This must be how the TV detectives do it

Those who have read Murder in Coweta County or seen the TV movie starring Johnny Cash and Andy Griffith will remember Mayhayley Lancaster, the backwoods fortune teller who helped Coweta County Sheriff Lamar Potts solve the 1948 murder of Wilson Turner.

My mother-in-law recently read the book, and not being from around here she was impressed at how many local place names she recognized. For example, the crime scene was at a tourist camp in Moreland, a few miles south of Newnan, where U.S. 29 and U.S. 27A part ways in their separate southward travels. The orange structure still standing at the site’s southwest edge may date from when the tourist camp was still there.

As for Mayhayley, a recent edutainment TV segment on the case prompted me to look for information about her, and the most easily obtained datum was her burial site, the cemetery at Caney Head Methodist Church in Heard County, a few miles northwest of Franklin. The church flourishes still, and can be found from Franklin by taking Georgia 100 to Roosterville Road, thence to the fading Roosterville itself where an unwary passer-through will miss Caney Head Road if he doesn’t spot the church sign at the intersection to his left. Like I did at first.

Mayhayley’s gravesite is on the side of the cemetery nearest the road, a bit more than halfway from the church to the end of the fenced area. It’s a Lancaster family plot with a few other graves there including that of a Confederate veteran whom we took to have been her father.

In my reading I had also found a description of the house she lived in during her later years, with a sister who took care of her. That and some related family names led us right to the place. We only drove by — it seems to be occupied still — and I won’t give details on how to find it. Even so, anyone sufficiently motivated ought to have little trouble finding the clues and piecing them together.

I don’t know whether the current residents have any relationship to Mayhayley or any desire to talk to strangers about the house’s history, and since this hunt was a spur-of-the-moment inspiration I don’t plan on trying to contact them.

[Originally posted on my static HTML home page when I “wasn’t” blogging. On a more recent drive-by of Mayhayley’s house it appeared to be vacant.]

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