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.

George Emory Swindle Sought Cure at Buffalo Lithia Springs, VA

The 1909 death of  George Emory “Tube” Swindle at Buffalo Lithia Springs, VA  was noted in the Atlanta Constitution.  Although he died far from home, George Emory Swindle lived most of his fifty-two years  near Rays Mill (now Ray City), Georgia.

Atlanta Constitution
August 19, 1909
 G. E. Swindle, Valdosta, Ga.

August 18. -(Special.)- G.E. Swindle, a prominent and wealthy farmer of this county [Lowndes], died yesterday morning at Buffalo Lithia Springs, Va. where he had gone for his health. Mr. Swindle had been a sufferer from Bright’s disease for several years. Recently his condition became much worse.  Two of his sons went to his bedside on Saturday, and were with him when the end came.  L.C. Swindle, a merchant of Valdosta, and J. N. Swindle, also of this city, are his sons.  He leaves four other sons and his wife, who live on the home place in Berrien County.  The deceased was 52 years old and had lived in Lowndes county many years. He owned much valuable property and was one of the wealthiest farmers in the county.

Solomon's Temple, one of three hotels at Buffalo Lithia Springs of Virginia.

Solomon’s Temple, one of three hotels at Buffalo Lithia Springs of Virginia.

George Emory Swindle was born April 5, 1859 in Liberty County, GA, a son of James Swindle and Nancy Jane Parker, and brother of Sheriff William Lawrence Swindle.

Swindle moved with his family to Berrien county GA some time in the 1860’s.   The Swindle farm was located about two miles southwest of Ray’s Mill, GA [now Ray City, GA] on Possum Creek road.

At age 18, on December 13, 1877, George E. Swindle married Margaret M. Futch. The couple made their home next to his father’s place on the Berrien-Lowndes county line, and for the next thirty years raised crops and children.

While George Swindle prospered as a successful planter, he suffered from Bright’s Disease.  A succinct description and historical context of this condition is provided by the writers, researchers, and editors at the www.wisegeek.com website.

      Bright’s Disease is an older classification for different forms of kidney disease. It was named after Dr. Richard Bright, who described the condition in the early 19th century. Lack of understanding of kidney function naturally meant that several different conditions could be considered Bright’s Disease. These include inflammation of the kidney, commonly called nephritis. Inflammation may be the result of too much protein being shed through the kidneys, called proteinuria, or hematuria, which causes blood in the urine. As well, Bright’s Disease might describe kidney failure due to high blood pressure or retention of fluids. Those symptoms most commonly associated with Bright’s Disease were intense pain on either or both sides of the lower back. Fever might be present and intense edema, or retention of fluids, might cause the extremities to appear extremely swollen. Breath could be labored and difficult, particularly if kidney failure caused fluid to accumulate in the lungs, or was caused by metastasized cancer.
Analysis of urine in diagnosing Bright’s Disease might show extremely cloudy, dark or bloody urine. Those affected might also find eating difficult, or might have periods of nausea or vomiting. All of the symptoms meant a very serious disease, which was usually not treatable, particularly in the 19th century.  Some types of kidney inflammation might be treated if they were not indicative of progressive kidney illness. Some people suffered attacks that could respond to early diuretics or laxatives. Physicians might also propose special diets, but this was still relatively uncommon.

A quack treatment for Bright’s Disease that became highly popularized in the 1800s was the use of “Lithia Water”.  In 1921, the American Medical Association published a volume on Nostrums and Quackery that included a brief history on the emergence of the  lithia water fallacy.

Years ago, Alexander Haig evolved the theory that most diseases are due to uric acid. The data on which he founded his theory were not corroborated by scientific men, and investigation showed that his methods were unreliable. In spite of the fact that Haig’s theories are utterly discredited, and have been for years, the uric acid fallacy still persists, although it is now largely confined to the public. Shrewd business men, especially those who are more intent on making money than they are concerned with the manner in which that money is made, owe much to Haig’s theory. As a business proposition, uric acid has been one of the best-paying fallacies on the market—and possibly still is.

Contemporary with, and to a certain extent a corollary of, the uric acid fallacy was another, vie, that lithium would eliminate uric acid. This.at once gave a good working principle for the proprietary men. Uric acid, we were told, causes disease; lithium, we were also told, would eliminate uric acid; therefore, lithium is the new elixir of life! Could anything be simpler?

But in the early 1900s lithia water was hawked as the best available treatment for Bright’s Disease. One of the most renowned treatment centers was the health resort located at Buffalo Lithia Springs of Virginia, where guests drank, ate and bathed with the mineral water.  “The Springs were known to Europeans as early as 1728 and operated as a commercial enterprise from about 1811 to the early 1940s. The Springs featured a hotel and health resort and opened a bottling plant around the turn of the century that sold water from Spring No. 2. … At its peak, Buffalo Springs water was sold in an estimated 20,000 drug stores throughout Europe, Canada, and the United States. (Abbott et al 1997:19-58).”  An 1896 article in Public Opinion magazine described the health resort. “The hotel, of which Col. Thomas F. Goode is the proprietor, will remain open until October 1. The locality is one of nature’s grandest works…The hotel accommodations are excellent and the rates remarkably reasonable. …every facility exists for invalids to bathe in the mineral waters at any desired temperature. Medical men in all parts of the country praise the therapeutic value of the water of the Buffalo Lithia Springs.(Public opinion, Volume 21, pg 12)

An advertisment for Buffalo Lithia Water and the hotel at Buffalo Lithia Springs, VA promises to cure Bright's Disease.

An advertisement for Buffalo Lithia Water and the hotel at Buffalo Lithia Springs, VA promised to cure Bright’s Disease.

George Emory Swindle  died August 17, 1909 at Buffalo Lithia Springs, VA.

Grave of George Emory Swindle, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave of George Emory Swindle, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Eventually, medical evidence would show, as in this case, that mineral water was not an effective treatment for kidney disease. Although the Food and Drug Administration would force mineral water companies to cease false therapeutic claims, Buffalo Springs Mineral Water continued to be sold until 1949 .

Wisegeek.com concludes:

Those with progressive kidney disease labeled as Bright’s Disease usually did not respond to treatments, which might also include bloodletting, and the treatments above. Those unresponsive to treatment were simply unlucky to be born in a time when medical knowledge was minimal. Current treatments for kidney failure of various types, like kidney transplant or dialysis, can significantly lengthen the lives of those who would once have been diagnosed with Bright’s Disease.

Bright’s Disease may be used in reference to Dr. Richard Bright, or one may find reference in literature and in older biographies, or medical texts. Today medical researchers and practitioners know that an all-inclusive label such as this obscures appropriate methods for cure, since not all kidney disease can be treated in the same manner. However, most honor Dr. Bright for at least localizing these diseases to the kidneys and pointing the way toward further research.

Read more on the 1921 AMA case against Buffalo Lithia Water

Children of George Emory Swindle and Margaret M. Futch:

  1. Leonard Columbus Swindle
  2. John N. Swindle
  3. James Henry Swindle
  4. George Perry Swindle
  5. Roy C. Swindle
  6. Leonadis A. Swindle

Death of Catherine Ardella Swindle, May 11, 1882

Catherine  Ardella “Della” Swindle was born in Liberty County, GA on April 13, 1870.  She was the sixth child of  Nancy Jane Parker and James Swindle. Some time prior to 1870 she moved with her parents to live near Rays Mill (nka Ray City), GA.  It was there, on the family farm, where 13 year old Catherine Swindle was hit by a fatal lightning bolt on May 11, 1882.  News of her death was reported in the state and national newspapers.

General News
Milledgeville Union and Recorder
May 30, 1882, Page 2

A little daughter of Mr. J. S. Swindle of Berrien county, was killed by lightning while out in a field. She was twelve years old.

A few days later the Atlanta Constitution gave this account:

Little Della’s Death
Atlanta Constitution
June 4, 1882, Pg2

From the Hinesville Gazette.
     On Thursday, May 11th, 1882, Mr. James Swindle, of Berrien county, with his wife and two little girls was in the field. Mr. Swindle saw a heavy cloud rising and told his wife she had better start home.  She started with the two little girls, Mr. Swindle following thirty feet behind, when there came a heavy clap of thunder, accompanied by a blinding flash of lightning.  The bolt struck Della, the oldest of the two little girls, who had just entered her thirteenth year.  Her hair was burned to a crisp  and her breast and neck blistered.  She fell to the ground and never moved or breathed again.

Death of Catherine Ardella Swindle, of Rays Mill, GA reported in the Washington (DC) Evening Star, May 30, 1882, Page 8.

Death of Catherine Ardella Swindle, of Rays Mill, GA reported in the Washington (DC) Evening Star, May 30, 1882, Page 8.

 

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L.C. Swindle Faces Bank Robber at Ray City – February 28,1939

On February 28, 1939, 72 years ago today, the Farmer’s bank at Ray City was the scene of a hold-up. The  Bank cashier was  L.C. Swindle.

Leonard Columbus Swindle was born May 20, 1880, the son of Margaret M. Futch and George Emory Swindle.  He was the grand son of Nancy Jane Parker and James Swindle. As a boy, he grew up on the on the Swindle homeplace near Ray City, GA. Later he lived in Cecil, and Valdosta. In Valdosta, L.C. was employed as a store clerk.

As of September 12, 1918, Leonard Columbus Swindle and his wife Mary Coley Swindle were residing in Barretts, GA about five miles south of Ray City when he registered for the WWI draft. He was a farmer, tall and slender with blue eyes and dark hair.

By 1930, L.C. and Mary had moved back to Ray City,GA. Mary worked as a store clerk and L.C. worked in a cotton warehouse, probably for his brother James H. “Jim” Swindle who owned the cotton warehouse at Ray City.

Later,  L. C. Swindle drawing on his business experience operated and controlled the Farmers Bank at Ray City.  It was there, on February 28, 1939, working as Cashier that he faced the gun of a bank robber.

Atlanta Constitution
March 1, 1939

LONE BANDIT ROBS BANK AT RAY CITY
Early Morning Holdup Man Gets $655; Police Take Up Hunt.

RAY CITY, Ga., Feb. 28.  Police searched for an armed bandit who robbed the Farmers’ bank here of $633 today when he was admitted before the regular opening hour to get change for a $20 bill.
Cashier L.C. Swindle reported the robbery to police and fixed the time at about 7:15 o’clock.  He said he had gone to the bank early to work on some insurance papers.  Someone knocked on the door and asked if he could get $20 changed.
Swindle said such requests before the bank  opens are frequent and he told the man he would let him in.
“He walked to the cashier’s window and laid a $20 bill on the counter,” Swindle related. “I asked how he wanted the money and as I was counting it out, the man said, ‘wait a minute.'”
When he looked up, Swindle said, a gun was pointed at him and the man said “give it all to me.”  Swindle added the man scooped up the cash and warned him to “stay in here,” and fled.
Sheriff N.N. Hughes, of Nashville, came here to investigate the case, and said the cashier described the man. Details were withheld until after search of the vicinity.
Hughes said he would search for two men reported seen near the bank early in the morning.  The sheriff said Swindle was unable to tell him whether or not the bandit was in a car, as the blinds were down and a radio playing drowned out possible motor noise.  Others said they heard a car about the time of the robbery.

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James Swindle ~ Wiregrass Pioneer

James Swindle was a pioneer of the Wiregrass area of Georgia.  He was born  in 1830 in South Carolina, and by the 1850s he was living in Liberty County.   James Swindle moved his family to Berrien County some time in the 1860’s.   The Swindle farm was located about two miles outside Ray’s Mill, GA [now Ray City, GA].

On November 22, 1855 at age 25 James Swindle married Nancy Jane Parker in Liberty Co, GA.  Nancy Jane Parker was the daughter of Solomon Parker and Harriet Baxter. She was born January 2, 1837 in Liberty County, GA.

JamesSwindle1830-1914

Swindle, James (1830-1914)

 

 

James Swindle & Nancy Jane Parker

James Swindle & Nancy Jane Parker

 

 

Left to right: James Henry Swindle, Nancy Jane Parker Swindle, Harriet Swindle, Martha Ada Swindle. The home was located about two miles outside Ray City.

Left to right: James Henry Swindle, Nancy Jane Parker Swindle, Harriet Swindle, Martha Ada Swindle. The home was located about two miles outside Ray City.

 

Children of Nancy Jane Parker and James Swindle:

  1. William Lawrence Swindle, b. September 8, 1856, Liberty County, GA; died 1915
  2. George Emory Swindle, b. April 5, 1859, Liberty County, GA.
  3. Ann Eliza Swindle, b. July 4, 1861, Liberty County, GA.
  4. Marietta Swindle, b. June 12, 1865, Liberty County, GA.
  5. James S. Swindle, b. July 13, 1867, Liberty County, GA.
  6. Catherine Ardella Swindle, b. April 13, 1870, Liberty County, GA; d. 1882.
  7. Harriet Swindle, b. December 26, 1871, Liberty County, GA.
  8. Martha Ada Swindle, b. March 18, 1877, Berrien County, GA; d. April 16, 1957, Valdosta Lowndes

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Ray City Baseball

 

Just found the following in the sports page of the Atlanta Georgian and News, July 1, 1909 edition:

MILLTOWN WINS SERIES.
Milltown, Ga., July 1. – in a hotly contested bame [sic] of baseball Milltown won its second victory from Rays Mill by the score of 5 to 4. The game was played on Milltown’s new diamond. Schucker and Shaw did the
battery work for the home team, while Sellman and Shaw did the same duties for the visitors. Schucker, for the home team, only gave up three hits, struck out fifteen men and did on walk but one man. Sellman, of the visitors, gave up seven hits, walked two men and struck out nine men. Milltown has played three games with Rays Mill, winning the first , 16 to 2, and the second game went to Rays Mill by the score of 5 to 6 in ten innings. The milltown team was composed of all home players.

A hundred years ago, every small town had its baseball team.   Ray City sported a baseball team that played match games with Nashville, Milltown, Willacoochee, and other communities in the area.  As above, reports of the home team’s prowess occasionally even reached the Atlanta newspapers.

Later on, games were played on the baseball diamond at Mayhaw Lake.  After the small Ray City resort closed, the local team played on a field located near the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Railroad and Jones Street.

Ray City Baseball Team circa 1920

 

Top row far left to right, Elmer Shaw, James Swindle, Henry Swindle, unknown, unknown. Bottom row left to right, unknown, Charlie Shaw, unknown, unknown.

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