1940s Ray City Home of Arlie and Marvin Purvis

Arlie and Marvin Purvis lived in this Ray City, GA home in the 1940s.

Arlie and Marvin Purvis lived in this Ray City, GA home in the 1940s.

Over the years, Arlie Guthrie and Marvin Purvis lived in several Ray City homes. Earlier, the Purvises lived in a house on the southeast corner of Main Street and Park Street, where Hazel Hall and Reid Cox boarded with them.

The house  they occupied in the 1940s, pictured above, was situated on the southwest corner of North Street and Bryan Street in Ray City, GA.  They lived here with their youngest son June Errol Purvis, whom everyone called Nip, and Nip’s dog, Sun.

This residence is just one block north of the home of Hazel Hall and Reid Cox, who were dear friends.  When you entered the front door, this house was divided by a wide hall from front to back.  On the right side there was a living room, a bedroom which Arlie used as a sitting room and a  a sewing room, and a kitchen with a little dinette. Arlie was seamstress and did sewing for people.

On the left was a big front bedroom where the Purvis’ kept their best furniture, and used as their master bedroom. Next was where the Purvis’ had created within the house a separate little apartment  with a large bedroom  and a little kitchen where Mable Cook and Thomas Patten resided with their son, Jack Patten.

Next door to the Purvises was the residence of Mr. & Mrs. Tom Cox, who also had living with them  Kate Nobles, widow of Jasper Nobles.

Living behind the Purvises were the Wilsons, brother and sister Charles and Farlene Wilson Manning, and their mother, Gladys C. Lee. Farlene’s daughter Kathy later married Hal Harp. Charles Wilson married Mary Nell
Herring and moved to the house on the southwest corner of Johnson Street and Pauline Street.

Marvin Purvis had been the proprietor of a general merchandise store in Ray City but had lost the store some years earlier; At the time  the Purvises were living in this house, Marvin was working as a meat cutter.

Related Post:

Checking on Citizens Bank of Ray City

Kate Nobles ~ Supreme Forest Woodmen Circle

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

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


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

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

Beito writes: 

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

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

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

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

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

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