The Lynching Project: Crawford County
An Overview of the County: Crawford County was created on December 9, 1822, from parts of Houston County and was later increased by additions from Macon and Talbot counties. The county was named in honor of U.S. Senator and Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford. In 1823, the Georgia State Legislature designated Knoxville as the county seat. There was only one known lynching that occurred in Crawford County.
Jack Hilsman Lynching: Jack Hilsman was just 25-years-old in July 24th, 1900 when he was taken from a Knoxville jail and lynched. As reported by the Macon Telegraph and Atlanta Constitution the alleged crime occurred at Musella, a small village about 12 miles from Knoxville.
Jack Hilsman had been employed on the plantation of George Mitchell. Mitchell and his sons were away from the house tending to field work while his daughter, Mamie Mitchell, was inside of the house. Hilsman allegedly entered the house and tried to overtake her. She cried for help and her father, George Mitchell, quickly came rushing to the house. Hilsman ran away but was caught a few hours later. Hilsman was taken to a Macon jail for safekeeping but brought back to Knoxville for his commitment hearing.
During the hearing, he denied his guilt, but he was identified by Mamie Mitchell and by a negro woman who saw him running from the house. After the hearing, four men from Mitchell's neighborhood rushed in the courthouse and sought to take Hilsman but were stopped. As the officers attempted to move Hilsman toward the jail a considerable crowd gathered. A large number of people from Crawford County hid out around town and eventually joined the gathering mob. The mob overpowered the guards and captured Hilsman. Not a single shot was fired at the mob. The mob seemingly formed its plans beforehand. They carried Hilsman out to a negro settlement about half a mile from town and hung him in full view of other negro cabins. They then riddled his body with shots.
Linked below is a video about the origins of lynching in America, the beliefs of white people during the 19th and early 20th century, and the anti-lynching activism of Ida. B. Wells discussed by Paula Giddings, a professor of Afro-American Studies at Smith College.
Bailey, Amy. "CSDE Lynching Database." CSDE Lynching Database. Accessed February 18, 2019. http://lynching.csde.washington.edu/#/home.
"Clipping from The Atlanta Constitution." Newspapers.com. Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/28928231/.
"Crawford County." Georgia.gov. April 18, 2012. Accessed February 20, 2019. https://georgia.gov/cities-counties/crawford-county.
"Lynching." Columbus State University Archives. Accessed February 18, 2019. http://digitalarchives.columbusstate.edu/items/show/1166.
Ramey, Rj, Jared, and McWilliams. "Monroe Work Today Dataset Compilation." Tuskegee University Archives. October 23, 2017. Accessed February 18, 2019. http://archive.tuskegee.edu/archive/handle/123456789/984.
"Where Is Crawford County, Georgia?" World Atlas - Maps, Geography, Travel. June 30, 2016. Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.worldatlas.com/na/us/ga/c-crawford-county-georgia.html.