Frances Bell and James Madison Baskin were among the pioneer families that settled in the Ray City, GA area.
Frances was a member of the Troupville Baptist Church (now the First Baptist Church of Valdosta). After the New Bethel Church, Lowndes County, was organized 1871, Frances and James were united with it.
Three of their daughters, Georgia Ann Baskin, Martha J. Baskin, and Sarah E. Baskin were among founding members of Beaverdam Church who met in the home of Mary and Thomas M. Ray, Sr. with Reverend J. D. Evans on September 20, 1874 to organize the church. While the minutes of that September meeting do not show their father, James Madison Baskin, present at the organizational meeting, he is listed on the plaque honoring charter members along with W.A. Bridges. James and Frances remained members of the Ray City church for life.
In October 1874 J.M. Baskin was elected first deacon of the church , becoming ordained on March 21, 1875. He served on the committee that selected and procured the site for the construction of the church building. According to notes written by Mary A. Ray, James M. Baskin and W.A. Bridges were the builders of the church building. Construction began in January of 1875. Baskin and Bridges hand hewed out all the timber to frame the church. Windows and sawn lumber were purchased but had to be dressed by hand. The pulpit, table and pews were all built on site. J.M. Baskin made the doors himself. He continued to serve as a deacon of the church until 1903 when dismissed by letter.
Frances Bell Baskin died on June 3, 1885 in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia. James Baskin was a widower, 56 years old, the youngest of his 11 children just 9 years old. He decided to re-marry. Just six months later, on Dec 30 1885 he married Mary Ann Harrell. She was a native of Lowndes County, born in Nov. 29, 1859. At 27, she was a prominent citizen experienced in public service, and a former Ordinary (probate judge) of Lowndes county. This union produced six children.
James Madison Baskin lived on his land near Ray City with his second wife until his death on July 7, 1913 . He and both of his wives are buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery in Ray City.