Obituary of Sheriff W. L. Swindle

William Lawrence Swindle,  eldest son of pioneer settlers James Swindle and Nancy Jane Parker, was born and raised in the Ray’s Mill district of Berrien County, GA.  He  owned property and resided at Ray City,  and also at Nashville, GA.

W. L. Swindle was a Mason, and in politics he was a democrat. He was elected to three terms as Sheriff of Berrien County, after which the Nashville Herald announced February 4, 1911, “Mr. W.L. Swindle, of Nashville, has accepted a position with his brother, Mr. J.S. Swindle, of this place [Ray’s Mill – now Ray City].”  Another of his brother’s, George Emory Swindle, died of Bright’s disease in 1909.

Family of William Lawrence Swindle, circa 1900.  Left to Right: May Ola Swindle, William Lawrence Swindle, Ada Belle (standing,rear), Callie Etta Swindle (center, front), Polly Nesmith Swindle, Emma Lee Swindle. Image source: Cher Newell.

Family of William Lawrence Swindle, circa 1900. Left to Right: May Ola Swindle, William Lawrence Swindle, Ada Belle (standing,rear), Callie Etta Swindle (center, front), Polly Nesmith Swindle, Emma Lee Swindle. Image source: Cher Newell.

In January, 1914, W. L. Swindle suffered a paralyzing stroke:


Tifton Gazette
January 30, 1914

Ex-Sheriff Swindle Paralyzed

Ex-Sheriff W. L. Swindle of Berrien County was stricken with paralysis Friday about noon while he was in the courthouse at Nashville.  His entire left side was affected.  His daughter, Mrs. C.C. Hall was notified and together with Col. Hall left for Nashville Saturday morning. Later advices from Mr. Swindle says that he shows but little improvement although he is able to take liquid nourishment.

William Lawrence Swindle

William Lawrence Swindle died March 5, 1915:

Obituary of William Lawrence Swindle

Obituary of William Lawrence Swindle

Tifton Gazette
March 12, 1915

Mr. W. L. Swindle Dead

Former Sheriff of Berrien County Passed Away Friday Night

    News was received in Tifton with deep regret Saturday morning that former Sheriff William Lawrence Swindle died at his home in Nashville Friday night at 9 o’clock.  Mr. Swindle had been in bad health for several years and last year suffered a stroke of paralysis.  He was taken seriously ill early in the week and his daughter here was summoned to his bedside.
Mr. Swindle was about fifty-eight years old and was born and raised in the Ray’s Mill section of Berrien county.  He was a son of James A. and Nancy Swindle and his father died last year.  Mr. Swindle was for some time in the mercantile business at Nashville and served Berrien county as Sheriff for three terms, making an able and zealous officer.
    Mr. Swindle was married twice.  His first wife died several years ago and one son born to them died in early manhood.  His second wife was Miss Collie Nesmith.  To this union four children, all girls, were born.  One, Miss Emmie, is dead, and three are living, Mrs. C. C. Hall, of Tifton, and Misses May and Callie Swindle, who are with their mother at the family homestead.
    The funeral services were held at Nashville Saturday afternoon.  Among those attending from Tifton were Sheriff Shaw, who was formerly Deputy Sheriff under Mr. Swindle, and Mr. W. E. Webb.
    Mr. Swindle was a Mason, a firm and loyal friend and a man who had many excellent traits of character.  He was well liked here where he had an extensive acquaintance.  This district which was then in Berrien county, contributed a strong vote towards his election each time he was a candidate.

Graves of William Lawrence Swindle and Mary Pollie Neesmith, Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA

Graves of William Lawrence Swindle and Mary Pollie Neesmith, Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA

Children of William Lawrence Swindle (1856-1915) and Mary Polly Nesmith (1853 – 1936):

  1. Ada Bell Swindle. Birth July 2, 1886 in Berrien Co., GA. Married Christopher Columbus Hall in 1904. Death January 16, 1941 in Washington, DC.
  2. May Ola Swindle. Birth May 6, 1888 in Berrien Co., GA.
  3. Emily Swindle. Birth April 6, 1890 in Berrien, GA.  Died of Typhoid Fever July 9, 1904 in Berrien County, GA.
  4. Infant Swindle. 1892.
  5. Callie Etta Swindle. Birth August 14, 1894 in Berrien County, GA. Married Walter Jordan Adams.   Death July 27, 1977 in Berrien Co., GA.

George Emory Swindle Sought Cure at Buffalo Lithia Springs, VA

The 1909 death of  George Emory “Tube” Swindle at Buffalo Lithia Springs, VA  was noted in the Atlanta Constitution.  Although he died far from home, George Emory Swindle lived most of his fifty-two years  near Rays Mill (now Ray City), Georgia.

Atlanta Constitution
August 19, 1909
 G. E. Swindle, Valdosta, Ga.

August 18. -(Special.)- G.E. Swindle, a prominent and wealthy farmer of this county [Lowndes], died yesterday morning at Buffalo Lithia Springs, Va. where he had gone for his health. Mr. Swindle had been a sufferer from Bright’s disease for several years. Recently his condition became much worse.  Two of his sons went to his bedside on Saturday, and were with him when the end came.  L.C. Swindle, a merchant of Valdosta, and J. N. Swindle, also of this city, are his sons.  He leaves four other sons and his wife, who live on the home place in Berrien County.  The deceased was 52 years old and had lived in Lowndes county many years. He owned much valuable property and was one of the wealthiest farmers in the county.

Solomon's Temple, one of three hotels at Buffalo Lithia Springs of Virginia.

Solomon’s Temple, one of three hotels at Buffalo Lithia Springs of Virginia.

George Emory Swindle was born April 5, 1859 in Liberty County, GA, a son of James Swindle and Nancy Jane Parker, and brother of Sheriff William Lawrence Swindle.

Swindle moved with his family to Berrien county GA some time in the 1860’s.   The Swindle farm was located about two miles southwest of Ray’s Mill, GA [now Ray City, GA] on Possum Creek road.

At age 18, on December 13, 1877, George E. Swindle married Margaret M. Futch. The couple made their home next to his father’s place on the Berrien-Lowndes county line, and for the next thirty years raised crops and children.

While George Swindle prospered as a successful planter, he suffered from Bright’s Disease.  A succinct description and historical context of this condition is provided by the writers, researchers, and editors at the website.

      Bright’s Disease is an older classification for different forms of kidney disease. It was named after Dr. Richard Bright, who described the condition in the early 19th century. Lack of understanding of kidney function naturally meant that several different conditions could be considered Bright’s Disease. These include inflammation of the kidney, commonly called nephritis. Inflammation may be the result of too much protein being shed through the kidneys, called proteinuria, or hematuria, which causes blood in the urine. As well, Bright’s Disease might describe kidney failure due to high blood pressure or retention of fluids. Those symptoms most commonly associated with Bright’s Disease were intense pain on either or both sides of the lower back. Fever might be present and intense edema, or retention of fluids, might cause the extremities to appear extremely swollen. Breath could be labored and difficult, particularly if kidney failure caused fluid to accumulate in the lungs, or was caused by metastasized cancer.
Analysis of urine in diagnosing Bright’s Disease might show extremely cloudy, dark or bloody urine. Those affected might also find eating difficult, or might have periods of nausea or vomiting. All of the symptoms meant a very serious disease, which was usually not treatable, particularly in the 19th century.  Some types of kidney inflammation might be treated if they were not indicative of progressive kidney illness. Some people suffered attacks that could respond to early diuretics or laxatives. Physicians might also propose special diets, but this was still relatively uncommon.

A quack treatment for Bright’s Disease that became highly popularized in the 1800s was the use of “Lithia Water”.  In 1921, the American Medical Association published a volume on Nostrums and Quackery that included a brief history on the emergence of the  lithia water fallacy.

Years ago, Alexander Haig evolved the theory that most diseases are due to uric acid. The data on which he founded his theory were not corroborated by scientific men, and investigation showed that his methods were unreliable. In spite of the fact that Haig’s theories are utterly discredited, and have been for years, the uric acid fallacy still persists, although it is now largely confined to the public. Shrewd business men, especially those who are more intent on making money than they are concerned with the manner in which that money is made, owe much to Haig’s theory. As a business proposition, uric acid has been one of the best-paying fallacies on the market—and possibly still is.

Contemporary with, and to a certain extent a corollary of, the uric acid fallacy was another, vie, that lithium would eliminate uric acid. once gave a good working principle for the proprietary men. Uric acid, we were told, causes disease; lithium, we were also told, would eliminate uric acid; therefore, lithium is the new elixir of life! Could anything be simpler?

But in the early 1900s lithia water was hawked as the best available treatment for Bright’s Disease. One of the most renowned treatment centers was the health resort located at Buffalo Lithia Springs of Virginia, where guests drank, ate and bathed with the mineral water.  “The Springs were known to Europeans as early as 1728 and operated as a commercial enterprise from about 1811 to the early 1940s. The Springs featured a hotel and health resort and opened a bottling plant around the turn of the century that sold water from Spring No. 2. … At its peak, Buffalo Springs water was sold in an estimated 20,000 drug stores throughout Europe, Canada, and the United States. (Abbott et al 1997:19-58).”  An 1896 article in Public Opinion magazine described the health resort. “The hotel, of which Col. Thomas F. Goode is the proprietor, will remain open until October 1. The locality is one of nature’s grandest works…The hotel accommodations are excellent and the rates remarkably reasonable. …every facility exists for invalids to bathe in the mineral waters at any desired temperature. Medical men in all parts of the country praise the therapeutic value of the water of the Buffalo Lithia Springs.(Public opinion, Volume 21, pg 12)

An advertisment for Buffalo Lithia Water and the hotel at Buffalo Lithia Springs, VA promises to cure Bright's Disease.

An advertisement for Buffalo Lithia Water and the hotel at Buffalo Lithia Springs, VA promised to cure Bright’s Disease.

George Emory Swindle  died August 17, 1909 at Buffalo Lithia Springs, VA.

Grave of George Emory Swindle, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave of George Emory Swindle, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Eventually, medical evidence would show, as in this case, that mineral water was not an effective treatment for kidney disease. Although the Food and Drug Administration would force mineral water companies to cease false therapeutic claims, Buffalo Springs Mineral Water continued to be sold until 1949 . concludes:

Those with progressive kidney disease labeled as Bright’s Disease usually did not respond to treatments, which might also include bloodletting, and the treatments above. Those unresponsive to treatment were simply unlucky to be born in a time when medical knowledge was minimal. Current treatments for kidney failure of various types, like kidney transplant or dialysis, can significantly lengthen the lives of those who would once have been diagnosed with Bright’s Disease.

Bright’s Disease may be used in reference to Dr. Richard Bright, or one may find reference in literature and in older biographies, or medical texts. Today medical researchers and practitioners know that an all-inclusive label such as this obscures appropriate methods for cure, since not all kidney disease can be treated in the same manner. However, most honor Dr. Bright for at least localizing these diseases to the kidneys and pointing the way toward further research.

Read more on the 1921 AMA case against Buffalo Lithia Water

Children of George Emory Swindle and Margaret M. Futch:

  1. Leonard Columbus Swindle
  2. John N. Swindle
  3. James Henry Swindle
  4. George Perry Swindle
  5. Roy C. Swindle
  6. Leonadis A. Swindle

Death of Catherine Ardella Swindle, May 11, 1882

Catherine  Ardella “Della” Swindle was born in Liberty County, GA on April 13, 1870.  She was the sixth child of  Nancy Jane Parker and James Swindle. Some time prior to 1870 she moved with her parents to live near Rays Mill (nka Ray City), GA.  It was there, on the family farm, where 13 year old Catherine Swindle was hit by a fatal lightning bolt on May 11, 1882.  News of her death was reported in the state and national newspapers.

General News
Milledgeville Union and Recorder
May 30, 1882, Page 2

A little daughter of Mr. J. S. Swindle of Berrien county, was killed by lightning while out in a field. She was twelve years old.

A few days later the Atlanta Constitution gave this account:

Little Della’s Death
Atlanta Constitution
June 4, 1882, Pg2

From the Hinesville Gazette.
     On Thursday, May 11th, 1882, Mr. James Swindle, of Berrien county, with his wife and two little girls was in the field. Mr. Swindle saw a heavy cloud rising and told his wife she had better start home.  She started with the two little girls, Mr. Swindle following thirty feet behind, when there came a heavy clap of thunder, accompanied by a blinding flash of lightning.  The bolt struck Della, the oldest of the two little girls, who had just entered her thirteenth year.  Her hair was burned to a crisp  and her breast and neck blistered.  She fell to the ground and never moved or breathed again.

Death of Catherine Ardella Swindle, of Rays Mill, GA reported in the Washington (DC) Evening Star, May 30, 1882, Page 8.

Death of Catherine Ardella Swindle, of Rays Mill, GA reported in the Washington (DC) Evening Star, May 30, 1882, Page 8.


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L.C. Swindle Faces Bank Robber at Ray City – February 28,1939

On February 28, 1939, 72 years ago today, the Farmer’s bank at Ray City was the scene of a hold-up. The  Bank cashier was  L.C. Swindle.

Leonard Columbus Swindle was born May 20, 1880, the son of Margaret M. Futch and George Emory Swindle.  He was the grand son of Nancy Jane Parker and James Swindle. As a boy, he grew up on the on the Swindle homeplace near Ray City, GA. Later he lived in Cecil, and Valdosta. In Valdosta, L.C. was employed as a store clerk.

As of September 12, 1918, Leonard Columbus Swindle and his wife Mary Coley Swindle were residing in Barretts, GA about five miles south of Ray City when he registered for the WWI draft. He was a farmer, tall and slender with blue eyes and dark hair.

By 1930, L.C. and Mary had moved back to Ray City,GA. Mary worked as a store clerk and L.C. worked in a cotton warehouse, probably for his brother James H. “Jim” Swindle who owned the cotton warehouse at Ray City.

Later,  L. C. Swindle drawing on his business experience operated and controlled the Farmers Bank at Ray City.  It was there, on February 28, 1939, working as Cashier that he faced the gun of a bank robber.

Atlanta Constitution
March 1, 1939

Early Morning Holdup Man Gets $655; Police Take Up Hunt.

RAY CITY, Ga., Feb. 28.  Police searched for an armed bandit who robbed the Farmers’ bank here of $633 today when he was admitted before the regular opening hour to get change for a $20 bill.
Cashier L.C. Swindle reported the robbery to police and fixed the time at about 7:15 o’clock.  He said he had gone to the bank early to work on some insurance papers.  Someone knocked on the door and asked if he could get $20 changed.
Swindle said such requests before the bank  opens are frequent and he told the man he would let him in.
“He walked to the cashier’s window and laid a $20 bill on the counter,” Swindle related. “I asked how he wanted the money and as I was counting it out, the man said, ‘wait a minute.'”
When he looked up, Swindle said, a gun was pointed at him and the man said “give it all to me.”  Swindle added the man scooped up the cash and warned him to “stay in here,” and fled.
Sheriff N.N. Hughes, of Nashville, came here to investigate the case, and said the cashier described the man. Details were withheld until after search of the vicinity.
Hughes said he would search for two men reported seen near the bank early in the morning.  The sheriff said Swindle was unable to tell him whether or not the bandit was in a car, as the blinds were down and a radio playing drowned out possible motor noise.  Others said they heard a car about the time of the robbery.

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Harriet Swindle Moore ~ First Lady of Ray City

Harriet “Hattie” Swindle Moore was First Lady of Ray City, GA from 1942-1944, during her husband’s term of office as Mayor.

Born on the day after Christmas, December 26,  1871, Harriet Swindle  was a daughter of  James Henry Swindle and Nancy Jane Parker.

Harriet Swindle and sister, Martha Ada Swindle, image detail from a photo taken in

Harriet Swindle (left) and sister, Martha Ada Swindle (right), image detail from a photo taken in front of the Swindle home place about two miles from Ray’s Mill (nka Ray City), Georgia, probably taken around 1890.

Harriet married James Lacy Moore on September 12, 1900 in Berrien County, GA.  The wedding was performed by  Elder  Aaron A. Knight.

Harriet Swindle and James Lacy Moore, Marriage License, September 12, 1900, Berrien County, GA. They were lifelong residents of Ray City, GA.

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James Swindle ~ Wiregrass Pioneer

James Swindle was a pioneer of the Wiregrass area of Georgia.  He was born  in 1830 in South Carolina, and by the 1850s he was living in Liberty County.   James Swindle moved his family to Berrien County some time in the 1860’s.   The Swindle farm was located about two miles outside Ray’s Mill, GA [now Ray City, GA].

On November 22, 1855 at age 25 James Swindle married Nancy Jane Parker in Liberty Co, GA.  Nancy Jane Parker was the daughter of Solomon Parker and Harriet Baxter. She was born January 2, 1837 in Liberty County, GA.


Swindle, James (1830-1914)



James Swindle & Nancy Jane Parker

James Swindle & Nancy Jane Parker



Left to right: James Henry Swindle, Nancy Jane Parker Swindle, Harriet Swindle, Martha Ada Swindle. The home was located about two miles outside Ray City.

Left to right: James Henry Swindle, Nancy Jane Parker Swindle, Harriet Swindle, Martha Ada Swindle. The home was located about two miles outside Ray City.


Children of Nancy Jane Parker and James Swindle:

  1. William Lawrence Swindle, b. September 8, 1856, Liberty County, GA; died 1915
  2. George Emory Swindle, b. April 5, 1859, Liberty County, GA.
  3. Ann Eliza Swindle, b. July 4, 1861, Liberty County, GA.
  4. Marietta Swindle, b. June 12, 1865, Liberty County, GA.
  5. James S. Swindle, b. July 13, 1867, Liberty County, GA.
  6. Catherine Ardella Swindle, b. April 13, 1870, Liberty County, GA; d. 1882.
  7. Harriet Swindle, b. December 26, 1871, Liberty County, GA.
  8. Martha Ada Swindle, b. March 18, 1877, Berrien County, GA; d. April 16, 1957, Valdosta Lowndes

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