William Devane

William DeVane (1838-1909) Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com/

William DeVane (1838-1909), planter of Ray’s Mill, Berrien County, GA. His brother, Benjamin Mitchell DeVane (1835-1912), was a notary public and an alderman in the city government of Adel, GA. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com/

William DeVane was born in Lowndes, now Berrien County, March 30, 1838, and was a son of Francis DeVane. His grandfather, Captain John DeVane, was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. William’s father and uncles Benjamin (1795-1879) and William Devane (1786-1870) had come to Lowndes County from Bulloch County, GA about 1831 along with  others of the DeVane family connection.

The 1850 census places William DeVane in his father’s Lowndes County household, along with his older siblings Benjamin and Patrick who worked as laborers. William, age 12, apparently was not yet assisting with the farm work, although records do not indicate that he was attending school at that time, either.   William’s brother Thomas was working the farm next door.  Some of the neighbors included Samuel Connell, William Parrish, Ansel Parrish, Absolom Parrish, James Parrish, James J. Fountain and Thomas Futch.

At the time of the 1860 census, William and Benjamin DeVane were still living in their father’s household and working at farming. The census records indicate William, age 23, attended school that year. Patrick DeVane and Thomas DeVane had farms nearby. Some of the neighbors were Nathaniel Cooper, William B. Turner, Henry J. Bostick, Fredrick M. Giddens, John A. Money, and Ansel Parrish.

During the Civil War, William and his three brothers all joined the army. William was the first to join, enlisting in Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment  as a private  on March 4, 1862 at Nashville, GA.  Benjamin DeVane enlisted in the same company May 9, 1862 at Nashville, GA. He was later elected 2nd Lieutenant of Company D, 50th GA Regiment and served to the end of the war. Patrick joined Company I on August 14, 1862 at Calhoun, GA. He fell out sick at Culpepper, VA on November 18, 1862 and died in a Confederate hospital on December 13, 1862; his estate was administered by William Giddens. William Devane’s brother Thomas Devane enlisted in Company H, Georgia 1st Infantry Regiment on 21 Dec 1862.

The 50th Georgia Regiment was sent to the defenses around Savannah.  Sergeant Ezekiel Parrish, son of the DeVane’s neighbor James Parrish, wrote home on April 23, 1862 describing their encampment situated near Savannah:

“about one or one and a half miles east of the city where we can have a fair view of the church steeples and the nearest part of the town…Our camps are very disagreeable now in consequence of the dryness of the weather, the ground being sandy and loose and the winds high. it keeps ones eyes full of sand almost all the time which is not a very good remedy…It is about one mile or little over to the river from our camps. We can see the steamboats passing almost constantly…Our camps are situated near extensive earthworks or entrenchments for the protection of our troops should the enemy attempt to attack the city by land. Fort Boggs [is] on the river below town about 1/2 miles below…it commands the river tolerable well. the marsh between the channel and the fort is about 1/4 of a mile wide and the fort is on a high bluff at the edge of the marsh and is covered from the view of the river by a strand of thick bushes on the hillside…Captain Lamb‘s Company [Berrien Minute Men, 29th Georgia Regiment] has moved from Camp Tatnall to a place on the river below fort Jackson and about one mile and a half from Berrien Light Infantry, Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment.

The 50th Georgia Regiment went on station at Fort Brown. Fort Brown was situated at the Catholic Cemetery at what is now the intersection of Skidaway Road and Gwinette Street.

Fort Brown was one of the anchors of an extensive earthworks protecting Savannah.

A line of formidable earthworks, within easy range of each other, in many places connected by curtains, and armed with siege and field guns, was thrown up for the immediate protection of Savannah. Commencing at Fort Boggs on the Savannah River and thence extending south and west in a semi-circular form, enveloping the at distances varying from one to two and a quarter miles, it terminated at the Springfield plantation swamp. The principal fortifications in this line were Fort Boggs, mounting fourteen guns, some of them quite heavy and commanding the Savannah River – Fort Brown, near the Catholic Cemetery, armed with eleven guns – and Fort Mercer, having a battery of nine guns. Between Springfield plantation swamp – where the right of the line rested just beyond Laurel Grove cemetery – and Fort Mercer, were eighteen lunettes, mounting in the aggregate twenty guns. Connecting Fort Mercer with Fort Brown was a cremaillere line with nine salients, mounting in the aggregate eight guns. Between Fort Brown and Fort Boggs were seven lunettes armed with eight guns. These works were well supplied with magazines. It will be noted that the armaments of these city lines consisted of seventy pieces of artillery of various calibers, among which 32,24,18, 12, and 6 pounder guns predominated. A considerable supply of ammunition was kept on hand in the magazines. – Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 17

 

On May 18, 1862 Ezekiel Parrish wrote from “Savannah, Ga Camps near Fort Brown”:

We are living very hard here now for the soldiers rations of bacon have been reduced to so small a portion that we are pretty hard {illegible} for something to grease with. Several of our last ration of bacon has been less than one pound to the man for four May’s rations, but of the other kinds of provisions we draw plenty to do well though the pickel beef is so poor and salt and strong that it is not very good and in fact some will do without before they will eat it. Occasionally we get some fresh beef but it is very poor without any grease to go with it…The water here is very bad and brackish and a continual use of it is enough to make anybody sick.

William DeVane, 24 years of age,  would serve only a short time before providing a substitute. Substitution was a form of Civil War draft evasion available to those who could afford it.

Substitution
With war a reality, the Confederate legislature passed a law in October 1861 declaring that all able-bodied white men were obligated to serve in the military. This statute allowed substitutions for men who had ‘volunteered’ for the militia. It also permitted those not required by law to enlist in the military to serve as substitutes. However, by the Spring of 1862, after a year of fighting and hardship, the flow of new volunteers became a trickle, which forced the 
Confederacy to pass the first American conscription law. In April 1862 the legislature authorized a draft of men between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five years. This law also allowed substitutes to be used. Later that year, in September 1862, the legislature extended the maximum draft-eligible age to forty-five years. The revision specifically stated that only those who were not eligible for the draft presumably those too old, too young, or foreign citizens – could serve as substitutes.  – Mary L. Wilson, 2005, Profiles in Evasion

The market price of a soldier, it is said, soon mounted to from $1500 to $3000. …To employ a substitute or to accept services as one was regarded by many, and almost universally so in army circles, as highly reprehensible.  – A. B. Moore, 1924, Conscription and Conflict in the Confederacy

After just over three months of service and without engaging in any action, DeVane secured a discharge from the army June 18, 1862, by furnishing a substitute. According to company rolls, John R. Croley  enlisted that same day at Fort Brown, Savannah, GA as a substitute in DeVane’s stead.   The 47-year-old Croley (also Crowley or Crawley) was himself exempt from military service. Croley had brought his family from Sumter County to Berrien County in 1860.

Shortly after assuming DeVane’s place, Croley and the rest of the 50th Georgia Regiment were sent to Camp Lee in Virginia. Croley was to have a rough time of it. Soon sick, he was left behind at the camp when the regiment pulled out on August 21, 1862. In February 1863 he was admitted to Chimborazo Hospital No. 2, Richmond, VA with Rheumatism. On March 12, he was admitted to the the C.S.A. General Hospital at Farmville, VA with diarrhea.

Confederate service record of John R. Croley, substitute for William DeVane.

Confederate service record of John R. Croley, substitute for William DeVane.

Croley returned to duty April 29.  He was with his unit when the 50th GA Regiment entered the Battle of Gettysburg July 1-3, 1863. Severely wounded and taken prisoner of war, he was sent to one of the Union hospitals in and about Gettysburg.  His arm was amputated, but he did not recover. He died of wounds July 31, 1863.  The location of his burial is not known, presumably in the vicinity of Gettysburg.  A monument in his memory marks an empty grave at Keel Cemetery, Valdosta, GA.

Centograph of John R. Croley (Crawley), Keel Cemetery, Valdosta, GA. Croley was mortally wounded at Gettysburg, PA while serving as a substitute for William DeVane. Image source: Karen Camp.

Centograph of John R. Croley (Crawley), Keel Cemetery, Valdosta, GA. Croley was mortally wounded at Gettysburg, PA while serving as a substitute for William DeVane. Image source: Karen Camp.

Administration of the estate of John R. Croley in Berrien County, GA

Administration of the estate of John R. Croley in Berrien County, GA

Croley left behind a widow and four children in Berrien County. William DeVane sat out the rest of the war.

DeVane was married on May 10 1865 in Dooly County, GA to Miss Sarah Jane “Sallie” Butler of that county. She was born February 12, 1842, a daughter of Ezekiel and Eliza Butler.

Marriage Certificate of William DeVane and Sallie Butler, Dooley County, GA

Marriage Certificate of William DeVane and Sallie Butler, Dooley County, GA

Born to William and Sallie were eleven children:

  1. Emma Lorena DeVane, born February 18, 1866, married George W. Marsh of Sumter County, FL.
  2. Marcus LaFayette DeVane, born April 25, 1867, died September 15, 1889.
  3. Columbus Clark DeVane, born February 11, 1869, never married.
  4. Ada Belle DeVane, born April 10, 1870, married William J. Hodges of Lowndes County, GA
  5. Ezekiel H. DeVane, born December 4, 1872, married Beulah Parrish, daughter of Elbert Parrish.
  6. William E. Pemberton DeVane, born November 8, 1875, married Mary McClelland, daughter of Robert McClelland
  7. John F. DeVane, born August 2, 1877; died October 1878.
  8. Benjamin Robert DeVane, born October 15, 1879; married Bessie Whitehurst, daughter of Nehemiah Whitehurst
  9. Caulie Augustus DeVane, born September 15, 1882; married Alma Albritton, daughter of Matthew Hodge Albritton
  10. Connard Cleveland DeVane, born November 11, 1884; married Nellie Mae Coppage, daughter of Jehu Coppage
  11. Onnie Lee DeVane, born November 11, 1884; married John W. Strickland, son of William J. Strickland of Clinch County.

The homeplace of William DeVane was about four and half miles west of Ray City on the Nashville-Valdosta Road. It was situated on the north half of lot 457, 10th district. Possum Creek, a tributary of Cat Creek, crosses the northeast corner of this land. The place was given to William by his father before the elder DeVane’s death in 1868. William DeVane had received no deed however, and title was vested in him March 1870, by arbitration proceedings agreed to by all the heirs.

Home of William DeVane (1838-1909) Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com/

Home of William DeVane (1838-1909) Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com/

The 1870 Census enumeration shows that William DeVane’s household then included his wife, Sarah Jane, and children, Emma, Marcus, Columbus, and Ada, as well as an African-American boy, Rufus Prine, who at age 11 was working as farm labor.

Berrien County Tax records also document that after the War, William DeVane worked his farm with the help of freedman Joseph Prine. The relationship between Joseph and Rufus is not known.  Joseph Prine was born into slavery in South Carolina in 1816. The 1872 tax records show DeVane employed seven hands between the ages of 12 and 65. This count matches exactly with the 1870 Census enumeration of the Joseph Prine household, which then included Joe Prine (56), Jane Prine (54), Samuel Prine (22), Chaney Prine (33), Elza Prine (17), Jasper Prine (14), and George Prine (11), as well as the younger Prine children, Jinnie (8), Huldy (7), Eliza (5), and Philip(2).

In 1872, the William DeVane farm consisted of 508 acres on portions of lots 457 and 418 in the 10th Land District. To the north was Mary DeVane with 755 acres on Lots 418 and 412. Benjamin Mitchell DeVane also owned portions of Lot 418 and 419. John Baker had 122 acres on Lot 419. William H. Outlaw had 245 acres on Lot 419. To the south, John W. Hagan owned 356 acres on lots 503 and 504. J.S. Roberts also had some acreage on 503 and 504.  To the east, the Reverend John G. Taylor, Sr. had 400 acres on Lot 456.  By 1877 John Webb had acquired a 1470 acre tract just to the northeast of the William DeVane place.

 

William DeVane developed one of the finest plantations in Berrien County, containing 935 acres. It was situated on a public road and Possum Creek. The main house was six-rooms, and there was also a three-room house and a tenant house on the place. The six-horse farm of over 100 cultivated acres was said to produce a bale of cotton to the acre. Devane kept 120 head of stock on a fine stock range. His equipment included farm implements, oat reaper, cane mill and syrup kettle, two wagons, and two buggies.

Sallie Butler DeVane died June 15, 1896.  A death announcement appeared in the Tifton Gazette.

Tifton Gazette
July 10, 1896

Mrs. Sallie Devane, of this county, wife of Mr. William Devane, died on Tuesday of last week.

Grave of Sarah Butler DeVane (1842-1896), Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.

Grave of Sarah Butler DeVane (1842-1896), Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.

 

William DeVane died March 8, 1909.

Graves of William DeVane and Sarah Butler DeVane, Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Graves of William DeVane and Sarah Butler DeVane, Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Grave of William Devane, Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA

Grave of William Devane, Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA

 

A series of legal advertisements regarding the estate of William DeVane appeared in the local papers:

Valdosta Times
March 27, 1909

Notice to Debtors and Creditors All parties having claims against the estate of the late Wm. Devane, are requested to present them properly made out, to the undersigned. Those indebted to his estate will please make settlement at once.
The deceased at the time of his death was not indebted to any of the heirs.
C. C. Devane,
Hahira, Ga., R. F. D. 5.

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Tifton Gazette
November 19, 1909

Notice of Sale.

We will sell to the highest bidder for cash, on the 24th day of November, in Berrien county, at the Wm. Devane estate, the following property: 935 acres of land; one farm containing 150, the other 785 acres; 175 in cultivation, 120 head of stock. Farming implements, oat reaper, cane mill and syrup kettle; two wagons; two buggies; 350 bushels of corn; six tons of cotton seed. Heirs of Wm. DeVane.

Valdosta Times
November 20, 1909

Public Sale

We will sell to the highest bidder, for cash on the 24th day of November, in Berrien county at the Wm. DeVane place, the following property: 2 farms containing 935 acres, 150 in one, 785 acres in the other; 111 acres in cultivation; fair Improvements—timber is fine; 120 head of stock and farming Implements. C. C. Devane, Hahira, Ga., R. F. D. No. 5.

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Valdosta Times
August 14, 1912

FOR SALE—A fine plantation, One of the best in Berrien county, containing 935 acres, within 4 1/2 miles of Georgia and Florida railroad. Nearest station, Ray’s Mill. 6-horse farm in state of cultivation. Soil very productive, will produce bale of cotton to the acre, other crops in proportion. One six-room dwelling, one three-room and a tenant house on the place. Good water. Near schools and churches. Fine stock range. River runs through edge of land. Public road through farm. Will sell on account of division between heirs. If desired stock, mules, hogs, cattle, goats and farm implements can be bought at reasonable prices. C. C. DeVane, Hahira, Ga., R.F.D.

 

Mary “Polly” Futch and John Webb

Mary “Polly” Futch and John Webb were the parents of John Thomas Webb, and the grandparents of previous subjects, Shellie Lloyd Webb and William Crawford Webb. Mary Futch was a sister of Rhoda Futch.

John Webb and Mary Polly Futch.  Image courtesy of Jimmie Webb.

John Webb and Mary Polly Futch. Image courtesy of Jimmie Webb.

Mary “Polly” Futch was born October 14, 1842 in Lowndes County (now Berrien) Georgia.  She was a daughter of daughter of John M. Futch and Phoebe Mathis.  On April  21, 1859 in Berrien County, Georgia she married John Webb,  a landowner and planter of Berrien County, GA.  John Webb, a son of Dawson Webb and Frances Beall, was  born January 22, 1834 in Wilkinson County, Georgia.

Marriage Certificate of John Webb and Mary Futch, April 21, 1859, Berrien County, GA. Image courtesy of Jimmie Webb.

Marriage Certificate of John Webb and Mary Futch, April 21, 1859, Berrien County, GA. Image courtesy of Jimmie Webb.

To any ordained Minister of of Gospel, Judge of the Superior Court, Justice of the Inferior Court, Justice of the Peace or any person by the laws of this state authorized to celebrate:  These are to authorize permit you to join in the Honorable State of Matrimony Mr. John Webb of the one part and Mifs Mary Futch of the other part according to the constitution and laws of this State and according to the Rites of your church; Provided there be no lawful cause to obstruct the same and this shall be your authority for so doing. 

Given under my and Seal this 20th day of April, 1859

John L. Lindsey, Ordinary

I hereby Certify that Mr. John Webb and Mary Futch were duly joined in matrimony by me this 21st day of April, 1859
Reubin Futch, J. I. C.

Recorded May 4th 1860     E. C. Morgan, Ordinary

The census of 1860 enumerates 26-year-old John Webb and 17-year-old Mary in Berrien County.  John was a farmer with $1200 dollars worth of real estate and $450 worth of personal property to his name.  According to the census neither John nor Mary could read or write, but later records would show he could at least sign his name.  Enumerated near the Webbs were John & Elizabeth Baker, and Isham Clyatt.

The following spring,1861, Georgia plunged into the Civil War. By November 1861, Federal troops made their first invasion of Georgia, occupying Tybee Island with designs on Fort Pulaski and Savannah. That winter, John Webb joined the Primitive Baptist congregation at Pleasant church, located a few miles west of his farm. According to church minutes,  John was baptized at Pleasant Church on January 1, 1862.

During the War, John Webb enlisted in Company E, 54th Georgia Regiment, along with his brother Jordan and other men of Berrien County.  John  went off to fight leaving Mary on the farm with a baby on her hip and another on the way. He fought with the 54th Regiment  throughout the war, although he was on furlough home at the time of their surrender in April of 1865.

That October, perhaps in observance of John’s safely reaching the conclusion of the war, Mary Webb joined with Pleasant Primitive Baptist Church. Church minutes show she was baptized October 14, 1865.

Like other men of Berrien County, after the war John Webb swore an oath of allegiance to the United States and to faithfully support the Constitution, and returned to his farming. According to 1867 Berrien County tax records, John Webb owned all 490 acre of land lot 410, 10th Land District.  His brother, Jordan Webb, owned 245 acres on the adjacent lot, 419. To the north, William Walters owned 612 acres on lots 373 and 374. Also on Lot 373 were John Ray, with 122 1/2 acres and David S Robinson with 60 acres. Parts of lot 418 were owned by Mary DeVane and Benjamin M. DeVane owned additional 525 acres of land on lots 418 and 419. John Baker was on 122 acres of lot 419.

The census of 1870, indicates the Webbs were getting by in the post-war period. Their land had a aggregate value of $2800, they had $754 in personal property, and now four young children.

By 1876 John Webb had acquired 1560 acres in lots 372, 409, and 410 in the 10th Land District.  He owned $200 in household  furniture, $454 in livestock,and $90 in plantation and mechanical tools.

The following year, 1877 John Webb had acquired all of lots 372, 409, and 410, 1470 acres in all.  He had $150 in furniture, $335 in livestock, and $80 in tools. His wife, Mary Futch Webb had 180 acres in her own name in Lot 373, with $265 in livestock.  To the south of the Webb place, on half of lot 419, was William Henry Outlaw, a Webb descendant on his mother’s side and a fellow veteran of Company E, 54th Georgia Regiment. Among the Webb’s other neighbors were  David M. Roberson with 212 acres of lot 365 and David S. Roberson with 550 acres on parts of 373 and 364.  William Walters  was on Lot 374 and  David J. McGee had 395 acres on lots 408 and 411. Miller F. DeVane  and George M. DeVane with 165 acres each on 411 and 412. Mary DeVane had 7 acres on 418, Michael B. DeVane with 500 acres on 418 and 419,  William DeVane on parts of 418,  John Baker on 172 acres of 419.

The 1880 census shows the Webb family continuing to grow.  The Webb sons, John Thomas and James, at least,  were “at school”.

In 1890 John Webb  had 1000 acres total on lots 372, 373, and 410 valued at $1500. From 1883 to 1890, a neighbor to the north was Noah Webster Griffin and his family on lot 371.  John Webb’s son, John Thomas Webb was on 200 acres of the neighboring lots, 408 and 409. Son-in-law Malachi W. Jones was on 490 acres that included parts of 409 and 420, and son-in-law Joel J. Carter had 140 acres of lot 372. Elizabeth J. Carter had 240 acres on lots 365 and 366.  George W. Carter had 40 acres straddling 364 and 365.  Isaac S. Weaver was on 375 acres that included parts of 418, 419, and 411. John Ray was on 245 acres of 373, and Thomas W. Ray was on 125 acres of lot 364. Aaron A. Knight  had 155 acres that included part of lot 374.  Sovin J. Knight  was on 365 acres of 364 and 365.    The Devane land to the south was now in the possession of Georgia R. DeVane.  George M. DeVane and Millard F. DeVane had the land to the west o Lots 411 and 412. William E. Fountain Jr. was on Lot 365 with 147 acres.  H.H. Green had a piece of 364.

According to Shaw Family Newsletters, on November 5, 1898, Mary and John Webb deeded 350 acres in section 412 of land district 9 (presently under water at the southwest end of Boyette’s Pond in Cook County) to daughter Luannie Webb as a wedding gift.  She had married Chester D. Shaw earlier that year.

John Webb died December 15, 1900 in Rays Mill, GA (now Ray City).  He was buried in Futch Cemetery in present day Cook County, GA.

Children of Mary “Polly” Futch and John Webb:

  1. Martha Mary Webb, b. April 10, 1861, Berrien County, GA; d. January 30, 1929, Berrien County, GA buried in Pleasant Church Cemetery; m. (1) Joel J. Carter, January 27, 1878, Berrien County GA; m. (2) William W. Parrish, August 10, 1899, Berrien County GA.
  2. John Thomas Webb, b. January 15, 1863, Berrien County, GA; d. March 16, 1924, Ray City, GA buried in Pleasant Cemetery; m.  Mary Jane “Mollie” Patten, November 2, 1882, Berrien County, GA.
  3.  Frances “Fannie” A. Webb, b. May 6, 1866, Berrien County, GA; d. October 3, 1909, Adel, GA buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Cook County, GA; m. Malachi “Mallie” W. Jones, December 24, 1885, Berrien County, GA.
  4. Phoebe Jane Webb,  b. May 23, 1869; d. October 10, 1870.
  5. James Alfred Webb, b. July 03, 1871, Berrien County GA; d. September 30, 1938, Berrien County GA; m. Pearl “Pearlie” Register, January 18, 1894, Berrien County, GA from Marriage Certificate.
  6. Mary Delann Webb,  b. November 1, 1873; d. February 13, 1879.
  7. Luther Americus Webb, b. October 5, 1875, Berrien County, GA; d. April 30, 1909, Berrien County, GA, buried in Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County GA; m. Mary Jane Albritton, January 24, 1897, Berrien County, GA from Marriage Certificate.
  8. Leona Webb, b. 1877, Berrien County, GA.
  9. Louannie T. Webb, b. August 7, 1880; d. June 8, 1902, Lenox, GA from Typhoid Fever, buried in Pleasant Cemetery; m. Chester D. Shaw, March 16, 1898, Berrien County Georgia from Marriage Certificate.

The Valdosta Daily Times 
March 11, 1926

Mrs. Webb Died at Ray City

Mrs. Mary Webb, widow of the late John Webb, died Wednesday evening at 7 o’clock at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Martha Carter, Ray City, after a short illness.
      Mrs. Webb was eighty-three years of age and until she suffered from an attack of flu, four or five days ago, had been in her usual good health. However, owing to her advanced age, she was unable to withstand the attack.
      Her husband preceded her to the grave twenty-six years ago and she has since made her home with her daughter, Mrs. Carter. Besides Mrs. Carter, she is survived by one son, Mr. J.A. Webb, of Ray City. The deceased was one of the pioneers of her section, and the family is well and favorably known throughout all of this section. 
      Mrs. Webb was for more than 60 years a consistent member of the Pleasant Primitive Baptist church, near Ray City, and during her days of activity, was famed for her kindly acts and generous disposition, and her death brings great sorrow to her friends and those of the family. In addition to the surviving son and daughter, Mrs. Webb leaves thirty-five grand children. The funeral services were conducted this afternoon at 3:30 by Rev. Mr. McCranie at the Futch cemetery, near Ray City.

Transcript courtesy of Skeeter Parker

Special thanks to Jimmie Webb for contribution images and portions of the content for this article.

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