Harry Kenneth Cornelius (1935-2013)

Harry Kenneth Cornelius (1935-2013)

Harry Kenneth Cornelius, Class of 1953, Ray City High School, Ray City, GA

Harry Kenneth Cornelius, Class of 1953, Ray City High School, Ray City, GA

 

Harry Kenneth Cornelius was born at home in Ray City, GA on March 22, 1935.  His father, Shellie Wade Cornelius, was a farmer from Dupont, GA. His mother, Pearl Williams, was from Ray City.   It appears his parents were married about 1922 and owned a home in Lanier County, 586th Georgia Militia District, on the Sirmans and Lakeland Road.  The census of 1930 shows his parents at this location. His mother was a school teacher and his father farmed on his own account, along with his grandfather and uncle.

Sometime in the early 1930s his parents went to Ray City, GA where Harry was born.  By 1935, the family was living at New River, Berrien County, GA. The 1940 census shows by that time they had rented a home near New River, GA on the Nashville Tifton Road, where his father continued to work a farm on his own account.

Sometime after 1940, the family came back to Ray City, where their home was on Possum Creek Road just west of town. Harry, his sister Frankie Cornelius, brothers Junior Cornelius, Shellie Cornelius, Jr., Robert Cornelius,  and their siblings attended the Ray City School.

Harry Cornelius, 1952 Ray City High School junior class photo.

Harry Cornelius, 1951 Ray City High School sophomore class photo.

Harry’s brother Junior Cornelius played for the Ray City Boy’s Basketball team. His mother, Pearl Williams Cornelius was a teacher at the school and his father, Shellie Wade Cornelius, was a bus driver.

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Obituary of Harry Kenneth Cornelius

Harry Kenneth Cornelius, 77 of Nashville, Ga, passed away Monday morning, March 18, 2013 in the Langdale Hospice House in Valdosta, Ga. He was born in Ray City, Ga. at home, March 22, 1935 to the late Shellie W. Sr. and Pearl Williams Cornelius. He was employed as a marketing sales manager with Unisys in Tampa, Fla. Following his retirement, he moved back to the Berrien County, Ga. area-the home of his birth that he loved all his life. He enjoyed golfing and running as often as he could, and working on the family farm with his brother Junior Cornelius. He also served faithfully in the United States Army for two years, and was a member of the Ray City United Methodist Church. Along with his parents he was also preceded in death by a brother Robert Cornelius.. Survivors Include his wife, Joanna Cornelius of Nashville, Ga.; son and daughter-in-law, Ken and Carol A. Cornelius, New Port Richie, Fla.; daughter and son-in-law, Karla and Ted Hale, Bradenton, Fla.; granddaughter, Amanda Legorete, New Port Richie, Fla.; granddaughter, Wendy Legorete, New Port Richie, Fla.; granddaughter, Kasey Hale, Bradenton, Fla.; grandson, Sean Hale, Bradenton, Fla.; brother, Shellie W. Cornelius Jr., Nashville, Ga.; sister and brother-in-law, Frances and Herman Carner, Tampa, Fla.. Funeral services will be held Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 11 a.m. in the Ray City United Methodist Church with burial to follow in Beaver Dam Cemetery in Ray City, Ga. The family will receive friends at the funeral home between 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, 2013 in the Lakeland Funeral Home. Sympathy may be expressed online at http://www.musicfuneralservices.com . Mr. Cornelius will be placed in the Church one hour prior to services on Thursday. – Music Funeral Services of Lakeland, Ga.

Grave of Harry Kenneth Cornelius, Beaver Dam Cemetery Ray City, GA. Image source: Ed Hightower

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Elijah Fawcett of Possum Creek

As a young man, Elijah Fawcett spent many years in Ray City, GA. He was a half-brother of Connie Moore, subject of the previous post.

Elijah Fawcett was a Ray City resident from about 1902 through the 1930s.

Elijah Fawcett was a Ray City resident from about 1902 through the 1930s.

Elijah Fawcett was born in Manchester, NC on June 6, 1891, a son of  and Charles Solomon Fawcett. Some time before the turn of the century, young Elijah moved with his family to Mud Creek in Clinch County, GA where they were enumerated in 1900. Elijah’s father, and older half-brother Connie Moore, worked a rented farm.But within a couple of years, the family moved to Ray City, GA.

As a young boy, Elijah attended school, eventually finishing seven grades. When he was about 12 years old, his half-brother Connie Moore disappeared, and was presumed killed, while working as a guard at a large convict camp in Fargo, GA.

About 1913 Elijah Faucett was married and began raising a family with his wife, Cora. Some time before 1917 his mother died, after which it appears that his father came to live in Elijah’s household.

In June of 1917, along with other men of the Ray City area, Elijah Fawcett registered for the draft for World War I. At 36 years old he was a tall man, with a medium build, black eyes and black hair. He was employed in farming by John L. Allen, who at that time owned a 260 acre farm located just southwest of Ray City, near Possum Creek.

(One wonders if there was a Moore family connection here. John Levi Allen was a son of Rachel Moore Allen. Elijah’s mother had married a Moore man in her first marriage; Elijah’s older half brother was Connie J. Moore.)

By the census of 1920, Elijah Fawcett had moved his family and widowed father to Red Bluff, South Carolina where he rented a farm. Some time before 1930, he moved everyone back to Ray City, including his now 81 year-old father. With the help of his teenage sons, Arthur and Marvin, Elijah was working a rented farm. It appears that prior to 1935, through unknown circumstances or death, his marriage to Cora ended.

Elijah Fawcett relocated from Ray City to the New River district.  In a second marriage he was wedded to an Alabama woman, Mattie Louise Harrison.

Mattie Louise Harrison, second wife of Elijah Fawcett

Mattie Louise Harrison, second wife of Elijah Fawcett

The couple owned a farm on the Lenox-Enigma Road. Later, Mattie and Elijah Fawcett moved to Alabama.

-30-

Feud Flares at Ray City

In the summer of 1926, the widow Lucretia “Cresie” Luke was living near Ray City, on the Ray City-Adel road.  After the death of her husband in 1905 she had raised her family in Nashville and Lenox, GA.  Her two eldest boys, Walt and Perry,  had married two sisters, Ellie and Estell Nash, and the two couples rented a house together in Nashville.

Following these unions, Cresie first went to live with a younger son, Ollie, at New River, but by 1926, she moved from New River down near Ray City.  The Nash girls’ parents, Susannah and Eddie Nash, were also living near Ray City,  and in the late summer of 1926 a third Nash daughter, Bessie Nash Johnson, and her husband, Lonnie Johnson, returned from Florida to Berrien County and Ray City.

Apparently, the relationship between the  husbands of the three Nash girls had grown contentious, with the Luke brothers on the one side and Lonnie Johnson on the other. Later, Walter Luke would observe “that there had been ‘a little feud brewing between them’  for some time.” It was in late August of 1926, in the dog days of summer, that things came to a head.

On the afternoon of Saturday, August 28, 1926 Perry and Estell took their six-year-old son, Horace, for a drive to pick up Perry’s mother, Cresie. This particular weekend, the matriarch of the Luke family was going to spend Sunday with her two sons and their families in Nashville.  Perhaps Perry was expecting trouble or perhaps he was always cautious, but he carried his pistol  along for that afternoon drive.

With temperatures rising and tempers, too, Lonnie Johnson reached a fateful decision that Saturday afternoon to confront Perry Luke.   With loaded pistol a with wife Bessie in tow, he drove out in search of Perry Luke.    The outcome was reported in the Sunday papers in Atlanta:

The Atlanta Constitution
August 29, 1926

1 DEAD, 3 HURT AS FEUD FLARES NEAR NASHVILLE

Aggressor Is Shot to Death, One Man, Woman and 6-Year-Old Child Injured in Family Duel.

CORONER TO PROBE FATAL SHOOTING

Lonnie Johnson, 35, Returns Suddenly From Florida and Threatens To “Wipe Out Family”

Nashville, Ga., August 28. –(AP)– One man is dead and three others are seriously wounded as a result of a gun battle between the Johnson and Luke families in the lower end of Berrien county this afternoon.

The dead:

Lonnie Johnson, 35, of Daytona, Fla., formerly of this county.

The wounded:

Perry Luke, 35, bullet wound in the shoulder.

Mrs. Perry Luke, shot through the neck, the bullet coming out at the mouth.

Perry Luke, Jr., aged 6, child of Mr. and Mrs. Perry Luke, bullet wound in the chest, within an inch of the heart.

Doctors say he cannot live.

Lonnie Johnson, just back from Florida, who was in an automobile with his wife, is said to have driven to the home of Walter Luke, this afternoon, informing him that he was going to wipe out the family of Walter’s brother, Perry, on sight.

At the time, according to information in the hands of county officers, Lonnie Johnson, who married a sister of Mrs. Perry Luke, ascertained that Perry Luke had gone to the home of his mother, to get her to spend Sunday with them. The mother resides on the highway between Adel and Ray City.

As Johnson drove away rapidly in the direction of the residence of his mother, Walter Luke cranked up his truck and obtained his shotgun and started in pursuit, but the automobile outran the truck in the chase.When approaching the residence of his mother, Walter Luke found Lonnie Johnson’s car turned across the highway, blocking traffic, while he said Lonnie Johnson was shooting into the car containing his brother and the members of his family.

As he climbed out of the truck, Walter Luke says that Lonnie Johnson turned his pistol upon him, but Walter Luke opened fire with his shotgun and killed Johnson almost instantly.

The wounded were taken to a doctor’s office in this city [Nashville] and they are being cared for by relatives tonight.

Perry Luke tonight informed the officers who investigated the case, the latter said, that there had been “a little feud brewing between them” for some time, but he said he did not consider it serious. Perry Luke said that he didn’t know that Lonnie Johnson was in the county.

Perry Luke told officers that he had a pistol on the seat beside him in the automobile, but would not use it for fear of killing his wife’s sister, Mrs. Johnson, who was at the latter’s side, endeavoring to prevent the tragedy.

There have been no warrants issued. Officers of this county said that there would probably be a coroner’s inquest. 

More About Troupville, GA and the Withlacoochee River

Montgomery M. Folsom

Montgomery M. Folsom, from his 1889 book, Scraps of Song and Southern Scenes.

Found this 1889 account of the history of  Troupville, GA by erstwhile Wiregrass historian, poet, and humorous writer Montgomery M. Folsom.  Folsom starts his tale at the headwaters of the Okolocoochee and Withlacoochee rivers. He traces them down to their connection with the Withlacoochee, at which point Troupville was founded. As the government seat, Troupville was the center of legal and civic activity for Lowndes County (see An Antebellum Trial at Troupville). Troupville was also an important center of commerce and social life for the pioneer settlers of Lowndes County, like Levi J. Knight, who established the first community near the site of present day Ray City, GA.  The Knights settled on another branch of the Withlacoochee;  Beaverdam creek, at Ray City, flows into Cat Creek on down to the Withlacoochee.  For a while the Troupville elders thought the Withlacoochee would provide a navigable waterway to the Gulf of Mexico. Even the Georgia Legislature in 1833 entertained “A bill to be entitled, an act to lay out, open, define and make navigable the Withlocoochey river, from Joyce’s ferry, on said river, to the Florida Line”, Joyce’s ferry being the Withlacoochee river crossing of the Coffee Road. But it was not to be.

Atlanta Constitution, January 29, 1889, Pg 12.

THE WITHLACOOCHEE RIVER.
VALDOSTA, Ga., January 19. -[Special.]- Away up near the northern limit of the great wiregrass section there is a big cypress swamp. They call them bays there. From this bay emerges a little stream of claret colored water. This is near Peckville, and close to the corner of Worth, Irwin, and Dooly counties. This is the head of the Ockolocoochee, Little river.
    Farther eastward, some ten or fifteen miles, there is another bay from which emerges a restless current that goes rushing away toward the south, fretting among the pine boles, resting among the silent solitudes of the mysterious swamps, the Alapaha.
    About midway between these streams, some twenty miles below their heads, the Withlacoochee steals stealthily out of the depths of a brambly brake and glides noiselessly away, like some black serpent of the swamps winding in and out among the barrens.
    The Ockolocoochee curves and twines among the pine-clad ridges, receiving the tribute of some lesser stream at every turn. Ty Ty, Warrior, Big Indian on the West, No-Man’s-Friend, Frank’s creek from the east, till it reaches Troupville. It is, properly, the river, despite the fact that its name is lost after its confluence with the Withlacoochee. It is like the wedding of a great big strapping wiregrass girl with a short, stout, presumptive little man.
    The Ockolochoochee is the stream for fishing. Along the snowy margin of its glistening sand-bars the red-belly, the perfection of perch; and in its placid eddies, beneath the shadow of the tupeloes, the red-horse sucker, chief of all the carp tribe; abound in strength and numbers sufficient to gratify the most inveterate of anglers.
    New river gives the Withlacoochee a good start, and it swerves away to receive the tribute of half a dozen streams on its tortuous course. From its fountain head it is dark and forbidding, and the secrets of its black waters are preserved most faithfully.
    Away back in the olden days when Lowndes county was as big as Poland, an act was passed by the Georgia legislature, appointing a commission to select an appropriate place for a county site. Franklinville had been its capital, but was not near enough to the center. As the legend goes, Big Billy Knight and Big Billy Folsom were appointed.
    These two worthies, one from the pimple hills of the Ockolocoochee, and the other from the saw palmetto flats of the Withlacoochee; decided that the most appropriate point was right in the fork of the two rivers. They had an idea that the river would be navigable that high up, even above the point where the Alapaha disappears and runs underground a mile before uniting with the Withlacoochee.
    So it came about that where the wine-red waters or the Ockolocoochee and the black current of the Withlacoochee meet at the end of a long sandbar and go tumbling and writhing, eddying and curving down the long reach of moss-grown trees, like two huge serpents struggling for the mastery, the plat of a town was drawn, and it was called after Georgia’s great chevelier governor, “Troupville,” with a strong accent on the “ville.” They had not learned to say “Troupvul” then, and it was such a high sounding title that they lingered lovingly on the pronunciation.
    The town grew apace. It enjoyed what the modern’s call a boom. Land lots sold rapidly, and settlers came rushing in, mainly the Smiths. Lowndes county has ever been prolific in the smith line. Owen Smith, Old Billy Smith, Young Billy Smith, all sorts of Smiths, even down to our Hamp, who so ably represents that historic name in the present pushing metropolis Valdosta.
One of the Smith’s built a tavern, and another Smith set up in business, and young Dr. Briggs, who came from the north, broken in business, but full of energy and ability, and laid the foundation of that prosperity that has long distinguished the Briggs and the Converse families.
    Troupville only suffered one inconvenience. To get to town three-fourths of the population had either to cross the river of the east or the river of the west and half the time, during the winter and spring, these rivers were raging with freshets, the bridges were afloat and were frequently swept away.
   One thing more hindered her prosperity. At the only season when the main river was navigable, the Old Nick, himself, couldn’t navigate it. So it transpired that the only freighted barge that ever tempted its tempestuous tide was a flat boat that went down the river to the Suwanee, thence down that river to Cedar Keys.
    It never returned.
    The boatmen sold the vessel and cargo and walked home.
    Life was too short to navigate that crooked stream, with its sunken logs and treacherous sands, and the hope of water transportation was abandoned.
    Among those who settled in Troupville and left behind many momentous memories, was Morgan Goodgame Swain, a burly blacksmith from Emanuel, who was ever ready for a fight, frolic or a footrace. He stood six feet three and weighed over two hundred without  pound of surplus flesh. As handsome as a Greek god he was gifted with herculean strength and a heart that was generous and true. He erected his forge on the bank of the Ockolockochee, and his wife took possession of the tavern. Becky, she was lord above, and Morz was lord below.
    The town of Valdosta was laid off when the old Atlantic and Gulf Railroad was built, about the opening of the war. Brooks and Echols had been cut off from Lowndes, and the county site was moved four miles southeast of Troupville to Valdosta. A great many of the buildings were moved bodily. And now there is not one brick upon another to tell the story of Troupville. A pile of white rocks marks the spot of Swain’s old forge, and some weather beaten mulberry trees still bud and blossom around the old square where stood the tavern. Aside from these there is nothing left to keep alive the cherished hopes that once animated the soul of Troupville.
   The Withlacoochee still glides along to meet the Ockolocoochee, and the land that lies between them, once town property, is now a barren waste, overgrown with somber pines, solitary tufts of bear grass whose white crests wave to and fro in ghostly suggestiveness in the twilight of summer evenings when the whip-poor-wills chant their weird melodies among the lonely thickets.
    Around the once populous portion of the town lies a waste of sedgy fields that are barren and unproductive. The half-wild goats browse among the fennels and briars. “Ichabod” is written in lichen crusted letters, and desolation reigns supreme.
                 MONTGOMERY M. FOLSOM.

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