Constitution of New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church

New Ramah Primitive Baptist  Church (1913 – 2010)

New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church, Ray City, Berrien County, GA was founded in 1913. The church building was dismantled in 2010.

New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church, Ray City, Berrien County, GA was founded in 1913. The church building was dismantled in 2010.

New Ramah Church was located on the southwest side of Ray City, between Park Street and Cat Creek. The primitive baptist church was organized August 30,  1913, and built by four Knight brothers who were the descendants of William A. KnightAaron Anderson Knight was called as the first pastor and served until his death in 1925.

Upon the constitution of New Ramah Church, the minutes of the church recorded this initial entry:

State of Georgia, Berrien, Co.
August 30, 1913

By the Goodness of God, now when names are after written, having been Baptized upon a Profession of faith by the Lord Jesus Christ having here to fore been members of different Churches did consent on the propriety of becoming a Constituted body near Rays Mill, Ga.

Believing it to be expedient, finding a fellowship with each other, jointly chosen to set apart this day for Constitution.

Petitioning Salem, Empire, Unity & Pleasant Churches for Ministerial aid as a presbatry (Presbytery) which has granted Eld. I. A. Wetherington from Unity Church, Eld. H. W. Parrish from Salem Church, Eld. A. A. Knight from Pleasant Church, Eld. E. R. Blanton from Pleasant Hill Church and Eld. E. Lindsey from Ty Ty Church were clothed with church authority and gave theyr attenuance and letter of dismission being presented and no deficiency appearing, being sound in the facts and principals of the Gospel, that is to say believing that the scriptures of the Old and the New Testament are the Word of God and contains everything necessary for the faith and practice, Particular the existence of one true God, the fall of Man and his inability to recover himself, God’s savoring [sovereign] choices, of his people in Christ, theyr Covenant head from before the foundation of the world effectual calling purification by the imputed righteousness of Christ alone,  The final perseverance of the saints in grace, and eternal salvation in Glory, the duty of baptism by immersion, and the Lords Supper. Thus pronouncing to be upon above principals.
      And having this day being the 30th day of August, 1913, been pronounced a Church of Christ in order
        having united upon equal terms and here after be called and known by the name of New Ramah Church, and for this end deliberately solemly give our selves to the Lord, and to each other by the will of God, Independent of any religious body or congregation what ever, covenanting and promising each other to live to gether as becomes brethering in Gospel hands for the maintaining of Christian fellowship and gospel discipline agreeable to the holy scripture and as true yoke fellows agreed to stand or fall together in order, for which we do agree to receive, and adopt the following plan of or form of Decorum and Rule of practice.

Church Decorum
 New Ramah Church

1st   – – – –  —— —— or Conference shall be —– —– —- —– every member must —- —- —– —— —– —–

2nd  Church meetings shall begin and end with Divine worship.

3rd Church members failing to attend two Conferences in succession it shall be theyr duty to make known to the Church the reason of theyr absence at the next conference, and the Church judge of the same, but if the failure happen without the Church having knowledge of there being laudable reasons, she shall have him cited and Judge of such failure.

4th The Pastor of the Church shall preside as moderator when present unless some objections be made in which case the Church shall choose another

5th At the opening of every Conference it shall be the duty of the moderator to invite visiting brethering & Sisters of Sister Churches to seats with the Brethern of this Church, and then make known to the Congregation that a door of the Church is open for the reception of members the proceed to take up all Reference as they stand in order and all business that comes before the Church in order

6th  The moderator shall in his Power preserve order, Shall explain and put questions. He shall have an assistant (when present) if needed but in his absence a moderator protem shall be appointed.

7th The Moderator shall have the same right of speech as another member but shall not vote unless the body be equally divided.

8th The Church shall have a Clerk who shall keep a fair record of theyr proceedings and sign theyr order before the Conference rises.  Minutes taken by the Clerk shall be read and amended before the conference rises if necessary.

9th  In debate, only one person shall speak at the same time, who shall rise from his seat and address the Moderator in an orderly manner.

10th  The person speaking shall strictly attend to the subject in debate, shall not reflect on the person that spoke before him by making remarks on his slips, or imperfections, but convey his own ideas.

11th  The person speaking shall not be interrupted unless he breaks through these rules.  Then the moderator shall call to  order if dissatisfied he shall —- the voice of the conference.

12th No person shall speak more than twice to the same proposition till every one choosing to speak has spoken.

The Church minutes of New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church provide the list of male and female members below.  Notations next to the names were updated by the Clerk with the status by which the member joined and departed the congregation. Many notations were too faint to be legible for transcription.


B. H. Sirmans
C. H. Vickers
W. F. Rayaln  Exp
D. W. Townsend  dead
C. R. Herring Dead
J. T. Moore  Dead
J. W. Conner Dis By letter
H. T. Cercey
C. C. Smith Exp
L. L. Blanton
Gilford Stalvey
M. S. Pevy
Willie Green Dis by letter
A. M. Ray  By letter
O.W. Mikell by let
P.S. Skinner let
D. J. Skinner
Joe Spells
S. G. Gaskins
Robert Burkholtz
John Burkholtz
Jimmie Taylor
K. S. Bennett
Lacy Shaw


Mary Sirmans Dead
Carrie Peters Dead
E. B. Clements
Ada Gaskins
Chloe Johnson
Cassie Hall Con X
Ola Mikell by let
Roena Clements Con
Lillie Spells bapt
Minnie Herrin bapt
Eva Moore bap X
Mary Cersey let
Elizabeth —- X
Nettie Skinner let
Lizzie Smith
Laura Chitty bapt
Mary? Skinner dead
Lila Allen
Fannie Gaskins
Kizzie Woodard
Eliza Knight let
Lula Kendrick bapt
Lula Fender bapt
Delia Bennett bapt
Mary Allen bapt
Della Spells bapt
Pearlie Peevy bapt
Orie Blanton ? bapt

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Ray City Residents Among Refugees from 1926 Hurricane

The hurricane that hit south Florida in September of 1926 was one of the worst storms in U.S. history.

The hurricane that hit south Florida in September of 1926 was one of the worst storms in U.S. history.

When the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926 struck, Ray City and Nashville residents were among a number of Georgians caught in the devastation.  Pearlie Sutton Conner and four of her children were among the refugees, as well as Oliver Conner, all of Ray City, GA. Nashville residents stranded by the storm included: M.A. Harper and wife; Mrs. H. Giddings and three children;  Maude Harper  Griner , wife of Arnold Griner;  Rachel Hill Griner, wife of Samuel Bryant Griner; Jerome Griner, and Arnold Griner, Jr.

Miami's new drydock, results of hurricane, Sept. 18, 1926. Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Miami’s new drydock, results of hurricane, Sept. 18, 1926. Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Pearlie Sutton Conner was the wife of James Wilson Conner. Her father was George Washington Sutton and her mother was Julia Ann “Annie” Spell.  The 1890 Berrien County, GA Property Tax Digests show that Geo W. Sutton owned 100 acres in Land Lot 510, 10th District valued at $300.  The Sutton farm was not far from Ray City, in the Connells Mill District, the 1329 Georgia Militia District. The Suttons took their mail at the Lois community.

James Wilson Conner, born on June 22, 1877 in Pulaski County, GA was the son of Daniel Johnson Conner and Nancy Caroline Conner. It is said that his mother died in childbirth and that he was raised by Louisa Conner, who is thought to be a cousin. His father was a Confederate veteran who was wounded in the Civil War.

By the census of 1900 Pearlie’s family had moved about 200 miles west of Ray City to the small community of Ponce De Leon, FL situated on on the Florida Panhandle, where her father owned a farm free and clear of mortgage.

Pearlie Sutton and James Wilson Conner were married in 1899, and were enumerated in the 1900 census of Holmes County (Ponce de Leon District), FL living on the farm next door to her father’s property.

1900 census enumeration of James W. Conner and family, Ponce de Leon, Holmes County, Florida.

1900 census enumeration of James W. Conner and family, Ponce de Leon, Holmes County, Florida.

Some time before 1920 James and Pearlie had moved their family back to Berrien County, Georgia. They owned a farm on the Nashville Enigma Public Road which James worked on his own account.

1920 census enumeration of James W. Conner and family, 1157 Georgia Militia District near Nashville, Berrien County, Georgia.

1920 census enumeration of James W. Conner and family, 1157 Georgia Militia District near Nashville, Berrien County, Georgia.

Within a few years, the Conners moved to Ray City, GA . At least they made their home there by 1926. James Wilson Conner was a member of New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church at Ray City, until dismissed by letter.

In 1926 their daughter, Cora Lee Conner, was married to Leamon Andy Godwin. The wedding took place in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

So it came to pass that in the very last days of  the summer of 1926, Pearlie Sutton Conner and four of her children were in south Florida. It was then, on September 18, 1926 when the Great Miami Hurricane made landfall.

The 1926 storm was described by the U.S. Weather Bureau in Miami as “probably the most destructive hurricane ever to strike the United States.” It hit Fort Lauderdale, Dania, Hollywood, Hallandale and Miami. The death toll is estimated to be from 325 to perhaps as many as 800. No storm in previous history had done as much property damage. 1926 Miami: The blow that broke the boom

Much has been written about The Big Blow of 1926. The population growth of south Florida in the preceding decade had been explosive, fueled by the Florida land boom. The newcomers and tourists had slight experience with hurricanes.  The approach of the tropical storm raised little alarm with the public, or with authorities.  It was just hours before the storm came on shore that a hurricane warning was finally issued,   “But in 1926 there were few avenues for warning people. Only a handful of people owned radios to hear the warnings broadcast on South Florida’s only radio station.”   After the storm had passed, the damage was captured on film. A 1926 silent movie newsreel, Miami: The Magic City, documents the extent of the damage and The Sun Sentinel and PBS have informative articles.

At the time, Miami’s hurricane was considered the country’s greatest natural disaster since the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906. Today the Category 4 storm ranks among 20th-century U.S. hurricanes as the 12th strongest and 12th deadliest. After adjustment for 1996 construction costs, the storm is the U.S.’s 20th most costly, with an estimated $1.5 billion in property damage. – The American Experience: The Hurricane of 1926

The Atlanta Constitution headline tolled the death and decimation of the 1926 hurricane.

The Atlanta Constitution headline tolled the death and decimation of the 1926 hurricane.

In the aftermath of the storm, the Red Cross and the National Guard assisted with aid to the refugees. When transportation could be arranged, Florida travelers fled the destruction.  Many Georgians boarded northbound trains at West Palm Beach, including Pearlie Sutton Conner and her children, and other Berrien County residents.

The Atlanta Constitution
September 23, 1926


West Palm Beach, Fla., September 22. – The following Georgia refugees from Hollywood came here today and were given transportation to their former homes:
Mr. and Mrs J. R. Bowman and two babies, Winder, Ga; Mrs. R H. Armstrong and five children, Cochran, Ga.; Martha and Gladys Burgamy, Cochran, Ga; Mrs. B. W. Atkinson and baby, Stone Mountain, Ga.; Mrs. C. J. Sutton and two children, Atlanta; Mrs. H. E. Webb, Vidalia, Ga.
Mrs. J. W. Webb, Vidalia, Ga.; Mrs. J. J. Chancellor and two children, Cordele, Ga.; Mrs. J. M. Thornton and one child, Madison, Ga.; Mrs. Beulah Lester, Columbus, Ga.; Mrs. Annie Franklin and three children, Clarksville, Ga.; Mrs. R. C. Davidson and three children, Comer, Ga.; Mrs. J. B. Bivings and two children, Savannah, Ga., Catherine Bivings, Macon, Ga., Lilla, Lula, Lillian and Robert Hudson, Thomasville, Ga.; Mrs. Lincoln Frost and baby, Thomasville, Ga.; Mrs. Reuben Rushing and baby, Thomasville, Ga.; Mrs. E. M. Stokes, Cochran, Ga.
Mrs. S. A. Crews, Waycross, Ga.; Mrs. L.D. Fletcher and three children, Andalusia, Ga.; Mrs. B. H. Thomas and two children, Winder, Ga.; Mr. and Mrs. Jack Hutchinson and son, Atlanta; Mrs. E. W. Cross and daughter, Cordele, Ga.; Mrs. A. L. Pittman, Athens, Ga.; Mrs. R. A. Clyatt and two children, Atlanta; Mrs. Arnold Griner, Mrs. S. B. Griner, Jerome Griner and Arnold Griner, Jr., Nashville, Ga.
Mrs. G. W. Thomas and four children, Winder, Ga.; Mrs. J. H. King and two children, Comer, Ga.; Julia and Estelle McClanden, Wadley, Ga.; Mrs. W. L. George and two children, West Green, Ga; Mrs. E. E. Olds and child, Lawrenceville, Ga.; Mrs. W. L. Revel and three children, Sargent, Ga.;

Continued from First Page.

Mrs. R. L. Thompson and two children, Winder, Ga.; Mrs. Ruby Hall and six children, Comer, Ga.; Mrs. J. W. Conner and four children, Ray City, Ga.; Oliver Conner, Ray City, Ga.; Mrs. L W. Conder and baby, Columbus, Ga.; Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Daniels and six children, Cochran, Ga; Mrs. R. H. Darnell and four children, Fairmont, Ga.; Mrs. J. W. Ingram, Jr.; and son, Dublin, Ga.; Mrs. A. Roll and two children, Atlanta, Ga; Mrs. W. R. Titshaw and son, Pitts, Ga.; Mrs. H. T. Hosskins and child, Comer, Ga.; Mrs. O. P. Gulibeau, Augusta, Ga.; Mrs. H. G. Harvey and two children, Pelham, Ga; Mrs. J. D. Duvall and daughter, Toccoa, Ga.; Mr. and Mrs. Fred Kramer, Atlanta; Mr. and Mrs. Orris Canatsy and child, Pitts, Ga.; Mrs. J. A. Warren and 10 children, Pitts, Ga.; M. A. Harper and wife, Nashville, Ga.; Mrs. Lillie Titshaw and three children, Pitts, Ga; Mrs. H. Giddings and three children, Nashville, Ga.; Mrs. P. W. Ross, Cordele, Ga.; Mrs. A. C. Wilkens, Cordele, Ga.; Buelah Wilkens, Cordele, Ga; Mrs. R. W. Dowdy and six children, Pitts, Ga.; F. F. Keener and four children, Toccoa, Ga; Mrs. G. G. Sanders and two children, Elberton, Ga.

At home in Georgia, the Conners continued to reside in the Ray City vicinity. In the Census of 1930, they were enumerated in the 1300 Georgia Militia District, to the east of the town, in Lanier County.

Enumeration of James W. Conner and family, 1300 Georgia Militia District, Lanier County, Georgia.

1930 census enumeration of James W. Conner and family, 1300 Georgia Militia District, Lanier County, Georgia.

 The Conners remained in Ray City, thereafter.   James Wilson Conner died in 1954 and Pearlie Sutton Conner died in 1959. They were buried at New Ramah Church cemetery, at Ray City, GA.

Grave marker of Pearlie Sutton and James Wilson Conner, New Ramah Church Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave marker of Pearlie Sutton and James Wilson Conner, New Ramah Church Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

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