29 January 2019

Swung Up: the Lynching of Dave Goosby, Part II

You have arrived at part II of The Lynching of Dave Goosby in 3 Parts. [Part I is here.]

We left off yesterday with the local Thomasville, Georgia newspaper touting the "universally approved" decision by a judge to get the accused rapist and murderer, Dave Goosby, into court the first Monday of October 1894. (This would have been just a few weeks after victim Susie Butler's death.) In fact, the final sentence from the author of this blurb was the following:
If justice was meted out to this class of criminals more swiftly there would be less lynchings.
And one more thing before diving into more newspaper articles. Don't forget these sentences from the latter part of the item chronicling the crime of which Goosby was accused:
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. [Emphasis mine.]
The following paragraph was published on page 1 of the 19 September 1894 issue, Columbus Daily Enquirer (Georgia).


TIFTON, Ga., Sept. 18 -- [Special] -- Dave Goosby, the negro rapist who assaulted and murdered little Susan Butler near Thomasville last Saturday, was brought here this morning from Albany. He admitted his guilt to a citizen of this place. He was in charge of the sheriff of Thomas county. He was kept as secretly as possible.
You'll see in the next couple of articles the Thomasville newspaper asserts Goosby was in jail in Valdosta. The two towns are less than fifty miles apart, so maybe there was a layover in Tifton before the accused was brought down to Valdosta. Or maybe the Columbus paper got it wrong. No matter the scenario, I'm highly skeptical of this line: He admitted his guilt to a citizen of this place.

I'm including two articles detailing the lynching. This is not to be gratuitous, but instead to show the premeditation and (dare I say it) recruitment.

Daily Times-Enterprise (Thomasville, Georgia)
Wednesday, 19 September 1894 - pg. 1 [via Georgia Historic Newspapers]

The Thomas County Rapist Probably Strung Up.

Information was received here yesterday afternoon that the citizens of Valdosta were preparing to lynch Dave Goosby, the Thomas county rape fiend, who was carried there yesterday by Sheriff Doss for safe keeping.

There was considerable quiet talk here about a crowd going down on the 9:30 train to take part in the lynching.

We wired Valdosta late in the afternoon to find out the feeling there and received a reply stating that there would be no trouble unless a crowd went down from here.

We have it from a reliable source that a crowd of perhaps twenty-five or thirty went down on the 9:30 train, and it was also rumored that a number would join the party at Boston [Georgia].

It was reported that news was received from Valdosta about nine o'clock that everything was fixed and the lynching would take place on arrival of the Thomasville delegation. If all these reports be true, and they probably are, there is very little doubt but that Dave Goosby paid the penalty of his awful crime last night. He has, in all probability, traveled the route that all rapists travel.
Prophecy Proven

Daily Times-Enterprise (Thomasville, Georgia)
Thursday, 20 September 1894 - pg. 1 [via Georgia Historic Newspapers]


A Mob Takes Him From the Valdosta Jail and Hangs Him to a Convenient Tree -- His Black Carcas
[sic] Riddled With Bullets.

Dave Goosby, the black brute who committed an outrage upon little Susie Butler and afterwards cut her throat, was taken from the Valdosta jail at midnight on Tuesday night, strung him up to the limb of a tree and filled full of bullet holes.

The crime committed by Goosby was one of the most revolting and atrocious that has ever occurred in this section and the feelings of every citizen of the county, and in fact of this whole country, were wrought up to the highest tension. Had the brute been brought to Thomasville there is no doubt but what he would have been lynched on sight.

It will be remembered that although the negro was in the hands of several men living in the neighborhood of where the crime was committed for three or four hours before Sheriff Doss arrived, as soon as he was taken in charge by that officer, there was an effort to take him away and put him to death. Before the crowd could organize for action, however, Sheriff Doss had managed to get him out of their reach. He carried his prisoner to Camilla and from there sent him to Albany for safe keeping. Learning that an effort would be made to lynch the negro in Albany Judge Hansell ordered the Sheriff to take him from there and carry him to Valdosta. From what we learned this was done none too soon, for he would likely have been lynched there the night Capt. Doss took him away had he been allowed to remain.

The Sheriff had no trouble in taking the negro to Valdosta, but as soon as the people there knew that he was in town, the excitement became very great and it was reported here that he would be lynched that night. Our paper yesterday morning gave these rumors.

It is said that a number of Thomasville people went down on the night train believing that the negro would be lynched and being desirous of taking a hand in it.

Yesterday morning when the news was received that Goosby had been hung, we wired to Valdosta for a special and received the following:

"Valdosta, Ga., Sept. 19. -- Soon after the arrival of the east bound train last night -- about midnight -- a mob went to the jail and with the use of sledge-hammers and other implements, forced an entrance and took Dave Goosby out to a pine thicket on the northern border of the town and swung him to a limb and riddled his body with bullets. The crowd seemed to be well organized and determined. The sheriff and jailor were powerless to resist them. The parties who did the work are not known here, so far as the public knows at this writing, Wednesday morning. The people here in no sort of way condone the horrible crime committed by Dave Goosby, but there is a very general feeling of deep regret that he was sent here and that this affair occurred in our community. Nine-tenths of our population knew nothing of what was going on, and awoke to a surprise this morning. Dave Goosby was brought here yesterday, and half the people in Valdosta did not know that he was in our jail."

Judge Hansell had called a special term of court to try Goosby and most all of our people hoped that as he had not been lynched at the time of capture he would be allowed to go to trial and hung according to law, but he has gone to a higher court for trial.

Goosby met the inevitable fate of the rapist. Just so long as the fiendish crime is committed just so long will lynch law be resorted to.
And let us not forget the extraordinarily obvious sensationalism, complete with graphic humiliation.

Daily Times-Enterprise (Thomasville, Georgia)
23 September 1894 [via Georgia Historic Newspapers]
A photograph of Goosby, the negro who was lynched a few days ago in Valdosta, taken while he was hanging from tree, was being shown on the streets yesterday. The ghastly picture attracted no little attention.
According to the 1880 Duncanville, Thomas County, Georgia Federal census, Dave was born about 1870 in Florida. Same record shows he was a son of Joe and Silvy Goosbie. Furthermore, Georgia county marriage records show a Dave Goosby married Lydia Waldon on 5 April 1889 in Thomas County.

Finale here: Defending the lynching (to absolve the community of any wrongdoing).

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.

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