History of Ray City School

In 1918, a contract for a new school building in Ray City, GA was let out by the Board of Education. Plans for the building were drawn by Valdosta architect Lloyd B. Greer. The contract for materials went to A. H. Miller Hardware Store in Ray City.

Industrial Development and Manufacturers Record, September 25, 1919, announcement of construction at Ray City, GA

Industrial Development and Manufacturers Record, September 25, 1919, announcement of construction at Ray City, GA

Construction on the brick school building, which has been preserved in Ray City and which now houses the Joe Sizemore Community Library, began in 1920.  The Ray City School opened in 1922.

Ray City School, March 11, 1927. In 1918, the Berrien County School Board put out a contract for a new school building in Ray City, GA. Plans for the building were drawn by Valdosta architect Lloyd B. Greer. Materials were supplied by A. H. Miller Hardware Store in Ray City. The school opened in 1922.

Ray City School, March 11, 1927.

The brick school building at Ray City, GA was designed by Valdosta architect Lloyd Greer.  Among other buildings designed by Greer were:  Federal Building and Post Office, Valdosta, GA; Carnegie  Library, Valdosta,GA; First Church of Christ, Scientist, Tallahassee, FL; James Price McRee House, Camilla, GA; Dasher High School, Valdosta, GA; Barney School, Barney, GA; Barber-Pitman House, Valdosta, GA; Lanier County Auditorium and Grammar School, Lakeland, GA; Ilex Theater, Quitman,GA; Moultrie Theater, Moultrie, GA; United Cigar Store Building, Jacksonville, GA; Quitman Library, Quitman, GA; Echols County High School, Statenville, GA; Barrow Hall, Emory Junior College, Valdosta, GA; Pine Grove School, Fitzgerald, GA; Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, GA; Douglas Negro High School and Douglas White High School, Douglas, GA; Nichols House,Valdosta, GA; Berrien High School, Nashville, GA. The Lyric Theater, Waycross,GA was designed by Greer.

Old Wooden School at Ray City, GA

The Ray City High School Class of 1949 wrote, “The school of our community was begun long before our town received its present name having been known as Rays Mill. “

Among those early teachers of Ray’s Mill (now Ray City) was  Henry Harrison Knight (1840-1898).  These teachers   taught in the little one room log house schools  of Berrien county, and were often paid in “found” – bartered, homegrown commodities such as ham, chickens, eggs, or butter.

The first school building was located on the east side of town. This building was destroyed by fire. Then a log cabin called the Alliance Building was constructed in 1898, and was used for about two years.

In 1900 the interested people of the community decided to make an improvement in the school plant. Trees were cut from their lands and carried to Sutton’s Sawmill to be made into lumber, for the purpose of erecting a frame building. That stood where our present building is now standing. It consisted of one large room. Some of the interested patrons who helped with this building were: J. S. Swindle, W. E. Langford, Isaac Burkhalter, Redding Swindle, and W. M. Knight. With the aid of other patrons they completed the first Ray City School. -History of Ray City School (1948-49 Yearbook)

The town experienced a boom period when the Georgia & Florida Railroad came to Ray City in 1909.The increased population made it necessary to make an addition of two more rooms to the school.” -History of Ray City School (1948-49 Yearbook)

The January 19, 1911 edition of the Valdosta Times reported news of the school in Rays Mill (now Ray City).   Husband and wife team James Marcus Patten and Ida Lou Hall Patten were running the school. Professor J.M. Patten was college educated, having completed the teacher education program at North Georgia Agricultural College, and had twenty years experience teaching in the common schools of Berrien County.

In 1918,  the Reverend John W. Shoemate and Mrs. Harriet M. Shoemate came to Ray City to take charge of the school.   Reverend Shoemate was a native of Tennessee, and a Baptist minister.  Mrs. Shoemate was a native of South Dakota, and college educated. In Ray City, they were the neighbors of Professor and Mrs. J. M. Patten.  Mrs. Patten was also then occupied teaching public school.  The Ray City School was then still held in the three-room, wood frame building, and educated  students through the eighth grade. One student from this time period was Claudey Belle Hester, who wrote well enough for publication in Progressive Farmer.

According to the Annual Report of the Department of Education, in 1920 the public high school in Ray’s Mill was a 2-year Junior High School. Sankey Booth was Superintendent of the school and later served on the Berrien County Board of Education. One of the teachers in old Ray City was Louannie Eudell Webb (1902-1972), who started teaching by age 17.  She was a daughter of Luther Webb and Mary J. Albritton, and had only an 8th grade education herself. She married Leroy Lorenzo Carter on August 3, 1922. Another teacher at Ray City in 1920 was Lucile Fountain; she taught the fourth grade class. According to later census records, she herself had only attended school through the 4th grade.  It was the talk of the town when her beau, Calvin Simmons, came and got her out of class  and took her to get married on February 13, 1923. Maria Antoniette Poblete Knight worked as an art teacher at the Ray City School in the 1920s.

The Brick School

That [multi-room wood school house] was used until 1920 when work on the present building was started. -History of Ray City School (from the 1948-49 Yearbook)

Ray City School, 1948-49, C. W. Schmoe, Principal.

Ray City School, 1948-49, C. W. Schmoe, Principal.

Wilma Harper began her 60 year teaching career at the Ray City School in 1928 at the age of 18.  There she met and fell in love with Prentice M. Shultz, who taught and was principal at Ray City School. A year later they were married.

The Great Depression took a great toll on Berrien County, and Ray City struggled with funding to keep the school open. Only through the generous contributions of local citizens and by charging students a tuition, was the school able to continue for the full term. In 1930, the school could not even afford to hold graduation exercises.

In the 1930s many schools in smaller communities were consolidated. In 1936, Pleasant Vale and Sappling Grove schools were closed and the students sent to Ray City.

The Ray City School held a junior high school rating until 1936, when it became an accredited senior high school. Another classroom building was added that year to the school plant. -History of Ray City School (from the 1948-49 Yearbook)

By the 1940-41 school term, New Lois High School was also consolidated with Ray City High School.

In the early days students at Ray City School brought their own lunches to school and ate outside on the school grounds, as there was no lunchroom or kitchen to prepare food.  David Miley recalled a sow that used to come into the playground, and snatch the lunch bags of unsuspecting kids. The school grounds were fenced and had a cattle gap to keep free ranging livestock from entering the schoolyard.  Even so, livestock could and did occasionally get into the school yard.  By 1941, the school had a lunch room serving 150 students a day.

 

Fence and cattle gap in front of the Ray City School kept livestock out of the schoolyard, 1949.

Fence and cattle gap in front of the Ray City School kept livestock out of the schoolyard, 1949.

During WWII, Ray City School did its part.   Vocational agriculture teacher St. Elmo Lee gave up his classrooms at Ray City  and New Lois, GA for the U.S. Army. Graduates and former students left Ray City to go to war. Some never came back.  Hubert Comer (RCHS 1940) joined the Navy and was killed in the D-Day invasion of Normandy Beach. Harry Elmore Devane (RCHS 1938) also joined the Navy.  On D-Day Devane was a boat officer on a tank landing craft at Omaha Beach. He was killed in an accident aboard the aircraft carrier USS FDR after the war. James A. Swindle (RCHS 1936) captained a B-26 Marauder and flew 75 bombing missions; he was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross. Maurice “Max” Johnson (RCHS 1940) served as a B-24 pilot during WWII from 1942 to 1945. Leland E Langford (RCHS 1939) enlisted on June 12, 1941, serving as an Army pilot until he was killed in a plane crash in 1949.   J.I. Clements (RCHS 1938) joined the Army and fought in Germany. Many other alumni of Ray City School served as well.

William R. “Mac” McClure was principal of the school in the mid 1940s. Charles Woodrow “Woody” Schmoe served as principal in the late 1940s and early 1950s. His wife, Nancy Young Schmoe, taught 5th Grade.

In 1947 a fifteen thousand dollar gymnasium was constructed by the patrons, a building in which the whole community justly takes pride (1948-49 Yearbook).  The town dedicated the building with a big dance celebration and the crowning of the Queen of the Harvest.

In 1948, a vocational building was erected by the veterans of World War II, at the end of five years this … [became] a part of Ray City School.

It was in 1949 that veterans of World War II built  a “very modern and up-to-date lunchroom” for the school.

In 1954, Ray City High School and all other white high schools in the county were combined into Nashville High School.  The brick school building at Ray City continued to serve as an elementary and middle school until 1994, when all county schools were consolidated into facilities in Nashville.

Ray City Home of Reid Hearn Cox and Hazel Hall Cox

Home of Reid Hearn Cox and Hazel Hall Cox.  The Coxes were residents of Ray City in the 1940s

Home of Reid Hearn Cox and Hazel Hall Cox, Jones Street, Ray City, GA. The Coxes had this home built in 1939. Hazel's father, Lawrence Cauley Hall, resided with the Coxes in the 1940s.

Cox Residence, built 1939
Home of Reid Hearn Cox and Hazel Hall Cox, Jones Street, Ray City, GA. The Coxes had this home built prior to 1940. Hazel’s father, Lawrence Cauley Hall, resided with the Coxes in the 1940s.

Hazel Jeanette Hall (1918-1974) was a daughter of Lawrence Cauley Hall and Eula Belle Swindle, of Ray City, GA.  She was a granddaughter of Mary Etta and Redding D. Swindle, and Cassie Lee and John Lewis Hall.  Hazel’s sister, Eunice Hall, was the wife of Polk Cheshire Brockman, of Atlanta, who was a pioneer in the recording of country music.

Reid Hearn Cox (1912-1966) was a salesman of music supplies. He originated from Eatonton, GA, a son of Charles Patterson Cox and Mattie Reid Hearn, and studied at Mercer University in 1932.

Hazel Jeanette Hall and Reid Hearn Cox were married in 1937 in Atlanta, GA.

1937-feb-18-eatonton-messenger_hazel-hall-married

Eatonton Messenger
Thursday, February 18, 1937

Miss Hazel Hall Weds Mr. Reid Cox

      The Druid Hills Presbyterian church formed the setting yesterday for the marriage of Miss Hazel Jeannette Hall and Reid Hearn Cox which was a beautiful event taking place at 5 o’clock. Rev. William M. Elliot, Jr., the pastor, performed the ceremony in the presence of a large gathering of relatives and friends of the young people.
      The interior of the church was beautifully decorated for the nuptials.  Palms and ferns banked the altar, and tall standards of callas with seven-branched candelabra hold-holding white tapers completed the decorations. Preciding and during the ceremony Mrs. Haskell Boyter, pianist, presented a program of music and Le Roy Bledsoe sang.
      Acting as bridesmaids were Miss Jane Cox, sister of the bridegroom, and Miss Dorothy Brockman, wearing dresses of gold blister satin with short coasts fashioned with repeplums  and gold satin sandals. Their flowers were arm bouquets of Pernet roses, snapdragons and delphiniums in pastel shades tied with ice-green ribbon.
      Mrs. Polk Cheshire Brockman was her sister’s matron of honor. She ware the gold satin dress in which she was married.  It was worn with a coat, trimmed with sable fur.  Her hat was an off-the-face model of brown maline, and she carried an arm bouquet of talisman roses.
      Miss Ann Brockman, niece of the bride, was the ring -bearer. Her dress was a floor-length empire model of ice-green satin and she wore a yellow ribbon in her hair.  She carried the ring in a calla, showered with valley lilies.
       Jasper Sojourner. Dr. S. L. Morris, Jr., Dr. E. C. Moore and C. Roy Arnold were ushers.
       Entering with her brother, Polk C. Brockman, by whom she was given in marriage, the bride was met at the altar by the groom and T. Pitts Davidson, who acted as best man. Her blond beauty was further enhanced by her wedding gown of white satin, fashioned along princess lines with a high cowl neck and leg-o-mutton sleeves which ended in a point over the hands and trimmed with self-covered buttons. The same buttons trimmed the waist at the back and the full skirt flared into a short train.  Her long veil of illusion fell from a coronet cap, beaded in seed pearls and crystals and she carried a sheaf of calla lilies.
    After the ceremony Mr. and Mrs. Brockman entertained at a reception at their home on Springdale road for the bridal party and out-of-town guests.  Mrs. Swindle Hall, mother of the bride, and Mrs. C.P. Cox, the bridegroom’s mother, received with Mr. and Mrs. Brockman and Mr. and Mrs. Cox.
    In the dining room the table was covered with a point Venice lace cloth, and the center decoration was a bride’s cake placed on a mound of pastel flowers. Yellow candles in pastry candlesticks embossed with orange blossoms, callas and lilies of the valley, were used.  Miss Jane Cox kept the bride’s book and Misses Dorothy Brockman, Essie Bell Brockman and Mesdames J. B. Sojourner, H. E. Montgomery and H. A. Brockman assisted in entertaining.  Roses, snapdragons and delphiniums were arranged throughout the house.
    The bride and groom left for a wedding trip. The former wore a two-piece traveling suit of apricot wool with brown accessories.  Her flowers were a shoulder corsage of orchids.
    Mrs. Cox is the daughter of Mrs. Swindle Hall, of Ray City, Ga. For the past several years she has made her home with her brother and sister, Mr. and Mrs. Polk Cheshire Brockman, on Springdale road.  Mrs. R. D. Swindle, of Ray City, grandmother of the bride, was a guest at the wedding. W. H. Hearn, of Eatonton, grandfather of the bridegroom, was also present. – Atlanta Constitution, February 6th.

The newlywed Coxes first boarded with Arlie Guthrie and Marvin Purvis in their home on Main Street, Ray City, GA. Marvin Purvis was a merchant of Ray City, and the Purvis’ grocery store was on the south side of Main Street near Lyman F. Gidens’ Barber Shop and just east of the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Rail Road. The Purvises were among Ray City’s better-off families; the Purvis household had been one of the first in town to acquire a radio.

In 1939, the Coxes built a house of their own  on the northeast corner of North Street and Jones Street, Ray City, GA.

 

Hazel Hall Cox and Reid Hearn Cox became Ray City homeowners in 1939.

Hazel Hall Cox and Reid Hearn Cox became Ray City homeowners in 1939.

Eatonton Messenger
October 19, 1939

Mr. and Mrs. Reid Cox are now building a new home at their home in Ray City. Reid, you know, is the son of Mrs. Charles P. Cox and the grandson of W. H. Hearn.

Liberty Magazine, June 8, 1940. Liberty was a weekly magazine, originally priced at five cents and subtitled, "A Weekly for Everybody." It was said to be "the second greatest magazine in America," ranking behind only The Saturday Evening Post in circulation. It featured contributions from some of the biggest politicians, celebrities, authors, and artists of the 20th Century. It ceased publication in 1950.

Liberty Magazine, June 8, 1940.
Liberty was a weekly magazine,  said to be “the second greatest magazine in America,” ranking behind only The Saturday Evening Post in circulation. It featured contributions from some of the biggest politicians, celebrities, authors, and artists of the 20th Century. It ceased publication in 1950.

After the Coxes moved into their new home, the Purvises moved just a block down the street to a home on the corner of North Street and Bryan Street.

Hazel Hall Cox was a woman of fashion, “a real glamour girl, always made up – high heels, fancy hairdo.” Hazel Cox took all the women’s magazines, Cosmopolitan, Ladies Home Journal, Colliers, Liberty, Life, etc., and after reading she shared them with Arlie Guthrie Purvis.

The Coxes later moved to the Atlanta area where Reid developed and manufactured high capacity dryers used in laundromats all over the country.

Reid Hearn Cox died April 22, 1966, and Hazel Hall Cox passed on November 18, 1974. They  are buried at Decatur Cemetery, Dekalb County, GA

Graves of Hazel Hall Cox and Reid Hearn Cox, Decatur Cemetery, Decatur, GA.

Graves of Hazel Hall Cox and Reid Hearn Cox, Decatur Cemetery, Decatur, GA.

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Lawrence Cauley Hall

Lawrence Cauley Hall, born 20 Feb 1884, Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.  Cauley was a son of Cassie Lee and John Lewis Hall, and a brother of  Pasco Olandro Hall.  He grew up in his parents’ household at Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA.

Lawrence Cauley Hall, of Ray City, GA. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Lawrence Cauley Hall, of Ray City, GA. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

Cauley Hall completed the common schools of the area, and went on for more advanced studies. Family historian Mrs. Cyleta Austin said “he was a genius, attended Mercer but let the drinking get to him.”   He gave up his college studies after the first year.

On December 1, 1908 Cauley Hall married Eula Bell Swindle.   The ceremony was performed by Elder Aaron Anderson Knight.  Eula was a daughter of  Mary Etta and Redding D. Swindle, and sister of  Henry Alexander Swindle, of Ray City, GA. Her father was appointed to serve as the first mayor of Ray City upon its official incorporation in 1909. Her mother is credited with naming the new town, formerly known as Ray’s Mill.

1908 Marriage license of Lawrence Cauley Hall and Eula Bell Swindle

1908 Marriage license of Lawrence Cauley Hall and Eula Bell Swindle

Eula gave birth to a baby girl on June 9, 1909, Eunice A. Hall, in Ray City, GA.   It appears that Eula and the baby returned to live with her parents. She was enumerated in their Ray City household in 1910 under her maiden name. Her marital status was “single,” and Eunice Hall was enumerated as a grandchild of Redding Swindle. Cauley’s whereabouts in the census of 1910 are not known.

However, by 1918 Cauley and Eula were making their home at a company lumber camp at 4 Northport, Tuscaloosa County, AL.  Lawrence was working for the Henderson Land & Lumber Company as a skidder foreman. There, he registered for the draft for World War I on September 12, 1918.  His physical description was given as medium height, medium build, with blue eyes and grey hair.

The 1920 census shows the couple now with two daughters, Eunice and Helen Jeanette, living on 13th Avenue, Tuscaloosa, AL.  Cauley was working as a laborer at a logging camp, while Eula was at home raising the girls.

It appears that by the time of the 1930 census Cauley Hall was estranged from his wife, Eula B. Swindle. The census record show that year he remained in Tuscaloosa, AL, living in Young’s boarding home on 6th Street, operated by Nannie and Robert J. Young.  He was working as a carpenter, and gave his marital status as “divorced.”  Eula Bell had returned to Ray City,GA with her younger daughter Hazel Jeanette Hall, now 12. Eula rented a house (probably on Jones Street) near the homes of James Blanton, Pleamon Sirmans and Hod Clements, and took work as a seamstress. The 1930 census indicated her marital status was “widowed.

By 1940 Cauley Hall  had also returned to Ray City, GA where he was living with his now married daughter, Hazel, and her husband, Reid Hearn Cox.  Cox, a salesman of music supplies,  originated from Eatonton, GA. The Coxes were in a new home they had built on the northeast corner of North Street and Jones Street in Ray City.

Home of Reid Hearn Cox and Hazel Hall Cox, Jones Street, Ray City, GA. The Coxes had this home built prior to 1940. Hazel's father, Lawrence Cauley Hall, resided with the Coxes in the 1940s.

Home of Reid Hearn Cox and Hazel Hall Cox, Jones Street, Ray City, GA. The Coxes had this home built prior to 1940. Hazel’s father, Lawrence Cauley Hall, resided with the Coxes in the 1940s.

 

Eula Bell Hall was living with her widowed grandmother, Mary Etta Swindle, in her home on North Street in Ray City.

Lawrence Cauley Hall died  on Christmas Day,  December 25, 1954,  in Ray City, Georgia.  He was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery.

Eula Bell Hall died January 28, 1965. Historian Cyleta Austin said she was in an automobile accident with Eula; Eula “died at home about two weeks later but not as a cause of the wreck.”   Eula was buried next to her husband at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Graves of Eula Bell Swindle and Lawrence Cauley Hall

Graves of Eula Bell Swindle and Lawrence Cauley Hall

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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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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

COMMENCEMENT BEGINS TONIGHT AND ENDS SATURDAY EVENING WITH THE USUAL CLASS PLAY

      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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Wilma Harper Shultz Began 60-year Teaching Career at Ray City

Ray City Girls run R-C Motor Lines

In the 1930s,  four Ray City girls, Louise Paulk, Helen Swindle, Grace Putnal and Carolyn Swindle attended the Ray City School.

Ray City Girls, (L-R) Louise Paulk, Helen Swindle, Grace Putnal, Carolyn Swindle.

Ray City Girls, (L-R) Louise Paulk, Helen Swindle, Grace Putnal, Carolyn Swindle.

Louise Paulk and Helen Swindle were the older girls. They were team mates on the 1934 Ray City School girls basketball team. Grace Putnal and Carolyn Swindle were about five years younger.  Louise,  Helen, and Carolyn all lived within a few doors of each other on west Main Street in Ray City.  Grace lived down Park Street just outside of town.

Louise Paulk, daughter of  Gladys Daniel  and James M. Paulk, was born about 1920 in Irwin County, GA.  Her father died August 23, 1922 leaving Louise, her infant brother and mother on their own.  In 1927, her mother married  E.M. “Hun” Knight, a farmer and sometimes entrepreneur of Ray City, GA.  Hun Knight was a widower with children of his own.  The blended family made their home in Ray City, and Louise attended the Ray City School.  She graduated with the class of 1938.

Helen  Margaret Swindle was born and raised in Ray City, GA.  She was the daughter of George Perry Swindle and Cynthia E. Pafford. Her father was a prominent businessman and employer, operating a general mercantile store.  The Swindle home was on Main Street, and  when Helen was growing up the Swindle family had neighbors like Dr. Lawson S. Rentz, pharmacist C.O. Terry, businessmen W.H.E Terry and Arthur Miller, and Mayor J. Lacy Moore, among others .

Grace Putnal’s parents were Ellen Gaskins and Wayne Putnal. Her father was a farmer and part-time barber of Ray City. Grace and her family have been discussed in this week’s posts (Wayne Putnal ~ Farmer/Barber of Ray City,   Putnal Family ~ Town and Country, Obituary of Leston L. Putnal)

Carolyn S. Swindle was a daughter of Ora Cathleen and Henry Alexander Swindle. Her father was also a successful merchant of Ray City, and her grandfather, Redding Swindle, served as the town’s first mayor.

In the 1940s, the four young women made their way to Jacksonville, Florida. They appear enumerated together in the Florida census of 1945, living in Apartment #1 at 2926 Cook Street, ,  Jacksonville, FL.  All of the girls were working, either clerking or bookkeeping.

Louise Paulk, Helen Swindle, Grace Putnal, and Carolyn Swindle, all raised in Ray City, GA, were enumerated in Jacksonville. FL in the 1945 state census.

Louise Paulk, Helen Swindle, Grace Putnal, and Carolyn Swindle, all raised in Ray City, GA, were enumerated in Jacksonville. FL in the 1945 state census.

At least three of the girls,  Carolyn, Helen, and Grace were working for R C Motor Lines.  R-C Motor lines was a large interstate trucking company based in Jacksonville. ( You can see additional images of R-C Motor Lines trucks at http://www.hankstruckpictures.com/gruin_r.htm) .  Grace and Carolyn found work there as a bookkeeper,  and Helen was a clerk.  Louise was clerking for another firm.

1950s tractor-trailer rig of R-C Motor Lines, a large interstate trucking company based in Jacksonville.

1950s tractor-trailer rig of R-C Motor Lines, a large interstate trucking company based in Jacksonville.

Ray City Citizens Fought Creation of Lanier County

In August 1919, the General Assembly of Georgia passed an act to place an amendment to the Georgia Constitution creating Lanier County on the ballot  for the November 1920 general elections.  But in 1920,  as the election approached, there was strenuous objection from the Ray City area.  Many citizens who were well associated with the history of Ray City found that their property would be on the Lanier side of the new county line, including such family  names as Giddens, Clements, Swindle, Sirmans and others.  Desiring to remain in Berrien county, these land owners, led by A.W. Gaskins, filed a motion with the courts to stop the vote on the constitutional amendment that would create the new county.

Atlanta Constitution
Sep 2, 1920

COURT IS ASKED TO BAR CREATION OF LANIER COUNTY

     Hearing on a permanent injunction brought by citizens of Berrien county to restrain Governor Dorsey from advertizing, as required by law, the proposed constitutional amendment creating the new county of Lanier, was set for September 11, in the Fulton superior court, by Judge John D. Humphries, following a short hearing on a temporary injunction on the same petition, which was denied by Judge Humphries.
     The bill was filed by Attorneys R.A. Hendricks, James A. Alexander and W.D. Biue, of Berrien county, and Bryan and Middlebrooks, of Atlanta. The petitioning citizens are as follows:
     A.U. Gaskins, A.H. Giddens, H.C. Clements, R.D. Swindle, John Sirmans, Raygood Lankford, S.S. Watson, L.S. Sirmans, Mrs. Rachel Postick, W.L. Rouse, John C. Sirmans, J.B. Baskins, J.W. Bloodworth, J.J. Porke, Leo Griner, J.H.Patten. S.H. Winderweedles, W.C. Johnson, Mrs. Martha Clements, A.J. Clements, Levi J. Clements, L. J. Clements, Jr., Bud Watson, Bryant Avers, J. L. Lee, Jasper J. Cook, L.S. Simms, J.H. Clements, J. P. Watson, D. Harrell, R.S. Johnson and John Boyett.
     This action was taken to prevent the submission to the voters in the general election in November of the question of the creation of Lanier county, and the petition asks that Governor Dorsey be enjoined from issuing a proclamation authorizing the vote, and that Secretary of State S. Guyt McLendon be restrained from announcing the result of any vote on the question; and that the state superintendent of printing be restrained from printing a proclamation by the governor.
     The petitioners claim that the promoters of Lanier county made a written and signed agreement with the affected property owners of Berrien county as to the part of Berrien county that would be in Lanier county; that the agreement was violated without their knowledge and consent, so that 9,540 additional acres of land, valued at $150,000, was taken into the county. The petitioning citizens represent this extra land, and declare that they did not want to be taken into the new county.

The petitioners request for an injunction was denied. They appealed all the way to the Georgia Supreme court where they lost in the case of  GASKINS et al v. DORSEY, Governor, et al.  The  Amendment issue went ahead in November, and the constitutional amendment to create Lanier county was passed by the voters.

The petitioners, this time led by Dr. H.W. Clements,  then filed  for an injunction to stop the first election of officers in the newly created county, but that too, failed.   While Clements and others appealed to a higher court, the election was held as scheduled on  the first Wednesday in December 1920.

Not to be deterred, Dr. Clements and others again pursued the appeal of two cases all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court, CLEMENTS el al v. WILKERSON et al  and CLEMEMENTS et al v. ANDERSON et al, in an attempt to nullify the creation of the new county.

But in the end the Georgia Supreme court ruled that any decision was moot since the election  of  county officers had already been held and the case was dismissed.

All challenges aside, Georgia voters approved the constitutional amendment on Nov. 2, 1920, which marks the official date of the creation of Lanier County.

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Mary Swindle Won $10 in Contest to Choose Name of Ray City

In a 1971 newspaper article, Henry A. Swindle, who was a lifelong resident of Ray City, GA, recalled  how the town got its name. Henry  was  a boy when the town became incorporated in 1909.  His father, Redding D. Swindle,  served as the appointed mayor until the first elections could be held.

Henry Alexander Swindle, son of R. D. and Mary Etta Swindle, orn September 15, 1897. Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw and the Berrien Historical Foundation www.berriencountyga.com

Henry Alexander Swindle, son of R. D. and Mary Etta Swindle, orn September 15, 1897. Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw and the Berrien Historical Foundation http://www.berriencountyga.com

The first residents  decided to hold a contest to select a new name for the town.  Henry’s mother, Mary Etta Swindle, came up with the winning entry.

She won $10,” he said, “for naming the town. There were many families around here named Ray, and since this was a thriving community, bigger then than Nashville or Lakeland, she thought  Ray City would be a good name. It was formerly Ray’s Mill.

“There was a sawmill and lumber mill here that employed about 300 people and a big cotton gin that baled lost of cotton.  Ray City was growing fast then, I was a good, big boy then and I’m 74 now. But Nashville was the county seat, and that town outgrew Ray City finally.”

Children of Mary Etta and Redding D. Swindle:

  1. Eula Swindle, born 1887; married Lawrence Cauley Hall
  2. Rozzie P Swindle, born 1889–
  3. Matie Swindle, born 1890–
  4. Daisy Swindle, born 1894–
  5. Henry Alexander Swindle, born 1897; married Ora Kathleen Knight
  6. Myrtle J Swindle, born 1900–
  7. Dewey L Swindle, born 1903–

Henry A. Swindle took a job as bookkeeper for J.J. Parks, who operated a grist mill and ginnery in Ray City and a farm in Alapaha. Henry married Ora Kathleen Knight, daughter of Sullivan J. Knight and Eliza Allen. He became a strong supporter of the Ray City Methodist Church and served on the Ray City School board.

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Almost Gone ~ Graves of D. Edwin Griner and Sarah Rouse at New Ramah Cemetery

Grave marker of D. Edwin Griner (June 21, 1870 - March 12, 1942), New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.

Grave marker of D. Edwin Griner (June 21, 1870 – March 12, 1942), New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.

In the 1930’s D. Edwin Griner  was a miller working at a grist mill in Ray City, GA.  He and his wife, Sarah “Sallie” Rouse grew up in Berrien County, GA and lived for many years in and around Ray City.   They are buried at New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, GA, although their grave markers have become almost illegible.

The cemetery at New Ramah is well tended these days, although the New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church was torn down last year. The concrete markers of Edwin and Sallie Griner have not suffered from neglect, just from the wear of time. Concrete is less durable than granite: Memory less durable than concrete.

Here, then, is a brief tribute to the memory of  Edwin and Sallie Griner:

D. Edwin Griner was born June 21, 1870 in Berrien County, GA, a scion of the earliest pioneer families of Georgia and of Berrien County. He was the eldest son of Sallie Gaskins and Samuel Griner.

His father was Samuel Jackson Griner (1848-1909). He was descended from the Greiner family who came to Georgia with the Salzberger immigration. Edwin’s Great Grandfather, Captain John Griner fought in the Revolutionary War.

His mother, Sarah C. “Sallie” Gaskins, was the daughter of Harmon and Malissa Gaskins, early settlers of Berrien County.  Her father fought in the Battle of Brushy Creek, the last real engagement with the Indians in this region.

Although the grave marker of D. Edwin Griner bears the birthdate of June 21, 1870, he is not recorded in his parents household in the Census of 1870, since the census that year only enumerated “the name of each Person whose place of abode, on 1st day of June, 1870, was in this family.” At the time of his birth, Edwin’s parents were living in the 1148th Georgia Militia District, and posting their mail in Nashville, GA.

Edwin’s father, Samuel J. Griner, worked as a farmer, although at 21 years of age he did not yet have any land of his own – he had $284 in his personal estate. Perhaps he was working the land owned by one of his  many Gaskins in-laws who lived nearby.

Through 1880, Edwin’s father continued to farm in the 1148th Georgia Militia District. Ten-year-old Edwin attended school, as did his younger siblings who were old enough. Although his mother was occupied “keeping house,” she had evidently suffered a disability of some type, for the 1880 census record shows that she was, “Maimed, Crippled, Bedridden, or otherwise disabled.”

On October 22, 1894 D. Edwin Griner married Sarah “Sallie” Rouse in Berrien County, GA.  She was the daughter of Robert and Kizzia Rouse. The couple made their home in the 1144th Georgia Militia District, the Rays Mill District where the census of 1900 shows they owned a farm near Sallie’s parents and others of the family connection.

D. Edwin Griner and Sallie Rouse were married October 22, 1894 in Berrien County, GA.

D. Edwin Griner and Sallie Rouse were married October 22, 1894 in Berrien County, GA.

In 1910, Edwin  and Sarah Griner were enumerated by census taker Redding D. Swindle there in the 1144th Georgia Militia District, the Rays Mill District, along with son William, and daughter Sarah V.  The Griners owned a farm, free and clear of mortgage, where Edwin was farming on his own account. Sarah’s family was farming in the same neighborhood. Her brother, Joseph Rouse, was working the farm next door, and also in Joseph’s household was her widowed mother, Kizzie N. Rouse. Nearby, was the farm of another brother, Alfred Rouse.

Some time prior to 1920 D. Edwin Griner moved his family to Clinch County, GA where he owned a farm on the Stockton Road in the Mud Creek District.  Edwin and  son, Willie, did the farming while his Sarah and daughter, Sarah V., kept house.

By 1930, the Griners had moved back to Ray City, Berrien County, GA.  They had a house in town valued at $700.  The household included Edwin, Sarah, and their son,  William, who had lost his wife.    Thelma Sirmans and her boys were renting the place next door, and the blacksmith, Henry Woodard, was another neighbor.  Edwin worked as a miller, a wage employee at a local grist mill.  His gravemarker shows that he was also a Mason, perhaps a member of the Ray City lodge No. 553, or one of the other local lodges.

D. Edwin Griner died March 12, 1942. He was buried at New Ramah Cemetery on Park Street, Ray City, GA.  At his side rests Sarah “Sallie” Rouse Griner.  No date of death is discernible on the concrete headstone marking her grave, but her obituary gives her date of death as January 29, 1951.

Sarah "Sallie" Rouse Griner, New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.

Sarah “Sallie” Rouse Griner, New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.

Griner graves at New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, GA. Left: Sarah "Sallie" Rouse Griner. Middle: D. E. Griner. Right: Willie "Bill" Edwin Griner.

Griner graves at New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, GA. Left: Sarah “Sallie” Rouse Griner. Middle: D. E. Griner. Right: Willie “Bill” Edwin Griner.

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Dr. Charles X. Jones ~ Ray City’s First Elected Mayor

Dr. Charles X. Jones, First Elected Mayor of Ray City, GA

Dr. Charles X. Jones, First Elected Mayor of Ray City, GA

Dr. Charles X. Jones

Perhaps the first official resident of the newly incorporated town of  Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA was Dr. Charles X. Jones. Dr. Jones built the first dwelling house within the city limits. This house was located on the lot that surrounds the present Methodist Church. The street which ran past his house, Jones Street, was named in his honor.

Dr. Jones received his medical degree from Georgia University, now known as Georgia Regents University, in 1898. The Standard Medical Directory of North America, 1902 gave this description of the school:

GEORGIA UNIVERSITY, Medical Department, Augusta; Dean Eugene Foster; Medical Academy organized 1829; suspended 1861-65; present title 1873. Admission: Certificate from high school or equivalent. Graduation: Age 21, attendance on three lecture courses of six months each, the last at this school. Fees: $100.00, examination $30.00. Faculty: Professors 10, demonstrator 1, instructors 7. Property $36,000.00. Recognition: I. S. B. H., U. 8. >’. Y. Matriculates last session 145.

In 1900, Dr. Jones was boarding with the James S. Swindle family in Ray’s Mill, GA (nka Ray City).

In an March 10, 1909 Atlanta Constitution article, Eugene Ray testified, “It will not, I believe be improper to say that Dr. C. Jones, an older citizen here, is the leading spirit of this town. Dr. Jones has for years served these people, and has done business and owns considerable of the land around here, and he proposes to help his new town along. He is clever and generous and disposed to serve his community. “

Dr. Jones was one of six men named to serve as councilmen until the first city elections could be organized. Redding D. Swindle was appointed as Mayor. On  election day Jan 10, 1910 it was Dr. Jones who became the first elected mayor of Ray City.

Dr. Jones was the first doctor to set up a practice within the newly incorporated city, although prior to that he and  Dr. Guy Selman had been practicing medicine in the  community, and there were other Medical Men of Ray’s Mill .   Dr. Jones kept offices across the street from his house, in a building located on the south side of what is now Main Street.

In 1912, The Georgia annual : a compendium of useful information about Georgia : needed by every business and professional man in the state. A.B. Caldwell, Atlanta, Ga. listed Jones as one of three doctors in Ray City, the other two being Dr. Guy Selman and Dr. Manning G. Scherrer.

Later, the Jones home was occupied by the Tom Studstill family until it burned in the 1940’s .  In  1976, his  former offices were the home of Mrs. Henry H. Vaughn.

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