In 2019 I happened to read another impressive book. The book was On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the Twenty-First Century by Sherrilyn Ifill. Ifill provided a six-page description of the Fountain case in the early pages of her book. The case had occurred in Talbot County, MD about a century ago, but I had never heard or read about it. The story aroused my curiosity and I wanted to know more about it. When I went to the Talbot County Free Library to find more information about the Fountain case, I discovered that local history books only adressed the case in passing or gave very rudimentary information about it.
The archives of the local newspaper, the Easton Star Democrat, certainly had to have information about the Fountain case, but no digital records were available for that period. I visited the Maryland Room of the Talbot County Free Library and found that copies of the Star- Democrat were available there on microfilm. The Maryland Room archivist, Becky Riti, gave me instructions on how to operate the microfilm reader and I began to “roll through” several years’ worth of microfilmed issues of the Star-Democrat.
Sitting on a hard wooden chair in front of a tiny table that barely held the computer tower, monitor, and keyboard as well as the microfilm reader, I began my search for articles about the Fountain case. After a couple hours, of searching, reading articles (with difficulty, due to the fuzziness of the images) and digitizing them to my flash drive, it was time to leave the Maryland Room with my first installment of articles from the Star-Democrat.
On my home computer I gave the digitized articles a closer look and decided that it would be necessary to first transcribe the often-blurred articles before reading them in more detail. The initial trove of articles was fascinating in their detail and subject matter.
I visited the Maryland Room several more times to view more microfilmed articles about Isaiah Fountain and his amazing exploits, as well as some interesting side-stories. I was mesmerized by Fountain’s story and amazed that it was all-but-forgotten.
More surprises awaited me.