R. Ward Harrison, Editor

June 23, 1950

A native and resident of Charlton County nearly all his life, M. Austin Gay was born June 29, 1899 on the old Baker place near Folkston where W.L. Chancey now lives. He is a son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Bailey F. Gay, who also were natives of this county. He grew up on the farm and received his education in the public schools of Charlton County.

The Gay family is among the well-known pioneer settlers of Charlton County. Hinton Gay, grandfather of the subject of this sketch, settled in the Traders Hill section during the early days of the county’s history. He was among the first of Charlton’s young men to enlist in the Confederate Army and served throughout the entire bloody struggle of the ‘60s. He also was among the first members of the old Traders Hill Masonic Lodge.

The late Mr. and Mrs. Bailey F. Gay were both natives of the county and were numbered among its best citizens, having been held in high regard among their neighbors and associates.

In 1925 Austin left the farm and went out into the world to build a career for himself by his own efforts. In that year he went to work for the ACL Railroad in the signal department. He held a position as assistant maintainer and over a period of several years was stationed at a number of points over the entire system in Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas. In 1929 he was assigned to the job at Folkston where he remained until his retirement from the railroad service in 1946.

During the later part of his service with the railroad company, Mrs. Gay, his wife, established a small grocery store business in this city in which he assisted in operating during his spare time in off-duty hours.

Upon his retirement from the railroad, Mr. Gay thereafter gave his full time and attention to the operation of the grocery establishment. Over the years he has, with the very valuable aid and assistance of Mrs. Gay, built up a successful mercantile business, operating at the present time one of the best-stocked, most liberally-patronized strictly grocery establishments in the city. Through close application to their work, complete with a stock of high quality products, Mr. and Mrs. Gay have built up a large list of satisfied customers.

As a matter of fact, their business has increased to such an extent in recent months that larger quarters are now required for the further expansion of their business. The Gay Grocery Store has secured the largest store building next door to their present location which is not being attractively remodeled and repaired for early occupancy by this popular and growing business establishment. It will be, when completed, one of the most attractive places of business in the city and a credit to the energy and enterprise of Mr. and Mrs. Gay.

A little more than a year ago Mr. and Mrs. Gay completed an attractive home on the St. George Highway in this city, in which they take commendable pride. They are developing very attractive grounds and a flourishing lawn which is a distinct credit to that section of the city.

Mr. Gay willingly takes time out from his business activities for public service in any capacity in which he may be called upon. He takes an active interest in the young people of the community and is serving as Scoutmaster of one of the local Boy Scout troops. He also is serving his second term as a member of Folkston’s city council and has been an active worker in the affairs of his church during his entire residence in this city.

In 1936 Mr. Gay was united in marriage to Miss Jessie Lane of Rocky Mount, North Carolina. They have two young sons, Billy and Bobby, both are pupils in grammar school. Mr. Gay is a member of the Folkston Masonic Lodge and the family are all devoted members of the Methodist Church.

Charlton  County Archives