More on Andrew Washington Turner and Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans

Andrew W. Turner was married to Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans on March 27, 1892

Andrew W. Turner was married to Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans on March 27, 1892

Andrew Washington Turner, a subject of previous posts  (Andrew Washington Turner and Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans, Ray City News, Jan 3, 1929 ~ M.G. Melton Buys A. Turner Brick Bldgs. ), was born January 1, 1867 in Dublin, GA.  He was the son of Adeline Rebecca Black Reddick and Jesse Turner.  His  mother had been previously married to Captain Daniel Reddick, who was a sea captain engaged in trade along coastal Georgia.  Andrew had two half-siblings who were fathered by Captain Reddick; Susan Reddick and William D. Reddick.

At age 4, Andrew appeared with his family in the 1870 census of Militia District 344, Laurens, Georgia.  His father was a farmer there with $500 in real estate and personal estate valued at $450.  Andrew’s half-brother, enumerated as William D. R. Turner, worked as a farm laborer.   Also in the household was Andrew’s older sister, Henrietta (age 6).

Andrew’s father, Jesse Turner, died some time prior to 1880.  The 1880 US Census shows Andrew Turner,  living with his twice-widowed mother, half-sister Susan (Henrietta ?), and sister Mary Reddick.  They were then living in Berrien County, GA Militia District 1144, in the vicinity of Rays Mill.  Andrew, then age 14, “works on the farm,” the census noted.

It was in  Berrien County, GA that Andrew W. Turner was married to Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans on March 27, 1892.   She was born June 1, 1867, a daughter of Frances Sutton and  Abner Sirmans.  On February 24, 1893, Andrew Turner and his wife bought land from her father, Abner Sirmans. On this land, situated in the Rays Mill community (later Ray City, Georgia), the newlyweds made their home.

In 1900,  the census shows Rebecca Turner living with her son Andrew W. Turner and family in Rays Mill, Berrien, GA and notes that Rebecca was blind.

Andrew and Phoebe Isabella Turner were among the first members of the Ray City Methodist Church, which was organized on October 29, 1910.  Other organizing members were Mr. and Mrs. Will Clements,  Mr. and Mrs. W.F. Luckie, Will Terry, Mrs. Julia Dudley, Annie Lee Dudley, and Marie Dudley.

In 1910  Andrew Turner was working on his own account as a farmer.  Mrs. Turner’s widower father, Abner Sirmans, was living with the Turner family in Ray City,  but had his own income.

Andrew and Phoebe Isabelle raised their family in Ray City, GA.  Between 1892 and 1911, they had nine children:

  1. Lona Belle Turner (3/30/1893 – 5/10/1926) married Edward Holmes Sumner 10/28/1909 in Berrien County, GA, buried at Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery, Polk County, Florida.
  2. Rosa B. Turner (9/22/1894-9/23/1985) married Aubrey B. Shaw on 9/13/1914 ceremony performed by Lyman Franklin Giddens, Justice of the Peace, Ray City, GA. Rosa Turner is buried at Sunset Hill Cemetery, Valdosta, GA.
  3. Minnie Turner (7/5/1896 – 12/2/1987) married George I. Sumner on 12/22/1915, buried at Friendship Church Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA.
  4. Maggie Turner (12/25/1898 – 9/20/1980) married Burie Webster Clements on 5/5/1920, buried at Lakeland Memorial Gardens, Polk County, FL.
  5. Jesse Abner Turner (7/14/1900 – 10/3/1969) married Maude D. Yarbrough on 1/3/1920, buried at Friendship Church Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA.
  6. John S. Turner (8/25/1903 – 7/23/ 1984) married Florrie Olena Reynolds on 5/1/1927, buried at Riverside Cemetery, Macon, GA.
  7. Mittie Mae Turner (1/5/1907 – 10/23/1968) married F.H. “Mac” McColm, buried at Southern Memorial Park, Dade County, FL.
  8. Essie Turner (9/12/1909 – 2/11/1990) married 1) James Nathaniel Hall, 2) Tasca Luther Cole. Buried at Sunset Hill Cemetery, Valdosta, GA.
  9. William Theodore Turner (3/3/1911 – 9/10/1952) Never married. Buried at Sunset Hill Cemetery, Valdosta, GA.

The Turners made Ray City, GA their home through the 1920s.  The Census of 1920 gives Andrew’s occupation as “Cotton buyer” working on his own account.  His son, Jesse Turner, was working as a drayman, for public work. The family residence was located on North Street in Ray City, next to the homes of Levi J. Clements and Lucius J. Clements, operators of the Clements Sawmill.  Andrew Turner was also engaged in the in naval stores and the mercantile business.

In 1922, Andrew W. Turner dabbled in local politics:

Atlanta Constitution
Jan 11, 1922, pg 6

Ray City Officials

Milltown, Ga.,  January 10. – (Special.) – At the election for the town officers at Ray City.  Tuesday, the following were elected: Mayor, L.F. Giddens: councilmen. J.T. Phillips, A.W. TurnerJ.S. Clements, Jr., and J.A. Griffin.  They were installed immediately.

During the town’s boom period he constructed ”two large brick buildings known as the Andrew Turner Buildings.  One of the buildings is two stories high.”  In 1929, the Ray City News reported that this building was sold to M. G. Melton.

Sometime between 1922 and 1929 Andrew Turner purchased a farm situated between Hahira and Valdosta, GA and the family made this their home.  Around this same time period, he suffered a stroke which resulted in paralysis of his left side and impaired his speech.  He recovered use of his left leg sufficiently that he could walk with a cane, but his left arm remained paralyzed.  Andrew’s son, Jesse,  had married by this time but made his home near his father’s and ran the family farm.

Census records show that by 1930 the Turner family had relocated to Valdosta, GA to a home on Valley Street.   Andrew Turner rented the house for $20 a month:  Jesse Turner and his family apparently had an apartment in the same residence.  Andrew’s daughter,  Mittie, was working in a department store;  Jesse was working as an automobile mechanic.

Andrew Washington Turner died 1936.

Mr. Turner Dies After A Stroke
Valdosta Times
Monday, July 27, 1936.

      Funeral services for A. W. Turner, 69, well known resident of this county, who died at a local hospital last night as the result of a stroke of paralysis, will be held this afternoon at 6 oclock at Sunset Hill.
     The body was taken this morning from Sineath’s to the home of Mrs. A.B. Shaw, a daughter who resides at 305 West Gordon Street.
     Rev. L.H. Griffis, pastor of the Church of God, and Rev. C.M. Meeks, pastor of the First Methodist Church, will conduct the services. 
    Survivors are his wife and the following children: Mrs. A.B. Shaw and Miss Essie Turner, of this city; Mrs. G.I. Sumner, J.A. Turner and Theo Turner, of Hahira; J.S. Turner, of Porterdale; Miss Mittie Turner, of Miami; and Mrs. B.W. Clements, of Ft. Pierce.  A sister, Mrs. Mary Johnson, of Macon, also survives.
     Mr. Turner was for a number of years a merchant and cotton buyer in Ray City, but he had made his home in Hahira for a number of years before his death.  For the past two years he had been in ill health.
     His death is the occasion of much genuine sorrow throughout this section.

The Personal Mentions in the same edition of the newspaper noted:

Mr. and Mrs. P.N. Sirmans, Mr. and Mrs. Burns Sirmans, of Ray City, Mr. and Mrs. Terrel Sirmans,  and Mrs. Levi Sirmans of Nashville, were here yesterday to attend the funeral of Mr. A.W. Turner.

Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans Turner  died in 1948.

Mrs. A. W. Turner, 81, Passes Away;  Funeral Today
Valdosta Times
August 30, 1948

     Mrs. A.W. Turner, 81, passed away at the home of her daughter, Mrs. A.B. Shaw, 401, N. Troupe Street, early Sunday morning after a declining illness of several months. She had made her home in Valdosta for about five years, moving here from Ray City.
     Mrs. Turner was born and reared in Berrien County.  She was a member of the Lee Street Church of God.
     Survivors include five daughters, Mrs. A.B. Shaw and Mrs. J.N. Hall, Valdosta; Mrs. B.W. Clements, Mulberry, Fla.;  Mrs. G.I. Sumner, Hahira, and Mrs. F.H. McCullum, Miami, Fla.; three sons John Turner, Columbus, Ga.; J.A. and Theo Turner, Hahira; two sisters, Mrs. Leona Douglas, Ocala, Fla.; and Mrs. Kitty Turner, of Ray City, Ga.  Also surviving are a number of grandchildren and great grandchildren.
     Funeral services were to be held this afternoon at 3 o’clock, at the Carson McLane Funeral Home.
     Interment was to follow in the family plot in Sunset Hill beside her husband, who passed away several years ago.

Related posts:

Ray City Real Estate

The previous post, Ray City Land Passed Through Many Hands, discussed ownership of  the land where Ray City is situated going back into the 1870s. By 1895 150 acres of this land had come into the possession of James S. Swindle.

Dr. Charles X. Jones, First Mayor of Ray City

In 1903, James S. Swindle sold four acres of this land to Dr. Charles X. Jones“All that tract or parcel of land lying and being in the County of Berrien, containing four acres, more or less, at the north end of Card the Card dam, and running northward to the Rays Mill and Adel Public Road; thence westward to the southwest corner of Chas. A. Knight and J.J. Swindle land, thence southward to the corner of the lands of I.H. Sutton, M.S. Knight and J.S. Swindle, thence Eastward to the starting point.”

“…in the year 1908 the said tract was cut up into town lots, by the surveyor of Berrien County, T.I. Griffin, and platted for the Town of Raysmill, and that the said town of Rays mill, afterwards became incorporated as the town of Ray City, Ga.”  

The newly platted town of Ray City experienced a real estate boom. On March 9, 1909 the Atlanta Constitution ran an article that included the following account of the new town:

“Rays Mill, a very new town on the Georgia and Florida Railroad, ten miles south of Nashville, is in this section, and is proud of its location. Less than six months ago there was no town and no sign of it. Today there are at least a half a dozen new store houses completed or being built, and probably twenty-five new residence buildings completed or planned, to say nothing of a half a hundred new cabins for the colored laborer. A two story hotel building is near completion and will soon be occupied. M.E Studstill has a new sawmill here and J.H. Crenshaw has another. Charles H. Anderson and Dr. Guy Selman are putting up a drug store. Mr. Anderson is postmaster and Dr. Selman practices his profession here. A.L. Bridges is another young merchant who will soon move his store to town. Louis Bullard is completing a two story house. And so on — all in five months. The truth is, Rays Mill, the town, has just about ‘arrived,’ or will soon.”

About Charles X. Jones, the article said, “It will not, I believe be improper to say that Dr. C. Jones, an older citizen here, is the leading spirit of this town. Dr. Jones has for years served these people, and has done business and owns considerable of the land around here, and he proposes to help his new town along. He is clever and generous and disposed to serve his community. “

Another Berrien County title document goes on to describe  specific Ray City lots owned by Dr. Jones, “That the said Chas. X. Jones sold off city lots and sold lot No I in block No. 2 to J.F. Buckholtz…”

Buckholtz sold this lot on March 18, 1910 to J.M. Deloach. Within a month J.M. DeLoach flipped the lot, selling it to Levi J. Clements on April 11, 1910.  Clements was a well-to-do planter who  owned a home on the town’s newly designated Main Street , and who later owned the Clements lumber mill at Ray City. Perhaps he purchased the lot intending it for one of his sons.

Clements held the lot for about a year and a half but then sold out to William Lawrence Swindle. W. L. Swindle was born and raised in the Rays Mill District, a son of pioneer settlers James Swindle and Nancy Parker. He served three terms as Sheriff of Berrien County.

W.L. Swindle quickly closed a deal conveying the land to Riley M. Green on Dec 19, 1911.  Riley M. Green was an investor and one of the incorporators of the Bank of Rays Mill.

Three years later Riley M. Green sold the lot to F.D. Clifton for $150 dollars.  In 1917, F.D. Clifton  doubled his money, selling the lot to Jasper Nobles for $295.00.

Jasper Nobles constructed a home on the site at a cost of $1200 dollars. In 1919, he mortgaged the house and property for a $1000 dollar loan from the Georgia Loan and Trust Company. In the 1930s the house and lot was sold at auction on the Berrien County courthouse steps for $100.

Jasper Nobles built this house on Jones Street, Ray City, GA on land that once belonged to Thomas M. Ray.

Jasper Nobles built this house on Jones Street, Ray City, GA on land that once belonged to Thomas M. Ray.

Ray City Citizens Fought Creation of Lanier County

In August 1919, the General Assembly of Georgia passed an act to place an amendment to the Georgia Constitution creating Lanier County on the ballot  for the November 1920 general elections.  But in 1920,  as the election approached, there was strenuous objection from the Ray City area.  Many citizens who were well associated with the history of Ray City found that their property would be on the Lanier side of the new county line, including such family  names as Giddens, Clements, Swindle, Sirmans and others.  Desiring to remain in Berrien county, these land owners, led by A.W. Gaskins, filed a motion with the courts to stop the vote on the constitutional amendment that would create the new county.

Atlanta Constitution
Sep 2, 1920

COURT IS ASKED TO BAR CREATION OF LANIER COUNTY

     Hearing on a permanent injunction brought by citizens of Berrien county to restrain Governor Dorsey from advertizing, as required by law, the proposed constitutional amendment creating the new county of Lanier, was set for September 11, in the Fulton superior court, by Judge John D. Humphries, following a short hearing on a temporary injunction on the same petition, which was denied by Judge Humphries.
     The bill was filed by Attorneys R.A. Hendricks, James A. Alexander and W.D. Biue, of Berrien county, and Bryan and Middlebrooks, of Atlanta. The petitioning citizens are as follows:
     A.U. Gaskins, A.H. Giddens, H.C. Clements, R.D. Swindle, John Sirmans, Raygood Lankford, S.S. Watson, L.S. Sirmans, Mrs. Rachel Postick, W.L. Rouse, John C. Sirmans, J.B. Baskins, J.W. Bloodworth, J.J. Porke, Leo Griner, J.H.Patten. S.H. Winderweedles, W.C. Johnson, Mrs. Martha Clements, A.J. Clements, Levi J. Clements, L. J. Clements, Jr., Bud Watson, Bryant Avers, J. L. Lee, Jasper J. Cook, L.S. Simms, J.H. Clements, J. P. Watson, D. Harrell, R.S. Johnson and John Boyett.
     This action was taken to prevent the submission to the voters in the general election in November of the question of the creation of Lanier county, and the petition asks that Governor Dorsey be enjoined from issuing a proclamation authorizing the vote, and that Secretary of State S. Guyt McLendon be restrained from announcing the result of any vote on the question; and that the state superintendent of printing be restrained from printing a proclamation by the governor.
     The petitioners claim that the promoters of Lanier county made a written and signed agreement with the affected property owners of Berrien county as to the part of Berrien county that would be in Lanier county; that the agreement was violated without their knowledge and consent, so that 9,540 additional acres of land, valued at $150,000, was taken into the county. The petitioning citizens represent this extra land, and declare that they did not want to be taken into the new county.

The petitioners request for an injunction was denied. They appealed all the way to the Georgia Supreme court where they lost in the case of  GASKINS et al v. DORSEY, Governor, et al.  The  Amendment issue went ahead in November, and the constitutional amendment to create Lanier county was passed by the voters.

The petitioners, this time led by Dr. H.W. Clements,  then filed  for an injunction to stop the first election of officers in the newly created county, but that too, failed.   While Clements and others appealed to a higher court, the election was held as scheduled on  the first Wednesday in December 1920.

Not to be deterred, Dr. Clements and others again pursued the appeal of two cases all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court, CLEMENTS el al v. WILKERSON et al  and CLEMEMENTS et al v. ANDERSON et al, in an attempt to nullify the creation of the new county.

But in the end the Georgia Supreme court ruled that any decision was moot since the election  of  county officers had already been held and the case was dismissed.

All challenges aside, Georgia voters approved the constitutional amendment on Nov. 2, 1920, which marks the official date of the creation of Lanier County.

Related posts:

WWI Boom for Clements Lumber Company at Ray City, GA

About 1911  Levi J. Clements,  purchased the big sawmill at Ray City, GA from W.F. Luckie and it became the Clements Lumber Company.   The Clements Family had some experience in the sawmill business. The Clements brothers, Lucius J. Clements, J.I. Clements, and J.S. Clements, operated the mill; Lucius served as the General Manager.

World War I brought an economic boom for the Clements’ sawmill operations.

During World War I, Southern yellow pine was the most abundant of all ship materials and was extensively used in building wood ships along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.

During World War I, Southern yellow pine was the most abundant of all ship materials and was extensively used in building wood ships along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.

At first the war reduced the market for southern pine lumber, as European markets were closed and the German navy threatened North Atlantic trade. But as War hysteria grew, lumber became a strategic material. By 1917 the U.S. Shipping Board began discussing the construction of  wooden cargo ships to support the war effort.  The price of lumber rose sharply during the war, nearly doubling from 1915 to 1918.4

Lucius J. Clements continued to serve as General Manager at the Clements sawmill, although on September 19,1918, at the age of 37,  he diligently registered for the draft for World War I along with other Ray City men. His cousin, Hod P. Clements had registered a year earlier.

In a 1973 newspaper interview, Hod P. Clements, reflected on the boom World War I, brought to the Clements Sawmill and his relatives L.J. Clements, J.I. Clements, and J.S. Clements.7

 “When World War I broke out, the Clements’ boys, who are my cousins, sold lumber to the government to build ships, and made about half a million dollars,” he said.

According to Clements, the price of lumber rose from $8 a thousand feet to $120 a thousand feet in a year.

Related Posts:

  1. Fondren-Clements Papers; transcribed by Ronald E. Yates 8/17/2009) http://www.yatesville.net/tngrey/getperson.php?personID=I4423&tree=01
  2. Nashville Herald. Feb 6, 1923.. Clements Lbr Company sold out at Ray City. Nashvillle Herald, Nashville, GA. pg 1.
  3. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Card. Lucius J. Clements. Registration Location: Berrien County, Georgia; Roll: 1556961; Draft Board: 0. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration.
  4. Ships to Nowhere: The Southern Yellow Pine Fleet of World War I Thomas D. Clark Journal of Forest History, Vol. 30, No. 1 (Jan., 1986), pp. 4-16 Published by: Forest History Society and American Society for Environmental History Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4004755
  5. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Card. Lucius J. Clements. Registration Location: Berrien County, Georgia; Roll: 1556961; Draft Board: 0. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration.
  6. United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1920. T625, 2,076 rolls. Census location: Rays Mill, Berrien, Georgia; Roll: T625_235; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 22; Image: 288.
  7. Valdosta Times. 1973. Newspaper clipping. “Natives of Ray City Like to talk about the past.”
  8. Davis, C. G., Clarke, T. W., Drown, F. S., & United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation. (1918). The building of a wooden ship. Philadelphia, Pa: Industrial Service Section, United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corp..

Levi J. Clements

Levi J. Clements 1851-1924, New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA

In the 1920s, Levi J. Clements and  wife Roena (or Rowena) had moved to a house on North Street in Ray City, GA, probably to be closer to the Clements sawmill. The mill was located between North Street and the tracks of the Georgia and Florida Railroad.  The Clements were surrounded by their family. Their son, Dr. Henry Clements, had the home next door, and on the other side was the home of their son Lucius, who was General Manager at the sawmill.   Irwin Clements and his wife, Annie, and Joe Clements and his family (wife Effie, and daughter Camille) lived with Levi and Rowena. Irwin Clements was a manager at the mill, and Joe was treasurer.  Levi’s grandson, Leland Gaskins, lived in the big house as well.

Roena Clements 1858-1951, New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Mr. Clements died April 25,  1924. He and his wife are buried in New Ramah Primitive Baptist cemetery.

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