(33) Liberty County Educators

Laura Martin Fraser (1873-1943):


Born and reared in Flemington, daughter of James Bacon and Sarah Eliza Fraser. Her two surviving siblings were Henry Percy Fraser (1878-1903) and Eliza Mary (“Lillie Mae”) Fraser (1888-1952).


She was a music teacher and head of Tranquil Institute at Flemington until 1925 when that school merged with Bradwell Institute. She then became assistant principal and Latin teacher at Bradwell Institute.


She instilled a pride of self in her pupils, and caused them to believe that they were capable of perhaps more than they really were. Many of her pupils succeeded in life because of her, where they might otherwise have failed.


She had a deep and abiding love of the South and Liberty County. She maintained throughout her life that the South had a legitimate right to secede from the Union, and always referred to the conflict of 1861-1865 as the “War Between the States.”



Willie Maye Dawson Stafford:


One of the maternal ancestors of this lady was Roger Delk, who emigrated from England to Virginia in 1622, and was elected to the House of Burgesses in 1633. Her father, David I. Dawson, was one of the most outstanding political figures, and a very religious person, in Liberty County for some 50 years.


She graduated from Bradwell Institute and Bessie Tift College, and taught English, French, and Social Studies at Bradwell Institute for 38 years. She married Harold N. (“Mudge”) Stafford and they had one child, Harold N. Stafford Jr. Her grandson, Harold Craig Stafford, was saluta­torian of his class when he graduated from Bradwell Institute in 1986.



Laura Shellman:


This native of Liberty County commenced her teaching career when she was but 15 years of age. She was appointed a teacher by the commissioner of liberty County Schools, and spent the remainder of her life educating the black children of Liberty County.


This lady is easily one of the best-loved and revered school teachers in the Liberty County past. Many of her students became outstanding Americans. All of them remember her with great pride and affection.



A.G. Overman (1893-1976):


This native of Willacoochee, Georgia, was a graduate of the Agricultural and Mechanical College at Douglas, Georgia. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy and served with the Navy Department in Washington, D.C., during World War 1. After his military career, he returned to Douglas and taught college mathematics before relocating in Hinesville.


He was principal of Bradwell Institute from 1920 to 1941. During World War II he was employed at Camp Stew­art, Georgia, and from 1948 to 1960 he was employed by the Georgia State Health Department in Long, Liberty, Wayne, and Bryan counties.


He was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Hinesville, and was the first chairman of the planning commission of the City of Hinesville. He filled all offices of Hinesville Lodge No. 269, Knights of Pythias, and was a member of Hinesville Lodge No. 271, Free and Accepted Masons, for more than 55 years.


He married Cynthia Kitchen, an elementary school teach­er at Bradwell Institute, and their children were John T. Overman and Kathryn Overman Scott. He was coach of the boys and girls basketball teams at Bradwell Institute from 1926 to 1941.



Mary Bacon Fraser:


This native Liberty Countian taught two generations of students at Bradwell Institute during their earliest school years. She was a college graduate, and a charter member of the First Presbyterian Church in Hinesville. During her life she was a member of virtually every civic organization for women in Liberty County. She and her sister, Addie West Fraser, resided in the Bacon-Fraser home in Hinesville. Mary Bacon Fraser died in 1965.



Mary Lecounte Baggs:


Attended elementary school in Riceboro, and was valedictorian of her class when she graduated from Dorchester Academy. She received her BS degree from Savannah State College, and her MS degree from New York University.


She started her teaching career at Pine Grove School in Groveland, Georgia, and taught black and white children in Liberty County schools in grades one through seven for the next 32 years. She was teaching at Bacon Primary School in Hinesville when she retired after 39 years as a teacher.


She says “My most rewarding, most joyful, and pleasur­able years were spent teaching first graders.” She says all of her students were special and she thinks she taught them some special things. She says it always gave her pleasure to see youths growing in the right direction, and to know that she started them off in life on the right foot.


She married Earl M. Baggs of Liberty County and they had two children, Edytha and James Baggs. Earl M. Baggs was the first black liberty Countian elected to the liberty County Board of Commissioners. He was elected in 1966 and was still serving in the position more than 20 years later.



Jesse Stevens:


This native Liberty Countian was educated at Dorchester Academy and New York University. He taught school for 31 years and was an outstanding leader in the Liberty Coun­ty black community all of his adult life.