Creech and H.P. Clements; Sanitary, entire city council.

In questioning the mayor, Mr. J. H. Swindle, he stated that the city enjoyed a very good administration the past year, and that 1934 was begun with the city in much better financial condition than a year ago.

Ray City is soon to enjoy one of the best highway outlets of any small city in south Georgia.  It is located on Route No. 11, the short route into Florida from Atlanta.  This highway has been recently graded for paving and at some future date this work will be a reality.  Other good roads lead out in all directions as well.  It is located on the Georgia and Florida railroad, and is one of the railroad’s most important shipping points.  Mr. T.W. Thompson is the G. & F. Agent, having served in that capacity for a long number of years.

The postmistress is Mrs. J. F. Fountain, and the rural mail carriers are James Grissett and L.A. McDonald.

There are also several industries which add to the progressiveness of the town and community.

The Ray City Ice & Storage Company, of which Mr. D.T. Sharpe is manager, serves a wide territory.  At present this concern has on storage over 100,000 pounds of meat being cured for farmers.

The Y.F. Carter Naval Stores concern is the largest firm in the community, where approximately fifty men are given employment.  This firm operates over ten crops of boxes, the leases affording additional revenue for landowners.  It has been in operation for about eighteen years.

The J.H. Swindle Gins and Warehouse is another concern of benefit to the entire section.  Plants are located at Ray City and Barrett, being among the most up to date in south Georgia.  Mr. Swindle buys cotton and cotton seed, corn, peanuts, hay and other country produce.  Besides gin and warehouse activities he operates a twelve horse farm.

The Peoples Banking Company, a private institution, is owned by Mr. J. H. Swindle, with Mr. E. J. Patten as cashier.  This bank was organized several years ago by Mr. Swindle when Ray City lost its regular bank, so as to carry on the business operations locally and without interruptions.

Mrs. R.N. Warr is owner of old Ray Pond, famous for its fishing for the past hundred years.  Mrs. Warr acquired the pond about two years ago, and since has created a good income out of the sale of minnows, pond plants, frogs, and tadpoles.  The pond covers an area of approximately 4,000 acres.

Among Ray City’s most enterprising merchants are:  Swindle & Clements, B. Ridgell Jones Drug Store, Purvis Grocery Store, Weeks Grocery Store, Hardie Filling Station, South Georgia Oil Company, Bradford Barber Shop, Putnell Barber Shop, Swain Garage, Woodward Blacksmith Shop, Griner Corn Mill and others.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

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James Henry Swindle ~ Businessman and Public Servant

Posting Mail at Ray City

Post marked Ray's Mills, GA

Post marked Ray’s Mills, GA

 Levi J. Knight and the first Wiregrass Pioneers to settle on Beaverdam Creek in the area of present day Ray City, GA arrived here about 185 years ago, in the 1820s. At first  these settlers had no mail service at all, but within a year or two a post office was established at Daniel “Big Thumb” McCranie’s place on the Coffee Road. That was a 50 mile round trip for the settlers at Beaverdam Creek to fetch their mail.  Other post offices sprang up to serve the pioneers of Old Berrien County, but no post office was established closer than 10 or 12 miles to Ray City until after the Civil War.

KNIGHT’S MILL POST OFFICE
After the end of the Civil War, the grist mill that General Levi J. Knight and his son-in-law Thomas M. Ray had established on Beaverdam Creek became the site of the first post station serving the present day area of Ray City, GA. This mill was originally known as “Knight and Ray’s Mill” and in 1867 a post office established here was simply referred to as “Knight’s Mill.” In 1870 the United States Postal Service Guide indicated that the postmaster of Knight’s Mill received an annual salary of $12.   The Post Office Department Record of Appointment of Postmasters shows that Green Bullard  was appointed postmaster of Knight’s Mill (later known as Rays Mill) on August 3, 1868. Bullard held the position until June 29, 1871 when the Knight’s Mill post office was discontinued.

RAY’S MILL POST STATION
In 1870, after the death of General Knight, Thomas M. Ray bought out complete ownership of the mill from his father-in-law’s estate. Thereafter the mill and the surrounding community became known as Ray’s Mill. Apparently from 1871 and 1875 there was no post office in operation at Ray’s Mill, and residents were again compelled to take their mail at Nashville or Milltown. In 1876 a local post office resumed operation and according to the Post Office Department Record of Appointment of Postmasters,  Henry Harrison Knight was appointed on June 6, 1876.  The United States Official Postal Guide of July, 1879 lists the post office at “Ray’s Mills,” Berrien County, Georgia, but the postmaster’s name is not given. The Georgia State Gazetteer, Business and Planter’s Directory for 1881-82 also lists the the Ray’s Mill post office. In the 1885 Official Register of the United States, H.H. Knight was again listed as Postmaster of Ray’s Mill, Berrien County, Georgia. His compensation for this service was $36.25. Post Office Dept records appear to indicate  that H.H. Knight was reappointed as Postmaster on May 22, 1886.  His wife, Mary Susan Ray Knight, was officially appointed Postmaster on November 1, 1892.  Joseph O. Sirmans was appointed on October 2, 1899 and served for about a year.  On September 1, 1900 the appointment was given to William C. Johnson (Johnson married H.H. Knight’s daughter in 1907).  The Post Office Department Record of Appointment of Postmasters documents that David J. Rigell was appointed Postmaster of Rays Mill on March 8, 1901.  Ulysses A. Knight took over on August 12, 1902 and was later confirmed as postmaster. Josiah S. Rigell took the position on April 28, 1903.  Post office records seem to indicate that the post office at Ray’s Mill was discontinued effective March 31, 1904 and for a while the mail was sent to Milltown (now Lakeland).

Some local histories say David Rigell, a  merchant of Berrien County, was the first postmaster at Ray’s Mill.  The primary sources, timing and other factors indicate that this was not the case (see David Jackson Rigell ~ First Postmaster of Ray’s Mill? Maybe Not!), but that Rigell served as postmaster in the 1901. It is speculated that the death of General Knight left the position vacant until Henry H. Knight, son-in-law of Thomas M. Ray and nephew of General Knight took an interest in civil service.

In 1909, Eugene Ray reported that “Charles H. Anderson and Dr. Guy Selman, young men, are putting up a drug store. Mr. Anderson is postmaster and Dr. Selman practices his profession here,” in Ray City, GA. The Post Office Department Record of Appointment of Postmasters shows that Charles Anderson was officially appointed Postmaster of Rays Mill on February 6, 1909, and  the Official Register of the United States shows in 1909, Chas Anderson was earning, $82 a month or $984 a year as Postmaster of Ray’s Mill.  That sum might have been comparable to an annual salary of about $35,000 a year in 2007 dollars.

On April 1, 1920, James “Joel” F. Fountain  became the Acting Postmaster. His appointment as Postmaster was confirmed in the U.S. Senate on June 5th of that year. The following year the  Ray City Post Office made the state news when it was dynamited by “Yeggmen“.

The census of 1930  shows James F. Fountain continued as the Ray City postmaster.  James Arthur Grissett and Lacy Albert McDonald were employed as rural mail carriers at Ray City.

By 1934, Mamie E. Fountain, wife of J. F. Fountain, took over as Postmaster at Ray City.

In 1939, the Nashville Herald announced a vacancy in the postmaster position at Ray City:

The Nashville Herald,
February 2, 1939    Pg 1

Postmaster’s Exam Called for Ray City

      An open competitive examination will be held shortly to fill the position of postmaster of Ray City, according to an announcement from the Civil Service Commission, Washington, D.C.
Applications for the examination will close on February 10th.  All who desire to take the examination for this place must file their application by that date.
The place and date of examination will be announced after the date for making applications is closed.
Complete information may be obtained by applying at the post office in Ray City.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

National Archives Record of Appointment of Postmasters, Ray City, GA

National Archives Record of Appointment of Postmasters, Ray City, GA

The U. S. Postal service and census records provide the following on subsequent Postal employees at Ray City.

Name Title Date Appointed
James Arthur Grissett Mail Carrier prior to 4/04/1940
Chloe Ann Johnson Asst Postmaster prior to 4/04/1940
Garth L. Webb Postmaster prior to 4/04/1940
William A. Garner Acting Postmaster 04/02/1955
William A. Garner Postmaster 08/06/1957
Mrs. Florence V. Garner Officer-In-Charge 05/08/1970
Timothy R. McLeod Postmaster 11/27/1971
Jeane U. Camp Officer-In-Charge 06/04/1987
Billy R. Cromer Officer-In-Charge 07/30/1987
Muriel S. Privett Officer-In-Charge 11/05/1987
Jeane U. Camp Postmaster 01/30/1988
Nancy Deloras Courson Officer-In-Charge 01/08/2003
Nancy D. Courson Postmaster 05/17/2003
Flora Parker Officer-In-Charge 07/26/2012
Wayne Putnal and Lawson Fountain at the Ray City, GA Post Office shortly after it opened.

Wayne Putnal and Lawson Fountain at the Ray City, GA Post Office shortly after it opened.

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Related Posts:

James Arthur Grissett, Sr.

James Arthur Grissett (1900-1983)

James Grissett, Sr. was a mail carrier serving the Ray City area, and for some time he served as a U.S. Postmaster.  His wife, Lillie Crum Grissett, was known throughout the community for her kindness and assistance to those less fortunate. For years, she played the organ at Ray City Baptist Church. The Crum family had an automotive business in Lakeland.

James Arthur Grissett was a son of Sarah Martha Hendrix or Hendricks (1881-1975) and Lucian Hall Grissett (1862-1935). His father, Lucian, was born during the Civil War in North Carolina. His mother was a native of Georgia. As a boy, James A. Grissett lived with his family in Tattnall County, GA where his father operated a turpentine still and James attended school. The family lived in a rented home on Railroad Street in Claxton, GA where they were enumerated in 1910.

1910 Census enumeration of James Arthur Grissett in the household of his father, Lucian Hall Grissett, at Claxton, GA.

1910 Census enumeration of James Arthur Grissett in the household of his father, Lucian Hall Grissett, at Claxton, GA.

http://www.archive.org/stream/13thcensus1910po212unit#page/n642/mode/1up

Some time before 1920, James’ parents moved the family to Berrien County, GA and made their home in the Upper 10th District. At the enumeration of the 1920 census, Lucian Grissett was working there as a foreman for a turpentine operation, but by this time James had left his father’s household. In 1920, 19 year-old James A. Grissett was boarding with the Henderson family in the Mud Creek community, Clinch County, GA.  James Henderson was the manager of a naval stores outfit, and James Grissett was the commissary manager. The Henderson house was located on the Dupont Sirmans Road.

1920 Census enumeration of James Arthur Grissett, Mud Creek community, Clinch County, GA.

1920 Census enumeration of James Arthur Grissett, Mud Creek community, Clinch County, GA.

http://www.archive.org/stream/14thcensusofpopu244unit#page/n18/mode/1up

By 1922, James’ parents had moved to Ray City, GA where Lucian Hall Grissett attended the Missionary Baptist Church. About 1928, James A. Grissett married Lillian Crum. She was a daughter of Thomas J. Crum, subject of previous posts.

By 1930, James and Lillie Grissett had also relocated to Ray City, where they owned a home valued at $2200. James was employed as a letter carrier.

1930 Census enumeration of the Grissett Family in Ray City, GA.

1930 Census enumeration of the Grissett Family in Ray City, GA.

http://www.archive.org/stream/georgiacensus00reel338#page/n355/mode/1up

The Grissetts owned a large farm at Ray City, GA situated between Beaverdam Creek and Johnson Street. This land also had some frontage on Pauline Street and on Main Street. A house located on Pauline Street across from the Beaver Dam Cemetery was owned by the Grissetts, although they never lived there. The house may have been occupied by tenant farmers who rented some of the Grissett land.

James Arthur Grissett and Lillie Crum were the parents of five children.

  1. James A. “Jimmy” Grissett
  2. Anna Martha Grissett
  3. Elinor Grissett
  4. Gloria Jane Grissett
  5. Stephen Grissett

For many years, the Grissetts employed  a Mrs. Burnett. Mrs. Burnett’s son was a tenant farmer with the Grissetts. She lived in a house on Main Street, Ray City, GA. She walked to work every day, to the Grissett farm on the south side of Beaverdam Creek. Part of her job was to milk the cows, and she would bring home a pail of milk every day. She and her husband frequently made their evening meal on the fresh milk and cornbread.

Grissett-James-Arthur-and-Lillie-Crum

Graves of James Arthur Grissett, Sr. and Lillie Crum Grissett.  Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

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The Samuel Irvin Watson Highway

Samuel Irvin Watson Highway, near Ray City, GA.

Samuel Irvin Watson Highway, near Ray City, GA.

Heading northeast on highway 64 out of Ray City, GA  in the direction of Empire Church, you will encounter a sign at the Lanier county line that identifies this route as the Sam I. Watson Highway.  Sam Watson was raised on the Watson family farm, located near Empire Church about 5 miles northeast of Rays Mill, originally settled by his grandparents about 180 years ago.

Born August 9, 1877 in Lowndes county, GA Samuel Irvin Watson  was a son of Mary and Joseph Watson.

By age 22, Sam Watson was occupied as a school teacher. Enumerated in the census of 1900 next to his father, Sam had by that time established an independent household on a part of the family land. As yet unmarried, he owned a farm, free and clear of mortgage. Perhaps the establishment of his homestead was in preparation for matrimony; later that year Sam married Jennie Lee, a daughter of Amanda Clements and Moses C. Lee. Jennie was born on January 5, 1882 in Berrien County and grew up on her father’s farm near Ray’s Mill (now Ray City), GA.  As a girl she attended the Green Bay School, along with her brother, Bill.

Sam and Jennie were married July 1, 1900 at the home of the bride’s parents. The ceremony was performed by  William C. Patten, Notary Public and Ex Officio Justice of the Peace.  (W.C. Patten was the husband of Jennie’s aunt Sarah Lee, and he later married Sam Watson’s sister,  Laura Watson.)

 

 

In September of 1918, Sam Watson registered for the draft for World War I.  At age 41 he was of medium height and build, with blue eyes and gray hair.

Perhaps Sam found the pay of a teacher was not sufficient to support his growing family. By 1920,  had returned to the occupation of farming, and was an employer in general farming.  One of his employees was John Kirkland. Sam’s eldest daughter, Gola Watson, was already a student in college. The census of 1920 shows the Watson farm was located on the Ray City & Mud Creek Road in the Milltown District of Berrien County, and area soon to be cut into the newly created Lanier county.

Sam Watson, a man of Berrien and Lanier county his entire life, and was again enumerated on his farm near Ray City in the census of 1930. That year the enumeration included a count of citizens who owned radio sets, which Sam Watson did.   In the enumeration of Ray City, there were only eight radio sets within the city limits, the owners being James A. Grissett, John D. Luke, Henry Swindle, Marvin Purvis, Walter Altman, John Simpkins, Joseph Johnson and Fannie Parks.  The average cost of a radio in 1929 was around $139 dollars. In terms of comparable “affordability” for an average person in today’s dollars (2010 index) this would be like making a $7,600 purchase (relative worth based on nominal GDP per capita index – see MeasuringWorth.com).

It is safe to say that Sam Watson was among the prominent citizens of Lanier County. He was a former educator and a successful farmer who could afford relative luxuries, like a radio.  He followed the politics of Ed Rivers, State Assemblyman from Lakeland, GA.

After Ed Rivers was elected Governor of Georgia in 1936 he appointed Sam Watson to the State Board of Education.

But more about that in the next post.

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Anna Martha Grissett at Georgia State Womans College

Ray City History Anna Martha Grissett

Anna Martha Grissett, 1939. 5th Grade class photo, Ray City School. Ray City, Berrien County, GA

Anna Martha Grissett, 1939. 5th Grade class photo, Ray City School. Ray City, Berrien County, GA

Anna Martha Grissett was born December 31, 1928, to James Arthur Grissett and Lillian Crum.  She was born just in time to be the first birth announced in the Ray City News newspaper, which began publication January 3, 1929. Ann attended the Ray City School, where classmates say she was a very bright student.  When she was ready for high school, her parents arranged for her to attend school in Valdosta. As young people, Anna Martha Grissett, Jimmy Grissett,  Diane MileyCarroll Brown GuthrieHerman Knight Guthrie,  and some of the Knight cousins spent summers working at the tobacco barn on Paul Knight’s farm out on Clabberville Road (aka Johnson Street), southeast of Ray City.  At the time this land was being farmed by Herman Guthrie, son-in-law of Paul Knight. After high school, Ann Grissett attended Georgia State Womans College at Valdosta, GA.  The personal mentions in the June 17, 1948 edition of the Nashville Herald told of her plans for the summer break.

1948 Ann Grissett at Georgia State Womans College

1948 Ann Grissett at Georgia State Womans College

 Miss Ann Grissett, a student of G. S. W. C. Valdosta, is spending this week at Ridge Crest, N. C. after which she will spend her vacation at home with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Grissett, in Ray City.

Ann Grissett subsequently attended the University of Georgia, graduating from that institution in 1950.  She later moved to Atlanta where she was employed by Amana Refrigeration, Inc.

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James Arthur Grissett, Jr. School Photos

James A. Grissett, 1951

James A. Grissett  attended school in Ray City, GA and went on to North Georgia College, “Georgia’s West Point” in the 1950s.  Other Ray City men attending North Georgia College were Joe Donald Clements, Wendell L. Clements, and Shellie W. Cornelius.

 Image: Cadet James A. Grissett,  The Cyclops of 1951, Published by the Cadets and Coeds of North Georgia College, Dahlonega, Georgia.