Moses Lee ~ Exemplary Farmer

Moses C. Lee (1853-1926) was an outstanding farmer of Berrien County, GA.

He was a son of John Levy Lee and nephew of Moses Corby Lee (1808-1884), both pioneer settlers and prominent land owners of  old Berrien.  His father and uncle were veterans of the Indian Wars of 1838 and fought with Levi J. Knight’s Militia Company in the last Indian fight in Berrien County, GA.  His mother was Elender Wetherington (1813-1889).  He was the father-in-law of Lint Miller and one of the investors in the Miller Hardware & Furniture Company.

Born July 12, 1853,  Moses C. Lee (1853-1926) was sometimes referred to as M.C. Lee, Jr. to distinguish him from his uncle. Moses C. Lee, the subject, first appears at age six in Census records in the  1860 enumeration of his father’s household in Berrien County, GA.  His father’s real estate was valued at 3500 and personal estate at $3800.

On November 1879, Moses C. Lee married Amanda Clements in Berrien County, GA.   Born Sarah Amanda Clements, she was a daughter of  John F. Clements and Nancy Patten, and a sister of John Miles Clements.

The newlyweds made their home in a house on the farm of Moses’ father, John Levy (or Levi) Lee, where they were enumerated in the Census of 1880.

After the death of his father, John Levy Lee, in 1884, Moses Lee carried on working his Berrien County farm.  Moses Lee’s residence was known as “Stoney Hill,” according to William Green Avera.  The Lee place was situated on the road “from Milltown to Tyson Ferry on the Alapaha River just east of the present site of Alapaha.” This road passed the residences of John Studstill, first Sheriff of Berrien County; Judge J. H. Rowan; and Keefe and Bullocks Turpentine Still.

By 1896 Moses Lee was recognized as one of the leading farmers in this section.

Tifton Gazette, March 7, 1896 praises the work of Berrien County, GA farmer Moses Lee.

Tifton Gazette, March 7, 1896 praises the work of Berrien County, GA farmer Moses Lee.

Well, I have the results of what Mr. Mose Lee, has stored away, for another specimen of what can be obtained in the wiregrass region.  Will take corn first.  On his farm he housed between 1500 and 2,000 bushels of “little cob” corn, and some where near 11,000 pounds of well cured fodder.  He dug and housed 12,000 bushels of sweet potatoes, and left enough in the patch to fatten 100 head of hogs. Cotton! cotton! He raised nineteen bales of cotton, averaging four hundred pounds each, which amounts to 7,600 pounds, and has jugged and barreled 750 gallons of syrup, of the finest that can be made.  He killed enough porkers to amount to 12,000 pounds and from them he obtained about 1,650 pounds of lard.  Hay he housed enough to winter 50 or 60 head of cows, beside old “Buck”.  As it was a bad year for oats and rice he only housed about 5,000 bundles of oats and 80 or 100 bushels of rice.
    He has enlarged his farm this year, by adding 40 acres of new land.  He is only going to use ten tons of guano this year.
    We hear some folks crying hard times, but all they have to do is to work with energy and vote for Hammond.  If anyone thinks that I have exaggerated in stating the above facts, I can only refer them to Mr. Lee, Milltown, Ga.

In 1917, M. C. Lee was employing Randolph Graham, John Thomas Brantley and Fletcher Turner to farm his land.

Children of Moses C. Lee and Amanda Clements Lee:

  1. William David Lee (1880 – 1967) married Mollie Clements
  2. Jennie L Lee (1882 – 1974)  married Sam I Watson, 1900
  3. Ellen D Lee (1883 – 1907) married William R. Smith; died of measles April 30, 1907
  4. John Vinson Lee (1885 – 1947) married Camilla Spence
  5. L. Chester Lee (1887 –1908) died of typhoid fever December 14, 1908
  6. Winnie Lee (1888-1891)
  7. Lena A Lee (1891 – 1971) married Willis Linton “Lint” Miller, 1913
  8. Remer E Lee (1893 – 1901) died of blood poisoning
  9. Mary Emma Lee (1895 –1986) married 1) Virgil Shingler; 2) J.Crawford Dasher
  10. Infant Lee – born and died July 22, 1897

Related Posts

Sam I. Watson Dies in Explosion

On March 7, 1939 Samuel Irvin Watson was killed in a tragic accident on his farm near Ray City, GA.  Watson served on the State Board of Education (see Sam I. Watson and the State Board of Education )  and route 64 out of Ray City was named in his honor (see The Samuel Irvin Watson Highway)  The March 8, 1939 Atlanta Constitution reported on Watson’s death with front page headline:

STATE SCHOOL OFFICIAL DIES IN EXPLOSION

2 Farm Tenants of Sam I. Watson  Are Also Killed

Another Tenant Escapes But Is Prevented by Flames From Attempting to Make Rescue

Bucket Brigade Conquers Fire

Lakeland Blast Occurs While Chemically Treating Corn for Weevil

Special to The Constitution.
LAKELAND, Ga., March 7.  Trapped by an explosion and flames which spread quickly through a barn on his plantation near here, Sam I. Watson, member of the Georgia Board of Education, perished early this afternoon with two farm tenants.
    The other victims were J. I. Parrish and Edmond Jones.
    Riley Stone, another tenant on the Watson farm, six miles from here, was standing near a door and fled to safety, prevented by roaring flames from attempting to rescue the others.
    Bodies of the three victims huddled in one of the sheds which surrounded the big structure, were found after the flames had been extinguished by a bucket brigade.
 
    Lint Miller’s Brother-in-Law.

    Watson, a brother-in-law of Lint Miller, chairman of the State Highway Board, was directing the treatment of corn for weevil infestation when the explosion occurred, Stone said.  The four men had treated several thousand bushels with a chemical preparation, and were leaving the barn when the blast came, apparently set off by a spark made by a nail as the door was opened.
    Neighbors reported the explosion was heard a few minutes after 2 o’clock, and that the barn was enveloped in flames almost immediately.  Volunteer fire fighters rushed to the scene and formed a bucket brigade to prevent further spread of the flames and to avert threatened cremation of the three trapped men.

    Well-known Farm.
 
    The main section of the barn was 100 feet long and 60 feet wide, with small sheds on all sides. Contents of the structure included several head of livestock and between 4,000 and 5,000 bushels of corn.
    Watson’s farm, which includes more than 2,000 acres, is one of the best known in south Georgia, largely because of the progressive farming methods the owner had inaugurated and followed in its development.
    Mr. Watson was the second member of the present State Board of Education to meet violent death within the last year.
    Several months ago, Lee Branch, of Quitman, vice chairman of the board, was shot and killed by a deranged member of his family.  Mrs.  Branch also was slain.
    In Atlanta, Governor Rivers expressed deep sorrow over the death of Mr. Watson, who was an old and personal friend.
    “The death of Mr. Watson and his two friends is a great shock to me,” the Governor said.  “I have had few friends closer to me than Mr. Watson. In addition he was an excellent public servant and an outstanding member of the board of education.  The school children of the state and the state itself have lost a fine public official, and I have lost a warm friend. I am deeply grieved.”
    Miss Levond Watson, an employee of the State Department of Public Welfare is a daughter of Mr. Watson.  Mrs. Rivers informed her of the tragedy and she left for home immediately accompanied by Mrs. Rivers.
    Chairman Miller, of the highway board, will leave Atlanta tomorrow morning to attend the Watson funeral.

Sam I. Watson and the State Board of Education

Governor Ed Rivers, Sam I. Watson and Mattie Lucille Lashley Rivers.

Governor Ed Rivers, Sam I. Watson and Mattie Lucille Lashley Rivers.

In his first term, Rivers brought a “Little New Deal” to Georgia and presided over a significant expansion of state services…. Probably the most expensive state reforms came in the area of education. In the four years before Rivers became governor, state spending on public education amounted to about $29 million. During his four years in office, the Rivers administration appropriated almost $49 million, including measures to raise teachers’ salaries and provide free textbooks. Rivers’s reforms did not eliminate racial disparities, but these measures benefited black schools as well as white.
-New Georgia Encyclopedia

In 1937, Rivers enacted legislation that created a new, eleven-member state board of education. Named among the members was Sam I. Watson, of Ray City.

The existing state board of education was abolished by an Act of Feb. 10, 1937 which became effective on July 1, 1937, and a new state board of education was created, composed of eleven members, the governor and one member from each of the ten congressional districts to be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate for six year terms. The members shall be citizens who have lived in this state continuously for five years, and shall not be in any way connected with any educational institution nor school book concern; they shall elect one of their members as chairman, and shall hold regular quarterly meetings at the State Capitol, and the state superintendent of schools shall serve as executive secretary, with a salary to be fixed by the board members (Acts 1937, p. 864).

BOARD OF EDUCATION
July 20, 1937-date
Governor, Chairman, Ex-Officio
State Superintendent of Schools, Secretary, Ex-Officio
1st district: DR. R. J. KENNEDY, Statesboro
2d district: LEE W. BRANCH, Quitman
3d district: MRS. FRANK DAVID, Columbus
4th district: ALVIN H. FREEMAN, Newnan
5th district: Dr. W. A. SHELTON, Atlanta
6th district: H. C. WILLIAMS, Adrian
7th district: MRS. ELIZABETH McWATERS, Cedartown
8th district: S. I. WATSON, Ray City
9th district: W. W. McCAY, Eastonellee
10th district: W. C. CLARY JR., Harlem

The Clinch County News reported on the appointment:

The Clinch County News
July 23, 1937 Pg 1

Watson Is Named To State Board.

RAY CITY MAN NAMED TO STATE POST ON BOARD OF EDUCATION

S.I.Watson, named by Governor Rivers as a member of the State Board of Education under the 1937 legislative action which abolished the old board and created a new board of ten members is a well-known and prosperous farmer of Lanier county.
Mr. Watson, known to his friends as Sam Watson, was named as one of Georgia’s Master Farmers a few years ago. He is a brother-in-law to W. L. Miller, chairman of the State Highway Board.
Mr. Watson’s post office is Ray City.
Mr. Watson has not been active in politics and his appointment is considered by those who know him to have been an unusually good one. He represents the Eighth Congressional district on the Board.
L.C. Branch, well known Quitman attorney, is another South Georgian named to the State Board of Education. He represents the Second Congressional District.
The Board is meeting this week to consider matters in connection with the new state educational program. Naming of the members was delayed by Governor River’s illness. The old board went out of office on July first.
-Valdosta Times.

Sam Watson’s service on the State Board of Education ended in 1939 when he was killed in a tragic explosion on his farm near Ray City, GA.

Miller Hardware started at Ray City

Miller Hardware was one of the historic businesses of Ray City, GA. The Ray City store was managed by  Arthur Harvel Miller, brother of Lint Miller. Leon Clyde Miller clerked in the store.  Charlie Parham  and M. C. Lee were among the investors.

According to the Annual Report of the Secretary of State, the Miller Hardware & Furniture store located at Milltown, GA was incorporated in 1913 with a capital of $25,000. The trade journal Southern Hardware, Volumes 79-80, June 1918, W.R.C. Smith Pub. Co., 1918 pg 66 announced the incorporation of  a Miller Hardware & Furniture Company store at Ray City.

Image Right:  W. L. Miller and Lena Lee circa 1908. The couple were married in 1913 (see larger images at Berrien County Historical Foundation).

Willis Linton “Lint” Miller was the President and General Manager of the company. Later he served as Chairman of the State Highway Department.  James Thomas Phillips was a salesman for the company. Leon Earl Thigpen was a clerk at the Milltown location.

By 1923, the company letterhead boasted the capital stock had grown to $35,000. The letter head pictured below was from a document included in the death papers of Francis Marion Shaw.