In 1934 Ray City was ‘Noted Section’ of Berrien County

Ray City began 1934 on an optimistic note.  A “booster” story from the Nashville Herald praised the farming, education, churches, municipal government, roads and businesses of Ray City.

The Nashville Herald, 
January 25, 1934, Pg 1

RAY CITY IS NOTED SECTION

Excellent Community of Berrien County and South Georgia – Fine Farming Section

In writing about different communities of Berrien County it is next to impossible to neglect the city of Ray City and the large farming territory surrounding it.  The Ray City section constitutes the southern portion of Berrien County, where extensive farm operations are carried on during every month of the year in all lines of endeavor.

The trading point is the city of Ray City, just ten miles south of Nashville, the county seat.  It has a population of around 500 people, all of whom are industrious and hospitable, with fine schools, churches and live wire merchants.  There is no better place in south Georgia to live than Ray City.

The farming population surrounding Ray City constitute an industrious and progressive people.  To a certain measure they are prosperous, because everything to be raised on a farm can be grown on their fertile lands, and each year their products find ready markets, returning to them cash in abundance.  The section is noted for its fine tobacco and cotton lands and is a hog and cattle raising territory of excellent possibilities.

The city of Ray City affords every convenience and comfort for the citizens of the community.  There is a fine school system, which is under the capable and efficient supervision of Prof. P. M. Shultz.  Prof. Ulmer Crosby is principal, and the other teachers are:  Mrs. P. M. Shultz, Miss Jessie Aycock, Mrs. A.B. Baskins, Miss Lillian Ford and Mrs. Eulalie Dickson.

The school has nine grades, with an enrollment of a few over the two hundred mark.  A number of fine students complete the school each year, advancing to higher institutions of learning.  The school system in Ray City is really a big asset, (illegible) a higher type of citizenry.

The school board is composed of the following gentlemen who handle their duties in a most admirable manner and of benefit to patrons and students combined.  H.A. Swindle, chairman, M.A. Studstill, sec.-treasl., C.H. Vickers, J.M. Studstill and W.M. Creech, members.

Ray City is not short either along the spiritual line, having four active churches as follows:  Baptist, Rev. Walter Branch, pastor; Methodist, Rev. F.A. Ratcliffe, pastor; Primitive Baptist, Elder C.H. Vickers, pastor; Christian, supply pastor.  The Baptist and Methodist churches conduct Sunday Schools, and young people’s organizations.

The affairs of the city of Ray City are in the hands of men who apparently have the united support of the people, as the entire body was recently re-elected to office.  J. H. Swindle is mayor, and the councilmen are:  G.V. Hardie, Y.F. Carter, H.P. Clements and W.M. Creech.

The standing committees for the year 1934 are:  Water and lights, G.V. Hardie and Y.F. Carter; Street, W.M. Creech and H.P. Clements; Sanitary, entire city council.

In questioning the mayor, Mr. J. H. Swindle, he stated that the city enjoyed a very good administration the past year, and that 1934 was begun with the city in much better financial condition than a year ago.

Ray City is soon to enjoy one of the best highway outlets of any small city in south Georgia.  It is located on Route No. 11, the short route into Florida from Atlanta.  This highway has been recently graded for paving and at some future date this work will be a reality.  Other good roads lead out in all directions as well.  It is located on the Georgia and Florida railroad, and is one of the railroad’s most important shipping points.  Mr. T.W. Thompson is the G. & F. Agent, having served in that capacity for a long number of years.

The postmistress is Mrs. J. F. Fountain, and the rural mail carriers are James Grissett and L.A. McDonald.

There are also several industries which add to the progressiveness of the town and community.

The Ray City Ice & Storage Company, of which Mr. D.T. Sharpe is manager, serves a wide territory.  At present this concern has on storage over 100,000 pounds of meat being cured for farmers.

The Y.F. Carter Naval Stores concern is the largest firm in the community, where approximately fifty men are given employment.  This firm operates over ten crops of boxes, the leases affording additional revenue for landowners.  It has been in operation for about eighteen years.

The J.H. Swindle Gins and Warehouse is another concern of benefit to the entire section.  Plants are located at Ray City and Barrett, being among the most up to date in south Georgia.  Mr. Swindle buys cotton and cotton seed, corn, peanuts, hay and other country produce.  Besides gin and warehouse activities he operates a twelve horse farm.

The Peoples Banking Company, a private institution, is owned by Mr. J. H. Swindle, with Mr. E. J. Patten as cashier.  This bank was organized several years ago by Mr. Swindle when Ray City lost its regular bank, so as to carry on the business operations locally and without interruptions.

Mrs. R.N. Warr is owner of old Ray Pond, famous for its fishing for the past hundred years.  Mrs. Warr acquired the pond about two years ago, and since has created a good income out of the sale of minnows, pond plants, frogs, and tadpoles.  The pond covers an area of approximately 4,000 acres.

Among Ray City’s most enterprising merchants are:  Swindle & Clements, B. Ridgell Jones Drug Store, Purvis Grocery Store, Weeks Grocery Store, Hardie Filling Station, South Georgia Oil Company, Bradford Barber Shop, Putnell Barber Shop, Swain Garage, Woodward Blacksmith Shop, Griner Corn Mill and others.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

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James Henry Swindle ~ Businessman and Public Servant

Hosea Peeples “Hod” Clements

Hosea P. “Hod” Clements,  son of Ann Eliza Swindle and John Miles Clements, was a life long resident of Berrien County. He was a cousin of the Clements brothers who ran the Clements Lumber Company at Ray City, GA. Hod was educated at the Georgia Normal College and Business Institute, and served in France during WWI, but always returned to Ray City.

Hod P. Clements of Ray City, GA, 1911.

Hod P. Clements of Ray City, GA, 1911.

On September 15, 1917 Hod P. Clements married Alma Florence May in a ceremony performed by A. J. Futch, Minister of God.  Alma was a daughter of Mary Florence “Molly” Simmons and Sirmon Green May. Her father was a farmer at Nashville, GA .

Hosea Peeples "Hod" Clements and Alma Florence May were married in Berrien County, GA on September 15, 1917.

Hosea Peeples “Hod” Clements and Alma Florence May were married in Berrien County, GA on September 15, 1917.

The following year Alma gave birth to their first child, James Herman Clements, born May 8, 1918.

As told in the previous post (Hod P. Clements and the Dixie Division ), Hod joined the army and shipped overseas late in the summer of 1918  where he served from September 17, 1918 to July 5, 1919.

James Herman Clements, son of Alma Florence May and Hod P. Clements, circa 1921. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com.

James Herman Clements, son of Alma Florence May and Hod P. Clements, circa 1921. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com.

For a while Hod and Alma made their home on his father’s farm, situated on

They moved to Ray City in the 1920s and lived in a house on Jones Street, Ray City, GA. Armed with a degree from the Georgia Normal College and Business Institute, Hod Clements went into business in Ray City: “From 1923 until 1945 Clements operated a general store named Swindle and Clements.”

James Herman Clements and Mildred Lorene Clements, children of Alma and Hod P. Clements, with Marie and Pete Studstill. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com.

James Herman Clements and Mildred Lorene Clements, children of Alma and Hod P. Clements, with Marie and Pete Studstill. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com.

The Clements were involved in the community. Hod Clements was a Master Mason, raised up January 8, 1935, and a member of Duncan Lodge. Alma Clements was a supporter of local education and in 1941 she was working in the lunchroom at the Ray City School.

In the 1940s the Clements home on Jones Street was valued at $1000.  Hod and Alma lived there with their children, James Herman Clements, Mildred Lorene Clements, and Helen Frances Clements. Also boarding in the Clements home was James Gaskins Grady.  Grady was a school teacher who had come to Ray City from Montevallo, AL some time after 1935.

The Clements’ neighbors on Jones Street were James M. Studstill, who was the uncle of Vera R. Yawn, and great uncle of D’ree, Allene, and Caswell S. Yawn. Another neighbor was Thomas J. Studstill, and a few doors down were Chester Nobles, Billy Creech, and J. H. P. Johnson.

Hod worked 60 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, employed as the manager of a meat market.  For this he earned $30 a week, $1500 a year.

In 1948, buying the old Ray City Bank and its equipment for $3,500 he opened The Bank of Ray City , a private bank and the only financial institution in the town at that time.  Obtaining a state charter in 1949, H.P. Clements began banking with a capital of $10,000. In 1956, Mr. Clements’ son-in-law, Lawson Fountain, returned to Ray City, from Jacksonville, FL and afterwards the two ran the bank together. In later years Mr. Clements was forced to retire due to ill health. Then in 1973 the bank was sold to the Citizens Bank of Nashville. Georgia, and is now the Ray City office of that bank.

Hosea P. Clements died June 8, 1978 and now rests in Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

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Ray City Prosperity Proclaimed Amid 1929 Stock Market Crash

In 1929, less than 30 days  after Black Tuesday and  the beginning of the stock market crash,  the Nashville Herald was running stories to bolster the local Berrien County, GA economy.  The Ray City “booster” story assured readers that the bank in Ray City was financially strong,  and that trade was brisk among the  businesses of the town.

The Nashville Herald, front page, November 21, 1929
RAY CITY A VERY PROSPEROUS SECTION

BY CHAS, HIMSELF

In keeping with the policy of the Herald to boost and build up all sections of Berrien County, Mr. A.W. Starling and myself spent Monday afternoon in the interest of a Ray City Community page which appears in another section of this edition.  Upon our arrival, which was the first stop we had ever made in this enterprising town, we were greeted by our old friend, Mr. C.H. Winderweedle, of the firm of Johnson and Winderweedle, who do a general mercantile business and carry in connection a high grade line of groceries.  Mr. Winderweedle showed us every consideration and was one of the first of the business men of the community to sign up for one of the spaces in the booster page.  He was quite a bit more optimistic than some of th merchants called upon and stated that although his was a new firm that he was well pleased with their beginning and intimated that with the bargains they were offering that the and his partner anticipated a continued growth in trade.

Our next stop was made at the Citizens Bank of Ray City, where we had the pleasure of meeting Mr. John D. Luke, the popular and efficient cashier of the institution.  Mr. Luke is a man of very pleasing personality and during our short conversation we can very easily understand why the banking institution of which he is the head has prospered as it has.  As we understand it the Citizens Bank of Ray City is one of the strongest financial institutions in the county and its business is growing steadily as will be shown by the last financial statement as called for by the superintendent of state banks.  It has total resources of over $150,000, and deposits of over $100,000 and shows that it has no notes and bills rediscounted.  Berrien county is justly proud of its banking institutions and conservative business men do not hesitate to place the Citizens Bank of Ray City along with the head of list.

We casually visited the firm of Swindle and Clements and were surprised to find the class of merchandise that a large force of clerks were busy dispensing to a large number of customers who were continually pouring in and out of the store.  In fact their rush was so great that it was several minutes before we could interview Mr. Clements, and when we did he readily agreed with our proposition to assist in boosting the county and he and Mr. Swindle readily signed up for one of the ads on the Ray City Booster Page.  While in his store we were what might be termed a “victim of circumstance” insamuch as we spied a string of jack fish, which were so near uniform size that we became attracted to them and after getting their weight, bought the six pound string for the insignificant sum of 90 cents.  Mr. Clements stated that his firm always has a supply of these fresh water fish on hand, which are alive when brought to his store, and supplies the lovers of the finny tribe with fresh oysters at all times in season.  Their meat market which is operated in connection with the store is modern in every detail and is equipped with Frigidaire cold storage apparatus, insuring their patrons of always receiving the most sanitary meats.

Upon a trip of this nature it is natural for one to become fatigued and need refreshing so we made a call upon the C.O. Terry Drug Store, the proprietor of which is familiarly known as “The Accommodating Druggist.”  Dr. Terry, himself waited upon us and true to his slogan proved to be very accommodating.  Being a very busy man dispensing cold drinks, filling prescriptions and waiting upon the trade in general, we did not get to spend as much time with him as we would have like, but a careful survey of the store convinced us that he was modern in his ideas and carried a choice line of drugs as well as druggists sundries.  Another noticeable feature was a large sign across the rear end of the store reading “Sargon” which is evidence enough within itself to show that he is the leading druggist of his section.

Just before taking leave of the little city it was our pleasure to visit the garden of Mrs. J.H.P. Johnson, which is a marvel, especially considering the dry weather.  Our observation of the garden and surroundings, convinced us that there is no danger of the family going hungry unless they should suddenly become too weak to pull up vegetables, milk a cow, kill a chicken, or clean a hog, as there was plenty of evidence that this family believes in living at home.

The above trip was an eye-opener to us, and our suggestion is that the people of Berrien County should “Know Your County Better.”

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker.

Ray City Home of Hod P. Clements

Hosea “Hod” P. Clements and his wife, Alma,  lived in a house on Jones Street, Ray City, GA, where they raised their daughters, Mildred and Frances.

According to a 1973 Valdosta Times interview, Hod Clements was born in 1890 in Milltown (now Lakeland), GA and moved to Ray City in the 1920s.

Home on Jones Street, Ray City, GA was the residence of Alma and Hosea

Home on Jones Street, Ray City, GA was the residence of Alma and Hosea “Hod” Peoples Clements.

Armed with a degree from the Georgia Normal College and Business Institute, Hod Clements went into business in Ray City.

 “From 1923 until 1945 Clements operated a general store named Swindle and Clements.”

In 1948, buying the old Ray City Bank and its equipment for $3,500 he began banking with a capital of $10,000.

The original Ray City Bank was begun by his uncle Jim Swindle who organized it around 1908.

Everything is Illuminated in Ray City, GA

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

Swindle and Clements 1929 newspaper advertisement from the Ray City News

Swindle and Clements 1929 newspaper advertisement from the Ray City News

What was Shawinigan Carbide?

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

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

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

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

Union Carbide advertisment, Farm Journal, 1910

Union Carbide advertisment, Farm Journal, 1910

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like these city friends, you wouldn’t keep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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