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Lynching at Clapp's Factory on 09 JUN 1900

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    Lynching at Clapp s Factory, 09 JUN 1900 ...Some of the jurors [in the 1912 trail of four men for the lynching of T. Z. McELHANEY], several of whom were
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 17, 2004
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      Lynching at Clapp's Factory, 09 JUN 1900


      "...Some of the jurors [in the 1912 trail of four men for the lynching
      of T. Z. McELHANEY], several of whom were middle-aged or older, might
      have recalled a lynching that took place near Clapp's Factory in 1900.
      Many of the townspeople must have remembered it. Certainly Judge
      Price GILBERT, who was solicitor of the Chattahoochee Circuit at the
      time the lynching took place, would have recalled it. So would
      Solicitor George PALMER, most likely.

      "It happened in June, the lynching month in Columbus. The victim was
      Simon ADAMS, 19, a black farm laborer who had worked for Judge A. H.
      ALMOND in northern Muscogee County for three years. The ALMOND family
      was widely known in Columbus. ALMOND was, in reality, a farmer who
      was a justice of the peace in the Nances District. His 17-year-old
      daughter, Jessie, attended St. Elmo Institute in town, and there were
      a 10-year-old daughter and a teen-age[d] son as well.

      "In the first hour of Saturday, June 9, ADAMS was [allegedly]
      discovered trying to slip through a window into the bedroom of
      ALMOND's daughters. Jessie ALMOND was [supposedly] awakened by the
      sound of ADAMS' foot striking the floor by the window. She sent up an
      alarm. The girls fled from the room and ALMOND [allegedly] discovered
      ADAMS hiding in a closet in the girls' bedroom. [Transcriber's note:
      this man never had a trial and nor an opportunity to either tell his
      side of the story publicly or defend himself. Because the accused is
      presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, according to
      the principals of our system of Justice in America, it would be unfair
      to portray this man as guilty of any crime. - jml] He was bound, at
      gunpoint, and a heavy iron chain was secured around his neck. At some
      time after first light, he was started along Hamilton Road toward
      Columbus 'in the hands of a trustworthy keeper,' not named but
      presumably ALMOND's teenage[d] son.

      "As reported in The Enquirer-Sun, it was initially understood that at
      Denson's store in Beallwood, ADAMS was seized by unnamed parties and
      hurried westward across the country, through Beallwood back of the
      YOUNG place, to the North Highlands woods by the Chattahoochee River,
      where he was lynched.

      "'It is said,' reported The Enquirer-Sun, 'that the Negro was thrown
      into the water at a rather swift place in the river and was told to
      swim for his life. It is understood that the iron chain was still
      around his neck, but notwithstanding this fact, he managed to keep
      above the water for a short while. As he struggled out in the stream
      the party fired at him. He was wounded, but began to dive. It is
      said that his last dive was some ten feet. As he came up this time,
      he is said to have been shot in the head, a bullet from a Winchester
      entering near the ear. He then sank to come to the top no more. The
      shot evidently killed him. It is possible that the chain will not be
      of sufficient weight to keep the body down, and that it will rise in
      the next day or two.'

      "Subsequently, although The Enquirer-Sun appears to have been able to
      substantiate its version of the lynching, it was learned that ADAMS
      was not taken by the lynchers from Denson's Store, but had been turned
      over to a Muscogee County bailiff for escort to town. The
      Enquirer-Sun's reporter tracked down the bailiff and asked him what
      happened. (Where the bailiff's comments are in italics [in
      *asterisks*], they are based on extensive indirect quotations recorded
      by the newspaper reporter.)

      "The bailiff said he had been at Denson's Store in Beallwood at around
      8 o'clock on Saturday morning when he received instructions to go get
      ADAMS and carry him to jail in Columbus. The bailiff said he was told
      that ADAMS was over on the edge of the North Highlands woods, just
      west of the River Road.

      "*I went there and found the Negro with two or three persons about
      him,* the bailiff said. *A boy seemed to have him in charge. The boy
      asked me if I were an officer, and I told him that I was, and the
      Negro was turned over to me. I got in the wagon and began driving it
      through the woods toward the North Highlands pavilion.*

      "At this point the reporter interrupted and asked the bailiff why he
      did not go straight down the River Road to town instead of cutting
      through the woods. The bailiff said it was his idea to go around by
      North Highlands so as not to attract attention and slip his prisoner
      safely into the city. The reporter noted that the road the bailiff
      had chosen would have led only to the vicinity of the pavilion and
      stopped. [By 1908, there was an area known as North Highlands Park,
      and this pavilion may have been a feature of the park. - jml]

      "The bailiff said that, at that point, he was overtaken by a crowd of
      men who drew Winchester rifles on him and forced him to surrender his
      prisoner.

      "The Sun reporter asked him how many men had been in the lynching
      party.

      "*I don't know,* the bailiff replied, grinning. *At that moment,
      every man looked like three.*

      "Asked if he knew any of the men, the bailiff said:

      "*I didn't recognize anybody. I was more concerned with the guns
      than
      with the men behind them.*

      "It is not known if ADAMS' body was ever found, or if there was any
      effort on the part of local authorities to pursue the case. The only
      eyewitness who would talk was a black woman who had seen a group of
      white men early that morning at the point where Clapp's Creek empties
      into the Chattahoochee. She saw the men stop and take off their
      coats. Something in their manner frightened her and she ran. She did
      not see ADAMS. Later that day, someone reported having heard 15 to 20
      gunshots from the direction of the North Highlands woods. That
      afternoon, about 20 empty shotgun, rifle and pistol shells were found
      on an island near Clapp's Factory. If these shells had anything to do
      with the lynching of Simon ADAMS, we do not know for certain.

      "There is much about the death of Simon ADAMS that we may never know,
      just as there is much we may never know about the deaths of Jesse
      SLATON, Will MILES, William CORNAKER, the Rev. Joseph HARDY, John
      CRUTCHFIELD, Belle HATHAWAY, Eugene HEMMING, John MOORE and all the
      rest of the victims of mob violence in the Columbus area and
      throughout the South and the nation.

      "However, by a curious stroke of fortune - it is preserved on a fading
      and rarely consulted strip of microfilm in the morgue of The
      Ledger-Enquirer - we know the name of the bailiff who had charge of
      the prisoner in the North Highland[s] woods that brilliantly clear
      Saturday morning, June 9, 1900.

      "It was A[aron] B[rewster] LAND."

      [Excerpted from "Incident at Wynn's Hill, Part Seven: Tale Passes Into
      Memory," by Bill Winn, in the "Columbus, GA, Ledger-Enquirer"
      newspaper, Saturday, 31 JAN 1987, pp. A-1 and A-4. A. Brewster LAND
      was my great-grandfather. - jml]
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