Ray City Bank Woes ~ 1931

1928 Letterhead of The Citizens Bank of Ray City, GA

1928 Letterhead of The Citizens Bank of Ray City, GA

The Citizens Bank, Ray City, GA – 1929 newspaper advertisement from the Ray City News

Through the stock market crash of 1929 The Citizens Bank of Ray City remained in business , and the local ”boosters” remained optimistic. (see Bank of Ray City, GA through Optimism and Depression)  The firm’s letterhead from 1928 shows George W. Varn was president; James H. “Jim” Swindle, Vice President; John D. Luke, Cashier; and J. W. Johnson, assistant cashier.

Nashville Herald November 21, 1929

As we understand it the Citizens Bank of Ray City is one of the strongest financial institutions in the county and its business is growing steadily as will be shown by the last financial statement as called for by the superintendent of state banks.  It has total resources of over $150,000, and deposits of over $100,000 and shows that it has no notes and bills rediscounted. Berrien county is justly proud of its banking institutions and conservative business men do not hesitate to place the Citizens Bank of Ray City along with the head of list.

In fact, in July of 1930, the Atlanta Constitution had reported that the banks of Berrien County, including the Ray City bank were financially sound.

But by the end of December, the Citizens Bank of Ray City had failed.

The closing of The Citizens Bank of Ray City was among those announced in December of 1930.

The closing of The Citizens Bank of Ray City was among those announced in December of 1930.

MORE BANKS CLOSED IN SOUTHERN STATES

New York Times.  Dec 21, 1930.

ATLANTA, Ga., Dec. 20 (AP) – A. B. Mobley, State Superintendent of Banks, announced today his department had been asked to take over the affairs of the Union Banking Company of Douglas, operating branches at Barxton and Nichols, the Toombs County Bank at Lyons and the Citizens Bank of Ray City. Cause of the closings was not stated.

In 1931, the Ray City Bank underwent reorganization. A series of Nashville Herald articles reported on the situation:

The Nashville Herald
January 29, 1931, front page,

R.E. Dean in Charge of Ray City Bank

      Mr. R.E. Dean who is in charge of the affairs of the closed Ray City bank is making satisfactory progress with his work.  Optimism prevails in regard to the opening of the bank, for there can be no better location for a banking institution than Ray City, situated as it is in the heart of one of the finest farming sections in South Georgia, and the land tilled by experienced and reliable farmers who are good for their contracts.

The Nashville Herald
  February 19, 1931, front page,

Citizens Bank, Ray City Applies to Sell Assets

If Offer Is Accepted Depositors Will Receive 50 Per Cent Net.

      According to an announcement of a hearing to be held before Judge W.R. Smith at the court house in this city Saturday, Feb. 21, an application will be made by the State Superintendent of Banks, A.B. Mobley, to sell the assets of the Citizens Bank of Ray City, which closed a short while before Christmas.  It is understood that the depositors have recommended that the offer be accepted.
       An extract from the notice reads as follows:  “Notice is hereby given that the undersigned has received an offer for the purchase of the assets of The Citizens Bank of Ray City, by the terms of which officer the depositors of said Bank are to receive fifty per cent of their claims net, the preferred claims against said Bank being fully paid under the terms of said offer, in addition to the payment of the fifty per cent net to the depositors.”
       The Herald was unable to learn whether or not the bank would be reopened for business.

The Nashville Herald
February 26, 1931, front page,

Ray City Bank Opened Tuesday

      As we go to press encouraging news reaches us, that while permanent arrangements has not yet been perfected for the opening of the bank there, yet tentative arrangements have and the bank has been doing business since Tuesday.  This good news will increase the optimism, now prevailing in this section over the picking-up of business generally.

The Nashville Herald
March 12, 1931, front page

Ray City Bank Pays Depositors 50 Per Cent

John D. Luke, Cashier of Old Bank In Charge of New Organization

      The Ray City Banking Company has reopened for business under an agreement to pay the depositors 50 per cent cash for the amount of their deposits, and has been making these payments since last Thursday.  It is understood that many of the depositors are leaving their money in the bank, which although a private institution is said to be doing a good business, and receiving large deposits.
       The above arrangement was made possible through the efforts of Messrs. George W. Varn, A.D. Lee and Y.F. Carter, who put up the money with which to pay off the depositors.  Mr. John D. Luke, cashier before the bank was closed, is again acting in this capacity.
      The institution is known as the Citizens Banking Company, and serves one of the best communities in this section.  The general prediction is that the institution will continue to prosper.

Article transcriptions provided in part by Skeeter Parker.

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The Samuel Irvin Watson Highway

Samuel Irvin Watson Highway, near Ray City, GA.

Samuel Irvin Watson Highway, near Ray City, GA.

Heading northeast on highway 64 out of Ray City, GA  in the direction of Empire Church, you will encounter a sign at the Lanier county line that identifies this route as the Sam I. Watson Highway.  Sam Watson was raised on the Watson family farm, located near Empire Church about 5 miles northeast of Rays Mill, originally settled by his grandparents about 180 years ago.

Born August 9, 1877 in Lowndes county, GA Samuel Irvin Watson  was a son of Mary and Joseph Watson.

By age 22, Sam Watson was occupied as a school teacher. Enumerated in the census of 1900 next to his father, Sam had by that time established an independent household on a part of the family land. As yet unmarried, he owned a farm, free and clear of mortgage. Perhaps the establishment of his homestead was in preparation for matrimony; later that year Sam married Jennie Lee, a daughter of Amanda Clements and Moses C. Lee. Jennie was born on January 5, 1882 in Berrien County and grew up on her father’s farm near Ray’s Mill (now Ray City), GA.  As a girl she attended the Green Bay School, along with her brother, Bill.

Sam and Jennie were married July 1, 1900 at the home of the bride’s parents. The ceremony was performed by  William C. Patten, Notary Public and Ex Officio Justice of the Peace.  (W.C. Patten was the husband of Jennie’s aunt Sarah Lee, and he later married Sam Watson’s sister,  Laura Watson.)

 

 

In September of 1918, Sam Watson registered for the draft for World War I.  At age 41 he was of medium height and build, with blue eyes and gray hair.

Perhaps Sam found the pay of a teacher was not sufficient to support his growing family. By 1920,  had returned to the occupation of farming, and was an employer in general farming.  One of his employees was John Kirkland. Sam’s eldest daughter, Gola Watson, was already a student in college. The census of 1920 shows the Watson farm was located on the Ray City & Mud Creek Road in the Milltown District of Berrien County, and area soon to be cut into the newly created Lanier county.

Sam Watson, a man of Berrien and Lanier county his entire life, and was again enumerated on his farm near Ray City in the census of 1930. That year the enumeration included a count of citizens who owned radio sets, which Sam Watson did.   In the enumeration of Ray City, there were only eight radio sets within the city limits, the owners being James A. Grissett, John D. Luke, Henry Swindle, Marvin Purvis, Walter Altman, John Simpkins, Joseph Johnson and Fannie Parks.  The average cost of a radio in 1929 was around $139 dollars. In terms of comparable “affordability” for an average person in today’s dollars (2010 index) this would be like making a $7,600 purchase (relative worth based on nominal GDP per capita index – see MeasuringWorth.com).

It is safe to say that Sam Watson was among the prominent citizens of Lanier County. He was a former educator and a successful farmer who could afford relative luxuries, like a radio.  He followed the politics of Ed Rivers, State Assemblyman from Lakeland, GA.

After Ed Rivers was elected Governor of Georgia in 1936 he appointed Sam Watson to the State Board of Education.

But more about that in the next post.

-30-

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Bank of Ray’s Mill

The Bank of Ray’s Mill and the Bank of Milltown

In 1905, local investors including some with Ray’s Mill connections formed the Bank of Milltown.  The bank was  chartered March 14, 1905 and the bank opened for business March 21, 1906.

GOSSIP AT THE CAPITOL
Atlanta Constitution. Feb 7, 1905 pg. 7

 Application was filed with Secretary of State Philip Cook yesterday for a charter for the Bank of Milltown, at Milltown, in Berrien county. The capital stock of the new bank is to be $25,000 and the incorporators are J.V. Talley, W.L. Patton, P.T. Knight and L.J. Clements, Jr.

The Bank of Ray’s Mill was organized around 1908 with George W. Varn as president and Lewis M. Marshall as cashier. Its directors were J.H.P. Johnson, J.H.SwindleC.O. Terry, Y.F. Carter, Harmon Gaskins, and Frank Fountain. Wallace Johnson, son of J.H.P  Johnson, began working for the bank when he was fourteen years old.  Lewis M. Marshall served as the bank’s cashier until he was succeeded in the early 1920’s by John D. Luke who held the position until the bank failed during the great depression – probably around 1931.  In 1909 the bank’s name was changed to Citizens Bank of Ray City.

The Annual report of the Treasurer and State Bank Examiner of the State of Georgia for the year ending 1910, still lists the bank as the Bank of Ray’s Mill, with a capital of $15,000 dollars.  That sum would have been about $6 million in 2007 dollars.