16 March 2011

Miss Julia Force's Story: Why She Murdered Her Two Sisters (A Southern Family Secret Part II)

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

The State, South Carolina
28 February 1893
(Viewed online at GenealogyBank.)



Slighted All Her Life by the Other Members of the Family -- Details of the Horrible Tragedy

ATLANTA, Ga. Feb 27 -- Today's sensation is the publication of the full statement of Julia Force who murdered her two sisters. It is a statement probably ten thousand words in length, and was found by the police in possession of a friend of Miss Force, to whom it had been entrusted, but who knew nothing of its contents.

It is the story of the life of a high-strung, sensitive child, who grew to womanhood and to mature maidenly years in the belief that her mother, sisters and brothers at all times slighted her. She goes into minute details of many happenings in the family, which she takes as corroborating all she has claimed.

"They all loved my sisters better than they did me," the story goes. "Of course, they were younger while I was growing older. Everything in the house was for 'Sister Minnie,' or for 'Sister Florence.' A new dress or a new ornament would always look so well on them, without ever once referring to how it would look on me. I had the trouble of helping to raise them, because I was the oldest, and it made my blood boil to see them preferred before me in the love of brothers and mother. I could not stand it; no, and nobody else would."

After summing up a great many instances of imaginary wrong she goes on: "I was willing to bear my private griefs in private. I did not wish to harrow the public with the story of my personal griefs. But when public disgrace is piled upon me by notifying merchants not to credit me, the limit of endurance has been reached. When the clerks along the streets can thus point at me, for what have I to live? Just think of it! I am thus marked out, while my sisters are favored and fondled and petted. Public disgrace is too much, and I can't, will not, stand it."

"It is enough," she writes. "I have borne all I can bear. May God avenge, and, for every insult that has been given me, heap the crushing weight of insult, mortification and suffering, moral and physical, upon the heads of those scoundrels and traitors (meaning her brothers). Oh, my Father! help your child."

Thus was the climax reached on Friday. Miss Julia according to the story as told by herself, resolved to immediately execute the vengeance she had been plotting so long. She gave no sign of her intention. Her mother left home early in the morning to be gone until after noon. Miss Julia seized upon the opportunity to do the terrible deed. She went up town and purchased a good pistol and a box of cartridges. She loaded the pistol and laid it aside for use.

She then took from her trunk the statement which she had been preparing for so many months. She wrote a final entry upon its pages, and drawing a heavy line across the bottom of the page, signifying that the end had been reached, she hurriedly left home and went to a friend's house and left the statement. She then returned home.

The time for her deadly revenge had come. She sent Lula Jenkins, the house girl, off on an errand. The cook was first sent to the grocery store, and then after her brothers.

With the cook and house girl away, Miss Julia was alone in the house with her victims. No one knew of her fatal purpose. Without the quiver of a muscle she made her last preparations for the slaughter. Across the hall was her sister Minnie. The young lady was engaged in doing some fancy needlework, and as she worked she sang. Scarce ten feet away her murderous, maniacal sister was loading a revolver. Outside the sunlight gleamed and the street was full of noise of the noon of day.

Miss Julia crept across the hall into the room in which Miss Minnie, all unsuspecting, sat alone. Miss Julia held the pistol behind her. Miss Minnie looked up with an expression of displeasure as her elder sister entered her room. Her relations with her sister were always of an exceedingly acrid nature and she greeted her sister's appearance with disgust.

"Minnie, why did you tell the storekeeper not to sell me anymore goods?" asked Miss Julia venomously.

The young lady started to reply, but before she could do so Julia threw the pistol from behind her, and, placing it almost against Miss Minnie's head, fired. The young lady dropped to the floor with a groan. She writhed a little in the death agony. Blood spurted from the bullet hole. Julia bent over her dying sister and watched her expiring struggles. While she stood over her with the smoking revolver in her hand, Miss Minnie died. After being shot she never spoke once.

Miss Julia then locked the door and walked upstairs to Miss Florence's room. The invalid was standing beside the fireplace in her nightgown. Julia was in a terrible mood and Miss Florence received her coldly, Julia spoke to her sick sister roughly.

"Julia, will you leave the room?" Miss Florence said.

Julia's eyes gleamed with an expression of deadly hatred. She made a move toward her trembling sister. Miss Florence started toward her bed. Weak as a babe from long sickness, she tottered as she walked.

Behind her come her sister, bent on her terrible revenge. The younger lady reached the bedside in safety.

Florence had turned as she reached her bed to see if her sister was leaving her. Julia was beside her, the fatal pistol in her hand. Florence threw up her hands. There was a sharp report, and Miss Florence fell back upon the white sheets with a bullet in her brain.

Julia saw the blood stream from her sister's head and left the room. She locked the door behind her, and walking downstairs and out of the house she made her way to police headquarters. There was no undue haste; she was calm. The rest is known.

Miss Force will be tried on a writ of lunacy tomorrow. [End]

The articles posted so far were from the time Julia spent before the Grand Jury. She was indicted for murder and the trial was set for the summer.

Tomorrow, the verdict.

Part IV: There Goes the Murderess

Part V: Julia Force is Dead

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