In 1934 Ray City was ‘Noted Section’ of Berrien County

Ray City began 1934 on an optimistic note.  A “booster” story from the Nashville Herald praised the farming, education, churches, municipal government, roads and businesses of Ray City.

The Nashville Herald, 
January 25, 1934, Pg 1

RAY CITY IS NOTED SECTION

Excellent Community of Berrien County and South Georgia – Fine Farming Section

In writing about different communities of Berrien County it is next to impossible to neglect the city of Ray City and the large farming territory surrounding it.  The Ray City section constitutes the southern portion of Berrien County, where extensive farm operations are carried on during every month of the year in all lines of endeavor.

The trading point is the city of Ray City, just ten miles south of Nashville, the county seat.  It has a population of around 500 people, all of whom are industrious and hospitable, with fine schools, churches and live wire merchants.  There is no better place in south Georgia to live than Ray City.

The farming population surrounding Ray City constitute an industrious and progressive people.  To a certain measure they are prosperous, because everything to be raised on a farm can be grown on their fertile lands, and each year their products find ready markets, returning to them cash in abundance.  The section is noted for its fine tobacco and cotton lands and is a hog and cattle raising territory of excellent possibilities.

The city of Ray City affords every convenience and comfort for the citizens of the community.  There is a fine school system, which is under the capable and efficient supervision of Prof. P. M. Shultz.  Prof. Ulmer Crosby is principal, and the other teachers are:  Mrs. P. M. Shultz, Miss Jessie Aycock, Mrs. A.B. Baskins, Miss Lillian Ford and Mrs. Eulalie Dickson.

The school has nine grades, with an enrollment of a few over the two hundred mark.  A number of fine students complete the school each year, advancing to higher institutions of learning.  The school system in Ray City is really a big asset, (illegible) a higher type of citizenry.

The school board is composed of the following gentlemen who handle their duties in a most admirable manner and of benefit to patrons and students combined.  H.A. Swindle, chairman, M.A. Studstill, sec.-treasl., C.H. Vickers, J.M. Studstill and W.M. Creech, members.

Ray City is not short either along the spiritual line, having four active churches as follows:  Baptist, Rev. Walter Branch, pastor; Methodist, Rev. F.A. Ratcliffe, pastor; Primitive Baptist, Elder C.H. Vickers, pastor; Christian, supply pastor.  The Baptist and Methodist churches conduct Sunday Schools, and young people’s organizations.

The affairs of the city of Ray City are in the hands of men who apparently have the united support of the people, as the entire body was recently re-elected to office.  J. H. Swindle is mayor, and the councilmen are:  G.V. Hardie, Y.F. Carter, H.P. Clements and W.M. Creech.

The standing committees for the year 1934 are:  Water and lights, G.V. Hardie and Y.F. Carter; Street, W.M. Creech and H.P. Clements; Sanitary, entire city council.

In questioning the mayor, Mr. J. H. Swindle, he stated that the city enjoyed a very good administration the past year, and that 1934 was begun with the city in much better financial condition than a year ago.

Ray City is soon to enjoy one of the best highway outlets of any small city in south Georgia.  It is located on Route No. 11, the short route into Florida from Atlanta.  This highway has been recently graded for paving and at some future date this work will be a reality.  Other good roads lead out in all directions as well.  It is located on the Georgia and Florida railroad, and is one of the railroad’s most important shipping points.  Mr. T.W. Thompson is the G. & F. Agent, having served in that capacity for a long number of years.

The postmistress is Mrs. J. F. Fountain, and the rural mail carriers are James Grissett and L.A. McDonald.

There are also several industries which add to the progressiveness of the town and community.

The Ray City Ice & Storage Company, of which Mr. D.T. Sharpe is manager, serves a wide territory.  At present this concern has on storage over 100,000 pounds of meat being cured for farmers.

The Y.F. Carter Naval Stores concern is the largest firm in the community, where approximately fifty men are given employment.  This firm operates over ten crops of boxes, the leases affording additional revenue for landowners.  It has been in operation for about eighteen years.

The J.H. Swindle Gins and Warehouse is another concern of benefit to the entire section.  Plants are located at Ray City and Barrett, being among the most up to date in south Georgia.  Mr. Swindle buys cotton and cotton seed, corn, peanuts, hay and other country produce.  Besides gin and warehouse activities he operates a twelve horse farm.

The Peoples Banking Company, a private institution, is owned by Mr. J. H. Swindle, with Mr. E. J. Patten as cashier.  This bank was organized several years ago by Mr. Swindle when Ray City lost its regular bank, so as to carry on the business operations locally and without interruptions.

Mrs. R.N. Warr is owner of old Ray Pond, famous for its fishing for the past hundred years.  Mrs. Warr acquired the pond about two years ago, and since has created a good income out of the sale of minnows, pond plants, frogs, and tadpoles.  The pond covers an area of approximately 4,000 acres.

Among Ray City’s most enterprising merchants are:  Swindle & Clements, B. Ridgell Jones Drug Store, Purvis Grocery Store, Weeks Grocery Store, Hardie Filling Station, South Georgia Oil Company, Bradford Barber Shop, Putnell Barber Shop, Swain Garage, Woodward Blacksmith Shop, Griner Corn Mill and others.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

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James Henry Swindle ~ Businessman and Public Servant

Ray City School 1934

Ray City School, 1934

The Ray City School held a junior high school rating until 1936, when it became an accredited senior high school.

Ray City School class photos from 1934. Identifications needed.

Ray City School 4th Grade Class Photo, Believed to be Spring 1934. Photo was inscribed on back " Mildred's 4th Grade Class, Ray City School." The reference may be to Mildred Clements, who graduated in 1939.

Ray City School 4th Grade Class Photo, Believed to be Spring 1934. Photo was inscribed on back ” Mildred’s 4th Grade Class, Ray City School.” The reference may be to Mildred Clements, who graduated in 1939.  Image courtesy of Edith Mayo.

A 1934 newspaper article on Ray City included the following information about the school.

The city of Ray City affords every convenience and comfort for the citizens of the community.  There is a fine school system, which is under the capable and efficient supervision of Prof. P. M. Shultz.  Prof. Ulmer Crosby is principal, and the other teachers are:  Mrs. P. M. Shultz, Miss Jessie Aycock, Mrs. A.B. Baskins, Miss Lillian Ford and Mrs. Eulalie Dickson.

The school has nine grades, with an enrollment of a few over the two hundred mark.  A number of fine students complete the school each year, advancing to higher institutions of learning.  The school system in Ray City is really a big asset, (illegible) a higher type of citizenry.

The school board is composed of the following gentlemen who handle their duties in a most admirable manner and of benefit to patrons and students combined.  H.A. Swindle, chairman, M.A. Studstill, sec.-treasl., C.H. Vickers, J.M. Studstill and W.M. Creech, members.

Ray City School, 1934, Grades 4 and 5. Ray City, Berrien County, GA. Image courtesy of Edith Mayo.

Ray City School, 1934, Grades 4 and 5. Ray City, Berrien County, GA. Teacher, Jessie Aycock. Image courtesy of Edith Mayo.

Ray City School, Ray City, GA. 1934 6th Grade Class. Lillian Ford, Teacher. (Top Row, L to R) Belle Garner, Thelma Sirmans, Velma Wood, Frances Sirmans, Geraldine Brown, Lounelle Futch. (2nd Row) Sarah Hunter, Monafaye Swindle, Hazel Futch, Helen Dubose, D'Ree Yawn. (Bottom Row) H. Cox, Lawson Fountain, Dan St?, Robert Hunter, James "Skinny" Holliday, Morris Johnson.

Ray City School, Ray City, GA. 1934 6th Grade Class. Lillian Ford, Teacher. (Top Row, L to R) Belle Garner, Thelma Sirmans, Velma Wood, Frances Sirmans, Geraldine Brown, Lounelle Futch. (2nd Row) Sarah Hunter, Monafaye Swindle, Hazel Futch, Helen Dubose, D’Ree Yawn. (Bottom Row) H. Cox, Lawson Fountain, Dan St?, Robert Hunter, James “Skinny” Holliday, Morris Johnson.

Ray City School, 1934, Grades 7 and 8. Ray City, Berrien County, GA. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Ray City School, 1934, Grades 7 and 8. Ray City, Berrien County, GA. Boy at top left, Earl Pafford Swindle. Front row, second from right is believed to be Robert Bruce Johnson.

1934 Ray City School, Girls Basketball Team. (Left to Right) Front Row: Johnnie Sirmans, Grace Clements, Louise Paulk, Winona Holiday. Back Row: Helen DuBose, Clyde Carter, Jinnie Johnson, Helen Swindle, Virginia Studstill.

1934 Ray City School, Girls Basketball Team. (Left to Right) Front Row: Johnnie Sirmans, Grace Clements, Louise Paulk, Winona Holiday. Back Row: Helen DuBose, Clyde Carter, Jimmie Johnson, Helen Swindle, Virginia Studstill.

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Lawson Rentz Serves Country and Ray City, GA

According to his WWI draft card Lawson Rentz entered the service as a tall and slender young man with grey eyes and dark hair. He listed a wife and two children as dependents. (see also Obituary of Dr. L.S. Rentz) During World War I Lieutenant Rentz, of Ray City, GA, served in the Embarkation Service at Hoboken, New Jersey.

Among the hundreds of names reported in “Army Orders and Assignments” for March 28, 1918,  The New York Times listed L.S. Rentz, First lieutenant in the Medical Reserve Corp, as assigned to Camp Wheeler, GA. The same was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, April 6, 1918, Volume 70, Number 14, pg 1010:

ORDERS TO OFFICERS OF THE MEDICAL RESERVE CORPS

To Camp Wheeler, Macon, Ga.. base hospital, Lieuts. JAMES H. NICHOLSON, Madison; LAWSON S. RENTZ, Ray City.

He was listed on the Roster of Officers of the Office of the Surgeon, Port of Embarkation, at Midnight, October 31, 1918:  Rentz, Lawson S.- first lieutenant, Medical Corp.

 The men of the Embarkation Service, from Major Gen. Shanks and Brigadier Gen. McManus down to the soldiers who guard the gates to the piers, are slow to admit that they have played a great part in the war, but they cheerfully admit that they got no nearer the fighting front than the gangway of a transport.

“The work had to be done by somebody, I suppose,” said Captain King W. Snell, aide to Gen. McManus, who is troop movement officer. “Otherwise the 1.795.411 officers, men and nurses shipped to France by the Embarkation Service might still be waiting for transportation. But hell, who wants to be interned in Hoboken when the main show is three or four thousand miles away? It was like standing outside the big tent and punching tickets to a three-ringed circus. We worked like dogs and never got a chance to see the main performance.”

 The war record of the Embarkation Service is something one seldom hears about. The names of its members seldom got into the papers, they never killed Germans, no brilliant war medals dangled from their obscure bosoms and they wore silver chevrons.

The silver chevrons denoted service on American soil. Gold chevrons were for men who served overseas, worn on the left cuff to denote overseas service, or on the right to indicate a wound or gassing received in combat.  For many who did stateside service the silver chevrons became a badge of shame.

Captain Albert L. Stillman expressed the diffidence in a poem published in the New York Times on January 2, 1919:

 “Darling, here’s your warrior bold!
Silver stripes instead of gold
Shine upon his sleeve today
‘Cause he couldn’t sail away.”

“But, my darling, don’t you bleat-
No one thinks you have cold feet!
Y’ had to do as you were told-
Silver stripes instead of gold”

Silver stripes notwithstanding,  after the war Lieutentant Rentz returned home to Ray City, Georgia to become Doctor Rentz. According to the 1920 census, Dr. Lawson S. Rentz purchased a home on Main Street, Ray City, GA  and joined the Medical Men of Ray’s Mill. His neighbors were Carlos C. Allen and G. Perry Swindle. Lawson’s brother, Dr. William Carl Rentz had a medical practice in Nashville, GA.

Lawson Rentz put his hat in the ring to serve on the Board of Trustees of the Ray City School, but was not elected to the position.

The Nashville Herald,
January 9, 1920

Local News

      The election for school trustees at Ray City occurred Monday, and resulted as follows:  R.D. Swindle, 71; Dr. H.W. Clements, 71; J.J. Parks, 69.  W.M. Creech holds over, and together with the foregoing gentlemen, will compose the Board of Trustees for the ensuing year.  Joe Parrish received 5 votes, J.H. Swindle 13 and Dr. Rentz 18.  This election probably settles the school fight in that growing little city.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

In 1923, Dr. Rentz was still practicing medicine in Ray City and his brother, Dr. W.C. Rentz was still in Nashville.

News Items from Ray City

Nashville Herald, Feb 8, 1923

Mrs. J.H. Swindle and Mrs. L. S. Rentz have been constantly at the bedside of their little niece, Hilca Sykes of Nashville who has been very ill for the past week. However, we are glad to say she is much improved.

Dr. Lawson Rentz and his brother Dr. William Carl Rentz  later relocated their families to  Dade County, Florida.

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