The Lynching Project: Jasper County
An Overview of the County: Jasper County was founded December 10, 1807, and it was named after Sergeant William Jasper, a war hero during the American Revolution. It was originally called Randolph County until John Randolph, whom the county was named after, opposed the United States entering the War of 1812. The land was originally part of Baldwin County, until the Georgia General Assembly decided to create a new county in 1807. The seat of Jasper County is Monticello, which is also the biggest city in the county. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, its population is approximately 13,625. A fun fact is that Jasper County’s courthouse was where parts of My Cousin Vinny were filmed.
The Barber Family Lynching: Dan Barber (also known as Samuel Barber) and his children, Jesse, Bula, and Ella were lynched on January 16, 1915 for assaulting a white man. A few days before, the Chief of Police in Monticello, Georgia, J.P. Williams, received a report that Dan Barber was running a "blind tiger", which is the illegal sale of alcohol. In Dan Barber's case, he was selling whiskey. The Barbers lived in an area nicknamed "Frog Town", which is where many members of the black community of Jasper County was living at the time. When Chief Williams arrived at the Barber residence, it seemed that Dan Barber was going to peacefully comply. However, according to the New York Times, he made a sudden grab for his revolver, and he attempted to shoot Chief Williams. The Butler Herald, a newspaper located in Taylor County, reported a different start to the fight. Their article claimed that Dan Barber's wife, Matilda, beat the chief with a club. Both of the accounts agree that Matilda was shot and killed at the fight. After the chief was knocked to the ground, Dan and Matilda's children joined the fight by beating and kicking Chief Williams. Surrounding neighbors heard the ruckus and notified the authorities. The Barber family was arrested and taken to a jail in Monticello. It is important to note that the Barber family was black, and the police chief was white. Thus, the white community of Jasper County was outraged that a black man and his family attacked a white man. A mob of approximately 100 white men broke into the jail, overpowered the Sheriff on duty, and took the family to the outskirts of town to lynch them. Each member of the family was hung from a tree, and then the mob shot them all until their bodies were chalk full of bullets.
The Lynching of Jack Hopkins: Jack Hopkins, a black male, was lynched July 31, 1885 for attacking his white landlord, Green Gilmore, with a knife. He was arrested, and he served three weeks in a jail in Monticello before an unknown suspect fired a gun at Hopkins through the grating of the jail window. The newspapers in Jasper County and surrounding areas do not report much on this murder. The only record of the initial event was found in the Americus Recorder, a newspaper located in Sumter County. The Savannah Morning News reported a week later that the Coroner's Jury convened to investigate the murder of Jack Hopkins. Twenty to thirty witnesses were questioned, but there was no sufficient evidence to issue a warrant for anyone. The Coroner's Jury recommended that the Governor of Georgia and the County Commissioners should offer an award to help bring a possible suspect forward. They also reported that Jack Hopkins' wife was going to "swear out" a warrant against Hopkins' landlord, Green Gilmore, because she was sure that he killed her husband. There was also a rumor that she was going to sue Jasper County for damages. No evidence has been found of this rumor.
The Lynching of Lee Lawrence: According to the Mary Turner Project database, Lee Lawrence was lynched November 8, 1894 for rape. The Daily Times-Enterprise, a newspaper in Thomasville, GA reported on his lynching three weeks after the event in a very shocking tone on November 9, 1894. The article itself was almost gleeful in its description of the lynching. For example, it had several sub-headings such as: "Negro Rapist Hung", "Bold Work of a Daring Mob", and "The Fiend Taken from the Courthouse in the Presence of the Judge and Swung to a Limb." Another article printed in the Sandersville Herald on November 15, 1894 described the crime as aggravated several times throughout the article. Unlike the previously mentioned article, this one claims that Lawrence subjected Mrs. Polk to several "nameless indignities" and that when she resisted him, he stabbed her. The Daily Times-Enterprise article claims that Lee Lawrence raped a "respectable white woman" named Mrs. Polk in Monticello, Georgia. Lawrence fled the area quickly after word of the rape spread. A posse attempted to catch him, but Lawrence eluded the posse. The governor of Georgia offered a reward for anyone who could apprehend him, which lead to a quick capture near Jonesboro, Georgia in Clayton County. Lawrence was brought into court in Monticello, and Judge Jenkins convened a special term of court for the case to be tried. The article took care to mention that the evidence against Lawrence was overwhelming and that the "excitement" surrounding the trial was very intense. The jury for this case "promptly" judged him to be guilty and sentenced him to hang on November 30th. Apparently, the "excitement" increased after the conviction. Shortly after, a mob of approximately 500 men overpowered the police and took Lawrence away from them, right in front of the judge. The police officers were quoted as making a "splendid resistance", but the mob was too large. The mob took Lawrence beyond the city limits, hanged him, and shot him until his body was riddled with bullets. In an even more disturbing tone, the article described the mob as determined, orderly, and that they made no efforts whatsoever to disguise their identities. In contradiction to the article from the Daily Times-Enterprise, the article from the Sandersville Herald condemns the lynching because it was so clearly outside the boundaries of the law. It also reported that Governor Atkinson took speedy action to arrest the lynchers. He offered an award of $500 for the first man convicted and $200 for each man after. Governor Atkinson declared this lynching to be outrageous, and claimed that no measure was too harsh for the lynchers' punishment. He even threatened to send the Attorney General to the county to help bring the lynchers to justice. The most chilling aspect of this lynching is the fact that after they hanged Lawrence from a tree limb, they attached a sign to his body that read, "To all negros: This is your fate if you perpetrate such a crime. We will protect our women."
The Lynching of Ed Merriwether: Across many newspapers on the Georgia Historic Newspapers website, there are multiple spellings of the name "Merriwether", which made uncovering information about Ed Merriwether difficult. The Mary Turner Project lists this victim's last name with the spelling "Merriwhether", but since "Merriwether" occurs more across sources, that is the name used for this exhibit. Ed Merriwether was lynched on November 22, 1898 for the murder of Joe Pope, an 18-year-old white man. Only two historic newspapers, the Americus Times-Recorder and the Waycross Weekly Herald, give situational context for the murder of this particular victim. The Americus Times-Recorder printed an article on December 12, 1898 stating that Jack Glover was lynched near Monticello for being a suspect in the murder of Joe Pope. The same article also reports that Ed Merriwether was charged with the same crime and was lynched three weeks prior. The Waycross Weekly Herald printed an article on November 26, 1898 that reported that several hundred pistol shots were fired at Ed Merriwether after he was taken from the local jail by a mob. Similar to other lynchings in this county, the mob overpowered the sheriff as soon as the Coroner's Jury found Merriwether to be guilty of the murder of Joe Pope. This similarity in lynchings makes one wonder how much resistance the police force actually showed the lynchers before backing down in Jasper County.
The Lynching of Jack Glover: According to the Mary Turner Project, Jack Glover was lynched on December 7, 1898 for murder. As mentioned in the section on Ed Merriwether, Jack Glover was lynched in Monticello for the murder of John Pope, an 18-year-old white man. Glover was hung and shot full of bullets, which would appear to be the preferred method of lynching in Jasper County. The small blurb from the Americus Times-Recorder was reprinted in different newspapers, even making it into the Weekly Banner, a local Athens newspaper. However, no additional information under the name "Jack/Jacob/Jake Glover" could be found. This seems odd, since the murder victim was white and the perpetrator was black. From an analysis standpoint, it's possible that no more information was gathered due to the unimportance of the victim. Yes, he was white, but he did not command a certain authority in the community like the police chief Dan Barber attacked or the landlord of Jack Hopkins that he cut. Nor did he have a sense of innocence that the townspeople felt protective of, like the white women in the community.
The Lynching of John Brown: According to the Mary Turner Project, on August 31, 1902, 45-year-old John Brown was lynched for scaring a white girl. However, despite the very common name of this lynching victim, no information has been discovered regarding the situational context of his lynching. Extensive searches through several databases brought up no results, except for the CSDE Lynching Database. Their findings indicate that John Brown, also known as John Bosin or Lee Greer (no results under these names as well), was accused of attempting an assault on a white daughter of a respected widow in the community. Masked men in a mob hung Brown and, in the Jasper County fashion, riddled his body with bullets.
The Lynching of Lawrence Crawford: Unlike all of the other lynching victims from Jasper County, Lawrence Crawford was a white man. He was lynched on June 21, 1911 for the rape of a 17-year-old white girl. No historic documents have been found in this search to support the claim of the Mary Turner Project, but it was believed that he was caught by a posse of angry relatives and friends of the rape victim. That posse shot him to death. Whether or not his death counts as a lynching is debatable, considering that his body was never found, and his lynching was never confirmed. While no articles detailing his lynching were found, the image next to this section displays a newspaper clipping from the Atlanta Georgian that mentions a Lawrence Crawford killing a man in a drunken argument. While there seems to be no way to confidently claim it is the same Lawrence Crawford, it is unlikely that there were many in Jasper County at that time. This news clipping shows a history of violence that makes it very possible that the same man was capable of the violent act of rape. His case is interesting, because it shows that the desire of the communtiy to protect their white women from harm is very strong, no matter the racial category the perpetrator may fit.
The Lynching of Eugene Hamilton: On October 7, 1919 Eugene (Gene) Hamilton was lynched for attempted murder. As shown by the partial clipping next to this section, the Daily Times-Enterprise reported rather extensively on this lynching compared to others in the county on October 8, 1919. Hamilton had attacked Charles Tingle, a farmer in Jasper County, during January of 1919 on a farm near Monitcello after the two had a disagreement. Hamilton fired his shotgun into Tingle's back, but he covered within a few weeks. Hamilton was arrested and sentenced to a ten year sentence, but threats had been made towards him by the friends of Tingle, even though his wounds were not serious. Hamilton's motion for a new trial was denied, which led him to appeal to the Georgia Court of Appeals. This led to an increase of threats from friends of Tingle, and prompted Sheriff Ezzell of Jasper County to move Hamilton from the Jasper County jail to Gray, Georgia for Hamilton's own safety. The whereabouts of Hamilton was being kept a secret because of those threats, but Hamilton's family was assured that he would be safe. Sheriff Middlebrooks of Jones County was driving fast to Macon to move Hamilton there since a newly formed mob of approximately 60 men caught word of his location, but the mob caught up to the Sheriff and forced him to surrender Hamilton. The mob took Hamilton back to an area near Monticello, bound his hands and feet, and shot him to death by the creek bridge railing at daylight. After they killed Hamilton, the mob calmly dispersed. A coroner's jury investigated this lynching and declared his death to be the result of gunshot wounds by parties unknown. The article does not mention whether any efforts were made to apprehend any of the lynchers.
Conclusion: This exhibit was exceptionally difficult to create due to a lack of information on lynchings. The only credible primary sources found for the lynching victims of Jasper County were historic newspapers, and other tidbits of information were gleaned from the CSDE Lynching Database and the Mary Turner Project Database. Work towards gaining more information on lynchings is incredibly slow, which speaks to the racial history of this nation. A lack of interest in uncovering more about lynchings and how eerily similiar police killings are to them, reflects a divide in American society that has existed for hundreds of years. Choosing to ignore these lynchings, especially in the deep South, which has a deep and complex racial history, is irresponsibile. It becomes hard to learn from the past when one makes no effort to document or memorialize it. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice that opened in early May of 2018 in Montegomery, Alabama is a fantastic step towards acknowledging the South's murderous past, but it is just a start. More efforts to memorialize the devastating effects of white supremacy will help greatly in remembering and learning from the past.
Jasper County Board of Commissioners. "Jasper County Georgia". 2018. Accessed September 18, 2018. https://jaspercountyga.org/
"4 Negroes Lynched by Monticello Mob: Attacked Chief of Police Who Raided 'Tiger'"The Butler Herald." January 19, 1915.
"Georgia and Florida: The News of the Two States Told in Paragraphs." The Savannah Morning News. August 6, 1885.
"Georgia News." Americus Daily Reporter. August 4, 1885.
"Jacob Glover." CSDE Lynching Database. 2015. Accessed September 22, 2018. http://lynching.csde.washington.edu/#/search/GA1898120601
“Jasper Count Mob Kills Negro: Eugene Hamilton Who Attempted to Kill Charles Tingle Taken From Sheriff and Shot to Death, Was Under Ten Year Sentence." Daily Times-Enterprise. October 8, 1919.
"John Brown." CSDE Lynching Database. 2015. Accessed September 22, 2018. http://lynching.csde.washington.edu/#/search/GA1902083001
"John Hopkins." CSDE Lynching Database. 2015. Accessed September 22, 2018. http://lynching.csde.washington.edu/#/search/GA1885073101
"Lawrence Crawford." CSDE Lynching Database. 2015. Accessed September 22, 2018. http://lynching.csde.washington.edu/#/search/GA1911061901
"Lawrence Lynched." The Sandersville Herald. November 15, 1894.
"Lee Lawrence." CSDE Lynching Database. 2015. Accessed September 22, 2018. http://lynching.csde.washington.edu/#/search/GA1894110801
"Lynched for Murder." Waycross Weekly Herald. November 26, 1898.
"Lynching Near Monticello." Americus Times-Recorder. December 15, 1898.
The Mary Turner Project. Accessed September 13, 2018. www.maryturner.org
"Negro Rapist Hung: Bold Work of Daring Mob." Daily Times-Enterprise. November 8, 1894.
"Whole Family Lynched: Georgia Mob Takes Negroes from Jail and Hangs Them." The New York Times. January 16, 1915.
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