03 January 2018

Swift Vengeance Served on John Smith of Laurens County, Georgia

The main reason I wish to share the following newspaper article is it contains the name of the subject's father.  Especially with African American research – even after emancipation – this information is not always easy to come by.  The intent is not to gratuitously disparage Mr. Smith.

But first, a suggestion on newspapers as a source as they pertain to accounts of lynchings – especially in the South.  Basically, be aware and verify when possible.  Be aware of the time and context.  White newspapers, generally speaking, were biased in favor of white people (oftentimes the alleged wronged party).  Fitzhugh Brundage, in Lynching in the New South, writes this:

For all of the information that newspaper accounts provide, their serious limitations also must be recognized.  Because the majority of extant newspapers from the period are white newspapers, they reflect the harsh racial attitudes of the day, and their accounts of lynchings, the alleged crimes that prompted lynchings, and the portrayals of mob victims must be treated with great caution…[W]hite descriptions of both the alleged offenses and the character of lynching victims cannot be accepted without question.

NAACP Headquarters, New York City. Via Library of Congress (loc.gov).On to the article.

Macon Weekly Telegraph (Georgia)
Friday, 29 July 1881 – pg. 2 [via GenealogyBank]

SWIFT VENGEANCE ON A BLACK SCOUNDREL IN LAURENS COUNTY. – We find the following in the Dublin Post:

On last Monday night, Mr. R. T. Dominy was absent from home on an all night's fishing excursion, having left his young wife and little children with no other protection than that of his wife's mother, Mrs. Colley.  About midnight, after the family had been asleep for some time, Mrs. Dominy felt some one touch her foot.  But she was so overcome by drowsiness that she could not rouse herself at first.  But presently she felt a hand upon her so plainly that she called her mother, whereupon she heard the party crawl under her bed.  She asked her mother to get up and look after one of her children, pretending that she did not know that an intruder was in the house.  When the mother appeared with the lamp she beckoned her to the bedside and whispered that some one was under the bed.  Mrs. Colley was incredulous at first, but finally looked, when there met her horror-struck gaze a buck negro with no garment on but a shirt, holding some of the baby's clothing over his face, it is supposed to escape detection.  She screamed to him to get out, which he did in hot haste and ran off a short distance, but then returned to get his pants which had been left at the outside of the window.  The sequel renders it impossible to get those who know most to talk much, but from all we can gather we are perfectly satisfied that a few cool men of good judgement set their wits to work to find out the guilty negro.  From the tracks and from what the ladies could tell and other testimony they satisfied themselves that John Smith, alias John Cellam, a bad negro about twenty years of age, living with his father, Henry Smith, on the Fisher place near Mr. Dominy's, was the one they wanted.  They did nothing hastily or rashly, but took two days to investigate.  On Thursday night about midnight they went to Henry's house, called him up and asked for John.  Henry told them he was sleeping in the shed room.  They thundered at the door but failed to rouse him, so they broke down the door and shot him to death before he waked.

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.

02 January 2018

Only Negro Voter Killed: a Georgia Civil Rights Cold Case Project

MariettaJournal1946-07-28Maceo Snipes was an honorably discharged World War II veteran when he went to cast his vote in the 1946 Georgia Democratic primary for governor.  He was also a black man.

Earlier that year, federal courts struck down the usual "whites only" voting rule for primaries in Georgia.  Eugene Talmadge, one of the candidates for governor, denounced the decision "as a threat to segregation, [and] promised to restore the white primary and to keep blacks in their place in Jim Crow Georgia." [Source]

In spite of threats from the Ku Klux Klan, Maceo Snipes bravely became the first African American to cast a ballot in Taylor County, Georgia.  Days later, he was dead.  Erica Sterling wrote for The Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project at Emory University in August 2014:

The day after Snipes voted, four white men arrived in a pick-up truck outside of his grandfather’s farmhouse, where Snipes and his mother Lula were having dinner. The men, rumored to be members of the local Klan chapter, called for Snipes, who came outside to meet them. During their encounter outside the house, Edward Williamson, who sometimes went by the name of Edward Cooper, shot Snipes in the back.

There are varying stories as to how Mr. Snipes got to the hospital, but he got there.  Then he waited while the doctor worked on other patients.  (I wonder how many of them had gun-shot wounds.)

Approximately six hours lapsed from the time Williamson shot Snipes until the doctor performed surgery to remove the bullets, the family would later say. The story that still resonates from that day in the Snipes family carries the same theme of medical neglect found in other Georgia civil rights cold cases: Not long before he died, Snipes was talking actively with his family. The white doctor at one point said Snipes would need a transfusion, then said it would be impossible because there was no “black blood” available at the hospital…Without a transfusion, Snipes died from his injuries two days later, on July 20.

Because of the rumored threat to the lives of anyone daring to attend the funeral for Maceo Snipes, he was reportedly buried in the middle of the night in an unmarked grave in Butler, Taylor County.

NAACP Headquarters, New York City. Via Library of Congress (loc.gov).News Article from the Time

Marietta Daily Journal (Georgia)
Sunday, 28 July 1946 – pg. 5 [via GenealogyBank]

Only Negro Voter In Rupert Killed
ATLANTA, July 27. – (UP) – The Walton county lynching of four Negroes follows by one week the death of Macio Snipes, a Negro war veteran at Rupert, Ga.

Snipes was the only Negro to vote at Rupert in the Georgia primary that returned white supremacy candidate Eugene Talmadge to the Governor's chair.

A coroner's jury ruled that he was killed by one of four white men who called at his home.

The fact that he was the only Negro voter in the precinct, said the jury, was only a coincidence.  The jury said the men went to his house to collect a debt.

The killer/s also claimed self-defense; the coroner's jury called the shooting justified.

[Note: the "Walton county lynching" mentioned in the above article refers to the Moore's Ford lynching of George Dorsey, Mae Murray Dorsey, Roger Malcolm, and Dorothy Malcolm – the "last mass lynching in America."]



Links to more about the killing of Maceo Snipes:
· Answers Sought in 1946 Ga. Killing (Washington Post article dated 13 February 2007)
· Killing and Segregated Plaque Divide Town (New York Times article dated 18 March 2007)
· U.S. Department of Justice Notice to Close File (updated 29 September 2016)

The Tuskegee Institute, under its founder Booker T. Washington, recorded data on lynchings.  The guidelines used to decide if a killing was to be deemed a lynching were the following:  “There must be legal evidence that a person was killed. That person must have met death illegally. A group of three or more persons must have participated in the killing. The group must have acted under the pretext of service to justice, race or tradition.” [Source: 100 Years of Lynchings]

Some might not consider the murder of Maceo Snipes to be a lynching.  I do.

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.