Tag Archives: –BEN HILL COUNTY GA–
When I was paying my respects to family members recently, I came across this memorial in Evergreen Cemetery. The name was familiar because when I was growing up, I recall my grandmother and great-grandmother speaking fondly of Lark Martin as Fitzgerald’s most famous hero of World War II. They even had a copy of The Saturday Evening Post which featured a story about him. Captain Lark E. Martin, Jr., was born on 9 October 1922 and when he was still a teenager, he was already a B-24 pilot serving in the Pacific Theater with the Jolly Rogers Bomber Squadron, 5th Air Force, based in Port Moresby, New Guinea. A little over a month before his 20th birthday, on 2 September 1943, while piloting the “Battlin’ Betts”, Martin was killed in action. His co-pilot, engineer, radio tech, and five passengers were also lost.
This is the oldest house in the city of Fitzgerald, dating to the year the city was colonized by Union veterans; at the time of its construction it was considered a country house but is well within the city limits today. [I grew up just across a large pecan orchard from it]. It was built by original settler Adrian Hageman, who served as a corporal in Company D, 93rd Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry, during the Civil War. His wife was Fannie Protsman Hageman, a native of Vevay, Indiana. It was restored by their grandson, Charlie A. Newcomer, Jr., in 1970.
Fitzgerald historian Paul Dunn relayed this history to my father via telephone: This was L. D. Wright’s grocery store. Railroad employees charged their purchases and later “picked up” their tickets and paid their balances in the store. L. D. Wright ran two “store trucks” and traveled the area trading groceries for chickens, eggs, etc. The trucks were loaded with chicken crates to facilitate this practice.
A decal on the door revealed during a recent cleanup of the property suggests that Wright was associated with the RIO brand. RIO, an acronym for Retail Independently Owned, was a grocery syndicate once associated with hundreds of small grocers all over Georgia.
This house seemed sure to be lost, as it sat abandoned for many years, but luckily it had a happy ending. It was restored. It’s a central hallway farmhouse with a long addition at the rear. This photograph dates to 2001 and is among my earliest.
Dr. Johnny Young notes that this was once the home of his grandparents (Mr. & Mrs. J. R. F. Young) and his father (S. B. Young). They lived here from at least 1912 until 1927, when they built another home nearby. The Young family were among the earliest settlers of this area, the northwestern corner of present-day Ben Hill County.