Microfilm Reel 285, File 543, "Lynching"

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All the microfilm scans from the file number 543, "Lynching," on reel 285 from the Executive Office files of the Woodrow Wilson Papers, series 4 in the Library of Congress finding aid.

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July 10, 1916

McMORANDH FOR COVERNOR DORSEY PROM WAITER F. WITE. Below are given some of the facts discovered during

a recent visit to Brooks and Lowndes Counties, with refer-

ence to the recent lyrchings in these two counties:

It was learned that the following negroes are known to have been lynched, the first six of these having been re-

ported in the daily press: Will Head,

Will Thompson,

Hayes Turner, Mary Turner, Eugene Rice,

Sidney Johnson. In addition to these, a negro by the name of Chime Riley was lynched and turpentine cups (these being clay

curs used to eatch turpentine gum when the trees are cut to

obtain gunl were tied to his body and the body was then

thrown into the Little River near Banney, Georgia. Mr informant in regard to this case, told me that he went down

to the river hoping to find the body when the river was low; but assumed that the body had probably become entangled in

the sand bars and therefore could not be discovered. He secured, however, one of the turpentine cups which had been

tied to the body of Riley. The name of this men, I could

not learn, but I saw him on the spot where Mary Turner was lynched. Another negro by the name of Simon Schuman was called out of his house near Berlin on the Moultrie Road

between eight and nine o’clock at night and has not been

seen since. The interior of his house as well as his

furniture was completely demolished. The family of Schuman is now on what is known as the Bryce Plantation.

In addition to the eight mentioned above, bodies of three unidentified negroes whose names I have been unable to

learn but which I expect to receive at an early date, were taken from the Little River just below Cuitman. I was

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July 10, 1918

McMORANDUM FOR GOVERNOR DORSEY PROM WALTER F. WITTE. Below are given some of the facts discovered during

a recent visit to Brooks and Lowndes Counties, with reference to the recent lynchings in these two counties:

It was learned that the following negroes are known to have been lynched, the first six of these having been re-

ported in the daily press: Will Head, Will Thompson,

Hayes Turner, Mary Turner,

Eugene Rice

Sidney Johnson. In addition to these, a negro by the name of Chime

Riley was lynched and turpentine curs (these being clay

curs used to catch turpentine gum when the trees are cut to obtain guml were tied to his body and the body was then

thrown into the Little River near Banney, Georgia. My informant in regard to this case, told me that he went down

to the river hoping to find the body when the river was low; but assumed that the body had probably become entangled in

the sand bars and therefore could not be discovered. He

secured, however, one of the turpentine cups which had been tied to the body of Riley. The name of this man, I could

not learn, but I saw him on the spot where Mary Turner was

lynched. Another negro by the name of Simon Schuman was

called out of his house near Berlin on the Moultrie Road between eight and nine o'clock at night and has not been

seen since. The interior of his house as well as his

furniture was completely demolished. The family of

Schuman is now on what is known as the Bryce Plantation.

In addition to the eight mentioned above, bodies of three

unidentified negroes whose names I have been unable to learn but which I expect to receive at an early date, were taken from the Little River just below Cuitman. I was

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informed by a minister that eighteen negroes have been Killed. I discovered only the eleven mentioned above.

The causes of the crime and lynchings I discovered were

as follows: Hampton Smith, the white farmer who was murdered seems to have borne the reputation of grossly mistreating

the hands employed on his plantation known as the Old Joyce Place on the Adel and Quitman Road. He seems to have had

the habit of beating these hands and refusing to pay them wages due them. This reputation had become so wide-spread

that it was practically impossible for him to secure labor.

He, therefore, hed been in the habit of paying the fines of

Regroes convicted in the courts, and having them work out

these fines on his plantation. Sidney Johnson, the negro

who admitted Killing smith, had been convicted of gaming and had been fined $30.00 which was paid by smith. A few

days previous to the tragedy Johnson had complained of be-

ing sick and had been beaten by Smith when he refused to go

to work. Johnson is said to have threatened Smith for hav-

ing beaten him while he was sick. Smith was shot through the window while sitting in his home Thursday night, May 16th. Hs was shot twice, one shot entering the back and coming out near the heart, the other shot entering the

shoulder, breaking it, passing entirely through the body

and coming out through the other shoulder. His wife was also shot, the bullet passing directly through the center

of her breast and just missing her heart and lungs. Her

wounds are not serious. In regard to the statements made

to the Governor that she was subjected to severe brutality

and was raped; My information is that this is not true, although a number of conflicting statements have been given

in regard to this. This can be definitely ascertained by 152356

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the fect that she was in her sixth or seventh month of pregnancy at the time of the crime, and I have been informed by

several reliable physicians that had this been true she would be unable to give birth to the child, and a miscarriage would have resulted. I suggest that it be ascertain-

ed whether or not she has given birth to a child since that time. I have also been informed by the same physicians that the shot alone would not necessarily cause a miscar-

riage, but that raping or even rough handling would have cused such a condition. Contrary to the press accounts of the affair, Sidney

Johnson was not concealed in the swamps near Quitman, but was at his home in Valdosta from the time of the crime up

to the time he was killed by the posse. He is said to

have made the statement to several persons that he alone was implicated in the crime of murdering smith, and that the other parties lynched knew nothing about it until after

the crime was committed.

As stated above, Will Head and Will Thompson were lynched on Friday night, May 17th. Hayes Turner was taken

from the Jail at Quitman by Sheriff Wade and the Clerk of

the County Court, Roland Knight, by name, for the purpose of being carried to Moultrie for safe-keeping. Turner was

taken from these officers about three and a half miles from Quitman near a bridge on the Okapilco Creek. He was hanged with his hands hand-cuffed behind him. He

hung on the tree between Saturday and Monday and was then cut down by the county convicts and buried about five feet

from the tree on which he was lynched. Mary Turner, his wife, made the remark that the lynching of her husband was

unjust and that he knew nothing of the crime, and that 1f she knew the parties who were in the mob, she would have warrants sworn out against them. For this she was captured on Sunday and carried to a place a few yards from

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Folsomts Fidge on Little River and there lynched. The

method of execution in this case was most brutal. At the

time she was lynched, Mary Turner was in her eighth month of pregnancy. Her ankles were tied together and she was

hung to the tree head down. Casoline was taken from the ears and poured on herelothing which was then fired. When her clothes had burned off, a sherp instrument was taken

and she was cut open in the middle, her stomach being entirely opened. Her unborn child fell from her womb, gave two cries and was then crushed by the heel of a member of

the mob. Her body was then riddled with bullets from

high-powered rifles until it was no longer possible to recognise it as the body of a humen being. The tree on

which she was lynched bears the marks of several bullets from high-powered guns. Mary Turner and her child are buried about ten feet from the tree and at the head of her

grave is a whiskey bottle with a cigar stump placed in the neck. It is my information that the leaders of the mob which

on Friday night, May 17th, lynched Will Head and Will Thompson were 3. E. McGowan, an undertaker of Cuitman, and W. a.

WWhipple, a cotton broker and merchandise dealer of the same place. The following names were given to me as being the

names of men who were members of the mob, by a man who stated that he himself was a member: Ordley Vates, Clerk in the Post Office,

Frank Purvis, Employed by Griffin Furniture Company,

Fulton Devane, Stock Dealer and Auditorand Agent for Standard O1l Compapy. Chalmers, Farmer near Quitman, Lee Therrill, Farher near Quitman, Brown Sherrill, Employed by W.A. Whipple,

Richard Devane, Farmer,

Ross Devane, Farmer,

Van, Barber,

JIn Dickson, Farner, Dixon Smith, Brotherof Hampton Smith,

Will Smith, Brother of Hempton Smith,

and Two other Brothers of Hempton smith.

These names were given to me in confidence by a man who admitted that he was a member of the mob, on the condition

that I would not divulge his name, as to do so would

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