The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

The Honorable Edith Ingram

A native of Hancock County in Sparta, Georgia, Edith Jacqueline Ingram is one of four children of Katherine Hunt Ingram and Robert T. Ingram, past member of the Sparta School Board. Ingram became a judge at a time when civil unrest was at its height in Hancock County, Georgia.

Ingram initially wanted to pursue a career in nursing. She moved to New York City to attend New York City College for Nurses after high school. Ingram then returned to Georgia and enrolled in Fort Valley State College where she obtained her B.S. degree in education. She taught elementary school in Griffin, Georgia and Hancock County for five years. Ingram’s father, the only black on the school board, prompted his daughter to run for office after he endured a grand insult from the county judge and responded by informing her that her term was over.

In the general election, Ingram won and took her oath of office. She served as probate judge in Hancock County for thirty-six years, where she presided over wills, marriages, misdemeanors, felonies and civil disobedience cases. She retired from the bench in 2004. Ingram has been recognized for her work by governors. She was appointed to serve as a member of the State Democratic Executive Committee by President Jimmy Carter (then Governor of Georgia) and Lieutenant Colonel Ade De Camp and was also appointed by the Governor’s Staff in 1983 by then Governor Joe Frank Harris.

Ingram is active in the Sparta community and is a member of Georgia Association of Probate Judges, the Georgia Coalition of Black Women (Hancock Chapter and State President), the National College of Probate Judges, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Hancock Women’s Club, the Hancock County NAACP and the Democratic Club. She also served on the Board of the Ebony International Learning Academy and Preparatory School.

Accession Number

A2006.007

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/25/2006

Last Name

Ingram

Maker Category
Schools

East End Elementary School

L. S. Ingraham High School

Fort Valley State University

First Name

Edith

Birth City, State, Country

Sparta

HM ID

ING01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Fishing

Favorite Quote

The Bottom Rail's Gonna Come To The Top.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

1/16/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Sparta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

County probate judge The Honorable Edith Ingram (1942 - ) was elected as a probate judge, where she served on the bench for thirty-six years, presiding over the probate affairs of Hancock County, Georgia. She was also appointed as a member of the State Democratic Executive Committee by President Jimmy Carter.

Employment

Hancock Central High School

Hancock County

Moore Elementary School

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:612,4:1122,10:5100,77:8262,112:18768,336:27690,400:32240,494:32604,499:32968,504:40277,603:41356,624:41688,629:44676,693:48660,777:68506,949:69796,987:73236,1048:77622,1206:84674,1325:91310,1356:93858,1446:108456,1657:109246,1670:117067,1839:122432,1866:124275,1909:142572,2164:146056,2184:146428,2192:146986,2203:148412,2245:162311,2365:170448,2511:171317,2554:176457,2583:181842,2653:203224,3000:214826,3144:223796,3278:228528,3347:242910,3550$0,0:4085,66:4655,74:5035,79:6120,90:18552,257:26260,390:32596,457:38212,586:39382,673:49312,925:49624,1028:54734,1192:57678,1262:63750,1319:74570,1389:109582,1921:120658,2054:122298,2083:131012,2279:143952,2477:144444,2486:158699,2715:161148,2783:163123,2853:166994,2906:172603,3027:179958,3069:180822,3081:187590,3155:187930,3160:188270,3165:205020,3426:209302,3503:212680,3695:213254,3725:225165,3889:246364,4195:269685,4485:270017,4540:280228,4636:286310,4795:297028,4935:310357,5124:317140,5313:320370,5405:329660,5527
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Edith Ingram's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Edith Ingram lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Edith Ingram describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Edith Ingram describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Edith Ingram describes her paternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Edith Ingram describes her father

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Edith Ingram describes her father's childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Edith Ingram describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Edith Ingram describes her paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Edith Ingram remembers her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Edith Ingram recalls her maternal ancestors

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Edith Ingram describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - The Honorable Edith Ingram describes her childhood in Sparta, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - The Honorable Edith Ingram describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Edith Ingram remembers her grandmothers making homemade whiskey

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Edith Ingram describes her family's traditional foodways

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Edith Ingram remembers her favorite teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Edith Ingram remembers her schools in Sparta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Edith Ingram remembers her family's chores

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Edith Ingram recalls preparing hogs to eat with the community

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Edith Ingram recalls her childhood aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Edith Ingram remembers L.S. Ingraham High School, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Edith Ingram describes holidays in her family

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Edith Ingram remembers L. S. Ingraham High School, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Edith Ingram lists her siblings

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Edith Ingram remembers her brief education in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Edith Ingram recalls attending Fort Valley State College

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Edith Ingram recalls her first teaching jobs

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Edith Ingram describes the Fort Valley State College dormitories

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Edith Ingram recalls vesper and her classes at Fort Valley State College

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Edith Ingram recalls the Fort Valley State College dress code

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Edith Ingram remembers pledging Delta Sigma Theta Sorority

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Edith Ingram remembers student teaching

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Edith Ingram recalls her mother's adoption of an orphaned girl

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Edith Ingram describes her life after graduating college

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Edith Ingram describes the changes in Sparta's education system

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Edith Ingram recalls her decision to run for probate judge

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Edith Ingram recalls African Americans' disenfranchisement

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Edith Ingram remembers her family resisting the Ku Klux Klan

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Edith Ingram recalls the incumbent probate judge, Helen Miller

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Edith Ingram recalls being the sole black official in Hancock County, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Edith Ingram recalls her reception as probate judge

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Edith Ingram remembers organizing African American voters

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Edith Ingram recalls being repeatedly accused of voter fraud

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Edith Ingram explains how her faith gave her strength

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Edith Ingram lists her honors and influential connections

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Edith Ingram recalls memorable moments as a probate judge

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Edith Ingram recalls facing racism as a probate judge

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Edith Ingram recalls her retirement

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable Edith Ingram reflects upon her father's influence on her

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Edith Ingram remembers Sparta, Georgia's arms race

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Edith Ingram recalls how black domestics helped her win elections

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Edith Ingram recalls fighting for school desegregation in Sparta, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Edith Ingram describes the officials who succeeded her

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Edith Ingram describes her relationship to the people of Sparta, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Edith Ingram explains why she wanted to share her story

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable Edith Ingram reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - The Honorable Edith Ingram offers advice to aspiring judges and educators

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - The Honorable Edith Ingram describes her legacy and how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - The Honorable Edith Ingram narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - The Honorable Edith Ingram narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

5$1

DATitle
The Honorable Edith Ingram recalls her decision to run for probate judge
The Honorable Edith Ingram remembers Sparta, Georgia's arms race
Transcript
Now after teaching, now you decided to run for judge.$$Uh-huh.$$Now, how did that come about?$$Well, in 1966 my father [Robert Ingram] ran, as I told you. And then my brother [Robert Ingram], in '67 [1967] was getting ready to go to the [U.S. military] service, and my mother [Katherine Hunt Ingram] was still sick. So I came home so that I would be home with her. And in 1966, when Daddy ran for office, the ordinary then, Ms. Miller [Helen Miller], a white woman, had told them they could have poll workers during the election process. And they had to go through the black community and muster up somebody to serve as poll workers. You know, back then they were afraid to serve as poll workers. And on the election morning when they got to the courthouse to serve, she screamed out and ran and told them, "Y'all can't come in and serve, because the white people told me don't let no niggers work in the election." So they promised her then that her politicking days were over.$$This is your father?$$My father and James Smith. And before that, at my church, my brother Robert and a guy named James Clayton, Jr. had worked with the voter registration drive, and they had registered a whole lot of people--$$Okay.$$--who were going to go out and vote. And so they just wanted some representation during the election process. And I came home, and they had a club called the Democratic Club [Hancock County Citizens Democratic Club]. It didn't mean that it was Democratic as a party affiliation; they just named it the Democratic Club. And they were looking for somebody to run for ordinary, and they asked me about running. And I said initially that was not interested. But my daddy and others kept explaining to me the importance of it. And their main reason was because an ordinaries, one of her duties is to supervise the elections.$$Okay.$$So, one night in the middle of the night I decided that I would run, and I proceeded to call and tell people that I was going to run. And that's how it all got started, that was in 1968. And I was elected in November of 1968. Well, when I got elected I went to the courthouse one Saturday and asked Ms. Miller if she would show me around the office, because I was going to come in in January. And she went and opened the door and told me to get the hell out of there and come back when my time was. At that time, she gave the key to the ordinary's office to the clerk of the superior court, who was a white guy, and the ordinary's office would not open anymore until I came to open it. She just closed up, period. And when I got in there, I thanked God and a few other responsible people that she did not show me around. Because she had death certificates and birth certificates mixed in together. Her recordkeeping was just totally mixed up. And I said it was a blessing that she did not show me around, because I would have had to unlearn what she had taught me. But I went to, I believe it was Marietta [Georgia] and visited an office. But the operation was so much larger than this office's operation, and it didn't really relate. And I just had to wait until I got in there and hit the books.$$Now, why do they call it ordinary?$$I don't know. The ordinary court came from England a long time ago, as much as I know about it. And the duties of the ordinary were duties that the kings and queens did not attend to. And then next in line was the ordinary, the court of ordinary, that's where they got it from. And early on, they changed it to probate court, probate judge.$Now, we were talking about the submachine gun incident. Explain, tell us what happened.$$Well, black people started hearing the firing of machine guns during the night in their communities.$$And what year was this?$$This was in 1971.$$All right.$$And they came to the meetings. We used to meet every week in a church, every Thursday night. And we would go from community to community to community so that we would be able to address the problems of each community. And they started bringing this information to the meetings. John McCown was the county commissioner then. I was in office [as probate judge of Hancock County, Georgia], and Daddy [Robert Ingram] was in office [on the board of education]. And they ordered ten machine guns, submachine guns, the white community did, to use them, they said in the black community. And one of the druggists, who was one of the persons who helped pay for the machine guns, said they shouldn't have gotten machine guns, that they should have gotten bazookas. Well, we decided that if they were going to attack us with machine guns, we needed to have something to counteract their attack. So, my mama [Katherine Hunt Ingram] ordered thirty machine guns from a company in Miami [Florida] with the understanding that they would not deliver the guns until we said bring them on. We just put them on order. And we told the white community that we would cancel our order if they got rid of their guns. Well, it went back and forth and back and forth, and they wouldn't get rid of the guns. We could still hear them at night. So, the governor, Governor Carter [James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr.] was contacted. And of course the GBI [Georgia Bureau of Investigation] the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation], the justice department, everybody came. Governor Carter came down here in his little helicopter and landed somewhere and came. And they would meet with us, and then they'd go and meet with the white community because the white community didn't want to meet with no niggers.$$Now, what was the name of your group?$$We were just the Democratic Club [Hancock County Citizens Democratic Club]. Of course, in the meantime, Mr. Wiley [Leroy S. Wiley], who was the clerk of the court, and John McCown and myself had decided that we would organize a sporting rangers group. And of course, the sporting rangers were just supposed to be a group--because the only activities we had around here were fishing and hunting. So, this was just to promote fishing and hunting and marksmanship. It had nothing to do with the machine gun situation, but they thought it did.$$Well, marksmanship, wouldn't you think--$$Well, it didn't have anything to do with us ordering machine guns.$$Exactly.$$We hadn't thought about machine guns until they got them.$$All right, so--$$So, that was one of our things, too, that we would disband that group, since they thought that was for them, to get rid of their machine guns. But we had thirty on order, ready to be delivered to us anytime we said the word. Of course, we already had some pretty nice guns ourselves that we used when the Night Riders came through. And they came down and they--well, the FBI and all them would be walking through the courthouse looking in my office all day long, but never said anything to me. I lived out in the woods in a mobile home. And if you didn't know where it was, you didn't just readily see it from the road. About eleven or twelve o'clock at night they came down to my house. And I saw a car drive up in my driveway right at my bedroom window. But the only thing I could see was the silhouette of two men, one smoking a cigarette. Then they came and I asked them to show me their ID, and then I let them in. And there was a rifle sitting beside the front door, and they wanted to know why I had so many guns. And I said, "You know, to protect myself from people who choose to come to my house unannounced so late in the night." And then they asked me if Mr. Wiley had any machine guns. So I said, "You passed his house on the way to my house, so you'd better go back up there and ask him does he have any machine guns, I don't know." And they left. And then they did a lot of investigation, and they finally talked to us and talked to them, and finally got them to give up their machine guns. And they put them in the trunk of somebody's car. And to make sure they left, we had our black deputy to escort them out of town to the county line with the machine guns. But Governor Carter and all of them had been down here trying to smooth the situation over. And in the meantime, we told them that if they didn't get rid of the machine guns we were going to boycott the town. So, they didn't get rid of them, so we threw a boycott. And we bussed our people in our cars and vans and stuff to Milledgeville [Georgia] to do their shopping. And the grocery made about twenty-five dollars in a whole week. So after that, you know they got on the white community to get rid of those guns because it was affecting their livelihood. That's how they finally decided to get rid of them because the white merchants was on their case about it, so we could start shopping at the stores. But--$$Now, this was at--$$We actually never got--$$The machine guns?$$Our machine guns.$$Right. But they did get rid of theirs?$$They got rid of theirs, and we canceled ours.$$And this was right at the outset of your--$$This is 1971.$$--election. And you were elected for four years at a time?$$Um-hm.