James Dewey Calhoun and Mary Elizabeth Brogdon

James Dewey Calhoun was born about 1904 near Ray City, GA.  His grave marker in Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA gives his birth date as June 22, 1904, but his Social Security records listed his date of birth as June 22, 1901.  Census records place his date of birth variously at about 1902, 1904, or 1907.  Based on the research of family members, the 1901 date is probably the most accurate.  He was a son of Samuel Augustus Calhoun and Rachel Bullard, and a brother of Joseph Burton Calhoun. The image detail below, of James Dewey Calhoun and his father,  is believed to date from around 1907.

James Dewey Calhoun as a young boy with his father, Samuel Augustus "Gus" Calhoun. Image detail courtesy of Mitchell Calhoun.

James Dewey Calhoun as a young boy with his father, Samuel Augustus “Gus” Calhoun. Image detail courtesy of Mitchell Calhoun.

James Dewey Calhoun first appears in the census records in 1910, enumerated as “Dewey.”  He was one of nine children in his parent’s household at Ray City, GA. Samuel’s mother was Rachel Bullard Calhoun, a daughter of  Luvellia Ray and Mack Bullard.

1910 census enumeration of James Dewey Calhoun

1910 census enumeration of James Dewey Calhoun

https://archive.org/stream/13thcensus1910po172unit#page/n640/mode/1up

In the 1920s the Calhouns were living  at Ray City, GA  where Dewey’s father rented a place on the Valdosta & Ray City Road. Dewey had a common school education, but by age 12  he was working on the Calhoun farm assisting his father with farm labor along with his brothers. Just around the corner from the Calhoun place was the farm of Elias M. “Hun” Knight, businessman of Ray City and owner of the Mayhaw Lake Resort.

1920-census-james-dewey-calhoun

https://archive.org/stream/14thcensusofpopu235unit#page/n312/mode/1up

James Dewey Calhoun married Mary Elizabeth Brogdon on Saturday, November 24, 1928 in Berrien County, GA.  The ceremony was performed by John G. Hall, Justice of the Peace. Dewey was 21 and Mary was 18 at the time of their marriage. She was a daughter of Thomas Brogdon and Blancett Swilley. Like Dewey, she had a common school education through 7th grade.

Marriage certificate of J. D. Calhoun and Mary Brogdon, November 24, 1928, Berrien County, Georgia

Marriage certificate of J. D. Calhoun and Mary Brogdon, November 24, 1928, Berrien County, Georgia

After marriage Dewey and Mary Calhoun made their home in the Lois precinct of the 1329 Georgia Militia District (Connell’s Mill District), where they began raising crops and children.  Dewey rented a farm next door to the 260 acre farm of Minerva Futch and John L. Allen.   The Allen place (formerly the farm of Jehu Patten) was on  land Lot  454 of the 10th land district (see map), located just southwest of Ray City, near the farms of  Francis Marion Shaw,  Lacy Shaw, and Jesse Shelby Shaw (see http://www.audubon4tet.com/FMS/21_John_Levi_Allen.pdf).  Lon Fender, one of the big timber men  and turpentine operators of the Wiregrass, was also renting a farm nearby.   The census taker who visited the Calhoun family to take their enumeration in 1930 was Perry Lee Pittman.

 

1930 census enumeration of James Dewey Calhoun

1930 census enumeration of James Dewey Calhoun

https://archive.org/stream/georgiacensus00reel338#page/n512/mode/1up

By the 1940s Dewey and Mary had moved their family to Alapha, GA where they rented a home on “Nashville and Nashville” road for $5.00 a month.

1910 census enumeration of James Dewey Calhoun

1940 census enumeration of James Dewey Calhoun

The employment data from the 1940 census shows Dewey was working 24 hours a week for the WPA while Mary kept home and the children attended school. In late 1938 the Work Projects Administration (WPA) began construction of a gymnasium for the public school in Alapaha, GA.

The Work Projects Administration was one of FDR’s New Deal programs, and the census asked if anyone in the household during the week of March 24–30, 1940, was at work on, or assigned to, public emergency work projects conducted by the WPA, the NYA, the CCC, or state or local work relief agencies. The WPA, established May 6, 1935, developed programs to move unemployed workers from relief to jobs. The WPA workers, among other things, rebuilt the national infrastructure, wrote guides to the 48 states, worked in the arts and theater, and assisted with disaster relief. The NYA, established under the WPA, gave part-time jobs to high school and college students to earn money to continue their education. The CCC, created March 31, 1933, employed men aged 18–25 in conservation work in the national parks and forests. http://1940census.archives.gov/about/

Other Work Projects Administration (WPA) projects in Berrien county include an annex added to the west side of the Berrien County Courthouse in 1938. In 1940, WPA workers assisted with the construction of the lunchroom at the Ray City School.  Bill Outlaw described a WPA project digging a ditch in Buck Bay, then called Beaver Dam Bay, on the W.H. Outlaw farm previously known as the Jerry S. “Buck” Sutton Old Home place (See Bill Outlaw’s   Georgia Centennial Farm application for the W. H. Outlaw farm  for interesting commentary on Berrien County farm life over the last 150 years). WPA instructors were also involved with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp at Homerville, GA  where Ray City and Berrien County men were working.

Later the Calhouns were back at Nashville, GA. Census data beyond 1940 has not yet been released,  but school photos from the 1950s show  Mary and Dewey Calhoun’s  children continued to attend at the Nashville public schools.

Children of Mary Elizabeth Brogdon 1909 – 2002 and James Dewey Calhoun (1901-1980)

  1. Charles Rex Calhoun 1929 – 2000
  2. Martha Virginia Calhoun 1933 – 2005
  3. James Dewey “J.D.” Calhoun 1937 – 2013
  4. Howard Vinson Calhoun 1939 – 1979
  5. Densil Calhoun 1944 – 2008
Rex Calhoun, son of Dewey Calhoun, attended 1st grade at Nashville Public School, 1936-37.  Image detail courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Rex Calhoun, son of Dewey Calhoun, attended 1st grade at Nashville Public School, 1936-37. Image detail courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

Class photos from 1954 show Densil Calhoun was attending school at Nashville Elementary.

Densil Calhoun, son of Dewey Calhoun, 4th grade school photo,  1954, Nashville Elementary School.

Densil Calhoun, son of Dewey Calhoun, 4th grade school photo, 1954, Nashville Elementary School.

 http://berriencounty.smugmug.com/Schools/Nashville-Elementary/1954-Classrooms/17024719_X46qXD#!i=1288624316&k=fHz4KBF

The 1972 obituary of Joe B. Calhoun mentions that his brother, Dewey Calhoun was still residing in Nashville, GA.

James Dewey Calhoun died November 3, 1980. He was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.  His widow, Mary Brogdon Calhoun, continued to reside at Nashville, GA but was a member of the Baptist Church in Ray City.  Mary died in 2002 and was buried next to her husband at Beaver Dam Cemetery.

 

for May 6, 2002

Mary Calhoun

NASHVILLE — Mary Calhoun, 96, of Nashville, died May 5, 2002, in the Memorial Convalescent Center of Adel. Born on Aug. 26, 1905, to the late Thomas Brogdon and Blancett Swilley, she was a homemaker and member of First Baptist Church of Ray City. She was preceded in death by her husband, Dewey Calhoun, who died in 1980, and two sons, Howard and Rex Calhoun. Survivors include one daughter, Martha Gurganious of Nashville; two sons, Densol Calhoun of Nashville and J. D. Calhoun of Jackson; 11 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren. Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 7, 2002, in the chapel of Lovein Funeral Home with the Rev. Clarence Luke and the Rev. Fred Hesters officiating. Burial will follow in Beaver Dam Cemetery. Visitation is today after 4 p.m. with the family receiving friends from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. — Lovein Funeral Home.

Graves of James Dewey Calhoun and Mary Elizabeth Brogdon, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Graves of James Dewey Calhoun and Mary Elizabeth Brogdon, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Ray City School Gets Lunch Room, 1941

There was a time when students at Ray City School ate bag lunches outside on the school grounds. In those days, said life-long Ray City resident David Miley, the unwary child might have his or her lunch snatched away by a free-range hog.  Later, the school yard was fenced and a cattle gap installed to keep out the livestock.  By 1941, the school had a lunch room serving 150 students a day.

Ray City School lunch room, 1952-53.

Ray City School lunch room, 1952-53.

In 1941, Alma Florence May Clements, wife of  Hod P. Clements, wrote a newspaper article about the lunchroom:

Nashville Herald
February 13, 1941
Lunch Room for Ray City School
by Mrs. H.P. Clements
    Through the efforts of our efficient Parent Teachers Association we are sponsoring one of the most worthy projects that we have ever sponsored.
    In the year 1939 we started or at least we created the idea of a lunchroom for our school. We had lots of things to discourage us, as in the first place we did not have room in the building, not stove, but a few of us decided that where there is a will there could certainly by a way.
    Our hats are off to one of our trustees.  Mr. M.A. Studstill, who with a big heart and a bigger pocketbook, donated the lumber to build the lunchroom.  But that wasn’t enough.  He furnishes us with all the wood that anybody will go after from his saw mill. If we just had  few more like him, I don’t known what we might be able to do.
With the assistance of the WPA our lunchroom has been built and the good women of the P.T.A. donated very generously to furnish it in January of 1941.  We had only two ladies in the lunchroom and accommodations for 100 children. Our good county school superintendent, R.A. Stallings, came to our rescue and helped us get more help and now we have four helpers in the lunchroom and they are all ready and willing to do their part and then some.

    We feed at least 150 children each day taking care of all of the underprivileged children and those who can are more than willing to donate and help finance the lunchroom. It is just a happy privilege to visit the lunch room, and I wish every mother who sends her child to the lunchroom would please visit us and see how efficiently the food is prepared and served to the children.
    Let’s try in every way we can to make this lunchroom in Ray City a larger and better lunch room than it has been in the past.  Let’s encourage our workers in the room, and stand behind the trustees of our school to visit the lunch room more often and see for themselves the work that is being done.
    Let’s all pull together to make a better school for Ray City, a better town in which to live. Our school faculty is always ready to cooperate and help in any and every way it can. Lets all put our shoulders to the wheel and really and truly do something for Ray City.