James Henry Swindle ~ Businessman and Public Servant

James Henry  “Jim” Swindle was a businessman and politician of Ray City, GA.  He was born near Ray City Aug 6, 1886, a son of Margaret Melvina Futch and George Emory Swindle.  A previous post gave his bio from the Georgia Official and Statistical Register.  He was involved in many civic organizations including the Baptist church, Masons, and Lions Club, and served in public offices from Mayor of Ray City to Representative in the Georgia Assembly.

James H. Swindle

James H. Swindle

Jim Swindle was a brother of Leonard Columbus Swindle, John N. Swindle, George Perry Swindle, Roy C. Swindle, and Leonidas A. Swindle.

In the Census of 1900 James H. Swindle was enumerated with his parents and brothers in his father’s household in the Connell’s Mill District near Rays Mill, GA. The Swindle family farm was located on the Rays Mill & Cat Creek Road. Jim and his younger brothers all attended school, while his older brother, Leonard, helped his father with the farm labor.

After the 1909 death of  his father, G.E. Swindle, at Buffalo Lithia Springs, VA , Jim became the head of the household and took over the family farm.

James Henry “Jim” Swindle became a prominent businessman of Berrien County. By 1908, he was involved in the organization of the Bank of  Rays Mill, which later became the Citizens Bank of Ray City.  It is said that the Swindle family owned much of the land where present day Ray City is located, and when the town was officially incorporated in 1909, he became one of the first residents.  In 1912 he married Sarah Ellen  “Stell” Daniel in Nashville, GA, and the couple made their home at Ray City.

J. H. Swindle of Rays Mill was a dealer for the Georgia Fertilizer & Oil Company. 1912 Advertisement.

J. H. Swindle of Rays Mill was a dealer for the Georgia Fertilizer & Oil Company. 1912 Advertisement.

Together with James S. Swindle, James Henry Swindle owned the Ray City Hotel, which stood on the location later occupied by the Clements Fountain. The Swindles employed J.F. Hineley to operate the hotel. The hotel and all of its contents were destroyed, along with several other buildings, in the Ray City fire of Sunday, April 25, 1915.

James Henry Swindle was 30 years old when he registered for the draft in WWI on June 5, 1917.  He gave his occupation as  a self-employed farmer  and merchant working in Ray City, Ga. He was described as medium height, medium build, black hair, and blue eyes.  His draft card was signed by D.A. Sapp.

By 1920 James H. Swindle had located his wife and family in a house on Main Street in Ray City, Georgia. They owned the home free and clear.  Their neighbors were C . Oscar Terry and Leon L. Parrish.  J.H. Swindle was a merchant, operating a grain and feed store on his own account.

Among other elected positions, Jim Swindle served 12 years on the Berrien County Board of Education, including four years as Chairman.

1925 Berrien County Board of Education
D. J. Gaskins, Ch. Ray City
A. L. Akins.. . .Nashville
J. H. Swindle …Ray City
C.B.Harris–. -Enigma
George P. Griffin Nashville

1927 Berrien County Board of Education
D. J. Gaskins, Chm., Ray City
J. R. McLamb
J. H. Swindle, Ray City
A. L. Akins, Nashville
W. K. Sikes

In the census of 1930, Swindle listed his principle occupation as operator of a gin. He owned cotton gins in Ray City, and at Barretts in Lowndes County, GA.

“The J.H. Swindle Gins and Warehouse is another concern of benefit to the entire section.  Plants are located at Ray City and Barrett, being among the most up to date in south Georgia.  Mr. Swindle buys cotton and cotton seed, corn, peanuts, hay and other country produce.  Besides gin and warehouse activities he operates a twelve horse farm.”

Another of his 1930s business concerns was the operation of a bank at Ray City.

“The Peoples Banking Company, a private institution, is owned by Mr. J.H. Swindle, with Mr. E.J. Patten as cashier.  This bank was organized several years ago by Mr. Swindle when Ray City lost its regular bank, so as to carry on the business operations locally and without interruptions.”

Later, J.I. Clements worked for a while as cashier of the Peoples Banking Company.  Jim Swindle’s brother, L. C. Swindle also operated a bank at Ray City, the Farmers Bank.

In 1932 J. H. Swindle again served on the Berrien County Board of Education and in 1934 he was Mayor of Ray City.

On Jan 14, 1939 the Speaker of the House of the Georgia Assembly announced the Legislative Committee Chairmen. James H. Swindle of Berrien was named as chair of the General Agriculture Committee No. 1.   Just a few days later on January 31, 1939 the Atlanta Constitution reported that James Henry Swindle, of Ray City, was declaring as a candidate for State Commissioner of Agriculture.

J.H. Swindle, ‘Just a Small Farmer,’ Says Markets Aren’t Working.
January 31, 1939

By the Associated Press.

  Representative J.H. Swindle, of Berrien, who describes himself as “just a small farmer,” announced yesterday he would seek election as state commissioner of agriculture in 1940.

  Swindle, a veteran of three terms in the legislature, is chairman of the house committee on agriculture No. 1.

  Columbus Roberts, present commissioner of agriculture, concludes his present term in 1940. He has been mentioned as a likely candidate to succeed Governor Rivers.

  Swindle said he would favor revision of the state’s present agricultural policy to give greater assistance to the farmers in disposing of their products.

  “The farmer can dump his stuff anywhere,” he said. “The present system (of farmers’ markets) is not working any special good to the farmers.”

  Swindle urged that the state provide price reporting service as well as a place where farmers may bring their produce for sale. He also suggested that the state assist the farmers “to put his produce in proper shape for disposal” by grading and collecting individual shipments into single lots.

  “I would even be willing to try the auction system,” often results in the price for a commodity being set at an unfairly low level because one or more of the earliest sellers were unaware of the correct price and disposed of their produce below the market level.

  Swindle, a 52-year-old native of Berrien county, has served two years as mayor of Ray city, eight years on the city council, and 12 years on the county board of education, including four years as chairman. He is engaged in farming, operates a cotton gin, and purchases cotton and farm products for resale. He is married, and has two daughters and a son.

In 1941, James H. Swindle was appointed to serve again on the Berrien County Board of Education to replace Henry A. Swindle who had resigned from the Board in December 1940.  In October, the Board members elected J.H. Swindle as Chairman of the Board.

A 1941 mention in the Nashville Herald said:

Mr. J.H. Swindle is a prominent citizen of this city [Ray City].  He owns most of the business buildings in Ray City.  He is our past representative, having served four years.  He owns extensive farms and the gin.  He is a cotton buyer, a cottonseed buyer, and a corn buyer.

James H. Swindle continued his involvement in civic affairs. In the 1940s he worked to bring better roads to Ray City, and in 1947 served on the building committee for the new Ray City School gym.

In 1953 he was elected vice-president of the South Georgia Cattlemen’s Association.

Children of Stell Daniel and James Henry Swindle:

  1. Margaret Virginia Swindle  (Oct 28, 1914)
  2. Doris E. Swindle  (1916-1941)
  3. Grace E Swindle
  4. James Aaron Swindle (1920-1993)
Grave marker of James Henry "Jim" Swindle, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Grave marker of James Henry “Jim” Swindle, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Related Posts:

George Emory Swindle Sought Cure at Buffalo Lithia Springs, VA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wisegeek.com concludes:

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

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

Read more on the 1921 AMA case against Buffalo Lithia Water

Children of George Emory Swindle and Margaret M. Futch:

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