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.



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.]


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