Sculptor; folk singer; author; journalist.  Born April 7, 1908, Mobile.  Parents– William Douglas and Julia Ogletree Rayford.  Education– graduated Ensley-Howard High School, Birmingham, 1926; attended Duke University for a year;  studied art and sculpture with Gutzon Borglum, 1928-30. Worked as an artist in several media and continued to study with various artists, 1930–1941.  Served briefly in the US Army (received a medical discharge) and afterwards did several kinds of war work: designed recruiting posters and camouflage materials; entertained soldiers with a singing-storytelling act.   Settled in Mobile, 1945; worked as a reporter and columnist for the Mobile Register and a book reviewer for Amateur Book Collector; worked as a painter and sculptor and a collector and performer of folk songs and stories. Published poems, articles, and stories in periodicals and anthologies.  Active in the Mobile Mardi Gras tradition; founded the Joe Cain Marching Society, which parades on Shrove Tuesday each year. Died August 3, 1980.


Benjamin B. Williams, Introduction, Cottonmouth, Tuscaloosa; University of Alabama Press, 1991.

The Alabama Librarian, vol. 3



Collections of Julian Lee Rayford papers are held by the Mobile Public Library and the Museum of the City of Mobile.


Ancient Doorways.  Teufelsdrek Press, 1932.

Child of the Snapping Turtle:  Mike Fink.  Abelard Press, 1951.

Cottonmouth.  Scribners, 1941; Rpt. Tuscaloosa; University of Alabama Press, 1991.

The First Christmas Dinner.  Rapier House, 1947.

Chasin’ the Devil Round a Stump.  1962.


Whistlin’ Woman and Crowin’ Hen; The True Legend of Dauphin Island and the Atlantic Coast..  Mobile; Rankin Press, 1957.


American People’s Encyclopedia. Chicago:  Spencer Press, 1948. [Contributed entries on American folk heroes.]