Bullet Intended for her Father Kills McGee Girl

 Three 1919 news clippings  from the Atlanta Constitution tell a Ray City tragedy.

Atlanta Constitution; Feb 11, 1919

Bullet Intended for her Father Kills Mary McGee

 Valdosta, Ga. February 10. –(Special.)–  A row between Lee McGee and Will Collins, neighbors living at Ray City, 14 miles north of Valdosta, on Saturday night resulted in the almost instant death of Mary McGee, when she was struck by a bullet from Collins’ pistol, which was intended for her father. 

Both men had drawn their pistols when the little girl ran in front of her father just as Collins fired, the ball passing through the upper part of the child’s body. 

The trouble between the two men resumed during the night, with its fatal ending. Both men are said to have been drinking. The killing of the little girl created much excitement at Ray City and officers who arrested Collins rushed him to the county jail at Nashville, fearing that friends of McGee would overpower them and lynch Collins. 

Later it was thought best to carry Collins to Fitzgerald, where he is now in jail. Reports from Ray City today state that wild rumors of violence against Collins were unfounded and that no attempt to take the law into their own hands would have been made by the people there.

Young Girl’s Slayer Is Saved From Mob And Rushed to Jail

Feb 12, 1919

The Atlanta Constitution

    Fitzgerald, Ga., February 11. – (Special.) – Accused of killing the 10-year-old daughter of Mat McGee, Will Collins of Ray City, has been brought here by officials to escape mob violence.

   The trouble occurred at the home of McGee at Ray City Saturday night as a result of a quarrel between McGee and Collins, which occurred during the day at the mill where both work. That night when Collins entered the McGee home the 10-year-old girl ran between the two men, it is stated, and received the shot intended for her father.

     Excitement ran high in the little village following the shooting and it is said that only the absence of a leader prevented a lynching. Fearing for Collins’ life, Deputies D. W. Griner, Studstill, and Shaw, of Berrien county, placed him in a fast automobile and brought him safely through the country.


Feb 17, 1919

The Atlanta Constitution

    Nashville, Ga., February 16. –(Special.) –Will Collins, who it is alleged shot and and killed little Robbie McGee, the 9-year-old daughter of Lacy McGee, of Ray City, last Saturday night, was bound over to await the action of the Berrien County grand jury, on the charge of straight murder, without bail.

    The defendant was brought here yesterday from Fitzgerald, where he had been carried by the officers last sunday to avoid violence, and placed on trial before Hon. J.W. Moore, pustice [sic] of the peace, to determine, whether or not the state should hold him, and if so for what degree of crime. The trial consumed the entire day, many witnesses being examined both for the defense and for the state. There were no eyewitnesses to the crime except the father and mother of the dead child.

    Collins was removed to the Berrien county jail to await the convening of the grand jury. Only an ordinary crowd witnessed the trial. The state was represented by J. H. Gary and J. D. Lovett, while John H. Hull was counsel for the defendant.

While the names of those involved varies as the story unfolds, the essential facts remain.

The 1920 Census records show Lacy McGee in the Milltown District of Berrien County, living on the Milltown and Willacoochee Road with his wife and children.

1920 United States Federal Census enumeration of Lacy McGee

Name: Lacy McGee
Home in 1920: Milltown, Berrien, Georgia
Age: 38
Spouse’s Name: Fannie McGee
 Birthplace:  Alabama
Father’s Birth Place: Alabama
Mother’s Birth Place: Georgia
Marital Status: Married
Race: White
Sex: Male
Home owned: Rent
Able to read: Yes
Able to Write: Yes
Household Members:
Name Age
Lacy McGee 38
Fannie McGee 27
Delila McGee 4
Alton McGee 2 3/12