Charles Bruner Shaw

Charles Bruner Shaw (1888-1950)

Special thanks to Bryan Shaw for sharing photos and content for this post. Portions reprinted from Shaw Family Newsletter: Charles Bruner Shaw

Born in 1888 in a corn crib on the John Allen farm just outside Ray City, GA, Bruner Shaw would later serve as a police officer for the town. He was a son of Francis Arthur Shaw and Victoria Giddens Knight.

Bruner Shaw in police uniform about 1926. Photographed in Florida.

Bruner Shaw in police uniform about 1926. Photographed in Florida. Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw.

After Bruner’s mother died of scarlet fever in 1889, he and his brother Brodie Shaw were raised by their grand parents, Francis Marion Shaw and Rachel Moore Allen Shaw.  The home place of  Francis Marion Shaw and Rachel Moore Allen Shaw was just west of Ray City, at Lois, GA just off Possum Branch Road.  Bruner attended school  through the eighth grade at the two-room Pine Grove School. The Pine Grove and Kings Chapel schools were filled at various times with the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren of Rachel and Francis Marion Shaw. 

Bruner Shaw circa 1905

Bruner Shaw circa 1905

At a young age, Bruner Shaw married Mollie Register, daughter of William M. Register (1852-1926) and  Sarah Laura Parrish Register (1854-1933), and granddaughter of Elder Ancil Parrish the old Primitive Baptist preacher of Berrien County.  The Registers were a prominent family of Nashville, GA.  Bruner and Mollie were married on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1905, in a ceremony performed by Bruner’s uncle  Aaron Anderson Knight,  of Ray City, GA. Reverend Knight was  then primitive baptist minister of  Pleasant Church, just west of Ray City, GA.  The bride was one month shy of her 20th birthday; the  groom had just turned 17.

Marriage certificate of Charles Bruner Shaw and Mollie Register, December 31, 1905.

Marriage certificate of Charles Bruner Shaw and Mollie Register, December 31, 1905.

 

 

Bruner farmed for a while at Ray City, GA near his brother, Brodie Shaw. The census of 1910 shows other neighbors included Mack SpeightsJoseph S. Clements, Bryant Fender, and Frank Gallagher.

A Year of Tragedy

In January, 1911, when his aunt and uncle, Eliza Allen and Sovin J. Knight, moved to Brooks County to a farm on the Little River near Barney, GA, Bruner went along, moving his young family to an adjacent farm. But shortly after their move to Barney, “on April 16, 1911, just 26 days after the purchase of the new farm, Sovin suffered a severe heart attack and died in his new home.

After this family loss  coupled with the death of his infant daughter, Pecola, Bruner Shaw sold his Brooks County farm and returned to Berrien County.  Just six weeks after the sale, his wife, Mollie Register Shaw, died of Scarlet Fever.  She was buried at Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA.

Bruner’s widowed aunt Eliza later moved  her daughters, Kathleen and Rachel, back to Berrien County to live in the farm home of her parents  (Bruner’s grandparents) , Rachel Moore Allen Shaw and Francis Marion Shaw, just outside of Ray City, GA.

Grave of Mollie Register Shaw (1886-1911), Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA. Image source: Cat

Grave of Mollie Register Shaw (1886-1911), Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA. Image source: Cat

The young widower soon enlisted the help of a teen-age girl to help take care of his children. Fifteen-year-old Charlie Ruth Griffin was the youngest child of William Harrison “Hass” Griffin and Rebecca Jane Parrish, born June 25, 1897 in her family’s cabin on South Old Coffee Road in Berrien County.  Her siblings were Sarah Rebecca, Georgia Lavinia, Mary Ellen, Margaret Frances “Fannie”, Willie Henrietta, William Franklin, and Robert Bruce Griffin.

Charlie Ruth Griffin while a student at White Pond School. Original image detail courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Charlie Ruth Griffin while a student at White Pond School. Original image detail courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

As Charlie took care of Bruner’s children they grew very close to their nursemaid. After a very brief courtship, Bruner and Charlie were  married November 23, 1913 at the home of the Reverend Aaron Anderson Knight in Ray City.  Reverend Knight was then serving as the first pastor of the newly organized New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church at Ray City.

 

Marriage certificate of Charles Bruner Shaw and Charlie Ruth Griffin, November 24, 1913, Ray City, GA

Marriage certificate of Charles Bruner Shaw and Charlie Ruth Griffin, November 24, 1913, Ray City, GA

 

Charlie gave Bruner three more children,  Francis Marion Shaw, Lynette Narcissis Shaw, and Charles Bruner Shaw, Jr.,  and raised Bruner’s two children, Juanita and William Arthur, as if they were her own.

Bruner and Charlie Shaw were a part of society and leisure at Ray City, GA and Berrien County.  In February, 1914 Bruner was among the people from Ray City attending the carnival at Nashville.  Others from Ray City included  Annie Mae Carter, Margie Dasher, Pearl Hardie Knight, Mr. and Mrs. G. V. Harvie, W. H. Luckie, George Norton, J. J. and J. S. Clements.

In 1914, Charlie Ruth and her husband, Bruner Shaw, and daughter, Juanita Shaw, were also seen at the Mayhaw Lake Resort on Park Street near Ray City. Mayhaw Lake was “The Place” in Berrien County for more than a decade. It was built in 1914 by Elias Moore “Hun”  Knight, of Ray City. The amusement park was such a popular spot that the Georgia & Florida Railroad gave special rates for picnic parties from all points on their line. People from all over the area would journey to Mayhaw Lake, especially on holidays such as the 4th of July and Labor Day. A boarding house [later the home of Effie Guthrie Knight] up the road towards Ray City was opened up by the Paul Knight family   specifically to provide lodging for the Mayhaw crowd. 

Posing in front of the roller skating rink at Mayhaw Lake in 1914, left to right: Burton Moore; Tom Parrish; Manson Johnson; unidentified lady; Charlie Ruth Shaw with her husband, Bruner Shaw, and daughter, Juanita Shaw; lady; Viola Smith Davis; lady; Mrs. Burton Moore and daughters, Kate Hazen, Thelma Register; Lonnie Smith; boy; man; Shellie Ziegler; and Jessie Ziegler Touchton. Members of the band in the background include: Rossie Swindle, Glenn Johnson, Lonnie Swindle, and J. H. Swindle.

Posing in front of the roller skating rink at Mayhaw Lake in 1914, left to right: Burton Moore; Tom Parrish; Manson Johnson; unidentified lady; Charlie Ruth Shaw with her husband, Bruner Shaw, and daughter, Juanita Shaw; lady; Viola Smith Davis; lady; Mrs. Burton Moore and daughters, Kate Hazen, Thelma Register; Lonnie Smith; boy; man; Shellie Ziegler; and Jessie Ziegler Touchton. Members of the band in the background include: Rossie Swindle, Glenn Johnson, Lonnie Swindle, and J. H. Swindle.

It was about this time that Bruner began his life-long pursuit of the law enforcement profession.  Bruner entered police work through occasional employment as a deputy at Ray City.  At that time the Police Chief at Ray City was Bruner’s cousin, Cauley Shaw.

An incident report in the Nashville Herald, October 9, 1914:

Considerable excitement was occasioned here Monday by a report that Cauley and Bruner Shaw and two other young men of Ray’s Mill had been shot about twelve miles down the Valdosta Road. Several gentlemen from here [Nashville, GA] went in an automobile. But when they reached the scene, they found that the wounds were not serious. A negro for whom they had a warrant, shot at them with a shotgun loaded with bird shot.

The Tifton Gazette also reported the incident:

Tifton Gazette reports Bruner shot while serving an arrest warrant, October 6, 1914

Tifton Gazette reports Bruner shot while serving an arrest warrant, October 6, 1914

Tifton Gazette
October 16, 1914

C. B. Shaw, C.H. Jones and Charley Thomas were shot by a negro named John Williams, near Rays Mill Oct. 6, says the Milltown Advocate. Thomas has some trouble with the negro about hauling some cotton and the negro fired at him. He went to Rays Mill, secured a warrant and returned for the negro. The negro opened fire and slightly wounded three of the party who returned from Rays Mill with Thomas. The negro escaped.

Over the next few years, Bruner did stints in the police departments of Milltown (now Lakeland), GA and at Willacoochee.  By early 1919, Bruner had been hired by Berrien County Sheriff J. V. Nix as a deputy at Nashville, GA.

Until 1919, most of the activities of a peace officer involved chasing down petty thieves, and raiding an occasional “skins” (gambling) game…

Production and consumption of moonshine – illegal liquor – was also a problem for law officers. State-wide prohibition in Georgia had passed in 1907, with Ray City’s own representative Jonathan Perry Knight among those leading the charge.

However, with the passage of the 18th amendment to the Constitution (prohibition), a whole new illicit business was the target of he county sheriff and his deputies. “Blind tigers”, as they were commonly referred, brewed alcohol in what was known as a “lard can” still, using syrup and meal processed through a copper worm. The product was a high explosive liquor with enough alcohol in it to burn like gasoline. Drinking of such had been known to cause blindness, if not death. Thus the name “blind tiger.”

By 1919,  reports of drunkenness and lawlessness in Ray City were making newspapers throughout the section. There were plenty of “blind tigers” running stills and selling bootleg liquor in Berrien County and Ray City, and gambling, too, despite the efforts of lawmen like Bruner Shaw, Cauley Shaw,  Gus Clements, Frank Allen, Marcus Allen, Jim Griner, Wesley Griner, and W.W. Griner.

In April, 1919, part-time deputy Bruner Shaw was again shot by an assailant.

1919 Tifton Gazette reports Bruner Shaw shot by John Harris

1919 Tifton Gazette reports Bruner Shaw shot by John Harris

Tifton Gazette
May 2, 1919

Shaw Shot by Negro

Nashville, Ga., April 23- Bruner Shaw, a well known young farmer who has served as special deputy sheriff a numbWer of times, was shot from ambush Saturday at the home of Will McSwain, a negro farmer living near Lois, this county. Shaw recognized his assailant as John Harris, a young negro whom he had arrested at Adel several months ago on a misdemeanor charge. The wouldbe murderer used a 23-calibre Winchester rifle, and the bullet entered the left side of Shaw’s head. He was able to come to Nashville today and swear out warrants against the negro, who is in jail here, having been captured by Sheriff Nix.

 

While pursuing his law enforcement career in other towns, Bruner Shaw maintained his Ray City connections. In 1920 Census records show Bruner and Charlie were residing in Ray City. According to Bryan Shaw,  Bruner’s last child, Charles Bruner, Jr., was born on February 6, 1920, in a home on Trixie Street behind the Marion Shaw home in Ray City. Bruner and Charlie resided in the home for three more years, participating regularly in the events of the community, especially dances and song fests.

Nashville Herald
March 15, 1923

News from Ray City—Everybody that wants to laugh as they haven’t since the war, come out on “Dad’s Night” . . . Last but not least will be some very fine singing by several of our gentlemen singers. They alone will be worth your time, should we have no other attraction. Mr. Bruner Shaw has promised us they will give at least four selections.

Later that year, Bruner Shaw was present at the startup of Ray City’s first power plant.

Sometime that fall Bruner, Charlie Ruth, and their five children moved to Polk County, Florida, where Bruner was hired as a deputy.  There was steady work tracking down bootleggers and their moonshine stills. Details of  big raids appeared in the papers:

The Polk County Recorder
March 2, 1924

“With drawn guns and expecting a battle to the death, sixteen deputies from Sheriff Logan’s force [and two federal agents] surrounded an abandoned sawmill camp in Eastern Polk County. Deputies Hatcher and Shaw volunteered to be a party to call for the surrender of the men sought.”

•∏•

Tampa Tribune
March 31, 1924

Lakeland Deputies Catch Moonshiners

Still of 100-Gallon Capacity Is Haul; Several Arrests Are Made

(Special to the Tribune)
Lakeland, March 30. – Lying in the woods near Bowling Green, Deputies [Newt] Hatcher and Shaw of the sheriff’s office Friday night watched a suspected bootlegger uncover two gallons of moonshie near the hiding place. Floyd Douglas, it is alleged, was getting the liquor to sell to Federal Officer Standau, unaware of the officer’s identity. Five gallons more were found in a search, and Douglas and the liquor were taken into custody. This is said to be Douglas’ second offense.
Just before the Bowling Green visit, the three officials made a big haul at Mulberry, here a 100-gallon copper still, 18 barrels of mash and six gallons of ‘shine were found in a swamp a mile from town. A negro man and woman were arrested as operators of the still.

•∏•

The Tampa Times
April 19, 1924

Raids Discourage Makers of ‘Shine

(Special to The Times.)
Bartow, April 19. – When the home of a Mrs. Beaumont, just over the Polk county line in Hillsborough county, was raided Wednesday the officers making the raid captured 244 bottles of 4 1/2 percent beer and three half pint bottles of shine. The arrest was made by Polk county Deputy Sheriffs Hatcher and Shaw with Federal prohibition Officers Standau and Dugan, who took the prisoner and evident to Tampa.
The recent series of captures of “shine” outfits conducted by Sheriff Logan and his deputies seems to have discouraged the moonshining industry in Polk county, according to reports from the sheriff’s office and judging from the record of convictions of violators of the prohibition laws in the criminal court combined with the sentences imposed by Judge Olliphant it seems highly probably that bootleggers of Polk county will decided that business isn’t so good in these parts.

In July, 1924 Bruner served as Night Police Chief in Haines City, FL. His friend and colleague, Newt Hatcher, was the Day Police Chief.

Bruner Shaw in front of his squad car at Haines City Florida. Image detail courtesy of Bryan Shaw

Bruner Shaw in front of his squad car at Haines City Florida. Image detail courtesy of Bryan Shaw

The exploits of Officer Shaw were occasionally reported in the Tampa Tribune.  On December 21, 1925, the paper reported C. B. Shaw was involved in a gun battle with a murder suspect.

December 21, 1925 C. B. Shaw in gun battle with Odom Dunlap, alleged murderer of Owen Higgins.

December 21, 1925 C. B. Shaw in gun battle with Odom Dunlap, alleged murderer of Owen Higgins.

Later, Bruner Shaw served as chief of police at Frostproof, FL.  A high profile case while Bruner Shaw as chief of police at Frostproof Florida was the kidnapping of  E. L. Mercer, well-to-do citrus grower.

June 6, 1928 Tampa Tribune reports Frostproof, FL police chief Bruner Shaw investigating kidnapping of E.L. Mercer

June 6, 1928 Tampa Tribune reports Frostproof, FL police chief Bruner Shaw investigating kidnapping of E.L. Mercer

In the fall of 1929, the Shaw family returned to Berrien County, GA where Bruner sharecropped the John Strickland property on the old Valdosta highway. While the family went about bringing in crops of corn, tobacco and cotton, and the children [Marion, Lynette, and Charles, Jr.] were attending school at Kings Chapel, Bruner found temporary employment with the Berrien County Sheriff and the Ray City Police.

By November, 1930 Bruner Shaw was named Chief of Police in Alapaha, GA and moved the family there. He was once again again in pursuit of “blind tigers.”

Nashville Herald,
December 18 , 1930

Last Wednesday afternoon Chief C. B. Shaw and Deputy Sheriff Wesley Griner and W. W. Griner went over near Glory and went down in the river swamp about one mile west of Glory and found 180 gallons of corn mash. There was no still found with this buck. The officers poured out the contents and busted up the barrels. The people of Alapaha are pleased with the work of Mr. C. B. Shaw since he has been Chief of Police. We all hope that Mr. Shaw will stay on here as he is doing such good work and helping to clean up the community by catching blind tigers.

Moonshine still bust about 1930 near Glory, GA on the Alapaha River . Chief of Police, Bruner Shaw, 2nd from the right. Other identified is Brooker Shaw, brother of Chief Shaw, 2nd from the left.

Moonshine still bust about 1930 near Glory, GA on the Alapaha River. Chief of Police, Bruner Shaw, 2nd from the right. Other identified is Brooker Shaw, brother of Chief Shaw, 2nd from the left.

It was the midst of the Great Depression, and though his work was appreciated, the pay was meager.  In the summer of 1931,  Bruner removed his family from Berrien County for last time and the Shaw family moved back to Frostproof.

The Shaw Family Newsletter: CHARLES BRUNER SHAW, SR: Have Badge, Will Travel, by Bryan Shaw, relates the story of Bruner Shaw’s life, law, business, and family.

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More Ray City Women of G.S.W.C

West Hall, Georgia State Womans College, 1945

West Hall, Georgia State Womans College, 1945

From 1922 to 1950 the state college in Valdosta, GA was known as Georgia State Womans College (now know as Valdosta State University”.  A number of Ray City women who attended the college during this period were featured in a previous post. Here are a few more who appeared in available yearbooks:

Doris and Dot Boyette were daughters of Eddie D. Boyette  and Mattie Deen Boyette. Their home was in Lanier County, just east of Ray City.

Doris Boyett, of Ray City, GA at Georgia State Womans College, Valdosta, GA

Doris Boyett, of Ray City, GA, 1942 sophomore at Georgia State Womans College, Valdosta, GA

Dorothy Boyette

Dorothy Boyett, of Ray City, GA at Georgia State Womans College, Valdosta, GA

Dorothy Boyett, of Ray City, GA. 1945 sophomore at Georgia State Womans College, Valdosta, GA

Carolyn DeVane was a daughter of Caulie A Devane and Alma L. Albritton, and sister of Harold Elmore DeVane who was serving in the Navy. She grew up in the Lois community just west of Ray City, GA.

Carolyn DeVane, 1945, Freshman

Carolyn DeVane, 1945, Freshman

Marian Hambrick, sister of Thera Hambrick, was a daughter of Ruth and John O. Hambrick. Her family’s place was in the Cat Creek community, just southwest of Ray City.

Marian Hambrick, 1941, Freshman

Marian Hambrick, 1941, Freshman

 

Louise Paulk was a daughter of  Gladys Daniels and James M. Paulk. Her father died when she was a toddler and her mother remarried Hun Knight. Her step-father was the owner of the Mayhaw Lake amusement park at Ray City.  Her half-brother was Jack Knight, who attended college at Valdosta after the school went co-educational.

Louise Paulk, 1939, GSWC

Louise Paulk, 1939, GSWC

Marilyn Faye Weaver was a daughter of John W. Weaver and Irene Guthrie. The Weaver farm was just east of Ray City in the 1300 Georgia Militia District in Lanier County, GA.

1949-marilyn-weaver-GSWC

Marilyn Weaver, 1949, freshman at Georgia State Womans College.

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Clements Cousins at G.S.W.C.

In the 1940s Annie Ruth Clements and Frances Clements, Ray City cousins, both attended Georgia State Womans College, now known as Valdosta State University.  The Clements girls  were descendants of one of the pioneer families of Ray City,GA and were both  granddaughters of John Miles Clements (1859 – 1937).

Ann Ruth Clements (L) and Frances Clement (R), of Ray City, GA. In 1943, the Clements girls were freshmen at Georgia State Womans College, Valdosta, GA (now Valdosta State University.)

Ann Ruth Clements (L) and Frances Clement (R), of Ray City, GA. In 1943, the Clements girls were freshmen at Georgia State Womans College, Valdosta, GA (now Valdosta State University.)

Annie Ruth Clements was born at Ray City, GA about 1924, a daughter of Mary Elizabeth Lee and  William A. Clements. Her father was a farmer and butcher at Ray City.  She was a  sister of Billie Clements who would later own the Victory Soda Shop in Ray City. The long-time Ray City landmark opened in 1943, during WWII, and during the time Annie Ruth was  attending G.S.W.C.

Frances Clements was born about 1925, also at Ray City, GA, a daughter of Alma Florence May and Hosea “Hod” P. Clements.  Her father was a graduate of Georgia Normal College and Business Institute, and a prominent businessman of Ray City.  After college, Frances Clements married Lawrence Carter and the couple made their home in Valdosta.

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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.

Mayhaw Lake Resort at Ray City, GA

A previous post on this blog included the transcript of a 1914 advertisement for Mayhaw Lake  amusement park and attractions operated by Elias Moore “Hun” Knight at Ray’s Mill, GA (now known as Ray City), and other posts have provided some backstory on the park’s significance in the community (1914 Box Ball Alley ,   Ray City Baseball).

A Berrien County Historical Foundation newsletter features more information on  Mayhaw Lake and other historic resorts of Berrien County, GA.  The Foundation is a great resource for researching family history in Berrien County. Visit the website for newsletters, historical photos, and workshops:  http://www.freewebs.com/berrienhistorical/

Among the Mayhaw Lake patrons mentioned in the article you will find Bruner and Charlie Ruth Shaw, Bryant and Henry Swindle, Jessie and Shellie Ziegler, Burton and Rachel Shaw, Marshal Sirmans, Manson Johnson, Lonnie Swindle, Tom Parrish, Viola Smith Davis, Elmer Shaw, Hollis Williams, Charlie Shaw, Nannie Kate Moore, Thelma Moore, Paul Knight, Lonnie Smith, J. H. Swindle, Glenn Johnson, Juanita Shaw, Roy Carter and Rossie Swindle.

Berrien Historical Foundation Newsletter front page depicting the swimming pool at Mayhaw Lake, Ray City, GA.

Berrien Historical Foundation Newsletter front page depicting the swimming pool at Mayhaw Lake, Ray City, GA.

A 1922 report from the Georgia State Board of Health listed the swimming pool at Ray City as one of only 63 pools in the entire state.  The report found that a very large majority of these were in a very unsanitary condition and dangerous to be used for bathing purposes.

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Baseball in the Wiregrass

1914 Box Ball Alley ~ Mayhaw Lake at Rays Mill, GA

Ray City Baseball

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1914 Box Ball Alley ~ Mayhaw Lake at Rays Mill, GA

In the early 1900s, Box Ball was a popular arcade game that was sweeping the country.  In 1914, box ball made its way to Ray City, GA.  An advertisement appearing in a 1914 Berrien County, GA newspaper promoted a new amusement park and and attractions at Ray’s Mill (now know as Ray City).  The Mayhaw Lake Amusement Park was a business operated by Elias Moore “Hun” Knight.

MAYHAW LAKE AT RAYS MILL, GA – Mayhaw lake is located 1-2 from Rays Mill and is now open. For outings, picnics and amusements, it can’t be excelled in South Georgia. – A fine bathing pool supplied with fine Sulphur water, one of the best Skating Rinks and Box Ball Allers in this Section.  Cold drinks, hot lunches at all hours during day and night; also a good base ball diamond open to visiting teams for match games. – The Georgia & Florida Railroad will give special rates for picnic parties from all points on their line. – For Special Rates apply to T.E. Harris, Commercial Agent Ga. & Fla., Valdosta, Ga. – E.M. Knight, Prop. – Ray’s Mill, Georgia.

Box ball alleys were manufactured by the American Box Ball Company (Holcomb &  Hoke). The company website provides the following information:

Box ball was a modified version of bowling, using smaller balls in knocking down five pins set horizontally across a wooden alley. Lanes were portable and available in three sizes, providing for quick and easy installation in amusements parks, bars and other entertainment venues both big and small. Purchase of American Box Ball Company in 1903 prompted Holcomb & Hoke’s relocation to Indianapolis, Indiana. Fueled by the cross-country success of their fledgling business, the two men built their first manufacturing facility in 1906. Demand for the game remained steady for the next seven years, at which time they concluded that the box ball market was nearly saturated.

E.M. Knight must have regarded box ball alleys as a good investment.  He may have been able to acquire a used alley, or perhaps he purchased direct from the manufacturer.  A 1914 ad touted the potential profits of a box ball alley operation.

Ray City Baseball

 

Just found the following in the sports page of the Atlanta Georgian and News, July 1, 1909 edition:

MILLTOWN WINS SERIES.
Milltown, Ga., July 1. – in a hotly contested bame [sic] of baseball Milltown won its second victory from Rays Mill by the score of 5 to 4. The game was played on Milltown’s new diamond. Schucker and Shaw did the
battery work for the home team, while Sellman and Shaw did the same duties for the visitors. Schucker, for the home team, only gave up three hits, struck out fifteen men and did on walk but one man. Sellman, of the visitors, gave up seven hits, walked two men and struck out nine men. Milltown has played three games with Rays Mill, winning the first , 16 to 2, and the second game went to Rays Mill by the score of 5 to 6 in ten innings. The milltown team was composed of all home players.

A hundred years ago, every small town had its baseball team.   Ray City sported a baseball team that played match games with Nashville, Milltown, Willacoochee, and other communities in the area.  As above, reports of the home team’s prowess occasionally even reached the Atlanta newspapers.

Later on, games were played on the baseball diamond at Mayhaw Lake.  After the small Ray City resort closed, the local team played on a field located near the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Railroad and Jones Street.

Ray City Baseball Team circa 1920

 

Top row far left to right, Elmer Shaw, James Swindle, Henry Swindle, unknown, unknown. Bottom row left to right, unknown, Charlie Shaw, unknown, unknown.

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