Alfred Summers Mitchell was born in New Madrid, Missouri, on February 17, 1877, to Alfred and Amelia Summers Mitchell. Minnie Grace Sowards was born in Paintsville, Kentucky, on August 15, 1877, to Thomas Jefferson Sowards and Sarah Rebecca Nibert Sowards. Alfred and Minnie married on January 28, 1900, and had one adopted daughter, Ann Frances Mitchell.
In 1909, Alfred became manager of Ingram-Day Lumber Company with mills in Mississippi and Alabama. Mitchell became president of the company in 1937.
In the early 1940s, Alfred formed the Long Leaf Pine Company with a mill in Pearson, Georgia. Alfred and Minnie incorporated the A.S. Mitchell Foundation in 1956 with money from the sale of timberlands in Carrabelle, Florida.
Minnie became the first female school board member in Lyman, Mississippi. She also served as Alabama Regent of the DAR and president of the Mobile DAR, and the Mobile Female Benevolent Home. She was Mobile’s First Lady in 1956 and received a number of honors for her charitable work there.
Minnie died on April 9, 1962, age 84, Alfred on January 19, 1965, age 87. They are both buried in Coalville Methodist Church Cemetery in Lyman, Mississippi.
Alfred and Minnie’s daughter, Ann Frances Mitchell, was born on July 2, 1913, in Sardis, Mississippi. She attended Gulf Park College in Gulfport before marrying Dr. Frank Vinson on December 27, 1933. Frank was born April 2, 1904, in Dunbar, Georgia, the oldest son of William Emmette Vinson and Frances Isabella Vinson. He received his M.D. from Emory University in 1932.
After their marriage they moved to Fort Valley, Georgia, where Frank was a family doctor for over 50 years. During World War II he served in the US Army Air Corps medical service at hospitals in Coffeyville, Kansas, and Camp Blandford, England. Dr. Vinson was on the staff of Peach County Hospital from its inception and was Chief of Staff for many years.
Ann Frances Mitchell Vinson was the first woman elected to the Fort Valley City Council in 1958. In 1962, she became Fort Valley’s first female mayor. When civil rights tensions developed during her administration, she appointed a biracial committee of influential citizens representing a variety of occupations and religions, which moderated the early civil rights era there. Frank and Ann Vinson had four children: Frank Bedingfield, Alfred Mitchell, Kenneth Graydon, and Ann Frances Vinson.
Dr. Vinson died October 5, 1985 in Atlanta at the age of 81. Ann Frances Mitchell Vinson died August 17, 2003, in Dallas, Georgia, at age 90. They are both buried in Oak Lawn Cemetery in Fort Valley.
The Vinson-Mitchell Fund at the Georgia Historical Society was established by the A.S. Mitchell Foundation in 2001 and carries on the family’s commitment to history and education.