Bill Griner

Grave of Bill Griner, New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA. Image source: Robert Strickland

Grave of Bill Griner, New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA. Image source: Robert Strickland

William E. “Bill” Griner (1902-1984), son of Sarah and D. Edwin Griner,  was the custodian at the Ray City School. He came to school very early every day and built a fire in the pot-bellied stove in every room. There were four classrooms and the soup kitchen in the old wooden building. In the brick building there were six classrooms, the principal’s office and the laboratory, each with their own stove.  At Christmas, every student brought Bill a gift.

Bill Griner had a home on Main Street in Ray City.  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. His neighbors to the west were the family of Caulie and Marietta Smith.

It appears that after the death of Robert L. Griner, Tessie Vining Griner and her daughter Sadie moved in with William E. “Bill” Griner.  Sadie had a son nicknamed Peanut, and although Bill himself had only two years of formal schooling, he worked hard to make sure that Peanut made it through high school. Peanut later became a policeman at Remerton, GA.

 

History of Ray City School

In 1918, a contract for a new school building in Ray City, GA was let out by the Board of Education. Plans for the building were drawn by Valdosta architect Lloyd B. Greer. The contract for materials went to A. H. Miller Hardware Store in Ray City.

Industrial Development and Manufacturers Record, September 25, 1919, announcement of construction at Ray City, GA

Industrial Development and Manufacturers Record, September 25, 1919, announcement of construction at Ray City, GA

Construction on the brick school building, which has been preserved in Ray City and which now houses the Joe Sizemore Community Library, began in 1920.  The Ray City School opened in 1922.

Ray City School, March 11, 1927. In 1918, the Berrien County School Board put out a contract for a new school building in Ray City, GA. Plans for the building were drawn by Valdosta architect Lloyd B. Greer. Materials were supplied by A. H. Miller Hardware Store in Ray City. The school opened in 1922.

Ray City School, March 11, 1927.

The brick school building at Ray City, GA was designed by Valdosta architect Lloyd Greer.  Among other buildings designed by Greer were:  Federal Building and Post Office, Valdosta, GA; Carnegie  Library, Valdosta,GA; First Church of Christ, Scientist, Tallahassee, FL; James Price McRee House, Camilla, GA; Dasher High School, Valdosta, GA; Barney School, Barney, GA; Barber-Pitman House, Valdosta, GA; Lanier County Auditorium and Grammar School, Lakeland, GA; Ilex Theater, Quitman,GA; Moultrie Theater, Moultrie, GA; United Cigar Store Building, Jacksonville, GA; Quitman Library, Quitman, GA; Echols County High School, Statenville, GA; Barrow Hall, Emory Junior College, Valdosta, GA; Pine Grove School, Fitzgerald, GA; Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, GA; Douglas Negro High School and Douglas White High School, Douglas, GA; Nichols House,Valdosta, GA; Berrien High School, Nashville, GA. The Lyric Theater, Waycross,GA was designed by Greer.

Old Wooden School at Ray City, GA

The Ray City High School Class of 1949 wrote, “The school of our community was begun long before our town received its present name having been known as Rays Mill. “

Among those early teachers of Ray’s Mill (now Ray City) was  Henry Harrison Knight (1840-1898).  These teachers   taught in the little one room log house schools  of Berrien county, and were often paid in “found” – bartered, homegrown commodities such as ham, chickens, eggs, or butter.

The first school building was located on the east side of town. This building was destroyed by fire. Then a log cabin called the Alliance Building was constructed in 1898, and was used for about two years.

In January 1898, the Tifton Gazette reported that Robert Crawford Woodard was the teacher at the Rays Mill academy.  He later went on to become a physician.

In 1900 the interested people of the community decided to make an improvement in the school plant. Trees were cut from their lands and carried to Sutton’s Sawmill to be made into lumber, for the purpose of erecting a frame building. That stood where our present building is now standing. It consisted of one large room. Some of the interested patrons who helped with this building were: J. S. Swindle, W. E. Langford, Isaac Burkhalter, Redding Swindle, and W. M. Knight. With the aid of other patrons they completed the first Ray City School. -History of Ray City School (1948-49 Yearbook)

The town experienced a boom period when the Georgia & Florida Railroad came to Ray City in 1909.The increased population made it necessary to make an addition of two more rooms to the school.” -History of Ray City School (1948-49 Yearbook)

The January 19, 1911 edition of the Valdosta Times reported news of the school in Rays Mill (now Ray City).   Husband and wife team James Marcus Patten and Ida Lou Hall Patten were running the school. Professor J.M. Patten was college educated, having completed the teacher education program at North Georgia Agricultural College, and had twenty years experience teaching in the common schools of Berrien County.

In 1918,  the Reverend John W. Shoemate and Mrs. Harriet M. Shoemate came to Ray City to take charge of the school.   Reverend Shoemate was a native of Tennessee, and a Baptist minister.  Mrs. Shoemate was a native of South Dakota, and college educated. In Ray City, they were the neighbors of Professor and Mrs. J. M. Patten.  Mrs. Patten was also then occupied teaching public school.  The Ray City School was then still held in the three-room, wood frame building, and educated  students through the eighth grade. One student from this time period was Claudey Belle Hester, who wrote well enough for publication in Progressive Farmer.

According to the Annual Report of the Department of Education, in 1920 the public high school in Ray’s Mill was a 2-year Junior High School. Sankey Booth was Superintendent of the school and later served on the Berrien County Board of Education. One of the teachers in old Ray City was Louannie Eudell Webb (1902-1972), who started teaching by age 17.  She was a daughter of Luther Webb and Mary J. Albritton, and had only an 8th grade education herself. She married Leroy Lorenzo Carter on August 3, 1922. Another teacher at Ray City in 1920 was Lucile Fountain; she taught the fourth grade class. According to later census records, she herself had only attended school through the 4th grade.  It was the talk of the town when her beau, Calvin Simmons, came and got her out of class  and took her to get married on February 13, 1923. Maria Antoniette Poblete Knight worked as an art teacher at the Ray City School in the 1920s.

The Brick School

That [multi-room wood school house] was used until 1920 when work on the present building was started. -History of Ray City School (from the 1948-49 Yearbook)

Ray City School, 1948-49, C. W. Schmoe, Principal.

Ray City School, 1948-49, C. W. Schmoe, Principal.

In 1924, the Georgia Library Commission added the Ray City School as the only station in Berrien County for the Georgia Traveling Library.   the Georgia Library Commission had been created in 1919 by the General Assembly with and annual appropriation of $6,000, which included funds for the maintenance of traveling libraries.  These traveling libraries typically provided 50 or 100 books, which were available for a few months before being passed on to the next station.

Wilma Harper began her 60 year teaching career at the Ray City School in 1928 at the age of 18.  There she met and fell in love with Prentice M. Shultz, who taught and was principal at Ray City School. A year later they were married.

In 1928, the Georgia Library Commission reported  library service offered in Berrien only at Ray City, through the Ray City School and at the Kings Chapel School.

The Great Depression took a great toll on Berrien County, and Ray City struggled with funding to keep the school open. Only through the generous contributions of local citizens and by charging students a tuition, was the school able to continue for the full term. In 1930, the school could not even afford to hold graduation exercises.

In the 1930s many schools in smaller communities were consolidated. In 1936, Pleasant Vale and Sapling Grove schools were closed and the students sent to Ray City.

The Ray City School held a junior high school rating until 1936, when it became an accredited senior high school. Another classroom building was added that year to the school plant. -History of Ray City School (from the 1948-49 Yearbook)

By the 1940-41 school term, New Lois High School was also consolidated with Ray City High School.

In the early days students at Ray City School brought their own lunches to school and ate outside on the school grounds, as there was no lunchroom or kitchen to prepare food.  David Miley recalled a sow that used to come into the playground, and snatch the lunch bags of unsuspecting kids. The school grounds were fenced and had a cattle gap to keep free ranging livestock from entering the schoolyard.  Even so, livestock could and did occasionally get into the school yard.  By 1941, the school had a lunch room serving 150 students a day.

William E. “Bill” Griner (1902-1984) was the janitor at the Ray City School. He came to school very early every day and built a fire in the potbellied stove in every room. There were four classrooms and the soup kitchen in the old wooden building. In the brick building there were six classrooms, the principal’s office and the laboratory, each with their own stove.  At Christmas, every student brought Bill a gift. Bill had a nephew nicknamed Peanut, and although Bill himself had only two years of formal schooling, he worked hard to make sure that Peanut made it through high school. Peanut later became a policeman at Remerton, GA.

 

Fence and cattle gap in front of the Ray City School kept livestock out of the schoolyard, 1949.

Fence and cattle gap in front of the Ray City School kept livestock out of the schoolyard, 1949.

During WWII, Ray City School did its part.   Vocational agriculture teacher St. Elmo Lee gave up his classrooms at Ray City  and New Lois, GA for the U.S. Army. Graduates and former students left Ray City to go to war. Some never came back.  Hubert Comer (RCHS 1940) joined the Navy and was killed in the D-Day invasion of Normandy Beach. Harry Elmore Devane (RCHS 1938) also joined the Navy.  On D-Day Devane was a boat officer on a tank landing craft at Omaha Beach. He was killed in an accident aboard the aircraft carrier USS FDR after the war. James A. Swindle (RCHS 1936) captained a B-26 Marauder and flew 75 bombing missions; he was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross. Maurice “Max” Johnson (RCHS 1940) served as a B-24 pilot during WWII from 1942 to 1945. Leland E Langford (RCHS 1939) enlisted on June 12, 1941, serving as an Army pilot until he was killed in a plane crash in 1949.   J.I. Clements (RCHS 1938) joined the Army and fought in Germany. Many other alumni of Ray City School served as well.

William R. “Mac” McClure was principal of the school in the mid 1940s. Charles Woodrow “Woody” Schmoe served as principal in the late 1940s and early 1950s. His wife, Nancy Young Schmoe, taught 5th Grade.

 

In 1947 a fifteen thousand dollar gymnasium was constructed by the patrons, a building in which the whole community justly takes pride (1948-49 Yearbook).  The town dedicated the building with a big dance celebration and the crowning of the Queen of the Harvest.

In 1948, a vocational building was erected by the veterans of World War II, at the end of five years this … [became] a part of Ray City School.

It was in 1949 that veterans of World War II built  a “very modern and up-to-date lunchroom” for the school.

In 1954, Ray City High School and all other white high schools in the county were combined into Nashville High School.  The brick school building at Ray City continued to serve as an elementary and middle school until 1994, when all county schools were consolidated into facilities in Nashville.

Death of Sarah Griner

As told in previous post Almost Gone ~ Graves of D. Edwin Griner and Sarah Rouse at New Ramah Cemetery) Sarah “Sallie” Rouse married D. Edwin Griner on October 22, 1894 in Berrien County, GA.  She was the daughter of Kizzia and Robert O. Rouse, of Ray’s Mill, GA.

Sarah’s father was a veteran of the Civil War, having served in Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment.  He was fighting with his unit in November 1863 at Knoxville, TN when he was wounded in the face, breaking both cheek bones and impairing his vision. He was  captured by Union forces on January 5, 1864 and imprisoned at Rock Island Prison.  He remained a prisoner of war until March 27, 1865  when he was exchanged  at  Boulware and Cox’s Wharves, James River, VA and was subsequently furloughed. He was later denied a Confederate pension.

Edwin and Sarah Griner made their home in the 1144th Georgia Militia District, the Rays Mill District where the census of 1900 shows they owned a farm near Sallie’s parents and others of the family connection.  To that story we now add the obituary of Sarah Griner,  died Monday, January 29, 1951.

Valdosta Times
January 30, 1951

Obituary of Sarah Griner, (1871-1951) Ray City, GA

Obituary of Sarah Griner, (1871-1951) Ray City, GA

Valdosta Times
January 30, 1951

Mrs. Sara Griner of Ray City is Claimed by Death

Mrs. Sara Griner, 80, died Monday afternoon after several months of illness.  She had lived in Ray City all of her life, and was a member of the Primitive Baptist Church.
    She is survived by one son, William Griner; one daughter, Mrs. Berdie Cook, both of Ray City; two grandchildren.
    Funeral services will be held Wednesday afternoon at 3 o’clock at the New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church in Ray City.  The Rev. John W. Harrell and Elder M. C. Peavy will conduct the services.
    Lakeland Funeral Home is directing arrangements.

Sarah "Sallie" Rouse Griner, New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.

Sarah “Sallie” Rouse Griner, New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.

Children of  Sarah Rouse Griner and D. Edwin Griner:

  1. Carl Griner, born September 11, 1894; died November 5, 1900; buried Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA
  2. Eugene Griner, born May 26, 1896; died November 3, 1900, buried Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA
  3. Lona Belle Griner, born April 15, 1899; died November 11, 1909;  buried Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA
  4. William Edwin Griner 1902 – 1984
  5. Sarah V Griner 1905 –

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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

Children of TESSIE VINING and LUCIUS MILEY:

  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.

Children of TESSIE VINING and ROBERT GRINER are:

  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.

 TIMES – UNION JACKSONVILLE FLORIDA

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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