Ray City Band Celebrates 4th of July

In 1917, the Nashville Herald noted that Ray City observed Independence Day with a musical celebration.

The Nashville Herald

Neighborhood News Items
July 6, 1917

Ray City celebrated the Fourth of July this year with a basket picnic. There were amusements of various kinds during the day. The Ray City Band furnished music for the occasion.

 

band at unknown site

Unknown band probably at Mayhaw Lake, Lucy Lake, or Dixie Lake resort area. Identification and verifications needed. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga. com

Residents of the Wiregrass section which is home to Ray City, GA have been celebrating Independence Day since at least the 1830s.

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1922 Spring Fever Hits Ray City

Mary Ann Knight and William A. Jones

Mary Ann Knight was born  July 1, 1838 near Beaverdam Creek,  the present day site of  Ray City, GA  Her parents, John Knight and Sarah Sally Moore were pioneer settlers of the area, then situated in Lowndes County, Georgia but cut into Berrien County in 1856.

Mary Ann Knight Jones married William A.  Jones On November 5, 1856 in Berrien County, Georgia in a ceremony performed by the bride’s grandfather, Elder William A. Knight. The Berrien County Marriage Records of 1956 include the following hand written entry:

 Go any ordained minister of the gospel Judge of the Superior Justice of the Inferior Court Justice of the peace or any person by the Laws of this State authorised to Celibrate  these are to authorise and permit you to join in the Venerable State of matrimony this William, A. Jones of the one part and this Mary Ann Knight of the other part according to the constitution and laws of this state and according to the rites of your church provided there be no lawful cause to obstruct the same and this shall be your authority for so doing given under my hand and seal this the 1st day of November 1856.

John Lindsey Ordy

Thereby Certify that William A. Jones and Miss Mary Ann Knight were duly joined in matrimony by me this fifth day of Nov 1856

William A Knight, O.M.

Mary Ann and W.A. Jones settled on a farm next to her brother, William Washington Knight in the new county of Berrien, in the vicinity of present day Ray City, GA. Other nearby neighbors included James A. Knight, Reverend Nathan Talley, William R. Brandon, and James M. Baskin. The farm of Allen Jones and Kiziah Knight Giddens Jones was in the same area.

In 1861 Mary Ann and William had a son, William Malachi Jones.

When the Civil War got underway,  William A Jones joined the Berrien Minute Men, along with Mary Ann’s brothers and other men of Berrien County. This was a company of volunteer infantry organized by Mary Ann’s father, Levi J Knight.  The Berrien Minute Men were mustered in as Company G, 29th Georgia Infantry, and William A. Jones was enlisted as a private on August 1, 1861 at Savannah, GA. Four months later the company muster rolls note that he was “absent with leave.” Later service records show that he died of measles in Berrien County on January 18, 1862. The location of his grave is unknown.

Mary had two children by William A. Jones, the youngest, Adam, apparently born after his father’s death.  Adam Jones was deaf and dumb, birth defects with a high probability for a baby whose mother is infected with measles in the early weeks of pregnancy.

For five years, the widow Jones raised her children as a single parent. On March 25, 1866 she married Green Bullard  in Berrien County, GA.

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The Estate of Green Bullard

Green Bullard

 

Virdie Futch and the National Elastic Shortage

A World War II Story
During the war,  there was a critical need for rubber as a war materiél. On the home front in Ray City and everywhere in the country, the national shortage of rubber meant people had to make do.  One consequence of the shortage was consumer goods incorporating elastic became unobtainable.

In 1942, the War Production Board circulated posters urging citizens to conserve and recycle critical war materials. A poster entitled America needs your scrap rubber was produced by in 1942. The poster dramatically illustrated the need for rubber in producing military equipment: A Gas Mask requires 1.11 pounds of rubber; A Life Raft requires 17 to 100 pounds of rubber; A Scout Car requires 306 pounds of rubber; A Heavy Bomber requires 1,825 pounds of rubber.

In 1942, the War Production Board circulated posters urging citizens to conserve and recycle critical war materials. A poster entitled America needs your scrap rubber was produced in 1942. The poster dramatically illustrated the need for rubber in producing military equipment: A Gas Mask requires 1.11 pounds of rubber; A Life Raft requires 17 to 100 pounds of rubber; A Scout Car requires 306 pounds of rubber; A Heavy Bomber requires 1,825 pounds of rubber.

 

According to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education, “Most of the world’s supply of natural rubber came from rubber tree plantations in Southeast Asia, which were quickly occupied by the Japanese in the first months of 1942. Factories converting to military production needed every scrap of rubber they could find, and citizens were asked to turn in old tires, raincoats, gloves, garden hoses, and rubber shoes for recycling. New tires became almost impossible to buy…”

No rubber meant no elastic for the waistbands of women’s underwear.  Instead, for many women, underwear was to be fastened around the waist with a button, or with a draw string for the duration of the war.  But these fasteners provided a less than reliable suspension for female undergarments, and it was not uncommon for young girls to suddenly lose their underwear while walking.

It may have been less patriotic than collecting rubber for the war effort, but Granny Virdie Futch, of Ray City, GA recycled old inner tubes  by cutting them into thin strips and sewing them into underwear.  She also made the waistbands of the children’s pants and pull up pants for the toddlers.

Virdie was born May 26, 1874 in Lowndes County, GA, a daughter of John W. Cowart and Sarah A. “Sallie” Bradford. Her father was a laborer in the 1157 District of Berrien County. In 1899 he moved his family to the former residence of B. P. Peeples in Nashville, GA where he worked as a house carpenter.  Her parents later moved to Ray City, GA, some time before 1920, where they rented a farm on the Valdosta Road near the farms of Mallie Shaw, Jack Terry, and Lewis W. Register.

On January 15, 1896 Virdie married Arren D. Futch in Lowndes County, GA. The ceremony was performed by C. W. Stallings. Later that same year, her sister, Sallie Cowart, died at age 14.

 

Marriage license of Francis "Verdie" Cowart and A. D. Futch. January 15, 1896, Lowndes County, GA

Marriage license of Francis “Vurdie” Cowart and A. D. Futch. January 15, 1896, Lowndes County, GA

The young Futch couple first made their home at Cecil, GA where Arren bought some property and took up farming. The 1910 census shows they owned a farm on the Adel and Valdosta road.

Children of Verdie Cowart and Arren D. Futch:

  • Johnnie Marcus Futch (1897-1965)
  • Caulie Elie Futch(1898-1977)
  • Rossie Dasher Futch (1899-1967)
  • Homer P. Futch (1900-1902)

By 1920 Virdie and Arren Futch had acquired a place on the Valdosta and Ray City Road just southwest of Ray City. Their sons, Caulie and Rossie, worked adjacent farms. The 1940 Census shows Virdie and Arren had moved to a place on Cat Creek Road next to their son, Rossie Futch.

By 1950,  Virdie and Arren moved into town, residing in a small house on Jones Street, Ray City, GA.

In 1950, Arren and Verdie Futch were living in this home on Jones Street, Ray City, GA, with their son, Rossie Futch, his wife, Lessie Guthrie Futch, and step-son, David Miley.

In 1950, Arren and Verdie Futch were living in this home on Jones Street, Ray City, GA, with their son, Rossie Futch, his wife, Lessie Guthrie Futch, and step-son, David Miley.

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Fred Manning Cersey

Fred Manning Cersey

Fred Manning Cersey. Image source: Parkjoann1

Fred Manning Cersey. Image source: Parkjoann1

Fred Manning Cersey  was a son of Manning Andrew Cersey and  Lula M. Goodin, of Ray City, GA. He was born November 27, 1923, just three weeks after the death of his older brother Jewel Cersey (1916- November 7, 1923).  Fred M. Cersey was a grandson of Henry Thomas Cersey and Missouri “Louannie” Whitely.  His grandfather was a primitive Baptist and a member of the New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church at Ray City, GA.

Fred’s father did not have a farm of his own.  As a young man, his father rented and worked as a farm laborer. In 1917, he was working as a farm laborer for Thomas Futch.   In the 1920s, Fred’s father was one of the sawmill fireman at the big Clements Sawmill at Ray City, GA on the line of the Georgia and Florida Railroad.  The Cersey family lived in the company settlement in a rented home.  Another fireman at the sawmill plant was J. D.  Melvin.

In the 1930 Census, Fred lived in Militia District 1157, Berrien County, GA with his father Manning Cersey (42), mother Lula Goodin Cersey (35), and siblings Clinton (17), Pauline (10), and Clifford (2 1/2).  His father was then self-employed as a farmer.

Fred Cersey was educated through the 4th grade, and afterwards went to work as a cook.  By 1835, the Cerseys were living in the lower 10th district of Berrien County, GA on the Lakeland and Willacoochee Road.  Fred was enumerated in his parents’ household there in 1940.

By 1941, Fred had moved to Jacksonville, FL where he was working for Swift & Co. as a “refiner.”  Swift and Co. was a long-running American meat processing company.  The company was a national brand emerging out of the Chicago meat packing industry.

Fred M. Cersey married Ruby E. Williams on March 7, 1942.

Ruby Estelle Williams and Fred Manning Cersery. Image Source: parkjoann1

Ruby Estelle Williams and Fred Manning Cersery. Image Source: parkjoann1

On May 19, 1943, Fred M. Cersey enlisted in the U.S. Army at Camp Blanding, FL.  Camp Blanding was the largest training base in Florida. Housing some 60,000, it was the fourth largest city in Florida; During World War II, approximately one million men received basic training here.

Soldiers at attention on Company Street at Camp Blanding - Starke, Florida. 1942. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. <https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/31681>.

Soldiers at attention on Company Street at Camp Blanding – Starke, Florida. 1942. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. <https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/31681&gt;.

After the war, the couple made their home in Jacksonville, FL.  The 1946 Polk’s City Directory for Jacksonville, FL shows they were living at 2371 McQuade street.  Fred and his brother, Clifford, worked for National Container Corp.

Later, Cersey worked for the Jefferson Smurfit Paper Company.

Fred Manning Cersey died April 7, 2002.  Burial: New Zion Cemetery, Lake Butler, Union County, Florida, USA

CERSEY – Fred Manning Cersey, a long time resident of Clay County passed away April 7, 2002 following a lengthy illness. He was born November 27, 1923 in Ray City, GA, the son of Manning Andrew Cersey and Lula Goodin Cersey. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army having served in WWII. He retired from Jefferson Smurfit Paper Company following 40 years of dedicated service. Fred was a happy and loving family man who enjoyed sports, music, singing, fishing and the outdoors. He was a High Priest of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints where he Served in many leadership roles. Surviving are his devoted and loving wife of 60 years, Ruby Williams Cersey; his daughters Patricia Ann Best (Michael), and Sheron Elaine Merrill (Roger); his son Fred DeWayne Cersey (Lana); 12 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren; his brothers Clinton and Clifford Cersey; half brother Thomas and half sisters Dorothy and Latrelle. He was predeceased by his first daughter Ruby Marlin Cersey. Funeral services in celebration of his life will be held 11:00 AM Wednesday April 10, 2002 at Middleburg Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 4342 Highway 218, Middleburg, FL with Elder James F. Wheeler officiating. Mr. Cersey will be laid to rest with his daughter in New Zion Cemetery following services. Family members and friends will gather on Tuesday evening (TONIGHT) from 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM at JACKSONVILLE MEMORY GARDENS FUNERAL HOME, 111 Blanding Blvd., Orange Park.

Grave of Fred Manning Cersey and Ruby L. Williams. New Zion Cemetery, Lake Butler, FL

Grave of Fred Manning Cersey and Ruby L. Williams. New Zion Cemetery, Lake Butler, FL

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Reward Offered for Confederate Deserters

The first commercial activity at Ray City arose during the Civil War when Levi J. Knight and his son-in-law Thomas M. Ray constructed  a millpond and grist mill on Beaverdam Creek in Berrien County, GA. Captain Levi J. Knight, an old Indian fighter, raised the first company of Confederate soldiers to go forth from Berrien County, the Berrien Minute Men.

After enlisting at Nashville, GA in 1861 the Berrien Minute Men mustered in near Savannah, GA as a company of the 29th Georgia Infantry Regiment.  Following this organization, Captain Knight resigned and the company came under the command of John C. Lamb.   In the first months after mustering in, the regiment trained and served picket duty on the Georgia coast.  They were stationed at a number of camps  on the coastal islands and marshes, first at Sapelo Battery, off the coast of Darien, GA, then in Chatham County, GA at Camp Tatnall, Camp Causton’s Bluff, Camp Debtford, Camp Mackey, and Camp Young.

At times the conditions in the Confederate camps of Chatham county were nearly intolerable. The weather was cold in the winter and hot and muggy in the summer.  Men were apt to become irritable. One soldier of the 29th Georgia Regiment killed another over a game of marbles. Some men were bored with picket duty. Some were frustrated and longed for action. Others just longed to go home to their farms and families. At Camp Young the harsh realities of Army life in the field would test the commitment of volunteer soldiers in the 29th Georgia Regiment.

The likely location of Camp Young was on Wylly Island about eight miles southeast of Savannah , on a tract of 110 acres which had been acquired  by Judge  Levi Sheftall D’Lyon at some time prior to 1860.  Judge D’Lyon was a prominent citizen and city court judge of Savannah. He was also the father of Isaac Mordecai DeLyon and Leonorean DeLyon, who edited and published the South Georgia Watchman newspaper at Troupville, GA and later at Valdosta, GA.  Lenorean DeLyon is credited with giving Valdosta its name.    Judge D’Lyon himself was an enigma. He took great interest in supporting the Chatham Dispensary, “a free medical clinic and pharmacy for the poor.” He devoted much of his professional legal career to assisting free African-Americans in acquiring their own property, but he also profited from the business of buying and selling slaves.  In 1859 he called for a “vigilance committee for the better preservation of Southern Rights.” In 1861 he was acting as guardian for 48 “free persons of color” in Savannah, while at the same time working to establish a district court system in the new Confederate States of America.  In his will D’Lyon directed that five of his slaves be freed, but another 21 were sold in 1863 to liquidate his estate.

Wylly Island is a river island formed by a bifurcation of the Herb River.  According to a Civil War map of the defenses of Savannah,  Wylly Island was between Thunderbolt Battery, a Confederate artillery emplacement on St. Augustine Creek, and  Battery Daniels at Parkersburg on the Skidaway River.  Battery Daniels had several supporting batteries on the Herb River and Grimball’s Creek.

There is no remaining trace of these Confederate locations or of Camp Young. Some descriptions of Camp Young are found in the Civil War letters of William Washington Knight, son of Levi J. Knight.

At first, the Berrien Minute Men found fresh food was in short supply at Camp Young. Soldiers supplemented their camp diet either with food purchased in Savannah with their own money, or had food sent from home. William W. Knight’s  letter of January 4, 1863 written from Camp Young and addressed to his wife, Mary,  mentioned that fellow soldier J. P. Ponder had delivered a box of potatoes sent by her father. Knight wrote of being deployed without rations and of spoiled provisions – “blue beef that will stick to your hands equal to adhesive plaster.”  He asked her to send more potatoes, and pork if the weather was cold enough. Knight remarked on the high prices being gotten in Savannah for peanuts, corn, and bacon, and the shortage of bread. He also requested Mary send his mattress bed cover, iron shoe heels, “vial oil”, and carpet bag.

Deadly infectious diseases of all kinds were rampant in the crowded Confederate camps. The river delta land was low lying and prone to malaria. On February 28, 1862 Knight wrote, “We have a good many sick now with cold or pneumonia. Nineteen of our company on the sick list  this morning…” In early March, Knight himself was incapacitated by fever.

By mid-March soldiers’ letters home indicated that the supply of food at Camp Young was much improved.  But by the end of March Knight wrote of worsening weather conditions; “It is the worst time we have had this winter. The wind and rain from the North East. There is very little timber in that direct. It has all been cut down in front of the Batteries for over a mile.”

At Camp Young, the 29th Georgia Regiment  became part of a Brigade which also included the 25th and 30th Georgia Regiments, First Battalion Georgia Sharpshooters, and 4th Louisiana Battalion. In a Brief History of the Thirtieth Georgia Regiment, August Pitt Adamson, 1st Sergeant, Company E wrote about Camp Young:

Camp life at Savannah was far from being dull and was not at all monotonous.  Many little incident of a humorous nature occurred.  Sports of various kinds were engaged in, which were shared by both officers and men. Occasionally some of the boys would “run the blockade,” as it was called, and go to Savannah without leave, thus running the risk of being put upon double duty, or digging stumps, which were the usual punishments inflicted. One man of Company E [30th Regiment] could so well imitate the signature of the commanding officer, that he frequently gave himself and others leave to go to the city.  In such cases they always returned in time for drill, and but few knew of it. On one occasion at night, soon after we went to Savannah, a false alarm was given, the men were hastily aroused and called into line with their old flintlock guns; much confusion followed; some could not find their companies, some ran over stumps and against each other, and two or three of Company B fell into and old well, which was, however, very shallow, but they yelled loudly for help.  It was soon found to be a false alarm, gotten up by some of the officers to try the men and have some fun. We were provided good tents and, for the most part comfortably cared for, with plenty to eat, but some of the boys wanted a change of diet, and, discovering a flock of goats belonging to Judge De Lyon, a wealthy old gentleman who had a farm near the camps, the result was nearly all the goats disappeared, leaving the owner quite angry.  The boys would say the goats tried to run over them, and they had to act in self-defense.

While at Camp Young, William Knight reported the Berrien Minute Men  spent a great deal of the time in drill. They drilled in Company formation and as a Battalion and Brigade. When they weren’t drilling or on dress parade, they attended “Regimental School.” When they could get leave they went into Savannah to get personal provisions or to be entertained. When they couldn’t get leave some went absent without leave;  John W. Hagan wrote from Camp Young on March 19,  “I cannot get a pass to visit Savannah, and when I go I have to run the blockade and risk getting caught, but I will manage to slip the block.”

This is not to say the Berrien Minute Men and the 29th GA Regiment were idle.  Like the 30th Georgia Regiment and other units in their Brigade, they probably were engaged in the construction of fortifications, mounting artillery, and placing obstructions in the river channels.  They were certainly conducting picket duty, patrolling the islands below Savannah on the lookout for Federal scouts who might be probing the line of Confederate defenses around the city.  They made brief excursions by train into Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina to strengthen coastal defenses where Union forces threatened to attack.

The 29th Regiment remained at Camp Young through April; by May 12, 1863 they had rolled out to Jackson, MS in preparation for the Battle of Vicksburg. But before that departure, while stationed at Camp Young, twenty men of the 29th Georgia deserted the regiment. From the weeks and months the Special Order 15 was advertised, one can judge these were not men who just sneaked off to Savannah,  but were long gone.  Four of the deserters were from Company K, the Berrien Minute Men, including Elbert J. Chapman, Albert Douglas, Benjamin S. Garrett, and J. P. Ponder.

A reward of $30 was offered for each man  apprehended, $600 for the bunch.

Reward offered for capture of deserters from the 29th Georgia Regiment, Confederate States Army, including four deserters from the Berrien Minute Men, Company K. Advertised in the Savannah Republican newspaper.

Reward offered for capture of deserters from the 29th Georgia Regiment, Confederate States Army, including four deserters from the Berrien Minute Men, Company K. Advertised in the Savannah Republican newspaper.

$600 REWARD.
Headq’rs 29th Reg’t GA. Vols.,
Camp Young, near Savannah, March 12, 1863.
SPECIAL ORDERS,
No. 15.
Deserted from this Regiment at Camp near Savannah, the following named enlisted men:

      Private FREEMAN BRIDGES, Co. B, is 22 years of age, 5 feet 7 1/2 inches high, has dark complexion, black eyes and dark hair.   Enlisted in Franklin county, Ga.
      Private DAVID CLAY, Co. C, 28 years of age, 5 feet 6 inches high, has dark complexion, dark eyes, dark hair.  Enlisted in Thomas County, Ga.
Private JOSEPH W. SINGLETARY, Co. C., 38 years of age, 5 feet 10 inches high, sallow complexion, blue eyes, dark  hair. Enlisted at Thomas county, Ga.
Private PATRICK FITZGERALD, Co. E, 46 years of age, 5 feet 11 inches high, fair complexion, blue eyes and light hair.  Enlisted at Savannah, Ga.
Private EDWARD ROTCHFORD, Co. E, 45 years of age, 5 feet 9 inches high, fair complexion, blue eyes and light hair. Enlisted at Savannah, Ga.
Private JOHN MULLER, Co. E, 26 years of age, 5 feet 6 inches high, dark hair, dark complexion and dark eyes. Enlisted at Savannah, Ga.
Private DAVID WILLIAMS, Co, E, 40 years of age, 5 feet high, brown eyes, light brown hair, and reddish complexion. Enlisted at Savannah, Ga.

     Private S. A. HALL, Co. F. 20 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches high, dark complexion, blue eyes, and light hair.  Enlisted at Thomasville, Ga.
     Private WM. HARVEY, Co. F, 45 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches high, light complexion, blue eyes, gray hair. Enlisted at Savannah, Ga.
     SYRE CHRISTIAN, Co. F, 40 years of age, 5 feet 10 inches high, light complexion, blue eyes, light hair.  Enlisted at Savannah, Ga.
     JAMES M. TOHEL, Co. F, 85 years of age 5 feet 9 inches high, dark complexion, blue eyes, dark hair. Enlisted at Savannah, Ga.
     Private C. R. OLIVER, Co. H, 29 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches high, light complexion, blue eyes, dark hair.  Enlisted at Stockton, Ga.
      Private J. R. JACOBS, Co. H. 22 years of age, 5 feet 6 inches high, dark complexion, dark eyes, dark hair.  Enlisted at Stockton, Ga.
      Private F. F. F. GRIFFIN, Co. I, 40 years of age, 5 feet 10 1/2 inches high, dark complexion, black eyes, and dark hair.  Enlisted in Thomas County, Ga.
     Private N. P. GANDY, Co. I, 30 years of age, 5 feet 6 1/2 inches high, dark complexion, blue eyes, and light hair.  Enlisted in Thomas County, Ga.
     Private WM. BARWICK, Co. I, 38 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches high, light complexion, grey eyes.  Enlisted in Thomas County.
     Private ELBERT J. CHAPMAN, Co. K, 31 years of age, 5 feet 7 inches high, dark complexion, blue eyes, sandy hair.  Enlisted in Berrien county.
     Private ALBERT DOUGLAS, Co. K, 32 years of age, 6 feet high, fair complexion, grey eyes, auburn hair.  Enlisted in Berrien county.
     Private BENJAMIN S. GARRETT, Co. K, 25 years of age, 5 feet 10 inches high, fair complexion, blue eyes, black hair.  Enlisted in Berrien county.
     Private J. P. PONDER, Co. K, 31 years of age, 5 feet 7 inches high, sallow complexion, blue eyes, and sandy hair.  Enlisted at Savannah.

A reward of thirty dollars is offered for the apprehension of either of the above named men, delivered at these headquarters or confined in a safe jail.
By order of W. J. Young,
Col.Comd’g 29th Reg’t Ga. Vols.
Geo. P. McRee, AdjL

After deserting from the 29th Georgia Regiment:

  • Elbert J. Chapman fled to the west where he joined another unit and fought with determination. He was later charged with desertion from the 29th Georgia Regiment, court-martialed and executed by firing squad.  After the war, a pension for his indigent wife was denied.
  • Benjamin S. Garrett was later shot for being a spy.
  • Albert Douglas left the Berrien Minute Men “absent without leave” in December 1862 and was marked “deserted.”  There is no record that he ever returned to his unit.  In fact, there is no further record of him at all. He was not enumerated in the household of his wife and child in 1870, and in subsequent census records she is identified as a widow. There is no record she ever applied for a Confederate Widow’s Pension.  Although there is no record of his death or burial, it is presumed that Albert Douglas died while absent without leave.
  • J. P. Ponder left little historical record, other than the military muster rolls which document his enlistment and desertion. Even his name is confused, alternately given as Ponder or Powder  Both variations are listed in his Confederate military service records. The letters of William W. Knight indicate Ponder traveled back to Berrien county and returned to Camp Young in February 1863, and that Ponder was back in Berrien in March. In any case, it does not appear the man ever returned to the 29th Georgia Regiment.

Other Berrien County soldiers, such as N. M. McNabb who served with Company D, 12th Georgia Regiment, would be pressed into service to hunt fugitive deserters. According to a sworn statement by Mr. McNabb, “late in the year, perhaps September 1864, the Georgia Militia were  at Griffin, Ga Ordered by the Governor to stack arms and return home until further orders, which we did. After getting home, the Enrolling Officers here at home pressed us in to aid them in hunting Deserters.”

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A note on the Estate of William Anderson Knight

William Anderson Knight

William Anderson Knight, forefather of the large and influential Knight family of Wiregrass Georgia,  was among the earliest settlers of Lowndes County, GA and the first to settle at Grand Bay near the present day town of Ray City, GA. He and his wife, Sarah Cone Knight, were constituting members of the primitive baptist Union Church which became the mother church of all the primitive baptist congregations in this section of Georgia. He served as a state senator in the Georgia Assembly, and was the father of General Levi J. Knight. William Anderson Knight  died December 8, 1859, the settlement of his estate extending into the years of the Civil War.

Grave of William Anderson Knight, Union Church cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Grave of William Anderson Knight, Union Church cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Allen Jones,  husband of Keziah Knight and son-in-law of William A. Knight,  secured a judgement against lands owned by Dr. John W. Turner to satisfy debts owed to the estate.

Savannah Daily Morning News, December 6, 1862. Transactions on the estate of William Anderson Knight.

Savannah Daily Morning News, December 6, 1862. Legal advertisement for property seizure to satisfy debts owed to the estate of William Anderson Knight.

Savannah Daily Morning News
December 6, 1862

Berrien Sheriff’s Sale

Will be sold, before the Court House door, in Nashville, Berrien county, on the first TUESDAY in January, within the legal hours of sale, the following property, to wit: Lots of Land No. 517, 496 and 497, in the Tenth District of said Berrien county, levied on as the property of John W. Turner, to satisfy a fi. fa. issued from the Superior Court of Clinch county, in favor of Allen Jones, who sues for the use of himself and the heirs of William A Knight, deceased. This November 12, 1862.  

nov 17         JOHN M. FUTCH, Sheriff

The land lots referenced in the legal advertisement were of 490 acres each.   Dr. Turner’s property was seized during the Civil War while he was serving as a private with the Berrien Light Infantry, Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment.  At the time of the seizure, Turner was in Virginia in a hospital with smallpox.

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Sizemores’ First Teaching Job

Joe and Diane Sizemore
School-year 1952-53

Joe and Diane Sizemore, long time residents of Ray City, GA attended teachers college at Statesboro, GA and spent their first teaching in Irwin County.

Joe Sizemore, 1952, Georgia Teachers College, Statesboro, GA

Joe Sizemore, 1952, Georgia Teachers College, Statesboro, GA

 ~

Diane Sizemore, 1952, Georgia Teachers College, Statesboro, GA

Diane Sizemore, 1952, Georgia Teachers College, Statesboro, GA

Their first year out of Georgia Teachers College Joe and Diane went to Ocilla, GA where they taught school for the 1952-53 school year.  They moved into  a small, four unit apartment building located at 108 South Irwin Avenue, called the Teachers’ Building.  It was in downtown Ocilla where they could walk to shop. The hardware store was across the alley from their apartment.  They bought their first refrigerator there.

Joe and Diane Sizemore lived in this Ocilla, GA apartment building during their first year of teaching 1952-53.

Joe and Diane Sizemore lived in this Ocilla, GA apartment building during their first year of teaching 1952-53.

Joe got a job in the Ocilla city high  school; Diane was hired to teach  in one of the county schools.  The Ocilla position was highly recommended by Joe’s math professor at Statesboro, W. B. Moye, who knew the Irwin County School Superintendent.   Joe’s degree was in Exact Science. That first year he taught math and algebra and two study halls.

Joe Sizemore taught high school math at the Ocilla Public School, 1952-53

Joe Sizemore taught high school math at the Ocilla Public School, 1952-53. Image By Michael Rivera [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Diane taught 4th grade at the public school at Mystic, GA five miles west of Ocilla.  She rode to work every day with one of the other teachers. The Principal was Mr. Peavy; he had previously been pastor of the Baptist Church at Ray City, GA.

Mystic Public School, constructed 1928

Mystic Public School, constructed 1928. Diane Sizemore taught 4th grade at Mystic in 1952-53.

Even with two incomes, teaching didn’t pay enough for Joe & Diane to live on.  Joe took an extra job working on Saturdays at a grocery store so they could afford to eat. Still, they  saved enough of that money in the first semester to buy their first car at the end of the first semester.  One of the Ocilla teachers sold them a black Plymouth sedan, used but it looked like brand new.  When they went home to Nashville and Ray City for Christmas, both of their families were shocked to see them drive up in their own car.

But at Christmas, the Irwin County superintendent lost his bid for re-election and a new superintendent was elected. After that, their positions in Ocilla were uncertain and they decided to pursue other jobs.   When school closed for the summer, they moved to Quitman, GA and took teaching positions there.

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Georgia Prohibition – No Bottle in the House; No Soda at the Fount

Did Berrien’s own Jonathan P. Knight almost nix Coca Cola in Georgia? Knight grew up at Ray City, GA before moving to the Berrien county seat at Nashville. He was elected to Georgia Assembly first as state representative and later as state senator, and was known for his fiery activism against drinking. He was chairman of the Temperance Committee in the Georgia Senate and was outspoken about the prevalence of drinking in the very halls of the Georgia Assembly.

Jonathan Perry Knight, 1902.

Jonathan Perry Knight, 1902.

J. P. Knight, of Berrien was among the foremost champions for statewide prohibition on the sale of liquor, which was passed in Georgia in July 1907.  Knight didn’t think the law went far enough and was among the first to point out that the law contained very large loopholes, namely, that liquor could continue to be served in social clubs where members kept their own stock in private lockers.  Knight’s bill introduced July 17, 1907 was aimed at closing this loophole.

1907-jul-17-jp-knight-pushed-prohibition

Knight to Present Bill to Banish Club Lockers

Those of the clubmen of Georgia who boast a convivial liking for the cocktail, the highball, or the mint julep, as the particular taste may dictate, and have been consoling themselves with the fond belief that, after all, prohibition would not mean such a hardship forthem, as at the worst they would be able to keep their well-stocked lockers, where they would always be easy of access, have a rude jar coming to them, if Senator Knight of the sixth district, chairman of the temperance committee of the upper house, has his way.
     The former representative from Berrien has in his desk a bill the purpose of which is to declare that any place in which liquors are kept for sale or use, whether by individuals or corporations, is a tippling house, and consequently in violation of the prohibition bill which he expects to see entered on the statute books of Georgia.
     If this bill is passed, it will not only be illegal for clubs to supply their members with drinks, but it will be impossible for them to provide lockers in which members may keep their own liquors and mixing materials.  It will then be possible for a man to get a drink only within the confines of his own home.

But some thought the state prohibition laws were too tight – Prohibition could have ended the sales of soft drinks in Georgia as well as alcoholic beverages.

Ocala Star, July 17, 1907 reports J.P. Knight's bill for prohibition

Ocala Star, July 17, 1907 reports J.P. Knight’s bill for prohibition

Ocala Florida
Thursday July 18, 1907

GEORGIA WILL BE A GEM

———–

Of Purest Ray Serene in Prohibition’s Diadem

———-

No Bottle in the House; No Soda at the Fount – The People will be proper to Climb Zion’s Happy Mount

Atlanta, July 16. – Senator J. P. Knight, of the seventh, from Berrien county, chairman of the state temperance committee, says he will introduce a bill tomorrow, not only to prevent the sale of liquor in private clubs but to make it a misdemeanor for any member of any club to keep a bottle in his private locker.  He thinks there is no question about its going through along with state prohibition.


Soft Drinks Will be Scarce

Atlanta, July 16. – It is claimed if the state prohibition bill passes practically all the soft drinks manufactured Georgia will have to go out of business. A small quantity of alcohol is required for the purpose of preserving the syrups, which are the basis of them, and with state prohibition in effect it will be impossible to secure it. – Savannah News.

Georgia’s prohibition law went into effect in 1908, although Knight’s proposal to tighten the prohibition  was not adopted.  For a while at least, alcohol remained available in Georgia’s social clubs, and while the presence of alcohol in sodas became widely known, the demand for soft drinks soared under Prohibition and ever after.

1907-aug-1-bainbridge-dem-prohibition-and-soda

“SOFT DRINKS.”

     Apropos of prohibition, word comes from Washington that the Internal Revenue Bureau has discovered that in many of the so-called soft drinks dispensed from soda fountains there is present alcohol in larger percent than in the same sized drink of beer.
     If the man with the soft thirst could take a deep draught from the onyx covered receptables in which certain extracts and essences are concealed in soda fountains, he would consume a drink probably from 40 to 60 percent alcohol. With the addition of fizz and the other things that are artfully welded to make a soft drink the precentage is cut down considerably.
    Local druggists, it is said, may expect to hear that the internal revenue officers have determined that mixers of these extracts and essences with carbonated water shall pay taxes for the privilege of competing with the regular bars. The internal revenue laws says that before a man may mix a drink containing alcohol he must take out a rectifier’s license.
    Now the soda water man takes essences, extracts and syrups containing alcohol, and adds water to taste to produce a beverage, and is rumored that the internal revenue commissioners will be instructed to issue rules so worded to compel druggists who desire to use the alcoholic essences to become rectifiers and also retail dealers in spirits.
     It is claimed that in some soft drinks served from soda fountains there appears 4 percent of alcohol, while beer is claimed to contain less than 3 percent.  Most of the soda fountains in Bainbridge, however, use almost entirely the fruit juices, which contain not more than a fraction of 1 percent of alcohol.
     Druggists state, however, that some extracts are still used and that in some of them the “spike” is two-thirds of the entire fluid. A small drink of the pure extract would serve much the same purpose as several mint juleps and gin rickeys mixed in the regular bars.

The Georgia legislature turned its attention to taxing the “bring your own bottle” clubs,  thus preserving the revenue of the state, the privilege of the wealthy, the future of Coca Cola, and the appearance of temperance for the lower classes.

For a time the legislature offered the “wets” some loopholes—near-beer saloons serving low-alcohol drinks were permitted, as were alcoholic beverages in locker-clubs—but these were closed in 1915. Georgia ratified the Eighteenth Amendment for national prohibition three years later. It did not vote for repeal of national prohibition, but after that occurred, Georgia repealed its own statewide prohibition in 1935. –New Georgia Encyclopedia

Even after the passage of national Prohibition, the Demon Alcoholmoonshine liquor, the kind that simply makes a man forget himself and everything else – was widely available in south Georgia, and public drunkenness in Ray City led to “free fights and a good deal of threatening and a considerable amount of gun play.” It must have been a personal embarrassment to Jonathan Perry Knight that in his own home county of Berrien the consumption of alcohol remained so rampant.

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Old Ray’s Mill in 1978

Ray’s Mill Founders Day, November 7, 1863
Ray City, Berrien County, GA

The gristmill at Beaverdam Creek commenced operation on November 7, 1863.  Then known as Knight & Ray’s Mill, the construction was a collaboration between Thomas M. Ray and his father-in-law, Levi J. Knight.

1978 photograph of Ray's Mill, Ray City, GA

1978 photograph of Ray’s Mill, Ray City, GA. Kids used roof of Ray’s Mill to slide into pond.

 

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Boyette Sisters at Georgia State Womens College

Dorothy and Doris Boyette at Georgia State Womans College

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

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

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

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

In 1944, Doris Boyette was a senior at GSWC and her younger sister,  Dorothy “Dot” Boyette was a freshman.  Doris was born 27 Oct 1923; Dot was born May 14, 1926. The girls grew up just east of Ray City, GA, in the adjacent portion of Lanier County. Their parents were Eddie D. Boyette  and Mattie Deen Boyette.

At GSWC, Doris was living in Ashley Hall,  a dormitory for sophomores; her roommate was Clare Carson, who was president of the sophomore class.

October 4, 1944 GSWC Campus Canopy mentions petite blond Dorothy

October 4, 1944 GSWC Campus Canopy mentions petite blond Doris Boyette, of Ray City, GA

Among the Boyette’s 1945 classmates was Carolyn DeVane, also of Ray City, GA. There have been many other Ray City women of G.S.W.C. over the years.

Ashley Hall, Georgia State Womans College, Valdosta, GA 1845

Ashley Hall, Georgia State Womans College, Valdosta, GA 1845

The girls’ activities in 1944-45 included the Polio Drive, scrap paper salvage, planting the Camellia Trail, and dancing with those men from Moody Airfield.  The May 9, 1944 edition of the Campus Canopy student newspaper reported. “It’s boy trouble for Dot Boyette…which of the four do you intend dating Sunday night, Dot? – Gee, we wish we could get one date. ”

1945 women of GSWC at Saturday night dance with the men from Moody Airfield.

1945 women of GSWC at Saturday night dance with the men from Moody Airfield.

The October 4, 1944 school newspaper reported:

“There they were, standing all alone just waiting for us to ask them to dance…Men, men and more men and not one of them had a chance.
    To quote one Freshman, Ann Maddox, “It was wonderful just to look at a man.”
    The dance was swell, but that familiar tap on another’s shoulder could mean one of two things…height of ecstasy or depths of despair…’til the next girl broke. This from Lawanda McCellar, as if she were just tearing herself away from it all.
    “Course I wished my fella had been there,” sighed Mary Tharpe, but what chance would I have had with him if he had been.”
    Annes Jean NeSmith summed it all up in a few words…”Plenty of men, good dancers, nice plausible lines, and I can hardly wait ’til next Saturday night.”
    “I’m still overcome by the sight of those men, to express an honest opinion.” says Betsy Markert still in a daze.
    “All in all the opinion of Converse is that it was wonderful and everybody had a good time, but give us men. We see women all week, is the general idea.
    Favorable opinions were not limited to the college girls though. Several of the Moody Field boys were carefully eavesdropped on. Result: “I just can’t believe it, so many girls. If I were to write my mother and say 15 girls cut in on me she would say I was crazy drunk, or lying.”

The hit songs those college girls were swooning to in 1944-45?  The Campus Canopy mentioned:

In 1945, Dorothy Boyett was elected treasurer of the Baptist Student Union.  In the Winter Quarter, 1945 Dorothy “Dot” Boyette was elected to the Sophomore Council.  “Members of the house council check lights, cards and attend the simple cases of Student Government violation. They are elected at the beginning of each quarter to serve a term of three months.”  Dot Boyett also served on the advertising staff and the business staff of the Campus Canopy.

By late 1945 Dorothy Boyette left Georgia State Womans College and was working in Brunswick, GA.

Dot married Charles Gordon Howell. He was a grandson of Caswell Howell, pioneer settler and one of the first ministers of the First Baptist Church of  Milltown (now Lakeland), GA. Dot and Charles raised crops and children in Lakeland, GA. Their son, Charles Howell, Jr. became Chief of Pediatric Surgery at the Medical College of Georgia. Their grandson, Charles Howell III, is a professional golfer.  Dorothy Boyette died June 2,1985. Interment was at Lakeland City Cemetery, Lakeland, GA.

Doris Boyette married John Sears and moved to Atlanta, GA.

Obituary of Doris Boyette Sears

Doris Boyett Sears age 87, of Atlanta, GA, passed on Sunday, June 26, 2011. She was predeceased by her husband, John Sears, daughter, Susan Elaine Sears, sisters, Irene B. Smith and Dorothy B. Howell. She is survived by her daughter, Pamela McKinney of Lawrenceville, sister, Louise Davidson of Bonaire, GA, brother, Earl Boyett of Lakeland, GA. 2 grandchildren, Robert Morris and Jennifer Shelton, 4 great grandchildren, Kayla Shelton, Savannah Shelton, Avri Shelton and Joshua Morris, numerous nieces and nephews, cousins and extended family also survive. Mrs. Sears was a charter member of the Johns Creek Baptist Church, a member of the Senior Choir, a Food Pantry Volunteer and an avid Gardner. A Funeral Service to Celebrate the Life of Mrs. Sears will be at 3:00 P.M. on Thursday, June 30, 2011 at Wages Lawrenceville Chapel. Interment will follow in the White Chapel Memorial Gardens, Duluth.

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