Pioneer settler David Belton Jay built this home on the edge of the newly settled town of Fitzgerald circa 1900. It would have been a country house at the time but is now well within the city limits.
My friend Lydia Jay Mason shares some historical background on her great-grandfather in the heartfelt memoir Growing Up Southern: In 1896, David Belton Jay, affectionately known as D. B., moved his family to Fitzgerald… from Morgan, Georgia…Later, that same year, his parents, James Lemuel and Priscilla Jay, followed them to Fitzgerald and were two of the thirty-four charter members of the First Baptist Church in Fitzgerald.
Jay was instrumental in 1905 in leading the drive for Fitzgerald to leave Irwin County and form its own county, Ben Hill…There is a story of how several men from Irwin County wanted to meet D. B. Jay in a duel because of his desire for Fitzgerald to become a new county. The men knew that would lead to the taking of revenues from their county.
A 1943 newspaper account by Jesse Mercer notes: Soon after the colony had been established and before I moved to Fitzgerald an effort had been made to move the county seat to the city from remote Irwinville, a very difficult thing to do in Georgia…Jay was a prime over in the undertaking, as in everything for the community advancement. Returning from a remote district in the then large county, he met in the road a party of active and violent opponents to removal. Then and there, during the inevitable controversy that ensued, an attempt was made to assassinate him, and it was his single-handed, manly and courageous stand that saved his life.]
The Frank Eppes family has owned and lovingly maintained it for many years.