Four Dead in a Week

D. Edwin Griner lived many years in Ray City, Berrien County, GA and is buried there at New Ramah Cemetery.  He was the eldest son of Sarah C. Gaskins  and  Samuel J. Griner and as a young man he lived with his parents and siblings near Nashville, GA.   When D. Edwin Griner was a young man of 17,  his family suffered tragic loss.  In the spring of 1889 in the weeks just before Easter,  four  of the Griner children, Edwin’s siblings, died of measles.

The Berrien County Pioneer
Friday, April 5, 1889
Nashville, Ga.

Mr. Samuel Griner, living some two miles from here, lost three of his children last week from measles. Two of them were twin boys some twelve years of age. The other a little girl some younger which died last Friday night. There seemed to be something miraculous about the little girl’s death, she was neither sick nor cold on Sunday morning, or thirty-six hours after death. Another of Mr. Griner’s children is very low and not expected to live. Mr. and Mrs. Griner has the sincere sympathy of the entire community in their sorrowful bereavement.

The Berrien County Pioneer
Friday, April 12, 1889
Nashville, Ga.

Mr. Sam Griner, of Nashville, lost another one of his children this week from measles. This is the fourth child he has lost from this disease. The bereaved parents have the sympathy of all.

 The Valdosta Times,
Valdosta, Georgia
Saturday, April 13, 1889

Four Dead in a Week. In writing soothing words for a bereaved family after the loss of some of the loved ones, we seldom have to mention more than one or at the most two who have departed this eventful and flickering spark of mortality. But in this instance four of the precious pets of the home of Samuel J. and Sarah C. Griner are gone to answer the summons of the Grand Master of the Universe to be with Him in His kingdom that they may be the more able to behold his glory. In His sojourn on the vale of sorrow He said “suffer little children to come unto me,” and though his will may conflict with the will of frail humanity we must bow in humble submission to Him in all patience, knowing that “the Lord giveth and that the Lord taketh away.” and Job, said “and blessed be the man of the Lord.” Truly our children are jewels in our households but they are only entrusted to care for a very short period by the creator, our Heavenly friend.  Then surely we can of ready mind, restore the jewels to their owner whose loan has caused us so much pleasure. The first of this lovely quarto to obey the death call was little Archie, one of the petted twins who had been the especial pets of his parents and friends for ten years.  Just before his death and when the sweet life was fast going he called his pa and gave his dying instructions concerning a pet dog he and his little brother claimed. “Pa” said he “feed my dog and take good care of him?” And then his eyes closed in the sweet sleep of death. The next to go was little Arthur who died just thirty-six hours later. Like his little twin brother he too had a dying message. The little dog kept constant vigil at the bedside of the little boys and after Archie was gone he knew very well something was not as it use to be. A few minutes before the last little master went away the little pet dog got up, and looked around, reared up on the bedside and wagged his tail and looked at the dying boy’s face who reached out his hand and the dog kissed it a last good by. Turning to his pa he said, “pa there is two boys gone.” On being asked who he replied “us.” He was then asked if he wished to see anybody he said “nobody but Archie.”  And then he called his pa to come near. Soon all was over, and his spirit joined that of his dear brother in paradise.

Next came little Martha aged about seven. She died on the third day after little Arthur. Then the baby remained. Little Rhoda, aged about two years. Faint hopes were expressed that she might recover.  And then the poor almost broken hearted parents were so anxious.

It does seem as if our Heavenly Father is severe on us sometimes when He in His wisdom intends good. Perhaps it is so in this case. For two days her life hung in the balance and did not seem to turn either way. But the hungry pain prayed ceaselessly on her weak vitals and third day after her little sister died she passed away. Oh, what sorrow now dragged upon the poor parents hearts. In one short week they had witnessed the death of four of their precious darlings, and it is only they who’ve felt such pain that can understand their sorrow. May God in His mercy bless them with soothing comfort.

In the Churchyard at Flat Creek Church are four new graves where the loved ones will rest until the morn of the resurrection when they shall rise to be with the general assembly and Church of the first born.

Dear parents, brothers and sisters, cousins and friends, let us prepare to go us there too.

Their cousin,
    W. Henry Griffin

Edwin’s mother, Sarah Gaskins Griner,  could not long survive the loss of four children.  She had suffered with a disability at least since 1880.  Did she fall victim to the measles, did her own health just give out,  or was she simply overcome by grief?  Whatever the cause she, too, had died before the end of 1889.

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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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