Ray City History Review

January 14 – time for a brief  review of the year’s posts to date.

The Ray City History Blog noted that in 1947, Ray City, GA celebrated the completion of the new school Gymnasium with a “Queen of the Harvest” contest. 

In 1960, Pleamon Sirmons and Minnie Clements celebrated their Golden Anniversary. Among the accomplishments of Mr. Sirmans, service as a city councilman and Mayor of Ray City.

A visit to New Ramah Cemetery found a pair of deteriorating concrete markers almost illegible. Researching the available clues led to a sketch of Edwin and Sarah Griner. As a young man, Edwin suffered the tragic loss of his siblings – four dead in a week, followed by the death of his mother.

Another interesting burial at New Ramah Cemetery turned up in the obituary of John Martin “Black John” Griner

The 1961 obituary of Tessie Vining Griner was followed up with a brief sketch of her three marriages.

A prompt from a reader led to a follow up story on the Haints of Berrien County and the desperado Ben Furlong whose infamy spread around the globe.

A partial list of Ray City veterans of World War I and their service records, were culled from old Berrien County records.  One interesting veteran was Carlie Lawson, who fought at St. Mihiel in the Battle of the Argonne Forest.

Tessica Vining (1888-1969), Ray City, GA

Tessica Vining of Ray City, Berrien County, GA
Tessica Vining of Ray City, Berrien County, GA

Tessica “Tessie” Vining, was born on was born March 28, 1888 in Ray’s Mill (nka Ray City), Georgia.  Her Father was Bani J. “Bench” Vining, her mother Martha Crosby Vining.

Tessica Vining married three times.

On September 14, 1902, she married Lucious Randal Miley  in Echols County, Georgia, son of Jane Monzingo and Randall Miley. He was born December 1875 in Lowndes County, Georgia, and died 1910 in Berrien County, Georgia.  Burial: Salem Methodist Church Cemetery, Lowndes County, Georgia


  1. ETHEL CELESTIAL MILEY, b. November 07, 1905,  Ray’s Mill (nka Ray City), Berrien County, Georgia; d. May 17, 1972, San Diego, California.
  2. CHARLES JONES MILEY, b. 1911, Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia; d. January 05, 1965, Springfield, Clark County, Ohio.

She married John M. Booth on November 26, 1911 in Berrien County, Georgia, son of  William Booth and Henrietta Broxton.  He was born 1849 in Marlboro, Ware County, Georgia, and died 1914 in Berrien County, Georgia.

Children of TESSIE VINING and JOHN BOOTH is:

  1. HENRY CHARLES BOOTH, b. November 22, 1912, Berrien County, Georgia; d. April 29, 1991, Putnam County, Florida.

Her third husband was Robert Lee Griner. They were married  October 20, 1915 in Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia. He was the son of John Griner and Emily Taylor. He was born February 07, 1869 in Nashville, Berrien County, Georgia, and died February 2, 1940 in Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.

Robert and Tessie made their home on east Main Street in Ray City   Their house was an unpainted low bungalow on the north side of the street in the block of land between Ward Street and the Teeterville Road.  They were neighbors of T. J. 

Robert Lee Griner already had eight children by his first wife, Fannie Lewis.  The children of Robert Lee Griner and Fannie Lewis were: Ora, Lula, Ruth, Robert James, Annie, Bartow, Leon L., and Elsie.  

Together, Tessica Vining and Robert Lee Griner had five more children.


  1. CLARENCE LEE GRINER, b. May 1915, Berrien County, Georgia; d. March 1946, Berrien County, Georgia. Burial: Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia
  2. ALICE LUDELL GRINER, b. November 07, 1917, Berrien County, Georgia; d. November 08, 1918, Berrien County, Georgia. Burial: Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia
  3. WILLIAM E. GRINER, b. May 16, 1919, Berrien County, Georgia; d. March 10, 1977, Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida. Burial: Fitzgerald Cemetery, Medulla, FL
  4. ARTHUR HARON GRINER, b. April 16, 1922, Berrien County, Georgia; d. September 20, 1981, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida. Burial: Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia
  5. SADIE IRENE GRINER, b. October 1, 1927, Berrien County, Georgia; d. January 09, 2005, Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida.

Robert Lee Griner died February 2, 1940. He was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

It appears that after the death of  Robert Lee Griner,  Tessie and her daughter Sadie moved in with Griner kinfolk in Ray City.  They went to live with  William E. “Bill” Griner (1905-1884) who had a home on Main Street in Ray City and who worked at the Ray City School.  This home was an unpainted, low, wooden bungalow on the north side of Main Street on the block of land between Ward Street and Samuel Street. Their neighbors to the west were the family of Caulie and Marietta Smith.

Tessie Vining Griner died October 19, 1961 in Echols County, GA, and was buried Beaver Dam Cemetery,  Ray City, Berrien County, GA.


October 28, 1961 page 7- B

MRS. TESSIE R. GRINER, 73 of 525 E. 60th St. died Thursday evening at a local hospital. Mrs Griner was born in Ray City, Ga, and had lived in Jacksonville a year. She was a Baptist. Survivors include four sons, Henry Booth, Jacksonville, A. Herring Griner, Jacksonville, Charlie Miley, Springfield, Ohio, William Griner, Highland City. Two daughters, Mrs. W.D. Gilleland, Los Angeles, Cal. and Mrs. Sadie Beauchamp, Tampa. Four step-daughters and 3 step-sons. Several grandchildren. Funeral will be at 4P.M. Sat. in the Beaver Dam Baptist Church, Ray City, Ga. Internment will be in Beaver Dam Cemetery, the body was taken to Ray City, Ga. Friday evening. Gidden Funeral Home is in Charge. 

Robert Lee Griner (1869-1940) and Tessie Vining (1888-1961), Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.
Robert Lee Griner (1869-1940) and Tessie Vining (1888-1961), Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.

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