Earlier posts discussed the establishment of the post office in Ray City. In the 1920s, the Ray City Postmaster was James F Fountain. Later his wife, Mamie E. Fountain, would serve as postmistress. (see Posting Mail at Ray City)James’ extended household included his wife, as well as his parents, brother and sister, and nephew. In 1920, James and Mamie did not have any children of their own.
In addition to serving as Postmaster, James F. Fountain was a farmer, living on a farm he owned free and clear, and farming it on his own account. His wife was a public school teacher. All the men in the family were farmers.
James F. Fountain was one of the first to engage in pecan farming in Berrien County. Pecan trees are known to have been introduced in Georgia as early as 1872, grown from pecans sent from Texas. They may have been grown here a decade earlier, as pecans are mentioned in a Civil War letter written by John Hagan, of Berrien County, dated June 2, 1862. Hagan wrote to his wife, Amanda Roberts:
“Give my respects to your Uncle Bryant J. Reoberts…Tel him I would like to heare how his little cob corn is doing. Also letter me know if Capt Martin has paid his cotoe [quota] of the precans [pecans] for introductsion.”
By 1909, 10,000 acres of pecan trees were being cultivated in southwest Georgia, and by the 1920s, pecan farms were spreading into south central Georgia.
The following appeared in the Oct 1, 1923 edition of the Atlanta Constitution:
Plan Pecan Nursery
Milltown, Ga., September 30.– (Special) — Dr. W. D. Simmons, of Milltown, and Postmaster J. F. Fountain, of Ray City, are planning to begin a pecan nursery on Dr. Simmons’ farm just west of town. They have recently visited nurseries at Thomasville, Blackshear, and other points. The pecan growing has become a lucrative business.