28 January 2019

A Horrible Crime: the Lynching of Dave Goosby, Part I

In this space will be a short series of posts I'm calling The Lynching of Dave Goosby in 3 Parts. You have arrived at Part I -- about the crime and alleged criminal. A young girl was murdered outside the southwest Georgia town of Thomasville -- population about 5,600 -- in the year 1894.

Daily Times-Enterprise (Thomasville, Georgia)
Tuesday, 18 September 1894 - pg. 1 [via Georgia Historic Newspapers]


By a Black Brute in Human Form. One of the Worst Crimes Known to This Country -- The Fiend Narrowly Escapes Justice at the Hands of Judge Lynch -- The Coroner's Verdict.

At our hour for going to press Sunday morning the full details of the horrible crime which was committed across the river on Saturday evening and which has shocked and created the most intense excitement throughout the county could not be obtained.

Since then the crime with all its awful details has been learned and it is the most horrible and fiendish that was ever committed in any civilized country.

Susie Butler, about eleven years of age, a sallow complected, puny looking girl, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Martin Butler, living on the Bowen place, seven miles from town, went to the spring, a short distance from the house, after a bucket of water. It was about five o'clock in the afternoon. She procured the water and had started back to the house with the pail on her head, when Dave Goosby, a negro farm hand living in the neighborhood, rushed upon her, knocked the pail from her head and assaulted her. After he had accomplished his hellish purpose he held the half-dead child upon the ground with one hand, took a pocket-knife from his pocket with the other, opened it with his teeth and deliberately cut her throat. Thinking, no doubt that he had killed the girl, and that she should not be able to tell on him, he went to his house a short distance away and remained there until he was arrested.

The girl, covered with blood, which gushed from the gaping wound in her neck at every breath, struggled to her feet and staggered more dead than alive towards the house. She did not get more than half way before she fell to the ground from exhaustion caused by loss of blood.

Her parents, becoming alarmed at her long absence, began to call, and hearing a feeble answer coming from towards the spring, the father started in a run and had gone but a short distance when a most heart-rending sight met his gaze. There, on her knees in the middle of the road, was his daughter, completely covered with blood, her little head held to one side to close the gash in her neck and prevent as much as possible any further bleeding. In a voice weakened to a whisper by the loss of blood she told her father what happened. She was carried to the house and when some of the neighbors arrived she again told her awful story and said that Dave Goosby, whom she described, had committed the crime. Two or three men went to Goosby's house, arrested and brought him to the girl, when she promptly identified him as the man. She also described the knife with which she had been cut, and this knife, with the blood still on it, was found in Goosby's possession.

As soon as the crime was discovered and before the brute who perpetrated it had been caught, a messenger was sent to town to notify the Sheriff. Upon receipt of the information, Sheriff Doss, knowing it would be almost useless to go after the negro without dogs to track him, wired to Sheriff Patterson of Bainbridge to bring his dogs by a special train which Mr. Doss had arranged for. As soon as they arrived, which was some two hours after the news was first received, the Sheriff, with a large posse, left for the scene of the crime.

When he arrived there a considerable crowd was guarding the negro, some of whom wanted to lynch him, while the majority were keeping them off. Capt. Doss, realizing that delay would be dangerous, immediately took charge of the negro, and, with pistol in hand, forced his way through the crowd, which was growing more excited every second, to his wagon, and hustling the negro into it, drove rapidly off. Before the crowd could get their horses and start in pursuit, he had made a good start, but they managed to surround him. The crowd had, by this time, turned into a howling mob, bent upon lynching the brute, and many guns were leveled upon the negro, but for fear of shooting the Sheriff they were not discharged. Sheriff Doss is noted for his coolness and bravery, and this is one time those qualities stood him in good stead. He, in common with all white men, has no sympathy for a rapist, but his duty as an officer demanded that he protect the prisoner in his charge. In the excitement and among the large number of vehicles the wagon containing the Sheriff and his prisoner disappeared and they were seen no more that night. In some manner, unknown to many who were in the party, Capt. Doss had gotten his wagon out of the crowd and disappeared with it in the darkness of the forest. The crowd, after searching for him some time, gave it up and came to town. Capt. Doss carried his prisoner to Camilla, and from there to Albany, where he was put in jail. The Sheriff returned here Sunday night.

Yesterday Judge Hansell ordered Sheriff Doss to remove the prisoner from the Albany jail and carry him to another county to prevent any possible trouble. The Sheriff left at once to carry out the order and by this time Goosby is safe in one of the best jails in South Georgia. Judge Hansell has ordered a special term of the Superior Court to try the fiend on the first Monday in October.

Dr. J. G. Hopkins responded to the call for a physician and went to see the wounded girl. He found a gash in the throat about three inches long and deep enough to penetrate the jugular vein and wind-pipe, the right eye-lid badly contused, a slight cut in the left breast and numerous scratches over the breast as though made with finger nails, besides cuts and bruises on other parts of the body.

It was found necessary to administer a little chloroform in order to sew up the wound in the neck. Nausea and vomiting resulted, and during the act of vomiting the bleeding from the jugular vein began and though the doctor caught and held the vein, stopping further bleeding, the child sank and could not be resuscitated.

On Sunday Coroner Johnson held an inquest over the body of the murdered girl, and the following verdict was rendered:

"We, the jury, sworn by the coroner to investigate the cause of the death of Susan Butler, find that the deceased came to her death on the morning of September 16, 1894, in said county, from a wound inflicted in the neck with a knife in the hands of Dave Goosby, colored, and we further find the deceased was raped and that the killing was murder..."

The excitement in town Saturday night and Sunday was up to fever heat. Nearly everybody that could went out to the scene of the killing. Had the deed been committed in town or the black brute brought here there is no doubt but that the English committee would have had another southern lynching to investigate.

Now, however, that the negro is in the custody of the Sheriff the law will be allowed to take its course.
And following from same newspaper (same issue, same page):
Swift Justice.
As will be seen elsewhere, Judge Hansell has ordered a special term of Thomas superior court to convene on the first Monday in October, to try Dave Goosby, colored, charged with rape and murder. This action of Judge Hansell will be universally approved, and is an example which might properly be followed in similar cases. If justice was meted out to this class of criminals more swiftly there would be less lynchings.
Unfortunately, that sentiment was not universal. Part II -- the lynching -- is here.

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