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The Lynching Project: Chatham County

Chatham County Overview

Chatham County was established February 5th, 1777 and was named after William Pitt. Chatham County lies on the state border between Southeast Georgia and South Carolina. There are two reported lynchings from Chatham County, one in 1889 and the other in 1900.

Walter Asbury

Walter Asbury, a married man and mill hand, was accused of violently and unsuccessfully assaulting a 17 year old white woman, Miss Luia Kissman. Asbury reportedly told a colored man at the Pooler depot he was going to collect some money at the Kissman’s house. A short term after, the young girls cries were heard and was found by the colored man he told that he was going struggling with Mr. Asbury. Miss Luia Kissman was horribly beaten and was left with one eye closed and a badly wrenched neck that left her unable to turn her head. After beating Miss Kissman, reports say Mr. Asbury entered the house of Mrs. Grayson about a quarter mile down the road and beat her over the head with the butt end of a gun. He raided the house and equipped himself with a double barrel and single barrel gun. Then, reports claim he went into the home of Mr. Walls and was about to assault Mrs. Walls when her husband came to her rescue. When the community got word, he was caught at a dance by three hundred masked men and hung to a tree. Reports say that he confessed to the crime and begged for mercy. His body was then riddled with bullets.

Allan Brooks

Allan Brooks was lynched on April 3rd, 1900 after being accused of assaulting Mrs. F.W. Hart, a young married woman who “Has the Respect of All Who Know Her”. Reports say Mr. Brooks overpowered and forced her to submit to his lust. Mrs. Hart spent the day with a neighbor and on the road home, she was met by Mr. Brooks, who was reportedly waiting for her to come. The report claims he threw her to the ground, left her weeping with shame as he raped her and threatened the life of her husband. Within an hour the news spread and armed men began to search for Mr. Brooks. Men searched all night and finally found Brooks sleeping in the woods in the early morning. His capturers held him captive at a house near where he was found and was guarded until daylight. Once the news spread of his capture and location, a mob of two hundred men gathered within an hour. Until he was to be hung, Brooks adamantly claimed he was innocent. Amongst the lynch mob,about to be killed, it was written that Brooks finally admitted to comitting the crime. After he was hung, every man in the mob emptied their weapon into him, leaving him with approximately 500 bullet holes. The Sheriff reached the lynching location two hours after the incident and found nothing but the dead body. 

Remembering Injustice

One way people have been able to remember cases like those of Asbury and Brooks have been through memorial. In 2018, The National Memorial for Peace and Justice opened at the Alabama State Capitol on a six-acre site. It coveres the deaths and newspaper articles surrounding hundreds of lynching cases around the country, not only in Alabama, catalouging 4,400 in total. They remember individual cases by adding sentimental additions to memorials like soil from the grounds of the documented lynchings. The memorial well documents the lynching terrors of the past, but ends with a glimpse into the future about criminal injustice among African-Americans today.