Leon Bradford, Ray City Barber

Leon Bradford (1905-1962)

Leon Bradford and W. B. Parrish, February, 1951, at the diner in Nashville, GA. Leon Bradford owned a barbershop in Ray City.

Leon Bradford and W. B. Parrish, February, 1951, at the diner in Nashville, GA. Leon Bradford owned a barbershop in Ray City. Photograph by Jamie Connell. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

Leon Bradford was born December 5,1905 and raised at Ray City, GA. He was a son of Mack Talley Bradford and Margaret R. “Maggie” Gaskins.  His parents owned a farm on the Nashville & Valdosta Road, in the Connell’s Mill District near Ray City.

Leon and his brothers all attended school when they were of age. When Leon was about 13 years old, his father fell off a ladder. Although Mack Bradford’s injuries from the fall seemed minor, in just a short time he was dead.

For a time, Leon’s mother continued to farm the family place near Ray City. Leon’s older brother, Albert Bradford, worked as a farm laborer.

It appears that after the 8th grade, Leon Bradford had to give up school.  By 1930, Leon’s brother, Albert was married and had a place of his own. Leon’s mother moved with his two younger brothers to a farm at Cat Creek, GA, about ten miles southwest of Ray City. Leon moved into town at Ray City and took up the trade of barbering.  In 1930, he was boarding with Pleamon and Minnie Sirmons in their Ray City home.

About 1934, Leon married and in 1935  Leon and Dora Bradford became the parents of Patricia Bradford. The Bradford home was on Main Street in Ray City. They were neighbors of Hun and Gladys Knight, and the Knight’s boarders Hazel Tabor and Dorothy Chisholm who were both school teachers. Other neighbors of the Bradfords included George and Cynthia Swindle, Raymond and Jeanette Philipps, Marvin and Arlie Purvis, and Garth and Jessie Mae Webb. Patricia Bradford attended the Ray City School.

Leon Bradford had his own barbershop, located on the south side of Main Street just east of the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Railroad.  Just across the street was the Victory Soda Shop  and next door was the grocery store owned by Marvin and Arlie Purvis. A few doors down was another barber shop owned by Lyman Franklin Giddens.  On Saturdays, Wayne Putnal worked at Bradford’s barbershop cutting hair and giving shaves. Leon Bradford spent his career grooming the citizens of Ray City, GA.

It appears the Bradfords were Methodists. Patricia Bradford attended the Methodist retreats at Epworth on St. Simon’s Island, GA. Like his father before him, Leon Bradford was an active member of the Masons.

Leon Bradford died May 27, 1962 in Berrien County, GA. He was buried with others of the Bradford and Gaskins family connections at Fisher Gaskins Cemetery, located on Bradford Road six miles southwest of Ray City, GA.

Grave of Leon Bradford, Barber of Ray City, GA. Image source: Robert Strickland

Grave of Leon Bradford, Barber of Ray City, GA. Image source: Robert Strickland

 

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The Ray City – Willacoochee Connection

There were several south Georgia families that shared a Ray City – Willacoochee connection.

After 1908, the route of the Georgia & Florida Railroad was from Jacksonville, GA to Madison, FL  and provided convenient transportation between Willacoochee and Ray City by way of Nashville, GA, a run of about 34 miles.

Elizabeth Roena Patten Clements (1858-1951)

Elizabeth Roena Patten Clements,  matriarch of the sawmill family of Ray City, died in 1951. She was the widow of Levi J. Clements and  a daughter of William and Elizabeth Register Patten.   In the early 1920s the Clements Lumber Company  was the largest business in Ray City, GA.

Obituary of Roena Patten Clements.

Obituary of Roena Patten Clements.

Valdosta Times
Friday, February 2, 1951

DEATH CLAIMS MRS. CLEMENTS OF RAY CITY

Mrs. Levie J. Rhoena Clements, 93, passed away at her home in Ray City this morning about 10 o’clock. Funeral services will be held at New Ramey Primitive Baptist Church at Ray City at 3 p. m. Saturday. She is survived by a daughter, Mrs. Lillie Gaskins, five sons, Dr. H. W. Clements, Adel; J. L. Clements, Fort Meade, Fla; W. G. Clements, Ebb, Fla; and J. I and J. S. Clements of Ray City.  Twenty grand children and 28 great-grandchildren also survive. Mrs. Clements was born in Berrien county and was a resident of that section all her life. Pallbearers will be the grandsons. Elder Marcus Peavy, pastor at Ray City, will conduct the services.  He will be assisted by the Rev. John W. Harrell, pastor of the Ray City Baptist Church. Wiseman Funeral Home, Adel, will direct the arrangements.

Funeral of Roena Patten Clements was held Saturday, February 3, 1951 at New Ramah Baptist Church, Ray City, GA

Funeral of Roena Patten Clements was held Saturday, February 3, 1951 at New Ramah Baptist Church, Ray City, GA

Mrs. Clements Is Laid To Rest

     Funeral services for Mrs. Rhoena Clements were held Saturday at 3 p. m. at the New Ramah Baptist Church.  Services were conducted by Elder M. C. Peavey and the Rev. John W. Harrell.
Mrs. Clements died Friday morning after an illness of several months.  She was a member of an old and prominent Ray City family.
Amazing Grace and I’m Going Home were sung by a mixed choir.  Interment was in the churchyard cemetery.
Active pallbearers were Donald Clements, Hugh Clements, Mason Clements, Kief Clements, J. I. Clements, Jr., Ralph Clements, Austin Clements and Dr. Fred C. Clements.
Honorary pallbearers were H. P. Clements, J. H. Swindle, Y. F. Carter, L. H. Webb, W. A. Clements, P. N. Sirmans, R. P. Swindle, C. W. Schmoe, Morris Johnson and H. W. Nelson.

Roena Clements 1858-1951, New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Roena Clements 1858-1951, New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Children of Elizabeth Roena Patten Clements and Levi J. Clements:

  1. Henry W. Clements, M.D.,   b. 1877, Ray City, Berrien Co., GA ,   d. 6 Feb 1952
  2. Lucille “Lillie” Clements,   b. 17 Feb 1879, Berrien County, GA,   d. 25 Apr 1967
  3. Lucius Jordan Clements,   b. 26 Dec 1880, Berrien County, GA ,   d. 20 Dec 1965, Ft. Meade, Polk County, FL
  4. Pearle E. Clements,   b. 6 Oct 1882, Berrien County, GA,   d. 9 Sep 1904
  5. William Grover “Bill” Clements,   b. 1 Oct 1884, Ray City Berrien Co., GA ,   d. 30 Jul 1984, Cross City, Dixie County, FL
  6. Joseph S. Clements,   b. 14 Aug 1886, Berrien County, GA,   d. 23 Aug 1963, Berrien County, GA
  7. James Irwin Clements,   b. 14 Aug 1886, Berrien County, GA,   d. 9 Feb 1965, Berrien County, GA

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Mary Jane Bostick McGee

Mary Jane Bostick McGee

Mary Jane Bostick McGee

Mary Jane Bostick McGee

Mary Jane Bostick was a daughter of John David Bostick and Rachel Kirkland.  She grew up in her parent’s household in the 1144th Georgia Militia District, the Rays Mill District. She married David Judson McGee on September 29, 1895.   In Ray City, the MaGees lived in a house on the southwest corner of Main Street and Park Street.  Her son, June Magee, built a small house on Main Street just to the west of his mothers’ house, and on the next lot was the home of Lacey Moore.

1895-marr-cert-d-j-mcgee-1

Mrs. Mary McGee Died at Ray City
December 27, 1941

December 27th marked the passing of Mrs. Mary McGee, a most lovable citizen of Ray City. She had been in ill health for quite awhile, rallying only slightly at times. There and in the immediate vicinity has been her home throughout the sixty-five years of her life. Her friends were numbered by her acquaintances. The community sustains a great loss by her going. The funeral services were held Sunday afternoon, December 28 at the Ray City Baptist Church where she had been a loyal and consistent member many years. Rev. John W. Harrell, her pastor, was assisted in conducting the services by Rev. R. C. Carter, pastor of the local Methodist church. Wiseman & Son, undertakers, of Adel were in charge. Music was furnished by Mesdames H.P. Clements, Ancil Vickery, Messrs. Herman and John Guthrie, Mrs. A.B. Baskin was at the piano. Active pallbearers were nephews of the deceased: Curtis McGee, Willie B. McGee, Shelly McGee, L.J. Bostick, Lincoln B. Bostick, N.A. Boyette. Honorary pall bearers were: Messrs. Lossie Webb, Pleman Sirmans, H.P. Clements, A.B. Baskin, N.A. Swindle, B.P. Swindle, J.N. Swindle, Lyman Giddens, Lacy Moore. Mrs. McGee is survived by five brothers and sisters: Messrs. Hardy, Leonard, Jesse, Freeman, Ivey Bostick, Mesdames Mattie Boyette, Florence Kent-Peavy, Annie Durren. Her surviving children are: Mesdames Bessie Rhodes, Nashville, N.C.; Emma Smith, Ray City, Ga.; Messrs. Perry McGee,Miami, Fla.; Eddie McGee, Cecil, Ga.; Luther McGee, Adel, Ga.

In Memorium

We will never forget our beloved brother, June McGee, who died February 24, 1936 and our dear Mother, who died December 27, 1941. With many thanks to all our friends, through the trying bereavement during the illness, and the after the death of our Mother, is this memoriam written.

Perry McGee, Miami, Fla.; Luther McGee, Ray City; Eddie McGee, Ray City; Mrs. R. D. Smith, Ray City; Mrs. L. B. Rhodes, Ashville, N.C.; Mrs. June McGee and daughter, Hazel.

Grave of Mary Jane McGee (1875-1941), Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave of Mary Jane McGee (1875-1941), Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

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More on Andrew Washington Turner and Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans

Andrew W. Turner was married to Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans on March 27, 1892

Andrew W. Turner was married to Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans on March 27, 1892

Andrew Washington Turner, a subject of previous posts  (Andrew Washington Turner and Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans, Ray City News, Jan 3, 1929 ~ M.G. Melton Buys A. Turner Brick Bldgs. ), was born January 1, 1867 in Dublin, GA.  He was the son of Adeline Rebecca Black Reddick and Jesse Turner.  His  mother had been previously married to Captain Daniel Reddick, who was a sea captain engaged in trade along coastal Georgia.  Andrew had two half-siblings who were fathered by Captain Reddick; Susan Reddick and William D. Reddick.

At age 4, Andrew appeared with his family in the 1870 census of Militia District 344, Laurens, Georgia.  His father was a farmer there with $500 in real estate and personal estate valued at $450.  Andrew’s half-brother, enumerated as William D. R. Turner, worked as a farm laborer.   Also in the household was Andrew’s older sister, Henrietta (age 6).

Andrew’s father, Jesse Turner, died some time prior to 1880.  The 1880 US Census shows Andrew Turner,  living with his twice-widowed mother, half-sister Susan (Henrietta ?), and sister Mary Reddick.  They were then living in Berrien County, GA Militia District 1144, in the vicinity of Rays Mill.  Andrew, then age 14, “works on the farm,” the census noted.

It was in  Berrien County, GA that Andrew W. Turner was married to Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans on March 27, 1892.   She was born June 1, 1867, a daughter of Frances Sutton and  Abner Sirmans.  On February 24, 1893, Andrew Turner and his wife bought land from her father, Abner Sirmans. On this land, situated in the Rays Mill community (later Ray City, Georgia), the newlyweds made their home.

In 1900,  the census shows Rebecca Turner living with her son Andrew W. Turner and family in Rays Mill, Berrien, GA and notes that Rebecca was blind.

Andrew and Phoebe Isabella Turner were among the first members of the Ray City Methodist Church, which was organized on October 29, 1910.  Other organizing members were Mr. and Mrs. Will Clements,  Mr. and Mrs. W.F. Luckie, Will Terry, Mrs. Julia Dudley, Annie Lee Dudley, and Marie Dudley.

In 1910  Andrew Turner was working on his own account as a farmer.  Mrs. Turner’s widower father, Abner Sirmans, was living with the Turner family in Ray City,  but had his own income.

Andrew and Phoebe Isabelle raised their family in Ray City, GA.  Between 1892 and 1911, they had nine children:

  1. Lona Belle Turner (3/30/1893 – 5/10/1926) married Edward Holmes Sumner 10/28/1909 in Berrien County, GA, buried at Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery, Polk County, Florida.
  2. Rosa B. Turner (9/22/1894-9/23/1985) married Aubrey B. Shaw on 9/13/1914 ceremony performed by Lyman Franklin Giddens, Justice of the Peace, Ray City, GA. Rosa Turner is buried at Sunset Hill Cemetery, Valdosta, GA.
  3. Minnie Turner (7/5/1896 – 12/2/1987) married George I. Sumner on 12/22/1915, buried at Friendship Church Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA.
  4. Maggie Turner (12/25/1898 – 9/20/1980) married Burie Webster Clements on 5/5/1920, buried at Lakeland Memorial Gardens, Polk County, FL.
  5. Jesse Abner Turner (7/14/1900 – 10/3/1969) married Maude D. Yarbrough on 1/3/1920, buried at Friendship Church Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA.
  6. John S. Turner (8/25/1903 – 7/23/ 1984) married Florrie Olena Reynolds on 5/1/1927, buried at Riverside Cemetery, Macon, GA.
  7. Mittie Mae Turner (1/5/1907 – 10/23/1968) married F.H. “Mac” McColm, buried at Southern Memorial Park, Dade County, FL.
  8. Essie Turner (9/12/1909 – 2/11/1990) married 1) James Nathaniel Hall, 2) Tasca Luther Cole. Buried at Sunset Hill Cemetery, Valdosta, GA.
  9. William Theodore Turner (3/3/1911 – 9/10/1952) Never married. Buried at Sunset Hill Cemetery, Valdosta, GA.

The Turners made Ray City, GA their home through the 1920s.  The Census of 1920 gives Andrew’s occupation as “Cotton buyer” working on his own account.  His son, Jesse Turner, was working as a drayman, for public work. The family residence was located on North Street in Ray City, next to the homes of Levi J. Clements and Lucius J. Clements, operators of the Clements Sawmill.  Andrew Turner was also engaged in the in naval stores and the mercantile business.

In 1922, Andrew W. Turner dabbled in local politics:

Atlanta Constitution
Jan 11, 1922, pg 6

Ray City Officials

Milltown, Ga.,  January 10. – (Special.) – At the election for the town officers at Ray City.  Tuesday, the following were elected: Mayor, L.F. Giddens: councilmen. J.T. Phillips, A.W. TurnerJ.S. Clements, Jr., and J.A. Griffin.  They were installed immediately.

During the town’s boom period he constructed ”two large brick buildings known as the Andrew Turner Buildings.  One of the buildings is two stories high.”  In 1929, the Ray City News reported that this building was sold to M. G. Melton.

Sometime between 1922 and 1929 Andrew Turner purchased a farm situated between Hahira and Valdosta, GA and the family made this their home.  Around this same time period, he suffered a stroke which resulted in paralysis of his left side and impaired his speech.  He recovered use of his left leg sufficiently that he could walk with a cane, but his left arm remained paralyzed.  Andrew’s son, Jesse,  had married by this time but made his home near his father’s and ran the family farm.

Census records show that by 1930 the Turner family had relocated to Valdosta, GA to a home on Valley Street.   Andrew Turner rented the house for $20 a month:  Jesse Turner and his family apparently had an apartment in the same residence.  Andrew’s daughter,  Mittie, was working in a department store;  Jesse was working as an automobile mechanic.

Andrew Washington Turner died 1936.

Mr. Turner Dies After A Stroke
Valdosta Times
Monday, July 27, 1936.

      Funeral services for A. W. Turner, 69, well known resident of this county, who died at a local hospital last night as the result of a stroke of paralysis, will be held this afternoon at 6 oclock at Sunset Hill.
     The body was taken this morning from Sineath’s to the home of Mrs. A.B. Shaw, a daughter who resides at 305 West Gordon Street.
     Rev. L.H. Griffis, pastor of the Church of God, and Rev. C.M. Meeks, pastor of the First Methodist Church, will conduct the services. 
    Survivors are his wife and the following children: Mrs. A.B. Shaw and Miss Essie Turner, of this city; Mrs. G.I. Sumner, J.A. Turner and Theo Turner, of Hahira; J.S. Turner, of Porterdale; Miss Mittie Turner, of Miami; and Mrs. B.W. Clements, of Ft. Pierce.  A sister, Mrs. Mary Johnson, of Macon, also survives.
     Mr. Turner was for a number of years a merchant and cotton buyer in Ray City, but he had made his home in Hahira for a number of years before his death.  For the past two years he had been in ill health.
     His death is the occasion of much genuine sorrow throughout this section.

The Personal Mentions in the same edition of the newspaper noted:

Mr. and Mrs. P.N. Sirmans, Mr. and Mrs. Burns Sirmans, of Ray City, Mr. and Mrs. Terrel Sirmans,  and Mrs. Levi Sirmans of Nashville, were here yesterday to attend the funeral of Mr. A.W. Turner.

Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans Turner  died in 1948.

Mrs. A. W. Turner, 81, Passes Away;  Funeral Today
Valdosta Times
August 30, 1948

     Mrs. A.W. Turner, 81, passed away at the home of her daughter, Mrs. A.B. Shaw, 401, N. Troupe Street, early Sunday morning after a declining illness of several months. She had made her home in Valdosta for about five years, moving here from Ray City.
     Mrs. Turner was born and reared in Berrien County.  She was a member of the Lee Street Church of God.
     Survivors include five daughters, Mrs. A.B. Shaw and Mrs. J.N. Hall, Valdosta; Mrs. B.W. Clements, Mulberry, Fla.;  Mrs. G.I. Sumner, Hahira, and Mrs. F.H. McCullum, Miami, Fla.; three sons John Turner, Columbus, Ga.; J.A. and Theo Turner, Hahira; two sisters, Mrs. Leona Douglas, Ocala, Fla.; and Mrs. Kitty Turner, of Ray City, Ga.  Also surviving are a number of grandchildren and great grandchildren.
     Funeral services were to be held this afternoon at 3 o’clock, at the Carson McLane Funeral Home.
     Interment was to follow in the family plot in Sunset Hill beside her husband, who passed away several years ago.

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Ray City History Review

January 14 – time for a brief  review of the year’s posts to date.

The Ray City History Blog noted that in 1947, Ray City, GA celebrated the completion of the new school Gymnasium with a “Queen of the Harvest” contest. 

In 1960, Pleamon Sirmons and Minnie Clements celebrated their Golden Anniversary. Among the accomplishments of Mr. Sirmans, service as a city councilman and Mayor of Ray City.

A visit to New Ramah Cemetery found a pair of deteriorating concrete markers almost illegible. Researching the available clues led to a sketch of Edwin and Sarah Griner. As a young man, Edwin suffered the tragic loss of his siblings – four dead in a week, followed by the death of his mother.

Another interesting burial at New Ramah Cemetery turned up in the obituary of John Martin “Black John” Griner

The 1961 obituary of Tessie Vining Griner was followed up with a brief sketch of her three marriages.

A prompt from a reader led to a follow up story on the Haints of Berrien County and the desperado Ben Furlong whose infamy spread around the globe.

A partial list of Ray City veterans of World War I and their service records, were culled from old Berrien County records.  One interesting veteran was Carlie Lawson, who fought at St. Mihiel in the Battle of the Argonne Forest.

Pleamon N. Sirmans ~ Mayor, Ray City, GA

Although the City Hall in Ray City burned down in the 1940s, some surviving municipal court dockets showed that Pleamon Sirmans once served as Mayor of the town. His term of service is not known.

Ray City Councilman Pleamon N. Sirmans, photographed at a City Council meeting on January 6, 1959.

Pleamon N. Sirmans, photographed January 6, 1959  while serving as as Councilman on the City Council of Ray City.

 

Golden Anniversary of Pleamon Sirmans and Minnie Clements

Pleamon and Minnie Clements Sirmans  were long time residents of Ray City, Georgia.

They were married on August 23, 1910 in Cook County, Georgia and moved to the Ray City area in 1915.

For a time, Pleamon and Minnie Sirmans made their residence at this Ray City, GA Home.

For a time, Pleamon and Minnie Sirmans made their residence at this Ray City, GA Home. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

From a Newspaper article dated August 1960:

THE CITIZENS PRESENTS——-SENIOR CITIZENS

Living in Ray City, Georgia., since 1915, five years after they were married, Mr. and Mrs. Pleamon N. Sirmans were honored last Sunday by friends and relatives on the occasion of their Golden Wedding Anniversary.Born in Willacoochee, Georgia., Mr. Sirmans attended school there. Mrs. Sirmans was born in Adel, daughter of William Clements, first merchant in Adel.

Mr. Clements bought the turpentine still in Willacoochee and it was there that Minnie Clements and Pleamon Sirmans met.

They were married August 23, 1910 by his uncle, E.L. Moore, a justice of the peace. After moving to Ray City, Mr. Sirmans was a car salesman for a number of years in Nashville and for 15 or 20 years operated a grocery store in Ray City. Ill health forced his retirement about 3 years ago (1957). He is on the City Council.

Mrs. Sirmans retained membership in the Salem Primitive Baptist Church in Adel and Mr. Sirmans is a member of the Ray City Methodist Church. In the family are: F. Burns Sirmans, Merle Sirmans and Mrs. W.H. (Hazel) Bradham all of Ray City; Mrs. J.H. (Hilda) Featherstone of Homestead, FL., and four grandchildren.

In addition to serving on the City Council, Pleamon Serman also served as Mayor of Ray City. Minnie Sirmans kept a cowpen behind their house in Ray City. Milking her cows in the

Pleamon and Minnie Clements Sirmans are buried at New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave of Pleamon N. Sirmans

Grave of Pleamon N. Sirmans

Grave of Minnie Clements Sirmans

Grave of Minnie Clements Sirmans

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Pleamon N. Sirmans ~ Mayor, Ray City, GA

Arthur Shaw and Shaw’s Still

The Ray City – Willacoochee Connection