Ray City Home of Perry Lee Pittman and Inez Webb

Ray City, GA

Perry L. Pittman and family lived in this Ray City, GA home in the 1940s.

Perry L. Pittman and family rented this Ray City, GA home in the 1930s and 1940s.

Perry L. Pitman was a son of Louranie W. “Rainey” Register and John Edward Pittman.  He was born December 3, 1898 in Clinch County, GA and lived for many years in Berrien County, GA.  As a young man, Pittman was of medium height and medium build, with blue eyes and black hair.  He first married Annie Jewel Fountain, on July 27, 1921 in Berrien County, GA.  She was daughter of William E. Fountain and Nancy Elizabeth Bradford.  After Annie’s death on July 17, 1934, Perry L. Pittman raised their children on his own of several years.

On November 27, 1935 Pittman married Vida Inez Williams,  the widow of Fred Williams.  She  was born August 9, 1903, a daughter of James Alford Webb and Pearlie Ann Register.  For a time, in the late 1930s and 1940s Perry and Inez Pittman made their home in Ray City, GA. Perry was a patrolman for the highway department, working 60 hours a week for an annual salary of $1200 dollars.

1940 census enumeration of Perry Lee Pitman and family in Ray City, GA.

1940 census enumeration of Perry Lee Pitman and family in Ray City, GA.

During this time Perry Lee Pittman also served as the State Representative from Berrien County, GA. In the state legislature he became noted for his opposition to the Grandfather Clause, the  Georgia Constitutional Amendment that violated the voting rights of African-Americans in Georgia. He was also noted for his opposition to religious ceremonies involving the practice of handling live rattlesnakes.

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Perry L. Pittman Opposed Disenfranchisement of Georgia’s Black Voters.

In 1940s Perry Lee Pittman was a patrolman for the State Highway Department. He was renting a house on Jones Street, Ray City, GA where he lived with his wife, Inez, and their minor children: Howard Pittman, Tommy Pittman, Johnny Pittman, Meredith Williams,  and Cyril Williams.  He was a son of Louranie W. “Rainey” Register and John Edward Pittman.  He was born in Clinch County, GA and lived for many years in Berrien County, GA.

Perry L. Pittman served as the State Representative from Berrien County, GA, and was noted for his opposition to the  Georgia Constitutional Amendment that violated the voting rights of African-Americans in Georgia.

Perry L. Pittman, July 14, 1949, Chaplain of the American Legion, Otranto Post No. 115, Berrien County, GA. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

Perry L. Pittman, July 14, 1949, Chaplain of the American Legion, Otranto Post No. 115, Berrien County, GA. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

Perry L. Pittman was dedicated in service to his country and community.  He was a Ray City veteran of World War I, a teacher, law enforcement officer, and state legislator.  He was active in the American Legion and other civic organizations, and a member of the Primitive Baptist faith.

Perry L. Pittman, the State Representative from Ray City, GA.

Perry L. Pittman, the State Representative from Ray City, GA.

Atlanta Constitution
February 20, 1941

Representative P. L. Pittman of Berrien.

A representative for a decade, Perry L. Pittman now knows just what makes the wheels behind the law-making body of Georgia turn. He’s a teacher and a farmer and for 18 years has taught in the rural section.  A World War veteran who is most interested in education and agriculture, he is staunchly opposed to the grandfather clause.  He believes in economy and hopes to curtail expenditures whereby all past obligations may be paid in full and old people may receive their benefits through pensions.  He thinks pensions should be equally divided among the blind, cripple, and the dependent.  The solon is 42, married, the father of four daughters and one son.

THE GRANDFATHER CLAUSE

The Grandfather Clause was part of Georgia’s 1908 Disfranchisement Constitutional Amendment , an amendment to the Georgia Constitution that was written specifically to prevent African-Americans from voting in Georgia.  It worked by requiring voters to pass certain tests before they would be allowed to vote, but if your grandfather fought in the Civil War you were exempt from the tests.   According to the Georgia Info website:

In 1906, Hoke Smith campaigned for governor on a progressive platform — but one that championed disfranchisement of Georgia’s black voters. To accomplish this, Smith supported a constitutional amendment that provided that any male at least 21 years of age wanting to register to vote must also: (a) be of good character and able to pass a test on citizenship, (b) be able to read and write provisions of the U.S. or Georgia constitutions, or (c) own at least 40 acres of land or $500 in property. However, any Georgian who had fought in any war from the American Revolution through the Spanish-American War was exempted from these additional qualifications. More importantly, any Georgian descended from a veteran of any of these war also was exempted. Because by 1908, most white Georgia males were grandsons of Confederate veterans, this exemption became known as the “grandfather clause.” Essentially, the qualifications of good character, citizenship knowledge, literacy, and property ownership applied only to blacks wanting to register to vote.

Georgia’s Grandfather clause remained in effect until it was struck down by the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965.

American Legion Officers, July 1947

Perry Lee Pittman was sworn in as Chaplain of the American Legion Otranto Post 115 (Berrien County, GA) in July 1947, along with other officers. Image and original caption (below) courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.comAmerican Legion Officers, July 1947
The Georgia Legionnaire, August 1947
photo caption:
NEW OFFICERS FOR OTRANTO – Georgia Department Commander of the American Legion, W.E. Burdine (left), installed new officers of Otranto Post 115 (Berrien County) July 7 and is shown congratulating Fred T. Allen, post commander. Looking on are: E.A. Alexander, historian; P.L. Pittman, chaplain. Back row, left to right: Bennie L. Tygart, vice-commander; A.D. Harnage, sergeant-at-arms; Bayne Griffin, finance officer; R.E. Williams, adjutant. (Photo by Jamie Connell) 

From Ray City, the Pittmans moved to Nashville, GA.  Later they would live in Homerville, GA and Valdosta, GA.

Perry L. Pittman & family move to Clinch County

Perry L. Pittman & family move to Clinch County

Clinch County News
February 13, 1953.

Perry L. Pittman and Family Move Here from Nashville

    Mr. and Mrs. Perry L. Pittman and family have moved here [Homerville, GA] from Nashville.     A few days ago Mr. Pittman bought the new home recently build in Hodges Gary subdivision from Mr. A. C. Colley.     He is a field agent with the State Revenue Department, Sales tax Division working in Clinch, Lanier, Echols and Charlton Counties.     Mr. Pittman was born in Clinch County, but has spent most of his life in Berrien County.  He taught school for over 20 years and has served in both houses of the state legislature, from Berrien County.  He has been active in the American Legion and other civic organizations in Nashville and is a member of Long Bridge Primitive Baptist Church.

Children of Perry Lee Pittman and Annie Jewell Fountain (1900 – 1934)

  1. William Arthur Pittman (1921 – 1945)
  2. Thomas Pittman (1924 – )
  3. Perry Howard Pittman (1927 – 1995)
  4. John Wesley Pittman (1933 – )

Children of Perry Lee Pittman and Vida Inez Webb (1905 – )

  1. Meredith Williams (1925 – )
  2. Fred J. Williams (1927 -)
  3. Cyril Williams (1932 – )
  4. Glenda Faye Pittman (1939 – )

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1922 Spring Fever Hits Ray City

In these Valdosta Daily Times personal mentions from the spring of 1922, the Ray City news items were mostly about the social activities of the young people of the community.  An interesting note is the  mention of the Ray City Band and the musical troupe’s excursion to Valdosta, GA.

Valdosta Daily Times
April 6, 1922.

RAY CITY ITEMS

    Ray City, Ga., April 5. –Miss Eula Lee Connell and Miss Lilla Gaskins, accompanied by Miss Connell’s parents, spent Sunday with Mr. and Mrs. O. B. Connell, of Valdosta.
    Miss Gola Tom Gaskins was the guest of Miss Gola Flem Gaskins Saturday night and Sunday.  They were accompanied by Mr. Harvey Clements Sunday afternoon for an afternoon ride.
    Mr. Fred Williams was the company of Miss Inez Webb Sunday afternoon.
    Miss Eula Walden spent Sunday with Miss Mae Bowden.
    The Ray City band went to Valdosta Sunday afternoon for a concert with them.
    Mis Beulah Lee spent the weekend with Miss Jennie Watson.
    Miss Gola Tom Gaskins will be the guest of Miss Eula Lee Connell during the week-end of Easter.
    Mr. Grover Combs was a visitor to Miss Minnie Gaskins Saturday afternoon.
    Miss Mary Shaw and Miss Julia McClelland spent Saturday night and Sunday with Miss Mona Strickland.
    Mr. Albert Bradford was a visitor to Miss Rachel Wetherington last Saturday night.
    Mr. Adrian Williams was the visitor of Miss Ethelyn Terry Sunday night.

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Additional Notes

Eighteen year-old Lilla Gaskins, was a daughter of Daniel Jackson Gaskins and Sarah Elizabeth “Lizzie” Gray. The Gaskins made their home on Cat Creek Road in the Lois community. Lilla’s friend and neighbor, Eula Lee Connell, age 14, was a daughter of Clinton D Connell and Reedy M Connell.   That week, Lilla travelled with the Connells to visit their relatives, Mamie and Oscar B. Connell, in Valdosta, GA. Later, Lilla Gaskins would serve as the Berrien County Clerk of the Superior Court.

Another neighbor and cousin was sixteen year old Golie Gaskins, daughter of Mary E. and Flemming B. Gaskins. She was was visiting with another cousin of the same name and age who was the daughter of Linie and William Thomas Gaskins. Their companion was Harvey J. Clements, son of Henry Clements of Ray City.

Vida Inez Webb, of Ray City, was a daughter of James Alford Webb and Pearlie Ann Register. In 1922, she was being courted by Fred S. Williams of Cat Creek. They were married the following year.  Later, Vida Inez Webb married Perry Lee Pittman.

Mae Bowden was a daughter of Ressa and Hayne Bowden. The Bowdens had a home on Main Street in Ray City, where her father was a barber.

Beulah Lee was the 18 year old daughter of Wealthy Mathis and John A. Lee. They lived at Ray City on the  Willacoochee Road, on the farm of Beulah’s brother, Robert E. Lee. She spent the last weekend of March, 1922 with her friend Jennie Watson.  This may have been 18-year-old Jentis Watson, daughter of Samuel I. Watson who had a place on the Ray City & Mud Creek Road.

Miss Minnie Gaskins, another daughter of Daniel J. Gaskins and sister to Lilla Gaskins, was called upon by Grover Cleveland Combs, who would later own a restaurant in Valdosta.

Mona Strickland, 16 year-old daughter of John and Onnie Strickland of the Lois community near Ray City, entertained guests Julia McClelland, of Adel, and Mary Vera Shaw, of Ray City.

Rachel Wetherington was the 15-year-old daughter of Bell and Linton A Wetherington, of Cat Creek. Her visitor was Albert Bradford, a 19-year-old Gaskins cousin, son of the widow Maggie Gaskins Bradford, of Lois. His father, Mack Tally Bradford, died in 1919.

Ethelyn Terry was the 16-year-old daughter of Mary V. and Jack Terry. Her father had a farm on the Valdosta Road at Ray City, near the places of John W. Cowart, Mallie Shaw and Lewis W. Register. Ethelyn’s caller was Herman Adrian Williams of Cat Creek.

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