J. M. Sloan Dies after Throw From Horse

James Murray Sloan came to the Ray's Mill, GA neighborhood in 1871. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

James Murray Sloan came to the Ray’s Mill, GA neighborhood in 1871. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

James Murray Sloan, a son of David and Diadema Sloan, was born Jan. 18, 1833 in Duplin County, N.C.,  J. M. Sloan and his wife, Martha Susan Gordon,  removed from North Carolina to Mississippi for a brief stay, then to Echols Co., Ga.; thence to Berrien County, GA in 1871 where J.M. Sloan engaged in farming.  A number of Duplin County, NC families had relocated in the 1850s to that portion of Lowndes County which was cut into Berrien County in 1856. Among these Duplin transplants were William J. Lamb, James Carroll, Jesse Carroll, William Godfrey, Andrew J. Liles, William Best, James W. Dixon, and Robert Rouse. James Dobson brought his family and slaves, Peter McGowan and Richard McGowan believed to be among them. William Hill Boyett, John Bostick, Treasy Boyett Bostick and Mary C. Bostick came from Duplin to Berrien in the mid-century, and A few years later, Jessie Bostick also removed from Duplin County to the area.  Many of these settled in the area between present day  Ray City and Lakeland, GA (then called Allapaha).

County property tax records for 1873  show J. M. Sloan paid a poll tax in Berrien County that year but  listed no taxable property in his name.  The 1874 tax records show an assessment on  household and kitchen furniture valued at $10, $25 in plantation and mechanical tools, and $166 in ‘other property,’ but no real estate.  By 1875 J. M. Sloan had acquired 245 acres in lot 450, 1144 GMD, in the 10th district, about a mile outside of present day Ray City, GA,  valued at $400 and had $145 in ‘other property.’  Portions of adjoining Land Lots 422, 423, 451, and 452 in the 10th land district  were owned jointly by William Roberts and T.M. Ray, founder of Ray’s Mill, GA. (see Thomas M Ray Founded Ray’s Mill in 1863)

1869 Berrien County Map detail showing location of land lot # 450.

1869 Berrien County Map detail showing location of land lot # 450.

The 1876 tax records show  James M. Sloan listed as “agent for wife,”   with 242  acres in lot 450, 10th district valued at $250.  At that time he had  $50 household and kitchen furniture;  $115 in horses, mules, hogs, sheep, cattle, etc.; and  $9 in plantation & mechanical tools.

He was faring about the same in 1877, still on the same acreage in lot 450, now with  $60 household and kitchen furniture, pianos, organs, etc;  $142 in horses, mules, hogs, sheep, cattle, etc.; and  $41 in plantation & mechanical tools.  His total estate was valued at $493.

Neighbors were William E. Langford with 60 acres and  John B. Gaskins with 100 acres on the same land lot 450;  Jethro Patten on Lot 449; John G & Mary Knight on portions of Lot 450 and 451. Barney B. Chism on Lot 426; William A. Bridges on portions of Lot 470 and 471; and 471 Robert Woodard on lot 471. Neighbor Jonathan D. Knight , who was on portions of Lots 424, 425, 450 and 451, was a signer of the 1877 Georgia Constitution. Another neighbor was John Thomas Clower, Doctor of Ray’s Mill, on a small farm in lot 424.

The 1880 tax records show James M. Sloan was the liquor dealer at Rays Mill.

In 1890 the Berrien County tax digest shows the Sloans were still on their 242 acre farm on Lot 450 in the 10th Land District, now valued at $500.

Neighbors in 1890 still included John B. Gaskins on Lot 450 and John G. Knight on portions of Lots 424, 450 and 451; Redding D. Swindle on portions of Lot 423 and 424;  Mary A. Ray  and Texas E Ray on portions of Lot 423 and 424; James A. Knight on portions of Lot 471; Elizabeth E. Knight on portions of Lots 424, 450, and 451; Walter H. Knight on Lot 426; Louis L. Knight on portions of Lot 451;  Joseph E. Langford on a portion of Lot 450; portions of Lots 424 and 449 belonged to John T. Higgs; Barney B. Chism on Lots 426 and 427; James M. Baskin on Lots 470 and 471.

In 1894, The Tifton Gazette reported the demise of  James M. Sloan, his death occurring on November 20, 1894.

The Tifton Gazette
Nov. 30, 1894 — page 1

Mr. J. M. Sloan, a thrifty farmer of Rays Mill neighborhood, died on Tuesday of last week.  He fell from his horse some time ago, from which he sustained injuries that produced death.  He was a native North Carolinian, but a resident of Georgia for quite a quarter of a century.

James Murray Sloan died after being thrown from a horse.

James Murray Sloan died after being thrown from a horse.

His widow, Martha Gordon Sloan, continued to reside  in the Rays Mill District.  The census of 1900 shows  she owned the family farm, free and clear of mortgage, which she worked on her own account, with the assistance of farm laborer Charlie Weaver.

Martha Gordon Sloan, wife of James Murray Sloan. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Martha Gordon Sloan, wife of James Murray Sloan. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

Children of Martha Susan Gordon and James Murray Sloan:

  1. John Fisher Sloan 1858 – 1930
  2. Emma Jane Sloan 1859 – 1871
  3. Mary Ann Sloan 1861 – 1863
  4. Sarah Virginia Sloan 1864 – 1944
  5. Martha Ida Letitia Sloan 1867 – 1930
  6. Susan Evelyn Sloan 1870 – 1940
  7. Catherine Diademma Sloan 1872 – 1901
  8. Celia Frances Sloan 1874 – 1895
  9. Fannie Sloan 1874 –
  10. Minnie Gordon Sloan 1876 – 1904
  11. William David Sloan 1879 – 1935
Graves of James Murray Sloan and Martha Susan Gordon, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Graves of James Murray Sloan and Martha Susan Gordon, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

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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.

Men at Beaver Dam Baptist Church

A group of men assembled at Beaver Dam Baptist Church (now known as Ray City First Baptist Church), Ray City, GA.  This was before the present brick church was built.

A group of men assembled at Beaver Dam Baptist Church (now known as Ray City First Baptist Church), Ray City, GA. The church building was the original wooden structure that served before the present brick church was built. (Identifications Needed.)

Walter Howard Knight, photographed at Beaver Dam Baptist Church (now known as Ray City Baptist Church), Ray City, GA.

Walter Howard Knight, photographed at Beaver Dam Baptist Church (now known as Ray City Baptist Church), Ray City, GA.

Walter Howard Knight, a son of William Washington Knight (1829 – 1863) and  Mary E Carroll (1839 – 1906), is the only identified individual in the photo above.  He was born November 28, 1859 in Berrien Co., GA and died June 13, 1934.  Walter Howard Knight is buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

BEAVER DAM BAPTIST CHURCH
In 1874 when Mercer Association missionary Reverend J. D. Evans came to Ray’s Mill, GA  Thomas M. Ray was deeply moved by the Baptist’s message.  Thomas M. Ray must have attended the church meetings in the old log school house and the big revivals that were held in May and July, 1874, for he became instrumental in the formation of a Baptist Church at Ray’s Mill.  On September 20, 1874 a small group of followers met with Reverend J. D. Evans  at  the  home of Thomas and Mary Ray to organize the Beaver Dam church.  Thomas M. Ray. and David J. McGee were elected to represent the new church to the Mercer Baptist Association and were sent as messengers to the Valdosta Church. The Reverend J. D. Evans wrote a petitionary letter which they carried to the association. In November 1874 Thomas M. Ray was appointed to a church building committee along with James M. Baskin and David J. McGee. He served on the committed that selected and procured the site for the construction of the church building. He continued to serve on the building committee until his death.

The original wooden church building at Beaver Dam was constructed by W.A. Bridges and James M. Baskin (see Baskin Family Helped Found Ray City Baptist Church).  Construction began in  January of 1875.  Baskin and Bridges hand hewed the timbers to frame the church.   Sawn lumber were purchased but had to be dressed by hand. The building was finished with windows and siding. The pulpit, table and pews were all built on site. J.M. Baskin made the doors himself.