Charles X Jones Was a Leading Spirit of Ray City

In a shady cemetery plot at New Bethel Church, about seven miles southwest of Ray City, GA, lies the grave of the town’s first elected mayor, Dr. Charles X. Jones.

Grave of Charles X. Jones (1870-1933), First Elected Mayor of Ray City, GA

Grave of Charles X. Jones (1870-1933), First Elected Mayor of Ray City, GA

Charles X. Jones was born in Carroll County, GA on September 15, 1870 (or 1869 according to his death certificate).    When Charles  was born  his father, Maj. William Dudley Jones, was 50 and his mother, Martha H. Word, was 45. His father was a farmer at Bowdon, GA and also served as county tax collector of Carroll County. His mother’s parents were John Bryson Word and Amelia Sparks.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, son of Major William Dudley Jones, in Carroll County, Georgia, on June 3, 1880.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, son of Major William Dudley Jones, in Carroll County, Georgia, on June 3, 1880.

Charles X. Jones grew up on his father’s farm near Bowdon, GA in the 1111th district of Carroll County.  Bowden was a progressive community and the site of Bowdon College, “Georgia’s fifth chartered institution of higher education and first coeducational institution. Bowdon was a frontier community of merchants and yeomen who nourished the growth of a school where earnest students of limited means bettered their lives and their communities…Graduates have carried the honor of the institution into our state and national capitals and throughout the world. From her halls have come educators, doctors, lawyers, journalists, judges, bankers, farmers, industrialists, governors, and senators.”  Charles X. Jones was admitted to Bowden College where he completed the full program of study and graduated on July 1, 1891.

Bowdon College, GA, photographed circa 1899. Charles X. Jones graduated from Bowdon College in 1891.

Bowdon College, GA, photographed circa 1899. Charles X. Jones graduated from Bowdon College in 1891.

Jones later attended the medical school in Augusta, GA now known as Georgia Regents University, and received his medical degree  in 1898.

Old Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA. Charles X. Jones graduated with a medical degree in 1898.

Old Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA. Charles X. Jones graduated with a medical degree in 1898.

After medical school, young Dr. Jones came to Berrien County,GA to the Ray’s Mill Community.  He boarded with James S. Swindle and Catherline “Candas” Swindle while establishing his practice.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, physician, in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia, on June 13, 1900.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, physician, in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia, on June 13, 1900.

In 1901, Dr. Jones married 17-year-old Effie J. Mclean; he was about 31 years of age. The marriage ceremony was performed in Berrien County, GA by Elder Aaron Anderson Knight, Primitive Baptist Minister of Ray City.  Elder Knight’s church at that time was New Ramah Church in Ray City, GA

Dr. Charles X. Jones married Effie J. McLean on December 3, 1901 in Berrien County, GA.

Dr. Charles X. Jones married Effie J. McLean on December 3, 1901 in Berrien County, GA.

In 1903, Charles X. Jones purchased a 4 acre tract of land from James S. Swindle along Card Creek, the outflow of Ray’s Millpond now known as Beaverdam Creek.  That same year Charles and Effie began their family with the birth of their first child, Sam Jones.

In the summer of 1905, word came from Bowdon, GA that Dr. Jones’ father had died of a stroke. The obituary was published in the Atlanta Constitution and other state papers.

Obituary of Major William Dudley Jones, died June 19, 1905.

Obituary of Major William Dudley Jones, died June 19, 1905. Atlanta Constitution, June 21, 1905.

Atlanta Constitution
June 21, 1905

Major W.D. Jones, Carrollton, Ga.

Major W. D. Jones, a very highly respected citizen of this county, who lived near Bowdon, died suddenly as a result of a stroke of paralysis yesterday. He was 90 years old. He was the father of the late Colonel J. W. Jones, of Bowdon, and of Dr. Charles X. Jones, near Valdosta.

In 1908, Charles X. Jones’ tract of land was platted into town lots in the newly incorporated town of Rays Mill, GA.  Charles and Effie built the first house in  the  town and became its first residents. This house was located on the lot that surrounds the present Methodist Church. The street which ran past the Jones residence was named Jones Street in the doctor’s honor. Redding D. Swindle was  appointed as the mayor until the first elections could be held, and Jones carried the election in the first casting of ballots for the government of the new town. Mary Etta Swindle, wife of R.D. Swindle won a contest to name the new town, proposing it be called Ray City, GA although the title of Rays Mill persisted for many years thereafter.

The Jones residence was the very first household enumerated in Rays Mill, GA in the census of 1910. Dr. Charles X. Jones was enumerated with a reported age of 39, wife Effie J. Jones (26), and their children Sam Jones (7), Fred Jones (5), Trixie Jones (3), and Charles X. Jones, Jr (1).

Census enumeration of Dr. Charles X. and family in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia, April 15, 1910.

Census enumeration of Dr. Charles X. and family in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia, April 15, 1910.

Dr. Jones was also a banker. When the Bank of Rays Mill was formed in 1911, Dr. Jones  was elected Vice President of the bank, and served on the Board of Directors along with B. P. Jones,  J. S. Swindle, J. H. Swindle, W. H. E. Terry, L. J. Clements and bank president Clarence L. Smith. Later, Charles X. Jones  and Clarence L. Smith served together on the board of directors of Southern Bank & Trust Co., formed 1913 in Valdosta, GA.  The Southern Bank & Trust Company closed its doors in 1918.

By 1920, Dr. Jones had acquired a farm south of Ray City, near the community of Barretts on the Ray City – Valdosta Road, where he relocated and continued his medical practice. This was in the 1307th Georgia Militia District, the Cat Creek District of Lowndes County, GA. In the census of 1920, Jones residence was enumerated by census taker Arthur Walton McDonald, brother of Lacy A. McDonald who was a mailman at Ray City.

1920 census enumeration of Dr. Charles X. Jones, Lowndes County, GA

1920 census enumeration of Dr. Charles X. Jones, Lowndes County, GA

By the time of the 1930 census, Charles X. Jones was about 60 years old and retired from medical practice. His farm place near Barretts, valued at $5000,  was owned free and clear of mortgage. Census record indicate Jones had become a merchant/operator of a dry goods store.  Also in Dr. Jones household were his  son, Charles X. Jones, Jr.,  daughter Trixie Jones Moore (widow of Carl L. Moore), and her children, Mattie Lou Moore and Helene Moore. Trixie Jones Moore, worked as a general merchandise clerk, while Charles X. Jones, Jr. helped with the farm work.

1930 census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, Lowndes County, GA. Now retired from medical practice, Jones operated a dry goods store and maintained his farm in the Barretts Community.

1930 census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, Lowndes County, GA. Now retired from medical practice, Jones operated a dry goods store and maintained his farm in the Barretts Community.

On August 3, 1933 Charles X. Jones suffered an attack of “apoplexy” – a venerable word for a stroke, a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), often associated with loss of consciousness and paralysis of various parts of the body.  Before the day was out he succumbed to death.

Charles X. Jones was a civic minded citizen and an important figure in the incorporation of the town of Ray’s Mill (now Ray City), GA.  He was said to be a leading spirit of the town.

Related Posts:

Lon Fender Loses Milltown Stills

Unknown turpentine still, early 1900s, Lowndes County, GA

Unknown turpentine still, early 1900s, Lowndes County, GA

Lon Fender was involved in some biggest business deals in the Wiregrass and in the history of Ray City.  Born William Alonzo Fender, he was a son of William Alfred Fender (1836-1920) and Susannah Allen (1841-1920), who became residents of Ray City in their senior years.  Lon Fender himself owned farmland near Ray City in the 1920s.

Lon Fender and his brothers were big-time Wiregrass timber men, and for decades the South Georgia newspapers were full of stories about land deals, sawmills, and turpentine stills operated by the Fenders.  In 1906, November  the Thomasville Weekly Times Enterprise and South Georgia Progress, noted that Lon Fender had purchased “the turpentine and timber interests of Clements, Lee & Co., at Milltown.  The property consists of 7,000 acres, 4,000 acres of which is “round” or unboxed timber, and 3,000 back-boxed, also stills, fixtures, mules, wagons, etc.  There are few finer bodies of timber lands now in Georgia lying as it does in one body, and its value is increasing every day.     Buyer and seller both decline to state the price paid for the property but it is believed that it was not much under $100,000.”

Two years later, the Tifton Gazette reported that Fender’s still at Milltown burned on October 21, 1908:

Tifton Gazette, Oct. 30, 1908 -- page 6

Tifton Gazette, Oct. 30, 1908 — page 6

Another account published in the Waycross Journal described the losses as “the turpentine still of W. L. Fender, with 35 barrels of spirits, and 100 barrels of rosin…destroyed by fire.” The Journal further  indicated that the robbery referred to occurred west of Milltown on the Georgia & Florida Railroad, making it likely that the actual scene of the robbery was Jim Swindle’s store at Ray’s Mill, GA.

Another fire struck the Milltown still in 1909:

Tifton Gazette, Mar. 19, 1909 -- page 9

Tifton Gazette, Mar. 19, 1909 — page 9

W.L. “Lon” Fender later purchased a large tract of timber near Ray City, GA,  known as the “Sirmans Timber.”

Related Posts:

Obituary of Sheriff W. L. Swindle

William Lawrence Swindle,  eldest son of pioneer settlers James Swindle and Nancy Jane Parker, was born and raised in the Ray’s Mill district of Berrien County, GA.  He  owned property and resided at Ray City,  and also at Nashville, GA.

W. L. Swindle was a Mason, and in politics he was a democrat. He was elected to three terms as Sheriff of Berrien County, after which the Nashville Herald announced February 4, 1911, “Mr. W.L. Swindle, of Nashville, has accepted a position with his brother, Mr. J.S. Swindle, of this place [Ray’s Mill – now Ray City].”  Another of his brother’s, George Emory Swindle, died of Bright’s disease in 1909.

Family of William Lawrence Swindle, circa 1900.  Left to Right: May Ola Swindle, William Lawrence Swindle, Ada Belle (standing,rear), Callie Etta Swindle (center, front), Polly Nesmith Swindle, Emma Lee Swindle. Image source: Cher Newell.

Family of William Lawrence Swindle, circa 1900. Left to Right: May Ola Swindle, William Lawrence Swindle, Ada Belle (standing,rear), Callie Etta Swindle (center, front), Polly Nesmith Swindle, Emma Lee Swindle. Image source: Cher Newell.

In January, 1914, W. L. Swindle suffered a paralyzing stroke:

1914-w-l-swindle-paralyzed

Tifton Gazette
January 30, 1914

Ex-Sheriff Swindle Paralyzed

Ex-Sheriff W. L. Swindle of Berrien County was stricken with paralysis Friday about noon while he was in the courthouse at Nashville.  His entire left side was affected.  His daughter, Mrs. C.C. Hall was notified and together with Col. Hall left for Nashville Saturday morning. Later advices from Mr. Swindle says that he shows but little improvement although he is able to take liquid nourishment.

William Lawrence Swindle

William Lawrence Swindle died March 5, 1915:

Obituary of William Lawrence Swindle

Obituary of William Lawrence Swindle

Tifton Gazette
March 12, 1915

Mr. W. L. Swindle Dead

Former Sheriff of Berrien County Passed Away Friday Night

    News was received in Tifton with deep regret Saturday morning that former Sheriff William Lawrence Swindle died at his home in Nashville Friday night at 9 o’clock.  Mr. Swindle had been in bad health for several years and last year suffered a stroke of paralysis.  He was taken seriously ill early in the week and his daughter here was summoned to his bedside.
Mr. Swindle was about fifty-eight years old and was born and raised in the Ray’s Mill section of Berrien county.  He was a son of James A. and Nancy Swindle and his father died last year.  Mr. Swindle was for some time in the mercantile business at Nashville and served Berrien county as Sheriff for three terms, making an able and zealous officer.
    Mr. Swindle was married twice.  His first wife died several years ago and one son born to them died in early manhood.  His second wife was Miss Collie Nesmith.  To this union four children, all girls, were born.  One, Miss Emmie, is dead, and three are living, Mrs. C. C. Hall, of Tifton, and Misses May and Callie Swindle, who are with their mother at the family homestead.
    The funeral services were held at Nashville Saturday afternoon.  Among those attending from Tifton were Sheriff Shaw, who was formerly Deputy Sheriff under Mr. Swindle, and Mr. W. E. Webb.
    Mr. Swindle was a Mason, a firm and loyal friend and a man who had many excellent traits of character.  He was well liked here where he had an extensive acquaintance.  This district which was then in Berrien county, contributed a strong vote towards his election each time he was a candidate.

Graves of William Lawrence Swindle and Mary Pollie Neesmith, Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA

Graves of William Lawrence Swindle and Mary Pollie Neesmith, Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA

Children of William Lawrence Swindle (1856-1915) and Mary Polly Nesmith (1853 – 1936):

  1. Ada Bell Swindle. Birth July 2, 1886 in Berrien Co., GA. Married Christopher Columbus Hall in 1904. Death January 16, 1941 in Washington, DC.
  2. May Ola Swindle. Birth May 6, 1888 in Berrien Co., GA.
  3. Emily Swindle. Birth April 6, 1890 in Berrien, GA.  Died of Typhoid Fever July 9, 1904 in Berrien County, GA.
  4. Infant Swindle. 1892.
  5. Callie Etta Swindle. Birth August 14, 1894 in Berrien County, GA. Married Walter Jordan Adams.   Death July 27, 1977 in Berrien Co., GA.

Big Blaze of 1915

The big fire at Rays Mill broke out just a few minutes after sunrise on a Sunday morning, April 25, 1915.  The flames originated in the business district in a small store operated by Johnnie Clements, Jr. and soon spread to nearby buildings including the two story Rays Mill Hotel. The J.M. Parrish & Company store owned by Joseph Math Parrish was also damaged; bookkeeper at the store was Leon Lacy Parrish.  At that time there was no water system in the town, and no way to effectively fight the blaze.

The Nashville Herald
April 30, 1915

Destructive Fire Visits Rays Mill

      One of the most disastrous fires in the history of Rays Mill visited that place Sunday morning about 6 o’clock.  Several stores and considerable amount of goods were destroyed by the flames.

      The fire started in a store owned by John Clements of Milltown, in which building his son, Johnnie Clements, Jr., was operating a small store, and the store and contents were completely destroyed.  The loss in this instance was about $1,000 on the building and about the same amount on the stock.  There was insurance covering about half the loss.

      The flames leaped over a brick building and it was completely consumed [missing] & Co. and set fire to the Rays Mill hotel.  The hotel was a two-story building and it was completely consumed by the fire.  It was owned by Messrs. J.H. and Jas. S. Swindle and was valued at $5,000 or $6,000.  The hotel was destroyed with most of its contents.  Mr. J.F. Hineley, who operated the hotel, also had a small store which was entirely destroyed.

      The flames when the hotel was burning were so hot that the brick store of J.M. Parrish & Co. caught and was entirely destroyed.  The building was valued at about $4,000 and the stock of goods was valued at about $15,000.  The stock was largely the property of Mr. G.W. Varn, of Valdosta.  There was insurance for about half of this loss.

      Two other store buildings belonging to Mr. Will Studstill of Valdosta were destroyed by the flames.  These small buildings were valued at about $1,000, while the stocks of goods in them were small.

      It was impossible to control the flames as there was no water supply sufficient to cope with the fire and about all that could be done was to stand by and watch the different buildings burns and try to prevent any spreading.  The losses are heavy ones and will injure the town materially.

      The total loss is figured at $23,000, and the total amount of insurance carried was $14,000, according to Mr. J.S. Swindle, who was in Nashville yesterday.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

«««<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<♦>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>»»»

The Tifton Gazette
April 30, 1915

BAD FIRE AT RAY’S MILL

Flames Destroyed Hotel and Stores.  $30,000 Loss

Valdosta, April 26. – One-third of the business section of Rays Mill, a flourishing town fourteen miles from Valdosta, was destroyed by fire on Sunday.  A number of merchants lost their stores and stocks and the Rays Mill hotel, a large two-story building, was entirely destroyed with most of the furnishings.

The losses will amount to about $30,000, the property being partly covered by insurance.  J.F. Hinely, proprietor of the hotel; J.M. Parrish & Company, John J. Clements, Jr., J.H. and J.S. Swindle and W.M. Studstill are the principal losers.

The town has no water facilities and the block in which the flames started was burned before the fire could be checked.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

«««<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<♦>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>»»»

The Nashville Herald
May 21, 1915

Rays Mill, The Week’s Doings In and Around

      The debris has been cleared away and work on the new buildings which will replace those destroyed by the recent disastrous fire is progressing rapidly.  With the completion of these new brick buildings, we will have what appears from the depot, almost a solid brick block, which we trust will be a reality in the near future.  The J.M. Parrish Company’s store which was only partially destroyed, will be ready for occupancy again within a few days.  This should be good news to all their many customers and friends, as they will have a new and complete line of general merchandise.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

Related Posts:

Bound by a Band of Steel

By 1908, Valdosta already had railroads and so did Nashville. Now The Douglas Enterprise reported the Georgia & Florida Railroad would lay track to close the 26 mile gap between them, “Two of the brightest stars of the group of South Georgia’s cities bound by a band of steel.”

The citizens of Ray’s Mill had secured the routing of the tracks to pass through the small community, over a competing route that would have passed through Cat Creek (see Rays Mill Wins Route for the Georgia & Florida Railroad).

At that time Mr. J.S. Swindle owned much of the land around the present site of the town.  It is said that he bargained with the railroad company to give them the right of way if they would give him a station.  This agreement was made and thus started the town [of Ray City].

It was projected that regular passenger service on the new G & F line would begin on October 1, 1908.     Two trains a day would stop at the station in Rays Mill.   The train depot and local offices of the Georgia & Florida Railroad were to be among the first businesses in the newly incorporated town of Ray City.  In addition to the depot, the railroad would build a number of section houses at Ray’s Mill to house railroad employees and their families. The new line, it was said, “opens up a splendid territory in this [Lowndes] and Berrien County.”  Ultimately the G & F Railroad would connect Augusta, Georgia and Madison, Florida.

By March, 1908 surveying was underway for the final segment of the Georgia and Florida railroad connecting Nashville and Valdosta, GA.

Surveying the route of the Georgia and Florida Railroad. Valdosta Daily Times, March 7, 1908

Surveying the route of the Georgia and Florida Railroad. Valdosta Daily Times, March 7, 1908

Valdosta Daily Times
March 7, 1908

ROAD SOON TO BE COMPLETED.

Work on the Line to Nashville to Start in Short While.

The Georgia and Florida Road Secures Additional Offices Here to be Used During the Period of Constructing the Line – The New Outlets at Augusta.

(From Tuesday’s Daily.

     The links that will complete the Georgia and Florida Railroad are to be built at once and the big road for which Valdostans have hoped and wised so long will soon pass from a dream to reality.
     Mr. G. M. Jones, assistant chief engineer of the road, arrived in Valdosta yesterday.  He has located an office in this city from where he will supervise the construction of the road between Valdosta and Nashville. It is learned on good authority that work will begin right away and be pushed to completion as early as possible.  This is the only line of much length between Madison and Hazlehurst, unless a new one from Douglas is built which would straighten the main road considerably between that city and Hazlehurst.
     It is thought that by the end of the year the whole road will be finished and that through trains will be running from Augusta to Madison.
     It is hard to estimate the benefit this road will be to Valdosta, as it will give the city direct passage into a rich and fast developing territory that it has been hard to reach heretofore.
     It will give her another big trunk line which, it is claimed will be the equal of any one of the lines she now has, which is a pretty big claim.
     With the completion of this road new enterprises are bound to spring up which will add greatly to the city’s material prosperity and growth.
     There is now a road being built from  Augusta to Elberton the Southern has a road from Elberton  to Toccoa, and when the Georgia and Florida is completed a direct route into North-east Georgia will be had which will add greatly to the travel and trade from that part of the state.
      It will open up a field in Georgia for the early melons and truck and field products of this section that has hardly been touched heretofore.
    With the Georgia and Florida road in operation Valdosta should become one of the biggest truck and melon centers in the South.
      It will open up a new territory for the foundries and machine shops, buggy and harness factories and for the production of every factory and field of this section.
     It will be a glad day for Valdosta when train begin to move between here and Augusta.

CONTRACT IS LET
On March 18, 1908, Engineering and Contracting magazine announced that a contract had been let for construction of the railroad line that would pass through Rays Mill, GA:

“Valdosta, Ga.—Georgia & Florida Ry., J. M. Turner, General Manager, Augusta. Ga., is to construct a line from Valdosta to Nashville, Ga., about 30 miles, to link two of the properties of the company.   A. & F. Wright have been awarded the contract. The Georgia & Florida Ry. controls a number of small roads which it is proposed to connect. Much of this work has already been done.” –  Engineering and contracting. (March 18, 1908). New York: The Myron C. Clark Pub. Co. Pg 25

Related:

 

Feb 4, 1911 Ray’s Mill News Items

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ladies of the Beaver Dam Missionary Society

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

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

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

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

James Henry Swindle ~ Businessman and Public Servant

James Henry  “Jim” Swindle was a businessman and politician of Ray City, GA.  He was born near Ray City Aug 6, 1886, a son of Margaret Melvina Futch and George Emory Swindle.  A previous post gave his bio from the Georgia Official and Statistical Register.  He was involved in many civic organizations including the Baptist church, Masons, and Lions Club, and served in public offices from Mayor of Ray City to Representative in the Georgia Assembly.

James H. Swindle

James H. Swindle

Jim Swindle was a brother of Leonard Columbus Swindle, John N. Swindle, George Perry Swindle, Roy C. Swindle, and Leonidas A. Swindle.

In the Census of 1900 James H. Swindle was enumerated with his parents and brothers in his father’s household in the Connell’s Mill District near Rays Mill, GA. The Swindle family farm was located on the Rays Mill & Cat Creek Road. Jim and his younger brothers all attended school, while his older brother, Leonard, helped his father with the farm labor.

After the 1909 death of  his father, G.E. Swindle, at Buffalo Lithia Springs, VA , Jim became the head of the household and took over the family farm.

James Henry “Jim” Swindle became a prominent businessman of Berrien County. By 1908, he was involved in the organization of the Bank of  Rays Mill, which later became the Citizens Bank of Ray City.  It is said that the Swindle family owned much of the land where present day Ray City is located, and when the town was officially incorporated in 1909, he became one of the first residents.  In 1912 he married Sarah Ellen  “Stell” Daniel in Nashville, GA, and the couple made their home at Ray City.

J. H. Swindle of Rays Mill was a dealer for the Georgia Fertilizer & Oil Company. 1912 Advertisement.

J. H. Swindle of Rays Mill was a dealer for the Georgia Fertilizer & Oil Company. 1912 Advertisement.

Together with James S. Swindle, James Henry Swindle owned the Ray City Hotel, which stood on the location later occupied by the Clements Fountain. The Swindles employed J.F. Hineley to operate the hotel. The hotel and all of its contents were destroyed, along with several other buildings, in the Ray City fire of Sunday, April 25, 1915.

James Henry Swindle was 30 years old when he registered for the draft in WWI on June 5, 1917.  He gave his occupation as  a self-employed farmer  and merchant working in Ray City, Ga. He was described as medium height, medium build, black hair, and blue eyes.  His draft card was signed by D.A. Sapp.

By 1920 James H. Swindle had located his wife and family in a house on Main Street in Ray City, Georgia. They owned the home free and clear.  Their neighbors were C . Oscar Terry and Leon L. Parrish.  J.H. Swindle was a merchant, operating a grain and feed store on his own account.

Among other elected positions, Jim Swindle served 12 years on the Berrien County Board of Education, including four years as Chairman.

1925 Berrien County Board of Education
D. J. Gaskins, Ch. Ray City
A. L. Akins.. . .Nashville
J. H. Swindle …Ray City
C.B.Harris–. -Enigma
George P. Griffin Nashville

1927 Berrien County Board of Education
D. J. Gaskins, Chm., Ray City
J. R. McLamb
J. H. Swindle, Ray City
A. L. Akins, Nashville
W. K. Sikes

In the census of 1930, Swindle listed his principle occupation as operator of a gin. He owned cotton gins in Ray City, and at Barretts in Lowndes County, GA.

“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.”

Another of his 1930s business concerns was the operation of a bank at Ray City.

“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.”

Later, J.I. Clements worked for a while as cashier of the Peoples Banking Company.  Jim Swindle’s brother, L. C. Swindle also operated a bank at Ray City, the Farmers Bank.

In 1932 J. H. Swindle again served on the Berrien County Board of Education and in 1934 he was Mayor of Ray City.

On Jan 14, 1939 the Speaker of the House of the Georgia Assembly announced the Legislative Committee Chairmen. James H. Swindle of Berrien was named as chair of the General Agriculture Committee No. 1.   Just a few days later on January 31, 1939 the Atlanta Constitution reported that James Henry Swindle, of Ray City, was declaring as a candidate for State Commissioner of Agriculture.

J.H. Swindle, ‘Just a Small Farmer,’ Says Markets Aren’t Working.
January 31, 1939

By the Associated Press.

  Representative J.H. Swindle, of Berrien, who describes himself as “just a small farmer,” announced yesterday he would seek election as state commissioner of agriculture in 1940.

  Swindle, a veteran of three terms in the legislature, is chairman of the house committee on agriculture No. 1.

  Columbus Roberts, present commissioner of agriculture, concludes his present term in 1940. He has been mentioned as a likely candidate to succeed Governor Rivers.

  Swindle said he would favor revision of the state’s present agricultural policy to give greater assistance to the farmers in disposing of their products.

  “The farmer can dump his stuff anywhere,” he said. “The present system (of farmers’ markets) is not working any special good to the farmers.”

  Swindle urged that the state provide price reporting service as well as a place where farmers may bring their produce for sale. He also suggested that the state assist the farmers “to put his produce in proper shape for disposal” by grading and collecting individual shipments into single lots.

  “I would even be willing to try the auction system,” often results in the price for a commodity being set at an unfairly low level because one or more of the earliest sellers were unaware of the correct price and disposed of their produce below the market level.

  Swindle, a 52-year-old native of Berrien county, has served two years as mayor of Ray city, eight years on the city council, and 12 years on the county board of education, including four years as chairman. He is engaged in farming, operates a cotton gin, and purchases cotton and farm products for resale. He is married, and has two daughters and a son.

In 1941, James H. Swindle was appointed to serve again on the Berrien County Board of Education to replace Henry A. Swindle who had resigned from the Board in December 1940.  In October, the Board members elected J.H. Swindle as Chairman of the Board.

A 1941 mention in the Nashville Herald said:

Mr. J.H. Swindle is a prominent citizen of this city [Ray City].  He owns most of the business buildings in Ray City.  He is our past representative, having served four years.  He owns extensive farms and the gin.  He is a cotton buyer, a cottonseed buyer, and a corn buyer.

James H. Swindle continued his involvement in civic affairs. In the 1940s he worked to bring better roads to Ray City, and in 1947 served on the building committee for the new Ray City School gym.

In 1953 he was elected vice-president of the South Georgia Cattlemen’s Association.

Children of Stell Daniel and James Henry Swindle:

  1. Margaret Virginia Swindle  (Oct 28, 1914)
  2. Doris E. Swindle  (1916-1941)
  3. Grace E Swindle
  4. James Aaron Swindle (1920-1993)
Grave marker of James Henry "Jim" Swindle, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Grave marker of James Henry “Jim” Swindle, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Related Posts:

Ray City Real Estate

The previous post, Ray City Land Passed Through Many Hands, discussed ownership of  the land where Ray City is situated going back into the 1870s. By 1895 150 acres of this land had come into the possession of James S. Swindle.

Dr. Charles X. Jones, First Mayor of Ray City

In 1903, James S. Swindle sold four acres of this land to Dr. Charles X. Jones“All that tract or parcel of land lying and being in the County of Berrien, containing four acres, more or less, at the north end of Card the Card dam, and running northward to the Rays Mill and Adel Public Road; thence westward to the southwest corner of Chas. A. Knight and J.J. Swindle land, thence southward to the corner of the lands of I.H. Sutton, M.S. Knight and J.S. Swindle, thence Eastward to the starting point.”

“…in the year 1908 the said tract was cut up into town lots, by the surveyor of Berrien County, T.I. Griffin, and platted for the Town of Raysmill, and that the said town of Rays mill, afterwards became incorporated as the town of Ray City, Ga.”  

The newly platted town of Ray City experienced a real estate boom. On March 9, 1909 the Atlanta Constitution ran an article that included the following account of the new town:

“Rays Mill, a very new town on the Georgia and Florida Railroad, ten miles south of Nashville, is in this section, and is proud of its location. Less than six months ago there was no town and no sign of it. Today there are at least a half a dozen new store houses completed or being built, and probably twenty-five new residence buildings completed or planned, to say nothing of a half a hundred new cabins for the colored laborer. A two story hotel building is near completion and will soon be occupied. M.E Studstill has a new sawmill here and J.H. Crenshaw has another. Charles H. Anderson and Dr. Guy Selman are putting up a drug store. Mr. Anderson is postmaster and Dr. Selman practices his profession here. A.L. Bridges is another young merchant who will soon move his store to town. Louis Bullard is completing a two story house. And so on — all in five months. The truth is, Rays Mill, the town, has just about ‘arrived,’ or will soon.”

About Charles X. Jones, the article said, “It will not, I believe be improper to say that Dr. C. Jones, an older citizen here, is the leading spirit of this town. Dr. Jones has for years served these people, and has done business and owns considerable of the land around here, and he proposes to help his new town along. He is clever and generous and disposed to serve his community. “

Another Berrien County title document goes on to describe  specific Ray City lots owned by Dr. Jones, “That the said Chas. X. Jones sold off city lots and sold lot No I in block No. 2 to J.F. Buckholtz…”

Buckholtz sold this lot on March 18, 1910 to J.M. Deloach. Within a month J.M. DeLoach flipped the lot, selling it to Levi J. Clements on April 11, 1910.  Clements was a well-to-do planter who  owned a home on the town’s newly designated Main Street , and who later owned the Clements lumber mill at Ray City. Perhaps he purchased the lot intending it for one of his sons.

Clements held the lot for about a year and a half but then sold out to William Lawrence Swindle. W. L. Swindle was born and raised in the Rays Mill District, a son of pioneer settlers James Swindle and Nancy Parker. He served three terms as Sheriff of Berrien County.

W.L. Swindle quickly closed a deal conveying the land to Riley M. Green on Dec 19, 1911.  Riley M. Green was an investor and one of the incorporators of the Bank of Rays Mill.

Three years later Riley M. Green sold the lot to F.D. Clifton for $150 dollars.  In 1917, F.D. Clifton  doubled his money, selling the lot to Jasper Nobles for $295.00.

Jasper Nobles constructed a home on the site at a cost of $1200 dollars. In 1919, he mortgaged the house and property for a $1000 dollar loan from the Georgia Loan and Trust Company. In the 1930s the house and lot was sold at auction on the Berrien County courthouse steps for $100.

Jasper Nobles built this house on Jones Street, Ray City, GA on land that once belonged to Thomas M. Ray.

Jasper Nobles built this house on Jones Street, Ray City, GA on land that once belonged to Thomas M. Ray.

Ray City Land Passed Through Many Hands

According to early land title documents the land that now constitutes a significant portion of Ray City, GA was once owned in part by Thomas M. Ray.   T.M. Ray, along with his father-in-law, Levi J. Knight, founded Rays Mill.

Grave marker of Thomas M. Ray, Cemetery at Union Church (aka Burnt Church), Lakeland, GA.

Grave marker of Thomas M. Ray, Cemetery at Union Church (aka Burnt Church), Lakeland, GA.

The Last Will and Testament of Thomas M. Ray directed that ” all my property of every sort and kind be kept together and managed by executors upon the plan and fashion as nearly as possible that I have lately managed it for a term of  ten years, at the expiration of which time executors are hereby directed to expose every parcel of property that may then belong to the estate at public sale, and the proceeds from said sale be equally divided among my legal heirs that may then be living, or their representatives if any, and they be dead.”  “I hereby constitute and appoint my son in law H.H. Knight and my son Thos. M. Ray, to qualify and act when he becomes of age and my worth friend William  Roberts executors of this my last will and testament.  This May 31, st, 1876.”

Thomas M. Ray died just a few days later, June 14, 1876.  In accordance with his will, his land was tied up in the estate for the next 10 years, including Land Lots 422, 423, 451, and 452 in the 10th land district which were owned jointly by William Roberts and T.M. Ray.

Subsequent court documents show:

“At the April term 1879 Thos. M. Ray [Jr.] filed his petition to the Court oy Ordinary of Berrien County, Ga. showing that he had been duly appointed executor of the last will and testament of his father Tho’s M. Ray, and that he had reached the age of 21 years, and asking that he be appointed executor under the said will. Whereupon the Court directed that he be appointed executor as prayed.”

“H.H. Knight and Tho’s M. Ray [Jr.], as the duly and legally qualified Exrs. under the last will and testament of Tho’s M. Ray, applied to the Court of Ordinary of Berrien county, setting forth that under the terms of the said Will that all of the lands and property belonging to said estate should be sold, and praying that leave be granted to them to sell the said lands etc. Citation was ordered issued and published in terms of the law, Oct, term, 1886, of the Court of Ordinary of Berrien County.”

“At the November term 1886 of the Court of Ordinary of Berrien County an order was granted by said Court, reciting that it appearing to the Court that said citation had issued and been published as the law required that the said executors be granted leave  to sell the land etc.”

With the estate cleared to sell, William Roberts sold out his interest in Land Lots 422, 423, 451, and 452 to James Swindle on November 18th, 1886, receiving the amount of  $10,029. 70 in consideration.  In today’s dollars, this would have been about $12.1 million dollars.

Nine years later, in 1895, James Swindle transferred 150 acres of this land to his son, James S. Swindle.  The warranty deed stated that the value received in consideration was “Love and Affection,” and described the property   “to wit: One hundred and fifty (150) acres, more or less, being part of lot of land number 423, and bounded as follows; 10th Dist of Berrien County, Ga. Commencing at the North end of the Dam known as the Card Gin Dam and running North to a branch known as the Davis branch  thence down said branch to Cat creek, thence down said Cat creek to lands of H.H. Knight, thence running East along said H.H. Knight land to starting point.”

The Swindle land encompassed virtually all of  present day Ray City lying north of Beaver Dam Creek.  “That along in the 1880’s, it was owned and possessed by one James Swindle, and that James Swindle sold the same to his son James S. Swindle, and that James S. Swindle sold that part of the land…to Chas. X. Jones, with several other acres of the land, and that in the year 1908 the said tract was cut up into town lots, by the surveyor of Berrien County, T.I. Griffin, and platted for the Town of Raysmill, and that the said town of Rays mill, afterwards became incorporated as the town of Ray City, Ga.”

1919 title document showing chain of ownership of land at Ray City, GA.

1919 title document showing chain of ownership of land at Ray City, GA.

Obituary of Catherine Knight Swindle (1872-1928), Ray City, GA

Another news clipping from the Ray City News,  Jan 3, 1929 edition

Mrs. J. S. Swindle was born Catherine Knight, a daughter of John W. Knight and Candacy Leaptrot.   She was a sister of  Primitive Baptist minister Aaron Anderson Knight, Sullivan Jordan Knight, and sister-in-law of George Emory Swindle.

Catherine Swindle (1872-1928) obituary, Ray City News, Ray City, GA

Clipping from the Ray City News, Jan 3, 1929 edition.

 

Ray City News. Jan 3, 1929.
Mrs. J.S. Swindle Passed Away on Christmas Day

    Mrs. Catherine Swindle, widow of the late J. S. Swindle passed away at  her home here on Christmas morning following a stroke which attacked her Saturday night.
    Mrs. Swindle, known to hundreds of friends and relatives as “Aunt Kit” was 57 years of age and had spent all her life here. She and her husband were truly pioneer citizens of Ray City as the town was built upon a part of their lands. She was preceded to her brave by her husband by about nine years.
    She was a daughter of the late John W. Knight and had a large and prominent family connection. She was the last one of this family of children.  For many years she had been a faithful member of the Primitive Baptist Church and was laid to rest at the Pleasant Church cemetery. Her pastor, Elder William Tomlinson of Douglas preached the funeral.
    The pallbearers were: Messrs. L. W. Sirmon, G. P. Swindle, H. A. Swindle, Ivey Moore, L C. Swindle and Homer Clements. A.D. Wiseman undertaker.
     Mrs. Swindle leaves behind a large host of friends and near relatives to mourn their loss, three children as follows, Bryan Swindle, Bartow, Fla, Mrs. Truby Gray, and L.J. Swindle of Ray City, Ga.
    The bereaved ones have the heartfelt sympathy of the people of this section in their loss.

  

Children of Catherine Knight and James S. Swindle:

  1. Eva Nancy Swindle – born 1889; married Elias Moore Knight, February 14, 1907; died November 15, 1925; buried Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA
  2. James Bryan Swindle – born September 7, 1897; married Myrtle Patterson, September 20, 1920; died October 7, 1949; buried Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA
  3. Trubie Inez Swindle – born November 9, 1901; married Clarence Jones Gray, October 17, 1917; Divorced 1941; Died Lake City, FL
  4. O.K. Swindle – born January 4, 1894; died September 2, 1905; buried Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA
  5. Leonard James Swindle – born November 7, 1904; married Cleo Tempy; divorced 1941; died 1966; buried Salt Springs, FL.
Catherine Knight Swindle, (1872-1928) Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA. Wife of James S. Swindle and daughter of John W. Knight.

Catherine Knight Swindle, (1872-1928) Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA. Wife of James S. Swindle and daughter of John W. Knight.

Related Post

« Older entries