30 December 2017

Dynamite Put Under Negro

I failed in finding any words to add.  The backstory is Mr. Jackson was accused of killing Lem Sanders, an employer of his, one summer night in 1915 Cochran, Bleckley County, Georgia.  After the alleged killing, Jackson secured himself in his home.  When Marshal W. Sumter Hogg and Oscar Lawson came to arrest Jackson, they were "shot down" (presumably by Jackson) and killed.

Columbus Ledger (Georgia)
Thursday, 15 July 1915 - pg. 1 [via GenealogyBank]

Dynamite Put Under Negro

Black Who Killed Three Whites is Blown Up and Shot to Pieces.

------ [Following printed as an update.]
TWO MORE LYNCHED
Cochran, Ga., July 15. – Two negroes, suspected in giving aid to Peter Jackson, alleged slayer of three white men near here Tuesday, were lynched last night near Hawkinsville.  A posse yesterday killed Jackson.
------

Cochran, Ga., July 15. – After three white men had been killed by James Jackson, a negro, in Bleckley and Pulaski counties, another negro [was ordered to] put dynamite under the house where Jackson had barricaded himself, touched off the charge and blew Jackson to that place where all bad negroes go.

…It is believed that the charge of dynamite killed the negro, but if it did not, the shots that were fired after the explosion put an end to his existence.

It's difficult to know for sure the names of the three individuals dynamited, shot, and lynched that July.  Two different forenames are even given in the article transcribed above.  Another article suggested they were James Jackson, his brother (also a Jackson), and Peter Lambo.  Peter's surname has also been recorded by other research organizations as Jambo and Fambrough.

From NY Public LibraryA simple search on Google will give you the statistics. The Tuskegee Institute kept track of lynchings in America from 1882 - 1968. There were 581 in Mississippi, 531 in Georgia, 493 in Texas, 391 in Louisiana, 347 in Alabama, and so on. Total from all states: 4,743. That's more than one lynching and victim a week.

I feel a little like I should try to explain why I would give the horrible acts – those committed by the criminal, as well as those committed on the criminal – voice on this blog. There are no (at least to my knowledge) statistics showing the accuracy of the lynchers. How many times was an innocent person hung, riddled with bullets, and mutilated in the name of "justice?" I mean, we probably agree there are innocent people sitting in jail right now – with supposed checks and balances in place. Imagine when there were none. Shouldn't those innocent people be remembered?

Now, make no mistake, sometimes the lynching party "punished" the right person. As in, sometimes the true perpetrator was indeed apprehended – and then disposed of, often in a barbaric fashion. Even if you take the literal "eye for an eye" death penalty approach, I would not be surprised if that would have been an applicable punishment in only an infinitesimal number of cases. People were lynched for stealing, people were lynched for "insubordination," people were lynched for literally being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And let us not be cowards and leave out the racism debacle that lingers to this day. So another reason for giving voice to these past atrocities is in the same vein of "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

As a family historian, I am saddened to think (1) these revolting deeds took place, and (2) while statistics are easy to find, the names and stories of the individual victims are much harder to locate. A list of lynching victims will unfortunately never be complete. I hope that in a small way, posts such as these will serve as a memorial to those who were victims of Judge Lynch and his frightful law.

29 December 2017

Lynching of Morris Daniels Wasn't a Complete Success

Justitia By ChvhLR10 (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or FAL], via Wikimedia CommonsFirst he was the "right" guy.  Then he wasn't.  Then he was again.  Lady Justice probably hung her head in shame.

Macon Telegraph (Georgia)
Saturday, 15 July 1911 - pg. 1 [via GenealogyBank]

LYNCHING WASN'T COMPLETE SUCCESS

Coroner and Sheriff Found Negro Crawling Along the Road.

MOULTRIE, Ga., July 14. – When the coroner and his official retinue went out near Hartsfield this morning to hold an inquest over the remains of Morris Daniels, a negro accused of assault in Randolph County, who was supposed to have been lynched by a Mitchell County mob last night, they found him crawling along the road mortally wounded.

Daniels is charged with an assault upon an aged white woman.  He was arrested by the sheriff, who was with the coroner this morning, and will be held pending identification by the victim, who is being brought here from Randolph County in an automobile.  Sheriff Boyd says he will swear in a sufficient number of deputies to protect the negro, though no trouble is anticipated.

The negro was left for dead by five men who came from Mitchell County yesterday and placed him under arrest, though not positive as to his identity.  They finally concluded he was not the man they were looking for and released him and he returned to his work.  Last night at 11 o'clock these same men returned to the mill quarters, took him in charge and left ostensibly for Sale City.

It is now claimed that after going along the road a short distance and after Daniels confessed to the commission of the crime, he made an effort to escape, saying he would die before he would go back to Randolph County.  The negro was shot in the back with a shotgun loaded with buckshot, eight of the bullets entering between the shoulders and hips.  After shooting they left him for dead.

…Daniels is still alive, though physicians say he can't live.  He is conscious and made a statement to Sheriff Boyd and others that the mob came to his shanty in the night, waked him up and told him they had decided he was the right party and to dress and go with them.  Before leaving the shanty, so the negro claims, he was brutally treated by the crowd.  He says that he did not confess to being the guilty party and never attempted to escape, but was shot without provocation.

Parties left in an automobile to bring the lady who was assaulted in Randolph County to Moultrie to see if she can identify him in the event he is living when they arrive.  In the event she does identify him as the guilty party there is likelihood that an effort will be made to lynch him.

…In the event she fails to identify him or declares he is not the guilty one, evidence sufficient is in the possession of the sheriff to justify prosecution and doubtless the grand jury will be called upon to act.

[Oh. Just so you know, the distance between Randolph County and Moultrie (Colquitt County) is more than 70 miles. Yeah. There's that.]

NAACP Headquarters, New York City. Via Library of Congress (loc.gov).What happened next.  Where did the "sufficient evidence" go?
Story goes from front page to back page in 24 hours.

Macon Telegraph (Georgia)
Sunday, 16 July 1911 - pg. 10 [via GenealogyBank]

"LYNCHED MAN" IS DEAD; INQUEST HELD

Morris Daniels, Who Was Shot and Left For Dead, Lived For Hours.

LITTLE EVIDENCE GIVEN

MOULTRIE, Ga., July 15. – Morris Daniels, who was shot and left for dead by a party of Mitchell County men in the western part of this county night before last, is dead from the gun shot wounded inflicted.  Coroner Dicks held an inquest immediately after the negro's death and the verdict of the jury was that he came to his death from gun shot wounds at the hands of unknown parties.

Mrs. Shellhouse, of Randolph County, the aged woman who was the victim of the assault of which the negro was accused, was unable to come to Moultrie for the purpose of identifying Daniels, but her son came and after seeing the negro said he thought he was the guilty one…

Along with young Shellhouse came Deputy Sheriff Peacock, of Randolph, and he said from the description he had of the assailant the dead man was the criminal sought.  Some persons claim that at the date that the alleged assault was committed Daniels was working in Colquitt County for M. D. Norman.  An effort was made by Sheriff Boyd to communicate with Norman by phone, but he was unable to reach him.

Unless the grand jury, which convenes the first week in October, is able to secure evidence upon which to base indictments against the parties causing Daniels' death, there will be no prosecutions as the evidence now in possession of the sheriff is not sufficiently definite to authorize a prosecution.


From NY Public LibraryA simple search on Google will give you the statistics. The Tuskegee Institute kept track of lynchings in America from 1882 - 1968. There were 581 in Mississippi, 531 in Georgia, 493 in Texas, 391 in Louisiana, 347 in Alabama, and so on. Total from all states: 4,743. That's more than one lynching and victim a week.

I feel a little like I should try to explain why I would give the horrible acts – those committed by the criminal, as well as those committed on the criminal – voice on this blog. There are no (at least to my knowledge) statistics showing the accuracy of the lynchers. How many times was an innocent person hung, riddled with bullets, and mutilated in the name of "justice?" I mean, we probably agree there are innocent people sitting in jail right now – with supposed checks and balances in place. Imagine when there were none. Shouldn't those innocent people be remembered?

Now, make no mistake, sometimes the lynching party "punished" the right person. As in, sometimes the true perpetrator was indeed apprehended – and then disposed of, often in a barbaric fashion. Even if you take the literal "eye for an eye" death penalty approach, I would not be surprised if that would have been an applicable punishment in only an infinitesimal number of cases. People were lynched for stealing, people were lynched for "insubordination," people were lynched for literally being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And let us not be cowards and leave out the racism debacle that lingers to this day. So another reason for giving voice to these past atrocities is in the same vein of "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

As a family historian, I am saddened to think (1) these revolting deeds took place, and (2) while statistics are easy to find, the names and stories of the individual victims are much harder to locate. A list of lynching victims will unfortunately never be complete. I hope that in a small way, posts such as these will serve as a memorial to those who were victims of Judge Lynch and his frightful law.

23 December 2017

Not a Semblance of Humanity Left at the Foot of the Tree

Rage is reckless, and rage is contagious.  A writer for the Bay City Daily Tribune (Michigan) in 1903 put a finer point on it this way:

[Rage runs] through a maddened mob like some rapid infectious disease.  Under such conditions men do not stop to weigh evidence, and rarely listen understandingly to any remonstrance made.

NAACP Headquarters, New York City. Via Library of Congress (loc.gov).This sentiment (and seemingly lack of control) has been on display in countless acts of mob violence – often dubbed to be lynchings – over the course of history of the United States.  Here I will spotlight the case of "Ed Claus."

Winston-Salem Journal (North Carolina)
Thursday, 16 July 1903 – pg. 5 [via GenealogyBank]

LYNCHED A GEORGIA NEGRO.

Literally Shot Him to Pieces in the Presence of His Victim.
Eastman, Ga., July 13. – Ed Claus, a negro, was lynched near here last night, victim, Miss Susie Johnson, looking on.

Last Thursday Claus criminally assaulted Miss Johnson as she was returning from a small school which she teaches.  The negro dragged the young woman into the woods and kept her prisoner for several hours.  After being released, she could not go home, because of her injuries, and was found in the woods next morning by a searching party.

A posse was organized and the negro was trailed from here almost to Savanna [sic] before he was overtaken.  The negro was brought here by his captors last night and taken to the home of Miss Johnson.  The young woman identified the negro, and when asked what she wanted done with him, said:

"He ought to be killed."

The negro was tied to a tree, and the members of the mob fired at him until he was literally cut to pieces.  There was not a semblance of humanity in the bloody mass left at the foot of the tree.

But, wait.  Oops.  The mob made a bloody mass of the wrong man.

LexingtonLeader1903-07-27

Lexington Leader (Kentucky)
Monday, 27 July 1903 – pg. 2 [via GenealogyBank]

LYNCHED WRONG MAN

REWARD OFFERED NOW FOR THE RIGHT MAN, BUT NO REWARD FOR THE LYNCHING PARTY.

SAVANNAH, GA., July 27. – Some days ago a Negro was shot to pieces by a mob in Dodge county for criminally assaulting Miss Susie Johnson, a young teacher.  It now transpires that the Negro who was so cruelly lynched had never seen Miss Johnson and was, therefore, innocent of the crime.  The members of the mob thought they were lynching Ed Claus, who really committed the assault on Miss Johnson, and it is said that the young woman identified the lynched Negro as her assailant.  The Negro told the mob that he was innocent and begged for time to get witnesses, to prove an alibi, but the mob was merciless and shot him to death.

…After the lynching an investigation was begun by officers, with the result that they have located Ed Claus, the real assailant, and a posse passed through here this afternoon to arrest him.

Governor Terrell has taken cognizance of the fact that the wrong Negro was lynched by offering a reward of $300 for the apprehension of Ed Claus.

In addition to the obvious atrocity committed by the mob, not knowing the identity of the "wrong man" gnaws at me.  What was his name? Where was he from? Who were his parents? What did he do for a living? Was he married? Did he have children? What made him smile?

From NY Public LibraryA simple search on Google will give you the statistics. The Tuskegee Institute kept track of lynchings in America from 1882 - 1968. There were 581 in Mississippi, 531 in Georgia, 493 in Texas, 391 in Louisiana, 347 in Alabama, and so on. Total from all states: 4,743. That's more than one lynching and victim a week.

I feel a little like I should try to explain why I would give the horrible acts – those committed by the criminal, as well as those committed on the criminal – voice on this blog. There are no (at least to my knowledge) statistics showing the accuracy of the lynchers. How many times was an innocent person hung, riddled with bullets, and mutilated in the name of "justice?" I mean, we probably agree there are innocent people sitting in jail right now – with supposed checks and balances in place. Imagine when there were none. Shouldn't those innocent people be remembered?

Now, make no mistake, sometimes the lynching party "punished" the right person. As in, sometimes the true perpetrator was indeed apprehended – and then disposed of, often in a barbaric fashion. Even if you take the literal "eye for an eye" death penalty approach, I would not be surprised if that would have been an applicable punishment in only an infinitesimal number of cases. People were lynched for stealing, people were lynched for "insubordination," people were lynched for literally being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And let us not be cowards and leave out the racism debacle that lingers to this day. So another reason for giving voice to these past atrocities is in the same vein of "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

As a family historian, I am saddened to think (1) these revolting deeds took place, and (2) while statistics are easy to find, the names and stories of the individual victims are much harder to locate. A list of lynching victims will unfortunately never be complete. I hope that in a small way, posts such as these will serve as a memorial to those who were victims of Judge Lynch and his frightful law.

22 December 2017

He Probably was Dead Before They Set Him on Fire

In The End of American Lynching, Ashraf H. A. Rushdy writes the following:

The most manifest expression of that mob-mindedness – the mass spectacle lynching…was coming to an end by the early to mid-1930s.  There continued to be gruesome lynchings from the early to the late 1930s…Nonetheless, there was a difference from the era of spectacle lynchings, as the mobs were indeed smaller and the press coverage more condemnatory.  Public opinion was changing, and lynchings were no longer as effective a form of terrorism and spectacle as they had been prior to the Depression.

NAACP Headquarters, New York City. Via Library of Congress (loc.gov).One of those gruesome lynchings occurred in 1938 Crisp County, Georgia, where John Dukes was dragged and burned to death.  Maybe that "changing public opinion" was the reason local residents and officials wanted to act like it was hardly a lynching.

Macon Telegraph (Georgia)
Monday, 11 July 1938 -- pg. 1 [via GenealogyBank]

'All Quiet' as Arabi Inters Lynch Figures

…Simultaneously, Arabi's Negro population held last rites for John Dukes, elderly Negro who shot Marshal [Freeman O.] Epps fatally yesterday in resisting arrest for drunkenness, and suffered lynching at the hands of an enraged mob a little before sundown.

…Sheriff's deputies from Cordele left in charge here overnight after the slaying of the town's only law officer reported "everything quiet" and "business as usual."

…"Marshall Epps and the old Negro were good friends," one pointed out.  "The town lays the whole thing to liquor, and nothing else."

Dukes shot Epps when the latter was summoned by other Negroes on word he was "drunk and raising a row," in the Negro section of town.  Epps returned the fire before falling and wounded Dukes twice.

Lynching Minimized
"It wasn't hardly a lynching, anyway," another resident observed.  "Dukes was unconscious and dying when the boys came to get him, and he probably was dead before they set him on fire."

The article continued by adding Dukes "was a good man and well liked by Arabi's white people," and concluded by noting no arrests were made, and the sheriff said he believed the incident "closed as far as I am concerned."

From NY Public LibraryA simple search on Google will give you the statistics. The Tuskegee Institute kept track of lynchings in America from 1882 - 1968. There were 581 in Mississippi, 531 in Georgia, 493 in Texas, 391 in Louisiana, 347 in Alabama, and so on. Total from all states: 4,743. That's more than one lynching and victim a week.

I feel a little like I should try to explain why I would give the horrible acts – those committed by the criminal, as well as those committed on the criminal – voice on this blog. There are no (at least to my knowledge) statistics showing the accuracy of the lynchers. How many times was an innocent person hung, riddled with bullets, and mutilated in the name of "justice?" I mean, we probably agree there are innocent people sitting in jail right now – with supposed checks and balances in place. Imagine when there were none. Shouldn't those innocent people be remembered?

Now, make no mistake, sometimes the lynching party "punished" the right person. As in, sometimes the true perpetrator was indeed apprehended – and then disposed of, often in a barbaric fashion. Even if you take the literal "eye for an eye" death penalty approach, I would not be surprised if that would have been an applicable punishment in only an infinitesimal number of cases. People were lynched for stealing, people were lynched for "insubordination," people were lynched for literally being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And let us not be cowards and leave out the racism debacle that lingers to this day. So another reason for giving voice to these past atrocities is in the same vein of "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

As a family historian, I am saddened to think (1) these revolting deeds took place, and (2) while statistics are easy to find, the names and stories of the individual victims are much harder to locate. A list of lynching victims will unfortunately never be complete. I hope that in a small way, posts such as these will serve as a memorial to those who were victims of Judge Lynch and his frightful law.

21 December 2017

Georgia Farmers Kill Negro Boys Who had Nothing to Do with the Murder

Silas Hardin Turner, a young and prominent white farmer, was killed 4 July 1915 in Jones County, Georgia when he attempted to collect a debt.  Since the alleged killer was African American, the white people of the county went on a rampage and filled three black bodies with bullets.  Two of the victims, Alonzo Green and his son, had absolutely no connection to the killing of Turner.

TampaTribune1915-07-06Tampa Tribune (Florida)
Tuesday, 6 July 1915 -- pg. 1 [via GenealogyBank]

GEORGIA FARMERS KILL NEGRO BOYS

SHERIFF SAYS VICTIMS OF MOB KNEW NOTHING OF WHITE MAN'S MURDER

500 MEN IN MOB

Cut Telephone Wires So Word of Lynchings Could Not Be Sent

GRAY, Ga., July 5 – Sheriff Etheridge and his deputies have been through Jones County today hunting for the negroes who are alleged to have figured in the murder of Silas Turner, a prominent farmer, which occurred on Sunday morning near Round Oak.  No other arrests have been made and the only persons held are the three in jail at Macon.

"I have seen two dead bodies of negroes myself," said the Sheriff tonight.  "They tell me that there are others who have been killed in the race troubles, but I have nothing official."

"The dead negroes are Alonzo Green and his son, the boy being sixteen years old, of Wayside.  They had nothing to do with the murder of Silas Turner."

Enraged Jones County citizens started out Sunday, it is said, to avenge the murder of Turner by rounding up every negro in Jones County…

Shot Father and Son
Two negroes are known to have been shot to death by the mob last night near Round Oak and Wayside, about thirty miles from here…Telephone wires leading to the villages were cut last night and news of the lynchings did not become known here until early this morning when sheriff's deputies arrived with three negroes who were being held in connection with the killing of Silas Turner, a young farmer, whose death precipitated the outbreak of race feeling…

NAACP Headquarters, New York City. Via Library of Congress (loc.gov).Another news article opted for a sympathetic tone regarding the lynching deaths of Alonzo Green and his son:

RACE TROUBLE FOLLOWS MURDER OF JONES FARMER

…The killing of old man Green and his son is pictured as most pitiful by those who learned the details.  Green and his son had asked some white persons, it is reported, if it would be safe for negroes to venture down the road from Wayside and were assured that they would be safe.  Hardly before going 200 yards the bodies of the two Greens are said to have been riddled with bullets.  It is said that the slaying was due to some members of the posse mistaking Green for the negro they sought.

Silas Turner, according to census and cemetery records, was a son of John D. Turner (1851-1930) and Mattie Hardin (1865-1946).  The three are buried at Hillsboro Baptist Church Cemetery in Jasper County.

The 1910 Jones County, Georgia Federal census shows Alonzo Green was born about 1880 in Georgia.  He and wife Cora were married about 1902, and Alonzo was supporting his family as an axe man in a saw mill.  By the Spring of 1910, Alonzo's household bore two children – James D. (b. abt 1901) and Annie M. (b. abt 1903).  Based on this information, it appears James D. Green was the son of Alonzo lynched without cause in July 1915.

From NY Public LibraryA simple search on Google will give you the statistics. The Tuskegee Institute kept track of lynchings in America from 1882 - 1968. There were 581 in Mississippi, 531 in Georgia, 493 in Texas, 391 in Louisiana, 347 in Alabama, and so on. Total from all states: 4,743. That's more than one lynching and victim a week.

I feel a little like I should try to explain why I would give the horrible acts – those committed by the criminal, as well as those committed on the criminal – voice on this blog. There are no (at least to my knowledge) statistics showing the accuracy of the lynchers. How many times was an innocent person hung, riddled with bullets, and mutilated in the name of "justice?" I mean, we probably agree there are innocent people sitting in jail right now – with supposed checks and balances in place. Imagine when there were none. Shouldn't those innocent people be remembered?

Now, make no mistake, sometimes the lynching party "punished" the right person. As in, sometimes the true perpetrator was indeed apprehended – and then disposed of, often in a barbaric fashion. Even if you take the literal "eye for an eye" death penalty approach, I would not be surprised if that would have been an applicable punishment in only an infinitesimal number of cases. People were lynched for stealing, people were lynched for "insubordination," people were lynched for literally being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And let us not be cowards and leave out the racism debacle that lingers to this day. So another reason for giving voice to these past atrocities is in the same vein of "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

As a family historian, I am saddened to think (1) these revolting deeds took place, and (2) while statistics are easy to find, the names and stories of the individual victims are much harder to locate. A list of lynching victims will unfortunately never be complete. I hope that in a small way, posts such as these will serve as a memorial to those who were victims of Judge Lynch and his frightful law.

17 December 2017

NAACP Gets Charges Brought, but Still No Justice for Joe Jordan & James Harvey

The story of the lynchings of Joe Jordan and James Harvey begins in the following manner, as told by Fitzhugh Brundage in Lynching in the New South:

During the summer of 1921, Harvey and Jordan had hiked throughout the Deep South before stopping to work for a few months in Wayne County in south Georgia.  The young men, one of whom was a war veteran, quickly became ensnared by the worst forms of coercive practices of southern agriculture and were unable to compel their white employer to pay them…[A]fter the men had demanded their wages, their employer's wife brought charges against them for attacking and raping her.

Three days later, while Jordan and Harvey sat in a Savannah jail – without defense counsel who cared one way or the other – the two were found guilty and sentenced to death.

NAACP Headquarters, New York City. Via Library of Congress (loc.gov).An uncle of James Harvey then contacted the NAACP for help.  The organization hired a white lawyer, James A. Harolds of Jesup, GA,  to represent Jordan and Harvey.  The lawyer succeeded in getting the case to the state supreme court, but the higher institution upheld the lower court's verdict.

The publicity of the case even prompted some prominent white women of Wayne County to get involved.  In May of 1922, about eight months after the original conviction, a local judge was petitioned to grant Jordan and Harvey a new trial based on newly discovered evidence.  The petition was denied, so the NAACP played the last card they had by petitioning the governor of Georgia, Thomas W. Hardwick, for executive clemency.  On the very date of their scheduled execution, Jordan and Harvey were granted a reprieve.

Savannah Tribune (Georgia)
Thursday, 13 July 1922 -- pg. 1 [via GenealogyBank]

N.A.A.C.P. PROTESTS LYNCHINGS

Governor Called Upon To Institute Action Against Sheriff

New York, July 7, – How two young colored boys, James Harvey and Joe Jordan, who were accused of attempted criminal assault while on a hiking tour through Georgia, were tried, convicted, and sentenced to death, and then lynched after Governor Thomas W. Hardwick had granted a respite of thirty days, was revealed here today when the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People made a public letter to Governor Hardwick.  The letter, signed by James Weldon Johnson, secretary, recites the facts given above, pointing that both of the youths came from respectable families, and that the Association had investigated their case, secured convincing proof of their innocence, employed counsel, which counsel had presented the facts to the governor which gave him sufficient ground to delay their execution set for June 30.  A mob, determined not to be cheated of their prey, had seized the boys and lynched them north of Lane's Bridge, Georgia, on July 1.

The association's letter calls upon the governor to institute action against Deputy Sheriff J. R. Tyre who allowed the prisoners to be taken from him as he was carrying them from Jesup to Savannah for safe-keeping, and against Tyre and his immediate superiors for furnishing so inadequate protection to the men in view of the feeling against them.  It also emphasizes the fact that evidences against the men must have been indeed slight if he as governor had seen fit to grant the requested respite.  This action was particularly urged in view of Governor Hardwick's recent public declaration that there would be no mob rule in Georgia while he was governor.

Governor Hardwick bowed to pressure, and charges of murder were brought against five individuals after a probe which lasted more than two months:  L. W. Rhoden, chief of police of Jesup; J. R. Tyre, deputy sheriff of Jesup and Brunswick; Bob L. Price, Wayne County; Dock Rhoden, Wayne County; and Carl Stuart, Telfair County.

MaconTelegraph1923-02-24

Five months later, all were acquitted – in spite of some pretty damning evidence.  But it was obvious no juror ever intended to truly weigh the facts and come to a thoughtful verdict.

Macon Telegraph (Georgia)
Saturday, 24 February 1923 -- pg. 1 [via GenealogyBank]

FIVE ARE ACQUITTED IN HINESVILLE LYNCHING CASE

JURORS ARE OUT FOR 10 MINUTES BEFORE VERDICT

…WOMAN FEATURE WITNESS

Negroes' Death Favored By Sheriff, Mrs. Magett Says

HINESVILLE, Ga., Feb. 22. – A verdict of not guilty was returned by a jury here late this afternoon in the cases of James R. Tyre, Carl Stewart, Bob Price, Dock Rhoden and Chief of Police L. W. Rhoden, of Jesup, charged with murder in connection with the lynching of two negroes, Joe Jordan and James Harvey, on June 30, of last year.

…[F]our defendants took the witness stand in their own defense, that being the only testimony offered by the defense.

The verdict was reached ten minutes after the jury retired, apparently being decided on the first ballot…

Four defendants made practically the same statement.  Deputy Sheriff Tyre, the first to testify, told of leaving Jesup with the two negroes, and starting on his trip to Savannah, via automobile.  At the fork of "some road," he said, they were stopped by an automobile, parked across the road, with the lights burning.

One Acts as Spokesman
"One made did all the talking," Sheriff Tyre said.  "We were told to hand over the two negroes, go on back to Jesup, and keep our mouths shut.

"We started back to Jesup after they took the negroes, and lost our way.  Then we ran out of gasoline.  I paid a negro to get us some gas and finally, we reached Hinesville.  I then called up Jesup and reported the affair."

…Sensational testimony by Mrs. Vera Magett, juvenile probation officer of Jesup, and Morrison Thomas, also of Jesup, in which Sheriff Tyre was directly involved, featured the hearing of state witnesses.

Claims Lynching Favored
"I have been a target for those two negroes long enough," Sheriff Tyre was quoted as saying, by Mrs. Magett.  "If the people want to lynch them," she continued, "let them come to the jail and get 'em."

Mrs. Magett further quoted the sheriff as praising the lynching if another respite was granted the two negroes by Governor Hardwick.

Morris Thomas told of his interview with Carl Stewart on the night of the lynching.  He said he met Stewart and Price at the railroad station and that he jokingly asked them where they were going.  They replied seriously, he said, that "We are going to a lynching," he quoted Stewart.  The witness stated that there were numerous rumors heard about Jesup that night predicting a lynching and fixing the time at 10 o'clock.

The witness was later recalled to tell of his interview with Sheriff Tyre at the postoffice [sic] on the day following the lynching.  Thomas said Tyre received a package, postmarked from Savannah, which he asked him (Thomas) to open.  This, the witness said, he did, and discovered that the package contained a revolver.  Sheriff Tyre then explained to him that the revolver was taken from him by the men which met them between Hinesville and Savannah, and lynched the two negroes…

The research of Mr. Brundage adds the following regarding the NAACP's involvement after the lynchings:

Unwilling to let the case drop, members of the Savannah branch of the NAACP traveled to the site of the lynching, saw to it that Jordan and Harvey were properly buried, and began gathering evidence against the lynchers.  The investigations left little doubt that the deputy sheriff and policemen who had been transporting the prisoners were complicitous in the event.  Numerous local witnesses claimed that the two officers had waited for hours at the site of the lynching until the mob arrived and "seized" Harvey and Jordan.

According to MonroeWorkToday, the lynchings of Joe Jordan and James Harvey are also referenced in A Festival of Violence: An Analysis of Southern Lynchings, 1882-1930.

From NY Public LibraryA simple search on Google will give you the statistics. The Tuskegee Institute kept track of lynchings in America from 1882 - 1968. There were 581 in Mississippi, 531 in Georgia, 493 in Texas, 391 in Louisiana, 347 in Alabama, and so on. Total from all states: 4,743. That's more than one lynching and victim a week.

I feel a little like I should try to explain why I would give the horrible acts – those committed by the criminal, as well as those committed on the criminal – voice on this blog. There are no (at least to my knowledge) statistics showing the accuracy of the lynchers. How many times was an innocent person hung, riddled with bullets, and mutilated in the name of "justice?" I mean, we probably agree there are innocent people sitting in jail right now – with supposed checks and balances in place. Imagine when there were none. Shouldn't those innocent people be remembered?

Now, make no mistake, sometimes the lynching party "punished" the right person. As in, sometimes the true perpetrator was indeed apprehended – and then disposed of, often in a barbaric fashion. Even if you take the literal "eye for an eye" death penalty approach, I would not be surprised if that would have been an applicable punishment in only an infinitesimal number of cases. People were lynched for stealing, people were lynched for "insubordination," people were lynched for literally being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And let us not be cowards and leave out the racism debacle that lingers to this day. So another reason for giving voice to these past atrocities is in the same vein of "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

As a family historian, I am saddened to think (1) these revolting deeds took place, and (2) while statistics are easy to find, the names and stories of the individual victims are much harder to locate. A list of lynching victims will unfortunately never be complete. I hope that in a small way, posts such as these will serve as a memorial to those who were victims of Judge Lynch and his frightful law.

11 December 2017

3 Dead: William Carreker, William Leonard, & a Preacher with No Name

In the summer of 1900, William Carreker was residing in Centerville, Talbot County, Georgia.  He had married wife Lela just five years earlier, and the couple was raising their two sons – Andrew and James – on a farm northeast of the county seat of Talbotton.  They seem to have been doing well at farming, at least well enough to employ a laborer.

Nine years later, almost to the day, William Carreker was still farming in Talbot County.  He was characterized by Fitzhugh Brundage in Lynching in the New South as "one of the few black landowners in the area." On a Saturday night in June of 1909, William had a guest.  A blind, possibly elderly and/or affluent, traveling negro preacher – whose name I do not know – was stopped over at the Carreker place.

And the white folk of the area did not like it.  This traveling preacher, described as meddlesome and mischievous by a local newspaper, was supposedly "a disorganizer…stirring up strife" between the white planters and their "negro farm hands." He was telling the laborers they were essentially still enslaved; would never be truly free unless they stopped working for the white man.

So a posse of local citizens, led by William Marshall Leonard, went to the Carreker farm that fateful Saturday night to discourage the preacher from sowing discourse between the races.  I'm sure words were exchanged, and things certainly got heated.  By the time the night was over, the preacher was missing, Leonard was dead, and Carreker was in hiding.

Columbus Daily Enquirer (Georgia)
Tuesday, 22 June 1909 -- pg. 1 [via GenealogyBank]

TALBOT CITIZEN WAS MURDERED

William Marshall Leonard Shot to Death at a Negro House.

DOUBLE-BARREL SHOT GUN WEAPON USED

Supposed Murderer Has Fled, But Posses Are Looking for Him.  Crowd of Citizens Went to Negro's House Looking for a Meddlesome Preacher.

Talbotton, Ga., June 21. – (Special.) – The town of Talbotton and the whole county of Talbot are deeply stirred over the assassination of William Marshall Leonard, a prominent young farmer of this county.

Mr. Leonard was found yesterday morning at 10 o'clock at the home of a negro named William Careker, twelve miles from Talbotton.  He with others went to Careker's house Saturday night to stop a disturbance raised by a negro preacher, and it seems that Mr. Leonard became separated from his companions there and was not missed until afterward.  His companions took off the negro preacher, it is understood, and it was then that the tragedy occurred, someone, presumably Careker, shooting Mr. Leonard with a double-barrel shot gun.  The load of shot entered his head and it is supposed caused instant death.

…Both Careker and the negro preacher, who was the cause of all the trouble, have disappeared.  Parties are now scouring the country for them, the search being directed especially towards Careker, but up to last reports neither one had been located.

It seems the negro preacher was a disorganizer and did very mischievous work among the negro farm hands, stirring up strife between the farmers and their employes [sic].  A posse of citizens went to Careker's house with the supposed purpose of dealing with him in such vigorous manner that he would not meddle in such matters in the future, although it is not supposed that any unnecessarily harsh measures were contemplated – just a line of argument that would impress the negro with the necessity of ceasing such harmful and foolish tactics.

Mr. Leonard, who met death in such a tragic manner, was a son of Mr. John Leonard and one of the most prominent young men in the county.  He married Miss Annie Holmes…

Mr. Leonard's funeral took place this morning, and he was buried at Hollingsworth [sic] church.

The day after Leonard was buried, Carreker was lynched.  Supposedly after he had turned himself in to authorities and was placed in jail.

PlainDealer1909-06-24Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio)
Thursday, 24 June 1909 -- pg. 1 [via GenealogyBank]

Mob Hangs Murderer.
ATLANTA, Ga., June 23. – William Carroker, a negro, charged with the murder of William Leonard, a young white man, was taken from the Talbotton jail last night by a mob that met with no resistance and strung up to a tree until dead.

Mr. Brundage's analysis of the reason for this lynching, in addition to the fact a white planter was dead, seems quite simple:  "Planters who participated in terrorist violence believed that they were restoring and preserving their own economic domination."

About that Preacher

His body was found the day after Carreker was hung for the supposed murder of Leonard.  I don't believe for a minute he lived past that Saturday night, though the newspapers implied otherwise.

TampaTribune1909-06-25Augusta Chronicle (Georgia)
Friday, 25 June 1909 -- pg. 1 [via GenealogyBank]

NEGRO PREACHER FOUND IN CREEK

An Unknown Traveler Made Speeches to Negroes at Talbotton Which Angered Whites – Posse Had Whipped Him.

Talbotton, Ga., June 24. – After being taken from his house Saturday by a posse the body of a blind travelling negro preacher was found near here yesterday in a creek.  The preacher, whose name has not been learned, had made speeches which angered the whites in his neighborhood, and public indignation against him was further inflamed by the fact that he stopped at the home of the negro William Carroker, who was lynched Tuesday night, for having killed Wm. Leonard, a white man, Saturday, while a posse of whites was searching for the preacher for the intention of warning him away from the community.  The preacher is said to have influenced negroes not to work for whites.

The posse is said to have whipped the preacher, but it is claimed that they did no violence to him and that his death was accidental, due to falling from a bridge.

A couple of notes:  William Marshall Leonard was buried at Collinsworth Cemetery (versus Hollingsworth as reported in a newspaper article transcribed above) in Talbot County, Georgia.  Click for FindAGrave memorial.  Also, other sources suggest the name of the preacher might have been Joseph Hardy, who is often listed as being lynched in Talbot County about the same time as Carreker for "wild talk."

From NY Public LibraryA simple search on Google will give you the statistics. The Tuskegee Institute kept track of lynchings in America from 1882 - 1968. There were 581 in Mississippi, 531 in Georgia, 493 in Texas, 391 in Louisiana, 347 in Alabama, and so on. Total from all states: 4,743. That's more than one lynching and victim a week.

I feel a little like I should try to explain why I would give the horrible acts – those committed by the criminal, as well as those committed on the criminal – voice on this blog. There are no (at least to my knowledge) statistics showing the accuracy of the lynchers. How many times was an innocent person hung, riddled with bullets, and mutilated in the name of "justice?" I mean, we probably agree there are innocent people sitting in jail right now – with supposed checks and balances in place. Imagine when there were none. Shouldn't those innocent people be remembered?

Now, make no mistake, sometimes the lynching party "punished" the right person. As in, sometimes the true perpetrator was indeed apprehended – and then disposed of, often in a barbaric fashion. Even if you take the literal "eye for an eye" death penalty approach, I would not be surprised if that would have been an applicable punishment in only an infinitesimal number of cases. People were lynched for stealing, people were lynched for "insubordination," people were lynched for literally being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And let us not be cowards and leave out the racism debacle that lingers to this day. So another reason for giving voice to these past atrocities is in the same vein of "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

As a family historian, I am saddened to think (1) these revolting deeds took place, and (2) while statistics are easy to find, the names and stories of the individual victims are much harder to locate. A list of lynching victims will unfortunately never be complete. I hope that in a small way, posts such as these will serve as a memorial to those who were victims of Judge Lynch and his frightful law.

09 December 2017

Church Burned, and Jonah Wood Strung Up to a Tree

Columbus_Daily_Enquirer1904-06-16Columbus Daily Enquirer (Georgia)
Thursday, 16 June 1904 -- pg. 1 [via GenealogyBank]

NEGROES LYNCH A NEGRO DEACON

HEARD COUNTY NEGRO LYNCHED BECAUSE HE HAD THREATENED TO REPORT CRAP SHOOTERS TO THE GRAND JURY.

La Grange, Ga., June 15. – News has just reached here that a negro by the name of Jonah Woods, who lived in the country near Texas Court grounds in Heard county, 25 miles from La Grange, was lynched by other negroes.  Woods was a deacon in his church and a pious old negro.  It is said he discovered a number of negroes playing "craps" and threatened to report them to the grand jury.  Afterwards the church was burned down and two days later while plowing in the fields he was seized and strung up to a tree.

According to the 1900 Texas, Heard County, Georgia Federal census, Jonah Wood was born in Georgia about 1851.  He married Milley about 1870, and they had at least two children.  Jonah, a farmer, was next door to John R. Wood, who I believe was Jonah's and Milley's son.  John, born about 1872 in Georgia, was also a farmer.  About 1890, he married Ellen.  The couple had at least three children:  Idila, Jonah, and William.

From NY Public LibraryA simple search on Google will give you the statistics. The Tuskegee Institute kept track of lynchings in America from 1882 - 1968. There were 581 in Mississippi, 531 in Georgia, 493 in Texas, 391 in Louisiana, 347 in Alabama, and so on. Total from all states: 4,743. That's more than one lynching and victim a week.

I feel a little like I should try to explain why I would give the horrible acts – those committed by the criminal, as well as those committed on the criminal – voice on this blog. There are no (at least to my knowledge) statistics showing the accuracy of the lynchers. How many times was an innocent person hung, riddled with bullets, and mutilated in the name of "justice?" I mean, we probably agree there are innocent people sitting in jail right now – with supposed checks and balances in place. Imagine when there were none. Shouldn't those innocent people be remembered?

Now, make no mistake, sometimes the lynching party "punished" the right person. As in, sometimes the true perpetrator was indeed apprehended – and then disposed of, often in a barbaric fashion. Even if you take the literal "eye for an eye" death penalty approach, I would not be surprised if that would have been an applicable punishment in only an infinitesimal number of cases. People were lynched for stealing, people were lynched for "insubordination," people were lynched for literally being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And let us not be cowards and leave out the racism debacle that lingers to this day. So another reason for giving voice to these past atrocities is in the same vein of "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

As a family historian, I am saddened to think (1) these revolting deeds took place, and (2) while statistics are easy to find, the names and stories of the individual victims are much harder to locate. A list of lynching victims will unfortunately never be complete. I hope that in a small way, posts such as these will serve as a memorial to those who were victims of Judge Lynch and his frightful law.

07 December 2017

Double Lynching: Mob Does Bloody Work in 1896 Columbus, Georgia

According to MonroeWorkToday, the double lynching of Jesse Slayton and Will Miles is referenced in A Festival of Violence: An Analysis of Southern Lynchings, 1882-1930 and Fitzhugh Brundage's Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia, 1880-1930.

NAACP Headquarters, New York City. Via Library of Congress (loc.gov).Savannah Tribune (Georgia)
Saturday, 6 June 1896 -- pg. 4 [via GenealogyBank]

A DOUBLE LYNCHING.

A Mob at Columbus, Ga., Does Bloody Work.
At 10:45 o'clock, Monday morning, a scene unparalleled in the history of Georgia was enacted in the city of Columbus.  At that hour a mob of fully 600 armed men broke into the Webster building during the trial of Jesse Slayton, charged with assaulting Mrs. Howard Bryan last week and took the prisoner from the officers.  Slayton was carried to the building at an early hour by a strong guard of men and the trial had already begun behind locked doors and a heavy armed guard of men to protect the prisoner from any demonstration of violence.

The mob rushed down upon the building, forced the doors and with resistless rush swept back the spectators and guards and seized and carried the negro out on the street.  Resistance was utterly useless.

A rope was placed around Slayton's neck and he was dragged up Broad street, the crowd shooting him as they went.  Near the bell tower they swung the negro up and perforated him with bullets.

After this the mob, as coolly and deliberately as in the first instance, went immediately to the court house and, overpowering the jailer, took Will Miles, a negro charged with assaulting Mrs. Albright, two years ago, and marched him slowly to where Slayton's lifeless body was hanging from a tree.  The trembling negro was made to look upon the fate of his brother victim, and then a rope was placed about his neck and he was slowly suspended in the air and his body perforated with shot.

Right in the heart of the city for three and a half hours, riddled with bullets the two bodies swung from one of Broad street's shade trees.  It was a gory spectacle – below the two swinging, horrible bodies, filled with leaden missives of death, was an excited crowd shouting in wild exultation.

Slayton's gory body was placarded as follows:  "All cases of this kind shall be treated likewise."

Miles' body was adorned with the following legend:  "Both cousins.  This one convicted twice; mistrial once.  Father hung for same offense."

Coroner Martin finally cut them down and held an inquest.  The verdict rendered by both juries was to the effect that both persons came to their death at the hands of parties unknown.

The military was in readiness to protect Slayton but was not out because it was agreed Sunday, after a conference with civil authorities, that their presence would not be needed, no lynching being anticipated, as the negro had been unmolested so far as his trial was to take place immediately.

Vengeance of Law Visited on Culprits in Broad Daylight

Another article, published four days earlier in the Macon Telegraph, shares more harrowing detail:

…The terrified negro [Jesse Slayton], when he saw the crowd rushing in, crawled behind the judge's stand, but was dragged out and a noose put around his neck.  Winchesters and pistols flourished in the air, but no shots were fired in the court room.

…The bodies [of Slayton and Will Miles] presented a gory spectacle and were an awful warning that the lives and honor of women will be protected and all outrages avenged at all cost.  Two brutal crimes had been avenged.

From NY Public LibraryA simple search on Google will give you the statistics. The Tuskegee Institute kept track of lynchings in America from 1882 - 1968. There were 581 in Mississippi, 531 in Georgia, 493 in Texas, 391 in Louisiana, 347 in Alabama, and so on. Total from all states: 4,743. That's more than one lynching and victim a week.

I feel a little like I should try to explain why I would give the horrible acts – those committed by the criminal, as well as those committed on the criminal – voice on this blog. There are no (at least to my knowledge) statistics showing the accuracy of the lynchers. How many times was an innocent person hung, riddled with bullets, and mutilated in the name of "justice?" I mean, we probably agree there are innocent people sitting in jail right now – with supposed checks and balances in place. Imagine when there were none. Shouldn't those innocent people be remembered?

Now, make no mistake, sometimes the lynching party "punished" the right person. As in, sometimes the true perpetrator was indeed apprehended – and then disposed of, often in a barbaric fashion. Even if you take the literal "eye for an eye" death penalty approach, I would not be surprised if that would have been an applicable punishment in only an infinitesimal number of cases. People were lynched for stealing, people were lynched for "insubordination," people were lynched for literally being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And let us not be cowards and leave out the racism debacle that lingers to this day. So another reason for giving voice to these past atrocities is in the same vein of "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

As a family historian, I am saddened to think (1) these revolting deeds took place, and (2) while statistics are easy to find, the names and stories of the individual victims are much harder to locate. A list of lynching victims will unfortunately never be complete. I hope that in a small way, posts such as these will serve as a memorial to those who were victims of Judge Lynch and his frightful law.

03 December 2017

Regulators Lynched Albert Aiken in 1909 Lincoln County, Georgia

Just like groups in the Wild, Wild West, the self-described regulators across the South considered themselves to be good town folk simply seeking justice for victims of criminal acts.  This vigilantism, however, was discriminatory.  It was almost always African Americans who paid the debt to society with their lives.

In Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia, 1880-1930, author Fitzhugh Brundage writes, "Mob members did not suffer wrenching guilt; rather, they rejoiced that they had punished a deserving victim." (Emphasis mine.)

NAACP Headquarters, New York City. Via Library of Congress (loc.gov).Augusta Chronicle (Georgia)
Tuesday, 25 May 1909 -- pg. 1 [via GenealogyBank]

SPIRES' ASSAILANT LYNCHED BY MOB

100 Lincoln County Farmers Took Negro From Jail.

STRUNG UP; BODY RIDDLED

Recent Activities of Negro Secret Societies Stirred Up Whites – Climax Came With Attack on Respectable Farmer – Mob Left Warning.

Special to The Chronicle.
Lincolnton, Ga., May 24 – The usual quiet village of Lincolnton was awakened at midnight last from peaceful slumber by the noise of a mob of about one hundred enraged citizens as they stormed the county jail and brought forth Albert Aiken, the negro farm hand who so viciously cut Jno Spires a highly respected white farmer last Thursday morning.  It is learned here that the body of the negro was found swinging to a limb of a tree at Dry Fork Creek, three miles from this place, this morning and that the body was filled with bullet holes.

Upon the body was a placard which read:  "Notice this is what will happen to all negroes in Lincoln county under similar circumstances," (Signed) "Regulators."

The place where the negro is said to have been lynched is near the place where he committed the crime and it is supposed that the mob who took him there had it in view to let the many negroes in that neighborhood see that it was time that they quieted down and stopped their efforts to ride over the farmers of this section.

The crime for which Aiken was lynched was committed last Thursday morning and has been the subject of conversation in the county ever since, but it was thought that there would be nothing done to him as the days passed and the farmers apparently were willing to let the law take its course, but yesterday the news went out that Mr. Spires, the injured man, was not likely to live many days and it rekindled the fire in the breasts of the white men of the county and the work of the mob last night is the climax of their deliberation over the matter.

This morning it is reported that Mr. Spires is very feeble and there is but little if any chance of his living.

He was…cut to a depth of three inches in [the] right side, the knife severing two ribs, lacerating the lung and injuring the stomach walls.

This is the first time in the history of Lincoln county that the jail has been stormed and the second time a lynching has occurred.  There is but little trouble between the two races.  Recently, however, inklings of negro secret societies being formed have reached the ears of the white citizens and they are of the belief that Aiken was a member of one of them, from remarks that he let fall while in jail.  They seem determined to break up these clandestine meetings and the work of last night is said to be but a beginning of what will follow if the negroes show any more meanness.

From NY Public LibraryA simple search on Google will give you the statistics. The Tuskegee Institute kept track of lynchings in America from 1882 - 1968. There were 581 in Mississippi, 531 in Georgia, 493 in Texas, 391 in Louisiana, 347 in Alabama, and so on. Total from all states: 4,743. That's more than one lynching and victim a week.

I feel a little like I should try to explain why I would give the horrible acts – those committed by the criminal, as well as those committed on the criminal – voice on this blog. There are no (at least to my knowledge) statistics showing the accuracy of the lynchers. How many times was an innocent person hung, riddled with bullets, and mutilated in the name of "justice?" I mean, we probably agree there are innocent people sitting in jail right now – with supposed checks and balances in place. Imagine when there were none. Shouldn't those innocent people be remembered?

Now, make no mistake, sometimes the lynching party "punished" the right person. As in, sometimes the true perpetrator was indeed apprehended – and then disposed of, often in a barbaric fashion. Even if you take the literal "eye for an eye" death penalty approach, I would not be surprised if that would have been an applicable punishment in only an infinitesimal number of cases. People were lynched for stealing, people were lynched for "insubordination," people were lynched for literally being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And let us not be cowards and leave out the racism debacle that lingers to this day. So another reason for giving voice to these past atrocities is in the same vein of "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

As a family historian, I am saddened to think (1) these revolting deeds took place, and (2) while statistics are easy to find, the names and stories of the individual victims are much harder to locate. A list of lynching victims will unfortunately never be complete. I hope that in a small way, posts such as these will serve as a memorial to those who were victims of Judge Lynch and his frightful law.

01 December 2017

4 Members of the Padgett Family Go Down in a Hail of Bullets

A mother and father.  A son and a daughter.

DailyHerald1907-05-23Daily Herald (Biloxi, Mississippi)
Thursday, 23 May 1907 -- pg. 4 [via GenealogyBank]

RACE RIOT CAUSES THE DEATH OF FIVE

Reidsville, Ga., Is Scene of a Bloody Tragedy.

WAS OUTCOME OF AN ASSAULT

Besides the Five Perons [sic] Killed, Six Others Were Wounded – Great Indignation Is Felt in the Neighborhood – Trouble Feared.

Reidsville, Ga., May 22. – Two negroes lynched and three other persons dead, and six others injured is the net result of a criminal assault made Tuesday night on Mrs. Laura Moore, a widow, about 6 miles from here, by a negro.

From the best information it was learned that about 15 citizens surrounded the house of Sim Padgett, a negro whom they suspected of harboring another negro, Mack Strickland, who had assaulted a Mrs. Laura Moore, a respectable widow lady living in the neighborhood and demanded of Padgett's wife to search the house.  Permission was given, but when the possed [sic] advanced to within 30 feet of the house, Padgett and the other negro men on the inside of the building opened fire on the posse, instantly killing John Hare and seriously wounding Barton Preston, also shooting James Daniels' eye out and wounding him in the shoulder and arm.  Dr. J. L. Kennedy, county commissioner, also received a wound.

The fire was returned by the members of the posse, killing Sim Padgett and one of his girls, about 10 years old, and wounding two other girls, about 6 and 13 years of age, also shooting one of Padgett's boys, aged 20, through the lungs, and one, aged 22, through the hip.

The news spread like wildfire, and by 10 o'clock there were 500 men on the scene with rifles, shotguns and pistols.

A searching party started in pursuit of the two negroes who escaped from the house after the shooting, and one of them was captured and taken before Mrs. Moore, but she failed to identify him as her assailant.

Padgett's wife and son, who were severely wounded, were taken to Reidsville jail.  On the way the officers were overtaken by about 75 men, and the prisoners were demanded.  There was no other alternative and the prisoners were taken by the mob.  The woman was told to run and as she did so, was riddled by bullets.  Her son was wounded so he could not run and was shot to pieces in the public road.

For the taking of the 1900 U.S. Federal census, Sim Padgett and family were residing in the Hog Wallow district of Tattnall County, Georgia (Reidsville being the county seat).  It appears Sim had moved his family from South Carolina just 5 – 7 years prior:

Padgett, Sim P. (head) b. Jul 1865, SC – m. 14 yrs – farmer
Padgett, Sula (wife) b. 1867, SC – m. 14 yrs
Padgett, Wilford (son) b. Jun 1887, SC
Padgett, Arthur (son) b. Apr 1889, SC
Padgett, Sim (son) b. Jul 1891, SC
Padgett, Sula/Suda (dau) b. Jul 1891, SC
Padgett, Dosia (dau) b. Sep 1893, SC
Padgett, Ben (son) b. Sep 1895, GA
Padgett, Mary A. (dau) b. May 1898, GA
Padgett, Dell (dau) b. Dec 1898, GA

Without further research, it's difficult to know for sure which of the children lost their lives that fateful day.  Some sources suggest the son and daughter killed in the mob violence were Wilford and Dosia Padgett.  Gene Nash, in the book All of God's Children, provides in a brief summary:  "He [Sim Padgett] was attacked and his entire family was killed except for one young man who barely escaped."

The recounting I would suggest to you for further reading is part of Dayna D. Daniely's 2014 dissertation, Jean Toomer's "Portrait in Georgia": The Lynching of African-American Females in Georgia from 1871-1946.  (The applicable text begins on page 74.) Here, it's reported that Ben and Mary were the child victims caught in the crossfire.  Furthermore, Arthur Padgett was eventually the one to be tried for the original crime of assault on the widow Laura Moore.  He was found not guilty.

What. A. Mess.

As an aside:  if you, like me, were unaware of Jean Toomer's poem, here it is:

Portrait in Georgia

Hair--braided chestnut,
   coiled like a lyncher’s rope,
Eyes--fagots,
Lips--old scars, or the first red blisters,
Breath--the last sweet scent of cane,
And her slim body, white as the ash
   of black flesh after flame.

From NY Public LibraryA simple search on Google will give you the statistics. The Tuskegee Institute kept track of lynchings in America from 1882 - 1968. There were 581 in Mississippi, 531 in Georgia, 493 in Texas, 391 in Louisiana, 347 in Alabama, and so on. Total from all states: 4,743. That's more than one lynching and victim a week.

I feel a little like I should try to explain why I would give the horrible acts – those committed by the criminal, as well as those committed on the criminal – voice on this blog. There are no (at least to my knowledge) statistics showing the accuracy of the lynchers. How many times was an innocent person hung, riddled with bullets, and mutilated in the name of "justice?" I mean, we probably agree there are innocent people sitting in jail right now – with supposed checks and balances in place. Imagine when there were none. Shouldn't those innocent people be remembered?

Now, make no mistake, sometimes the lynching party "punished" the right person. As in, sometimes the true perpetrator was indeed apprehended – and then disposed of, often in a barbaric fashion. Even if you take the literal "eye for an eye" death penalty approach, I would not be surprised if that would have been an applicable punishment in only an infinitesimal number of cases. People were lynched for stealing, people were lynched for "insubordination," people were lynched for literally being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And let us not be cowards and leave out the racism debacle that lingers to this day. So another reason for giving voice to these past atrocities is in the same vein of "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

As a family historian, I am saddened to think (1) these revolting deeds took place, and (2) while statistics are easy to find, the names and stories of the individual victims are much harder to locate. A list of lynching victims will unfortunately never be complete. I hope that in a small way, posts such as these will serve as a memorial to those who were victims of Judge Lynch and his frightful law.

30 November 2017

The Plight and Legacy of Mary Turner (1897-1918)

Mary Turner, in 1918, was lynched because she had the audacity to speak out about her husband being lynched.

AugustaChronicle1918-05-20Augusta Chronicle (Georgia)
Monday, 20 May 1918 -- pg. 1 [via GenealogyBank]

WOMAN LYNCHED NEAR VALDOSTA

Negro Woman Hanged and Body Riddled With Bullets Because She Made "Unwise" Remarks About Lynching of Husband.

Valdosta, Ga., May 19. – Mary Turner, wife of Hayes Turner, was hanged this afternoon at Folsome's Bridge over Little River about sixteen miles north of Valdosta.  Hayes Turner was hanged at the Okapilco river in Brooks county last night.  His wife, it is claimed, made unwise remarks today about the execution of her husband and the people in their indignant mood took exceptions to her remarks as well as her attitude and without waiting for nightfall took her to the river where she was hanged and her body riddled with bullets.

This makes five persons lynched in this section as a result of the Smith tragedy at Barney…

On Thursday night two negroes stole a shot gun from Hampton Smith at Barney and shot and killed Smith in his home.  Mrs. Smith fled from the house and was attacked.  She awoke the following morning in a creek and went to a negro cabin for aid.  Those who investigated her story found Smith's body and the negroes, farm hands, had disappeared.

Since then the farming section of that part of the state has been greatly aroused.

Another article from the same newspaper, published the next day, stated the following:

It was definitely established today that only four negroes have been lynched in connection with the crime and a coroner's jury returned a verdict that "they came to their deaths at the hands of parties unknown." Those who have paid the penalty were Will Head, Eugene Rice, Hayes Turner and his wife, Mattie Turner.

While there are no words I could say – or type – that would even begin to make sense of the lynching of a single human being, the lynching of a woman because of her unwise remarks and attitude leaves me especially bereft of speech.  This was not the case for Joseph B. Cumming in 1918, however.  He wrote a letter to the editor of the Augusta Chronicle explaining his thoughts on the matter:

LETTERS FROM PEOPLE

LYNCHING A NEGRO WOMAN FOR "UNWISE REMARK."

Editor Chronicle:
A new capital offense in Georgia – and one so heinous that it cannot wait on the regular and orderly processes of law, but must be punished by those noble protectors of society – lynchers! The designation of this crime, calling for such swift punishment, is "Unwise Remarks." This important evolution of our criminal code and its righteous treatment are thus spoken of in the following Associated Press dispatch:  Negro Woman Hanged and Body Riddled With Bullets Because She Made "Unwise" Remarks About Lynching of Husband.

…Of all the horrible occurrences that have disgraced the state of Georgia this is the most horrible.

Look at this picture:  A poor, abject negro woman is informed of the lynching of her husband – let it be granted, himself a murderer.  She cannot keep silence [sic].  She cannot express her agony in terms of Christian forgiveness.  She cannot even use the high-sounding phrases of the fine old pagan philosophers.  She blurts out an "unwise remark." Away with her to the nearest limb! Break her neck and then manifest the calm, righteous and judicial judgement of her executioners by "riddling her body with bullets." Were these human beings or fiends hot from hell? Was she a human being? If not, let us stop calling on her race for men to fight, as we are sure they will well do, for our country and for us.  Where are the grand juries? Where are the petit juries? Where are the sheriffs? Where is public opinion? Is it dead? Or is it cowed by a handful of the most detestable murderers and cowards? God in heaven have mercy on us! Let the governor – if he will do no more – proclaim a day of deepest humiliation and most earnest prayer, in which we may plead humbly and agonizingly with the All-Father, who, dreadful thought, has said:  "Vengeance is mine," not to visit his righteous vengeance on us in the slaughter on the sea and across the sea of our dear boys, who, with negro comrades in arms, have gone to fight for the betterment of the world. – JOSEPH B. CUMMING.

It's important to note the article transcribed at the beginning of this post is not entirely accurate, or at least does not tell the whole story.  In regards specifically to Mary Turner, the article did not mention she was eight months pregnant.  The Mary Turner Project, citing four scholarly and historical sources, provides a more detailed account:

To punish her, at Folsom's Bridge the mob tied Mary Turner by her ankles, hung her upside down from a tree, poured gasoline on her and burned off her clothes. One member of the mob then cut her stomach open and her unborn child dropped to the ground where it was reportedly stomped on and crushed by a member of the mob. Her body was then riddled with gunfire from the mob. Later that night she and her baby were buried ten feet away from where they were murdered. The makeshift grave was marked with only a "whiskey bottle" with a "cigar" stuffed in its neck.

The article at top also stated "only four negroes have been lynched in connection with the crime" of killing plantation owner Hampton Smith.  Other victims of lynch law that should have been known at the time were Will Thompson and Julius Jones.  But there would be more victims to come, including Chime Riley, Simon Schuman, and Sidney Johnson.

According to a Georgia historical marker placed near the site of Mary's lynching, there were at least two additional victims.  In fact, the entire ordeal was dubbed "the Lynching Rampage of 1918." Text from the marker:

Mary Turner and the Lynching Rampage of 1918

Near this site on May 19, 1918, twenty-one year old Mary Turner, eight months pregnant, was burned, mutilated, and shot to death by a local mob after publicly denouncing her husband’s lynching the previous day. In the days immediately following the murder of a white planter by a black employee on May 16, 1918, at least eleven local African Americans including the Turners died at the hands of a lynch mob in one of the deadliest waves of vigilantism in Georgia’s history. No charges were ever brought against known or suspected participants in these crimes. From 1880-1930, as many as 550 people were killed in Georgia in these illegal acts of mob violence.

According to MonroeWorkToday, the lynching of Mary Turner is referenced in A Festival of Violence: An Analysis of Southern Lynchings, 1882-1930 and Fitzhugh Brundage's Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia, 1880-1930.  Mr. Brundage noted the lynching rampage of 1918 was "perhaps the most extraordinary example of wanton slaughter."

Part of the legacy of Mary Turner was briefly mentioned above – The Mary Turner Project (MTP) is a diverse, grassroots volunteer collective of students, educators, and local community members who are committed to racial justice and racial healing.  Learn more about the plight of Mary Turner and her legacy at MaryTurner.org.

From NY Public LibraryA simple search on Google will give you the statistics. The Tuskegee Institute kept track of lynchings in America from 1882 - 1968. There were 581 in Mississippi, 531 in Georgia, 493 in Texas, 391 in Louisiana, 347 in Alabama, and so on. Total from all states: 4,743. That's more than one lynching and victim a week.

I feel a little like I should try to explain why I would give the horrible acts – those committed by the criminal, as well as those committed on the criminal – voice on this blog. There are no (at least to my knowledge) statistics showing the accuracy of the lynchers. How many times was an innocent person hung, riddled with bullets, and mutilated in the name of "justice?" I mean, we probably agree there are innocent people sitting in jail right now – with supposed checks and balances in place. Imagine when there were none. Shouldn't those innocent people be remembered?

Now, make no mistake, sometimes the lynching party "punished" the right person. As in, sometimes the true perpetrator was indeed apprehended – and then disposed of, often in a barbaric fashion. Even if you take the literal "eye for an eye" death penalty approach, I would not be surprised if that would have been an applicable punishment in only an infinitesimal number of cases. People were lynched for stealing, people were lynched for "insubordination," people were lynched for literally being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And let us not be cowards and leave out the racism debacle that lingers to this day. So another reason for giving voice to these past atrocities is in the same vein of "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

As a family historian, I am saddened to think (1) these revolting deeds took place, and (2) while statistics are easy to find, the names and stories of the individual victims are much harder to locate. A list of lynching victims will unfortunately never be complete. I hope that in a small way, posts such as these will serve as a memorial to those who were victims of Judge Lynch and his frightful law.