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.

Automotive Entrepreneurs in Ray City, GA

Cars began appearing in Ray City and Berrien County, Georgia for the first time in the early 1900’s.  Dr. H. W. Clements was one of the earliest car owners in Berrien County.  With increasing  automobile traffic, Ray City residents were soon turning to businesses that catered to this new locomotion.

Woco Pep was a gasoline brand featured at Fletch and Mac's Garage at Ray City in the 1940s

Woco Pep was a gasoline brand featured at Fletch and Mac’s Garage at Ray City in the 1940s

On June 5, 1917 when registering for the draft for WWI (WWI: Ray City Goes to WarGordon Vancie Hardie was living and working in Ray City, GA.  At that time he listed his occupation as a self-employed “Automobile Repairer”.   In 1920 he and his wife, Addie B. Hardy were living in a house on Jones Street in Ray City, Georgia.  By that time Gordon had expanded his trades. He was the proprietor of a “beef market” which he operated on his own account.  The Gordon meat market was one of two butcher shops among the historic businesses of Ray City appearing in the Census of 1920.

But other Ray City residents were quickly taking up the automotive service trade. Another going concern in 1917 was that of Sutton & Gaskins. Henry C. Sutton was one of the proprietors and also a mechanic; Barney Gordon Shaw was also employed as an automobile mechanic. Harvey Norvell Terry, son of merchant W.H.E. Terry, was also a mechanic. Jessie Everett Anderson was another young man running a garage in Ray City around that time. In the 1920 census Machiel Gallagher, son of Frank Gallagher, gave his occupation as a wage laborer in an automobile shop. Theodore Hinley, son of J.F. Hineley,  worked on his own account as an automobile driver.   Thad L. Lindsey, who resided with his uncle Jasper Nobles in a house on Jones Street,  was the proprietor of a garage. The garage was probably a good complement to his uncle’s livery business.  In fact, automotive service stations of that period were sometimes referred to as the “auto livery.”

Charles A. Cole was the proprietor of another garage in town.  His father, Jasper Cole, was a blacksmith. There was good sense in this business relationship; as cars became more popular, many blacksmiths became automobile mechanics.  The April 1913 issue of  American blacksmith and motor shop, Volume 13 included articles such as “Welding Automobile Springs” and “Three Emergency Automobile Repairs”, as well as “A Scientific Horseshoe.”

By 1925 Gordon V. Hardie had returned to the automotive service industry. He built the first gasoline station in Ray City, GA, a brick building which stood on the south side of Main Street just east of the tracks of the Georgia & Florida railroad and  southeast of the corner of  Main and Paralleled Streets.These automotive entrepreneurs were just a few of the Ray City businesses operating in the town’s boom period of the 1920’s.

By 1930 the Hardie Filling Station had competition in the service station business.  Moses L. Giddens was a garage and station owner, and  Carl F. Murry was  employed at a filling station.  Charlie J. Shaw was a self-employed automobile mechanic.  In the 1930s, the South Georgia Oil Company,  a gas and diesel dealership based out of Tifton, GA, had a location at Ray City.  Among other automotive business firms operated in Ray City in the 1930s were Ray City Service Station, Norton Service Station, Ray City Motor Company,  Colonial Oil Company,  Highway Service Station,  Standard Oil Station,  Shaw’s Garage,  and Swain Garage.   Wilbur Aultman owned a filling station and lunch stand that was destroyed by fire in 1937.

The census of 1940 shows  Levi J. Futch, Arthur A. Carlson, Willie Wright Ware, and J. B. McSwain all were working as  automobile mechanics.  Herman B. Guthrie was a gasoline station operator, and George Emory Swindle, a son of L.C. Swindle, was an automobile salesman.

In 1945, J. B. “Mac” McSwain went into partnership with D.L. Fletcher to open Fletch and Mac’s Garage in Ray City, GA. Among the products featured at the new service station were Woco Pep gasoline and Tiolene Motor Oil.

1949 Georgia Map, Standard Oil Company

1949 Georgia Map, Standard Oil Company, featured “Okefenokee Swamp Park, near Waycross, Georgia” on the cover.

Related posts:

Fletch and Mac’s Garage Opens at Ray City

Dr. H.W. Clements and the Doctor’s Roadster

Kate Nobles ~ Supreme Forest Woodmen Circle

In 2006 during the remodeling of the house at 507 Jones street, Ray City, Georgia a small cache of sooty, crumbling documents were retrieved from where they had fallen behind the fireplace mantel.  Among these items was a 1917 form letter from Supreme Forest Woodmen Circle, addressed to Kate Fountain Nobles, wife of Jasper Nobles. 

Woodmen of the World Aug 1917 notification of non-payment of "grove assessment" addressed to Kate Nobles.

 

According to Dr. David Beito, Professor of History at the University of Alabama,  fraternal organizations were among the largest organizations of any type in late 19th and early 20th century America.  By some estimates nearly one out of every three American men belonged to a fraternal organization in 1910. There were fraternal organizations for every ethnic and religious group in American.  

At that time, Woodmen of the World and its sister organization Supreme Forest Woodmen Circle were fraternal insurance organizations that particularly appealed to white, native born Americans. Both organizations were national fraternal insurance organizations founded by Joseph Cullen Root.  

Beito writes: 

“A notable accomplishment of fraternal orders was to spread life insurance among the masses. Between 1890 and 1910, the number of people belonging to societies offering death benefits increased from 1.3 million to 8.5 million. By the end of this period, fraternal policies represented nearly half the value of all life insurance.” 

“A key reason for the strength of fraternal networks of trust and cooperation was a shared code of values among the members. Although the details varied, nearly all societies trumpeted the virtues of thrift, self-reliance, reciprocity, self-government, and civility. Taken together, these and related ideals constituted a kind of fraternal consensus.” 

 The distinctive headstones of Woodmen of the World members in local cemeteries are public testimonies to the historical presence of  fraternal organizations in Ray City and Berrien County, GA.   Documents like the one above attest that at least some Ray City,GA women were members of these organizations as well. 

For more on Ray City History and the Nobles Family, see http://raycity.pbworks.com/ 

For more on the impact of fraternal organizations in America, read:

To Advance the “Practice of Thrift and Economy”: Fraternal Societies and Social Capital, 1890-1920
David T. Beito
Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Vol. 29, No. 4, Patterns of Social Capital: Stability and Change

Jasper Nobles ~ Ticket to the Past

In 2006 during the remodeling of the house at 507 Jones street, Ray City, Georgia a small cache of sooty, crumbling documents were retrieved from where they had fallen behind the fireplace mantel. 

Among these items was the booklet cover of a ticket on the Atlantic Coastline Rail Road issued October 20, 1918 for  Jasper Nobles.

See additional images and Ray City, GA history at http://raycity.pbworks.com/