Ray City Class of 1930 Didn’t Walk

It is that time of year when communities and schools everywhere celebrate the graduation of their students with the presentation diplomas in graduation exercises.   Sadly, financial exigencies 0f 1930 precluded graduation exercises for the Ray City School Class of 1930.

At that time, the operation of the Ray City school was governed by a locally elected Board of Trustees which also operated under the Berrien County School Board. The local school trustees were elected on the calendar year,  not the school year, and served a two year term.  Thus, the Ray City school trustees elected in January of 1929, Joseph Henry Pascal “Joe” Johnson, Rozzie P. Swindle and Moses Albert Studstill, along with three returning members, Dr. George Hill Folsom, Elias Moore “Hun” Knight, and William Henry Edward Terry, were responsible for the spring semester of the 1928-1929 academic year and the  fall semester of the 1929-1930 academic year.

The Nashville Herald
Jan 24, 1929

Ray City School Trustees named for the year 1929.

The Ray City School Trustee election  was held last Saturday, Jan. 12., and the following citizens will guide the destinies of the school for the year 1929: Mr. W. H. E. TerryDr. G. H. Folsom, Mr. E. M. Knight, Mr. M. A. Studstill, Mr. R. P. Swindle, and Mr. J. H. P. Johnson.

    Both Mr. Studstill and Mr. Swindle offered for re-election, with Mr. J. H. P. Johnson the only new candidate in the race, Messrs. Terry, Knight, and Folsom were held from the last term. Mr. Studstill lead the list with 40 votes, Mr. Johnson 38 and Mr. Knight 6.

    The Ray City school is reported as having had a very fine fall term of school and with the fine corps of teachers and their board of education, on of the best years in the history of Ray City Schools we be completed in June.

The 1928-29 academic year had been quite full of accomplishments for the Ray City School, despite a flu outbreak in January.  But the 1929-30 academic year was a financial challenge, and the school struggled to remain open for the entire nine month school year. Only through the generous contributions of local citizens and by charging students a tuition, was the school able to continue for the full term.

The Nashville Herald
May 22, 1930, front page

Ray City School Closes May 25th


      The Ray City School will come to a close Saturday night when the Senior Class play, entitled “A Hen-Pecked Hero,” will be given.  The commencement will begin tonight with the grammar school program, activities being postponed from Friday night on account of the Nashville Senior Class play.  Due to the school being run on a tuition basis, the commencement sermon and the graduation exercises will not be held.

      The Senior Class has been practicing daily for the past several weeks in preparing for the class play to be held Saturday night.  It is said to be very good and should draw a large attendance on that night.

Cast of Characters

Helen Hallmark, a college senior, Mable McDonald.
Doris Dartless, another senior, Doris Swindle.
Botzky, a rushing Russian, J.T. Smith.
Lilly, Russia’s fairest lily, Edra Byrd.
Barker, a defective detective, W.H. Knight.
Ted Slocum, the football coach, Bernard Johnson.
Mrs. Holden, why son-in-law left home, Beth Terry.
Iantha Brown, the romantic bride, Margaret Carter.
Prof. William Brown, her lesser half, Brown King.
Bud Cedman, with good intentions, J.R. Knight.
Countess Kalmanoff, the cause of it all, Virginia Knight.

      The Ray City school has enjoyed a very successful year and 225 students were enrolled.  At the end of the seventh month, it was feared that the school would be compelled to close down on account of finances, but public spirited citizens and patrons made the nine months term possible by contributions and placing the school on a tuition basis, which furnished the necessary money to continue operations.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

Additional notes:

Mabel V. McDonald was a daughter of Carrie Eugenia Langford and Lacy Albert McDonald. She was a sister of Billie McDonald and Lillie McDonald.  Her father was a rural mail carrier at Ray City,GA serving the Cat Creek area.  Mabel attended the summer course at Camp Wilkins, University of Georgia in the summer of 1931.

Doris E. Swindle was a daughter of Sarah Ellen “Stell” Daniel and James Henry Swindle. Her father was a farmer and merchant of Ray City, and served in the Georgia House of Representatives in the 1930s. Doris attended Camp Wilkins at UGA in the summer of 1931, and went on to attend Georgia State Womens College (now Valdosta State University). She was killed in an automobile accident in 1941.

J. T. Smith was  John Thomas Smith, son of Leila Terry and Grandson of Zack Terry.  J. T. Smith and brother, Edwin, later operated a dairy farm near Ray City, GA.

Edra Byrd was a daughter of Mattie Swindle Byrd, and a granddaughter of Mary Etta and Redding D. Swindle. In 1930, Edra was living with her grandparents. Her grandfather, Redding Swindle, served as Ray City’s first mayor and was a member of the Board of Trustees for the Ray City School.

W. H. Knight was a son of Josie Langdale and Paul Knight.  His father was a farmer of Berrien County.  W. H. Knight was a grandson of Jimmie Gullet and Walter Howard Knight.

Bernard Lamar Johnson was a son of James Randall Johnson and Ruby Texas Knight. In 1930 his father was a farmer near Rays Mill, GA. Bernard attended Camp Wilkins at UGA in the summer of 1931

Beth Terry was a daughter of Charles Oscar Terry and Esther E Russell.  Her father was a pharmacist and prominent businessman of Ray City. In the summer of 1931, Beth attended the summer course at Camp Wilkins, University of Georgia.

Margaret Carter was born and raised in Ray City, GA. She was the daughter of Cora and Yancy F. Carter. Her father was a Ray City Councilman, board member of the Bank of Rays Mill, and operator of the Y.F. Carter Naval Stores, which in the 1930s was the largest firm in the community.  After completing school at Ray City, Margaret attended the summer course at Camp Wilkins, University of Georgia in the summer of 1931. She went on to attend  Georgia State Womens College (now Valdosta State University).

Franklin Brown King was a son of Ida Guthrie and Jim King.  He went on to a long career as a merchant marine.

John R. Knight was a son of Walton and Mildred Knight. He later lived in Lanier County.

Virginia Florence Knight was a daughter of  Carl Herbert Knight and Mattie Julia Hadsock.  In 1934, she married William A. “Bill” Garner. The Garners would later run the Ray City Post Office.

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Dr. Folsom ~ Warrior Doctor

Dr. George Hill Folsom had family connections and was well known in Ray City and Berrien County, GA for more than 50 years.  He came to live in Berrien County some time prior to 1929, and established a home in Ray City where he engaged in general practice as one of the Medical Men of Ray’s Mill.

Dr. George Hill Folsom lived in Ray City, GA in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Dr. George Hill Folsom lived in Ray City, GA in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

George Hill Folsom was born July 26, 1877 in Colquitt County Georgia, a son of Randall Nathaniel Folsom and Mary E. Marchant.  George Hill Folsom could trace his ancestry back to William Folsom (ca 1745-1785), “who assisted in establishing independence while acting in the capacity of Lieutenant in the Georgia Line.” Lieutenant William Folsom is thought to be a native of Virgina who later moved to Georgia where he lived  and died in Burke County.

At age 3, George Hill Folsom was enumerated in the town of Warrior, Colquitt County, GA where his father was engaged in farming.

On April 7, 1903 George H. Folsom married Mattie Laura Brown in Pinopolis, Colquitt County, GA.  Her parents, Eliza Catherine Hancock and Simon Peter Brown, were also from Colquitt County, but had relocated to the 1487th district in Berrien County some time before 1900.

It is said that George H. Folsom  attended the Atlanta School of Medicine. If so, he would have studied there sometime between 1906 and 1910.

The Atlanta School of Medicine was  formally opened in October 1905, and became a part of Emory University in 1913.

It appears that  Mattie Folsom continued to live with her parents while George was away at medical school, for the couple’s   first child, Bessie Viola Folsom, was born on March 11, 1905 at Milltown, GA (now Lakeland). A second daughter, Susie Mae Folsom, was born at Ray City, GA on June 13, 1908.

After receiving a medical degree, Dr. George H. Folsom returned to his birthplace.  In the Census of 1910, he is enumerated on May 2, 1910 with his wife and daughters in Warrior, Colquitt County, GA where he was employed in general medical practice.  Although Mattie’s parents had also relocated back to Colquitt County by this time, the Folsoms must have retained a place or family connections near Ray City, for on December 11, 1910 this is where their first son, Ernest William Folsom, was delivered. A second son, George Jr. was born at Lakeland in 1913, followed by a daughter delivered at Valdosta in 1915.

By 1917, Dr. Folsom had moved his family to  Ellenton, GA where he engaged in general practice on his own account.  The Folsoms lived in a house on Baker Street, which Dr. Folsom owned free and clear.

It was while living in Ellenton that George Hill Folsom registered for the draft for World War I.  At 40 years of age, he was described as tall and stout, with dark hair and blue eyes. He was not called to serve in the war.

Dr. George Hill Folsom, wife Mattie and the children.

Dr. George Hill Folsom, wife Mattie and the children.

The Folsom’s final two children were both born in Valdosta, GA; Elmer  A. Folsom, born July 9, 1919 and Elton Brown Folsom, born March 6, 1924.

In 1928, Dr. Folsom’s daughter, Susie Mae Folsom, married Joseph Edward Boyett in Nashville, GA.  Apparently by at least 1929, the rest of the G.H. Folsom family had moved to Berrien, this time to Ray City, GA.  Dr. Folsom served on the 1929 Board  of Trustees for Ray City School.  He was one of the business men who endorsed the establishment of the Ray City News newspaper.

The Census of 1930 found the Folsom family living in town in Ray City. Dr. Folsom owned one of the finest homes in town, valued at $3000.  Mrs. Folsom kept house while their daughter, Bessie Folsom, was a grammar school teacher. The rest of the children were not employed and presumably were engaged in studies.  The family neighbors were H. C. Hutchison and the widow Mary J. Fountain.

By 1934, the Folsoms moved to Lakeland, Lanier County, GA where Dr. Folsom continued his medical practice.  A notice from the 1934 Lanier County News puts the financial outlook of the medical profession in the 1930s into perspective:

Notice to Public: To Whom It May Concern:  By mutual agreement the following charges will be made for our services effective immediately: Office Calls, $1.00. Local Calls, $1.50. Out of Town Calls 50 cents per mile. $1.00 extra charge will be made for night calls, both local and out of town. Obstetrics, $25.00 cash, or $30.00 on time, with $10.00 cash payment. Dr.  Louis Smith, Dr. G.H. Folsom.

By the 1940 census, George and Mattie Folsom had moved to Lakeland where they were living on Church Street. Still living in the Folsom household were the doctor’s adult children, Bessie, Ernest, Elmer, and 16-year-old Brownie. The Folsoms owned a home valued at $5000.

Income data from the 1940 census paints an interesting picture of relative wages of the time. The good doctor was drawing an annual income of $1000 for his 70 hour work week.  Bessie was working as a school teacher with an income of $540. Ernest Folsom, a road inspector for the Highway Dept, was drawing the highest wages, at $1200.

Dr. Folsom’s wife,Mattie Laura Brown, died November 8, 1947.  Dr. Folsom continued to live in Lakeland until his death January 17, 1963.

Children of Mattie Laura Brown and George Hill Folsom:

  1. Bessie Viola Folsom, born March 11, 1905, Lakeland, GA
  2. Susie Mae Folsom, born June 13, 1908, Ray City, GA RFD
  3. Ernest William Folsom, born December 11, 1910, Ray City, GA
  4. George Hill Folsom, Jr., born July 8, 1913, Lakeland, GA
  5. Katie Louise Folsom, born September 20, 1915, Valdosta, GA
  6. Elmer  A. Folsom, born July 9, 1919, Valdosta, GA
  7. Elton Brown Folsom, born March 6, 1924, Valdosta, GA

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