4th of July, 1914 a Big Day at Milltown

Independence Day at Milltown, GA

1914 Independence Day was celebrated at Milltown, now Lakeland, GA

1914 Independence Day was celebrated at Milltown, now Lakeland, GA

Tifton Gazette
July 3, 1914

Big Day at Milltown

       Milltown, Ga., June 23. – The business men of Milltown and the people generally throughout this section have come together and will, on the Fourth day of July celebrate Independence Day with a mammoth fish fry, free to everybody, who spends that day with us. It is the intention to have something like 2,000 pounds of fried fresh water fish here that day, besides other eatables.
      The present prospect is that there will be at least 5,000 here on that occasion. In addition to the free fish fry, there will be a ball game between Milltown and Homerville, boat races, foot races, and other interesting sports. The boat races will take place on Lake Irma, an artificial body of water right in the center of town, covering about 12 acres. On the bank of this beautiful lake is a skating rink, where a contest in fancy skating will occur.
      The Waycross and Western railroad will run an excursion from Waycross and the Milltown Air Line one from Naylor, where it connects with the Atlantic Coast Line. Word comes that every available automobile in Valdosta, Hahira, Nashville, Adel, Sparks, Rays Mill and other nearby towns have been engaged to bring the crowds to Milltown on the glorious Fourth. This is claimed to be the greatest fish fry in the history of all time, except one.
      Milltown is in the very heart of the finest fishing territory in the whole south. Only one mile away is the famous Bank’s Pond, covering 11,000 acres of land and abounding in the choicest and gamest of fish.

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Perry Thomas Knight (1877-1955)

Perry Thomas Knight (March 7, 1877  – September 16, 1955)

http://berriencountyga.com/

Perry Thomas Knight. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Perry Thomas Knight was born March 7, 1877 at Rays Mill (now Ray City) Berrien County, GA. He was a son of George Washington Knight (born 1845 in GA; private, Company E, 54th Georgia Regiment, C. S. A., serving four years; died 1913) and Rhoda (Futch) Knight (born 1846 in Berrien County, GA; died 1909).

P.T. Knight attended the Green Bay School near Ray City, completing there in 1896.  In 1897, he returned to the Green Bay School as a teacher. He made an excursion to Terra Ceia, FL in 1898 , then returned to Berrien County and taught at the Cross Creek School in east Berrien county.

Knight  then attended Southern Normal University in Huntingdon, TN.   He graduated in 1901 and returned to Berrien County to begin the practice of law.   His practice frequently included handling the legal affairs of residents and businesses of Ray’s Mill  (later Ray City, GA).

Perry Thomas Knight attended Southern Normal University, Huntingdon, TN in 1901. In 1908, the building became the home of the Industrial and Training School. Image source: http://tn-roots.com/tncarroll/photos/postcards.htm

Perry Thomas Knight attended Southern Normal University, Huntingdon, TN in 1901. In 1908, the building became the home of the Industrial and Training School. Image source: http://tn-roots.com/tncarroll/photos/postcards.htm

Advertisement for Southern Normal University, 1901.

Advertisement for Southern Normal University, 1901.

Perry Thomas Knight married Annie Lotta Dugger on July 19, 1903. She was a daughter of Wiley Jackson Dugger  and Sallie (Bowen) Dugger. Her father was a hotel keeper and Justice of the Peace at Boston, GA.

Marriage certificate of Perry Thomas Knight and Ann Dugger, Berrien County, GA

Marriage certificate of Perry Thomas Knight and Ann Dugger, Berrien County, GA

In 1905, Perry T. Knight   and boyhood friend Levi J. Clements  were part of a quartet of investors in the formation of the Bank of Milltown:

 GOSSIP AT THE CAPITOL

Atlanta Constitution.
Feb 7, 1905 pg. 7

  Application was filed with secretary of State Philip Cook yesterday for a charter for the Bank of Milltown, at Milltown, in Berrien county. The capital stock of the new bank is to be $25,000 and the incorporators are J.V. Talley, W.L. Patton, P.T. Knight and L.J. Clements, Jr.

 P.T. Knight  attended ministerial school in 1909 at Oaklawn Baptist Academy in Milltown, GA (now Lakeland) and served as pastor of Good Hope Baptist church at Naylor, Brushy Creek church near Nashville, Lois church, and Waresboro church near Waycross. He was a Mason and served as lodge master of the Lakeland Lodge 434 F&AM. He had a farm on RFD #2 out of Milltown (now Lakeland), GA. He employed Robert Lee Mathis and Charles Anthony Ray to farm it.

During World War I,  P.T. Knight registered for the draft , his draft card being completed by D.A. Sapp on September 12, 1918 at Nashville, GA.  He gave his address as R.F.D. Milltown, GA. His occupation was Minister. He was of medium height, stout, with blue eyes and dark hair.  He was commissioned 1st Lieutenant and Chaplain in the  5th Infantry, 17th Division at Camp Zachary Taylor, KY .

Army Training School for Chaplains and approved chaplain candidates, Camp Zachary Taylor, Louisville, Ky.,

Army Training School for Chaplains and approved chaplain candidates, Camp Zachary Taylor, Louisville, Ky., “Lining up for Mess”. Original image courtesy of Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/pan.6a29832/

On Nov. 25, 1918 Knight was attached to 5th Infantry  at Camp Beauregard, La.    He received an honorable discharge on December 4,  1918.

Perry Thomas Knight, WWI Service Record.

Perry Thomas Knight, WWI Service Record.

Perry T. Knight was listed among the ordained ministers of the United States in the 1919 American Baptists Yearbook. In 1920 he joined the Baptist Chaplains Club, an organization of military chaplains dedicated to supporting the work of chaplains in the service and to securing legislation relative to the chaplains’ work. By 1925, he had served 4 years as pastor of the Baptist Church of Ray City.

In 1921 things were not going well for farmers in Ray City, GA or elsewhere around the state of Georgia. Perry T. Knight wrote an open letter to the members of the Georgia General Assembly proposing a special legislative session to consider the plight of the farmers and to enact legislation to protect them from looming financial disaster.

‘Corn has been sold at public outcry this winter for the pitiful sum of 15 cents per bushel’ the letter states, ‘and other produce has sold equally low. A one-horse crop sold under distress warrant for rent did not bring enough to pay the officers of the court. The landlord got nothing and the tenant had nothing left.’

‘The people of this section want an extra session of the general assembly called by the governor, and let them enact a stay law for a fixed period so that no creditor can sue any debtor for any contract or obligation up to the present time until after the stay period, and at the same time enact legislation that would not permit a debtor to dispose of nor transfer his property without the consent of his creditor.’

Perry T. Knight was elected as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives from Berrien county 1921-1924, and subsequently served in various elected and appointed governmental positions (see Update on Perry Thomas Knight)

In 1923, Knight prepared a record of the outstanding accounts of the Ray City Supply Company in part to reconcile the estate of Francis Marion Shaw, who had an interest in the business.   He also led the fundraising effort to pay for the Doughboy Monument in Nashville, GA.

In the 1920s Perry Thomas Knight became active in state politics. He was elected to the Georgia Assembly and worked in various elected and appointed positions.  His career in public administration is described in the Georgia Official and Statistical Register.

Senator Perry T. Knight, of Ray City,  was appointed to serve on the Western & Atlantic Railroad Commission in 1925.    The General Assembly of Georgia, by an act of 1925, directed the Georgia Public Service Commission to compile all data pertaining to the Western and Atlantic railroad and instructed it to employ its consulting engineer, J. Houston Johnston, to prepare the report. The Western & Atlantic is the historic railroad line from Atlanta to Chattanooga, TN and is still owned by the State of Georgia.  The Western & Atlantic Railroad was the locale of the Great Locomotive Chase  of the W&A locomotive, The General, during the Civil War.

WESTERN AND ATLANTIC RAILROAD COMMISSION
Governor, Ex-Officio
Chairman, Public Service Commission, Ex-Officio
C. Murphy Candler, Chairman, State at Large, Atlanta
Carl N. Guess, Senator, Atlanta
 William M. Sapp, Senator, Dalton
Perry T. Knight, Senator, Ray City
 Fermor Barrett, Representative, Toccoa
 Jud P. Wilhoit, Representative, Warrenton
Edgar B. Dykes, Representative, Vienna
Bessie Kempton, Representative, Atlanta
John M. Murrah, Representative, Columbus
J. Q. Smith, Representative, Cairo
John B. Wilson, Secretary to Commission, Atlanta
(Acts 1925, p. 278.)

While engaged in public service,  Perry and Annie moved to Atlanta, GA where they lived  until his death.

Children of Perry Thomas Knight and Annie Duggar:

  1. Loren Ray Knight (October 10, 1904 – June 17, 1911)
  2. Ralphi Lowell Knight   (Mar. 23, 1906 – Nov. 17, 1907)
  3. Rhoda Adella Knight (May 17, 1808– August 30, 1910)
  4. James Perry Knight 1911 – 1984
  5. Elwin Thomas Knight 1913 – 1972
  6. Lorena Idell Knight (Aug. 5, 1918 – May 30, 1921)

Perry Thomas Knight died September 16, 1955. He was buried at Union Church, Lanier County, Ga.(aka Burnt Church).  Annie Lota Dugger Knight died January 15, 1973. Buried at Union Church, Lanier County, Ga.

Grave of Perry Thomas Knight and Annie Dugger, Union Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Grave of Perry Thomas Knight and Annie Dugger, Union Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

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Mary Jane Smith and the Poison Pork

In the fall of 1916 Mrs. Mary Jane Smith, of Nashville, GA came to visit her daughter, Rachel Smith Sirmans, at Ray City, GA.  Rachel was recently widowed, her husband, Jay Sirmans, having died suddenly on September 20, 1916.  Rachel was left alone with two teen age boys to do the work of running a farm.

It was late October and with the first frosts of the season, people’s thoughts naturally turned toward the harvest of fresh meat from hogs fattened over the summer. Hog slaughter was generally reserved for the coldest days of the year. But after a diet of cured meats over the long heat of the Wiregrass summer and perhaps with the  smokehouse stock nearly depleted, for many farms the first cool day would do for a hog killing.  This was perhaps the occasion of Mrs. Smith’s visit.

~~~~

Hog-Killing

In the  Ray City of 100 years ago, winter was the season for hog killing as mechanical refrigeration was not available and there were no real facilities for cold storage.

In the 1920s, the Clements Lumber Company operated a cold storage facility and Ray City built a municipal electric plant in 1922, but dependable home electric service and electric refrigerators would not be available in the town until the 1930s.    Before that, most kitchens were equipped with  an “icebox” – a wood or metal cabinet insulated with straw or sawdust. A compartment near the top could be loaded with a block of ice to cool perishable food stored on lower shelves. Water from the melting ice was collected in a pan below the cabinet.  The ice kept the interior of the box far cooler than room temperature, but certainly no where near freezing.  As the ice block melted, it had to be continually replaced. Even small towns like Ray City had ice delivery men, such as Wilbur and Walter Aultman, or Ferris Moore, who regularly supplied ice to local homes and businesses (see Ferris Moore ~ Ray City Iceman).

In The Art of Managing Longleaf, Leon Neel describes  the practical and social significance of hog killing time in Wiregrass Georgia:

Hogs were a staple and we always had hog killings.  The families would get together to kill a hog or two when the weather was right, and then we would smoke our own meat.  Hog killing was a great time. Hogs were killed in cool weather, because pork spoils so easily.  The colder it was, the better it was for hog killing. But lots of times, the stored food would run out early, and we would have to kill hogs before it got to be the dead of winter.  Hog killing was a full-day’s process, and everybody had a job – the men folk, the women folk, everybody.  The process got started early in the morning.  Daddy had a little .22 rifle, and he usually shot the hog between the eyes.  Then we processed it right then and there. We had a big syrup kettle, and for hog killing time we would fill it with water and build a fire under it to get it boiling.  Then we put the hog in the kettle, which scalded it and made it possible to get the hair off with any trouble. Then we butchered the hog.  It is true what they say: Every part of the hog was utilized, everything but the squeal.  Hog killing was hard work, but it was also a great social occasion. 

For Mary Jane Smith  the visit with her daughter in Ray City was a homecoming of sorts.  She and her husband, John Woods Smith, had formerly been residents of Ray City.

Mrs. Mary Jane Smith was born Mary Jane Whitehurst, a daughter of James Whitehurst (1818-1914) and Sarah Ann Findley (1822-1914). She was born on July 7, 1848 in that part of Lowndes County which in 1850 was cut into Clinch County, GA . Her father’s place was on Land Lot 516 in the 11th Land District,  just east of the Alapaha River near Cow Creek.  Her father later moved to Berrien County and settled on the east side of the Little River where he established a grist mill and operated a ferry across the river.  For several years he had the contract to carry mail on the Star Route from Nashville, GA to Alapaha.

About 1866, Mary Jane married John Woods Smith  in Clinch County, GA.  He was a veteran of the Confederate army, having enlisted March 4, 1862 in Company G, 50th Georgia Regiment.   His time in active duty had been marked with sickness. Within months of his enlistment he had become so sick he was sent to the hospital at Macon,  GA. In June of 1862 he was given leave to “escort the dead body of a comrade home. ”   He returned to his unit but by the end of the year he was again on sick furlough.  He was sick yet again in June of 1863,  with typhoid fever.  This time he was sent to Chimborazo Hospital No. 2 at Richmond, VA then transferred to Jackson Hospital where he was diagnosed with pneumonia.  By the fall he had recovered sufficiently  to return to his unit, but on November 29, 1863 he was captured near Knoxville,  TN.  He was sent to the military prison at Louisville, KY as a prisoner of war,  then on to the notorious Camp Chase, Ohio where he was imprisoned for two years.   In March of 1865, he was transferred to Rock Island Barracks, IL  and from there he was released in a prisoner exchange.  He was  admitted to the Confederate General Hospital No. 9 at Richmond, VA where he recuperated before returning home to Berrien County, GA.

For a short while Mary Jane and John Woods Smith made their home in Clinch County, but by 1880 the couple had moved to Berrien County, GA.  In 1890, their home was in the Rays Mill district, GMD 1144, where they were neighbors of Isabelle Sirmans and Andrew W. Turner and others of the Sirmans family connection.

Children of Mary Jane and John Woods Smith were:

  1. Osborn Levi Smith  (1867 – 1896), buried at Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA
  2. Rachel Allifair Smith (1869 – 1940),  married Jay Mitchell Sirmans, son of Hardeman Sirmans
  3. Susan Earlie Smith (1871 – 1960)
  4. Cassie Jane Smith (1874 – 1948),  married Lucius John Knight, son of Rhoda Futch  and George Washington Knight, buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA
  5. William David Smith (1876 – 1887)
  6. Barzilla Newton Smith (1878 – )
  7. Sarah Levinia Smith (1880 – 1964), buried at Pinecrest Cemetery, Vidalia, GA
  8. Mary Ann Smith (1882 – 1965), married Henry J. Parrish
  9. John Dixon Smith (1884 – 1943)
  10. Martha Missouri Belle Smith (1887 – )
  11. Kissiah Amanda Smith (1889 – )

Mary Jane’s eldest daughter, Rachel Allifar Smith,  was married  to Jay Sirmans on March 22, 1893. He was son of Hardeman Sirmans and Elizabeth Knight. Rachel and Jay made their home and farm near Rays Mill (now known as Ray City), GA next door to Jay’s father. By 1910, Mary Jane and John Woods Smith had moved from Ray City to Nashville, GA where they owned a home on Washington Street where they operated a boarding house.

Mary Jane’s husband, John Woods Smith,  died April 24, 1915 and was buried at the Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA. Mary Jane Smith died a year and a half later while visiting with her daughter, Rachel, at Ray City, GA.  The cause of death was “pork poisoning.”

Without refrigeration the home preservation of meats, especially pork,  presented challenges.  In The prevention of disease; a popular treatise (1916), Kenelm Winslow reported:

Pork causes poisoning because it is imperfectly preserved by salt or smoking, and is often eaten insufficiently cooked in sausage and other forms.  Four-fifths of all cases of meat poisoning are due to eating the flesh of animals suffering from one of the germ diseases…unfortunately the meat is not altered in appearance in such cases, nor is cooking by any means a sure preventative against poisoning. Even poisoning by meat which has decomposed from too long keeping is much more frequent in the case of animals diseased before slaughter.  Expert veterinary inspection of the various organs of slaughtered animals will detect disease and prevent the killing of sick animals for food, which is most apt to occur in small towns where meat for local use is not properly inspected. Poisoning from meat which has putrefied from long keeping is more common in warm months and in the case of chopped meat or sausage. Putrid meat is usually recognizable, if not chopped, by softness and bad odor, especially about the bones and fat.  Boiling, roasting, or frying lessens the danger from putrefying meat, but does not absolutely prevent it.  Proper refrigeration in the household, both before and after cooking meat, is essential in order to preserve it, otherwise it should be eaten fresh. It is also advisable to clean refrigerators frequently with a hot solution of washing soda.  The poisoning is due to toxins in poisons produced by germs which originate in diseased animals, or contaminate the meat after slaughter and grow luxuriantly when refrigeration is imperfect.

 

1916-mary-jane-smith

Tifton Gazette

Friday, October 27, 1916

MRS. MARY JANE SMITH

Mrs. Mary Jane Smith died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. J. Sirmans, near Ray City, Saturday night after an illness of only a few days, says the Adel News. Mrs. Smith died of poison, some pork which she and Mrs. Sirmans had eaten, violently affecting them. Mrs. Sirmans was very ill for a time.

Mrs. Smith was the mother of eleven children, nine of whom survive her. Among her children are Mrs. Sirmans, Mrs. H. J. Parrish and Rev. John D. Smith, of Morven. The deceased was reared in this county and was sixty-nine years of age. She was a devoted member of the Methodist church. The funeral services and burial took place at Nashville Monday, the services being conducted by Rev. J. Harwell House, of Ocilla.

 

Grave of Mary Jane Whitehurst Smith, Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA

Grave of Mary Jane Whitehurst Smith, Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA

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G & F Railroad To Open with Big Excursion

Road opens with big excursion

Georgia and Florida railroad prepared to open. Atlanta Georgian and News, Sep. 26, 1908

Georgia and Florida railroad prepared to open. Atlanta Georgian and News, Sep. 26, 1908

Atlanta Georgian and News
September 26, 1908

To Open Road With Big Excursion

Valdosta, Ga., Sept. 26. – The businessmen of Valdosta held a meeting at the city hall yesterday afternoon for the purpose of perfecting arrangements for the entertainment of the people along the line of the Georgia and Florida railroad who are coming to this city on the big excursion which the road will run next Thursday. This event will mark the opening of a passenger schedule on the new line between Hazlehurst and Madison, Fla., via Valdosta, and it is said that hundreds of persons are coming to this city from the different towns along the line. Many of them will be strangers who have never visited Valdosta, and all will be given a royal welcome.
The track-layers on the gap of the line between Valdosta and Nashville joined the rails near Rays Mill last Saturday and this week has been spent in surfacing the roadbed and getting ready for the passenger schedule to go on October 1. The road is now in operating order from Hazlehurst to Madison, Fla.

First Regular Train on the G & F, The Valdosta Times, September 26, 1908 Pg 5

First Regular Train on the G & F, The Valdosta Times, September 26, 1908 Pg 5

The Valdosta Times
September 26, 1908

Many are Coming Next Week

First Regular Train on G. & F. will Bring Large Crowds

It Will Arrive From Hazlehurst Next Wednesday with Five Hundred Excursionists to Spend the Day in Valdosta – Crowd Will be Entertained Here.

The first regular passenger train over the Georgia and Florida railroad will reach this city next Wednesday at noon from Hazelhurst, Ga.
The train will leave Hazlehurst that morning at seven o’clock and it will come through by Broxton, Douglas, Willacoochee, Nashville and other places, taking up a crowd of people at each station and bring them to Valdosta to spend the day.
The first train will be devoted exclusively to the white people and the officials of the road are working up the crowd to come here. It will consist of the best class of people between here and Hazlehurst, and the citizens of Valdosta have already decided to arrange some line of entertainment for the visitors.
A meeting will be held tonight to take up the matter and discuss what line of entertainment shall be arranged. It has been suggested that open-house be kept for the visitors and that lunches be prepared and served to them. One suggestion was to tag every guest with a badge, which should admit him to the place where refreshments are to be served. Another suggestion was to have the dinner prepared when the guests arrive and serve it to the visitors in a bunch, so that the citizens of Valdosta will have a better opportunity to meet them and talk with them.
The details of the entertainment will be arranged later, it having already been decided to make it all that it should be. Valdosta never lags when a test of hospitality comes and every citizen will do his part toward welcoming to the city the people on the line of road above here.
It is very probable that the meeting tonight will decide all about what kind of entertainment will be given the visitors.

Dr. Jones was a Banker at Rays Mill

Dr. Charles Xavier Jones, First Mayor of Ray City

Charles X. Jones ~ Mayor, doctor and banker of Ray City, GA

In addition to serving as Ray City’s first doctor and first Mayor, Charles X. Jones was among the town’s early bankers. The Tuesday, May 23, 1911 Valdosta Times noted that Dr. Jones was elected Vice President of the Bank of Rays Mill, GA.  Clarence L. Smith was the President, and Lewis M. Marshall, cashier.

Bank of Rays Mill elects officers.

Bank of Rays Mill elects officers, May 23, 1911

Valdosta Times
May 23, 1911

New Bank at Rays Mill.

The Times of Saturday [May 20] stated that Mr. B. P. Jones and Mr. C. L. Smith had gone to Rays Mill to assist in organizing a bank at that place. The bank is to be known as the Bank of Rays Mill, and it has a capital stock of $25,000.
Mr. C. L. Smith was elected president of the concern and Mr. L. M. Marshall of this city [Valdosta] was elected cashier, with Dr. C. X. Jones, of Rays Mill, vice-president. The directors are as follows: B. P. Jones, C. L. Smith, J. S. Swindle, J. H. Swindle, W. E. H. Terry, L. J. Clements and C. H. Jones.

Later, Charles X. Jones served on the board of directors of Southern Bank & Trust Co., Valdosta, GA.

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William Sloan Attended Stanley’s Business College

Dr. William David Sloan (1879-1935) was born in the Rays Mill District and practiced medicine in Berrien County for many years. Before entering medical school, William D. Sloan was educated at Stanley’s Business College at Thomasville, GA, an institution whose president was said to be “a man of high moral standing, honest, sober.”

012-drwillsloan

Dr. William David Sloan (1879 – 1935) (image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/)

The June 12, 1897 Thomasville Times - Enterprise noted that William D. Sloan was enrolled at Stanley's Business College.

The June 12, 1897 Thomasville Times – Enterprise noted that William D. Sloan was enrolled at Stanley’s Business College.

 Thomasville Times-Enterprise June 12, 1897 Messrs. Lane Young and W. D. Sloan, of Ray’s Mill, Ga.,  Mr. George Bergman, of Micanopy, Fla., and Mr. H. V. Simmons, of Quitman, have lately entered Stanley’s Business College for a full business course.

 

Stanley's Business College, Thomasville, GA, Book-keeping, School of Shorthand and Telegraphy.

Stanley’s Business College, Thomasville, GA, Book-keeping, School of Shorthand and Telegraphy.

Stanley’s Business College was operated by Professor G. W. H. Stanley at Thomasville, GA from about 1891 to 1904, when he relocated the school to Macon, GA.  The school had the endorsement of a number of prominent businessmen of Thomas County, including Judge A. H. Hansell, who served 50 years on the bench in the Southern Circuit.  Judge Hansell was known to everyone in Wiregrass Georgia and had tried or presided over the most prominent cases of Rays Mill, Troupville, Nashville, and other south Georgia towns.

Advertisement for Stanley's Business College, Thomasville, GA.    Tifton Gazette, Jun. 11, 1897.   The ad included an endorsement by Judge Augustin H. Hansell and other Thomasville men of note.

Advertisement for Stanley’s Business College, Thomasville, GA. Tifton Gazette, Jun. 11, 1897. The ad included an endorsement by Judge Augustin H. Hansell and other Thomasville men of note.

Advertisement for Stanley’s Business College Tifton Gazette June 11, 1897 Stanley’s Business College. Thomasville, Georgia. Home Indorsement of Bankers and Business Men. To the Public – We take pleasure in recommending Stanley’s Business College and do not hesitate to speak in the highest terms of its success. So far as we know its graduates have been successful, several of them being employed in the best business houses of the city. Its course of instruction is thorough, practical, competent, meeting all the demands of any business of to-day. We are personally acquainted with Prof. Stanley, its president, and can most earnestly recommend him as being a man of high moral standing, honest, sober, upright and sincerely interested in the welfare of each student. He has built up an educational institution of the most substantial kind, and the rapid growth and reputation of the college demonstrates his eminent qualifications as a manager and instructor. We cheerfully recommend Stanley’s Business College to all young men and women, who desire to acquire a thorough practical business training, believing as we do, that it ranks second to none in the country in the thoroughness of its course of instruction and ability of its teachers:

In a column titled “Lois Notes” the Tifton Gazette reported William D. Sloan graduated and returned to the community of Lois, GA just west of Rays Mill (now known as Ray City, GA).

William D. Sloan graduated from Stanley Business College in 1898.

William D. Sloan graduated from Stanley Business College in 1898.

Tifton Gazette January 21, 1898 Mr. W. D. Sloan has just returned [to Lois, GA] from Stanley Business College, at Thomasville, with his diploma.

Related Posts: Dr. Sloan Had Ray City Roots Ida Sloan Ray Endorsed Doan’s Pills Minnie Gordon Sloan Married Meritt E. Johnson J. M. Sloan Dies after Throw From Horse Ray City Child Dies From Bite Of Rattle Snake, 1925 Perry Thomas Knight Attended Oaklawn Baptist Academy

The Estate of Green Bullard

Green Bullard was a long time resident of the Rays Mill (now Ray City) area, and husband of Mary Ann Knight.   The Bullards owned land out Possum Creek Road and on toward the community of Cat Creek.  (See Green Bullard and Green Bullard Fought Sickness in the Civil War)

Following Green Bullard’s death in 1907, there was some dispute among his children and step-children over the administration of his estate.

One side of the family, represented by Buie & Knight, wanted Henry Needham Bullard appointed as administrator.  The other side, represented by William Hamilton Griffin, wanted Mallie Jones as administrator. Attorney William Hamilton Griffin,  who was judge of the Valdosta City Court and a former mayor of Valdosta. Col. Griffin was a native of Berrien County and had served previously as clerk of the Berrien County court and as Ordinary of Berrien County.

Children of Mary A. Knight and William A. Jones (1835-1866)

  1. William Malachi Jones (1861-1925)
  2. Adam Allen Jones (1863-1922)

Children of Green Bullard and Mary A. Knight

  1. Sally Louise Bullard  (1866 – 1919) married Albert B. Surrency
  2. Susan Bullard (1871 – 1950)  married Jesse Shelby “Doc” Shaw
  3. Fannie Bullard (1874 – 1941) married William Berrien Shaw
  4. Henry Needham Bullard (1878 – 1938) married Mary Johnson
  5. Louis Malone Bullard (1881 – 1945) married Dollie Howard Knight

The court challenge was reported in the April 11, 1908 edition of the Valdosta Times.

April 11, 1908 Adminstration of the estate of Green Bullard is contested by daughter Fannie Bullard Shaw

April 11, 1908 Administration of the estate of Green Bullard is contested by daughter Fannie Bullard Shaw

Valdosta Times
April 11, 1908

Contest Over Administration

    Mr. William B. Shaw, of Bainbridge, representing his wife [Fannie Bullard Shaw], accompanied by his attorney, Judge W. H. Griffin, and Mr. Will Simms, went to Nashville yesterday to appear before the ordinary there and have Mr. Henry Bullard made administrator of the estate of Greene Bullard.  Other heirs wanted Mr. Mallie Jones made administrator.  Judge Griffin represented one side and Buie & Knight the other.  Judge Patterson heard the arguments and later appointed the clerk of the superior court, probably as a compromise, or  until the matter may be given further consideration.

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J. M. Sloan Dies after Throw From Horse

James Murray Sloan came to the Ray's Mill, GA neighborhood in 1871. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

James Murray Sloan came to the Ray’s Mill, GA neighborhood in 1871. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

James Murray Sloan, a son of David and Diadema Sloan, was born Jan. 18, 1833 in Duplin County, N.C.,  J. M. Sloan and his wife, Martha Susan Gordon,  removed from North Carolina to Mississippi for a brief stay, then to Echols Co., Ga.; thence to Berrien County, GA in 1871 where J.M. Sloan engaged in farming.  A number of Duplin County, NC families had relocated in the 1850s to that portion of Lowndes County which was cut into Berrien County in 1856. Among these Duplin transplants were William J. Lamb, James Carroll, Jesse Carroll, William Godfrey, Andrew J. Liles, William Best, James W. Dixon, and Robert Rouse. James Dobson brought his family and slaves, Peter McGowan and Richard McGowan believed to be among them. William Hill Boyett, John Bostick, Treasy Boyett Bostick and Mary C. Bostick came from Duplin to Berrien in the mid-century, and A few years later, Jessie Bostick also removed from Duplin County to the area.  Many of these settled in the area between present day  Ray City and Lakeland, GA (then called Allapaha).

County property tax records for 1873  show J. M. Sloan paid a poll tax in Berrien County that year but  listed no taxable property in his name.  The 1874 tax records show an assessment on  household and kitchen furniture valued at $10, $25 in plantation and mechanical tools, and $166 in ‘other property,’ but no real estate.  By 1875 J. M. Sloan had acquired 245 acres in lot 450, 1144 GMD, in the 10th district, about a mile outside of present day Ray City, GA,  valued at $400 and had $145 in ‘other property.’  Portions of adjoining Land Lots 422, 423, 451, and 452 in the 10th land district  were owned jointly by William Roberts and T.M. Ray, founder of Ray’s Mill, GA. (see Thomas M Ray Founded Ray’s Mill in 1863)

1869 Berrien County Map detail showing location of land lot # 450.

1869 Berrien County Map detail showing location of land lot # 450.

The 1876 tax records show  James M. Sloan listed as “agent for wife,”   with 242  acres in lot 450, 10th district valued at $250.  At that time he had  $50 household and kitchen furniture;  $115 in horses, mules, hogs, sheep, cattle, etc.; and  $9 in plantation & mechanical tools.

He was faring about the same in 1877, still on the same acreage in lot 450, now with  $60 household and kitchen furniture, pianos, organs, etc;  $142 in horses, mules, hogs, sheep, cattle, etc.; and  $41 in plantation & mechanical tools.  His total estate was valued at $493.

Neighbors were William E. Langford with 60 acres and  John B. Gaskins with 100 acres on the same land lot 450;  Jethro Patten on Lot 449; John G & Mary Knight on portions of Lot 450 and 451. Barney B. Chism on Lot 426; William A. Bridges on portions of Lot 470 and 471; and 471 Robert Woodard on lot 471. Neighbor Jonathan D. Knight , who was on portions of Lots 424, 425, 450 and 451, was a signer of the 1877 Georgia Constitution. Another neighbor was John Thomas Clower, Doctor of Ray’s Mill, on a small farm in lot 424.

The 1880 tax records show James M. Sloan was the liquor dealer at Rays Mill.

In 1890 the Berrien County tax digest shows the Sloans were still on their 242 acre farm on Lot 450 in the 10th Land District, now valued at $500.

Neighbors in 1890 still included John B. Gaskins on Lot 450 and John G. Knight on portions of Lots 424, 450 and 451; Redding D. Swindle on portions of Lot 423 and 424;  Mary A. Ray  and Texas E Ray on portions of Lot 423 and 424; James A. Knight on portions of Lot 471; Elizabeth E. Knight on portions of Lots 424, 450, and 451; Walter H. Knight on Lot 426; Louis L. Knight on portions of Lot 451;  Joseph E. Langford on a portion of Lot 450; portions of Lots 424 and 449 belonged to John T. Higgs; Barney B. Chism on Lots 426 and 427; James M. Baskin on Lots 470 and 471.

In 1894, The Tifton Gazette reported the demise of  James M. Sloan, his death occurring on November 20, 1894.

The Tifton Gazette
Nov. 30, 1894 — page 1

Mr. J. M. Sloan, a thrifty farmer of Rays Mill neighborhood, died on Tuesday of last week.  He fell from his horse some time ago, from which he sustained injuries that produced death.  He was a native North Carolinian, but a resident of Georgia for quite a quarter of a century.

James Murray Sloan died after being thrown from a horse.

James Murray Sloan died after being thrown from a horse.

His widow, Martha Gordon Sloan, continued to reside  in the Rays Mill District.  The census of 1900 shows  she owned the family farm, free and clear of mortgage, which she worked on her own account, with the assistance of farm laborer Charlie Weaver.

Martha Gordon Sloan, wife of James Murray Sloan. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Martha Gordon Sloan, wife of James Murray Sloan. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

Children of Martha Susan Gordon and James Murray Sloan:

  1. John Fisher Sloan 1858 – 1930
  2. Emma Jane Sloan 1859 – 1871
  3. Mary Ann Sloan 1861 – 1863
  4. Sarah Virginia Sloan 1864 – 1944
  5. Martha Ida Letitia Sloan 1867 – 1930
  6. Susan Evelyn Sloan 1870 – 1940
  7. Catherine Diademma Sloan 1872 – 1901
  8. Celia Frances Sloan 1874 – 1895
  9. Fannie Sloan 1874 –
  10. Minnie Gordon Sloan 1876 – 1904
  11. William David Sloan 1879 – 1935
Graves of James Murray Sloan and Martha Susan Gordon, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Graves of James Murray Sloan and Martha Susan Gordon, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

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Knights Come to Lowndes County, GA

In the winter of 1824-25 a group of Revolutionary War “Baby Boomers” came west from Wayne County, Georgia to settle in what was then Irwin County, near the area that would one day become known as Ray City, Georgia.  They were  politically connected and probably had full knowledge that the huge area of Irwin county, occupying the central third of the southern Georgia, was about to be divided into smaller counties.

Among the leaders of this small band of settlers were William Anderson Knight and wife Sarah Cone Knight, his brother Samuel Knight, and his son-in-law Isben Giddens. They brought with them their families, children, livestock, and their possessions to make a new home in the new county of Lowndes, which was created from parts of Irwin County in 1826. These pioneers were experienced at opening up a new county. They were frontiersmen with militia experience, and also experienced at carving farms and plantations from the wilderness of the Wiregrass. In a sense, they were the first ‘Americans’, born between the time of the Declaration of Independence and the ratification of the Constitution of the United States. They were raised in a time of war; their fathers served as Revolutionary Soldiers. Like the baby boomers of later wars, they grew up in a sort of post-war boom period, where Americans were celebrating their new-found independence and freedom.

The Knights were true Wiregrass pioneers. They came to this section from Wayne County, where William A. Knight had been among the very first settlers, arriving there about 1803. The Knight’s Wayne County place was situated near the Old Post Road, one of the earliest roads in Georgia. On the land adjacent to Knight’s, another Wiregrass pioneer, William Clements, had settled his family.  The Knights and the Clements became steadfast friends with many family and business dealings; William Knight and William Clements served together on the Wayne county Grand Jury of 1813 and worked together in other civic capacities.

Old Post Road Historic Marker, Glynn County, GA

Old Post Road Historic Marker, Glynn County, GA

The Old Post Road…was originally an Indian trail extending from St. Augustine, Florida, northward through south Georgia into the rolling country known as the Sand Hill section. Mitchell’s map of 1756, now in the Library of Congress in Washington, shows this trail. During the Revolutionary War the American forces marched along it on their way to attack a British contingent at Fort Tonyn, which was somewhere south of [U.S. Hwy 84]. Historians have not been able to determine the exact site. The road continued to be used as a stagecoach route and post road between Savannah and Florida until the War between the States.

When Wayne County had been created in 1803, William A. Knight was one of five commissioners empowered by the Georgia Legislature to determine the site of the county seat in the new county, and “when it was done it was located on lands owned by Mr. Knight and by William Clements.” The Wayne county seat became known as Tuckersville, after resident John Tucker who served as the first postmaster there. (Waynesville was not officially designated as the county seat until 1829.) William A. Knight served as a post master after John Tucker, and William Clements served as a Wayne County road commissioner. Tuckersville  was located  somewhere north of Waynesville on the Post Road near the Buffalo Swamp, once the home and feeding grounds of herds of Georgia buffalo. The town disappeared from maps after 1850 and its exact location remains a mystery. wayne-historic-marker In its first twenty years, Wayne County was slow in developing.  William A. Knight served as the tax collector for 1806 and 1807, but no monies were returned to the state Comptroller General’s office for those years. According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia “The area contained hundreds of acres of pine barrens and wiregrass country. Much of the land was undesirable for settlement… Many of the early white settlers were families who, having lost their bids to win richer land in Baldwin or Wilkinson counties in the 1805 land lottery, settled for the isolation and less desirable land offered by Wayne County.”   Perhaps the lack of economic development in Wayne County finally discouraged the Knights. For whatever reason, it appears they decided there were better opportunities in opening up a new county than remaining behind in Wayne County.

As a member of the state Legislature, William A. Knight undoubtedly knew of the impending division of the vast Irwin County into smaller counties. The military road constructed by John Coffee and Thomas Swain in 1823 had opened up the south central Georgia territory to pioneer settlers (see Daniel McCranie). Coffee’s road, as it was soon known, passed from Jacksonville, GA through the site of present day Nashville, GA and on southward to the Florida line.

Coffee Road Historic Marker, Nashville GA

Coffee Road Historic Marker, Nashville GA

When the Knights left their farms and came to south central Georgia to build their “log cabin in the wilds of the Wiregrass”, this area of Georgia was all part of the huge Irwin county. Lowndes was created from 2080 square miles carved out of Irwin, which had been plotted into Land Districts. Located on the center of Georgia’s southern border with Florida, Lowndes was still a quite large county. It would later be further divided into six present day counties; Lowndes, Brooks, Cook, Tift, Clinch, Lanier, and Berrien counties.

William Anderson Knight chose a home site on the northwest edge of Grand Bay in what was soon to be Lowndes County. This area, in the 10th land district of Irwin County, had good water and better soil than the typical pine barrens of Wayne County. It was situated between the Alapaha River to the east and the Withlacoochee and its tributaries to the west.

Children of William A. Knight and Sarah Cone:

  1. Thomas Knight, born February 6, 1799
  2. Kezia Knight, born November 20, 1801
  3. Levi J. Knight, born September 1, 1803
  4. William Cone “Big Billie” Knight, born October 8, 1805
  5. John Knight, born July 7, 1807
  6. Sarah Knight, born October 10, 1809
  7. Elizabeth Knight, born September 23, 1811
  8. Aaron Knight, born July 17, 1813
  9. Jonathan Knight, born January 16, 1817

William A. Knight’s place was near the route, such as it was, from Waynesville to Thomasville, GA. About nine miles to the west was Coffee’s Road; equidistant to the east was the site of Union Church, the Primitive Baptist church organized in 1825 by Reverend Fleming Bates and Reverend Matthew Albritton with the Knights, Pattens, Lees and Sirmans as founding members.

Historic Marker - Union Church, organized 1825. Sarah and William A. Knight were founding members.

Historic Marker – Union Church, organized 1825. Sarah and William A. Knight were founding members.

Knight and Union Church played a significant role in the rapid growth of Primitive Baptist churches throughout the Wiregrass region.  Union Church was at the head of the local organization of these churches into a Primitive Baptist Association, then known as the Ochlocknee Association. In 1833, Knight was appointed to travel these new churches to instruct them on their duties and responsibilities to the Association. By 1835,& when Union Church and other churches of south Georgia and north Florida sought to divide from the Ochlocknee Primitive Baptist Association, Knight served on the presbytery in the organization of the new Suwannee Primitive Baptist Association.

The Knight’s were influential in the development of Lowndes county from the very beginning, from the  convening of the first superior court to the representation in state politics. William A. Knight became the first state senator elected from Lowndes county to serve in the Georgia Assembly, and his son Jonathan Knight became the first state representative.

Following his parents , Levi J. Knight  brought his new bride, Ann Clements Herrin Knight, to homestead in Lowndes County in 1827. Anne was the daughter of the Knights’ Wayne County neighbors,  William and Elizabeth Clements.  L. J. Knight chose a spot not far from Grand Bay, on Beaverdam Creek,   where he established his  home site.  Perhaps even then he saw that the headwaters of Beaverdam Creek could some day be impounded to provide water power for a settlement.  Levi J. Knight’s homestead became the nucleus of a community, first known simply as Knight, GA that later grew into present day Ray City, GA.

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Big Blaze of 1915

The big fire at Rays Mill broke out just a few minutes after sunrise on a Sunday morning, April 25, 1915.  The flames originated in the business district in a small store operated by Johnnie Clements, Jr. and soon spread to nearby buildings including the two story Rays Mill Hotel. The J.M. Parrish & Company store owned by Joseph Math Parrish was also damaged; bookkeeper at the store was Leon Lacy Parrish.  At that time there was no water system in the town, and no way to effectively fight the blaze.

The Nashville Herald
April 30, 1915

Destructive Fire Visits Rays Mill

      One of the most disastrous fires in the history of Rays Mill visited that place Sunday morning about 6 o’clock.  Several stores and considerable amount of goods were destroyed by the flames.

      The fire started in a store owned by John Clements of Milltown, in which building his son, Johnnie Clements, Jr., was operating a small store, and the store and contents were completely destroyed.  The loss in this instance was about $1,000 on the building and about the same amount on the stock.  There was insurance covering about half the loss.

      The flames leaped over a brick building and it was completely consumed [missing] & Co. and set fire to the Rays Mill hotel.  The hotel was a two-story building and it was completely consumed by the fire.  It was owned by Messrs. J.H. and Jas. S. Swindle and was valued at $5,000 or $6,000.  The hotel was destroyed with most of its contents.  Mr. J.F. Hineley, who operated the hotel, also had a small store which was entirely destroyed.

      The flames when the hotel was burning were so hot that the brick store of J.M. Parrish & Co. caught and was entirely destroyed.  The building was valued at about $4,000 and the stock of goods was valued at about $15,000.  The stock was largely the property of Mr. G.W. Varn, of Valdosta.  There was insurance for about half of this loss.

      Two other store buildings belonging to Mr. Will Studstill of Valdosta were destroyed by the flames.  These small buildings were valued at about $1,000, while the stocks of goods in them were small.

      It was impossible to control the flames as there was no water supply sufficient to cope with the fire and about all that could be done was to stand by and watch the different buildings burns and try to prevent any spreading.  The losses are heavy ones and will injure the town materially.

      The total loss is figured at $23,000, and the total amount of insurance carried was $14,000, according to Mr. J.S. Swindle, who was in Nashville yesterday.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

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The Tifton Gazette
April 30, 1915

BAD FIRE AT RAY’S MILL

Flames Destroyed Hotel and Stores.  $30,000 Loss

Valdosta, April 26. – One-third of the business section of Rays Mill, a flourishing town fourteen miles from Valdosta, was destroyed by fire on Sunday.  A number of merchants lost their stores and stocks and the Rays Mill hotel, a large two-story building, was entirely destroyed with most of the furnishings.

The losses will amount to about $30,000, the property being partly covered by insurance.  J.F. Hinely, proprietor of the hotel; J.M. Parrish & Company, John J. Clements, Jr., J.H. and J.S. Swindle and W.M. Studstill are the principal losers.

The town has no water facilities and the block in which the flames started was burned before the fire could be checked.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

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The Nashville Herald
May 21, 1915

Rays Mill, The Week’s Doings In and Around

      The debris has been cleared away and work on the new buildings which will replace those destroyed by the recent disastrous fire is progressing rapidly.  With the completion of these new brick buildings, we will have what appears from the depot, almost a solid brick block, which we trust will be a reality in the near future.  The J.M. Parrish Company’s store which was only partially destroyed, will be ready for occupancy again within a few days.  This should be good news to all their many customers and friends, as they will have a new and complete line of general merchandise.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

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