27 April 2016

Memorable Funeral for W. R. Clemons

Another one for my crime article / obituary / funeral notice obsession:

28 July 1887 Columbus Daily Enquirer (Georgia, pg. 1)
A Panic at the Funeral.
ATLANTA, July 27. -- The funeral of the murdered negro preacher, W. R. Clemons, this afternoon was the largest in Atlanta in a long time. Scores of whites and thousands of negroes followed the hearse to the grave, the body being preceded by military and colored organizations. A serious panic occurred in the church during the funeral. The church was jammed from wall to wall and the yard outside was filled. It is estimated that the crowd reached over 5000. During the services a portion of the floor cracked, and some one cried out that the building was giving way. In a moment the wildest confusion ensued. The doors were soon glutted and women and children were picked up and thrown over the heads of those in front, while a number jumped from the windows. But for the activity of the policemen who were present to preserve order, many would have been seriously hurt and doubtless many killed. As it was, they managed to check the rush at the doors and secure a more quiet emptying of the church. Many sustained unimportant injuries, but miraculously no serious casualties occurred. Various rumors are afloat as to the murderers of the preacher, but as yet nothing tangible has been discovered.