WWI Berrien County Draft Board

1917 Berrien County Draft Board

Men who are eligible to draft shall not “hide behind petticoats or children.”

On May 17, 1917, the Governor of Georgia announced the appointment of county boards of registration for the selective draft for WWI. The local boards, composed of leading civilians in each community, were entrusted with the administration of the selective draft. These Registration Boards, also known as Exemption Boards, issued draft calls in order of numbers drawn in a national lottery and determined exemptions for dependency, essential occupations, or conscientious objection. Board Members appointed for Berrien County, GA were:

  • Joe Varn Nix, Sheriff of Berrien County, GA
  • James Henry Gaskins, Clerk of the Superior Court of Berrien County, GA
  • Joel Ira Norwood , Ordinary of Berrien County, GA
  • Dr Lafayette Alonzo Carter, Physician

 

Joseph Varn Nix (1882-1963) <br /> Sheriff Joe Varn Nix, appointed by Governor Harris as Executive Officer of the Berrien County Registration Board for the 1917 WWI selective draft. Image detail courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Joseph Varn Nix (1882-1963)
Sheriff Joe Varn Nix, appointed by Governor Harris as Executive Officer of the Berrien County Registration Board for the 1917 WWI selective draft. Image detail courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

 

Jim Gaskins <br> With the onset of World War I in 1917,  James Henry "Jim" Gaskins was appointed as clerk of the Berrien County Exemption Board.  Gaskins was dismissed from the Exemption Board in December, 1917 after he became embroiled in a scandal over reward money for capture of a draft dodger. Gaskins was a former resident of Ray City, GA

Jim Gaskins (1872-1928)
With the onset of World War I in 1917,  James Henry “Jim” Gaskins was appointed as clerk of the Berrien County Registration Board.  Gaskins was dismissed from the Registration Board in December, 1917 after he became embroiled in a scandal over reward money for capture of a draft dodger. Gaskins was a former resident of Ray City, GA

 

Dr Lafayette Alonzo Carter (1858-1932), of Nashville, GA was appointed as Physician for the Berrien County Draft Registration Board, 1917

Dr Lafayette Alonzo Carter (1858-1932)
Dr. L. A. Carter, of Nashville, GA was appointed as Physician for the Berrien County Draft Registration Board, 1917

 

The fourth member of the board, Joel Ira Norward (1869-1956) (not pictured), was a native of Berrien County, GA born on July 9, 1869, in that section of Berrien later cut into Lanier, Georgia. Joel came from a large family, with eight brothers and sisters; at the time of his birth his father, Theodore Gourdine Norwood, was 65 and his mother, Elizabeth Green Norwood, was 32. Joel Ira Norwood married Laura Virginia Shaw on October 23, 1890 and they made their home in Nashville, GA. Joel farmed for a time and was elected county treasurer of Berrien County in 1896 and re-elected in 1900 and 1904, but declined to run for the position in the election of 1908.  In the early 1900s, J.I. Norwood was a business partner of fellow Draft Board member, Dr. L. A. Carter, the two being joint owners of a 250 acre land lot situated on Grand Bay, east of Ray’s Mill (now Ray City). By 1910, J. I. Norwood had his primary occupation from farming to selling insurance for a living. In 1910, he campaigned unsuccessfully for election as county sheriff of Berrien County. In 1912 he was elected Ordinary of Berrien County and was re-elected in 1916.  J. I. Norwood and Laura Virginia Shaw had seven children. He died on November 2, 1956, in Lowndes, Georgia, at the age of 87, and was buried in Adel, Georgia.

The Governor’s appointments and charges to the Registration Boards was published in the Atlanta Constitution, May 20, 1917 edition.

⊕⊕⊕

On May 17, 1917, the Governor of Georgia announced the appointment of county boards of registration for the selective draft for WWI. Registrars for Berrien County were J.V. Nix, J.H. Gaskins, J.I. Norwood, and L.A. Carter.

On May 17, 1917, the Governor of Georgia announced the appointment of county boards of registration for the selective draft for WWI. Registrars for Berrien County were J.V. Nix, J.H. Gaskins, J.I. Norwood, and L.A. Carter.

 

Atlanta Constitution
May 20, 1917

Governor Harris Appoints Boards of Registration

Officials in Charge Must Perfect Organizations and Swear in Registrars Within Five Days.

SHERIFFS AND MAYORS GIVEN INSTRUCTIONS

Registrations Will Be Taken at Regular Precinct Voting Places Between Hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

     Following President Wilson’s proclamation of Friday, setting June 5 as selective draft registration day, Governor Nat E. Harris received a telegram from Provost Marshal General E. H. Crowder Saturday morning directing him to order the several county registration boards of Georgia to organize and prepare to take this registration.
     Through Adjutant General J. Van Holt Nash, who will supervise the Georgia registration, orders were sent out Saturday to every sheriff and the mayors of all cities of more than 30,000 population in Georgia to organize their boards, swear in their registrars and to report the perfection of such organizations to the adjutant general within five days. General Nash sent out these orders by wire and is forwarding by mail necessary blanks for making the report of organization back to him.
Each county board is to be composed of the sheriff, the clerk, the ordinary and a county physician in such counties as have county physicians.
     It is estimated that one registrar will be required for every 80 men to be registered.

Hours of Registration.
     The registration will be taken between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., June 5, at the regular precinct voting places. Every man, sick or well, married or single, white or black, between the ages of 21 and 30, inclusive, will be required, under penalty, to register.
     In cases where a man is ill or expects to be absent from his place of residence on registration day, he may apply at once to the clerk for registration.
     Not only is there a jail penalty attached to failure to register, but like penalty attaches to failure on the part of registration boards, or members of such boards, to perform the full duties required of them.
     When a person has registered he will receive a registration certificate.
     The instructions as to how to answer the questions which will be asked of persons registering, emphasize the fact that the government does not desire that any man shall increase the misery of war by failure to qualify for exemption where other people are dependent upon him solely for support, yet , on the other hand, it is also made clear that the government does not propose that men who are eligible to draft shall “hide behind petticoats or children.”

Governor Names Boards.
     The governor has appointed the county boards of registration. These boards will have charge of the registration in their respective counties. The state of Georgia and war department will hold them responsible. They must see to the appointment of registrars in each precinct in their county and look after the registration and making out of returns and reporting to the governor or adjutant general.
     Owning to the fact that some counties have no county physicians; some counties have as many as three and four, and others have county physicians who live many miles from the county site, Governor Harris could not appoint the county physicians as a class, but had to select physicians to serve each county without respect of their employment by the counties.
     The following list shows the boards for the respective counties. The names appearing in the following order:
     First, the sheriff, who will be executive officer of the board; second, the clerk of the superior court, who will be secretary or clerk of the board; third, the ordinary; fourth, the physician for the board.

The Board, once organized, saw to the appointment of registrars in each precinct in the county to administer the registrations. In Berrien County these registrars included:

Franklin Otis Baker, farmer, Alapaha, GA
Seaborn Jackson Baker, County School Superintendent, Nashville, GA;
William Arthur Bradford, farmer, Adel, GA ;
Eugene F. Bussey, merchant, Enigma, GA ;
James R. Carter, farmer, Adel or Greggs, GA;
John Samuel Carter, farmer, Lois, GA
James Griffin Connell, farmer, Massee, GA ;
William Riley Crumpton, merchant, Lenox, GA;
William Montieth Evarts, farmer, Adel, GA;
Lyman Franklin Giddens, barber, Ray City, GA ;
Vinter B. Godwin, general merchandise salesman, Lenox , GA;
George Washington Gray, farmer, Enigma, GA ;
John D. Gray, farmer, Alapaha, GA;
Frank Griffin, farmer, Nashville, GA;
John T. Griffin, mail carrier, Nashville, GA;
Sims Griffin Griffin, farmer, Nashville, GA
William Henry Griffin, farmer, Nashville, GA ;
Adolphus Brown Hammond, farmer, Enigma, GA ;
Charlie Brown Harris, farmer and merchant, Enigma, GA
Samuel J. Harwell, druggist, Adel, GA ;
Edward L. Ivey, naval stores operator, Cecil, GA ;
Joseph J. Knight, cross tie camp manager, Milltown (Lakeland), GA
Perry Thomas Knight, minister, Milltown (Lakeland), GA;
Henry Lee Lovett, farmer, Sparks, GA ;
Ralph George Luke, bank cashier, Cecil, GA;
Perry Newton Mathis, bookkeeper for J.N. Bray Lumber Co., Cecil, GA;
Hady Calvin McDermid, farmer and doctor, Sparks, GA;
William J. McKinney, dry goods merchant, Sparks, GA;
Malcom J. McMillan, retail merchant, Alapaha, GA
B. G. Moore;
Henry Moore, Alapaha, GA
Irwin Newton Moore, farmer, Nashville, GA ;
Luther Glenn Moore, student, Sparks, GA;
Richmon Newbern, farmer, Massee, GA ;
Charles. S. Parham, salesman and teacher, Nashville, GA;
William Manning Pafford, dry goods salesman, Milltown (Lakeland), GA ;
Arthur Henry Robinson, clergyman, Adel, GA ;
Thomas Morgan Rowan, farmer, Nashville, GA;
W. Rowe;
David Asa Sapp, turpentine operator, Ray City, GA ;
James David Cooper Smith, dry goods merchant, Tifton, GA
H.C. Smith;
Early Hamilton Spivey, farmer, Bannockburn, GA ;
O. Sutton;
James Henry Swindle, merchant, Ray City, GA ;
Charles Oscar Terry, druggist, Ray City, GA ;
William Edwin Tyson, teacher, Lenox, GA;

Penalties for giving false testimony to Exemption Boards were published in local newspapers.

Penalties for giving false testimony to Exemption Boards were published in local newspapers.

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J. H. Gaskins and the Draft Board Scandal

James Henry Gaskins

James Henry Gaskins

On this date 96 years ago today, December 16, 1917, a World War I draft board scandal blazed across the front page headlines of  The Atlanta Constitution.  Draft Board members in Fulton county and one in Berrien County, J. H. Gaskins, were summarily dismissed.

James Henry Gaskins, a former resident of the Ray City, GA area, was a clerk of the Superior Court of Berrien County, GA (see Clerk).  He  had been appointed as clerk of the Berrien County Exemption Board with the implementation of the WWI Selective Service Act in 1917.  The local exemption boards, composed of leading civilians in each community, were responsible for the administration of the selective draft. These boards issued draft calls in order of numbers drawn in a national lottery and determined exemptions based on the draftees’ dependents, essential occupations, or conscientious objection.

Gaskins was dismissed from the Exemption Board in December, 1917 after he became embroiled in a scandal over reward money for capture of a man who had failed to report for the draft. He continued, however, to hold his position in the clerk’s office of the Superior Court.

The following material, excerpted from the headline article, describes Gaskins case:

The Atlanta Constitution
December 16, 1917 
PRESIDENT FIRES FULTON EXEMPTION BOARD: Fulton Board Members Discharged by President.

MANY DISCHARGES GRANTED BY BOARD WITHOUT WARRANT, STATE COMPLAINS

44 Per Cent of Whites Examined Were Excused on Physical Grounds, While Very Few Negroes Were Exempted From Service According to Statistics.

President Wilson has summarily discharged the entire exemption board of Fulton county, on the ground that the board has granted a large number of unwarranted exemptions and discharges.
    Statistics compiled from an investigation in the action of the Fulton county exemption board shows that out of 618 white men called in Fulton county, 526 were exempted, and that the number of men exempted on physical grounds amounted to 44 per cent of the total white men called.  On the other hand, the statistics show that 202 negroes were called in Fulton county, and only six negroes were exempted on any ground whatsoever.
    Major Joel B. Mallet, in charge of the administration of the selective service law in Georgia, on Saturday transmitted to the Fulton exemption board the order of the provost marshal general, from the president, discharging the board…

    Major Mallet has also received, through Provost Marshal General Crowder, an order discharging J. H. Gaskins, clerk of the Berrien county exemption board, for an alleged attempt to graft a part of a reward for the capture of a deserter.  T. J. Griffin, Sr., of Nashville, Ga., has been appointed to succeed Mr. Gaskins.
    The cases of both Mr. Gaskins and the Fulton county exemption board are still in the hands of the department of justice for whatever disposition the department may see fit to make of the cases.
    Gaskins is alleged to have written a letter to the chief of police of Detroit, stating that he held the name and Detroit address of a Berrien county negro who was classed as a deserter for failure to report, and that he would furnish the chief with information for the arrest of the negro on condition the chief would send him $25 of the $50 reward which the chief would receive upon presenting his prisoner at the nearest training camp.  The chief forwarded the letter to the provost marshal general.

Case of Mr. Gaskins.

    The discharge of Mr. Gaskins from the Berrien county board came when the provost marshal general, upon receipt of Gaskins’ letter to the Detroit chief of police, asked Major Mallet to make an investigation.   Major Mallet wrote to Mr. Gaskins and asked him for the name, serial and order number of the deserter he had written to the Detroit chief about.  Mr. Gaskins came forward with the information. A copy of his letter was sent to Washington, and his removal followed.
    Mr. Gaskins letter to the Detroit chief of police was as follows:
“Chief of Police, Detroit, Mich.
    “Dear Sir:  I have a negro who is in your city and he is a deserter, and if you will give me $25 out of the  $50 reward I will give you his name and street number, together with copies of his registration and medical examination blanks that are required under the rules.  You understand, under the rules, you only have to deliver him to the nearest training camp.  Kindly wire or write me by return mail that you will do this.  I will forward the necessary papers above mentioned.
     “Yours truly,
(signed)           “J. H. GASKINS”

    This letter was forwarded by the Detroit chief to Provost Marshall General Crowder.  General Crowder kept the original and sent a copy to Major Mallet, asking an investigation, commenting that “such action is entirely improper on the part of any member of any board.
    “The seriousness of the character of the offense,” continued General Crowder, “prompts me to request an immediate investigation and report to this office by you.”
    Major Mallet wrote to Mr. Gaskins:
    “Will you kindly forward to this office your letter to the chief of police of Detroit, Mich., along with the name of the deserter referred to.”

    Mr. Gaskins replied to Major Mallet:
    “I have your letter and beg to advise that the negro, LeRoy Whittaker, order No. 126, serial No. 1456, was delivered to proper authorities at Camp Wheeler, November 6.”
     This letter was forwarded to the provost marshal general, together with a copy of the letter which Major Mallet wrote to Mr. Gaskins.

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James Henry Gaskins – Clerk of the Superior Court

Ray City, GA Veterans of World War 

James Henry Gaskins – Clerk of the Superior Court

James Henry “Jim” Gaskins (1872 – 1928), mason, elected official, and son of a prominent Wiregrass family,  served for about 3o years as a clerk of the Superior Court of Berrien County, GA.

When James Henry Gaskins was serving as Deputy Clerk of the Berrien County Superior Court, he lived in the Connell's Mill District, near Ray City, GA.

While serving as Deputy Clerk of the Berrien County Superior Court, James Henry Gaskins lived in the Connell’s Mill District, near Ray City, GA. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Born October 24, 1872, James Henry “Jim” Gaskins  came from a long line of Gaskins who were pioneer settlers of the Berrien County, GA area. Born and raised in Berrien County, he was a son of the Reverend Fisher H. Gaskins and Pollie Gaskins.

Construction of the Berrien County, GA Courthouse, 1898. For three decades James Henry "Jim" Gaskins worked in the office of the Clerk of the Superior Court of Berrien County.  Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Construction of the Berrien County, GA Courthouse, 1898. For three decades James Henry “Jim” Gaskins worked in the office of the Clerk of the Superior Court of Berrien County. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

In 1900, Jim Gaskins was enumerated in the Connell’s Mill District, Georgia Militia District 1329, near Ray City, GA. At age 29, he was living in his parents household and was employed as the deputy clerk of the Berrien Superior Court.

Jim Gaskins’  father died in 1905. Sometime before the census of  1910, Jim and his widowed mother moved to Nashville, GA where they lived in a home on Dennis Street.  Gaskins continued to serve as deputy clerk of the Superior Court of Berrien County.

On Thursday, September 2, 1915 James Henry Gaskins married Charity Maybelle “Belle” Strickland in Berrien County, GA.  The ceremony was performed by the Justice of the Peace, J. H. Hull.

Family of James Henry "Jim" Gaskins and Charity Maybelle "Belle" (Strickland), circa 1920. Children are Homer Lee Gaskins(L) and Daniel Bates Gaskins (R). In the 1920s James Henry Gaskins was Clerk of the Superior Court of Berrien County, GA. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Family of James Henry “Jim” Gaskins and Charity Maybelle “Belle” (Strickland), circa 1920. Children are Homer Lee Gaskins(L) and Daniel Bates Gaskins (R). In the 1920s James Henry Gaskins was Clerk of the Superior Court of Berrien County, GA. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

With the onset of World War I in 1917,  James Henry Gaskins was appointed as clerk of the Berrien County Exemption Board.  Administration of the selective draft  was entrusted to local boards, composed of leading civilians in each community. These boards, known as Exemption Boards, issued draft calls in order of numbers drawn in a national lottery and determined exemptions for dependency, essential occupations, or conscientious objection.  Gaskins was dismissed from the Exemption Board in December, 1917 after he became embroiled in a scandal over reward money for capture of a draft dodger.  He continued, however to hold his position in the clerk’s office of the Superior Court.

In 1919,  a sizable transaction over the timber rights of the Gaskins family land was noted in state newspapers.

The Atlanta Constitution
December 16, 1919

SALE OF TIMBER SETS RECORD IN VALDOSTA

    Valdosta, Ga., December 15.– (Special.) The sale of saw mill and turpentine privileges on the Fisher H. Gaskins lands in Berrien county, which has just been consummated, establishes a record price for timber and disposes of one of the finest of the few bodies of round timber now left in the state.  The lands in question are located a few miles northwest of Nashville, 8,000 acres covered with magnificent long-leaf yellow pine which has never been worked by turpentine or saw mill men.
    Willis & Norman, turpentine operators who have been located for some time at Mineola in this county, bought the Gaskins lands, paying $200,000 for the saw mill and turpentine rights on the 8,000 acres.  It is understood that Willis and Norman will begin operation on the tract as soon as possible, working the timber for naval stores first.  It will require about three years’ time to complete the turpentine operations, after which a large saw mill will be built, probably at Nashville, to cut the merchantable timber on the tract.

By 1920 Jim Gaskins was elected Clerk of Berrien County.  He and Belle, and their young family were in the house on Dennis Street in Nashville, GA. Boarding next door were former Ray City residents, Dr. Guy Selman, and his wife Bessie.

Jim Gaskins died in the summer of 1928 while still serving as Clerk of the Superior Court of Berrien County, GA.    Lilla Gaskins Whiddon was appointed to serve as Clerk until an election could be called.

The Atlanta Constitution
July 11, 1928

To Elect Clerk.

    Valdosta, Ga., July 10. — Voter of Berrien county will select a successor to J. H. Gaskins, clerk of the superior court, on September 12, the same date as the state primary.
    The death of Mr. Gaskins last week was followed by the appointment of Mrs. Lilla Gaskins Whiddon as acting clerk until an election could be called. 
The executive committee, after considering the matter , decided upon September 12 as the date and fixed July 20 as the date for closing the entries and a fee of $25 is charged for each candidate.

 

Grave of James Henry Gaskins and Charity Maybelle Gaskins, Fisher Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.

Grave of James Henry Gaskins and Charity Maybelle Gaskins, Fisher Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.

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