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The Lynching Project: Pulaski County

Pulaski County is located in Central Georgia, just below Macon. The largest city in Pulaski County is Hawkinsville, located in the Northern area of the county. There are 11 recorded cases of lynching in Pulaski County between 1880 and 1940. There were a variety of crimes that these lynching victims were accused of, but the majority of them were accused of rape or murder. This exhibt serves to provide a deeper look into these lynching victims and the details provided about the accusations against them.  

Most sources provide accounts from the white accusers of these victims. This exhibit aims to provide an unbiased account of the stories. Although most sources used are based off of the stories heard from the white acccusers, it is important to keep in mind these stories may have been exaggerated in order to make these victims seem more guilty than they were. In addition, there are several victims who are recorded under several different names. The exhibit provides all versions of the names found during research.This is important to notice because it could be evidence demonstarting how disinterested these white accusers were in the victims. It is also important to note that some sources claim that the victims confessed to their crimes. In a lot of cases, these men were beaten in order to get information out of them. While it is not possible to know exactly what happened at the scenes of these lynchings, there is a possibiltiy that some men confessed in order to stop the beatings. 

Bill Johnson (also can be found as William Johnson) lynched 10/13/1888 for being accused of rape.   

Conchran, GA

Bill Johnson was working for Mr. And Mrs. Newman of Cochran, Georgia, when he was accused of raping Mrs. Newman. Mrs. Newman claims that when her husband left for the day, Mr. Johnson appraoched and entered her home. She claims that as she was fighting Mr. Johnson off, he allegedly threatened to kill her if she screamed. This is when Mr. Johnson allegedly raped her and took all of their money from the home. After the altercation, Mr. Johnson left the house to get an axe, which is when Mrs. Newman took off running. Mr. Newman searched for Bill Johnson after hearing the story from his wife. Mr. Johnson was found escaping to Macon, Georgia. A crowd formed in the nearby cemetery where he was found. They allowd him to pray and ask for his family to be notified of his death. He was hung from a tree, pistols were fired, and the crowd dispersed. A note was left on his body that read “our women must and will be protected”

Tom (Timothy) Smith and Jalen (John) Coleman 12/1/1888 for a debt dispute

A mob of 300 whites bound the two togther and threw them into the river, weighted with stones.

Owen Jones 10/30/1890 for accused rape

Near Twiggs, GA

The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Sanders was left alone in their home, near Twiggs, GA. Owen Jones was nearby picking cotton when he quit and went to the home. She ran into the bedroom, where she claims he broke open the door and assaulted her. She says he made her promise not to tell anyone. She told her father and brother in law, who sent out people to find Mr. Jones. He was arrested and taken where he confessed and was hung. The entire town was aroused by the situation and several white and black men were at the hanging to witness it.

Issac Webb (also recorded as Abe Webb or Ike Webb) and Thomas Coley 1/8/1908 for attempted murder

Cochran, GA

The two men were employed at the location of the alleged crime. It is claimed that they entered the home around 10 at night. Mrs. Livingston noticed and asked Mr. Livingston to go check. He was met by the two and was allegedly struck and escaped. Mrs. Livingston also was able to escape. However, both were found critically injured and struck at the neck.  The two men were taken by a crowd and shot to death. Mr. and Mrs. Livingston claimed that there was also 30$ missing from the home, which was allegedly later found in possession of the wives of the men and the wives were placed in jail. 

Curry Roberson, John Henry Pinkney, and Jerry Buchan 3/5/1908 for attempted murder

Mr. Hart went out to feed his hogs when he was approached by two men and was allegedly struck at the head (Curry and John). He died instantly. It is reported that the men then went to enter the home, where the suspected the wife would be. Mrs. Hart was in the house making breakfast when the two men allegedly struck and killed her instantly as well. Sheirff Rodgers heard this and sent for the two men to be found. They were arrested and enraged citizens took them and shot them to death, burning their bodies. It was later found that there were allegedly 2 others in conspiracy with the crime (Jerry) who were arrested, even though they had no evidence to prove this. They were released and Jerry was later killed for possibly being involved

John Harvard lynched 12/1/1909 accused of murder

Near Cochran, GA

Will Booth was a businessman, on his way home from Cochran when he over took John Havard, a black preacher, on the road. Harvard was in his wagon, being pulled by a mule and a horse. The animals became frightened in this situation and Booth claimed he could see Harvard became angry with him. Booth noticed this and stopped and got out. Harvard got out as well, as they angrily exchanged words. Soon, they began shooting at each other. Booth was shot 3 times and pulled back to town by a passer by. A large crowd later found John near the scene seriously wounded. Although John would have likely died from his injuries, the crowd took him, and hung him on a nearby tree.

Homer Howell (also recorded under Homer Burke or Homer Powell) 3/21/1912 for attempted murder

1 mile from Cochran, GA

Mr. Joe Coody, whipping boss of Pulaski County chain gang,was brutally murdered. The young man accused was a 20 year old male, currently serving a sentence for stealing a mule. The gang was working on the roads when Mr. Coody told the young man to keep working. It is claimed that without a word, the man struck Mr. Cody on the head with a shovel and began to beat him 2 more times. Mr. Coody tried to shoot the young man but missed, which is when he tried to escape. Mr. Coody passed away shortly after. The guard, Jesse Allen, shot at Homer but he was only slightly injured and able to escape. An enraged crowd found the man and hung him from a tree and continued to shoot at him. They quietly dispersed, leaving him hanging. There was 50-60 men in the crowd.

Bibliography

Brundage, W. Fitzhugh. Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia, 1880-1930. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1994.

 

Hawkinsville Dispatch and News, October 18, 1888, XXIL ed., sec. 42.

 

Hawkinsville Dispatch and News, December 6, 1888, XXIL ed., sec. 48.

 

Hawkinsville Dispatch and News, November 06, 1890, XXIV ed., sec. 45.

 

Hawkinsville Dispatch and News, January 1, 1908, 42.

 

Hawkinsville Dispatch and News, March 6, 1908, 42.

 

Hawkinsville Dispatch and News, December 1, 1909, 44. No 150?

 

Hawkinsville Dispatch and News, March 22, 1912, 49. No 25

 

Last, Anne. "December 1, 1909: John Harvard and June 1 through November 30: Too Many." December 1, 1909: John Harvard and June 1 through November 30: Too Many. December 01, 2014. Accessed September 18, 2018. http://strangefruitandspanishmoss.blogspot.com/2014/12/december-1-1909-john-harvard-and-june-1.html.

 

Ramey, RJ (Ed.) Monroe Work Today Dataset Compilation (version 1), 23 Oct 2017. Archives, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL, http://archive.tuskegee.edu (Accessed on September 15, 2018). Compilation contains works by Barrow (2005), Brundage (1993), Carrigan (2004), Carrigan & Webb (2013), Equal Justice Initiative (2015), Frazier (2009), Frazier (2015), Gonzales-Day (2006), Guzman (c1960), Hollars (2011), Hufsmith (1993), Kiktode (2008), Kubota (1996), Leonard (2002), Loewen (2005), Maryland State Archives (2016), Nevels (2007), Newkirk (2009), Ortiz (2005), Pfaelzer (2007), Pfeifer (2004), Pfeifer (2005), Pfeifer (2013), Phillips (2016), Raper (1931), Rushdy (2012), Thompson (2014), Tolnay & Beck (1995), Vyzralek (1990), Webb (2002), Wilbert (1982), Williams & Williams (1972), Wright (1990).

 

Studio, Auut. "MWT - Explore the Map - Lynching Acts of White Supremacy." Monroe Work Today. Accessed September 15, 2018. http://www.monroeworktoday.org/explore/.

 

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Gina Colombo

Team Bryan