Watson Grade News May 27, 1904

 

Family of Samuel W. Watson

Family of Samuel W. Watson
Samuel. W. Watson (1863-1925), a son of Mark R. Watson and Rachel Slaughter, was born and raised in the Rays Mill district (1144 Georgia Militia District).
Back Row: James Watson (= Jim Watson, died single, ~28 yo), Bertha Watson (later, married Joe Outlaw). Middle Row: Samuel W. Watson (= Samuel Watson, Sam Watson),Elizabeth Betsy (Boykin) Watson . Front Row: Georgian Ann, Watson , later married Lewis Keeffe), Mark A. Watson (= Mark Watson), circa 1900. Courtesy of Bill Outlaw http://berriencountyga.com/

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Watson Grade News, Tifton Gazette, May 27, 1904

Watson Grade News, Tifton Gazette, May 27, 1904

Tifton Gazette
May 27, 1894

Watson Grade News.

    We had some very nice raining with some hail last Tuesday.
    Mr. and Mrs. M. S. Patten, of Adel, were visitors in this section last Saturday and Sunday.
    The school at ‘Possum Trot closed last Saturday with appropriate exercises and an excellent dinner. The school was under the management of Mr. Walter Patten and was a success in every respect.
    Miss Merl Smith, of High Springs is visiting Miss Belle Patten.
    Barney, the six months’ old son of Mr. and Mrs. B. H. Akins died last Saturday of fever, near this place, after an illness of four weeks.  The remains were interred in Empire cemetery Sunday afternoon.
    Mr. S. W. Watson, of Irwin, was in this section last week looking after some lands that are for sale.
    Mr. K. E. Stapleton, of Milltown, is very sick at this writing.
    Oat cutting is the order of the day now.
    Mr. Mansfield Shaw and Miss Addie Greene were united in marriage Sunday afternoon, Rev. A. A. Knight officiating.
    Mr. R. M. Greene is in Idaho, traveling for a buggy company.
    Mr. M. C. Lee killed a rattlesnake near his yard one day last week that measured nearly six feet.
    Miss Fannie Clements, of Rays Mill, is visiting relatives in this section.
    Miss Rhoda Greene,  who has been very sick for the past week, is convalesing.
    Quite a crowd of young folks enjoyed a social entertainment at the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Clements last Saturday evening.
    Miss Mary Clements, of Rays Mill, is visiting her sister, Mrs. M. C. Lee.
                             TRIXIE

 

Additional notes on Watson Grade:

Mr.  & Mrs. M.S. Patten
Marcus Sheridan Patten (1862 – 1950) was a son of William Patten and Elizabeth Register, of Watson Grade near Ray’s Mill, GA.   In 1904,  Marcus and his wife of two years, Mittie Cordelia Walker,  resided at Adel, GA.   In McMillan and Allied Families,  Robert H. McMillan described Mittie as “an exceptional woman, tall and aristocratic in manner and height.” Mittie’s father, Edgar David Walker (1859 – 1927), operated  a turpentine still about five miles east of Adel.  Her mother, Malissa McMillan (1861 – 1885),  had died when Mittie was about four years old, and Mittie spent most of her childhood with her grandparents, John and Sallie McMillan, in Berrien County.

Possum Trot 
Possum Trot  was one of the common schools of the area. In 1906 Possum Trot School was consolidated with Round Pond and Guthrie School.

Miss Belle Patten
Miss Belle Patten, age 21,  was a daughter of 
James “Irwin” Patten and Leanna Patten. 

Barney Akins
Barney Akins (died of fever) was an infant son of  Robert Henry “Bob” Akins (1876-1941) and  Sarah Jane Murray (1883-1948).  Bob Akins was a grandson of William Green Akins, one of the hunters who tracked down and killed the Berrien Tiger in 1849.

Mr. S.W. Watson
Samuel W. Watson (1863-1925), a son of Mark R Watson and Rachel Slaughter, was born and raised in the Rays Mill district (1144 Georgia Militia District).  S.W. Watson moved his family  to Irwin County some time before 1900, but returned to Berrien before 1910.

Mr. K. E. Stapleton
Kennie E. Stapleton, age 21, was a son of James Stapleton and Eliza Jane Morris.  His father was a fisherman with a house on Main Street in Milltown, GA.

Oat Production
Oats were a staple crop for the farmers of Wiregrass Georgia.  Even in a bad year, farmers like M.C. Lee would produce 5,000 bundles of oats.

Mansfield Shaw and Addie Greene
Addie Greene was a granddaughter of Delilah Ann Hinson.  Her parents were Houston Greene and Ann Elizabeth Futch, of the Connells Mill district near Ray’s Mill. Mansfield Shaw was a son of Elbert Marion Shaw and Matilda Mary Waters.

Mr. R. M. Greene
In 1904, Riley M. Green was working for a buggy company. Born April 20, 1873, he was a son of Marshal E. Green and Mary Elizabeth “Maxie” Mathis. Later, he owned real estate in Ray City, GA and was involved in the incorporation of the Bank of Ray’s Mill.  His sister, Mary Elizabeth “Effie” Green, married Thomas J. Studstill, and Riley took a position as manager at the Studstill sawmill.

Mr. M.C. Lee
Moses C. Lee (1853-1926) was an outstanding farmer of Berrien County, GA  known for his production of food crops and cotton, as well as cattle and hogs.

Miss Fannie Clements
This young woman could have been Fannie Clements, daughter of John C. Clements, or Fannie Lola Clements, daughter of David C. Clements.

Rhoda Green
Rhoda Green (1886 – 1912) was a sister of Riley M. Green.  She died in 1912 and was buried at Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA.

Mr. and Mrs. J.M. Clements
John Miles Clements and wife, Ann Eliza Swindle Clements, were long time residents of Rays Mill  and the parents of Hosea P. “Hod” Clements.

Mary Clements & Mrs. M.C. Lee
Mary Clements, of Rays Mill, was the spinster sister of  Amanda Clements Lee and John Miles Clements.  Amanda Clements Lee was the wife of Moses C. Lee, a noted farmer of Berrien County.

 

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Knight of Berrien ~ Jonathan Perry Knight

Jonathan Perry Knight (1872-1953)

Jonathan Perry Knight, 1902.

Jonathan Perry Knight, 1902.

Jonathan Perry Knight was born in Ray’s Mill, GA. in Berrien County on March 14 1872.  A son of John Graham Knight and Mary A. Davis, he was the middle of three children.  His grandfather, Levi J. Knight, served as a major in the Indian War, a major-general in the state militia,  and  as a captain in the Confederate army.

In his basic education Jonathan P. Knight attended the schools of Berrien County. When he was 16 he was presented with a prize by his teacher, W.L. Patton, “For Your Merit in School.”  The prize was a book, “The Life of Daniel Webster“, which was to have a profound and lasting affect on the young man.

Life of Daniel Webster

Life of Daniel Webster

http://archive.org/stream/lifeofdanielwebs00everiala#page/n0/mode/1up

Jonathan Perry Knight went on to study at North Georgia Agricultural College in Dahlonega, GA (now the University of North Georgia).  The college was a military academy and military duty was obligatory for all male students over the age of 15.  The cadets drilled daily in artillery, infantry and other exercises.

Cadets on parade in front of North Georgia Agricultural College, 1894.  Jonathan Perry Knight, of Rays Mill, GA attended the college around the late 1880s.

Cadets on parade in front of North Georgia Agricultural College, 1894. Jonathan Perry Knight, of Rays Mill, GA attended the college around the late 1880s.

Knight later attended Law School at Mercer University in Macon, GA. He was a teacher in Berrien and Lowndes Counties, “and considered the teaching profession as a sacred trust.”

On November 6, 1896 at the age of 23, he married Ada Parrish at Lois, Georgia.  That same year he was elected Clerk of the Superior Court of Berrien County for the term beginning in 1897, and moved to the county seat in Nashville, GA.  To Jonathan and Ada a son was born on May 1, 1898. This was the same day in which Commodore George Dewey led US Naval forces to a decisive victory over the Spanish fleet in the Battle of Manilla Bay.  Just a few weeks earlier, the Spanish-American War had broken out and the newspapers of the time were full of sensationalism. No where was there greater fervor than in Georgia.  “When the United States became involved in war with Spain, Georgia furnished according to population more volunteers than any other State of the Union.”

It seems that the war was paramount in the minds of the Knights, as they expressed their patriotism by naming their new son Dewey Knight, in honor of the nation’s new naval hero. The couple had three additional children, Thelma, Jonathan, and Nell.

Jonathan Perry Knight continued to serve as the Clerk of the Superior Court in Berrien County until 1900, when he aspired to higher political office.  In February, 1900 The Atlanta Constitution reported:

“It is also very probably that Mr. John P. Knight, at present clerk of Berrien superior court, will offer as a candidate for representative in the general assembly. It is not known as yet who will oppose him, but there likely will be one or more opponents.”

As expected J.P. Knight did contend for the house seat, and his opponents in the short campaign were W.L. Kennon and H. K. Hutchinson of Adel.  Ballots were cast on May 15, 1900 and a large voter turn out was reported for Berrien County. On the morning of May 16th, The Atlanta Constitution reported that Knight was elected to the Georgia General Assembly as the Representative from Berrien County.

Representative Knight took to his new office with relish.  During the passage of the Depot Bill, his sensibilities were apparently offended by the “lobbyism and the use of whiskey.” “J.P. Knight, being disgusted with the way things were going, sent to the speaker’s desk a privileged resolution to have the hall cleared of all save those entitled to seats, which when read by the speaker, was refused recognition.”  Apparently, when it came to a question of whiskey,  the other legislators didn’t see eye to eye with the freshman representative from Berrien.  Later, Knight would write a letter charging that there was lobbying and outright “drunkeness” in the Georgia House of Representatives on the day the Depot Bill was passed.

Among his other legislative activities, he was on the legislative committee that visited Dahlonega, GA in December 1901 to inspect the North Georgia Agricultural College. His position on that committee was fitting, since he attended college in Dahlonega.  Georgia’s Public Men 1902-1904 noted,  “He took a prominent part in the deliberation of the House during his first term and also in the recent campaign for the governorship.”

In a report filed from Tifton, GA, The Atlanta Constitution of March 4, 1902  announced that Knight would seek re-election.  Among his expected opponents was Joseph A. Alexander, who had three years earlier represented Ray City murder defendant, J. T. Biggles.

“J.P Knight announces himself for reelection to the house, and it is said that he will be opposed by either Joseph A. Alexander formerly senator, John R. McCranie , former representative, or  F.M. Shaw, Jr., chairman board of county commissioners, who has represented Berrien in the legislature several years ago.  All are prominent and popular and the race for representative should be lively indeed.”23

In fact, the strongest challenge to Knight’s re-election bid was M.S. Patten. As voters went to the polls in June 1909, The Atlanta Constitution printed Berrien election reports filed from from Tifton, GA:

“The race is very close between J.P. Knight and M.S. Patten for representative, with chances in favor of Knight.  When all the votes were counted J.P. Knight was re-elected to the House of Representatives in the Georgia General Assembly. He was appointed to serve on the committees for: Immigration, Invalid Pensions; Mines and Mining; Roads and Bridges; and, Wild Lands.  In the description of the Honorable J.P. Knight given in Georgia’s Public Men, his occupation was given as “farmer and cotton buyer. “

In September of that year, Honorable John P. Knight was in Macon, Georgia where he was entering the study of law at Mercer College. He was hailed in the newspapers as ” one of the most influential members of the next house. His past record in the legislature is highly creditable to him.” Nine months later, in June of 1903 J.P. Knight was among 37 new attorneys who were graduated from Mercer.  The newspaper announcement observed that 24 of the 37 students had college degrees. Knight was one of two married men in the graduating class. The paper noted that as a member of the Georgia legislature, “he has kept the class and professors posted on the acts of Georgia’s lawmakers.” In the individual records of men, Knight was honored thus,

“Hon. J.P. Knight, representative of the state legislature from Berrien county, will receive his diploma with all honor and glory. Mr. Knight, like all modern politicians, gets along with all the boys. He is one of the highest men in the class. He attended college at Dahlonega. In 1896 he was elected clerk of the superior court of Berrien County and held that office until 1900, when he was elected to the state legislature, where he has been ever since. In spite of the fact that the gentleman from Berrien attended to his legislative duties during the last session, he will be honored with a degree. His friends at Nashville, Ga. will be glad to know that he intends returning home to practice his profession.”

Knight was admitted to the Bar of Georgia in April of 1903, and began to practice law in Nashville, the courts of Georgia, and in Federal Court.

In the Georgia state election of 1904, Knight put in for a third term in the term in the House of Representatives in the Georgia General Assembly.  Challenging for the seat was C.W. Fulwood.  With votes being cast on April 20th,  the Atlanta Constitution called the election for the challenger, ” incomplete returns from one of the hardest fought campaigns ever held in Berrien indicate the election of C. W. Fulwood over J.P. Knight for representative by about 200 majority.”  But the next day, with all votes counted Knight was declared the winner.

That year J. P. Knight also served on a local Berrien county committee to solicit and collect funds for the construction of a monument to the confederate general John B. Gordon.

Back in the Georgia Assembly for 1905, Knight served on several standing House Committees. “Knight of Berrien” served on the House standing Committees on Corporations, Education, Penitentiary, Immigration, Manufacturers, Blind Asylum, Auditing, and the Western and Atlantic Railroad.

With the following election of 1906, he was elected to a term in the Georgia Senate. In an interesting note, the Nashville Herald reported on August 13, 1909, “Hon. Jon P. Knight and County Treasurer D.D. Shaw went to Atlanta Tuesday night to help sing the Doxology at the closing of the Georgia Legislature.”

In 1907 J.P. Knight presided as Mayor of Nashville.  He was a member of the state Democratic executive committee, and attended the committee meeting of  April, 1908.  In October he was back in Atlanta.

Atlanta Georgian and News, Oct. 23, 1908 — page 11
Senator Knight Here.
Senator John P. Knight, of Berrien county, who figured prominently in the settlement of the convict lease legislation when that matter was before the state senate, was a visitor at the capitol Friday. He came on business connected with a pardon and was in consultation with both the members of the prison commission and the governor.

In 1909 it was rumored in local politics reported in the Atlanta Constitution that he would run for Solicitor General of the Circuit Court in Nashville, a position being vacated by Will Thomas in a bid for the judgeship of the court.

Atlanta Georgian and News, Oct. 1, 1909 — page 15
Hon. J.P. Knight Ill.
Nashville, Ga., Oct. 1 Hon J.P. Knight, who has represented Berrien county in the lower house and in the state senate, is very ill at his home in Nashville.

He was a Judge of the City Court of Nashville, Judge of Alapaha Judicial Circuit, and he served as Chairman of the Trustees of the City Schools of Nashville, GA for many years.

He put his hat in the ring in 1910 to run for U.S. congressman for the  Second Congressional District to fill out the unexpired term of the late James M. Griggs.  He won the Berrien County vote by a landslide but it wasn’t enough to carry the district.

Ada Parrish Knight died February 1913 in Berrien Co., Ga.

Children of Ada Parrish and Jonathan Perry Knight:

  1. Dewey Knight 1898 – 1983 Spouses: Laura FRASEUR
  2. Thelma Knight 1901 – 1983 Spouses:  Joseph Stanley UPCHURCH
  3. Nell “Nellie” Knight 1905 – 1996  Spouse:  George ERICKSON
  4. Jonathan P. Knight 1907 – 1984  Spouses: Elizabeth BAKER

Jonathan Perry Knight  again ran for state office and was elected the Berrien Representative to the Georgia Assembly for the 1915-1916 term.  He returned again for the 1919-1920 term.

In the 1920’s, Jonathan Perry Knight and his son, Dewey Knight, had a law practice together in Nashville.  It was not unusual to see the law firm of Jno. P. and Dewey Knight mentioned in the legal advertisements in the Nashville Herald as representing the plaintiff in some divorce action, or offering to negotiate farm loans.

In 1924 he returned to the bench to served out an unexpired term as Judge of the Superior Court, and later that year he was elected to a subsequent term serving until December 31,1928.

Jonathan Perry Knight

Jonathan Perry Knight

Following the loss of his first wife  Ada in 1914 J. P. Knight married again, to Gladys Brooks. They had one son, Jack Knight, who served as an Air Force Colonel.

Jon P. Knight died December 28, 1953.

In retrospection, the Historical Notes of Berrien County observed, “He enjoyed traveling, fishing, gardening, reminiscing with old friends, and the radio; he loved Georgia, Berrien County, family, and friends with deep devotion; he despised hypocrisy, snobbery and laziness. He lived in Berrien County all his life – was a real Berrien County product, boy and man.”

Cite: Georgia. (1927). Georgia’s official register. Atlanta: The Dept.].pg 117-118SUPERIOR COURTSALAPAHA CIRCUITJONATHAN PERRY KNIGHT, Nashville, Judge. Born Mch. 14, 1872 at Rays Mill, Berrien Co., Ga. Son of John Graham Knight (born June 23, 1832 in Berrien Co., Ga.; lived at Rays Mill, Ga.; served the four years of the War Between the States in Stonewall Jackson’s Corps; died May 8, 1908) and Mary (Davis) Knight (born near Tallahassee, Leon Co., Fla.; died Sep. 19,1902). Grandson of Levi J. Knight (born Sep. 1, 1803; senator. Lowndes Co.. 1832, 1834, 1837, 1838, 1839, 1840, 1853/54, 1855/56; senator, 5th Dist., 1851/52; member. Constitutional Convention 1868; major-general, 6th Div., Ga. Militia, Dec. 4, 1840-; died Feb. 23, 1870) and Ann D. Knight, and of James and Rena Davis, who lived near Valdosta, Ga.Educated in local schools. North Ga. Agr. College, and Mercer University (law course). Began the practice of law July 13, 1903 at Nashville, Ga.

Married (1) Nov. 3, 1896 Ada E. Parrish (Nov. 1880-Feb. 12, 1914), dau. of John A. Parrish; married (2) June 21, 1915 in Jacksonville, Fla.,Gladys Brooks (born Nov. 5, 1893). Children by first marriage: Dewey of Miami, Fla.; Thelma (Mrs. J. S. Upchurch), Thomasville, Ga.; Nell of Miami, Fla.; John of Miami, Fla.; by second marriage, one child. Jack, age 6 years.Baptist. Democrat. Clerk, Superior Court, Jan. 1, 1897-Oct. 20, 1900; member. House of Rep., Berrien Co., 1900-01, 1902-03-04, 1905-06. 1915-15 Ex.-16-17 Ex., 1919-20; senator, 6th Dist., 1907-08-08 Ex; chairman, board of education, Nashville, eight years; judge, Alapaha Cir. Oct. 21, 1924-date (term expires Jan. 1, 1929).

Sankey Booth, Wiregrass Educator

Sankey Booth was a teacher and an educational leader of south Georgia. In Berrien County, he served as the head of the Ray City School and as member of the county Board of Education.

Sankey Booth once served as head of the Ray City School, Ray City, Berrien County, GA.

Sankey Booth once served as head of the Ray City School, Ray City, Berrien County, GA. Image source: http://www.hahira.ga.us/schools_photo_album.html

The June 12, 1925 edition of the Clinch County News noted that Professor Booth would not return to the Ray City School, but would instead move to the Morven School in Brooks County.

“Prof. Sankey Booth, a Clinch county boy, will be superintendent of the Morven  school the coming term. He was re-elected at Ray City, but decided to accept the Morven School.”

Sankey Booth had taught previously at the Morven School.  The  Educational Survey of Brooks County Georgia, 1917  noted Sankey Booth as Principal of the Morven School; his wife was one of the teachers.

Morven School, 1917. Sankey Booth, Principal.

Morven School, 1917. Sankey Booth, Principal.

Perhaps conditions at the Morven School had improved since his previous tenure there; one can only hope.  In 1917, the building had been described as:  a dilapidated building with four poorly lighted classrooms,  and deemed “entirely inadequate to demands of the school.”  The classrooms had poor blackboards, but were equipped with patented school desks –  as opposed to hand-made furnishings found in many country schools. The school had a set of maps, two globes, a reference dictionary, and the school library boasted 50 volumes. The school grounds were bare and unimproved.  The four teachers were Sankey Booth, Mamie Shaw Booth, M. S. Hale, and Mrs. Roy Phillips.  The school ran a nine month academic calendar with ten grades.  The school had a pig club and a canning club, precursor to the 4-H club. Canning Club members were Mary Clower, Anne Holland, Mildred Jardon, Gladys Jordan, May Edmondson, Leona Parrish, Nellie Pond, Mary Edmondson, Florine Scruggs, Mary Hall, Kathleen Ousley, Nona Ousley, and Brooks Phillips.

In an old Atlanta Constitution newspaper article Linton Stephens “Catfish Charlie” Cobb (1869-1947), noted Georgia attorney and frequenter of Hahira, GA in his younger days, reminisced about the teaching talents of Sankey Booth (see the full article at the Hahira Historical Society):

“Hahira, pop.987, home of W.W. Webb daddy of good legislation on old age benefits in Georgia, and Mr. Sankey Booth, who could take a bunch of five and six-year-olds and teach them to read and spell as well as 8th graders. He appeared with his students all over the country and on WSB several times.”

Indeed, Sankey Booth had developed his own method of teaching and his students made spectacular achievements. In 1919, on May 2 more than 1000 school teachers and college professors attended the opening of the Georgia Educational Association convention in Macon, GA. That day, at the meeting of the County School Officers Association, Sankey Booth presented his new teaching method. The Atlanta Constitution reported on the meeting:

“An interesting feature of the meeting was a demonstration of the results of a new method of teaching. Cecil Booth, aged 7 years, son of Sankey Booth, superintendent of the school of Atkinson county, spelled rapidly and correctly a long list of words which many adults find difficult.  Mr. Booth told the school officers that the child’s ability to spell words that stump the average person is the result of a simple and direct method.
    He also declared there is no mechanical problem in the school arithmetic that a child of seven years cannot work, with the exception of problems in square and cube root.  Mr. Booth did not give the details of his system but volunteered to enlighten anyone who desired to communicate with him.”

By 1922, Sankey Booth had perfected his teaching method and sought to present it to the faculty of the University of Georgia.

Atlanta Constitution
July 23, 1922 pg C5

Georgia Teacher Develops Unusual Phonetic System

Method Assists Pupils in Becoming High School Students Several Years Earlier.

BY JOHN E. DREWRY

    Athens, Ga., July 22. -(Special.)- A phonetic method of teaching which he declares is entirely different from anything ever offered in Georgia or the south, has been worked out and introduced by Sankey Booth, superintendent or the schools at Willacoochee, Georgia.
   According to his statements and the statements of other, who have seen this method used, it is one of the most remarkable systems ever offered.  Actual experiments have been made and children as young as five and six years have had thousands of words added to their vocabulary, making it possible for them to read newspapers at that age.
    Mr. Booth is in attendance at the University of Georgia summer school, and before the end of the session, it is his plan to bring the system before the faculty for their approval.  He has been working on the system for six years and states he is confident he has had sufficient time to prove its values.
   “I don’t believe in bald-headed men prescribing a hair restorer,” said Mr. Booth, “but I have made a thorough test with my own son, who at the age of five and a half years out-spelled a high school class, and who, at the age of ten years, is in the tenth grade, high school, reading Latin easily and working algebra and geometry readily, and who knows more grammar than many teachers holding a high school license.  Mr. Mizelle, president of the Sparks Collegiate institute, gave this boy and examination some time ago, and said he would make an excellent first grade teacher.
     He tells of another child, the little daughter of J. O. White, of Pearson, Ga., who was passed to the seventh grade at the age of eight, and at the end of her third year in school.
     “Dr. O. H. Mingledorf, who at that time had for years been a professor at Asbury college gave this little girl, who had been taught my method, an examination,” said Mr. Booth, “and he found that she could readily work any form of complex decimal fractions, also  square root and cube root.  He said to her mother, ‘Madame, I have been for years a teacher in Asbury college and men entering college fall down in their work because they are not able to do work that this child has done with perfect ease.'”
      The teachers in Mr. Booth’s section are using the method with a great degree of success, reports say.  Many of his friends are urging him, so he says, to have his discovery protected by copyright, but so far he has not, because of his expressed desire for no other reward than the consciousness that he has been of help to his fellow teachers.
    No details in connection wit the system were disclosed by Mr. Booth in his interview with newspapermen, other than to say that it was a phonetic method.

Moody and Sankey was the evangelical duo of Ira David Sankey and Dwight Lyman Moody. Starting after their meeting in June 1871, the team wrote Christian songs and traveled throughout the United States and the United Kingdom calling people to God through their use of song, with Moody preaching and Sankey singing. Together they published books of Christian hymns.

Sankey Booth and his twin brother, Moody Booth, were born May 5, 1877.  The twins were named after the famed evangelist duo of the 1870s, Dwight Lyman Moody and Ira David Sankey.   The Booth twins were the youngest sons of the Reverend Irwin R. Booth, among the 23 children born to the Methodist minister. Their father was born in South Carolina days before the declaration of the War of 1812. The Reverend Booth became a pioneer of wiregrass Georgia , settling in Ware county with his parents, wife and children about 1846. After the death of his wife in 1867, Irwin R. Booth moved to Clinch county. There, in 1868 he married the twin’s mother-to-be, Margaret Rives Knowles. Margaret Rives Knowles was the daughter of William Rives and the widow of confederate soldier J.H.J. Knowles. Irwin Booth was a well known minister of Wiregrass Georgia and was responsible for the establishment of at least three Methodist churches. He died January 18, 1896.

Sankey’s brother, Moody Booth, followed in the footsteps of his father and became a Methodist minister; he served as pastor at several churches in the South Georgia Conference. By 1900, Sankey Booth had established his lifelong career as an educator. The Census of 1900 shows him occupied as a teacher in the Bickley District of Ware County. He was boarding in the household of John Carter at the time of enumeration.

By 1900, Sankey Booth was already becoming a leader among Wiregrass educators. In 1901 he delivered an address at the close of the summer term the Ware county schools. In 1902 he served as vice president of the teacher’s monthly institute that was meeting monthly at Waycross, GA.

Atlanta Constitution
April 3, 1902

Teachers’ Monthly Institute.
    Waycross, Ga., April 2. – (Special.) – The public school teachers of Ware county have organized the teachers’ monthly institute. They are to meet at Waycross on the fourth Saturday in each month. County School Commissioner T. R. Bennett has been elected president, Sanky Booth vice president, W. O. Brewer secretary, and Miss Bertie Morrison treasurer.  The teachers are discussing the matter of establishing a library for the use of the teachers of the county, and this matter will have attention at the next meeting of the  institute.

In 1906, Sankey Booth married Mamie Shaw, of Berrien County.   Like Sankey, she was a school teacher.  She was born  June 4, 1884, a daughter of James Harrison Shaw and Christie Ann Mcauley.  Mamie had been orphaned around the age of two, both of her parents dying in 1886.  Mamie was apparently raised by her half-brother, Alfred Shaw, who was a hardware merchant in Ware County.  At least in the Census of 1900 she was living in his household. Another half-brother, Martin Albion Shaw, was a teacher before becoming a pastor in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Also in the Alfred Shaw household in 1910 was the teacher Marcus S. Patten.  Perhaps it was these educators who influenced Mamie Shaw to become a teacher herself.

Marriage Certificate of Sankey Booth and Mamie Shaw.

Marriage Certificate of Sankey Booth and Mamie Shaw.

The Census of 1910  found Sankey Booth and his young family in Waresboro, Ware County, GA where he and Mamie were both teaching school. Shortly after that, the Booths moved to Nashville, GA and Sankey served on the Berrien County School Board during 1914 and 1915. William Green Avera, subject of previous posts ( Georgia Teacher For Fifty Years Only Went To School 335 Days, Professor Avera Lived Near Ray City, GA ), was County School Superintendent during that period. As noted above, in 1917 the Booths were both teaching in Morven, GA where Sankey was principal of the Morven School. By  1918, the Booths were living in Pearson, Coffee County, GA, where Sankey was teaching, as usual, when he registered for the draft for World War I.   At 41, he was of medium height and build, with gray eyes and black hair.

In December of 1918, Sankey Booth was elected to become the first school superintendent of the newly created Atkinson County. Mamie also continued to teach. The Booths were living in a rented home on Austin Street, in Pearson, GA. Sankey Booth remained the superintendent of Schools for Atkinson county at least through 1920.

Some time in the early 1920s, Sankey Booth came to be head of the new school at Ray City, GA.  The construction of the brick school building at Ray City was begun in 1920.

Ray City School photographed in the early 1920s. Identified: Second row 3rd from the right, Ida Lou Giddens Fletcher. Top row 2nd from the right, Ralph Sirmans. Image courtesy of Berrien County Historical Society http://www.berriencountyga.com/

Ray City School photographed in the early 1920s. Identified: Second row 3rd from the right, Ida Lou Giddens Fletcher. Top row 2nd from the right, Ralph Sirmans. Image courtesy of Berrien County Historical Society http://www.berriencountyga.com/

In a 1923 Nashville Herald news article the Ray City Parent-Teacher Association boasted:

 “Under the able management of Prof. R. D. Thomas we have one of the best schools in the county, and with same management for 1924 expect the best. In addition to what we are doing we are going to build a home or teacherage for our superintendent. This is being done in other States than Georgia and is a step forward for better rural schools.”

It appears, though, that Professor Thomas did not return for 1924, and Sankey Booth served in his stead.  Sankey Booth’s tenure at Ray City was also to be short term. Although the school at Ray City was a new multi-classroom, well-illuminated brick building – perhaps the most modern Berrien county school of the time  – Sankey Booth left the Ray City School in 1925 to return to the school at Morven, GA.

Around that time,  Sankey and Mamie Booth moved to Hahira, GA. Census records show they were both teaching in Hahira in 1930. The Booths remained in Hahira for the rest of their lives .  Sankey Booth died October 29, 1965 in Lowndes County, GA.

Clinch County News
November 5, 1965

SANKEY BOOTH, LOCAL NATIVE, DIES

    HAHIRA –  Sankey Booth, 88 of Hahira, a pioneer school teacher and administrator in south Georgia, died here Friday night after a long illness.
    Among his educational activities, Mr. Booth gained fame with his methods of teaching young children to read. At one time he was a reading consultant for the State Department of Education.
    A native of Clinch County, Mr. Booth had lived in Hahira for about 40 years.  He had been principal of the Cecil school in Cook County and was the first school superintendent of the Atkinson County system.
    Mr. Booth was a member and lay leader of the Hahira Methodist Church.
    Survivors include a son, Cecil Booth, of Peachtree City, Ga; a daughter, Mrs. Horace Overstreet of Hahira; a sister, Mrs. Clayton Harris of Wildwood, Fla.; three grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
    Funeral services were held Sunday at 3:00 p. m. in the Adel Methodist Church. The Rev. Larry King of the Hahira Methodist Church and the Rev. James A. Agee of the Nashville Methodist Church conducted the rites.  Burial was in the Adel Cemetery.

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Professor Avera Lived Near Ray City, GA

 

 

Image detail: William Green Avera, circa 1905. Image courtesy of Berrien County Historical Society, http://berriencounty.smugmug.com/

William Green “Bill” Avera

 

Bill Avera was a lifelong educator of Berrien county who lived in the vicinity of Ray City, GA. He was born August 1, 1855, in  Clinch County Georgia. His father was Stephen Willis Avera and his mother was Martha Elizabeth Aikins. William Green Avera was the oldest of eleven children, his brothers and sisters being  Winnie Ann, Polly Ann, Sarah O’Neal, Daniel M., Lyman H., Phebe V., Lou, Junius H., Cordelia and Martha.

Upon the organization of Berrien County,  Stephen and Martha Avera brought their young son to establish the family homestead in the new county in 1856. During the Civil War, Bill’s father enlisted and became a soldier of Company E of the Fifty-fourth Georgia Infantry. Stephen Avera saw action defending Atlanta from Sherman’s approach and later in the battles at Jonesboro, Franklin, Murfreesboro and Nashville. The war ended while he was at home in Berrien County on detached duty.  After the war, Bill’s father continued to farm in Berrien County.  In 1877 Bill Avera married and established a household of his own near Ray City, GA.

The home of William Green Avera was located about five miles northeast of Ray City, GA.

In addition to his work as a teacher and superintendent William Green Avera worked for teacher education, being frequently involved in the organization and presentation of “teacher institutes.” In the spring of 1895, Avera co-presented with James Rembert Anthony at a teacher institute held at Sparks, GA, on Saturday, March 16, 1895, their presentation: “Grammar, the Actual and Relative Importance of Parsing and Diagramming.” J. R. Anthony was a teacher from Valdosta, GA. Among others on the program was Marcus S. Patten, who presented “Reading: Teaching to read using Holmes as the text.”

In his 1913 work, A History of Savannah and South Georgia, Volume 2, author William Harden gave the following account of William Green Avera:

   PROF. WILLIAM GREEN AVERA. The career of a man who for the greater part of a life time has been identified with the training and education of the youth is always one of the most valuable assets of a community. Probably no educator in south Georgia has been so long or so closely connected with educational progress and the practical work of the schools as the present superintendent of the Berrien county schools, Prof. William Green Avera. He belongs to a family of pioneer Georgians, and was born on a farm in Clinch county, the 1st of August, 1855.

*****

  Reared in a good home and trained to habits of industry, William G. Avera early manifested special inclination for study and the pursuit of knowledge, and made the best of his early opportunities of schooling. He has been a lifelong student, and when he was eighteen he was entrusted with his first school, located three miles east of Nashville. For thirty-three years, an entire generation, he was in the active work of the schoolroom, and he taught children and children’s children during that time. The aggregate length of his service out of those thirty-three years was twenty-five full years, a third of a long lifetime. In 1907  professor Avera was elected superintendent of the Berrien county schools, and by re-elections has since served continuously in that office. His administration has been marked by many improvements in the county educational system.

   In 1877 Professor Avera was united in marriage with Miss Eliza J. Sirmans. Mrs. Avera was born in Berrien county, daughter of Abner and Frances (Sutton) Sirmans. She died at Sparks in 1905. In 1911 Professor Avera married Margaret McMillan, a native of Berrien county and daughter of Randall McMillan. The following children were born to Professor Avera by his first marriage, namely: Sirman W., Marcus D., Bryant F., Aaron G., Alice J., Homer C., Abner J., Willis M., Lona, and Lula. Marcus D., Homer C., Abner J., and Lula are now deceased. Aaron G. married Fannie Key, now deceased, and has one son, William. Sirman W. married Annie Young and has a daughter named Georgia. Bryant F. married Mary Patton. Alice J. is the wife of William T. Parr, and has four children, J. W.,Stella, Saren and Gladys. Lona married Austin Avera, son of I. C. Avera, sheriff of Berrien county.

   In 1878 Professor Avera settled on a farm eight miles southeast of Nashville, and that was the home of his family until 1904, when it was temporarily removed to Sparks that the children might have the benefit of the superior educational advantages available in the Sparks Collegiate institute there. Prof. Avera’s present home is at Nashville, the county seat of Berrien county. He still owns the old home where all of his children were born and reared, and where his beloved deceased wife and children are buried. Sacred is the memory of this home to the man who has given the best years of his life to the educational and moral upbuilding of this section of Georgia. 

   Professor Avera and wife are members of the Primitive Baptist church, and in politics he is a Democrat.