“If you owned or did business with a bank in a small South Georgia town, and it got robbed or burgled, I probably did it.” So Willie Foster Sellers could say with complete accuracy. A Surrency farm boy, Sellers and his Dixie Mafia cohorts sparked a crime wave in the old Confederacy during the late 1950’s that lasted through the mid-1970’s and netted them an estimated $8 million in ill-gotten loot.
Details of Sellers’ colorful, unlawful life are described in “Dixie Mafia Gangster: the Audacious Criminal Career of Willie Foster Sellers.” The book is now on sale. The author is Dr. Max Courson who, like Sellers, grew up in Appling County. The two collaborated by mail for years because Sellers was an inmate at one of several Texas state prisons. Courson also visited Sellers at the Lubbock (TX) prison facility.
THE FBIs MOST WANTED MUG SHOT OF FOSTER SELLERS TAKEN AROUND 1977. SOURCE - FBI WEBSITE - TEN MOST WANTED HISTORY PICTURES.
Sellers’ first bank burglary occurred in Screven, a small town located a few miles southwest of Jesup. He and another man stole a cutting torch from an auto body shop. Under cover of darkness, they entered the bank by the back door and cut open a portion of the safe. They got several thousand dollars for their effort. Sellers said he and his gang burgled nearly three dozen banks before changing to bank robbery. His crimes enabled him to live extravagantly, to travel widely and to purchase cars, houses and airplanes.
Law officers interrupted his criminal activity on several occasions. However, he escaped twice from an Alabama prison and once from the supposedly impregnable Fulton County Jail. He also aided other prisoners in their escape plans. At one point, he faked his death in order to throw lawmen off his trail.
On another occasion, Sellers was almost caught while visiting his mother on her farm outside Surrency. Sellers fled into the nearby Altamaha River swampland, and hid out there for several days before stealing a car, and meeting relatives in Savannah.
The FBI named Sellers to its Ten Most Wanted List in 1977, but it took the agency more than two years to track him down.
“Dixie Mafia Gangster” was released in February. Copies can be ordered at any bookstore or by contacting the author. Courson’s mailing address is P. O. Box 305, Valrico, Florida 33595. His email address is email@example.com.
I appreciate the story about Foster Sellers. Would like to have a copy of that edition.
Riette Hirsch Boxer
03/11/12 at 09:55 AM
I just ordered the book. I am interested in knowing more about Foster Sellers. I remember him in the 50's. What a wasted life!!!!! I grew up in Baxley and remember seeing him at the tennis courts on Fair Street and the drive in movie.
Stacy Mitchell (Sellers)
03/28/12 at 10:27 PM
Hello Mr. Courson. This is Stacy (Foster's daughter) I've been trying to reach you through your website for some time now. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.