Walter G. Altman

Walter G Altman (1895 -1943)

Walter G. Altman was born 15 May 1895 in Cordele, GA. The 1900 census shows that at age  five he was living with his parents, James & Louisa Altman, and family in a rented home in the vicinity of Bowens Mill, GA.

1900 Census enumeration of Walter G. Altman and family, Bowens Mill, GA. https://archive.org/stream/12thcensusofpopu229unit#page/n241/mode/1up

1900 Census enumeration of Walter G. Altman and family, Bowens Mill, GA. https://archive.org/stream/12thcensusofpopu229unit#page/n241/mode/1up

 

Prior to 1917, Walter Altman had been living with his parents, James & Leslie Altman, and four of his siblings in Nashville, GA. All together, he had eight brothers and sisters. Walter attended school through the 8th Grade.

The Altmans worked a rented farm in Nashville. Walter and his brother, Wilbur Altman, worked with their father in general farming.

Some time between 1910 and 1917 the Altmans moved to Ray City, GA.  Walter registered for the draft there on June 5, 1917.  At the age of 22 he was still single, still living with his parents. He was medium height, medium build, brown eyes, and dark hair. He was working as a clerk for Nix & Miller Co sawmill operation, one of the historic businesses of Ray City.

In 1918 Walter Greene Altman married Leslie Alma Langford.  She was a daughter of William E. Langford and Mary Virginia Knight, and sister of Luther Etheldred Langford. Like Walter she had an  8th grade education.

Shortly after marrying, Walter went into the ice business.  Later he owned a cafe where Leslie worked as a waitress. By 1920,  Walter G. Altman owned a mortgaged home on Jones Street in Ray City, GA (now 506 Jones Street).

 

When census taker  Annie Patterson enumerated the household of Walter and Leslie Altman  for the 1920 census, she found the young couple with their newborn son, Walter Jr.  Walter’s parents were living in a home just a few houses down the street, along with Walter’s siblings Wilbur and Eva.  The neighbors were the Wright family, and the grocer Abe Levin and his family.  Other neighbors included merchants of Ray City:  men like Gordon V. Hardie, butcher; and Claud Clements, grocer.

At 24 years of age, Walter was working as a self-employed ice dealer, supplying the homes and businesses of Ray City with ice.   His brother Wilbur was also in the ice business. Ray City built a municipal electric plant in 1922, but dependable home electric service and electric refrigerators would not be available in the town until the 1930s.    In the 1920s, small towns  had ice delivery men, such as Wilbur and Walter, or Ferris Moore, who regularly supplied ice to chill ice boxes in local homes and businesses.

In the census of 1930, Walter Altman was again enumerated at Ray City. That year the enumeration included a count of citizens who owned radio sets.   In all of Ray City, there were only eight radio sets within the city limits, the owners being Walter Altman, James A. Grissett, John D. Luke, Henry Swindle, Marvin Purvis, John Simpkins, Joseph Johnson and Fannie Parks.  The average cost of a radio in 1929 was around $139 dollars. In terms of comparable “affordability” for an average person in today’s dollars (2010 index) this would be like making a $7,600 purchase (relative worth based on nominal GDP per capita index – see MeasuringWorth.com).

In 1928, Walter G. Altman ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the City Council:

Ray City News, Jan 3, 1929
City Officers Take Seat on January 14

The following city officers were elected in the election held in the early part of December, L. S. Giddens, mayor, J. D. Luke, J. A. Purvis, Y. F. Carter, W. H. E. Terry, councilmen.
J. M. Studstill opposed Giddens for mayor.  W. G. Altman, J. S. Clements and W. W. Woods were on the opposite ticket for councilmen.
The new officers will  be sworn in Monday night –text illegible– L. F.  Giddens over Edmond Griner.

The Altmans moved to Jacksonville, FL some time before 1935.    In that year, they had a home at 1035 East Church Street.  By 1940 they were back in Ray City renting a home for $5 a month. Census records indicate Walter G. Altman was disabled, with no income.  His neighbors included Elzie Kelly, an ex convict who served time on a chain gang, and Joe Burgman, who was farming the place next door.

1940 census enumeration of Walter G. Altman

1940 census enumeration of Walter G. Altman

Walter G. Altman died April 1, 1943.  His grave is at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA along with others of the Altman Family connection.

Graves of Walter G. Altman and Leslie A. Altman, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Graves of Walter G. Altman and Leslie A. Altman, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

 

Ray City, GA Veterans of World War I

The men of Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia served in World War I.  Some served with honor, a few found difficulty, still others gave their lives (see Otranto Disaster.)  Below is a partial list of Ray City Veterans who returned from service in World War I, with links to details of their service records.

WWI Inductees at Nashville, GA Courthouse, 1918.

WWI Berrien county Inductees at Nashville, GA Courthouse, 1918.

World War I soldiers returning home.

World War I soldiers returning home.

  1. Adams, Champ (Army: Camp Wheeler, Camp Upton)
  2. Ray City People: Altman, Wilbur Harris (Army: Fort Screven)
  3. Anderson, George Marvin (Army: Camp Hancock)
  4. Armstrong, Henry
  5. Baldwin, Will  (Army)
  6. Baskin, John Hagan  (Navy)
  7. Boggs, Carlos J. (Buffalo Infantry)
  8. Boyette, Grover Gordon  (Navy)
  9. Ray City People: Boyett, Jesse
  10. Brown, Hershel Chester  (Navy)
  11. Brown, Ollie   (Army)
  12. Ray City People: Browning, Lewis (Army)
  13. Burkhalter, Francis Marion (Army)
  14. Calhoun, Joseph Burton (Army)
  15. Ray City People: Clanton, Lewis (Army)
  16. Clements, Levi D.
  17. Ray City People: Clements, Grover C  (Army)
  18. Clements, Hosea Peoples (Army)
  19. Ray City People: Clements, Richard Schley (Army)
  20. Collins, Thomas J. (Army, Disabled Veteran)
  21. Currye, Robert  (Army)
  22. Davis, Coley M.   (Army, KIA)
  23. DeLoach, James Marvin (Army)
  24. Eady, Phillip  (Army)
  25. Frasier, William O.  (Army)
  26. Godwin, Joseph W.   (Army)
  27. DeVane, Gordon
  28. Garfield, Baker   (Army: 516th Engineers)
  29. Genrette, David  (Army)
  30. Giddens, Marcus  (Army)
  31. Green, George  (Army)
  32. Ray City People: Greene, Jesse L  (Army)
  33. Ray City People: Hall, Edward C
  34. Hall, Pasco Olandro (Army)
  35. Ray City People: Harnage, William C  (Army)
  36. Hardie, Grover Cleveland  (Army)
  37. Hillard, James  (Army)
  38. Ray City People: Hinson, Milton J  (Army)
  39. Ray City People: Holliday, Glenn  (Army)
  40. Howard, Thomas (Army)
  41. Jones, John  (Army)
  42. Jones, Lacy (Army)
  43. Jones, Robert (Army)
  44. Tonie M. Kirkland, Army
  45. Ray City People: Kirkland, Clayton (Army)
  46. Ray City People: Kirkland, Tonie M (Army)
  47. Ray City People: Knight, Eugene M (Army)
  48. Knight, Owen Adrian (Army)
  49. Knight, Perry Thomas  (Army)
  50. Knight, Ralph  (Army, died in sinking of the HMS Otranto)
  51. Knight, Rossie O.  (Army)
  52. Lane, Collie  (Army)
  53. Ray City People: Langford, James R   (Army)
  54. Lawson, Carlie   (Army)
  55. Lee, James Isaac
  56. Little, Ira  (Army)
  57. Miller, Elzie Nathaniel (Navy)
  58. Miller, Leon Clyde
  59. Mincey, John  (Army)
  60. Ray City People: McDonald, Robert Fulton
  61. Ray City People: Odum, Henry A  (Army)
  62. Parham, Foster B.  (Army)
  63. Ray City People: Parker, John H
  64. Ray City People: Peters, Johntie A  (Army)
  65. Pitman, Perry Lee
  66. Ray, Boisey   (Army)
  67. Ray City People: Register, William B  (Army)
  68. Register, Lorton W.   (Army)
  69.  Rentz, Lawson S.   (Army)
  70. Richardson, William T.  (Army)
  71. Richburg, William Thomas
  72. Rivers, Sidney Jr,   (Army)
  73. Roberson, Alfred   (Army)
  74. Roberson, Joe   (Army)
  75. Robinson, Virgil   (Army)
  76. Scott, Lelon   (Army)
  77. Shaw, John Sheffield   (Army)
  78. Shaw, William (Army)
  79. Sirmans, John   (Army)
  80. Ray City People: Sirmans, Virgil C   (Army)
  81. Sloan, William David (Army Medical Service)
  82. Smith, Lonnie W.   (Army)
  83. Spates, William M.   (Army)
  84. Ray City People: Strickland, Ivey L   (Army)
  85. Ray City People: Sumner, Morris C   (Army)
  86. Ray City People: Sutton, Harry C
  87. Ray City People: Taylor, Leon S    (Army)
  88. Ray City People: Thomas, Silas I    (Army)
  89. Ray City People: Tison, William Wiley
  90. Townsend, Hilton Monroe   (Navy)
  91. Voss, Rubie   (Army)
  92. Watts, Henry   (Army)
  93. Webb, Lowndes Otis   (Army)
  94. Webb, Marcus Lafayette   (Army)
  95. Webb, Shellie Loyd   (Army, died in sinking of the HMS Otranto)
  96. Mallie Boukin Webb, Navy
  97.  Webb, Ura T.    (Army)
  98.  White, James Lee   (Army)
  99.  Whitford, Claudie   (Army)
  100.  Wiggins, Siar   (Army)
  101. Wiley, Mattalies   (Army)
  102. Wilkins, Alfred   (Army)
  103.  Williams, Pink   (Army)
  104.  Williams, Gordon   (Army)
  105. Herman A. Williams, Army
  106. Ray City People: Wilson, Harry   (Army)
  107. Ray City People: Wilson, John F

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Automotive Entrepreneurs in Ray City, GA

Cars began appearing in Ray City and Berrien County, Georgia for the first time in the early 1900’s.  Dr. H. W. Clements was one of the earliest car owners in Berrien County.  With increasing  automobile traffic, Ray City residents were soon turning to businesses that catered to this new locomotion.

Woco Pep was a gasoline brand featured at Fletch and Mac's Garage at Ray City in the 1940s

Woco Pep was a gasoline brand featured at Fletch and Mac’s Garage at Ray City in the 1940s

On June 5, 1917 when registering for the draft for WWI (WWI: Ray City Goes to WarGordon Vancie Hardie was living and working in Ray City, GA.  At that time he listed his occupation as a self-employed “Automobile Repairer”.   In 1920 he and his wife, Addie B. Hardy were living in a house on Jones Street in Ray City, Georgia.  By that time Gordon had expanded his trades. He was the proprietor of a “beef market” which he operated on his own account.  The Gordon meat market was one of two butcher shops among the historic businesses of Ray City appearing in the Census of 1920.

But other Ray City residents were quickly taking up the automotive service trade. Another going concern in 1917 was that of Sutton & Gaskins. Henry C. Sutton was one of the proprietors and also a mechanic; Barney Gordon Shaw was also employed as an automobile mechanic. Harvey Norvell Terry, son of merchant W.H.E. Terry, was also a mechanic. Jessie Everett Anderson was another young man running a garage in Ray City around that time. In the 1920 census Machiel Gallagher, son of Frank Gallagher, gave his occupation as a wage laborer in an automobile shop. Theodore Hinley, son of J.F. Hineley,  worked on his own account as an automobile driver.   Thad L. Lindsey, who resided with his uncle Jasper Nobles in a house on Jones Street,  was the proprietor of a garage. The garage was probably a good complement to his uncle’s livery business.  In fact, automotive service stations of that period were sometimes referred to as the “auto livery.”

Charles A. Cole was the proprietor of another garage in town.  His father, Jasper Cole, was a blacksmith. There was good sense in this business relationship; as cars became more popular, many blacksmiths became automobile mechanics.  The April 1913 issue of  American blacksmith and motor shop, Volume 13 included articles such as “Welding Automobile Springs” and “Three Emergency Automobile Repairs”, as well as “A Scientific Horseshoe.”

By 1925 Gordon V. Hardie had returned to the automotive service industry. He built the first gasoline station in Ray City, GA, a brick building which stood on the south side of Main Street just east of the tracks of the Georgia & Florida railroad and  southeast of the corner of  Main and Paralleled Streets.These automotive entrepreneurs were just a few of the Ray City businesses operating in the town’s boom period of the 1920’s.

By 1930 the Hardie Filling Station had competition in the service station business.  Moses L. Giddens was a garage and station owner, and  Carl F. Murry was  employed at a filling station.  Charlie J. Shaw was a self-employed automobile mechanic.  In the 1930s, the South Georgia Oil Company,  a gas and diesel dealership based out of Tifton, GA, had a location at Ray City.  Among other automotive business firms operated in Ray City in the 1930s were Ray City Service Station, Norton Service Station, Ray City Motor Company,  Colonial Oil Company,  Highway Service Station,  Standard Oil Station,  Shaw’s Garage,  and Swain Garage.   Wilbur Aultman owned a filling station and lunch stand that was destroyed by fire in 1937.

The census of 1940 shows  Levi J. Futch, Arthur A. Carlson, Willie Wright Ware, and J. B. McSwain all were working as  automobile mechanics.  Herman B. Guthrie was a gasoline station operator, and George Emory Swindle, a son of L.C. Swindle, was an automobile salesman.

In 1945, J. B. “Mac” McSwain went into partnership with D.L. Fletcher to open Fletch and Mac’s Garage in Ray City, GA. Among the products featured at the new service station were Woco Pep gasoline and Tiolene Motor Oil.

1949 Georgia Map, Standard Oil Company

1949 Georgia Map, Standard Oil Company, featured “Okefenokee Swamp Park, near Waycross, Georgia” on the cover.

Related posts:

Fletch and Mac’s Garage Opens at Ray City

Dr. H.W. Clements and the Doctor’s Roadster