1894 African-American Voter Registration at Ray’s Mill, GA

1894 African-American Voter Registration at Ray’s Mill, GA

Given the history of slavery and racial discrimination in the United States, researching African-American genealogy can be a challenging puzzle.  Slave names were not often recorded.  Even after Emancipation, civil records of African-American citizens were often neglected. Further complicating matters,  most of the 1890 census records were lost in a fire and through a series of tragic missteps in the record handling. Fortunately, an 1894 record of the Poll Tax collection in the Rays Mill District (now Ray City, GA) helps to document early African-American residents of the town.    Many of these men were born in slavery and became “Freedmen” after the Civil War and Emancipation. A few were born in northern “Free” states.  After the War, they came  to south Georgia, primarily to work in the naval stores industry, collecting turpentine in the piney woodlands of the Wiregrass. Some lived in turpentine camps, some rented farms or houses, a few became property owners, business men and employers in their own right.

Poll Taxes

After the Civil War, the poll tax evolved regionally to be a complex legal device to disenfranchise African-Americans. Georgia led the way in 1868 (effective in 1871), and by 1900 in every formerly-Confederate state had poll taxes aimed at preventing black citizens from voting.

According to Today in Georgia History,

The poll tax, a bulwark of the Jim Crow era, was one of many roadblocks thrown up to keep African-Americans from exercising their right to vote. Although the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1870, guaranteed former male slaves the right to vote, the poll tax, which all voters had to pay was designed to prevent voting. Georgia’s 1877 constitution authorized the tax, which limited voter participation among both poor blacks and whites. But most whites got around the provision through exemptions for those whose ancestors fought in the Civil War or who could vote before the war. 

Georgia’s “grandfather clause” allowed any adult male whose father or grandfather had voted  prior to the abolition of slavery to vote without paying the tax. Georgia created a cumulative poll tax requirement: men 21 to 60 years of age had to pay a sum of money for every year from the time they had turned 21, or from the time that the law took effect.

Tax Payers
Ray’s Mill District, Colored, 1894

William Adkinson
Dixie Alston

Peter Burges
Thomas Burges
Saul Brown
William Brown, Sr.
John Black
B. B. Brown
Joe Brown

Walter Curt
Jesse Coleman
Len Coleman

James Davis

David Ellison
S. M. Eady
Sam Eady

Brister Hufman

Henry Gowdine
Henry Gilliard
William Grayham
William Gerald

West Kelley

John Livind

Joe Medlay
Carter Moore
William Mathis
Alex McKnight
S. J. Myers
Sandy Murphy
William McGowin
Richard McGowin
Henry McCoy

Preston Richardson
E. L. Rias
Ebb Ross
Randolph Ried
William Smith
Mack Spights
Gilbert Sloan

Wiley Tarrell

A. Vandross

John Wamble
George Williams
Ed Wilson
John Wade
Alex White
James Whitfield
W. D. Williams

SOME NOTES ON THE TAXPAYERS:

DIXIE ALSTON
Dixie Alston was an African-American born during the Civil War, in March of 1862. He was born in South Carolina, as were both his parents.  In 1883 he married Amelia [unknown], also a native of South Carolina.  It appears that Dixie and Amelia moved to south Georgia sometime in the early 1890s.  In 1894, Dixie Alston registered to vote in the Ray’s Mill (now Ray City) District of Berrien County, GA.  He subsequently appears in the census of 1900, enumerated as Dixie Aulston, in the 1148 Georgia Militia District, Berrien County.  His household in 1900 included his wife Amelia (age 46), and children, Sarah (18), Lillie (17), Dixie (10), James A. (7), William (5), and Orie B (1).  The Alstons were living in a rented house, and Dixie was working as a turpentine laborer. In 1910 Dixie Alston and family were enumerated in the 1157 Georgia Militia District where Dixie continued to work as a turpentine laborer.  Whereabouts of Dixie Alston after 1910 are unknown, but his son Dixie Alston, Jr. later lived in Nashville GA where he worked for the Keefe and Bulloch turpentine operation.

ROBERT B. “BB” BROWN
BB Brown was born in South Carolina about 1856 he married Corinna, a South Carolina woman, about 1875 and they made their home in South Carolina until some time after 1881. By October 1886, the Browns moved to Georgia. BB Brown paid the poll tax in 1894 to vote in the Rays Mill District of Berrien County, GA. The census of 1900 shows the Browns owned a farm in the Rays Mill District free and clear of mortgage. They were neighbors of Levi J. Clements, Alfred Hill, and Ben Knight. In 1910 their neighbors on nearby farms were John Miles Clements, Georgia Cooper, Jeff Williams and James W. Williams. The 1920 census shows the Brown farm was situated at Rays Mill on the Willacoochee Road. Their immediate neighbor was Robert E. Lee and his family. Corinna Brown died sometime before 1930. By this time the Brown farm had been cut into Lanier County. The widower Brown continued to work his farm with the assistance of his children.

SOLOMON “SAUL” BROWN
Solomon Brown was born  about 1862 in South Carolina. He apparently came to the Rays Mill, GA area  some time before 1894. The 1910 census shows him in Rays Mill, widowed, living alone in a rented home and working as a farm laborer.

WILLIAM L. BROWN
William L. Brown was a farmer from South Carolina. He was born in May of 1862. About 1882 he married Lessie. They were in Berrien County, GA by the 1890s where William paid the poll tax in the Rays Mill District in 1894. The census of 1900 shows he was working a rented farm near the homes of Richard Eady, William Revell, and Frank Gallagher.

PETER BURGES
Peter Burges, or Burgess, was an African-American born in August of 1865 at the conclusion of the Civil War. He was a native of South Carolina, as were both his parents.  By 1894, Peter Burges made his way to  the Ray’s Mill (now Ray City) District of Berrien County, GA where he was registered to vote. In the census of 1900, he was enumerated in the 1144 Georgia Militia District, the “Ray’s Mill” District, Berrien County. He was single, living alone in a rented house, and working as a turpentine laborer. He subsequently appears in the 1144 G.M.D census of 1910 as a farm laborer, and in 1920 he was renting a farm on the Willacoochee Road.

TOM BURGES
Tom Burges was born about 1850 in Georgia. He was enumerated in 1910 in the 1300 Georgia Militia District. At age 60 he was widowed, living alone in a rented house, and working at a sawmill. He was a neighbor of African-American teacher William M. Clark, sawmill employee Burris Hall, turpentine teamster David Story, turpentine employee John Merritt, and washerwoman Sallie Sanders.

JESSE COLEMAN
Jesse Coleman appears in the Berrien County tax records of 1884. His taxable property included $5 worth of livestock and $5 worth of furniture. In 1890 Jesse Coleman paid the poll tax in the 1329 Georgia Militia District, the Connells Mill District just west of Rays Mill. He had $57 in livestock, $15 in furniture, $10 in tools, and $2 in other property.

JOHN L. LAVIND
John L. Lavind was an African-American farmer from South Carolina. He was born in 1868. About 1886 he married Sarah Sloan, a woman from South Carolina. John and Sarah appear in the 1900 Census in Berrien County where they were neighbors of Arch Parrish. The Lavinds were working a rented farm in the 1145 Georgia Militia District, the Adel District. Living with the Lavinds and assisting with the farm labor were Sarah’s siblings, Alicia A Sloan and Davis Sloan. It appears that Sarah Sloan died sometime in the early 1900s. Census records indicate that John Lavind (enumerated as John Lavine) married a second time in 1908 to a widow woman named Kerene. In 1910, he was making payments on a farm at Adel and working as a self-employed farmer. His neighbors were sawmill workers Beacher Ward and Charlie Beland. In 1920, John and Karene were renting a farm on the Adel and Nashville Road which John was working on his own account. The were neighbors of Theresa Devane Hutchinson, widow of James Henry Hutchinson; her son, Vaude McIntyre Hutchinson was a school teacher.

HENRY MELVIN
Henry Melvin was born in North Carolina about 1863. He apparently came to live in the Rays Mill, GA district some time before 1894. In 1900, he was enumerated in the Mud Creek District of Clinch County, GA where he was renting a house and working as a turpentine laborer. On September 14, 1901 Henry Melvin and Delia Jenkins were joined in Holy Matrimony in Clinch County, GA in a ceremony performed by Joseph Powell, Justice of the Peace. The 1910 census shows Henry and Delia were renting a farm in the 586 Militia District of Clinch County, where they raised crops and children. Some time before 1920 Henry Melvin returned to Ray City, bringing his family to live on the Ray City & Willacoochee Road, on a rented farm which he worked on his own account. Henry Melvin died November 1, 1920 in Berrien County, GA. Anna remarried, probably about 1921, to Emanuel Smith. The Smiths rented a farm near Ray City, where they were neighbors of Walter H. Knight, John S. Fender, J. Mancil Ray and James F. Ray, James R. Johnson, and Lucian H. Grissett. Sometime before 1935 the Smiths moved to Lakeland, GA

HENRY MCCOY
Henry McCoy was born in October 1859 in North Carolina. About 1886 he married Anna. Some time before 1894 they came to Rays Mill, GA where Henry rented and worked a farm. Most of the McCoy’s neighbors were turpentine workers including Odum Wiley, D.D. Oxendine, Peter Burges, and Isham Hill. In 1910, Henry and Anna owned a home on North Street in Ray City. Henry worked as a drayman; Anna worked as washerwoman. Among their neighbors were hotelier Wilson W. Fender, merchant Louis Levin, telegraph operator Ralph E. Spear, blacksmith Rollie N. Warr, policeman Henry Hodges, carpenter Gordon J. Knight, and postmaster Charles H. Anderson. Henry McCoy died sometime after 1910. His widow married Sam B. Cooper on April 22, 1918 in Berrien County in a ceremony performed by Justice of the Peace J. W. Moore. Sam Cooper worked in a shop as a tailor and owned a home in Ray City, in the “Negro Quarters” according to 1920 Census records.

RICHARD MCGOWAN
Richard “Dick” McGowan was born a slave in North Carolina in the 1840s. He was brought to Berrien County (then Lowndes) as a young man, and lived most his life near Ray City, GA.  Freed after the Civil War, he continued to live for a while on the plantation of his former owner, Hardeman Sirmans.

JOSEPH MEDLEY
Joseph Medley was born about 1856 in the state of New York. In 1883, he married a Virginia woman named Jane. By 1885 The Medleys had moved from New York to South Carolina, and by 1888 they were in Georgia. Joseph paid the poll tax in the Rays Mill District of Berrien County, GA in 1894. The 1900 Census shows the Medley family in the neighboring Georgia Militia District 1300, the Milltown District, where Joseph owned a farm free and clear of mortgage. The census appears to show that the Medleys also rented a farm in addition to the farm they owned. Joseph farmed while Jane worked as a laundress. Both were enumerated as literate. They were neighbors of Joseph Dedge, Edwin Powell, and John Ed Thigpen brother of Robert Silas Thigpen. In 1910, the Medleys continued to farm in the 1300 GMD. Their son, William Medley, worked as a sawmill fireman, and son Aulie Medley assisted with the farm labor. Next door were Elmore Medley and Rainey Medley who were both employed in turpentine production. Other neighbors included John D. Patten and Matthew G. Patten. In 1920, Joe Medley, age 76, was no longer working. The Medleys rented a house at Milltown on the the Nashville Road. Their son William worked as a farm laborer and Henry worked as a truck driver at a cross tie camp.

SAM JULIAN “JIM” MYERS
Sam Julian “Jim” Myers was born October 1870 in South Carolina. By 1894 he came to Berrien County, GA to work as a turpentine chipper. He paid the 1894 poll tax in the Rays Mill District. In 1897 he married Rosa Sloan and they acquired a home on payments in the 1145 Georgia Militia District of Berrien County. Rosa’s brother, Sydney Stone, lived with them and also worked as a turpentine chipper. Also boarding in the Myers household was Dr. Ervin Green; the 1900 Census taker added the notation “Quack” by Green’s occupation. By 1910 Jim Myers took up the ministry in the Methodist faith and moved his family to Adel, GA to a home on Maple Street. By 1920, Reverend Myers took his family to Fitzgerald, GA where they lived on Lemon Street.

ELIOTT RIAS
Eliott Rias was an African-American citizen of Rays Mill, GA for 40 years. He was a son of Pompy and Clarender Rias, born about 1863 in South Carolina. After the Civil War and Emancipation, he and his brothers and sisters grew up helping his parents work their farm in Laws Township, near Kingstree, Williamsburg County, SC. Some time after 1880, Eliott left South Carolina and came to Georgia to work as a turpentine laborer. He appears in the property tax digest of Clinch County as a Freedman, paying the poll tax for 1887 in the 586 Georgia Militia District, the Mud Creek District. About 1892, Eliott married a South Carolina woman named Henrietta. By 1900, Eliott and Henrietta were living at Rays Mill with their four children. They were renting a house and Eliott was working as a turpentine laborer. In 1910 Eliott Rias was renting a farm, which he was farming on his own account. Henrietta was keeping house and minding their seven children. Pauline Hodges, an African-American school teacher, was boarding with them. Among Rias’ neighbors were John L. and Cassie Hall, Babe Baldree, Barney Chism, John Whitfield, Tom Burgess and Mack Speights. By 1920, Eliott and Henrietta were working a rented farm at Rays Mill on their own account.  Some time before 1930, Henrietta Rias passed away. All of Eliott’s children were grown and moved away. Eliatt Rias was left alone, living in Rays Mill in a home he rented for $3.00 a month. He worked as a carpenter. He was a neighbor of Sherrod Fender, Henry Studstill, Arrin H. Guthrie, Perry Guthrie, Herman Guthrie, and Ivory Wright.

EBENEZER ROSS
Ebenezer “Ebb” Ross was an African-American farm laborer born in Georgia about 1857. The 1870 census shows Ebenezer, age 23, and his wife Fannie, age 17, living in Berrien County, Georgia Militia District 1144, the Rays Mill District. Ebenezer Ross had a net worth of $30. In the 1870s and 1880s the Rosses were neighbors of William and Frances Giddens, Mary and Richard Anthony, Jesse and Margaret Carroll, John T. and Catherine Carroll, Peter and Josephine Best, and Nancy Parker. The 1875 Berrien Property Tax Digest shows Ebenezer Ross paid the poll tax, and his entire taxable property was valued at $20.00. The following year the value of his estate had dropped to just $2.00. In 1880, the Rosses home enumerated in the 1300 GMD. Living next door with the Carrolls was mail rider Everet Roberts. The 1890 tax digest shows the Rosses were faring slightly better. Eb was working for J. H. Wright, one of 58 freedmen employed by Wright.

MACK SPEIGHTS
Mack Speights was an African-American turpentine laborer who lived for about 40 years at Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA. According to family members, he was born June 14, 1867 in Ridge, Williamsburg County, South Carolina, a son of Elias McBride Speights and Norah Speights. He married Martha Ellen Cooper in South Carolina on August 14, 1889. He apparently brought his young family from South Carolina to Rays Mill about 1893 and appears on the list of voters in the Rays Mill District in 1894. Like many young African-American men, he came to work in the naval stores industry, turpentining the piney woodlands of the Wiregrass. By 1910, Mack Speights was renting a farm at Rays Mill where he and Martha were raising their eight children His oldest sons, Elias and William, worked as farm labor. The Speights were neighbors of Joseph S. Clements, Brodie Shaw, Bruner Shaw, Bryant Fender, and Frank Gallagher. By 1930, Mack and Martha had moved to Gainesville, FL with several of their children and grandchildren.

ABRAHAM L. VANDROSS
Abraham L. Vandross , an African-American turpentine laborer, was born about 1867 in South Carolina. He was on the list of voters in the Rays Mill District in 1894. About that same time he married a woman named Hannah. By 1900, Abraham and Hannah had moved to the Dry Lake District of Brooks County, GA where they lived in a rented home. By 1910 Hannah and Abraham returned to Berrien County to the 1300 Georgia Militia District, where they acquired a home which they owned free and clear of mortgage. Abraham continued to work for wages as a turpentine worker; Hannah worked as a washerwoman. They also took in a boarder, Albert Johnson, who was a sawmill employee. In 1910, the Vandrosses were neighbors of William M. Clark, an African-American school teacher. The 1920 Census shows Abraham and Hannah’s home was on Oak Street, Milltown (now Lakeland), GA. Their boarder in 1920 was Reverend Jordan R. Gay.

JOHN WAMBLE
John Wamble was a widowed African-American farmer. He was born about 1850 in Georgia.  At the time of the 1900 Census, he was living near Rays Mill, GA with his two teenaged sons. The Wambles were neighbors of Richard Morehead, Benjamin Moorehead, David C. Clements and Rubin Knight.  His son, Horace, married about 1907 and made his home on the Nashville & Valdosta Road near Cat Creek.

JOHN WADE
John Wade was a Freedman living in Rays Mill, GA with his wife, Emma, and their large family. John Wade was born about 1824. The property tax digest of 1887 shows his taxable property consisted of $7 dollars worth of livestock and $20 in household and kitchen furniture. The 1880 census shows the Wades living and farming in Lowndes County, GA.

JAMES WHITFIELD
James Whitfield may have been an African-American farmer who later lived in Grooverville, Brooks County, GA.  He was born about 1868. This James Whitfield cannot be definitively placed in Rays Mill, however, his son, James Whitfield, Jr. lived in Nashville, GA in the 1920s.

GEORGE WILLIAMS
The 1900 census shows George Williams  in the 1145 Georgia Militia District of Berrien County. He was working as a log turner at a sawmill.  He was born in North Carolina about 1858.  In 1900, he was living alone, apparently in housing at the sawmill.

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Ray City Home of Reid Hearn Cox and Hazel Hall Cox

Home of Reid Hearn Cox and Hazel Hall Cox.  The Coxes were residents of Ray City in the 1940s

Home of Reid Hearn Cox and Hazel Hall Cox, Jones Street, Ray City, GA. The Coxes had this home built in 1939. Hazel's father, Lawrence Cauley Hall, resided with the Coxes in the 1940s.

Cox Residence, built 1939
Home of Reid Hearn Cox and Hazel Hall Cox, Jones Street, Ray City, GA. The Coxes had this home built prior to 1940. Hazel’s father, Lawrence Cauley Hall, resided with the Coxes in the 1940s.

Hazel Jeanette Hall (1918-1974) was a daughter of Lawrence Cauley Hall and Eula Belle Swindle, of Ray City, GA.  She was a granddaughter of Mary Etta and Redding D. Swindle, and Cassie Lee and John Lewis Hall.  Hazel’s sister, Eunice Hall, was the wife of Polk Cheshire Brockman, of Atlanta, who was a pioneer in the recording of country music.

Reid Hearn Cox (1912-1966) was a salesman of music supplies. He originated from Eatonton, GA, a son of Charles Patterson Cox and Mattie Reid Hearn, and studied at Mercer University in 1932.

Hazel Jeanette Hall and Reid Hearn Cox were married in 1937 in Atlanta, GA.

1937-feb-18-eatonton-messenger_hazel-hall-married

Eatonton Messenger
Thursday, February 18, 1937

Miss Hazel Hall Weds Mr. Reid Cox

      The Druid Hills Presbyterian church formed the setting yesterday for the marriage of Miss Hazel Jeannette Hall and Reid Hearn Cox which was a beautiful event taking place at 5 o’clock. Rev. William M. Elliot, Jr., the pastor, performed the ceremony in the presence of a large gathering of relatives and friends of the young people.
      The interior of the church was beautifully decorated for the nuptials.  Palms and ferns banked the altar, and tall standards of callas with seven-branched candelabra hold-holding white tapers completed the decorations. Preciding and during the ceremony Mrs. Haskell Boyter, pianist, presented a program of music and Le Roy Bledsoe sang.
      Acting as bridesmaids were Miss Jane Cox, sister of the bridegroom, and Miss Dorothy Brockman, wearing dresses of gold blister satin with short coasts fashioned with repeplums  and gold satin sandals. Their flowers were arm bouquets of Pernet roses, snapdragons and delphiniums in pastel shades tied with ice-green ribbon.
      Mrs. Polk Cheshire Brockman was her sister’s matron of honor. She ware the gold satin dress in which she was married.  It was worn with a coat, trimmed with sable fur.  Her hat was an off-the-face model of brown maline, and she carried an arm bouquet of talisman roses.
      Miss Ann Brockman, niece of the bride, was the ring -bearer. Her dress was a floor-length empire model of ice-green satin and she wore a yellow ribbon in her hair.  She carried the ring in a calla, showered with valley lilies.
       Jasper Sojourner. Dr. S. L. Morris, Jr., Dr. E. C. Moore and C. Roy Arnold were ushers.
       Entering with her brother, Polk C. Brockman, by whom she was given in marriage, the bride was met at the altar by the groom and T. Pitts Davidson, who acted as best man. Her blond beauty was further enhanced by her wedding gown of white satin, fashioned along princess lines with a high cowl neck and leg-o-mutton sleeves which ended in a point over the hands and trimmed with self-covered buttons. The same buttons trimmed the waist at the back and the full skirt flared into a short train.  Her long veil of illusion fell from a coronet cap, beaded in seed pearls and crystals and she carried a sheaf of calla lilies.
    After the ceremony Mr. and Mrs. Brockman entertained at a reception at their home on Springdale road for the bridal party and out-of-town guests.  Mrs. Swindle Hall, mother of the bride, and Mrs. C.P. Cox, the bridegroom’s mother, received with Mr. and Mrs. Brockman and Mr. and Mrs. Cox.
    In the dining room the table was covered with a point Venice lace cloth, and the center decoration was a bride’s cake placed on a mound of pastel flowers. Yellow candles in pastry candlesticks embossed with orange blossoms, callas and lilies of the valley, were used.  Miss Jane Cox kept the bride’s book and Misses Dorothy Brockman, Essie Bell Brockman and Mesdames J. B. Sojourner, H. E. Montgomery and H. A. Brockman assisted in entertaining.  Roses, snapdragons and delphiniums were arranged throughout the house.
    The bride and groom left for a wedding trip. The former wore a two-piece traveling suit of apricot wool with brown accessories.  Her flowers were a shoulder corsage of orchids.
    Mrs. Cox is the daughter of Mrs. Swindle Hall, of Ray City, Ga. For the past several years she has made her home with her brother and sister, Mr. and Mrs. Polk Cheshire Brockman, on Springdale road.  Mrs. R. D. Swindle, of Ray City, grandmother of the bride, was a guest at the wedding. W. H. Hearn, of Eatonton, grandfather of the bridegroom, was also present. – Atlanta Constitution, February 6th.

The newlywed Coxes first boarded with Arlie Guthrie and Marvin Purvis in their home on Main Street, Ray City, GA. Marvin Purvis was a merchant of Ray City, and the Purvis’ grocery store was on the south side of Main Street near Lyman F. Gidens’ Barber Shop and just east of the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Rail Road. The Purvises were among Ray City’s better-off families; the Purvis household had been one of the first in town to acquire a radio.

In 1939, the Coxes built a house of their own  on the northeast corner of North Street and Jones Street, Ray City, GA.

 

Hazel Hall Cox and Reid Hearn Cox became Ray City homeowners in 1939.

Hazel Hall Cox and Reid Hearn Cox became Ray City homeowners in 1939.

Eatonton Messenger
October 19, 1939

Mr. and Mrs. Reid Cox are now building a new home at their home in Ray City. Reid, you know, is the son of Mrs. Charles P. Cox and the grandson of W. H. Hearn.

Liberty Magazine, June 8, 1940. Liberty was a weekly magazine, originally priced at five cents and subtitled, "A Weekly for Everybody." It was said to be "the second greatest magazine in America," ranking behind only The Saturday Evening Post in circulation. It featured contributions from some of the biggest politicians, celebrities, authors, and artists of the 20th Century. It ceased publication in 1950.

Liberty Magazine, June 8, 1940.
Liberty was a weekly magazine,  said to be “the second greatest magazine in America,” ranking behind only The Saturday Evening Post in circulation. It featured contributions from some of the biggest politicians, celebrities, authors, and artists of the 20th Century. It ceased publication in 1950.

After the Coxes moved into their new home, the Purvises moved just a block down the street to a home on the corner of North Street and Bryan Street.

Hazel Hall Cox was a woman of fashion, “a real glamour girl, always made up – high heels, fancy hairdo.” Hazel Cox took all the women’s magazines, Cosmopolitan, Ladies Home Journal, Colliers, Liberty, Life, etc., and after reading she shared them with Arlie Guthrie Purvis.

The Coxes later moved to the Atlanta area where Reid developed and manufactured high capacity dryers used in laundromats all over the country.

Reid Hearn Cox died April 22, 1966, and Hazel Hall Cox passed on November 18, 1974. They  are buried at Decatur Cemetery, Dekalb County, GA

Graves of Hazel Hall Cox and Reid Hearn Cox, Decatur Cemetery, Decatur, GA.

Graves of Hazel Hall Cox and Reid Hearn Cox, Decatur Cemetery, Decatur, GA.

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Resolutions of the Berrien Minute Men

Resolutions of the Berrien Minute Men

Levi J. Knight, original pioneer settler of Ray City, was the military leader of the community. He served as a captain of the local militia company in the Indian Wars, and as a general in the state militia.

Almost immediately after the election of Abraham Lincoln,  Levi J. Knight formed a company of 103 volunteers, the Berrien Minute Men.

Resolutions of the Berrien Minute Men, passed December 10, 1860 at Nashville, GA

Resolutions of the Berrien Minute Men, passed December 10, 1860 at Nashville, GA

Georgia
Berrien County

At a meeting of the Company of Berrien Minute Men at Nashville this 10th day of December 1860, the following resolutions were offered by Capt. Levi J. Knight.
    Resolved that we the Berrien Minute Men, adopt the following uniform, viz, Blue Gray Cloth, turned up with black flat-plate buttons, gray caps, with a black leather band, and plate buckle in front.
   Resolved that  we hold ourselves in readinefs to march at a minute warning, under orders from his excellency  the Governor, to any place in this state or out of it, that his excellency’s orders may designate.
   Resolved that we prefer the Minnie Rifle, and Sword Bayonet, and request our officers to apply for them, as our first choice.
      On Motion, the above resolutions were unanimously adopted.

Although Civil War was imminent,  long months of preparation passed. A few of these original Minute Men would drop out and new recruits take their places before Captain Knight’s Company finally made their way to Savannah in the summer of 1861.

1860 Muster Roll of the Berrien Minute Men

1860 Muster Roll of the Berrien Minute Men

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berrien-minute-men-rMusterRolls1860-2

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berrien-minute-men-MusterRolls1860-2

berrien-minute-men-MusterRolls1860-99

Muster Roll of Capt. Levi J. Knight’s Company of Volunteers Styled, The Berrien Minute Men Enrolled 28 Nov. 1860
Levi J. Knight Capt.
Thos. S. Wylley 1st Lieut
William Giddens 2nd Lieut
William Y. Hill 3rd Lieut
1 Arch. McCranie 1st Sergt
2 Jno. R. Langdale 2nd Sergt
3 Wm H. Overstreet 3rd Sergt
4 Sirman W. Nash 4th Sergt
5 Moses Giddens 1st Corp.
6 John Knight 2nd Corp.
7 Wm C. Giddens 3rd Corp.
8 Jasper M. Luke 4th Corp.
9 Dr. H. M. Talley Surgeon
10 F. H. Rooks Private
11 Moses H. Giddens Private
12 Abraham J. Luke Private
13 David P. Luke Private
14 H. W. McCranie Private
15 Jacob B. Griffin Private
16 James M. Williams Private
17 John P. Griffin Private
18 Sion D. Griffin Private
19 John L. Hall Private
20 Berrien Hendly Private
21 David M. Luke Private
22 James H. Kirby Private
23 John F. Kirby Private
24 Joel J. Parrish Private
25 Jacob Davis Private
26 Thos N. Connell Private
27 Wm Bradley Private
28 Alex D. Patterson Private
29 Wm Dickson Private
30 Wm J. Lamb Private
31 Johnson M. Richardson Private
32 John M. J. McCranie Private
33 A. L. Parrish Private
34 David D. Mahon Private
35 Matthew O. Giddens Private
36 Jas L. ONeal Private
37 B. M. James Private
38 John Tison Private
39 D. P. McDonald Private
40 Danl. M. Patterson Private
41 Jno. W. Griffin Private
42 Irvin Jones Private
43 John F. Parrish Private
44 Levi T. Smith Private
45 Wm M. Kirby Private
46 Wm Anderson Private
47 Richard G. McCranie Private
48 Andrew Dobson Private
49 Solomon Griffin Private
50 Wm. W. Rutherford Private
51 Jackson M. Handcock Private
52 Jas M. Hall Private
53 Jas A. Hall Private
54 William B. Bradford Private
55 John C. Lamb Private
56 Martin Griner Private
57 Isbin T. Giddens Private
58 Saml Jefcoat Private
59 John P. Weekly Private
60 Jarrad Johnson Private
61 Wm Richardson Private
62 Jas Hendley Private
63 Wm Patten Private
64 John M. Handcock Private
65 John D. Handcock Private
66 Newton M. McCutchin Private
67 Patrick Nolon Private
68 John Studstill Private
69 Saml Gaskins Private
70 W. D. Williams Private
71 Isaac Goodman Private
72 Howell B Dobson Private
73 Thos D. Lindsey Private
74 Danl. McNabb Private
75 Robt McNabb Private
76 Jas McNabb Private
77 Boney Roe Private
78 Joseph S. Morris Private
79 Ed Maloy Private
80 John Giddens Private
81 Geo M. L Wilson Private
82 Danl. W. McCranie Private
83 John Lindsey Jr. Private
84 Lovic M. Young Private
85 Gideon Gaskins Private
86 Ashley Newbern Private
87 Elbert Mathis Private
88 Jas Mathis Private
89 Joseph Newbern Private
90 Joel G. Young Private
91 Wm Luke Private
92 Wm J. Watson Private
93 Joseph Gaskins Private
94 Wm Branch Private
95 John J. Young Private
96 George W. Flowers Private
97 Newit Ward Private
98 Robt. H. Goodman Private
99 John C. Clements Private

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Pasco Olandro Hall and the Porterdale Mill

Pasco Olandro

Pasco Olandro “Pad” Hall

Pasco Olandro “Pad” Hall was born June 30, 1890 in Rays Mill (nka Ray City), GA.    He was the adopted son of Cassie Lee Hall (1857-1944)  and John Lewis Hall (1858-1918). Pad grew up in Ray City, GA.

Family members say as a young man, “He had blue eyes, brown hair was dark complexion 5 feet 8 inches tall weighed approx 170 lbs.” His occupation was Blacksmith.

During World War I Pasco Hall was enlisted as a private in the Army.  He was inducted at Nashville, GA on November 8, 1918.  His service record shows he was with Battery D, 26th Artillery, Coastal Artillery Corps, Fort Screven, GA, until discharged. Fortunately the Armistice on 11 November 1918, ended the war in victory for the Allies and Pad never saw duty overseas. He received an Honorable Discharge on December 6, 1918 at Fort Screven GA.

Pasco Olandro Hall, WWI Service Record

Pasco Olandro Hall, WWI Service Record

After the war, Pad Hall moved to Porterdale, GA and went to work at the Porterdale Mill of the Bibb Manufacturing Company.  Bibb was one of the largest employers in the state.

Porterdale Mill on the Yellow River, GA

Porterdale Mill on the Yellow River, GA

By the time of the 1920 Census Pasco Olandro Hall was married to Ruby Kirkus, He was 27, Ruby was 17.  The couple were living in the Cedar Shoal district, Newton Co., GA. in the household of Leila Kirkus.

Pasco Olandro Hall died October 22, 1942 in Porterdale, Newton County, GA.  He was buried in the Hall Family Cemetery in Newton County, GA.

Grave of Pasco Olandro Hall

Grave of Pasco Olandro Hall

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Lawrence Cauley Hall

Lawrence Cauley Hall, born 20 Feb 1884, Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.  Cauley was a son of Cassie Lee and John Lewis Hall, and a brother of  Pasco Olandro Hall.  He grew up in his parents’ household at Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA.

Lawrence Cauley Hall, of Ray City, GA. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Lawrence Cauley Hall, of Ray City, GA. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

Cauley Hall completed the common schools of the area, and went on for more advanced studies. Family historian Mrs. Cyleta Austin said “he was a genius, attended Mercer but let the drinking get to him.”   He gave up his college studies after the first year.

On December 1, 1908 Cauley Hall married Eula Bell Swindle.   The ceremony was performed by Elder Aaron Anderson Knight.  Eula was a daughter of  Mary Etta and Redding D. Swindle, and sister of  Henry Alexander Swindle, of Ray City, GA. Her father was appointed to serve as the first mayor of Ray City upon its official incorporation in 1909. Her mother is credited with naming the new town, formerly known as Ray’s Mill.

1908 Marriage license of Lawrence Cauley Hall and Eula Bell Swindle

1908 Marriage license of Lawrence Cauley Hall and Eula Bell Swindle

Eula gave birth to a baby girl on June 9, 1909, Eunice A. Hall, in Ray City, GA.   It appears that Eula and the baby returned to live with her parents. She was enumerated in their Ray City household in 1910 under her maiden name. Her marital status was “single,” and Eunice Hall was enumerated as a grandchild of Redding Swindle. Cauley’s whereabouts in the census of 1910 are not known.

However, by 1918 Cauley and Eula were making their home at a company lumber camp at 4 Northport, Tuscaloosa County, AL.  Lawrence was working for the Henderson Land & Lumber Company as a skidder foreman. There, he registered for the draft for World War I on September 12, 1918.  His physical description was given as medium height, medium build, with blue eyes and grey hair.

The 1920 census shows the couple now with two daughters, Eunice and Helen Jeanette, living on 13th Avenue, Tuscaloosa, AL.  Cauley was working as a laborer at a logging camp, while Eula was at home raising the girls.

It appears that by the time of the 1930 census Cauley Hall was estranged from his wife, Eula B. Swindle. The census record show that year he remained in Tuscaloosa, AL, living in Young’s boarding home on 6th Street, operated by Nannie and Robert J. Young.  He was working as a carpenter, and gave his marital status as “divorced.”  Eula Bell had returned to Ray City,GA with her younger daughter Hazel Jeanette Hall, now 12. Eula rented a house (probably on Jones Street) near the homes of James Blanton, Pleamon Sirmans and Hod Clements, and took work as a seamstress. The 1930 census indicated her marital status was “widowed.

By 1940 Cauley Hall  had also returned to Ray City, GA where he was living with his now married daughter, Hazel, and her husband, Reid Hearn Cox.  Cox, a salesman of music supplies,  originated from Eatonton, GA. The Coxes were in a new home they had built on the northeast corner of North Street and Jones Street in Ray City.

Home of Reid Hearn Cox and Hazel Hall Cox, Jones Street, Ray City, GA. The Coxes had this home built prior to 1940. Hazel's father, Lawrence Cauley Hall, resided with the Coxes in the 1940s.

Home of Reid Hearn Cox and Hazel Hall Cox, Jones Street, Ray City, GA. The Coxes had this home built prior to 1940. Hazel’s father, Lawrence Cauley Hall, resided with the Coxes in the 1940s.

 

Eula Bell Hall was living with her widowed grandmother, Mary Etta Swindle, in her home on North Street in Ray City.

Lawrence Cauley Hall died  on Christmas Day,  December 25, 1954,  in Ray City, Georgia.  He was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery.

Eula Bell Hall died January 28, 1965. Historian Cyleta Austin said she was in an automobile accident with Eula; Eula “died at home about two weeks later but not as a cause of the wreck.”   Eula was buried next to her husband at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Graves of Eula Bell Swindle and Lawrence Cauley Hall

Graves of Eula Bell Swindle and Lawrence Cauley Hall

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Cassie Lee Hall ~ Woman of Faith

Cassie Lee, a daughter of James Lee and Levina Smith Lee, was born May 1857.  She appears in the Census of 1860 with her parents, living in Berrien County, GA where her father owned a farm near Empire Primitive Baptist Church. Her grandfather, John Levi Lee (1804-1884), owned the farm next door.

During the Civil War, Cassie’s father, James Lee, and her uncles, Jesse Lee and John Lee, all  enlisted for Confederate service.  The three brothers all served in Company  “E”, 54th Georgia Infantry Regiment.  James Lee served throughout the war until surrender,   was paroled at Thomasville, May 25, 1865, and returned to his Berrien County, GA farm.

About 1869, Cassie Lee joined the Primitive Baptist Church  to which she remained faithful all of her life.

In 1870,  13-year-old Cassie Lee was enumerated in her parents’  household in the 1144th Georgia Militia District, the Ray’s Mill district.  Her father continued to farm, and Cassie’s little brother, John H. Lee, assisted with farm labor.  Both Cassie and John H. attended school that year.

On Christmas Eve 1873,  at the age of 16 Cassie Lee married John Lewis Hall  in Berrien County, Ga. He was 15 years old,  a son of Edmund Patrick Hall and Rebecca  Hall. The newlyweds became parents some eight months after taking their vows, with the birth of their first son, Henry Hall,  in  August 1874. The couple had land given by the groom’s father, Edmond P. Hall.  John L. Hall received land in the 10th district lot 448, Lowndes County, Ga..  John worked as a farmer and a blacksmith.

That year, 1874, Cassie’s parents,  James and  Lavina Lee, relocated to the south and were among the first families to settle in Lake County, FL homesteading on what is now Monte Vista Road in Clermont, FL.

Over the next 15 years, the family of John and Cassie Hall continued to grow. In August, 1876 Cassie gave birth to a daughter, Vina Hall.  A son, Robert, was born in November 1880. In 1882, Cassie delivered another girl, Amanda. Two sons followed: Lawrence Cauley Hall on February 20, 1884 and Allen Hall in June 1885.

The following years must have been hard times for the Halls for on March 7, 1889 John L. Hall borrowed against the land he had received from his father in district 10 lot-448, taking out a mortgage on 40 acres with Strickland & Roberts. Still, John Hall’s family grew. In May 1890, Cassie gave birth to their third daughter, Molcie. The Halls also adopted a son, Pasco Olandro Hall, born June 30, 1890 in Rays Mill, Ga.

In the 1890’s, Cassie Hall’s name began appearing in the membership rolls of Old Union Baptist Church (Lanier County), although there is no record of her reception into that church.

On June 19, 1891 John L. Hall again borrowed from Strickland & Roberts against 200 acres he held in District 6 Lot 503.  At some point he also mortgaged 20 acres in District 10 lot 473.

Two daughters rounded out the family, Phoebia, born September 1895, and Georgia, born September 1896.

Children of John Lewis Hall and Cassie Lee

  1. Henry Hall born AUG 1874 in GA, Berrien Co.
  2. Vinie Ellen Hall born ABT 1876 in GA, Berrien County, married William Thomas Gaskins
  3. Robert Hall born NOV 1880 in GA, Berrien Co.
  4. Amanda H. Hall born MAY 1882 in GA, Berrien Co., near Ray City
  5. Lawrence Cauley Hall b: 20 FEB 1884 in GA, Berrien Co., Ray City
  6. Allen L. Hall born JUN 1885 in GA, Berrien Co., Ray City
  7. Molcie Hall born MAY 1890 in GA, Berrien Co., area
  8. Pasco Olandro Hall born 30 JUN 1893 in GA, Berrien Co., near Ray City
  9. Phoebe Hall born SEP 1892
  10. Georgia Hall born 16 SEP 1894 in GA, Berrien co

July 12, 1913  Cassie Hall was dismissed by letter from Old Union Primitive Baptist Church of Lanier County, Georgia. It is known that she  attended New Ramah Church at Ray City after that time.

After 45 years of marriage, Cassie’s husband John Lewis Hall died Aug 7 1918 at the age of 60 in Berrien County, GA.    The 1920 census shows Cassie Lee Hall a 69 year old widow living alone. She owned a home, mortgage free, on North Street in Ray City, Ga. While at her age and with her family all gone away Cassie Lee Hall had no occupation, the early 1920’s were a boom time in Ray City with plenty of employment provided by the Clements sawmill. Her next door neighbor, George B. Norton, was a planing mill superintendent, and most of her other neighbors on North Street were also employed by the sawmill in one capacity or another.

Cassie Lee Hall lived on to be 94 years of age, having lived all of her life in Berrien County.  She died in Ray City on Sunday December 10, 1944. Her obituary, published in the Nashville Herald read as follows:

1944 – GA, Berrien Co., Dec 14,

Mrs. Cassie Lee Hall Passes, At Ray City.

Mrs. Cassie Lee Hall, 94, died at the home of her daughter Mrs. B. R. Tomlinson of Ray City, on Sunday morning at 9: o’clock after three months illness due to old age. Mrs Hall was born and reared in this county having lived here all her life.

Sixty years ago she was married to John L. Hall who preceded her in death several years ago. For seventy five years she has been a faithful and devout member of the Primitive Baptist church. Through her long life she had endeared herself to many friends. A mixed choir sang “Old Rugged Cross,” Unclouded Day,” and other selections from the Primitive hymn book. Six grandsons served as pall-bearers. The Giddens Funeral Home of Nashville, had charge of arrangements.

Survivors include ten children, H. Hall of Valdosta, Mrs. W.D. Gaskins, Mrs. J.G. Gaskin, Mrs. B.R. Tomlinson, L.C. Hall of Ray City, Robert Hall of Perry FL. and Mrs D.M. Hutchinson of Tampa FL. 25 Gandchildren, 27 Great Grandchildren, and 1 GG Grandchild.

Cassie Lee Hall

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