Recent Joyce Kramer article brought back happy memories

Published 6:29 am Friday, July 20, 2012

A few weeks back, The Post-Searchlight featured another article by Joyce Kramer, which kindled memories from years ago for my soon to be 93-year-old father, and he requested that I share his memories with you.

At our household, we anticipate the articles and treasures Ms. Kramer shares with the community. The recent article featured Steam Mill and the families surrounding this community located in the farthest southwest corner of the county. My father wished to share that his father-in-law, James Augustus Ivey (1874-1968), was one of the young men who worked at Steam Mill, and as “Mr. Gus” shared his stories well into his 90s, this place was always one of great importance to him and his family.

As a young man from the Spring Creek area, Gus found his way to the river and worked managing floating timber down the Chattahoochee River for the Dickinsons and the supply of the vast saw mill operation. After marrying Willi Cloud and settling into farming near Spring Creek, according to Mr. Gus’s stories, the river called him again and he, Miss Willi and their two young children returned to Steam Mill and lived near the Allen home. In returning to Steam Mill, his work changed to that of blacksmith to maintain mill equipment and the various wagons and hundreds of mules and horses used to transport timber to the mill as well as to market.

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The Ivey family continued to live at Steam Mill, working first with the Dickinson family and then the Cummings family as they assumed the ownership and managed the timber and farming operations. The Ivey family grew alongside the powerful timber mill as the family grew from two children to seven children. The Ivey’s soon moved to Lela for Mr. Gus to assume the responsibility as blacksmith for the expanding Cummings’ farm.

The Ivey family moved to Attapulgus to serve as the blacksmith for the Fuller’s earth mine and eventually settled in Donalsonville in 1936, where Mr. Gus maintained his blacksmith shop until his 86th birthday in 1960. The Ivey family and their 11 children were recognized as a leading family in an article in The Donalsonville News in the late 1950s. The youngest and last surviving child of Mr. Gus and Miss Willi, W.C. Ivey, died in 2010 at the age of 89.

The Ivey family and its descendants spanned nearly 175 years as residents of Decatur County and were one of the many families to place their roots near the great river as a result of farming and the business skills of families from the past such as the Allens, Dickinsons and Cummingses. The 11 Ivey children ventured far from Decatur County during their lifetimes, as a result, many thought, due to their father’s love of the great river and seeing the tall timber leave the forest, become lumber and then to move along to become great houses and buildings.

This article by Ms. Kramer brought back many memories of that Ivey family and its place alongside other great families from the past century. Thank you for your articles to keep my mind fresh with old thoughts.

Emory Johnson