Ray City was boyhood home of Morris Levin

Morris Levin

Morris Levin, 1931. Image detail courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Morris Levin, 1931.  Morris Levin grew up in Ray City, GA and was later instrumental in bringing industry to the Nashville, GA area. Image detail courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Morris Levin was born August 21, 1915,  in New Hanover County, North Carolina.  He was a  son of Nettie Simon and Abe Levin. As a child he came with his parents  to Ray City, GA where his father went into the grocery business for several years.  The 1920 census shows the family lived in a house on Jones Street, and that Abe Levin was a business owner and employer.  Abe Levin showed his support for the community with an advertisement in the 1929 debut of the Ray City News newspaper.

As a teenager, Morris Levin worked on the Ray City farm 0f Effie Guthrie Knight.  He assisted June Guthrie, Effie’s brother, with the farm labor.    June was responsible for the day to day operation of the farm from a young age, and was a farmer all of his life.  Later, the Levins moved to Nashville, GA and operated stores there for many years.    Whenever the Guthries shopped at the Levin store in Nashville, Morris always treated them with such cordiality and respect.  Many Ray City people, folks like Arrin and Verde Futch, continued to shop with the Levins at their Nashville stores.

Morris and Beverly Levin. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Morris and Beverly Levin. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Among the Levin’s good friends in Nashville, was Maude Sizemore.  Maude worked as a practical nurse, and was raising two boys on her own.  The Levins, through their community connections, were able to help Maude with good job opportunities.  One job was providing care for the children of Abraham Simon (A.S.) Harris,  a prominent merchant and owner of the largest department store in Ocilla, A.S. Harris Department Store.

 

Morris Levin,  photographed at Ivy Inn,  Berrien County, GA by A. W. “Wink” Rogers. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Morris Levin, 1965.  Photographed at Ivy Inn, Berrien County, GA by A. W. “Wink” Rogers. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

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Ray City Bank Woes ~ 1931

1928 Letterhead of The Citizens Bank of Ray City, GA

1928 Letterhead of The Citizens Bank of Ray City, GA

The Citizens Bank, Ray City, GA – 1929 newspaper advertisement from the Ray City News

Through the stock market crash of 1929 The Citizens Bank of Ray City remained in business , and the local ”boosters” remained optimistic. (see Bank of Ray City, GA through Optimism and Depression)  The firm’s letterhead from 1928 shows George W. Varn was president; James H. “Jim” Swindle, Vice President; John D. Luke, Cashier; and J. W. Johnson, assistant cashier.

Nashville Herald November 21, 1929

As we understand it the Citizens Bank of Ray City is one of the strongest financial institutions in the county and its business is growing steadily as will be shown by the last financial statement as called for by the superintendent of state banks.  It has total resources of over $150,000, and deposits of over $100,000 and shows that it has no notes and bills rediscounted. Berrien county is justly proud of its banking institutions and conservative business men do not hesitate to place the Citizens Bank of Ray City along with the head of list.

In fact, in July of 1930, the Atlanta Constitution had reported that the banks of Berrien County, including the Ray City bank were financially sound.

But by the end of December, the Citizens Bank of Ray City had failed.

The closing of The Citizens Bank of Ray City was among those announced in December of 1930.

The closing of The Citizens Bank of Ray City was among those announced in December of 1930.

MORE BANKS CLOSED IN SOUTHERN STATES

New York Times.  Dec 21, 1930.

ATLANTA, Ga., Dec. 20 (AP) – A. B. Mobley, State Superintendent of Banks, announced today his department had been asked to take over the affairs of the Union Banking Company of Douglas, operating branches at Barxton and Nichols, the Toombs County Bank at Lyons and the Citizens Bank of Ray City. Cause of the closings was not stated.

In 1931, the Ray City Bank underwent reorganization. A series of Nashville Herald articles reported on the situation:

The Nashville Herald
January 29, 1931, front page,

R.E. Dean in Charge of Ray City Bank

      Mr. R.E. Dean who is in charge of the affairs of the closed Ray City bank is making satisfactory progress with his work.  Optimism prevails in regard to the opening of the bank, for there can be no better location for a banking institution than Ray City, situated as it is in the heart of one of the finest farming sections in South Georgia, and the land tilled by experienced and reliable farmers who are good for their contracts.

The Nashville Herald
  February 19, 1931, front page,

Citizens Bank, Ray City Applies to Sell Assets

If Offer Is Accepted Depositors Will Receive 50 Per Cent Net.

      According to an announcement of a hearing to be held before Judge W.R. Smith at the court house in this city Saturday, Feb. 21, an application will be made by the State Superintendent of Banks, A.B. Mobley, to sell the assets of the Citizens Bank of Ray City, which closed a short while before Christmas.  It is understood that the depositors have recommended that the offer be accepted.
       An extract from the notice reads as follows:  “Notice is hereby given that the undersigned has received an offer for the purchase of the assets of The Citizens Bank of Ray City, by the terms of which officer the depositors of said Bank are to receive fifty per cent of their claims net, the preferred claims against said Bank being fully paid under the terms of said offer, in addition to the payment of the fifty per cent net to the depositors.”
       The Herald was unable to learn whether or not the bank would be reopened for business.

The Nashville Herald
February 26, 1931, front page,

Ray City Bank Opened Tuesday

      As we go to press encouraging news reaches us, that while permanent arrangements has not yet been perfected for the opening of the bank there, yet tentative arrangements have and the bank has been doing business since Tuesday.  This good news will increase the optimism, now prevailing in this section over the picking-up of business generally.

The Nashville Herald
March 12, 1931, front page

Ray City Bank Pays Depositors 50 Per Cent

John D. Luke, Cashier of Old Bank In Charge of New Organization

      The Ray City Banking Company has reopened for business under an agreement to pay the depositors 50 per cent cash for the amount of their deposits, and has been making these payments since last Thursday.  It is understood that many of the depositors are leaving their money in the bank, which although a private institution is said to be doing a good business, and receiving large deposits.
       The above arrangement was made possible through the efforts of Messrs. George W. Varn, A.D. Lee and Y.F. Carter, who put up the money with which to pay off the depositors.  Mr. John D. Luke, cashier before the bank was closed, is again acting in this capacity.
      The institution is known as the Citizens Banking Company, and serves one of the best communities in this section.  The general prediction is that the institution will continue to prosper.

Article transcriptions provided in part by Skeeter Parker.

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Anna Martha Grissett at Georgia State Womans College

Ray City History Anna Martha Grissett

Anna Martha Grissett, 1939. 5th Grade class photo, Ray City School. Ray City, Berrien County, GA

Anna Martha Grissett, 1939. 5th Grade class photo, Ray City School. Ray City, Berrien County, GA

Anna Martha Grissett was born December 31, 1928, to James Arthur Grissett and Lillian Crum.  She was born just in time to be the first birth announced in the Ray City News newspaper, which began publication January 3, 1929. Ann attended the Ray City School, where classmates say she was a very bright student.  When she was ready for high school, her parents arranged for her to attend school in Valdosta. As young people, Anna Martha Grissett, Jimmy Grissett,  Diane MileyCarroll Brown GuthrieHerman Knight Guthrie,  and some of the Knight cousins spent summers working at the tobacco barn on Paul Knight’s farm out on Clabberville Road (aka Johnson Street), southeast of Ray City.  At the time this land was being farmed by Herman Guthrie, son-in-law of Paul Knight. After high school, Ann Grissett attended Georgia State Womans College at Valdosta, GA.  The personal mentions in the June 17, 1948 edition of the Nashville Herald told of her plans for the summer break.

1948 Ann Grissett at Georgia State Womans College

1948 Ann Grissett at Georgia State Womans College

 Miss Ann Grissett, a student of G. S. W. C. Valdosta, is spending this week at Ridge Crest, N. C. after which she will spend her vacation at home with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Grissett, in Ray City.

Ann Grissett subsequently attended the University of Georgia, graduating from that institution in 1950.  She later moved to Atlanta where she was employed by Amana Refrigeration, Inc.

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Everything is Illuminated in Ray City, GA

Swindle and Clements, one of the historic businesses of Ray City,  was one of the advertisers in the Jan 3, 1929 edition of the Ray City News.  An interesting note in the ad is the emphasis on “Shawinigan Carbide.”  Apparently it was one of their most important items, as the only other item specifically mentioned in the ad was Georgia Peanuts. Advertising this item shows just how little electricity had trickled down to the rural residents of Wiregrass Georgia in 1929.

Swindle and Clements 1929 newspaper advertisement from the Ray City News

Swindle and Clements 1929 newspaper advertisement from the Ray City News

What was Shawinigan Carbide?

Carbide lighting is a form of illumination that was used in rural and urban areas of the United States which were not served by electrification. Its use began before 1900 and continued past 1950. Carbide pellets  could be placed in specially constructed lamps that allowed  carefully controlled mixing with water. Wetting the carbide pellets released acetylene gas, which was then burned as the fuel for the lamp.  Alternately, the carbide could be placed  in a container outside the home, with water piped to the container and allowed to drip on the pellets creating the gas. This gas was then piped to lighting fixtures inside the house, where it was burned, creating a very bright flame. Carbide lighting was inexpensive but was prone to gas leaks and explosions.

The convenience of carbide power appealed to rural South Georgia residents like Jesse Shelby “Dock” Shaw, for whom electricity was inaccessible.  Doc Shaw’s place was situated on Possum Branch, near Ray City.  In an article titled Life on the Doc Shaw farm, granddaughter Gwen Shaw Watson wrote:

Grandpa Shaw was one of the first to have carbide lights. They were a step up from the oil lamps which were commonly used. Later, they had a refrigerator that ran on carbide.

Shawinigan Carbide was just one of the brand name carbide suppliers. Another, was Union Carbide:

Union Carbide advertisment, Farm Journal, 1910

Union Carbide advertisment, Farm Journal, 1910

JUST suppose, when company comes, you could pull a little chain and turn on a flood of light in a cluster of globes hanging from the parlor ceiling.

And suppose a little later you could pull another little chain and turn on a beautiful light in a colored dome hanging over the dining room table.

Pull still other chains and turn on lights in your bed rooms, your kitchen, or your cellar.

Pull another and fill your barn with light that would show up every hair, straw or buckle as plain as these things would show by daylight.

And suppose you made all the gas for these lights yourself, right on the place.

Made it so easy that the work required only fifteen minutes of your time once a month.

Make it so cheaply that the light costs you no more than kerosene.

And suppose you actually used this same home-made gas as fuel for cooking on hot days or when you are in a hurry.

In other words, suppose you had a little acetylene gas plant built for country home use.

A plant that would mean no more washing or breaking of chimneys— no soot or grease to fight with—no wicks to trim, no oil to spill or burn and no coal to store or handle.

Picture the advantages In your mind’s eye—stop and think of the safety, comfort, satisfaction and happiness it would bring to your family.

Do this and you will understand why it is that over one hundred and seventy-six thousand farm houses have been equipped with Acetylene gas to date. Consider also that these one hundred and seventy-six thousand country home owners simply followed the lead of over twenty million city people who have used gas so long that they don’t know what an oil lamp looks like.

Like these city friends, you wouldn’t keep

your oil lamps If city gas could be piped to your place, and this new rural gas, “Acetylene,” beats city gas all hollow in forty ways.

Unlike city gas, your Acetylene will not be poisonous to breathe—you can sleep all night In a room with an open burner with no injurious effects whatever.

Volume for volume, your Acetylene will give ten times more light than your city cousin gets from the best city gas.

Then when you use it as a fuel, your Acetylene will be delivered right in your cooking appliance, where it will supply heat on tap that you can regulate with a thumb screw.

The crushed stone you will use in making your Acetylene is known commercially as Union Carbide, and is sold at factory prices and shipped direct to you from the company’s own warehouse located In your district.

Union Carbide won’t burn—can’t explode, and will keep for years In any climate.

Once a month you will have to drop a few pounds of Union Carbide in one part and a few gallons of water in another part of a small tank-like machine that sets in your basement or in an out-bulldlng.

Genuine Acetylene is produced from just Union Carbide and plain water.

Won’t you let us tell you how little it will cost to make this wonderful light and fuel yourself for your home and all the other buildings on your place? Write us how many rooms yon have, and we will send you free some mighty interesting booklets and give you an estimate as to the cost of a machine and lighting fixtures suited to your requirements.

Just address UNION CARBIDE SALES COMPANY, Dept. C—, 161 Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ills.

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Bank of Ray City, GA through Optimism and Depression

The Citizens Bank of Ray City was among the first businesses to advertise in the town’s newspaper, The Ray City News, when it began circulation in 1929.

The Citizens Bank, Ray City, GA – 1929 newspaper advertisement from the Ray City News

In a newspaper clipping from the Jan 3, 1929 issue of the Ray City News the stockholders of the Citizens Bank of Ray City were pleased with the financial reports.

In a newspaper clipping from the Jan 3, 1929 issue of the Ray City News the stockholders of the Citizens Bank of Ray City were pleased with the financial reports.

Ray City News
Ray City, GA
January 3, 1929

 Bank Stockholders Hold Annual Meet

    The stockholders of the Citizens Bank of Ray City held their annual meeting on December 18th – illegible text –
    Examination of the – illegible text – well pleased at the report.
    The same officers and directors were elected for the new year.

In 1929, the Citizens Bank of Ray City, was optimistically advertising for new depositors.

When the stock market crashed, the bank managed to remain in business.  In fact, in July of 1930, the Atlanta Constitution reported that the banks of Berrien County, including the Ray City bank were financially sound.  But by the end of December 1930 the Citizens Bank of Ray City had failed.

 MORE BANKS CLOSED IN SOUTHERN STATES
New York Times.  Dec 21, 1930.

ATLANTA, Ga., Dec. 20 (AP) – A. B. Mobley, State Superintendent of Banks, announced today his department had been asked to take over the affairs of the Union Banking Company of Douglas, operating branches at Braxton and Nichols, the Toombs County Bank at Lyons and the Citizens Bank of Ray City. Cause of the closings was not stated.

“After that bank failed other banks were opened but they all  suffered from the nation’s economic troubles and none were successful. Until, in 1949, H.P. Clements opened a private bank and named it the Bank of Ray City.  It was a state chartered bank operated by Mr. Clements and his son-in-law,  Lawson Fountain. In later years Mr. Clements was forced to retire due to ill health. ”

Bank of Ray City

Bank of Ray City

The Bank of Ray City in 1972. In 1973 the bank was acquired by the Citizens Bank of Nashville. Georgia, and is now the Ray City office of that bank. The old bank building pictured above has since been demolished.

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Andrew Washington Turner and Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans

Andrew Washington Turner, born 1 Jan 1867 in Dublin, GA, was the son of Adeline Rebecca Black and Jesse Turner. As a boy, Andrew Washington Turner came to the 1144th Georgia Militia District, the Ray’s Mill District.  He came some time before 1880 from South Carolina with his widowed mother and sisters.On March 27, 1892, Andrew Turner married Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans.   She was born June 1, 1867 the daughter of Abner and Frances P. Sirmans.

Andrew Washington Turner and Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans were married March 27, 1892 in Berrien County, GA

On February 24, 1893, Andrew  Turner and his wife bought land from her father,  Abner Sirmans, which became their homesite in Ray’s Mill (nka Ray City), Georgia.  The Turners made Ray City, GA their home through the 1920s, and  during the town’s boom period 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.

Andrew Washington Turner and wife, Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans

Some time prior to 1930, the Turners moved to Valdosta, Lowndes County, GA . Andrew Washington Turner died there on July 26, 1936.

Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans Turner lived with her daughter, Rosa Shaw, until her death on Aug, 29, 1948.

Andrew Washington Turner and Phoeba Isabelle (Sirmans) Turner are buried in Sunset Hill Cemetery in Valdosta, Georgia.

Graves of Andrew Washington Turner and Isabelle Sirmans Turner, Sunset Hill Cemetery, Valdosta, GA

Graves of Andrew Washington Turner and Isabelle Sirmans Turner, Sunset Hill Cemetery, Valdosta, GA

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Obituary of Catherine Knight Swindle (1872-1928), Ray City, GA

Another news clipping from the Ray City News,  Jan 3, 1929 edition

Mrs. J. S. Swindle was born Catherine Knight, a daughter of John W. Knight and Candacy Leaptrot.   She was a sister of  Primitive Baptist minister Aaron Anderson Knight, Sullivan Jordan Knight, and sister-in-law of George Emory Swindle.

Catherine Swindle (1872-1928) obituary, Ray City News, Ray City, GA

Clipping from the Ray City News, Jan 3, 1929 edition.

 

Ray City News. Jan 3, 1929.
Mrs. J.S. Swindle Passed Away on Christmas Day

    Mrs. Catherine Swindle, widow of the late J. S. Swindle passed away at  her home here on Christmas morning following a stroke which attacked her Saturday night.
    Mrs. Swindle, known to hundreds of friends and relatives as “Aunt Kit” was 57 years of age and had spent all her life here. She and her husband were truly pioneer citizens of Ray City as the town was built upon a part of their lands. She was preceded to her brave by her husband by about nine years.
    She was a daughter of the late John W. Knight and had a large and prominent family connection. She was the last one of this family of children.  For many years she had been a faithful member of the Primitive Baptist Church and was laid to rest at the Pleasant Church cemetery. Her pastor, Elder William Tomlinson of Douglas preached the funeral.
    The pallbearers were: Messrs. L. W. Sirmon, G. P. Swindle, H. A. Swindle, Ivey Moore, L C. Swindle and Homer Clements. A.D. Wiseman undertaker.
     Mrs. Swindle leaves behind a large host of friends and near relatives to mourn their loss, three children as follows, Bryan Swindle, Bartow, Fla, Mrs. Truby Gray, and L.J. Swindle of Ray City, Ga.
    The bereaved ones have the heartfelt sympathy of the people of this section in their loss.

  

Children of Catherine Knight and James S. Swindle:

  1. Eva Nancy Swindle – born 1889; married Elias Moore Knight, February 14, 1907; died November 15, 1925; buried Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA
  2. James Bryan Swindle – born September 7, 1897; married Myrtle Patterson, September 20, 1920; died October 7, 1949; buried Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA
  3. Trubie Inez Swindle – born November 9, 1901; married Clarence Jones Gray, October 17, 1917; Divorced 1941; Died Lake City, FL
  4. O.K. Swindle – born January 4, 1894; died September 2, 1905; buried Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA
  5. Leonard James Swindle – born November 7, 1904; married Cleo Tempy; divorced 1941; died 1966; buried Salt Springs, FL.
Catherine Knight Swindle, (1872-1928) Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA. Wife of James S. Swindle and daughter of John W. Knight.

Catherine Knight Swindle, (1872-1928) Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA. Wife of James S. Swindle and daughter of John W. Knight.

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Ray City Officers Take Seat on January 14, 1929

Ray City News articles from 1929 give insight into the town’s social, business, and political leadership of the time:

Ray City News, January 3, 1929

Ray City News, Jan 3, 1929
City Officers Take Seat on January 14

The followning city officers were elected in the election held in the early part of December, L. S. Giddens, mayor, J. D. Luke, J. A. Purvis, Y. F. Carter, W. H. E. Terry, councilmen.
J. M. Studstill opposed Giddens for mayor.  W. G. Altman, J. S. Clements and W. W. Woods were on the opposite ticket for councilmen.
The new officers will  be sworn in Monday night –text illegible– L. F.  Giddens over Edmond Griner.

Lyman Giddens

Mr. Lyman F. Giddens – better known as “Judge” – served the town as mayor, city clerk and justice-of-the-peace. As mayor he was involve in the effort to bring a power plant and electric lights to Ray City, GA.

Ray City News, Jan 3, 1929 ~ M.G. Melton Buys A. Turner Brick Bldgs.

Another clipping from the Ray City News, historic newspaper of Ray City, GA.  The article mentions that M. G. Melton intends to open a movie theater in Ray City.  Did the silver screen ever come to Ray City?

 

M.G. Melton Buys A. Turner Brick Bldgs. Clipping from the Ray City News, Jan 3, 1929 newspaper edition.

M.G. Melton Buys A. Turner Brick Bldgs. Clipping from the Ray City News, Jan 3, 1929 newspaper edition.

Ray City News, Jan 3, 1929
M.G. Melton Buys A. Turner Brick Bldgs.

   A transaction of much interest to the people of Ray City and surrounding  community is that in which Mr. M. G. Melton of Hahira purchased the two large brick buildings known as the Andrew Turner Buildings.  One of the buildings is two stories high and the top floor is needed for the telephone exchange.
     The bottom floor will be converted into an up to date moving picture theatre.  The adjoining building will be remodeled inside and a fresh line of merchandise put in.
    This transaction will mean much to the commercial life of Ray City and will afford local amusements for our citizens.
    The Ray City News takes great pleasure in welcoming Mr. Melton here, men of this calibre who can help develop our town will alway receive a hearty welcome by us.

 

 

1929 Merchants Support Ray City News

Many Ray City, GA residents felt that a home town newspaper was an essential element in the growth of the town. When the Ray City News began printing the local news, the local businessmen and merchants placed a full page advertisement showing their support.

The Ray City News, Ray City, Georgia

TO THE PUBLIC

    The undersigned merchants and business men of Ray City herewith announces the establishment of The Ray City News in the town of Ray City;
    And believing that a paper here means a great deal to the commercial life and development of our town, we are taking this method of be-speaking, for the paper, the support of the public and in asking that you subscribe to and read the Ray City News:

Citzens Bank of Ray City
M. G. Melton
C. O. Terry
Swindle & Clements
W.H.E. Terry
J. H.P. Johnson
J. L. Moore
Dr. G. H. Folsom
Charlie Shaw
Norton Service Station
A. Levin
L. F. Giddens
H. W. Woodard
J. A. Purvis
Studstill and Clements
G. M. Purvis    General Merchandise
Ray City Motor Co
Ray City Ice and Cold Storage Co.

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