Ballad of Lamar Fountain ~ Escape Artist

From 1968 to 1975 Lamar Fountain escaped from area jails six times to return to his friends and family at Ray City, GA.  Berrien county sheriff Walter J. Gaskins composed the Ballad of Lamar Fountain to tell the story of this extraordinary escape artist.   Fountain once told his jailor, “When I’m in jail, I feel like there’s a 200-pound weight on me. When I get out I feel free.”  In 1975 the story of Lamar Fountain made the national news.

Ballad of Lamar Fountain

Lamar Fountain was not a bad man;
He went to prison in this great land.
Whisky and women were the cause of it all;
That’s been many a man’s downfall.
Poor Lamar Fountain.

Many days and nights have come and gone
Since Lamar left his loved ones at home
He suffered many days and nights away,
Thinking of his parents who were old and gray.
Poor Lamar Fountain.

He escaped first from the Valdosta jail
Because he was unable to make bail.
Some of the leaders of this great land
Have committed crimes much worse than this man.
Poor Lamar Fountain.

A man with no money can only say
With God’s help he’ll be free someday.
As a law-enforcement officer I can’t stand
To see advantage took of any poor man.
Poor Lamar Fountain!

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Levi J. Clements

Levi J. Clements 1851-1924, New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA

In the 1920s, Levi J. Clements and  wife Roena (or Rowena) had moved to a house on North Street in Ray City, GA, probably to be closer to the Clements sawmill. The mill was located between North Street and the tracks of the Georgia and Florida Railroad.  The Clements were surrounded by their family. Their son, Dr. Henry Clements, had the home next door, and on the other side was the home of their son Lucius, who was General Manager at the sawmill.   Irwin Clements and his wife, Annie, and Joe Clements and his family (wife Effie, and daughter Camille) lived with Levi and Rowena. Irwin Clements was a manager at the mill, and Joe was treasurer.  Levi’s grandson, Leland Gaskins, lived in the big house as well.

Roena Clements 1858-1951, New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Mr. Clements died April 25,  1924. He and his wife are buried in New Ramah Primitive Baptist cemetery.

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James Henry Swindle and the Georgia Official and Statistical Register

Another find from the volumes of the Georgia Official and Statistical Register:

James Henry Swindle, 1953.

James Henry Swindle, 1953.

James Henry Swindle, Ray City, member [Georgia House of Representatives], 1935, 1937-37/38 Ex., 1939, 1947-48 Ex. – 48 2 Ex., 1949-49 Ex.-50,  1953-54. Farmer; merchant. Born Aug. 6 1886 near Ray City, Berrien County, GA. Attended elementary schools. Baptist, Democrat, Mason, Member, county board of education, 18 years; chairman, 4 years; member, town council, four years; mayor of Ray City, two years.

Family details: Married June 25, 1912 in Nashville, GA, Sarah Ellen Daniel (born Sep. 3, 1888 in Berrien County, GA), daughter of Aaron and Lula Virginia (Luke) Daniel. Children: Margarette Virginia; Doris Evelyn; Grace Elizabeth;James Aaron.   James H. Swindle is the son of George Emory Swindle and Margaret Melvina Futch (born June 20, 1856 in Berrien County, GA), and the grandson of James S. and Nancy (Parker) Swindle, and of John M. Futch (b0rn September 12, 1821 in Berrien County, GA, served as sheriff of Berrien County,  after county organization and during the Civil War, and Phoebe (Mathis) Futch (born Aug 1, 1822 in Berrien County, GA.).

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Lacy Lester Shaw

Lacy Lester Shaw,1873-1944.

Lacy Lester Shaw. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

Lacy Lester Shaw. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

Family researcher Bryan Shaw published a newsletter on Lacy Lester Shaw in 1998.  (see http://www.fmshawfamily.com/)  A son of Francis Marion Shaw and Rachel Moore Allen Shaw, Sr., Lacy Lester Shaw was involved in the turpentine industry with his brothers Arthur and Chester Shaw, primarily running the commissary at the still sites.

On June 7, 1896, at the age of 23, Lacy married Tula Albritton, daughter of Hodge Albritton and Susan Catherine Byrd. She was the sister of Gertrude Albritton Shaw, wife of Lacy’s oldest brother.

 

Later, Lacy Lester Shaw was  involved in the hardware and grocery business in Ray City, GA and in Valdosta. He was a member of the New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church at Ray City. He was also a Mason and  served as treasurer of Ray City lodge No. 553.  In 1917 he built a house on North Street and opened a hardware business as the Ray City Supply Company. But after only a few years Lacy Lester Shaw moved his family to Valdosta.

Lacy Lester Shaw - In Search of a Lost Brotherhood

Lacy Lester Shaw – In Search of a Lost Brotherhood

Lacy Lester Shaw, Tula Albritton Shaw gravemarker, New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, Georgia

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Update on Perry Thomas Knight

Perry Thomas Knight

Found a new bio of Perry Thomas Knight in the Georgia Official and Statistical Register, 1955-1956 – page 134 (below), and new photo at Berrien County Historical Photos Collection.  Prior to attending Southern Normal University, P.T. Knight attended the Green Bay School near Ray City, and the Oaklawn Academy at Milltown, GA  (now Lakeland, GA).  In 1923, he led the fundraising effort to pay for the Doughboy Monument in Nashville, GA.

PERRY THOMAS KNIGHT, Atlanta, Dec’d. Associate Public Service Commissioner Emeritus. Born Mar. 7. 1877 at Rays Mill, Berrien co., Ga. Graduated Southern Normal University, LL.B. degree, 1901.

Advertisement for Southern Normal University, 1901.

Advertisement for Southern Normal University, 1901.

Began the practice of law in 1901. Baptist. Democrat. Mason. WW I —Chaplain & 1st Lt. Former member, Berrien County Board of Education; W. & A. Railroad Commission, 1925-27. Member, house of rep., Berrien co., 1921-22, 1923-23 Ex.-24. Senator, 6th dist., 1925-26. Ex.-26 2nd Ex. Public Service Commissioner, Jan. 25, 1928 – July 21. 1933 removed by Governor Eugene Talmadge; re-elected Nov. 16, 1936–continuously served until Apr. 1, 1953 (vice-chairman 1949 until date of retirement, April 1 1953). Retired under Legislative Act, and became Associate Public Service Commissioner for life. Dec’d Sept. 17 1955.

Family details: Married July 19, 1903 in Milltown (know Lakeland) Ga., Annie Lota Duggar, daughter of Wiley J. and Sallie (Bowen) Duggar. Children: James Perry, married and has 5 children; Elwin Thomas, married and has 4 children. Perry T. Knight was the son of George Washington Knight and Rhoda (Futch) Knight, and the grandson of Aaron and Nancy (Sloan) Knight, and of John M. and Phoebe (Mathis) Futch.

 

According to 1917 draft records in Berrien County,  P. T. Knight also engaged in farming operations and was an employer.  One of his  workers was Charles Anthony Ray, a one-eyed farm laborer from Wayne County.

 

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James Arthur Grissett, Jr. School Photos

James A. Grissett, 1951

James A. Grissett  attended school in Ray City, GA and went on to North Georgia College, “Georgia’s West Point” in the 1950s.  Other Ray City men attending North Georgia College were Joe Donald Clements, Wendell L. Clements, and Shellie W. Cornelius.

 Image: Cadet James A. Grissett,  The Cyclops of 1951, Published by the Cadets and Coeds of North Georgia College, Dahlonega, Georgia.

Rhoda Futch Knight

News item in the previous post referred to S.J. Knight’s attendance at the funeral of Mrs. George Washington Knight.  Census data and family records show that  George W. Knight was the uncle of  Sullivan Jordan Knight, so Mrs. Geo. W. Knight  was S. J. Knight’s aunt.  Her maiden name was Rhoda Futch, she was a daughter of John Malcom Futch and  Phoebe Mathis. The Valdosta Daily Times provided the following obituary:

Valdosta Daily Times  Jan 6, 1909
Mrs. Knight Dead
Prominent and Aged Lady Dies in Berrien County

     Milltown, Ga.,  Jan 5 — Mrs. Rhoda Knight died at her home in Ray’s Mill district on Monday morning shortly after one o’clock from a choking in her breast.

Mrs. Knight was as well as usual until Sunday morning when the pain came in her breast. Dr. Talley was sent for and remained at her bedside until she died, doing every thing possible to relieve her.

    Mrs. Knight was sixty-three years of age, and was a devout member of the Primitive Baptist church at Empire. Before her marriage to Mr. Knight she was Miss Rhoda Futch, and leaves the following sisters: Mrs. Polly Webb, Mrs. Bettie Green, Mrs. Margarette Swindle, and Mrs. Rachel Allen.  She leaves a husband besides the following children: Mrs. Nancy Sirmans, Mrs. Phoebe Rowan, Mrs. Fannie Rowan, Mrs. Cora Cook, Mrs. Miza Watson and Messrs. L.J., D.A, and P.T. Knight.

Grave of Rhoda Futch Knight, Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Grave of Rhoda Futch Knight, Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Children of Rhoda Futch  and George Washington Knight:

  1. Nancy Elizabeth Knight 1866 – 1938
  2. Phoebe America Knight 1868 – 1953; married James Henry Rowan June 17, 1886
  3. Lucius John Knight 1871 – 1933
  4. Orville A. Knight 1874 – 1950
  5. Perry Thomas Knight 1877 – 1955
  6. Fannie A. Knight 1879 – 1941
  7. Cora Malissa Knight 1882 – 1941
  8. Mary Luannie Knight 1885 – 1887
  9. Miza Ellen Knight 1887 – 1945

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Ray City Home of Aaron Anderson Knight

Ray City Home of Aaron Anderson KnightPrimitive Baptist minister Elder Aaron A. Knight lived in Ray City, GA  in this house. Originally on the west side of Park Street about four lots south of Main Street, the house has since been moved about 1/4 mile further south on Park Street to the end of Ice Castle Lane, at the edge of Cat Creek.

Sullivan Jordan “Sovin” Knight (1858 – 1911)

Sullivan Jordan Knight (1858 – 1911)

Sullivan Jordan “Sovin” Knight. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

Continuing research on  Aaron Anderson Knight: his brother, Sullivan Jordan “Sovin” Knight, was a farmer at Ray’s Mill, GA.   The following is transcribed from the Valdosta Daily Times, January 6, 1909

Valdosta Daily Times
January 6, 1909
Rays Mill Home Burned
Residence Of S. J. Knight Consumed While He was At Funeral

Milltown, Ga., Jan. 6. — Tuesday morning while Mr. S.J. Knight and family of the Rays Mill district were at the burial of Mrs. Geo. W. Knight, his home and smokehouse burned down. One of the two sons, who did not go to the burial, was at work in a back field and saw the flames coming from the direction of his home. He was quickly on the scene and with the assistance of the neighbors, who joined him, and succeeded in saving a portion of the furniture, and most of the meat from the smokehouse. It is not known what started the fire, unless it was rats, as the fire seemed to have started in the upper part of the house. It is not known whether Mr. Knight carried any insurance.

New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church ~ Additional Views

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