James Henry Gaskins – Clerk of the Superior Court

James Henry “Jim” Gaskins (1872 – 1928), mason, elected official, and son of a prominent Wiregrass family,  served for about 3o years as a clerk of the Superior Court of Berrien County, GA.

When James Henry Gaskins was serving as Deputy Clerk of the Berrien County Superior Court, he lived in the Connell's Mill District, near Ray City, GA.

While serving as Deputy Clerk of the Berrien County Superior Court, James Henry Gaskins lived in the Connell’s Mill District, near Ray City, GA. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Born October 24, 1872, James Henry “Jim” Gaskins  came from a long line of Gaskins who were pioneer settlers of the Berrien County, GA area. Born and raised in Berrien County, he was a son of the Reverend Fisher H. Gaskins and Pollie Gaskins.

Construction of the Berrien County, GA Courthouse, 1898. For three decades James Henry "Jim" Gaskins worked in the office of the Clerk of the Superior Court of Berrien County.  Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Construction of the Berrien County, GA Courthouse, 1898. For three decades James Henry “Jim” Gaskins worked in the office of the Clerk of the Superior Court of Berrien County. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

In 1900, Jim Gaskins was enumerated in the Connell’s Mill District, Georgia Militia District 1329, near Ray City, GA. At age 29, he was living in his parents household and was employed as the deputy clerk of the Berrien Superior Court.

Jim Gaskins’  father died in 1905. Sometime before the census of  1910, Jim and his widowed mother moved to Nashville, GA where they lived in a home on Dennis Street.  Gaskins continued to serve as deputy clerk of the Superior Court of Berrien County.

On Thursday, September 2, 1915 James Henry Gaskins married Charity Maybelle “Belle” Strickland in Berrien County, GA.  The ceremony was performed by the Justice of the Peace, J. H. Hull.

Family of James Henry "Jim" Gaskins and Charity Maybelle "Belle" (Strickland), circa 1920. Children are Homer Lee Gaskins(L) and Daniel Bates Gaskins (R). In the 1920s James Henry Gaskins was Clerk of the Superior Court of Berrien County, GA. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Family of James Henry “Jim” Gaskins and Charity Maybelle “Belle” (Strickland), circa 1920. Children are Homer Lee Gaskins(L) and Daniel Bates Gaskins (R). In the 1920s James Henry Gaskins was Clerk of the Superior Court of Berrien County, GA. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

With the onset of World War I in 1917,  James Henry Gaskins was appointed as clerk of the Berrien County Exemption Board.  Administration of the selective draft  was entrusted to local boards, composed of leading civilians in each community. These boards, known as Exemption Boards, issued draft calls in order of numbers drawn in a national lottery and determined exemptions for dependency, essential occupations, or conscientious objection.  Gaskins was dismissed from the Exemption Board in December, 1917 after he became embroiled in a scandal over reward money for capture of a draft dodger.  He continued, however to hold his position in the clerk’s office of the Superior Court.

In 1919,  a sizable transaction over the timber rights of the Gaskins family land was noted in state newspapers.

The Atlanta Constitution
December 16, 1919

SALE OF TIMBER SETS RECORD IN VALDOSTA

    Valdosta, Ga., December 15.– (Special.) The sale of saw mill and turpentine privileges on the Fisher H. Gaskins lands in Berrien county, which has just been consummated, establishes a record price for timber and disposes of one of the finest of the few bodies of round timber now left in the state.  The lands in question are located a few miles northwest of Nashville, 8,000 acres covered with magnificent long-leaf yellow pine which has never been worked by turpentine or saw mill men.
    Willis & Norman, turpentine operators who have been located for some time at Mineola in this county, bought the Gaskins lands, paying $200,000 for the saw mill and turpentine rights on the 8,000 acres.  It is understood that Willis and Norman will begin operation on the tract as soon as possible, working the timber for naval stores first.  It will require about three years’ time to complete the turpentine operations, after which a large saw mill will be built, probably at Nashville, to cut the merchantable timber on the tract.

By 1920 Jim Gaskins was elected Clerk of Berrien County.  He and Belle, and their young family were in the house on Dennis Street in Nashville, GA. Boarding next door were former Ray City residents, Dr. Guy Selman, and his wife Bessie.

Jim Gaskins died in the summer of 1928 while still serving as Clerk of the Superior Court of Berrien County, GA.    Lilla Gaskins Whiddon was appointed to serve as Clerk until an election could be called.

The Atlanta Constitution
July 11, 1928

To Elect Clerk.

    Valdosta, Ga., July 10. — Voter of Berrien county will select a successor to J. H. Gaskins, clerk of the superior court, on September 12, the same date as the state primary.
    The death of Mr. Gaskins last week was followed by the appointment of Mrs. Lilla Gaskins Whiddon as acting clerk until an election could be called. 
The executive committee, after considering the matter , decided upon September 12 as the date and fixed July 20 as the date for closing the entries and a fee of $25 is charged for each candidate.

 

Grave of James Henry Gaskins and Charity Maybelle Gaskins, Fisher Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.

Grave of James Henry Gaskins and Charity Maybelle Gaskins, Fisher Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.

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1922 Spring Fever Hits Ray City

In these Valdosta Daily Times personal mentions from the spring of 1922, the Ray City news items were mostly about the social activities of the young people of the community.  An interesting note is the  mention of the Ray City Band and the musical troupe’s excursion to Valdosta, GA.

Valdosta Daily Times
April 6, 1922.

RAY CITY ITEMS

    Ray City, Ga., April 5. –Miss Eula Lee Connell and Miss Lilla Gaskins, accompanied by Miss Connell’s parents, spent Sunday with Mr. and Mrs. O. B. Connell, of Valdosta.
    Miss Gola Tom Gaskins was the guest of Miss Gola Flem Gaskins Saturday night and Sunday.  They were accompanied by Mr. Harvey Clements Sunday afternoon for an afternoon ride.
    Mr. Fred Williams was the company of Miss Inez Webb Sunday afternoon.
    Miss Eula Walden spent Sunday with Miss Mae Bowden.
    The Ray City band went to Valdosta Sunday afternoon for a concert with them.
    Mis Beulah Lee spent the weekend with Miss Jennie Watson.
    Miss Gola Tom Gaskins will be the guest of Miss Eula Lee Connell during the week-end of Easter.
    Mr. Grover Combs was a visitor to Miss Minnie Gaskins Saturday afternoon.
    Miss Mary Shaw and Miss Julia McClelland spent Saturday night and Sunday with Miss Mona Strickland.
    Mr. Albert Bradford was a visitor to Miss Rachel Wetherington last Saturday night.
    Mr. Adrian Williams was the visitor of Miss Ethelyn Terry Sunday night.

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Additional Notes

Eighteen year-old Lilla Gaskins, was a daughter of Daniel Jackson Gaskins and Sarah Elizabeth “Lizzie” Gray. The Gaskins made their home on Cat Creek Road in the Lois community. Lilla’s friend and neighbor, Eula Lee Connell, age 14, was a daughter of Clinton D Connell and Reedy M Connell.   That week, Lilla travelled with the Connells to visit their relatives, Mamie and Oscar B. Connell, in Valdosta, GA. Later, Lilla Gaskins would serve as the Berrien County Clerk of the Superior Court.

Another neighbor and cousin was sixteen year old Golie Gaskins, daughter of Mary E. and Flemming B. Gaskins. She was was visiting with another cousin of the same name and age who was the daughter of Linie and William Thomas Gaskins. Their companion was Harvey J. Clements, son of Henry Clements of Ray City.

Vida Inez Webb, of Ray City, was a daughter of James Alford Webb and Pearlie Ann Register. In 1922, she was being courted by Fred S. Williams of Cat Creek. They were married the following year.  Later, Vida Inez Webb married Perry Lee Pittman.

Mae Bowden was a daughter of Ressa and Hayne Bowden. The Bowdens had a home on Main Street in Ray City, where her father was a barber.

Beulah Lee was the 18 year old daughter of Wealthy Mathis and John A. Lee. They lived at Ray City on the  Willacoochee Road, on the farm of Beulah’s brother, Robert E. Lee. She spent the last weekend of March, 1922 with her friend Jennie Watson.  This may have been 18-year-old Jentis Watson, daughter of Samuel I. Watson who had a place on the Ray City & Mud Creek Road.

Miss Minnie Gaskins, another daughter of Daniel J. Gaskins and sister to Lilla Gaskins, was called upon by Grover Cleveland Combs, who would later own a restaurant in Valdosta.

Mona Strickland, 16 year-old daughter of John and Onnie Strickland of the Lois community near Ray City, entertained guests Julia McClelland, of Adel, and Mary Vera Shaw, of Ray City.

Rachel Wetherington was the 15-year-old daughter of Bell and Linton A Wetherington, of Cat Creek. Her visitor was Albert Bradford, a 19-year-old Gaskins cousin, son of the widow Maggie Gaskins Bradford, of Lois. His father, Mack Tally Bradford, died in 1919.

Ethelyn Terry was the 16-year-old daughter of Mary V. and Jack Terry. Her father had a farm on the Valdosta Road at Ray City, near the places of John W. Cowart, Mallie Shaw and Lewis W. Register. Ethelyn’s caller was Herman Adrian Williams of Cat Creek.

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