Leon Bradford, Ray City Barber

Leon Bradford (1905-1962)

Leon Bradford and W. B. Parrish, February, 1951, at the diner in Nashville, GA. Leon Bradford owned a barbershop in Ray City.

Leon Bradford and W. B. Parrish, February, 1951, at the diner in Nashville, GA. Leon Bradford owned a barbershop in Ray City. Photograph by Jamie Connell. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

Leon Bradford was born December 5,1905 and raised at Ray City, GA. He was a son of Mack Talley Bradford and Margaret R. “Maggie” Gaskins.  His parents owned a farm on the Nashville & Valdosta Road, in the Connell’s Mill District near Ray City.

Leon and his brothers all attended school when they were of age. When Leon was about 13 years old, his father fell off a ladder. Although Mack Bradford’s injuries from the fall seemed minor, in just a short time he was dead.

For a time, Leon’s mother continued to farm the family place near Ray City. Leon’s older brother, Albert Bradford, worked as a farm laborer.

It appears that after the 8th grade, Leon Bradford had to give up school.  By 1930, Leon’s brother, Albert was married and had a place of his own. Leon’s mother moved with his two younger brothers to a farm at Cat Creek, GA, about ten miles southwest of Ray City. Leon moved into town at Ray City and took up the trade of barbering.  In 1930, he was boarding with Pleamon and Minnie Sirmons in their Ray City home.

About 1934, Leon married and in 1935  Leon and Dora Bradford became the parents of Patricia Bradford. The Bradford home was on Main Street in Ray City. They were neighbors of Hun and Gladys Knight, and the Knight’s boarders Hazel Tabor and Dorothy Chisholm who were both school teachers. Other neighbors of the Bradfords included George and Cynthia Swindle, Raymond and Jeanette Philipps, Marvin and Arlie Purvis, and Garth and Jessie Mae Webb. Patricia Bradford attended the Ray City School.

Leon Bradford had his own barbershop, located on the south side of Main Street just east of the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Railroad.  Just across the street was the Victory Soda Shop  and next door was the grocery store owned by Marvin and Arlie Purvis. A few doors down was another barber shop owned by Lyman Franklin Giddens.  On Saturdays, Wayne Putnal worked at Bradford’s barbershop cutting hair and giving shaves. Leon Bradford spent his career grooming the citizens of Ray City, GA.

It appears the Bradfords were Methodists. Patricia Bradford attended the Methodist retreats at Epworth on St. Simon’s Island, GA. Like his father before him, Leon Bradford was an active member of the Masons.

Leon Bradford died May 27, 1962 in Berrien County, GA. He was buried with others of the Bradford and Gaskins family connections at Fisher Gaskins Cemetery, located on Bradford Road six miles southwest of Ray City, GA.

Grave of Leon Bradford, Barber of Ray City, GA. Image source: Robert Strickland

Grave of Leon Bradford, Barber of Ray City, GA. Image source: Robert Strickland

 

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Putnal Family ~ Town and Country

Putnal Family of Ray City, GA

The  farm place of Wayne and Ellen Gaskins Putnal was located on the south side of Ray City, on Park Street.  Wayne Putnal worked the farm during the week and on Saturdays he could be found in town at Leon Bradford’s barbershop.  The barbershop was located on the south side of Main Street just opposite the Victory Soda Shop.  Mr. Putnal worked many years there, cutting hair and giving shaves. In his later years he had a noticeable tremble, but his customers could always be confident that he would apply scissors to locks or straight razor to whiskers with the steadiest hand.

There were seven children in the Putnal household, and they attended the Ray City School. They would walk up the dirt road that was Park Street to Johnson Street, then east to the school, joining the other farm children who lived along the way.

Children of Ellen Gaskins and Wayne Putnal:

  1. Leston L. Putnal
  2. Grace Marguerite Putnal
  3. Clifford Earl Putnal
  4. Cary W. Putnal
  5. Nelda E. Putnal
  6. Dorthy E Putnal
  7. Glen H Putnal

Leston Putnal married Louise Cooper after graduating from Ray City High School. During WWII, he joined the Air Force, and it became a 30 year career. While he was away during the war his wife and son rented an apartment in Effie Guthrie Knight ‘s house on Park Street. The large old house had once served as a hotel for tourists visiting the Mayhaw Lake Amusement Park. Later, Leston Putnal and his family lived in Adel, GA.

After high school, the sisters Grace and Nelda Putnal went to Jacksonville, Florida. Nelda  got a job as an operator for the Standard Oil Company and in 1947 she married Charles J. Vance.  Grace Putnal  found work as a bookkeeper.  She married Bobby Earnest  in Duval County, Fl in 1953.

Cary W. Putnal moved to Macon, GA.

Earl Putnal   was known to other Ray City students by the nickname, “Guinea.”  Like his older brother, Earl fought in WWII. He served in the Navy and was wounded in action.  After the war,  he returned to Ray City and married Helen Marie Lee. She was the daughter of   Letha Brantley and Loren Lafayette Lee.   Earl and Helen moved to Jacksonville,  where Earl took a job as a clerk with Spencer Electric company. Later, they moved to Galveston, TX where Helen’s parents had already relocated.

Dorothy Putnal married Payne Webb, a successful merchant of Ray City.  He owned a liquor store located on the south side of Main Street, opposite the present day location of the Dollar General store. The couple spent their honeymoon in Atlanta, and returned to Ray City to make their home. After marriage, Dorothy went on to attend Georgia State Womans College at Valdosta, GA (now Valdosta State University.)   After Payne died of cancer she relocated to Atlanta and remarried.

Glen Putnal became a dentist.

When Wayne and Ellen Putnal were ‘senior citizens,’ they moved from their home on Park Street to a place in town.  Annie Mae Clements sold the Putnals a lot on the west side of her house, the Clements house being located on the southwest corner of  Jones and Ward streets.  Using  the same building plans from which their farm home had been constructed, the Putnals had a house built on the town lot.  In their new home the Putnals were known as “nice people and good neighbors.”

The Putnal house on Park Street is long gone, but the town home still stands on Jones Street in Ray City, GA.

Ray City Girls Retreat at Epworth on St. Simons Island

In 1950, the Methodists of south Georgia established a religious center on the Georgia coast. Epworth by the Sea began as “a small rustic camp facility with a few old plantation buildings” on St. Simons Island.

Patricia Bradford, 1951 Junior Class portrait, Ray City School, Ray City, GA.

Patricia Bradford attended a retreat for Methodist youth at Epworth by the Sea, St. Simons Island, GA. 1951 Junior Class portrait, Ray City School, Ray City, GA.

Young Methodist from all over the state were drawn to the new retreat center, and in the summer of 1951 two young women from Ray City, GA attended the annual retreat.

   Nashville Herald
   June 14, 1951

    Ray City Girls attend Retreat

    Miss Betty Jo Webb and Miss Patricia Bradford attended the annual district officer’s retreat on June the 7, 8, 9, and 10.
    The event was at Epworth by the Sea, the Youth Center for Methodist Young people on St. Simon’s Island.

Betty Jo Webb and Patricia Bradford lived in neighboring houses on Main Street in Ray City, GA.  Betty Jo Webb’s parents were Garth Webb, Postmaster of Ray City, and Jessie Francis Webb, a teacher at the Ray City School.  Patricia Bradford’s parents were Leon Bradford, a Ray City Barber, and Lula Eudora Bradford.  Patricia Bradford later married  Ray City lumberman Thomas Studstill, a son of Thomas Julian “Boots” Studstill and Maudell Vaughn Studstill.

The  historical marker at the site of Epworth by the Sea describes how the center was founded.

 Epworth Pioneers

In 1945, South Georgia Methodists resolved to establish a religious center. After searching four years for a site, the Sea Island Company offered to sell them 43.53 acres of the Hamilton Plantation. Because the Conference did not have the $40,000, Bishop Arthur J. Moore asked nine laymen to join him in signing a bank note for a tenth of the purchase price. Not one refused. Since D. Abbott Turner never signed a note, he gave $4,000 in cash. Later known as Epworth Pioneers, they were A.J. Strickland, Jr., Alfred W. Jones, Sr., Blasingame, J. Slater Wright, Ben J. Tarbutton, Sr., Leo B. Huckabee, Jerome Crawley, George T. Morris and D. Abbott Turner. On July 25, 1950, in the Wesley tradition, almost 800 Methodists met under moss draped live oaks for the formal opening. Churches and individuals responded, paid the debt and began a tradition of love, prayers and financial support which makes God’s ministry at Epworth possible. 

 
 
 

 

 

Epworth Pioneers Historical Marker. Image courtesy of David Seibert and http://www.hmdb.org

Epworth Pioneers Historical Marker. Image courtesy of David Seibert and http://www.hmdb.org

Epworth