2018-05-16 / Editorials

More than just farmers

All That’s Fit to Print
Brenda Wall

This column is a reprinted from the April 30, 2003 issue of the Early County News. A Sunday newspaper report noted that Carl Isaacs has been on death row longer than any other prisoner in the United States. He beats out Gary Alvord by three months. Both have served in excess of 29 years.

Both committed multiple murders and both were mentioned by name in this news account while their victims remained anonymous.

Alvord, the report said, killed three people in Tampa, Fla. Isaacs’ victims were simply called the Aldays, a family of farmers in rural Southwest Georgia.

It happens all the time. Victims of crime melt into the background, become simply statistics and subjectss of testimony and crime scene photos. In the Aldays’ case, they went from being six living, breathing people to a family of farmers. Individually, they were no longer news. Their killers, always named in full, held the stage.

But on River Road in Seminole County, Ga., on May 14, 1973, six people were murdered. They deserve more than a collective remembrance. They deserve to be remembered for why they were, each of them even after almost 30 years have passed.

Ned Alday was 62 years old when he was murdered. Ned Alday was a husband, a father, and yes, a farmer. He worked in the fields with his sons and brothers, spent his Sunday mornings worshipping with his family at Spring Creek Baptist Church not far from his house. He was married to Ernestine Johnson. They eloped in 1935 and together had nine children – Norman, Chester, Patricia, Dolores, Jeanne, Nancy, Elizabeth, Jerry, Jimmy and Faye. Faye, the youngest, was a senior in high school that fateful May.

Aubrey Alday was Ned’s brother. He was 58 years old when he was murdered. He was married to Inez Runnels in 1937 and had six children – Curtis, Aubrey Jr., Mary Carolyn, Relda Jean, Peggy and Sue. Aubrey was a Seminole County commissioner from 1959-1968 and he served as chairman of the deacon board for Spring Creek Baptist Church.

Chester Alday, called Shuggie by his family and friends, had just turned 30 May 7, 1973. He married his wife, Barbara, in 1969. They did not have children. He farmed with his family and Barbara worked in Donalsonville at the Dairy Bar Restaurant.

Jerry Alday was 36 years old when he was murdered. He was said to be the quietest of the Alday men. He was married to Mary Campbell in 1970. It was at his home he and his father, brothers and uncle died. He and Mary did not have children.

Mary Campbell Alday was from Miller County. She was only 26 years old on the day that she was murdered. She married Jerry in 1970 and worked at the Seminole County welfare department. She was a pretty brunette. She wore a Timex watch. In the afternoons, she liked to come home and work in her flower garden.

Jimmy, the youngest son of Ned and Ernestine, was 25 years old when he was murdered. He was a cut-up and prankster. He was not married. He spent the last day of his life plowing a field. He, along with his brothers, father, uncle, ate dinner at his mama’s house just as they did every day.

On May 6, 2003, if the execution of Carl Isaacs is carried out, we need to remember not that he lived on death row almost 30 years or that he started out there as a 19-year-old boy and left there a 49-year-old man.

Instead, remember Ned and Aubrey and Shuggie and Jerry and Mary and jimmy and the family they left behind.

Return to top