Austin L. Bridges Brought New Bride to Town in 1909

Austin Lawrence Bridges was a Lowndes county merchant in the early 1900s.  In March of 1909, it was announced that he  planned to move his store and bride to the newly incorporated town of Rays Mill (now Ray City), in Berrien County, GA. (see Ray’s Mill has Arrived)

Austin Lawrence Bridges (1883-1953).  As a young man, A. L. Bridges owned and operated a dry goods store in Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA.

Austin Lawrence Bridges (1883-1953). As a young man, A. L. Bridges owned and operated a dry goods store in Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA.

 Austin L. Bridges was a son of Phoebe H. Moore and William A. Bridges, born December 18, 1882.  His parents’ home was located in the former community of Sims, GA which was located about 11 miles south of Ray City.

 Before coming to Ray City,  Austin had gained experience working in the retail trade in Perry, Florida.

The Valdosta Times
Feb. 17, 1906 — page 7

Entertainment at Perry, Fla.

Perry, Fla., Feb. 15 – Mr. A. L. Bridges entertained quite a number of his friends at the home of Mr. and Mrs. W. T. Calhoun last Monday evening from 8 until 11:30 o’clock on Main street. Those present being Misses Eula Weaver, Maggie Adams, Sadie Greene, Bradley, Mrs. Dubose of Perry, Misses McDonald, of Boston, Robbie Wright, of Jacksonville, Mamie Franklin, Minnie Jones, of Quitman, Winget, of Fenholloway; Messers A. L. Bridges, R. F. Butler, Lee, Adams, Williams, Jones,  Wilder, Calhoun.
    Music was rendered by Messrs. Lee, Bridges, Butler and Miss Maggie Adams.  The entertainment was a very delightful one and enjoyed by all present.  After al the amusing games were over Mr. A. L. Bridges bid his friend adieu, as he returned to his home near Valdosta Tuesday morning with the expectation of spending a few days with relatives and friends.  His friends regret his absence very much, but he expects to return to Perry soon, where he will take up his position with the Empire store.

Even so, Austin  found time for visits to the family home in Lowndes county, where his circle of friends included his future bride, Ardella Pope of Valdosta. Another acquaintance was Verdie Baskin, of Rays Mill.

The Valdosta Times
Mar. 3, 1906 — page 12

Entertainment at Sims, Ga.

    Misses Florence and Pearl Bridges entertained quite a number of their friends last Tuesday evening from seven until 11:30 o’clock at the home of Mrs. W. A. Bridges six miles north of Valdosta.  The affair was complimentary to their brother, Mr. Austin L. Bridges,  who is going to make his departure for Perry, Fla.
    The parlor was beautifully decorated for the occasion, consisting of vines and cut flowers.  The evening was spent very pleasantly in playing amusing games.  Those in attendance were Misses Pearl and Lilla May Dasher, Della and Nannie Pope, Ola Turner, Verda Baskin, Florence and Pearl Bridges, Messrs. John Turner, Cornel Peters, Walton Pope, Austin Bridges, Lonnie Baskins, Leroy Bridges.
    Mr. and Mrs. U. F. Bridges, of Valdosta, are visiting relative and friends at Sims this week.
    Mrs. W. A. Bridges is having her dwelling repaired which adds to the appearance of it very much.

Austin Lawrence Bridges married Della Pope on January 23, 1909 in Lowndes County. The groom was a tall young man, of medium build, with brown eyes and brown hair.  

Within a month, the newlyweds had moved to Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA.

The 1910 census shows that the Bridges owned a home on Jones Street in Rays Mill, and that Austin was operating a dry goods store on his own account. In addition, the young doctor Guy Selman and his wife Bessie, also newlyweds, were boarding with the Bridges.

Initially, Austin must have found the dry goods business in Rays Mill quite promising, as he had a new building constructed in the town in 1911. But by 1918 he had moved his business five miles south, across the county line to Barretts, Lowndes county, GA.

Some time before 1935, Austin and Della moved to Dade County Florida.  They rented a home on Sunset Drive in South Miami.  Austin had given up commercial trade and gone into the ministry. The Bridges remained in South Miami thereafter. 

Austin Lawrence Bridges died in 1953.

James Madison Baskin Settled at Beaver Dam Creek.

James Madison Baskin, first of the Baskin family to settle in the Ray City area, came to Berrien county about the time it was created in 1856.  He was the grandfather of Armstrong B. Baskin, and great grandfather of Mary Frances Baskin. James M. Baskin was born 6 April 1829 in Houston County, GA, one of thirteen children born to Sarah Goode and James G. Baskin.  His father was born 1792 in Abbeville District, SC.  and came to Georgia as a child.

When grown to adulthood, James M. Baskin left his family home with two slaves given to him by his father.  These slaves were experienced in construction, and James went into business as a building contractor.

While on a stay in Atlanta, James M. Baskin resided at the Bell House, a boarding house said to be the first hotel in Atlanta. There, he met the proprietor’s daughter, Frances Bell Knox.  She was  a widow with a three-year-old son, Alton Knox.  (The 1850 Dekalb County census  records show that by the age of 17 she was married to Joseph Knox, age 28, and that the couple had a one year old son named Alton.)

About 1852, Frances Bell Knox and James Madison Baskin were married  in Houston County.  In 1853, Frances gave James a daughter,  Fannie E. Baskin.  Another daughter, Sarah “Sallie” E., followed in 1856.

James M. Baskin’s father died in 1856.  About that time he decided to move his family from their home in Houston County.  His adopted son was now seven years old, his daughter three. His wife was probably either pregnant or was caring for their second infant daughter Sarah “Sallie” E., who was born that same year.   Who knows his reasons for uprooting his young family?  The Indian wars were over – south Georgia was secure. The Coffee Road provided a migration route and there was a steady southward flow of settlers.  Perhaps the disposition of his father’s estate incited him to move.  Perhaps he foresaw the coming war and wanted his family farther from north Georgia military objectives, or perhaps he saw more opportunities in the new counties being opened in southern Georgia.

It was in 1856 that Berrien County was cut out of Lowndes County; Levi J. Knight and others were setting boundaries and surveying the new county. James M. Baskin brought his family to the area of Beaverdam Creek in the southernmost part of the new county.  He settled about a mile outside of present day Ray City, GA  on land Lots 470 and 471 in the 10th land district. Tax records from the 1870s show James M. Baskin owned 1080 acres pf land in Berrien county,  relatively valuable land appraised at $1.85 per acre.

1869 Berrien County Map detail showing location of land lots #470 and 471.

1869 Berrien County Map detail showing location of land lots #470 and 471.

Over the next five years three more daughters were added to the Baskin family: Georgia Ann (1857), Martha J. (1859), and Mary J. (1861)

The Civil War came along and James M. Baskin joined the Confederate army, enlisting as a private in the 54th Georgia Infantry. He fought throughout the war and was wounded in the Battle of Atlanta.

After the war, James Baskin returned to farm life.  Over the next ten years he and Frances had five more children.  In all,  James M. Baskin and Frances Bell had 11 children. James and Frances Baskin, and some of their children, were active in the formation of Beaver Dam Baptist church, now known as Ray City Baptist Church.

Children of James Madison Baskin and  Frances Bell:

  1. Baskin, Fannie E. (1853 – 1892) m. William A. K. Giddens
  2. Baskin, Sarah “Sallie” E. (1856 – ) m. Thomas M. Ray, Jr.
  3. Baskin, Georgia Ann (1857 – 1934) m. Leonard L. Roberts
  4. Baskin, Martha J. (1859 – 1950) m. David C. Clements, Dec. 22, 1881
  5. Baskin, Mary J. (1861 – 1902) m. Ulysses A. Knight
  6. Baskin, James B. (1864 – 1943) m. Fannie Ellen Hagan, dau. of John W. Hagan, Dec. 15, 1887
  7. Baskin, Callie D. (1866 – 1890)  m. John T. Smith
  8. Baskin, William H. (1869 – ) m. Mamie Harrell, dau. of John W.
  9. Baskin, Emma (1872 – ) m. George T. Patten
  10. Baskin, Maggie May (1874 – 1898) m. Robert L. Patten
  11. Baskin, Ollie (1876 – ) m. L. H. Dasher

Frances Bell Knox Baskin died on June 3, 1885 at Rays Mill (now Ray City), Berrien County, Georgia.

James Baskin was a widower, 56 years old, the youngest of his 11 children just 9 years old. He decided to re-marry. Just six months later, on Dec 30 1885 he wed Mary Ann Harrell. She was a native of Lowndes County, born in  Nov. 29, 1859. At 27, she was a prominent citizen experienced in public service, and a former Ordinary (probate judge) of Lowndes county.

Children of James Madison Baskin and Mary Ann Harrell, – m. 30 DEC 1885 in Lowndes County, Georgia

  1. Baskin, Alonzo L. (1886 – ) b.   Nov. 17, 1886, m. Corine Rodriguez
  2. Baskin, Verdie (1888 – ) b.   Dec. 17, 1888, m. James W. Lovejoy
  3. Baskin, Infant (1891 – 1891)
  4. Baskin, Ruby (1893 – ) b.   May 16, 1893, m. Walter M. Shaw
  5. Baskin, Ruth (1894 – 1922) b.   Dec. 15, 1894, died single, age 22 years
  6. Baskin, John Holmes (1897 – ) b.   Oct. 8, 1897, m. Mrs. Laura Hall Sweat of Waycross

James Madison Baskin lived on his land near Ray City with his second wife until his death on July 7, 1913. Mary Ann Harrell Baskin  died April 29, 1917.

He and both of his wives are buried in the Ray City Cemetery.

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