EXCHANGE: Remembering a gospel music group of the 1960s

During a recent fish fry at the Galesburg Masonic Lodge, Lomac Payton was approached by two attendees asking if he used to sing. He confirmed this suspicion and explained that he used to be a part of the sextet called The Pilgrim Wonders. The moment led him to call the only other living member of the group, John Mims, and have a chat about the days gone by when they would fill churches and sing their hearts out.

Payton and Mims grew up together and went to the same school. Payton would later join the military after finishing school and, after completing his deployment, he came to Galesburg, but didn’t plan to stay. Payton was on the fast track to California and never expected to fall in love with the town.

During a Sunday church service, Payton and Mims discussed getting the band together and setting The Pilgrim Wonders back in action. The duo had previously attempted at starting this band, but it never came to fruition.

The original band consisted of five members, but they didn’t click. Payton and Mims decided to rearrange the lineup and then things started to groove. The band performed locally and continued to grow. By the time they had fully established themselves, they were a six-piece a capella band full of many vocal ranges. The members included John Mims, lead singer’ James Smith, bass’ Lomac Payton, tenor; Elbert Dickerson, baritone; Henry Shaw, soprano; and later AC Pennington on guitar.

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