17 March 2011

Julia Force Will Not Be Hanged, To Be Placed in an Asylum (A Southern Family Secret Part III)

Part III of A Southern Family Secret, the saga of Julia Force.

New York Herald
27 June 1893
(Viewed online at GenealogyBank.)


Insanity Successfully Pleaded in the Trial of the Girl Accused of Double Murder.


Notwithstanding the Strong Defense the State Will Try Hard to Secure a Conviction.


ATLANTA, Ga. June 26, 1893 -- Miss Julia Force will find herself an inmate of the insane asylum to-morrow. Her trial for the murder of her two sisters opened today in the criminal courts of the county of Fulton, and before the day's work was over it was apparent to all that the crime was committed because of the woman's insanity; that the State almost abandoned the case...It is a certainly that a verdict of insanity will come within fifteen minutes after the jury retires...

The prisoner, dressed in a claret colored street costume, with her face heavily veiled, walked into the court room leaning on the arm of her aunt, Mrs. Conley. The two women took seats in the centre of the room, immediately opposite the Judge. Miss Force closed her eyes, rested her hands on the arms of the chair and sighed...

[Mrs. Force, the mother of the prisoner, and Julia's brothers (G. H. and A. W.) testified in support of insanity.]

...Chief of Police Connolly testified that when he met Miss Force in his office she refused to say anything to him about the crime or who committed it. Soon afterward, however, she unpinned from her throat a breastpin containing her father's picture and handed it to him, saying she was unworthy to wear it...

...Witness told her of the awful crime, but she seemed to take it as an everyday affair, and said she had been maltreated by those who should have loved her.

[While speaking to a doctor the morning after the shootings]...She had told him then that her brothers were cruel to her and she had to get her sisters out of the way, as they were instrumental in the treatment given by her brothers. She said she prayed for deliverance and added, "But it had to be."

[Two doctors] said in conclusion he believed Miss Force was a monomaniac. [From Wikipedia: "In 19th century psychiatry, monomania is a single pathological preoccupation in an otherwise sound mind...In 1880, it was one of the seven recognized categories of mental illness." Example = Paranoia.]

[Julia was age 38; Florence was age 30; and Minnie was age 25.]...The news of the tragedy created intense excitement, owing in some measure to the prominence of the Force family, two members of which, G. H. and A. W., are successful shoe manufacturers in Atlanta. The general impression was that Miss force was insane, and her erratic conduct on many previous occasions seemed to furnish good grounds for such an impression.

...This gray haired woman with the strong but stern face was brought before a jury on February 28, and heard a writ read, in which the members of her family expressed their beliefs that she was insane...[doctor stated she was "under the influence of an insane delusion" that "her family were her enemies..."].

Mrs. Force then testified that her daughter Julia had not been mentally balanced since October 16, 1892, on which day she had acted very strangely and altogether like an insane person. Finally Mr. Albert W. Force testified that his sisters's mind was unsound, that all her grievances were imaginary and that for some days before the tragedy he had fully expected to be shot down every time he went home to dinner or opened the door. He also pointed our that one of his brothers was in an insane asylum and that his aunt's mind has been at one time unbalanced. In regard to his sister's complaint that storekeepers had been instructed not to give her credit, he said that he had given such instructions, as he did not consider his sister responsible. The jury then questioned Miss Force and in reply she said that she was not insane, that her family has always wronged her, and that, though she had a high temper, she had ever tried to do right. The jury declared her insane, at which she protested loudly, saying "I am not insane!" Finally, on March 9, the Grand Jury indicted her for murder. [End]

Tomorrow: To an Asylum Goes the Murderess Julia Force.

Part II: Miss Julia Force's Story: Why She Murdered Her Two Sisters.

Part V: Julia Force is Dead

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