Charlie Parker was a Splendid Soldier

Charlie Parker (1919-1945)

In Lakeland, GA there is an official military headstone marking the grave of Charlie Parker, who was a resident of Ray City. Charlie Parker enlisted in the army days before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  He was in the first African American military unit to arrive in England, and he was the first African-American from Berrien County to die in WWII. Like the Army in which he served, the cemetery where he was buried was racially segregated  –  the Lakeland Colored Cemetery. Today this burial ground is known as the Charles Knight Cemetery.

Grave of Charlie Parker (1919-1945), Lakeland, GA <br> CPL 65 ORD AM CO <br> World War II

Grave of Charlie Parker (1919-1945), Lakeland, GA
CPL 65 ORD AM CO
World War II

Charlie Parker, a son of Will Parker and Girtrude “Trudie” Reddick, lived most of his short life at Ray City, GA. He was a nephew of Stella Reddick Wright and Mose Wright.

His father, Will Parker, was born August 8, 1884.  As a man, Will Parker  was medium height and build, with black eyes and black hair.  His mother was Girtrude Reddick; She was a daughter of Albert and Sylvia Reddick. His parents were married  in Coffee County, GA on November 4, 1916 in a ceremony performed by Reverend R. N. Thompson.

By 1918, Charlie’s parents were residing in Berrien County, GA. Will Parker,  was employed by Samuel I. Watson as a farmer, working Watson’s property on RFD #2 out of Milltown (now Lakeland), GA. By 1920, Will  and Girtrude Parker had  relocated to Ray City, GA, renting a house in the “Negro Quarters” which were located between Hwy 129 and Cat Creek in the present day vicinity of the Ray City Senior Citizen Center. Will Parker had taken a job with the Georgia & Florida Railroad, and Gertrude was working as a laundress.  Will  and Gertrude had started a family, with their firstborn son Albert Parker born March 1917, and Charlie Parker born January 9, 1919.  Matthew Parker was born in 1921 and Mary Parker in 1922, followed by Stella, Mack, and the twins, Ethel Mae and Willie both of whom died young.  The Parkers neighbors were men like Charlie Palmer, Joe Davis, and Jerry Mullin, all of whom worked for the railroad, and their wives Henrietta Palmer and Essie Davis, who, like Gertrude, worked as laundresses, and Annie Mullin, who was employed as a domestic cook.

1920 Census enumeration of Charlie Parker and his family in Ray City, GA https://archive.org/stream/14thcensusofpopu235unit#page/n293/mode/1up

1920 Census enumeration of Charlie Parker and his family in Ray City, GA
https://archive.org/stream/14thcensusofpopu235unit#page/n293/mode/1up

Charlie Parker and his siblings attended grade school, Charlie completing the 5th grade according to his later military records. Of course, at the time schools were segregated. It wasn’t until 1954 that the supreme court ruled on segregation and the 1964 Civil Rights Act compelled the desegregation of schools. Yet segregated schools persisted in the South; In 1965, “In Berrien County, Georgia, 32 Negro parents chose white schools for their children, but the school Superintendent told the U.S. Office of Education that all 32 parents came to him before school opened and said that their names had been forged on the choice forms.”

Charlie’s mother, Girtrude Reddick Parker, died some time in the 1920s.  The 1930 census shows Will Parker, widower, raising Charlie and his siblings alone, although Girtrude’s sisters also mothered the children. Will was renting a house in Ray City for two dollars a month and  continued to work for the railroad. Charlie’s older brother, Albert, quit school and went to work as a farm laborer to help support the family.  The Parkers also took in boarders to help with family expenses; Census records show Eugene and Luvicy Thomas Campbell living in the Parker household. Their neighbors were the widow Nina Dowdy and Charlie Phillips.  Down the street was the residence of Henry Polite, who later married Queen Ester Wright.

1930 Census enumeration of Charlie Parker, his father and siblings in Ray City, GA

1930 Census enumeration of Charlie Parker, his father and siblings in Ray City, GA
https://archive.org/stream/georgiacensus00reel338#page/n354/mode/1up

In 1939, Charlie Parker was working on the Guthrie farm on Park Street extension. When the men were cropping tobacco in the summer of 1939, one of Charlie’s tasks was to go into town to get ice. The Guthries had a mule that pulled a sled which was used to haul the tobacco from the field to the tobacco barn for curing. At lunch time, when the tobacco croppers were taking a break, Charlie would take the mule and sled down the dirt road into Ray City to the ice house.  Ferris Moore kept a little ice house by the railroad track in front of Pleamon Sirman’s grocery store. The ice was shipped into Ray City from an ice plant in Nashville. Sometimes seven-year-old Diane Miley, one of the Guthrie grandchildren, would ride in the sled with Charlie for the trip into town and back.

Sometime in late 1939, Charlie Parker and his cousin, Dan Simpson,  left Ray City and went to Florida to try their hand at working for the Wilson Cypress Company. Dan was a son of Charlie’s aunt Luvicy Reddick and her first husband, John H. Simpson.

1940 Census enumeration of Charlie Parker at the Wilson Cypress Sawmill Camp, Crows Bluff, FL

1940 Census enumeration of Charlie Parker at the Wilson Cypress Sawmill Camp, Crows Bluff, FL

The 1940 census enumerated Charlie Parker and Dan Simpson in Lake County, FL, working  at the Crows Bluff Camp of the Wilson Cypress Sawmill. Each rented a place to live at the camp for $2.00 a month.

Crows Bluff on the St. Johns River, was about 65 miles up stream from the Wilson Sawmill at Palatka, FL. At one time, the Wilson sawmill was the largest cypress sawmill in the world.

Parker and Simpson worked as “rafting laborers.” The cypress trees were cut and hauled to the river. They were dumped into the water and assembled into rafts which were floated down the river to the sawmill.

Wilson Cypress Company dumping logs into the Saint Johns River. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/38983

Wilson Cypress sawmill camp in Lake County, FL, dumping logs into the Saint Johns River.
Charlie Parker and Dan Simpson, of Ray City, GA found work with Wilson Cypress Company in the late 1930s as “rafting laborers.”
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/38983

Wilson Cypress Company logging operation on a tributary of the St. Johns River. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/38992

Wilson Cypress Company logging operation on a tributary of the St. Johns River. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/38992

Timber rafting on a tributary of the St. Johns River, Florida. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/27761

Timber rafting on a tributary of the St. Johns River, Florida. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/27761

Wilson Cypress Sawmill. Charlie Parker worked for the Wilson Cypress Sawmill prior to WWII. At the time, the sawmill was the largest producer of red-heart tidewater cypress lumber in the world.

Wilson Cypress Sawmill.
Charlie Parker worked for the Wilson Cypress Sawmill prior to WWII. At the time, the sawmill was the largest producer of red-heart tidewater cypress lumber in the world.

The Palatka sawmill operation of the Wilson Cypress Company was shut down December 5, 1945 during WWII.  Later, the chairman of the company board remarked, “There just was no more marketable timber. We had cut it all.”   Over the next 37 years,  the company’s assets were sold off piece by piece, including 100,000 acres of cut over cypress wetlands.

But the war drew Charlie Parker away before the end came for the sawmill.    His elder brother, Albert Parker, had joined the Army nearly a year before the U.S. entered the war, enlisting at Fort Benning, GA on January 21, 1941.

U.S. Army records show that Charlie Parker enlisted with the Army on November 26, 1941, eleven days before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He entered the service at Camp Blanding, FL. His physical description at induction was 5’9″ tall and 151 pounds.  His cousin Dan Simpson would be inducted at Camp Blanding the following year.

Camp Blanding was established in 1939 and by 1941, the camp had grown to be the fourth largest city in Florida with more than 10,000 buildings to accommodate two divisions, about 60,000 trainees.  In addition to housing and mess halls, maintenance buildings, PXs, field artillery and rifle ranges, the camp had a 2,800-bed hospital, enlisted men’s and officer’s clubs, bowling alleys, four theaters, and five chapels… The camp had separate training and induction centers for soldiers of both races, although they remained in separate areas of the post…During World War II, approximately one million men received basic training here, the largest of Florida’s 142 military installations built in the 1940s.

Following training, Charlie Parker was initially assigned to the 60th Ordnance Ammunition Company and later transferred to the 65th Ordnance Ammunition Company.

“The 65th Ordnance Company were the first Aviation ammunition Unit to arrive in the UK. They were set to immediate work establishing the first Aviation Ordnance Section in a General Service Depot, at Burtonwood. They were briefly transferred to Barnham before being moved to Wortley, Yorkshire to man the first depot to accept AF munitions in quantity from the US. This Unit was the first African American Unit to arrive in England!  Its arrival being the subject of an FBI document, relating to a press release, downplaying the arrival of ‘negro’ troops.”

“The all black 65th Ordnance Company who arrived from Fort Dix, New Jersey in the middle of July 1942 at the nearby small village of Wortley. They were joined the following month by a further 98 black GIs. They had come to service an aerial bomb depot in the vicinity, and were barracked at Wortley Hall, the home of Lord Wharncliffe. According to the detailed account of this by Graham Smith, the locals of Wortley and Sheffield got on very well with the black soldiers, apart from some young men who resented them having relations with local young women. They were resented too by Lord Wharncliffe, who didn’t like having them milling around his living quarters.”

When America entered the war, there were fewer than 4000 African Americans in the armed services; by the war’s end more than 1.2 million African Americans would serve in uniform. Like Charlie Parker, many black soldiers served in segregated units in support roles:

“While most African Americans serving at the beginning of WWII were assigned to non-combat units and relegated to service duties, such as supply, maintenance, and transportation, their work behind front lines was equally vital to the war effort, serving behind the front lines…By 1945, however, troop losses virtually forced the military to begin placing more African American troops into positions as infantrymen, pilots, tankers, medics, and officers in increasing numbers.  In all positions and ranks, they served with as much honor, distinction, and courage as any American soldier did.  Still, African American MPs stationed in the South often could not enter restaurants where their German prisoners were being served a meal. ”  

The 65th Ordnance Ammunition Company served in campaigns in Algeria-French Morocco, Tunisia, Naples-Foggia, and Rome-Arno. By 1945, the 65th Ordnance Ammunition Company (munitions supply) was assigned to Mondolfo Airfield, Italy.  USAAF units known to have been stationed at Mondolfo were:

307th; 308th; 309th Fighter Squadrons, P-51D/K Mustang
Primary mission was to escort B-17 and B-24 heavy bombers on missions into Northern Italy, Germany, Yugoslavia and Austria.
317th; 319th Fighter Squadrons, P-51D/K Mustang
Primary mission was to fly ground air support missions for advancing Allied ground forces in Italy.

Part of Charlie Parker’s job while serving in Italy as a corporal in the 65th Ordnance Ammunition Company was handling toxic bombs.  According to the textbook Medical Aspects of Chemical Warfare published by the U.S. Army, the US Army Air Force in WWII:

had 100-lb mustard agent bombs; 500-lb phosgene or cyanogen chloride bombs; and 1,000-lb phosgene, cyanogen chloride, or hydrocyanic acid bombs… None of these chemical weapons was used on the battlefield during the war, but the prepositioning of chemical weapons in forward areas resulted in one major disaster and several near mishaps. The disaster occurred December 2, 1943, when the SS John Harvey, loaded with 2,000 M47A1 mustard agent bombs, was destroyed during a German air raid at Bari Harbor, Italy. The only members of the crew who were aware of the chemical munitions were killed in the raid. As a result of the ship’s destruction, mustard agent contaminated the water in the harbor and caused more than 600 casualties, in addition to those killed or injured in the actual attack.

Just days before the German surrender and the declaration of Victory in Europe, Parker suffered his own chemical weapons mishap, a fatal exposure to the toxic gas from a poison gas bomb . His death was reported in the Nashville Herald.

The Nashville Herald
May 31, 1945

Cpl. Parker, Negro, Passes In Italy

        Cpl. Charlie Parker, colored, of Ray City, died in Italy April 26, in a United States Army Station Hospital, located in Southern Italy, where he had been stationed nearly two years.
        While working with toxic bombs, Cpl. Parker inhaled a concentration of the gas. After reporting to the Medical Aid Station he was admitted to the Station Hospital for further treatment. Reports stated that everything possible was done to save his life but to no avail.
        His burial services were conducted on Sunday, April 29, attended by all officers and men of his company except those on duty. Burial was in an American cemetery in Southern Italy. The letter from his commanding officer stated that Parker was a splendid soldier and well liked by those of his company.
        The deceased volunteered in the U.S. Army about three years ago, having in Italy. He was the son of Will Parker and a nephew of Frances Goff, both of Ray City. So far as known at this time, he was the first Berrien county colored person to make the supreme sacrifice in World War II.

(transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker)

After the end of World War II, Charlie Parker’s body was returned to the United States.  The U.S. government mandated a program to return the bodies of servicemen who had been buried in temporary military cemeteries overseas. Following surveys to the population, the government decided that about three fifths of the 289,000 personnel involved would be returned in accordance with family wishes. Between 1946 and 1951, over 170,000 servicemen were returned.

After WWII, the body of Charlie Parker, of Ray City, GA was returned to Georgia aboard the U.S. Army Transport Cpl. Eric G. Gibson.

After WWII, the body of Charlie Parker, of Ray City, GA was returned to Georgia aboard the U.S. Army Transport Cpl. Eric G. Gibson.

The body of Charlie Parker was returned to America aboard the U.S. Army Transport Cpl. Eric G. Gibson, originally built as a Liberty Ship.  As a funeral ship, the USAT Eric G. Gibson was painted white with a large purple mourning band. The ship arrived at the Brooklyn Army Base, NY, in February, 1949, with the bodies of 92 Georgians along with the bodies of more than 5000 war dead from other states.

Ironically, in the 1960s, the Army loaded the S.S. Corporal Eric G. Gibson with chemical weapons of mass destruction- rockets armed with VX nerve gas – and sank it off the coast of  New Jersey to dispose of the deadly weapons. Today, the sunken ship and its deadly cargo remain one of the most dangerous chemical weapons dump sites  in U.S. waters.

In 1949, Francis Reddick Goff applied for a flat marble military headstone to mark the grave of her nephew.

Application for military headstone for Charlie Parker, WWII veteran.

Application for military headstone for Charlie Parker, WWII veteran.

 

Grave of Charlie Parker. Charles Knight Cemetery, Lakeland, GA.

Grave of Charlie Parker. Charles Knight Cemetery, Lakeland, GA.

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Moses Wright

Moses Wright of Ray City, GA

Moses Wright of Ray City, GA

Moses Wright of Ray City, GA

Moses Wright was born March 2, 1886, a son of Julia Roundtree and Alexander Wright.

His mother, Julia Roundtree, was a daughter of Green Roundtree, a farmer of Lowndes County GA.  By 1870, just five years after the end of the Civil War, Green Roundtree had acquired a farm valued at $500 and a personal estate valued at another $500, making him one of the wealthier African-Americans in Lowndes County, and one of the very few African-American land owners of the time.

His father, Alexander Wright, was born about 1846. After the Civil War, Alexander Wright was enumerated as Ellick Right in Lowndes County, GA where he was engaged in farming. In the 1870s and 1880s, Alexander Wright was living next to the farm of his father-in-law, Green Roundtree. His household included wife, Julia Roundtree Wright, and daughters.

Since the 1890 Georgia census records are lost, little is known of Moses Wright’s early life.  It appears that his father, Alexander Wright, died around 1899, when Moses was about 12 years old. His mother was married a second time, to William Brown. Moses and his siblings were enumerated in the census of 1900 in his step-father’s household, in a rented  Valdosta, GA home. Thirteen-year-old Moses was working as a day laborer.

Moses Wright married about 1903 at the age of 16.  Carrie and Moses Wright made their home in the Cat Creek District, on the Valdosta & Rays Mill Public Road.  They were renting a farm which they worked together on their own account while raising their family.

In 1918, Moses Wright registered for the WWI draft along with other local men. He was a self-employed farmer residing on rural route 4 out of Valdosta, Lowndes County, GA.  He gave his next of kin as Cornelius Wright. His physical description was  medium height, stout build, black eyes and black hair.

Moses Wright 1918 draft registration., Lowndes County, GA

Moses Wright 1918 draft registration., Lowndes County, GA

By 1920, Moses and Carrie had moved their family to one of the settlement roads around Ray City, GA. They purchased a farm on credit, and worked it on their own account.  In 1930, the Wrights owned a home at Ray City valued at $1500.

Carrie  Wright died January 23,  1931 in Berrien County, GA at the age of 44.    Afterwards, Moses Wright married Stella Wright, also of Ray City, GA.   She was well known throughout the area as a seeress and a healer.   Stella  and Moses continued to live at Ray City through the 1940 census.

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Ray City Seeress Mollie Hall Helps Solve Moon Murder

Molly Reddick Hall was a widely known psychic who lived in Ray City, GA in the early 1900s. Family members tell us she was the older sister of Stella Reddick Wright and raised Stella after their mother passed away. (See Stella Wright ~ Seeress of Ray City, GA). In early 1920 Molly Hall gained attention for her role in solving the murder of Mrs.  Susan Hinson Moon, near Adel, GA, about 12 miles west of Ray City.   She gave a reading which broke the case and led to a confession.

When Susan Moon disappeared from her LaConte, GA home in the first few days of January, 1920, her nephew Jim Johnson sought  the help of the Ray City seeress in locating  her whereabouts.  After consulting the cards, Molly Hall told Johnson where to look for Susan Moon.  Taking this news to the police, Johnson became a suspect himself.

Jim Johnson, his cousin Lacy Spires, Sam T. Cooper and Melton Moon, the son of Susan Moon, were arrested for the murder.

A series of articles from state papers tell how the crime unraveled.

The first newspaper accounts of the murder focused on the confession of Susan Moon’s son. Although he had taken his mother’s married name, Melton Moon’s actual name was Milton Hinson.  But the state newspapers continued to refer to him as Melton Moon.  He was 34 years old and worked as a farm laborer.  He had registered for the WWI draft in 1918, and claimed a wife as a dependent but in 1920, Hinson, aka Moon, lived with his mother.  Newspaper accounts suggested that Hinson was “weak-minded,” “of unsound mind,”  or “mentally irresponsible, although he had served in the army awhile.”

Within days of Hinson’s confession, the story of Molly Hall’s role in locating the body was revealed in state newspapers.

Melton Moon, aka Milton Hinson, held in the murder of his mother, Susan Moon. Thomasville Times-Enterprise, Jan 6, 1920.

Melton Moon, aka Milton Hinson, held in the murder of his mother, Susan Moon. Thomasville Times-Enterprise, Jan 6, 1920.

Thomasville Times-Enterprise, Jan 6, 1920.

SON HELD FOR HIS MOTHER’S DEATH

Milton Moon Held in Cook County With Another Man on Charge of Murder.

    Moultrie, Ga., Jan. 5. – The finding of the body yesterday of Mrs. Susan Moon, in a swamp near Sparks, was followed by the arrest today of her son, Milton Moon, and S. T. Cooper on the charge of Murder. The woman had been missing since Thursday.  Robbery is believed to have been the motive for the crime.

SEARCHING PARTIES FIND BODY HID IN A SWAMP

    Adel, Ga., Jan. 5. – Melt Moon and a man named Cooper, were arrested yesterday at Sparks on suspicion of being the slayers of Mrs. Sue Moon, mother of Melt Moon, whose body was found yesterday about a quarter of a mile from the home, three miles above Sparks on the National Highway.
    Mrs. Moon had been stabbed above the heart.  She had been missing since Thursday.  Searching  parties failed to find her until yesterday, after Moon had told them where her body could be found.  It is said, however, he did not confess the crime.  Moon is subject to fits and is regarded as mentally irresponsible, although he served in the army awhile.

Melton Moon Confesses, Jan 9, 1920, Atlanta Constitution

Melton Moon Confesses, Jan 9, 1920, Atlanta Constitution

Atlanta Constitution
Jan 9, 1920

MELT MOON CONFESSES KILLING HIS MOTHER

Describes the Cold-Blooded Crime to Coroner’s Jury in Valdosta.

Sparks, Ga., January 8. – (Special.)  It was learned here today that Melt Moon, who is being held in the Lowndes county jail at Valdosta suspected of being involved in the killing of his mother, Mrs. Susie Moon, confessed last night to the killing of his mother.  H. L. Lovett, justice of the peace here who held the inquest over the dead body, together with two other men who served on the jury in the inquest, visited Moon in the Valdosta jail Wednesday night and while there Moon is said to have confessed to having been the only person involved in the crime.
    He asserts that he came home from the field to get his dinner and got into a general quarrel with his mother.  He struck her in the pit of the stomach, knocking her unconscious,and thinking that he had killed her, began dragging her towards the nearby woods in order to hide her.  On the way, however, she showed signs of recovering consciousness and Moon hit her several times on the head with a lightwood knot.
    After reaching the woods he stabbed her several times in the heart with his knife.   Moon, who is the son of the murdered woman, has been held in Valdosta jail, together with Jim Johnson, S. P. Cooper and Lacy Spires, the latter under suspicion.  All except Moon were released today, following the confession of Moon.
    Mrs. Moon was found dead last Sunday near her home at LaConte, three miles from here, with severe wounds in her head and breast.

No Change in Story.

Valdosta, Ga., January 8.-(Special.)- The confession of Melton Moon to the cold-blooded murder of his mother, which he made to members of the coroner’s jury at the Lowndes county jail Wednesday night, clears up the mystery which had surrounded one of the most brutal crimes ever committed in this section.  Moon has made no change today in the story he told the coroner’s jury last night, and shows no more concern over the matter than he did before.
    In the opinion of Jailer Lofton and others who have observed him closely since he was brought to jail, Moon is of unsound mind and if not actually crazy is very weak mentally.  His appearance is that of an indolent, weak-minded person.  It is presumed that he will remain in jail here until tried in the Cook superior court.

Ray City psychic Molly Hall helps solve murder of Susan Moon, aka Susan Hinton. Bainbridge Post-Searchlight, January 15, 1920.

Ray City psychic Molly Hall helps solve murder of Susan Moon, aka Susan Hinton. Bainbridge Post-Searchlight, January 15, 1920.

Bainbridge Post-Searchlight, January 15, 1920.

MURDER OF MOTHER ADMITTED BY MOON

Confession of Half-witted Son Exonerates Other Men He Implicated.

SPARKS, Jan. 8. – The sensational murder of Mrs. Susan Moon has been stirred up by the complete confession of Melton Moon, her half-witted son, that he killed the old lady and that other men held in connection with the murder were entirely innocent.  Sam Cooper was released custody, Jim Johnson and Lacy Spires, nephews of the dead woman, were released yesterday.
    The confession of Moon, which was heard in the jail at Valdosta by coroner H. L. Lovett and Rev. G.W. ????, a member of the jury, was started at 11 o’clock today after the coroner’s jury had been convened.  A verdict in line with the confession was rendered.

Moon’s Revolting Confession.
Moon told the coroner and Mr. ???? that he and his mother had been quarreling because she refused to give him $10 with which to go to town. When he came home to dinner Thursday the quarrel with his mother became violent, and he hit her in the stomach.  She knocked unconscious, and he began to drag away from the house. When she showed signs of returning consciousness, he became frightened at what he had done and picked up a light wood knot and beat her over the head. After he reached the branch, where the body was concealed, he drew his knife and stabbed her several times.

    Following the disappearance of Mrs. Moon Thursday, a search was instituted. The body was found concealed under leaves several hundred yards from the Moon home, at Laconte, three miles from Sparks.  There were many —wounds about the head.  Melt then implicated Sam Cooper and said that he did the killing.  Cooper was arrested and has been held since.  Jim Johnson and Lacy Spires were also arrested.  Johnson visited Mollie Hall, and aged negro fortune teller at Ray City, who shuffled the cards and told him where the body would be found.  He told the searchers of this and after the body was located, Johnson was placed under arrest.

Moon Seems Little Concerned.

    VALDOSTA, Jan. 8. – Melton Moon, who has confessed the revolting details of the murder of his mother at Laconte last Thursday, today shows no more concern over the matter than he did before.  In the opinion of Jailer Lofton and others who have observed him closely since he was brought to jail, Moon is of unsound mind and if not actually crazy, is very weak mentally.  His appearance is that of an indolent weak-minded person.  It is presumed that he will remain in the Cook County jail here until tried in the Cook County Superior Court, which convenes in March.

Melton Moon, aka Milton Hinson, is acting the crazy part in advance of trial. Bainbridge Post-Searchlight, Jan 22, 1920.

Melton Moon, aka Milton Hinson, is acting the crazy part in advance of trial. Bainbridge Post-Searchlight, Jan 22, 1920.

Bainbridge Post-Searchlight
Jan 22, 1920

Melt Moon is Acting the Crazy Part Now

Valdosta, Jan 15. – Since the night he made the full confession to Judge Lovett, acting coroner of Cook County, of the murder of Mrs. Susie moon, Melt Moon is reported to have been apparently crazy in the Lowndes county jail.
    The officials at the jail say that during the several days Moon was confined in jail before he made the confession he acted in a perfectly normal manner but immediately following his talk with Judge Lovett, he has changed entirely.
    He talks very little and will answer no questions at all.  If he is pressed for a conversation he will beat himself about the body and butt his head against the wall. He will not remove his clothing at night when he retires and gets on his cot in all kinds of strange positions.
    His sister apparently hardly realizes yet that he committed the crime to which he has confessed.  Since her return to her home in Florida she has written the jail authorities asking them to get further particulars from her brother about the crime.  He will not discuss the matter at all and pays no attention to remarks addressed to him. A relative visited him a few days ago and offered him some money which he refused to notice at all.
    A letter addressed to him was received a few days ago an when it was handed to him he laid it down without opening and has not yet touched it so far as is known.
    While he has [not] been considered real bright, yet he has never been regarded as crazy by the people who knew him.  However, it would seem now that he is laying the ground work for a defense when his case comes to a trial.

Following the confession and the coroners inquest, an indictment for murder was handed down.   The case was heard in the Cook County Superior Court before Judge Dickerson on March 12, 1921.

Milton Hinson, alias Milton Moon, was indicted for the homicide of his mother; and at the same term of court he filed his plea of not guilty, and a special plea of insanity. The defendant was found to have sufficient reason to distinguish between right and wrong and therefore criminally responsible for his actions. On these grounds, the defense’s motion that he lacked the mental capacity to make a free and voluntary confession was overruled, and the confession was admitted.

On the trial of the case the jury returned a verdict of guilty of murder, with a recommendation of life imprisonment; and the defendant was accordingly sentenced by the court. He made a motion for a new trial, which was overruled. Milton Hinson, aka Moon appealed the case to the Georgia Supreme court, but the Justices affirmed the guilty verdict.

Milton Hinson was sent to the Georgia State Prison in Baldwin County.  He was enumerated there in 1930, and was released some time before 1940. Afterwards he moved to Florida.

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Stella Wright ~ Seeress of Ray City, GA

Stella Reddick Wright of Ray City, Ga

Stella Reddick Wright of Ray City, Ga.  

In the 1930s Stella Wright lived with her family in Rays Mill (nka Ray City), GA.  Stella lived at the south end of Park Street, way out past Arrin Guthrie’s home, at a place on Cat Creek known as Rock Bottom.  Stella was known around the region as a seeress and a healer.

One Sunday afternoon in the late 1930s, the Guthrie family were all gathered on their front porch socializing and sharing the events of the day.  A car pulled up with some people who were looking for directions; they had a woman with them who was ill and wanted to see Stella Wright.  One of the Guthrie grandchildren hopped in the car to show them the way to Stella’s place.  At the far end of the dirt road, they took a little trail down to Cat Creek to a cabin where Stella was found. They all entered the cabin, which was devoid of furniture except for a single chair in the center of the room. Stella sat the sick woman in the chair and began massaging her shoulders and back.  Shortly, the woman emitted a series of enormously loud belches and that was how Stella “healed” her.

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Berrien County’s Oldest Resident Dies at Ray City

The August 7, 1930 edition of the Atlanta Constitution reported the following:

 Georgia Negro, 106, Dies in Ray City

Ray City, Ga., Aug 6 – “Uncle” Dick McGowan, a negro man believed to be Berrien county’s oldest resident died near here. He was 106 years of age.

McGowan was known to have been a slave, owned by the late Hardy Sirmons, of Ray City.  Hardy Sirmons died several years ago at an advanced age, and it was known that McGowan was at least 35 years old when Mr. Sirmons was born, giving a very authentic idea of the validity of the claim that the negro was 106 years of age at the time of his death.  McGowan had lived in the Ray City section of Berrien County all of his life and was known to all of the older residents of that section.

For a number of years McGowan was given a home and shelter at the home of Molly Hall, a negress who is known throughout this section of south Georgia as claiming to have supernatural powers as a “seeress.” The home of the Hall woman is a mecca to which literally thousands of white people journey every year in efforts to fathom mysteries of the past. Many wonderful stories are in circulation regarding the accuracy with which the woman draws away the mysterious veil for her clients.

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