Judge Lott Warren

Judge Lott Warren presided over the Lowndes County Grand Jury of 1833, at Franklinville, GA, the county seat of Lowndes which then included most of present day Berrien County.

Lott Warren was the presiding judge on the Southern Circuit at the Lowndes County Grand Jury Presentments of 1833.

Lott Warren was the presiding judge on the Southern Circuit at the Lowndes County Grand Jury Presentments of 1833.

 

According to the History of Bethel Association,

“His ancestors came from England, and settled in Virginia, from whence his father, Josiah Warren, removed to North Carolina during the Revolutionary war, and married Nancy Doty, in the county of Onslow. After the birth of two children, his parents settled in Burke county, Georgia, where Lott, the eleventh child, was born on the 30th day of October, 1797. From Burke they removed, in 1804, to a place four miles below Dublin, on the Oconee River, in Laurens county.

In his eighth year the subject of this memoir went to his first school, with six brothers and sisters, who walked daily upwards of three miles, to obtain what knowledge Mr. Matthew Burns, an Englishman, could impart during his sober intervals. The school lasted nine months; but, at the end of two quarters, Mr. Warren withdrew his children, owing to the intemperate habits of the teacher. Being a pious member of the Baptist Church, and a magistrate, Mr. Warren had a peculiar dislike to drunkards’, and, from his condemnation of that vice, his son, of whom it is our privilege to speak, no doubt imbibed that antipathy to alcoholic drinks which has since marked his career. Residing in a wilderness frontier, distant from other settlements, Mr. Warren was frequently called upon, as a justice of the peace, to unite persons in wedlock at his own house. On such occasions the visiting party brought their own wine or brandy, as the case might be, and used it among themselves; no member of the household participating.

In February, 1809, Mr. Warren and his wife both died. It is due to the memory of this excellent man to say, that he was an humble and zealous Christian, and a faithful magistrate. His very name was a terror to evil doers. He committed the guardianship of his sons Lott and Eli, (the latter now General Warren, of Houston county,) to the Rev. Charles Culpepper, who had married his eldest daughter. Mr. Culpepper was a minister of the Baptist Church, and brother of the Hon. John Culpepper, formerly a representative in Congress from North Carolina. After the season for working the crop was over, Lott passed a few weeks at school, under Mr. Joseph Culpepper, in 1809. His guardian removed to Wilkinson county in 1812, then a rough frontier settlement, and was sent to school to Mr. Elkanah Powell, (who was afterwards killed in Twiggs county, by a man named Summers.) During the six months under Mr. Powell’s tuition, our pupil learned to write, and made some progress in arithmetic. His next teacher was Mr. James Fitzgerald, (now a venerable citizen of Houston county.) and, after the usual labor on the farm, he again went to Mr. Powell’s school. While there an incident occurred, which, as it had a controlling influence on the mind of young Warren, is worthy of special notice.

A man was charged with forging a note on Gov. Irwin, and his trial came on in Wilkinson Superior Court, before the Hon. Stephen W. Harris, Judge. The prosecution was sustained by Colonel Abednego Franklin, Solicitor-General, assisted by Colonel Moses Fort. The prisoner was defended by Colonel Seaborn Jones, now of Columbus. Gov. Irwin was sworn and examined as a witness. His praise was in all the land. By leave of his teacher, young Warren was present as a spectator, the first privilege he had ever enjoyed of witnessing a trial in court. Standing barefoot, a coarse, ungainly lad of fifteen, clad in homespun, with wool hat in hand, gazing with intense curiosity, from a window, on the scene before him, all silence to hear the Governor deliver his testimony, what was his astonishment to hear Colonel Jones cross-examine the witness with as much boldness and rigor as if he had been only a common man! Speeches of counsel and the charge of the court followed; the whole proceeding filled him with an irresistible desire to be a lawyer. On his return home at night, he mentioned the subject to his sister, who expressed surprise and sorrow, raising two principal objections: first, that he had not the means, (his patrimony being less than $500,) to prepare for the bar, and in the next place she did not consider lawyers sufficiently moral. He replied that he must have an English education in some way, and as to any supposed vices prevalent amongst lawyers, he would endeavor to be an exception. His sister was nothing convinced, and disposed of his request without even consulting his guardian. She lived to see him, in less than twenty years afterwards, Judge of the Southern Circuit.

His brother, Eli Warren,  also became a lawyer and a judge, as well as a planter, state representative and representative to two Georgia Constitutional Conventions.

In the spring of 1810, young Warren entered as a clerk in the store of Amos Love, a pious Baptist, to whom Mr. Culpepper ministered in, Dublin. Owing to bad health, he left Dublin in the fall, and became clerk to S. & B. Worrel, in Irwinton, near his sister, and shortly returned to Mr. Love. Within a few weeks he was drafted into the militia service for the Seminole war; and in February, 1818, was elected Second Lieutenant of the Laurens Company, commanded by Capt. Elijah Dean.

[This was during Andrew Jackson’s invasion of Spanish East Florida on an expedition against the Seminoles in 1818, the First Seminole War.]

This was his first promotion; and highly gratified, no doubt, was he with his martial honors on the eve of an expedition. Not for the purpose of showing any military talent or conspicuous deed in arms, to entitle Lieutenant Warren to public admiration, do we attempt a brief sketch of the campaign in which he served; but to preserve a few incidents, of which he is, perhaps, the best if not the only living witness, in relation to the burning of the Indian town of Chehaw, near the present site of Starkville, Lee county. It was the burning of this town that led to an animated correspondence* between Gen. Andrew Jackson and Gov. Rabun. 

After General Gaines retired from Amelia Island, he took command of the state troops which had been ordered out by the Governor, and among them a company of Chatham militia, together with the Laurens and Wilkinson Companies. They were ordered to the Big Bend of the Ocmulgee River, below Hartford, under the command of Major Clinton Wright, of the U. S. Army, to discover the course of the Indians, who had been committing murders and robberies on that frontier. After organizing the guard, Major Wright, pointing his sword towards him, said, “Lieut. Warren, I shall look to you for the discharge of the duties of Adjutant of this detachment. Come to my fire as soon as possible.” The young subaltern went accordingly, and in vain alleged his ignorance of duty as a reason why he should be excused from the task. But the reply was, “You have nothing to do except to obey orders.” Thus forced into the position, Lieut. Warren performed its labor actively, much to his own improvement, and to the satisfaction of a meritorious officer, who was drowned soon afterwards in attempting to cross Flint River on a raft.

From Big Bend, by way of Hartford, the command marched on the Blackshear road to Fort Early, where it crossed Flint River in the night, and proceeded to destroy the Hoponee and Philemi towns, fifteen or twenty miles west of the river. Evidence had been collected implicating these towns in the atrocities on the frontier. Arrived within a few miles of the Chehaw town, which was supposed to be Philemi, a council of war was called, and it was determined to send forty of the best mounted men to reconnoitre. They discovered large herds of cattle that had been stolen from the whites on the Ocmulgee, ahd an Indian minding them. Captain Obed Wright, of the Chatham militia, who had volunteered his services, had positive orders from the Governor to destroy the Hoponee and Philemi towns, which were known to be hostile. Captain Wright then formed the command into column, and gave express orders that the women and children should not be hurt, and that a white flag should be respected. Within half a mile of the main town a gate was opened by an aged warrior, and the troops passed in. Every thing was quiet. The children swung in their hammocks, and the women were beating meal. The cavalry in front fired several pistols to the left, killing the warrior who opened the gate. Capt. Dean ordered a charge, but Capt. Wright countermanded the order. Two Indians were seen loading their guns. About this time, Howard, a friendly chief, was killed, while holding up a white flag. The men dashed off in pursuit of the Indians, who fled in every direction. Lieut. Warren was ordered, with eighteen men, to burn the cabins. First removing whatever was valuable, two or three cabins only were burnt. The command then returned to Fort Early that night, sold the plunder next day, and divided the spoil. Lieut. Warren refused his portion.

It was the opinion of all concerned at the time, that it was Philemi town which had been destroyed. The chief Howard, and two other Indians who placed themselves in the power of the troops, were murdered in cold blood. But the error had been committed rashly, under excitement, and could not be repaired. The companies were soon discharged, and returned home. Lieut. Warren resumed his situation in Mr. Love’s store.

In a few days, Major Davis, of the U. S. Army, called on Lieut. Warren in Dublin, and stated that he had orders from Gen. Jackson to arrest Capt. Wright. Lieut. Warren accompanied him to the hotel, .where he introduced him to Capt. Wright, who at once submitted. It may as well be remarked here that Capt. Wright had not been mustered into the service of the United States, and was, of course, not subject to the orders of Gen. Jackson. His arrest, by the authority of the latter, was therefore regarded by Gov. Rabun and the justices of the Inferior Court of Baldwin county, as a usurpation of power. After the discharge of Capt. Wright, upon Habeas Corpus, at Milledgeville, the Governor had him immediately arrested for disobeying orders, in not destroying the Hoponee and Philemi towns, as well as Chehaw, but, being at liberty on his parole of honor, Capt. Wright escaped.

We close this part of the memoir by a few extracts from the correspondence between Gen, Jackson and Gov. Rabun, as relevant. Referring to the outrage on the Chehaw village, Gen. Jackson in his letter of May 7, 1818, says:

“Such base cowardice and murderous conduct as this transaction affords, has no parallel in history, and shall meet with its merited punishment. You, sir, as Governor of a State within my military division, have no right to give a military order while I am in the field; and this being an open and violent infringement of the treaty with the Creek Indians, Capt. Wright must be prosecuted and punished for this outrageous murder, and I have ordered him to be arrested and confined in irons, until the pleasure of the President of the United States is known upon the subject. If he has left Hartford before my orders reach him, I call upon you, as Governor of Georgia, to aid me in carrying into effect my order for his arrest and confinement, which I trust will be afforded, and Captain Wright brought to condign punishment for this unparalleled murder.”

In his reply of June 1st, after referring to the communication of Gen. Glascock, on which Gen. Jackson based his censure, Gov. Rabun says:

“Had you, sir, or General Glascock, been in possession of the facts that produced this affair, it is to be presumed, at least, that you would not have indulged in a strain so indecorous and unbecoming. I had, on the 21st March last, stated the situation of our bleeding frontier to you, and requested you, in respectful terms, to detail a part of your overwhelming force for our protection, or that you would furnish supplies, and I would order out more troops, to which you have never yet deigned to reply. You state, in a very haughty tone, that I, a Governor of a State under your military division, have no right to give a military order whilst you were in the field. Wretched and contemptible indeed must be our situation if this be the fact. When the liberties of the people of Georgia shall have been prostrated at the feet of a military despotism, then, and not till then, will your imperious doctrine be tamely submitted to. you may rest assured that if the savages continue their depredations on our unprotected frontier, I shall think and act for myself in that respect.”

We have introduced these pungent passages, not only as a part of history, but to prepare the way to a graceful scene in Congress, twenty-four years afterward, between Ex-President Adams and Judge Warren, which we shall describe at the proper time.

Not having relinquished his design of becoming a member of the legal profession, Mr. Warren applied himself six months to a grammar school, in 1819, kept by Doctor William A. Hill, at the residence of General David Blackshear. Soon thereafter he was employed as supercargo, or agent, on a flatboat, to keep the accounts of the commissioners of the Oconee River, to buy provisions for the hands at work in cleaning out the river, and to disburse money set apart for this and other purposes connected with the inland navigation of Georgia. Having frequent intervals of leisure, he read Blackstone’s Commentaries, through while on the river, and before retiring from his situation, in February, 1820.

 

Commentaries on the Laws of England, by William Blackstone, are an influential 18th-century treatise on the common law of England by Sir William Blackstone, originally published by the Clarendon Press at Oxford, 1765–1769. The work is divided into four volumes, on the rights of persons, the rights of things, of private wrongs and of public wrongs. " As an elementary book, however, it may be enough to say that the whole body of American lawyers and advocates, with very few exceptions, since the Revolution, have drawn their first lessons in jurisprudence from the pages of Blackstone’s Commentaries; and no more modern work has succeeded as yet in superseding it."

Commentaries on the Laws of England, by William Blackstone, are an influential 18th-century treatise on the common law of England by Sir William Blackstone, originally published by the Clarendon Press at Oxford, 1765–1769. The work is divided into four volumes, on the rights of persons, the rights of things, of private wrongs and of public wrongs. ” As an elementary book, however, it may be enough to say that the whole body of American lawyers and advocates, with very few exceptions, since the Revolution, have drawn their first lessons in jurisprudence from the pages of Blackstone’s Commentaries; and no more modern work has succeeded as yet in superseding it.”

He then entered the law-office of Daniel McNeel, Esq., in Dublin, and diligently applied himself to legal studies, not, however, with such entire devotion as to exclude matrimony from his thoughts. An attachment formed at school was crowned, October 19th, 1820, by his marriage with Miss Jane Desaubleaux, orphan of a French gentleman [Louis P. B. DeSaubleaux] who came to the United States during the Revolutionary War, and who constituted General Blackshear the testamentary guardian of his daughters. The patrimony of his bride for a long time was unproductive, but at length became valuable from the character of the property. 

At March term, 1821, of Laurens Superior Court, Mr. Warren was admitted to the bar. He immediately opened an office in Dublin, and attended several of the courts in the southern and middle circuits, with a fair prospect of business.

That same year he became the guardian of his wife’s younger sister, Penelope DeSaubleaux, who was still a minor. He acted as an administrator, along with William L. Mcree, for his father-in-law’s estate, liquidating DeSaubleaux’s slave holdings and Laurens county plantation for the benefit of the heirs.

Appointment of Lott Warren as an administrator of the estate of Louis P. DeSaubleaux and guardian of his minor child, Penelope DeSaubleaux

Appointment of Lott Warren as an administrator of the estate of Louis P. DeSaubleaux and guardian of his minor child, Penelope DeSaubleaux

In 1823, he was elected a major of battalion in the militia, and in 1824 a representative in the legislature from Laurens county. With a view to improve his situation he removed to the village of Marion, Twiggs county, in February, 1825.

Lott Warren was temporarily serving as Solicitor-General of the Southern Circuit during the presentments of the Grand Jury of Telfair County at the June term, 1825. Among the jurors at that term of court were Redden Wooten, John Lawson, and Daniel McDonald, the three of which would later move to Lowndes County, GA. The presiding judge was Thaddeus G. Holt who that same year presided over the very first session of the Superior Court of Lowndes County, convened at the home of Sion Hall, and where Levi J. Knight served as foreman of the Grand Jury.

In March of 1826,  Thomas D. Mitchell, Esq., Solicitor-General of the Southern Circuit, was killed in a duel with Dr. Ambrose Barber.  Governor Troup made a recess appointment to place Lott Warren as Solicitor-General of the Southern Circuit, the appointment being ratified by the Legislature in November, 1826.  While in office, it became his duty to prosecute several Indians in Thomas county, for murder. According to the Bench and Bar of Georgia,

That portion of Georgia was then on the Indian frontier, and the abode of a miserable population, such as the adjoining wilds of Florida had invited. Robberies and murders were frequent, sometimes perpetrated by white men and most generally shifted off on the Indians. The Hon. Moses Fort, Judge of the Southern Circuit, held the first court in Thomas county in 1826. Two Indians were convicted before him on the offence of murder. They had killed a man by the name of White as the latter and his friends were trying to recapture certain property which the Indians had stolen. The late William H. Torrance, Esq. was appointed by the court to see that the prisoners got a fair trial. His plea to the jurisdiction of the court, on the ground that the offence was committed in Florida, (within certain disputed lines,) having been overruled, very little could be said to the merits. The solicitor-general [Lott Warren] had the assistance of Mr. [Paul] Coalson, -if not in the argument, at least in the evidence. It is presumed, however, that the prosecution needed no very special aid, as there was no adverse public opinion to combat.
When the prisoners were brought before the court to receive sentence of death, they were told through an interpreter what was to be done with them, – hung by the neck until they were dead. The judge omitted to invoke the usual blessing, – “May God have mercy on their souls!” – for the reason that the prisoners did not understand English.”

He served in this capacity to April, 1828, inclusive.  He declined being a candidate for re-election.

About the time he retired from the office of Solicitor-General, the intellect and energy of Major Warren began to attract public observation. He was employed in almost every litigated case on the circuit. No one excelled him in zeal, and but few in strength, among his associates at the bar. He frequently came in collision with Shorter, Prince, Rockwell, Torrance, Strong, and other advocates of established reputation, and always sustained himself in argument. Mr. Warren was never eloquent, if flowery language, a cultivated voice, and classic gestures be indispensable to eloquence; but he was at all times interesting,—a close reasoner, with authorities well applied; and what was better still, he exhibited a degree of self-possession and common-sense which often secured him victory in the jury-box over a competitor far more astute and pretending.

In 1828, Lott Warren chaired a large public meeting held at the Twiggs County courthouse at Marion, GA to protest the “Tariff of Abominations” which had been enacted during Andrew Jackson’s administration. The tariff, which protected northern industry and was unfavorable to the Southern agricultural economy, would lead to the Nullification Crisis. On February 1, 1833 Lott Warren would play a prominent role in the formation of the Twiggs County Free Trade & State Rights Association; Thaddeus G. Holt served as the first chairman of that organization. The State Rights Party of Georgia would be launched in 1833 by prominent leaders of the Troup party, including William H. Crawford, John M. Berrien, George R. Gilmer,  William C. Dawson, and Augustin S. Clayton.  In Lowndes County, the effort to form a State Rights Association was led by William A. KnightLevi J. KnightHamilton W. SharpeJohn Blackshear, John McLean, John E. Tucker, and William Smith at Franklinville, GA, 1834.  At the Independence Day Celebration, 1834 at Franklinville, these men and other prominent citizens of Lowndes County repeatedly toasted Nullification in opposition to Federal authority.  Among the state rights Lott Warren was most concerned with were the right of Georgia to incarcerate Native Americans without interference from the Federal Government, and the right of Georgians to retrieve fugitive slaves from other states.  Lott Warren was a slave owner, as shown in the 1860 Census of “Slave Inhabitants” of Albany, Dougherty County, GA.

Lott Warren had always been a warm supporter of Governor Troup. In 1830  he was elected to the state Legislature as the senator from Twiggs County and was seated when that body convened, but the election was contested.  An investigation ensued in the Legislature, but ultimately his election was confirmed.

 In his senatorial career of only one session, he was active in the preparation and advocacy of measures which he deemed for the public good. He exerted considerable influence in debate, and returned to his constituents with praise. The organization of the Cherokee Territory, which led to the imprisonment of the Missionaries, and the fruitless mandate of the Supreme Court to enjoin the execution of the Indian Tassels, was the leading topic of the session, and received the cordial support of the Senator from Twiggs.

In November, 1831, Mr. Warren was elected by the legislature, Judge of the Superior Courts of the Southern District, for a term of three years. Although his manner of presiding was not altogether as affable and patient as some members of the bar desired, his decisions were in general satisfactory, from the sound reasoning on which they were based. Occasionally, when a question was raised, he embarrassed counsel by an intimation of his mind, yet seldom declined hearing the argument in full. It was evident, however, from his countenance, which he rarely attempted to control for effect, that his opinion had been formed, and that it was a useless consumption of time to combat it. In such emergencies, if counsel, gathering courage and fresh ideas from the necessity of the case, could succeed in impressing the Judge that his hasty conclusion was adverse to recognized authorities, a very patient hearing was accorded; and if he was really convinced of error, he always had the frankness to correct it in proper time. It has happened, that older members of the bar, entertaining a very liberal estimate of their own qualifications, and no extraordinary respect for those of the Judge, owing, no doubt, to his want of polish and urbanity,—have ventured to argue a point, contrary to rule, after the court had pronounced its decision. To such experiments, he promptly gave a quietus by reminding counsel that the protection which the Rules of Court afforded the Bench, after a question had been decided, was not altogether nominal in his court. On a few occasions, when even this hint was unavailing, and the attempt to argue was further persisted in, he has been known to order counsel to their seats.

Judge Warren never pretend[ed] to forget the obscurity and adversities of his youth; and while he manifest[ed] a due respect for the rights and feelings of others, he never permitted any infringement of his own to escape rebuke. Soon after he settled in Marion, a gentleman, who felt himself aggrieved by the testimony of Mr. Warren before a committee of the House of Representatives, made a very conspicuous and disrespectful allusion to him, in his absence, at a public dinner. As soon as he was informed of it, Mr. Warren dispatched a note by a gallant friend, opening the way to explanation, or, that failing, to another resort usual among gentleman who recognized the code of honor. Mutual friends interposed, and the affair was honorably adjusted. We mention this circumstance merely to show that Judge Warren [had] warm passions. His temperament [was] essentially sanguine. [From 1833], however, he [was] a pious member of the Baptist Church, and kept his constitutional ardor more in subjection.

In the 1830s, Lott Warren became a prominent member of the Twiggs County Temperance Society. On July 28, 1832 he was present at the constitution of this organization and was elected its first president.  He was a member of Richland Church. He served on the church committee organizing the protracted meeting of the United Effort Company held at Richland Church which commenced on the Friday before the second Sunday in May, 1835.

At the expiration of his judicial term, in 1834, without having placed himself in the power of a legislative majority opposed to him in politics, Judge Warren resumed the practice of the law.

In December 1834, in order to pursue his business interests, Lott Warren offered his Twiggs County property for sale; “577 and 3/4 acres of land, lying near Marion, most of it good planting land, finely timbered and well-watered; 200 acres in cultivation and in a good state for making a crop – also, a few hands, stock of horses, cattle, hogs, &c.”

In January 1836.  Lott Warren moved from Marion County to Americus, GA. Following the Battle of Chickasawhatchie Swamp in the summer of 1836, he was among those presiding at a testimonial dinner at Americus, GA given in honor and gratitude for the “arduous service” of the Sumter County Volunteer Militia in the campaign “against the Creek Indians.”  The Native Americans, resisting the forceful removal to the West and fleeing to Florida, also passed through Lowndes County where local militia companies engaged them at several locations including the Skirmish at Bill Parker’s Place, the Battle of Brushy Creek, actions on Warrior Creek, Skirmish at Cow Creek, actions on Little River and at Grand Bay, and the skirmish at Troublesome Ford.

In 1837, Lott Warren was a trustee of The Georgia Baptist Institute, at Talbotton, GA.  “Talbotton is situated on the ridge of country dividing the waters of the Flint and Chattahoochee rivers, and directly on the daily stage rout from Washington City to New Orleans.”   That same year he went into partnership with William H. Crawford, with  offices in Americus, GA and providing legal services in Muscogee, Marion, Stewart, Randolph, Early, Baker, Lee, Sumter, Houston, Twiggs, Pulaski, Lowndes, Thomas Decatur and Dooly counties. In December, 1837, at a Convention of the State Rights Party, Lott Warren was nominated as a candidate for the United States Congress. In the election of 1838, he won a seat in the the U.S. House of Representatives; Julius C. Alford, who led actions against the Indians in Lowndes in Lowndes County in 1836, was also elected to the House. Although Warren did not seek the nomination, at the Anti-Van Buren Convention held June 1, 1840 at Milledgeville, he was again advanced as a candidate in the election of 1840. Subsequently , he was duly elected.

On his motion, the one-hour rule was adopted. He had seen such unnecessary waste of time for the sake of notoriety in discussion, and for selfish purposes on the part of members of Congress, that he resolved to correct the evil. Guided by a strong will of his own, against the persuasion of many friends, he moved in the matter, and the one-hour rule was incorporated into the forms of the House. Though much complained of by longwinded talkers, the rule continues still unrepealed, and will remain a proof of the sagacity and nerve of the mover…

While absent in Congress, Judge Warren was ably represented at the bar by his partner in the practice, William H. Crawford, Esq., son of the former distinguished Secretary of the Treasury—Georgia’s candidate for President in 1824. From Americus he removed to his farm in Lee county, and from thence to the town of Albany, [then] in Baker county…. In 1843 he was elected Judge of the Superior Courts of the South-Western District, and re-elected in 1847 for a term which …expire[d] in December, 1852.

For many years the Judge has acted a prominent part in the affairs of his church, frequently officiating in the pulpit, and is ever foremost in the promotion of Sunday-Schools, Bible Societies, and other benevolent institutions. He has tender sympathies and a charitable heart. Avarice forms no part of his nature. His property, though not large, renders him independent. Much of his income has been expended in a generous hospitality. Preachers, religious persons of all denominations, and his friends generally, feel quite at home under his roof.

In person, the Judge is fully six feet high, and weighs about one hundred and ninety pounds. His forehead is large and round, eyes blue, and complexion fresh and sandy. He steps quick, and is a little restless when sitting, unless his attention is much engaged. Owing to his kind feelings, which are manifest in his countenance, he does not always preserve that order in Court which a more austere visage and deportment would command. When the noise amounts to an interruption of business, he frequently alarms the bailiffs by threats of a fine for a neglect of duty. Perfect silence then reigns for a moment, but soon the uproar is renewed, the Judge himself setting the example by some pleasantry with the bar.

As the style of “Lott Warren Division, No. —,” in Sumter county, would indicate, the Judge is a son of Temperance. His lectures on that subject are very interesting. In fact, his whole time is occupied, in some way, in trying to benefit his fellow-beings. In politics, he is strictly conservative, and prefers the Union as it is, to any change which might be proposed as a remedy for real or imaginary grievances.

We have endeavored to exhibit the character and qualities of Judge Warren with that fidelity which an acquaintance of twenty-five years enables us to exercise. His example ought to stimulate poor and friendless youth to strike bravely, and bear up with fortitude, in the contest of life. If such shall be the tendency of this memoir, the writer will have accomplished his object.

In politics Lott Warren was a Whig, and he, along with his brother, General Eli Warren, and nephew Judge James Jackson Scarborough all attended the 1852 Scott Convention, the Whig state convention held at Macon, Georgia to nominate General Winfield Scott as the Whig candidate for president, with his running mate William A. Graham.  James Jackson Scarborough was trained in law under the supervision of his uncles; In 1848, Judge Scarborough would preside at Troupville, GA in the Lowndes County trial of Manuel and Jonathan Studstill for the murder of William Slaughter.

The  1934 History of Bethel Association adds the eulogy of Lott Warren by the Albany church:

“Our beloved brother, Lott Warren, departed this life on Monday, 17th of June, 1861. Such was his prominence as a citizen, a Christian, and an able and active member of this church, that it becomes highly proper that a brief memorial of his life and character should be entered upon our record.

He was born in Burke County, Georgia, October 30th, 1797. After an energetic and noble struggle with many difficulties in his early years, he at length entered upon the practice of law, which he prosecuted, with some short intervals, with much ability and success to the hour of his death. He was called by his fellow citizens to many important positions of trust and honor. He was for a time a member of our State Legislature (of the House in 1824, and of the Senate in 1830); and also Solicitor-General (from 1826 to 1828), and Judge (from 1831 to 1834), of the Southern Circuit. [It was during this period that he presided over the presentments of the Lowndes County Grand Jury.]

But it was as a decided Christian and Baptist that Brother Lott Warren became entitled to a special and honorable place upon our church records. He was baptized by the Reverend Joseph R. Hand, and became a member of the Richland Church, Twiggs County, GA in 1834. Subsequently removing to southwestern Georgia, he united with the Baptist Church in Americus. In 1845 he united with the work of the Gospel ministry, and by his occasional fervent labors in the pulpit, he rendered much useful service to the cause of Christ.

Brother Warren was remarkably exemplary in all the relations of life. He was a man of warm, earnest and unquestioned piety, decided in his opinions, of whatever he believed to be right. He was a conscientious, decided and uncompromising Baptist, though kind and affectionate in his feelings towards all whom he believed to be good men. He was the advocate of strict discipline, contributed liberally of his substance to the support of his pastor, and other pious objects. He was a friend of the poor, a bold and able champion of the cause of temperance, and an unwearied and enthusiastic supporter of the Sabbath School enterprise. For many years he labored with indefatigable zeal as a teacher in the Sunday School connected with the Albany Church. He was a lover of gospel truth, a lover of the gates of Zion, and remarkably punctual in the discharge of his duties as a church member. It deserves a special place upon our records that the Hon. Lott Warren, the able Representative, lawyer, statesman and Judge, was emphatically the humble doorkeeper of our church. On days of public worship his watchful, affectionate and gentlemanly service was ever tendered where needful, to friends and strangers, to rich and poor, that they might be provided with comfortable seats in our worshiping assemblies. His humble, cheerful conduct in this particular was a delightful comment upon the expression of the Psalmist, ‘I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.’

Brother Warren had his faults, but they were such as we might naturally expect to see in one of his ardent temperament, strong impulses and great force of character. The grace of God shone conspicuously in his life; his frailties were overshadowed by bright, prevailing virtues. He died suddenly when making a speech in the courthouse at Albany, in the defense of the life of a slave, who was on trial for commitment. He was smitten with apoplexy, sunk suddenly to the floor, and without a word, breath or struggle, passed into eternity. On the following day a large concourse followed his remains to the tomb, where they sleep in hope of a blessed resurrection.

 

From the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress:

Lott Warren, born in Burke County, near Augusta, Richmond County, GA, October 30, 1797.  He attended the common schools in the area. At the age of 19 he moved to Dublin, Laurens County, GA.  He served as a second lieutenant of Georgia Militia Volunteers in Andrew Jackson’s invasion of Spanish East Florida on an expedition against the Seminoles in 1818 (First Seminole War).   After the war he studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1821 and commenced practice in Dublin, Laurens County, GA. ; was also a regularly ordained Baptist minister, but never filled a definite charge; moved to Marion in 1825; elected major of the State militia in 1823; member of the State house of representatives in 1824 and 1831; served in the State senate in 1830; solicitor general and judge of the southern circuit of Georgia 1831-1834; moved to Americus, Sumter County, in 1836; elected as a Whig to the Twenty-sixth and Twenty-seventh Congresses (March 4, 1839-March 3, 1843); was not a candidate for renomination in 1842; moved to Albany in 1842; was judge of the superior court of Georgia 1843-1852; resumed the practice of his profession; died in Albany, Dougherty County, Ga., June 17, 1861; interment in Riverside Cemetery [Oakview Cemetery].

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Charles Bruner Shaw

Charles Bruner Shaw (1888-1950)

Special thanks to Bryan Shaw for sharing photos and content for this post. Portions reprinted from Shaw Family Newsletter: Charles Bruner Shaw

Born in 1888 in a corn crib on the John Allen farm just outside Ray City, GA, Bruner Shaw would later serve as a police officer for the town. He was a son of Francis Arthur Shaw and Victoria Giddens Knight.

Bruner Shaw in police uniform about 1926. Photographed in Florida.

Bruner Shaw in police uniform about 1926. Photographed in Florida. Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw.

After Bruner’s mother died of scarlet fever in 1889, he and his brother Brodie Shaw were raised by their grand parents, Francis Marion Shaw and Rachel Moore Allen Shaw.  The home place of  Francis Marion Shaw and Rachel Moore Allen Shaw was just west of Ray City, at Lois, GA just off Possum Branch Road.  Bruner attended school  through the eighth grade at the two-room Pine Grove School. The Pine Grove and Kings Chapel schools were filled at various times with the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren of Rachel and Francis Marion Shaw. 

Bruner Shaw circa 1905

Bruner Shaw circa 1905

At a young age, Bruner Shaw married Mollie Register, daughter of William M. Register (1852-1926) and  Sarah Laura Parrish Register (1854-1933), and granddaughter of Elder Ancil Parrish the old Primitive Baptist preacher of Berrien County.  The Registers were a prominent family of Nashville, GA.  Bruner and Mollie were married on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1905, in a ceremony performed by Bruner’s uncle  Aaron Anderson Knight,  of Ray City, GA. Reverend Knight was  then primitive baptist minister of  Pleasant Church, just west of Ray City, GA.  The bride was one month shy of her 20th birthday; the  groom had just turned 17.

Marriage certificate of Charles Bruner Shaw and Mollie Register, December 31, 1905.

Marriage certificate of Charles Bruner Shaw and Mollie Register, December 31, 1905.

 

 

Bruner farmed for a while at Ray City, GA near his brother, Brodie Shaw. The census of 1910 shows other neighbors included Mack SpeightsJoseph S. Clements, Bryant Fender, and Frank Gallagher.

A Year of Tragedy

In January, 1911, when his aunt and uncle, Eliza Allen and Sovin J. Knight, moved to Brooks County to a farm on the Little River near Barney, GA, Bruner went along, moving his young family to an adjacent farm. But shortly after their move to Barney, “on April 16, 1911, just 26 days after the purchase of the new farm, Sovin suffered a severe heart attack and died in his new home.

After this family loss  coupled with the death of his infant daughter, Pecola, Bruner Shaw sold his Brooks County farm and returned to Berrien County.  Just six weeks after the sale, his wife, Mollie Register Shaw, died of Scarlet Fever.  She was buried at Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA.

Bruner’s widowed aunt Eliza later moved  her daughters, Kathleen and Rachel, back to Berrien County to live in the farm home of her parents  (Bruner’s grandparents) , Rachel Moore Allen Shaw and Francis Marion Shaw, just outside of Ray City, GA.

Grave of Mollie Register Shaw (1886-1911), Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA. Image source: Cat

Grave of Mollie Register Shaw (1886-1911), Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA. Image source: Cat

The young widower soon enlisted the help of a teen-age girl to help take care of his children. Fifteen-year-old Charlie Ruth Griffin was the youngest child of William Harrison “Hass” Griffin and Rebecca Jane Parrish, born June 25, 1897 in her family’s cabin on South Old Coffee Road in Berrien County.  Her siblings were Sarah Rebecca, Georgia Lavinia, Mary Ellen, Margaret Frances “Fannie”, Willie Henrietta, William Franklin, and Robert Bruce Griffin.

Charlie Ruth Griffin while a student at White Pond School. Original image detail courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Charlie Ruth Griffin while a student at White Pond School. Original image detail courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

As Charlie took care of Bruner’s children they grew very close to their nursemaid. After a very brief courtship, Bruner and Charlie were  married November 23, 1913 at the home of the Reverend Aaron Anderson Knight in Ray City.  Reverend Knight was then serving as the first pastor of the newly organized New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church at Ray City.

 

Marriage certificate of Charles Bruner Shaw and Charlie Ruth Griffin, November 24, 1913, Ray City, GA

Marriage certificate of Charles Bruner Shaw and Charlie Ruth Griffin, November 24, 1913, Ray City, GA

 

Charlie gave Bruner three more children,  Francis Marion Shaw, Lynette Narcissis Shaw, and Charles Bruner Shaw, Jr.,  and raised Bruner’s two children, Juanita and William Arthur, as if they were her own.

Bruner and Charlie Shaw were a part of society and leisure at Ray City, GA and Berrien County.  In February, 1914 Bruner was among the people from Ray City attending the carnival at Nashville.  Others from Ray City included  Annie Mae Carter, Margie Dasher, Pearl Hardie Knight, Mr. and Mrs. G. V. Harvie, W. H. Luckie, George Norton, J. J. and J. S. Clements.

In 1914, Charlie Ruth and her husband, Bruner Shaw, and daughter, Juanita Shaw, were also seen at the Mayhaw Lake Resort on Park Street near Ray City. Mayhaw Lake was “The Place” in Berrien County for more than a decade. It was built in 1914 by Elias Moore “Hun”  Knight, of Ray City. The amusement park was such a popular spot that the Georgia & Florida Railroad gave special rates for picnic parties from all points on their line. People from all over the area would journey to Mayhaw Lake, especially on holidays such as the 4th of July and Labor Day. A boarding house [later the home of Effie Guthrie Knight] up the road towards Ray City was opened up by the Paul Knight family   specifically to provide lodging for the Mayhaw crowd. 

Posing in front of the roller skating rink at Mayhaw Lake in 1914, left to right: Burton Moore; Tom Parrish; Manson Johnson; unidentified lady; Charlie Ruth Shaw with her husband, Bruner Shaw, and daughter, Juanita Shaw; lady; Viola Smith Davis; lady; Mrs. Burton Moore and daughters, Kate Hazen, Thelma Register; Lonnie Smith; boy; man; Shellie Ziegler; and Jessie Ziegler Touchton. Members of the band in the background include: Rossie Swindle, Glenn Johnson, Lonnie Swindle, and J. H. Swindle.

Posing in front of the roller skating rink at Mayhaw Lake in 1914, left to right: Burton Moore; Tom Parrish; Manson Johnson; unidentified lady; Charlie Ruth Shaw with her husband, Bruner Shaw, and daughter, Juanita Shaw; lady; Viola Smith Davis; lady; Mrs. Burton Moore and daughters, Kate Hazen, Thelma Register; Lonnie Smith; boy; man; Shellie Ziegler; and Jessie Ziegler Touchton. Members of the band in the background include: Rossie Swindle, Glenn Johnson, Lonnie Swindle, and J. H. Swindle.

It was about this time that Bruner began his life-long pursuit of the law enforcement profession.  Bruner entered police work through occasional employment as a deputy at Ray City.  At that time the Police Chief at Ray City was Bruner’s cousin, Cauley Shaw.

An incident report in the Nashville Herald, October 9, 1914:

Considerable excitement was occasioned here Monday by a report that Cauley and Bruner Shaw and two other young men of Ray’s Mill had been shot about twelve miles down the Valdosta Road. Several gentlemen from here [Nashville, GA] went in an automobile. But when they reached the scene, they found that the wounds were not serious. A negro for whom they had a warrant, shot at them with a shotgun loaded with bird shot.

The Tifton Gazette also reported the incident:

Tifton Gazette reports Bruner shot while serving an arrest warrant, October 6, 1914

Tifton Gazette reports Bruner shot while serving an arrest warrant, October 6, 1914

Tifton Gazette
October 16, 1914

C. B. Shaw, C.H. Jones and Charley Thomas were shot by a negro named John Williams, near Rays Mill Oct. 6, says the Milltown Advocate. Thomas has some trouble with the negro about hauling some cotton and the negro fired at him. He went to Rays Mill, secured a warrant and returned for the negro. The negro opened fire and slightly wounded three of the party who returned from Rays Mill with Thomas. The negro escaped.

Over the next few years, Bruner did stints in the police departments of Milltown (now Lakeland), GA and at Willacoochee.  By early 1919, Bruner had been hired by Berrien County Sheriff J. V. Nix as a deputy at Nashville, GA.

Until 1919, most of the activities of a peace officer involved chasing down petty thieves, and raiding an occasional “skins” (gambling) game…

Production and consumption of moonshine – illegal liquor – was also a problem for law officers. State-wide prohibition in Georgia had passed in 1907, with Ray City’s own representative Jonathan Perry Knight among those leading the charge.

However, with the passage of the 18th amendment to the Constitution (prohibition), a whole new illicit business was the target of he county sheriff and his deputies. “Blind tigers”, as they were commonly referred, brewed alcohol in what was known as a “lard can” still, using syrup and meal processed through a copper worm. The product was a high explosive liquor with enough alcohol in it to burn like gasoline. Drinking of such had been known to cause blindness, if not death. Thus the name “blind tiger.”

By 1919,  reports of drunkenness and lawlessness in Ray City were making newspapers throughout the section. There were plenty of “blind tigers” running stills and selling bootleg liquor in Berrien County and Ray City, and gambling, too, despite the efforts of lawmen like Bruner Shaw, Cauley Shaw,  Gus Clements, Frank Allen, Marcus Allen, Jim Griner, Wesley Griner, and W.W. Griner.

In April, 1919, part-time deputy Bruner Shaw was again shot by an assailant.

1919 Tifton Gazette reports Bruner Shaw shot by John Harris

1919 Tifton Gazette reports Bruner Shaw shot by John Harris

Tifton Gazette
May 2, 1919

Shaw Shot by Negro

Nashville, Ga., April 23- Bruner Shaw, a well known young farmer who has served as special deputy sheriff a numbWer of times, was shot from ambush Saturday at the home of Will McSwain, a negro farmer living near Lois, this county. Shaw recognized his assailant as John Harris, a young negro whom he had arrested at Adel several months ago on a misdemeanor charge. The wouldbe murderer used a 23-calibre Winchester rifle, and the bullet entered the left side of Shaw’s head. He was able to come to Nashville today and swear out warrants against the negro, who is in jail here, having been captured by Sheriff Nix.

 

While pursuing his law enforcement career in other towns, Bruner Shaw maintained his Ray City connections. In 1920 Census records show Bruner and Charlie were residing in Ray City. According to Bryan Shaw,  Bruner’s last child, Charles Bruner, Jr., was born on February 6, 1920, in a home on Trixie Street behind the Marion Shaw home in Ray City. Bruner and Charlie resided in the home for three more years, participating regularly in the events of the community, especially dances and song fests.

Nashville Herald
March 15, 1923

News from Ray City—Everybody that wants to laugh as they haven’t since the war, come out on “Dad’s Night” . . . Last but not least will be some very fine singing by several of our gentlemen singers. They alone will be worth your time, should we have no other attraction. Mr. Bruner Shaw has promised us they will give at least four selections.

Later that year, Bruner Shaw was present at the startup of Ray City’s first power plant.

Sometime that fall Bruner, Charlie Ruth, and their five children moved to Polk County, Florida, where Bruner was hired as a deputy.  There was steady work tracking down bootleggers and their moonshine stills. Details of  big raids appeared in the papers:

The Polk County Recorder
March 2, 1924

“With drawn guns and expecting a battle to the death, sixteen deputies from Sheriff Logan’s force [and two federal agents] surrounded an abandoned sawmill camp in Eastern Polk County. Deputies Hatcher and Shaw volunteered to be a party to call for the surrender of the men sought.”

•∏•

Tampa Tribune
March 31, 1924

Lakeland Deputies Catch Moonshiners

Still of 100-Gallon Capacity Is Haul; Several Arrests Are Made

(Special to the Tribune)
Lakeland, March 30. – Lying in the woods near Bowling Green, Deputies [Newt] Hatcher and Shaw of the sheriff’s office Friday night watched a suspected bootlegger uncover two gallons of moonshie near the hiding place. Floyd Douglas, it is alleged, was getting the liquor to sell to Federal Officer Standau, unaware of the officer’s identity. Five gallons more were found in a search, and Douglas and the liquor were taken into custody. This is said to be Douglas’ second offense.
Just before the Bowling Green visit, the three officials made a big haul at Mulberry, here a 100-gallon copper still, 18 barrels of mash and six gallons of ‘shine were found in a swamp a mile from town. A negro man and woman were arrested as operators of the still.

•∏•

The Tampa Times
April 19, 1924

Raids Discourage Makers of ‘Shine

(Special to The Times.)
Bartow, April 19. – When the home of a Mrs. Beaumont, just over the Polk county line in Hillsborough county, was raided Wednesday the officers making the raid captured 244 bottles of 4 1/2 percent beer and three half pint bottles of shine. The arrest was made by Polk county Deputy Sheriffs Hatcher and Shaw with Federal prohibition Officers Standau and Dugan, who took the prisoner and evident to Tampa.
The recent series of captures of “shine” outfits conducted by Sheriff Logan and his deputies seems to have discouraged the moonshining industry in Polk county, according to reports from the sheriff’s office and judging from the record of convictions of violators of the prohibition laws in the criminal court combined with the sentences imposed by Judge Olliphant it seems highly probably that bootleggers of Polk county will decided that business isn’t so good in these parts.

In July, 1924 Bruner served as Night Police Chief in Haines City, FL. His friend and colleague, Newt Hatcher, was the Day Police Chief.

Bruner Shaw in front of his squad car at Haines City Florida. Image detail courtesy of Bryan Shaw

Bruner Shaw in front of his squad car at Haines City Florida. Image detail courtesy of Bryan Shaw

The exploits of Officer Shaw were occasionally reported in the Tampa Tribune.  On December 21, 1925, the paper reported C. B. Shaw was involved in a gun battle with a murder suspect.

December 21, 1925 C. B. Shaw in gun battle with Odom Dunlap, alleged murderer of Owen Higgins.

December 21, 1925 C. B. Shaw in gun battle with Odom Dunlap, alleged murderer of Owen Higgins.

Later, Bruner Shaw served as chief of police at Frostproof, FL.  A high profile case while Bruner Shaw as chief of police at Frostproof Florida was the kidnapping of  E. L. Mercer, well-to-do citrus grower.

June 6, 1928 Tampa Tribune reports Frostproof, FL police chief Bruner Shaw investigating kidnapping of E.L. Mercer

June 6, 1928 Tampa Tribune reports Frostproof, FL police chief Bruner Shaw investigating kidnapping of E.L. Mercer

In the fall of 1929, the Shaw family returned to Berrien County, GA where Bruner sharecropped the John Strickland property on the old Valdosta highway. While the family went about bringing in crops of corn, tobacco and cotton, and the children [Marion, Lynette, and Charles, Jr.] were attending school at Kings Chapel, Bruner found temporary employment with the Berrien County Sheriff and the Ray City Police.

By November, 1930 Bruner Shaw was named Chief of Police in Alapaha, GA and moved the family there. He was once again again in pursuit of “blind tigers.”

Nashville Herald,
December 18 , 1930

Last Wednesday afternoon Chief C. B. Shaw and Deputy Sheriff Wesley Griner and W. W. Griner went over near Glory and went down in the river swamp about one mile west of Glory and found 180 gallons of corn mash. There was no still found with this buck. The officers poured out the contents and busted up the barrels. The people of Alapaha are pleased with the work of Mr. C. B. Shaw since he has been Chief of Police. We all hope that Mr. Shaw will stay on here as he is doing such good work and helping to clean up the community by catching blind tigers.

Moonshine still bust about 1930 near Glory, GA on the Alapaha River . Chief of Police, Bruner Shaw, 2nd from the right. Other identified is Brooker Shaw, brother of Chief Shaw, 2nd from the left.

Moonshine still bust about 1930 near Glory, GA on the Alapaha River. Chief of Police, Bruner Shaw, 2nd from the right. Other identified is Brooker Shaw, brother of Chief Shaw, 2nd from the left.

It was the midst of the Great Depression, and though his work was appreciated, the pay was meager.  In the summer of 1931,  Bruner removed his family from Berrien County for last time and the Shaw family moved back to Frostproof.

The Shaw Family Newsletter: CHARLES BRUNER SHAW, SR: Have Badge, Will Travel, by Bryan Shaw, relates the story of Bruner Shaw’s life, law, business, and family.

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Death of Ben Furlong ~ Was it Suicide?

Ben Furlong (circa 1854-1886), Desperado of Berrien County, GA

As Halloween approaches we revisit the scene of Ben Furlong, who was perhaps  most famous ghost ever to haunt Berrien County.

After the 1886 death of Ben Furlong some said his ghost still haunted the scene of his final, heinous crime. In life, Ben Furlong may have been Berrien County’s  most notorious outlaw.  Furlong, a sawmill man when he wasn’t on the bottle, frequented the communities along the tracks of the Brunswick & Western Railroad – Alapaha, Vanceville and Sniff.   He was a wife beater and a murderer wanted for dozens of criminal charges. His infamous deeds were published around the globe.

Furlong died on Friday, September 24, 1886 from an overdose of laudanum, also known as tincture of opium. The compound was commonly available in the drug stores of Berrien County and elsewhere for just five cents a bottle.

Laudanum bottle

Laudanum bottle

Certainly by  the time of Furlong’s death, the dangerous potency of opioids was well known. Still, some thought Furlong’s laudanum overdose was accidental.

The prevailing opinion in Alapaha, GA, the community that perhaps knew Furlong best, was that he intended to take his own life, either out of a guilty conscience or to escape the hangman.

The October 2, 1886 edition of the Alapaha Star examined the question:

 

Alapaha Star, October 2, 1886 questions death of Ben Furlong

Alapaha Star, October 2, 1886 questions death of Ben Furlong

Alapaha Star
October 2, 1886

Was it Suicide?

    There is a difference of opinion as to whether B. W. Furlong committed suicide, but the preponderating belief is that he did. The murder of the colored man, the closing of his mill by his creditors and the effects of a severe spell of drinking were amply sufficient to —- —– —-perate step of his life – that of self-destruction.
    It is reported that he drank two bottles of laudanum Thursday night, about twenty hours before he died, and that when he sank into the last sleep, his breathing indicated poisoning. Every effort was made to arouse him. He was walked about, slapped and rubbed vigorously, but the seal of death was upon him, and he breathed his last about four hours after he fell asleep.
    We are satisfied that Furlong while temporarily insane from the causes we have mentioned, took his own life.

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An Inquest Into the Death of Jesse Webb

Jesse Webb Murdered by Ben Furlong

As previously told,  Jesse Webb was the last victim of Berrien County desperado Ben W. Furlong.  Webb was  shot, knifed, brutalized and, after three days of agony, finally bludgeoned to death with a sledge hammer on September 9, 1886 at Furlong’s Mill.  The mill was situated at Sniff, GA on the route of the Brunswick & Albany Railroad near the county line between Berrien and Coffee counties.

 

1886-0ct-2-alapaha-star-ben-furlong-inquest
Alapaha Star

October 2, 1886

THE INQUEST

Wednesday morning  [September 22, 1886] acting coroner J. A. Slater and a jury of eight men repaired to Furlong’s mill, five miles east of Alapaha. On arriving there several witnesses were summoned. Jim Simmons, col., was the first witness sworn. He testified that the down freight on Tuesday, September 7th put a colored man off and the conductor told Furlong to take him and work him. The man said he —- want work there. When —- left the colored man started —- it. Furlong told him if —–not come back he would f— him full of shot, went in — the commissary to get his gun The negro came back and F—ong handcuffed him and put Lo—- – white man, as guard over —. About an hour from night f— — –gro made a break for liberty. —

— ran to a swamp seve— hu—– yards south of —— —— —– —-
Furlong was about the —– tance behind Lofton. The —ness ran after Furlong, hoping to keep him from killing the ——. Soon after the pursuers and -ursued were lost to sight in the swamp. The witness heard a gun or pistol shot and stopped. In the pursuit Furlong carried a double barreled gun. In a few minutes he returned, without the gun, and said to the witness, “If you breathe a word about this I will kill you.” He afterwards told witness, “If you mention a word of this affair to a living being I know three men that will swear you did the shooting, and your neck will snap.” Tuesday night [September 7, 1886] Furlong, Tom Sharon and J. M. Lofton took Simmons down to where the wounded man lay. They were all armed with double-barreled guns. When they reached the wounded man they told Simmons to assist Sharon in getting the handcuffs off him. While they were thus engaged Furlong drew his knife and tried to cut the wounded man’s throat. Simmons caught his arm and begged him not to kill the man. He then made a lunge at Simmons’ — — —– —- —-

1886-0ct-2-alapaha-star-ben-furlong-inquest-2him. Wednesday morning [September 8, 1886] Simmons took the wounded man a bottle of water. The man begged him to take him to one of the shanties. Furlong refused to let him bring him. Later that day he told Lofton the man ought to have something to eat. He was helpless but could talk. The witness did not see the wounded man after Wednesday night.

Thursday night [September 9, 1886] Furlong set for Simmons and told him he wanted him to go with him that night. Simmons told him he was too sick to go.

Several other witnesses were examined, but we have only space for the most important.

Mr. James Cross, white, testified that he came at night Tuesday the 7th, and that Furlong asked him to go and stay at his house that night, as his wife was frightened about something. He did so. About 9 o’clock Furlong came in but remained only a minute. Wednesday night [September 8, 1886] Furlong, Lofton and Sharon stayed out nearly all night. Thursday night they left about 8 o’clock, returned about 9 o’clock, changed clothes, putting on their worst clothes and old shoes, and left again. They were absent until three o’clock. Witness did not –e —- — — morning their pants were wet and muddy to their knees and Sharon’s coat was wet to the pockets. He questioned them but they would not tell where they had been or what they had done.

None of the witnesses saw the man after he died, nor were any of them willing to say that he had been killed, although they felt satisfied that such was the case. The main actors in this brutal tragedy were absent, one in his grave and the other two had fled.

After hearing the testimony of the coroner, the jury and a number of white and colored men scoured the woods and bays and branches for miles, in search of the missing man, but without success. Not a trace was found as to where his body had been hidden.

When the party returned to the mill, it was given as a rumor that the man had been buried in the horse lot, just back of the commissary

Several men, with iron rods, went to the lot and probed it. In one place the rod went down 1886-0ct-2-alapaha-star-ben-furlong-5— feet in loose earth, but it was not thought at the time it be the man’s grave. It being late in the afternoon [Wednesday, September 22, 1886] the jury adjourned to Saturday, to await the arrival of important witnesses. Just as Alapaha was reached Mr. James Cross came galloping in and announced that the body had been found in the horse lot where the iron rod had sunk in the ground. Several colored men were sent back to guard the body till Thursday morning.

Thursday [September 23, 1886] about nine o’clock the coroner and jury returned to Furlong’s mill. The jury at once repaired to the horse lot and were soon at work exhuming the body of Jesse Webb, this being the name by which the murdered man was said to be known.

After digging a depth of two —and a half or three feet, in the —- –st corner of the lot, between —- — —d and the forage house —- — -ands near the railroad —- —- body was re—– —– —- on his —- — —- —————————- out property. Decomposition had set in and his flesh would peel off at a touch. With the aid of crocus sacks, which were placed under him, the end of which extended out on either side, he was lifted out of the grave and placed in a box.  On examination the skull was found crushed in on the left side just above the ear, seemingly with a large hammer, perhaps a sledge-hammer. On the right side, a short distance from the forehead, and about an inch from the center of the head the skull was also crushed in, the hole being fully an inch and a half in circumference. In the man’s mouth was a roll of waste, such as is used for packing the boxes on car wheels.  The evidence showed that Furlong, Lofton and Sharon were at the commissary about midnight Thursday night, when Furlong asked first Gammage and then Simmons to go with him that night.  What they did after that is left to conjecture, but the presumptive evidence is that they prepared themselves and proceeded to where the wounded negro lay, rammed the waste into his mouth and down his throat, so that he could not cry out when struck, and then crushed in his skull, dragged him a hundred yards through the woods — buggy, hauled him to the lot and buried him.  1886-0ct-2-alapaha-star-ben-furlong-6All this was done inside of three hours.

The jury of the inquest will sit in Alapaha to-day, when doubtless a verdict will be reached.

This is beyond doubt the most brutal murder that has ever darkened the annals of out county.  This unoffending negro was handcuffed and when he made an effort to regain his freedom, was pursued and shot after he was caught. Paralyzed in every limb, he lay in a dense swamp from about an hour before sundown, Tuesday evening, September 7th, until the following Thursday night at 12 o’clock. During all this time he had one drink of water and one meal, notwithstanding he was less than four hundred yards from several houses. Thursday night, at midnight, three white demons, braced with whiskey, which was the real cause of the crime, advanced through the gloomy swamp to where the helpless man lay and murdered him in the manner already stated.

Furlong, the leader in this horrible murder, is in his grave, but his accomplices are still at large. No time should be lost in bringing them to justice.

The first part of this article was — — would be an inquest.

Nathan Bridges and Jesse Woolbright, two colored men of this place, deserve honorable mention for their unceasing efforts to aid the jury in finding the body and for their attention to the jury while hearing evidence.

Related Posts:

The Ghost of Ben Furlong, Berrien County Desperado

More on Berrien County, GA Desperado, Benjamin William Furlong

Back Story on Benjamin William Furlong

The Vanceville Affair

Ben Furlong’s Ghost Haunted Conscience of Berrien Residents

Southern Georgia: Railroad Pamphlet

The Haints of Berrien County

More Haints of Berrien County

Alapaha Star Reports 1886 Demise of Ben Furlong

Ben Furlong (circa 1854-1886),
Desperado of Berrien County, GA

Ben Furlong was perhaps the most notorious outlaw ever known in Berrien County, GA. Furlong, a sawmill man when he wasn’t on the bottle, frequented the communities along the tracks of the Brunswick & Western Railroad – Sniff, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Enigma and Vanceville.

brunswick-and-western

The Brunswick & Western Railroad linked the communities of northern Berrien County with Brunswick, GA to the east and Albany GA to the west, and connected with the larger Plant Railway.

Furlong was a philandererwife beater and a killer, wanted for dozens of criminal charges including the shooting of B&W engineer Chuck Brock and passenger Will Harrell, and cutting the throat of another passenger.  It was said he committed his first murder at the age of 15. Some said after his demise his ghost haunted the scene of his final, heinous crime.

After his September 24, 1886 death  Furlong’s infamy was literally told around the world. But the most detailed accounting of  Furlong’s final days was published in the Alapaha Star, Berrien County’s own “splendid newspaper” edited by Irishman J. W. Hanlon (Hanlon had previously served as editor of the Berrien County News,  Albany Medium, and later edited the Quitman Sun and wrote humorous works under the pen name Bob Wick).

 

1886-0ct-2-alapaha-star-ben-furlong-1a

Alapaha Star

October 2, 1886

MURDER AND SUICIDE

A Negro and — the Body In His Stock Lot – Suicide —- The Negroe’s Body Found —- —- – Inquest – A Horrified —- Etc.

Friday evening of last week [September 24, 1886], after the Star had gone to press news reached town that B. W. Furlong, who has been conducting a saw mill at sniff in this county, was dead, from the effects of a dose of laudanum, taken with suicidal intent. Before going to his room about twelve o’clock he asked his wife to forgive him for all he had ever done, and told her that he would go away from there in a few days and begin a new life. He called his children to him and spoke kindly to them and asked them not to disturb him, as he wanted to take a long sleep. He then went to his room, closed the door and, it is supposed, took the fatal dose. Later in the afternoon some one entered the —m, on hearing a strange —– — —– — dead.

Mr. Furlong had been drinking heavily for some weeks, and his creditors, knowing his business to be in a shaky condition, a day or two before his death had his property attached. Mr. Silas O’Quin, of this place, went down Friday morning to levy on some of his property, and found him rational, but wild-looking. He informed Mr. O’Quin that he had shot a negro about two weeks previous to that time and it was supposed that he was dead. This conversation occured about 11 a. m.

Mr. Furlong’s body was taken to Waresboro Sunday morning [September 26, 1886] for interment.

Immediately after his death rumors of the killing of the negro began to circulate, and on Friday evening [September 24, 1886], for the first time, they reached Alapaha. It seems that Furlong had been short of hands for several weeks.  A negro boarded the B. & W. R. R. at some point and stated that he was hunting work, and that he had no1886-0ct-2-alapaha-star-ben-furlong-2a money. The conductor, knowing that Furlong needed hands, took the negro to Sniff and turned him over to —- was taking to Furlong got off —-Willachoochee,
where he had work. The negro objected strenuously to being put off, and refused to work. Shortly after the train left, the negro walked off in the direction of Willacoochee, but was soon discovered by Furlong, who brought him back, handling him pretty rough in doing so.

Furlong then handcuffed him. That evening, after dark, according to report, the negro slipped out of the commissary and had gone some distance out on the tram-road when he was missed. He was still handcuffed. Lofton, a white man, in Furlong’s employ, discovered the fleeing negro and showed Furlong the direction he had taken. Furlong pursued him with a double-barreled gun, and in a short time the report of the gun was heard. Furlong returned without the negro. Before he reached the mill he met a mulatto who was a trusted employe, who had started after Furlong, hoping to prevent him from shooting the negro. Furlong told him that he had shot the negro and that if he divulged it, he, Furlong, had men there who would swear that he, the mulatto, did the shooting. Later in the night Lofton and the mulatto were sent by Furlong to the wounded man —- — ——— –. — ——- was shot through the neck and was completely paralyzed, except his tongue. When he saw Lofton he said: “if it hadn’t been for you Mr. Furlong would not have shot me.” This mulatto says he carried the wounded man something to eat later in the night. This was Tuesday night. It is reported that the negro lay there until Thursday night, when he disappeared. That night Furlong ordered out three mules, one for a wagon and two to be saddled. Where they went is not known, but the supposition is that the mission was to take the body to some deep water, weight it and sink it out of sight.

Lofton has fled, and his whereabouts are unknown. It is said that he is well connected in Atlanta. The mulatto is named Jim Simmons and is here.

Last Sunday [September 26, 1886] a crowd of whites and blacks went down to the Alapaha river and dragged for the body of the missing 1886-0ct-2-alapaha-star-ben-furlong-3anegro at the bridge at Moore’s old mill, but without success.

It is now rumored that the —- was concealed in a branch — of the mill.

But those rumors would turn out to be wrong, the mill branch concealed no body. An inquest into the fate of Jesse Webb was about to uncover the ultimate cause of death and the true location of the body.

 

Related Posts:

William H. Griffin, Wiregrass Jurist

William Hamilton Griffin (1853-1917)

William Hamilton Griffin was born in that part of Lowndes County, GA which was cut into Berrien County in 1856. He became a prominent public administrator and jurist of Wiregrass Georgia, and was involved in some of the most dramatic legal contests in Ray City history.

William H. Griffin

William H. Griffin

William Hamilton Griffin  was born July 18, 1853, on his father’s plantation, located in that portion of Lowndes county which is now included in Berrien county, GA. His honored parents, William D.and Nancy (Belote) Griffin, were also natives of Lowndes county.”

He was a cousin of Bessie Griffin, and Lester Griffin of the Connells Mill district (Georgia Militia District 1329), just west of  the Rays Mill community  (now Ray City, GA),

“The father, William D. Griffin, aided in effecting the organization of Berrien county and was its second treasurer, which office he held continuously until his death, in 1892, except one term, during the so-called -“Reconstruction” period, immediately succeeding the Civil War, when nearly all white voters were, under Federal statutes, practically disfranchised. The father was a soldier in the Confederate service during the latter part of the war and was with Johnston’s forces in the operations of the Atlanta Campaign.”

The paternal grandfather represented Brooks county in the state legislature, though his residence was on land now in Lowndes county. The great-grandfather, James Griffin, was a private soldier in the Revolutionary War.  James Griffin and Sarah Lodge Griffin were early settlers of Irwin County, GA.

William H. Griffin, the subject of this sketch, was afforded only the advantages of the common schools of his native county, the family fortunes, in common with those of most southern families, having been seriously affected by the war. He was educated in the public schools and academies at Nashville, GA. He soon developed traits of leadership and at twenty was elected clerk of the court for Berrien County, an office he held in 1874-5. From 1882 to 1885 he held of the office of Ordinary of Berrien County. While in this office he studied law, and in 1884 he was admitted to the Georgia bar. He at once began the practice of his profession at Nashville, but in 1885 he removed to Valdosta, GA.  There he formed a law partnership with Judge Benjamin F. Whittington, as Whittington & Griffin, this relation continuing for several years.

He was elected mayor of Valdosta in 1892, and served three consecutive terms. Governor William Yates Atkinson appointed him judge of the city court of Valdosta in 1897, for a term of four years, at the expiration of which he was reappointed for a like term, by Governor Allen D. Candler, and continued on the bench until 1905. During his eight years of service he tried 1,358 civil cases and 2008  criminal cases, a total of 3,866. His decisions were carried to the supreme court but 18 times and were reversed in only two cases.

In politics Judge Griffin was a Democrat, having always given that party his unqualified support. He served as mayor of Valdosta, judge of the city court, representative in the state legislature from Lowndes County, Chair of the Democratic Executive Committee of Lowndes County, and as referee in bankruptcy. His elevations to public office were a tribute to his worth and to the respect with which he was held by the community.

He was a member of the local lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and held membership in various bar associations. His chief recreations were fishing and hunting.

William H. Griffin was twice married — first, on May 18, 1879, to Margaret “Maggie” MacDonald, daughter of Dougal P. and Anna (Peeples) MacDonald, of Nashville, Berrien county. Maggie McDonald was born in 1864. Her father was listed on the 1860 roster of Levi J. Knight’s Berrien Minute Men, but he was also enumerated in Berrien County on the 1864  Census for Re-Organizing the Georgia Militia. Maggie was apparently raised by Dr. Hamilton M. Talley, as she appears in his household in Berrien County in the census of 1870. She died in 1890.

William H. Griffin was second married to Miss Carrie Abbott, of Randolph, VT, September 28, 1892. He had two children of the latter marriage—William Abbott Griffin, born in 1896, and Margaret Griffin, born in 1902. William and Carrie Griffin were members of the Methodist Episcopal church South.

William H. Griffin served as attorney for the estate of prominent Rays Mill turpentine man Robert S. Thigpen, engineering some of the largest property deals in Ray City history in the disposal of the Thigpen estate.  Thigpen’s holdings at the time of his death in 1898 included his turpentine plants and naval stores stock at Rays Mill, Naylor and Lenox, GA.

In 1899, William H. Griffin represented James Thomas Beagles, defending him for the Killing of Madison G. Pearson at Henry Harrison Knight’s store at Rays Mill (now Ray City),GA some 12 years earlier. The Beagles case was tried before Judge Augustin H. Hansell. Attorney Griffin made a most eloquent and affecting appeal in behalf of his client, Beagles, for a light sentence, and every one in the court room was moved by his strong and well-chosen words. Beagles was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to only two years incarceration.

In 1906, after his retirement from the bench Judge Griffin entered into a partnership with Hon. Elisha Peck Smith Denmark, and formed the law firm, Denmark & Griffin. It was said that “He enjoyed the confidence, esteem and patronage of the most prominent and important people and business interests of Lowndes and adjoining counties.”

In the matter of Green Bullard’s estate, William H. Griffin was retained by William B. Shaw to represent the interests of his wife, Fannie Bullard ShawGreen Bullard was a long time resident of the Rays Mill (now Ray City) area, and  owned land out Possum Creek Road and on toward the community of Cat Creek. The Shaws wanted the estate to be administered by Fannies’ brother, Henry Needham Bullard, rather than her half-brother, William Malachi Jones.   The other side of the family was represented  by Buie & Knight in the dispute. Mallie Jones was the son of Mary Ann Knight Bullard by her first husband, William A. Jones.

Judge Griffin’s name was synonymous with integrity. He “walked uprightly, worked righteousness, and spoke the truth in his heart.” He exemplified the best ideals of the profession. He was generous-spirited, and gave liberally of praise and commendation where he thought it due.  When the first train to roll through Ray City on the Georgia & Florida Railroad arrived at Valdosta, it was Judge W. H. Griffin that gave the welcome address at the celebration.

His death occurred at his home in Valdosta, April 15, 1917, and the throng of people, including many lawyers from other counties, who attended his funeral attested strongly the esteem and love there was for him in the hearts
of those who knew him.

Obituary of William Hamilton Griffin

Obituary of William Hamilton Griffin

Post-Search Light
Apr. 19, 1917

Judge Griffin Died Sunday

Prominent Valdosta Jurist Passed Suddenly Away From Heart Trouble – Well Known Here.

    The following account appearing under a Valdosta date line in the daily press Monday will be interest to Bainbridge friends of the deceased.
     Judge Griffin was well known here, and was related to Representative E. H. Griffin, of this city.
    “Judge William H. Griffin, one of Valdosta’s prominent men and a leading south Georgia lawyer, succumbed to attack of heart failure this afternoon at 1:45 o’clock after less than an hour’s illness.  He was alone at his home when the attack came on him, members of his family being at church.  Mrs. Griffin returned home soon after he was stricken and a physician reached his side in a few minutes but was powerless to relieve his patient.
    “Judge Griffin was sixty-four years of age, an active south Georgian, and for forty years a citizen of Valdosta. He was a member of the law firm of Denmark & Griffin, and controlled a large and lucrative practice.  He was a member of the two last general assemblies of Georgia and exerted a strong but conservative influence in that body.  He had been judge of the city court of Valdosta, mayor of the city, member of the school board and active in the public life of this city and section, which loses one of its best citizens in his death.
     “Judge Griffin is survived by his wife and two children, a son, Mr. Abbot Griffin, and daughter, Miss Margaret.
   “His son was in Macon, where an announcement of his father’s death reached him.
    “Judge Griffin’s funeral and interment will take place here probably on Monday.”

Grave of William Hamilton Griffin, Sunset Hill Cemetery

Grave of William Hamilton Griffin, Sunset Hill Cemetery. Image source: Robert Strickland.

Related Posts:

Jim Griner ~ Lawman

Deputy Jim Griner,  Berrien County Lawman

James Benjamin “Jim” Griner , who was Ray City, GA Police Chief in the 1940s, also served as Deputy Sheriff of Berrien County from 1905 to 1915.  (In 1915,  Griner was elected Police Chief of Nashville, GA.)  Below are a few clippings from newspapers around the region  about his time as Deputy Sheriff .

Deputy Sheriff James B. "Jim" Griner, 1906, Nashville, GA

Deputy Sheriff James B. “Jim” Griner, 1906, Nashville, GA

Griner’s ten years of deputy work were filled with escorting prisoners, working the bloodhounds, trailing chain gang escapees,  tracking arsonists, raiding gambling dens and blind tigers, gunfights with desperadoes, and more. He began his law enforcement career as a deputy for Sheriff Marion J. Kinard.

Jim Griner worked as a deputy for Sheriff Kinard, 1905.

Jim Griner worked as a deputy for Sheriff Kinard, 1905.

Tifton Gazette
March 24, 1905

Mr. I. C. Avera, for a long time deputy sheriff, is now city marshal of Nashville, and makes a model officer.  Messrs. J. A. Lindsey and J. B. Griner are Sheriff Kinard’s deputies, and are making good officers.

 

Sheriff Jim Griner and Charlie Israel, 1907

Sheriff Jim Griner and Charlie Israel, 1907

 

Tifton Gazette
April 26, 1907

Deputy Sheriff Griner went to Homerville Sunday and brought Charlie Israel back to jail. He is the young white man who dug a hole in the brick wall of the county jail and made his escape a few weeks ago. Sheriff Screven Sweat of Clinch captured him. – Nashville Herald. Israel is the young man that burglarized the store of J. B. Gunn, at Enigma, several weeks ago.

1908-jim-griner-and-ed-sutton

Tifton Gazette
September 18, 1908

 

Ed Sutton, who was tried and adjudged insane here last week, got away from Deputy Sheriff Griner at Cordele, while enroute to the asylum. The county authorities offer a reward of $25 for him. – Nashville Herald.

Sheriff Jim Griner calls out the bloodhounds, 1909.

Sheriff Jim Griner calls out the bloodhounds, 1909.

 

Waycross Journal
July 2, 1909

Nashville, Ga., July 2. – John A. Gaskins, living in the upper Tents [Tenth] district, six or eight miles east of Nashville, came here and got Deputy Sheriff Jim Griner and his blood hounds to go to his place for the purpose of tracking incendiaries who set fire to his gin house Monday night. The dogs failed to track the offender, however, and Mr. Griner returned to Nashville without a prisoner. Mr. Gaskins thinks he has a clue, as threats have been made against him because he refused to let certain parties fish in his mill pond. The ginnery, which had just been completed was a total loss.

 

Deputy Sheriff Jim Griner captures John Bradford, 1909

Deputy Sheriff Jim Griner captures John Bradford, 1909

Tifton Gazette
December 17, 1909

Deputy Sheriff Jim Griner and John Bradford went down in Clinch county Monday night and captured Dick Studstill, a desperate negro who is wanted in this county for assault with intent to murder. He resisted arrest several months ago, near Sparks, and shot at Sheriff Avera and posse who were raiding a gambling and tiger den. – Herald.

Sheriff Jim Griner in shootout with Beaty Gaskins, 1911

Sheriff Jim Griner in shootout with Beaty Gaskins, 1911

Vienna News
April 14, 1911

Sets Bullets Flying Wildly in Nashville

Adel, Ga., April 11. – News has reached this city of an affray at Nashville Saturday evening in which Beaty Gaskins, a well known and prominent young man, undertook to shoot up the town. He began by shooting at a young man named Knight, and continued to shoot until he had fired nine times. He came near hitting a clerk in Wein’s store and sent a bullet into the county school commissioner’s office in which were a number of teachers, it being the time of the monthly meeting of the teacher’s institute. He also sent a bullet into the office of J. P. Knight, ex-senator from this district. After shooting half a dozen times Gaskin directed his shots into the office of Judge W. D. Buie of the city court, hitting that official and Deputy Sheriff Jim Griner, who was there.
Mr. Griner returned the fire and slightly wounded Gaskins, was then arrested. Later he was released under bond of $10,500. He is a son of John A. Gaskins, one of the wealthiest men in Berrien county.

1913-jim-griner-and-oscar-jones

Tifton Gazette
November 7, 1913

Nashville Herald: Deputy Sheriff Jim Griner left Friday for Belleville, Illinois, in response to a telegrram from the Prison Commission advising him to go after Oscar Jones, who escaped from the Berrien county chaingang two years ago.  He is a lifetime man sent here from Fulton county in 1911.

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Deputy Sheriff Jim arrests Bob Luke, 1914

Deputy Sheriff Jim arrests Bob Luke, 1914

Tifton Gazette
June 12, 1914

Bob Luke, who shot and killed Calvin Lingo about three weeks go, was placed under arrest last week by Deputy Sheriff Jim Griner, of Berrien.  Luke says he killed Lingo in self defense while Lingo was under the influence of whiskey.  He offered to surrender but the coroner’s jury returned a verdict of Justifiable homicide and he was turned loose.  Lingo’s brother had the warrant sworn out for Luke.  George Henderson, the only eye-witness to the tragedy, has also been placed under arrest.

Prisoners escape Deputy Jim Griner, 1914

Prisoners escape Deputy Jim Griner, 1914

Atlanta Constitution
December 31, 1914

Two Prisoners Escape Berrien County Jail

Nashville, Ga., December 30. – (Special.) – J. C. Carter, a white man held in the Berrien county jail here for stealing hogs, and Capers Beach, colored, held for securing goods under false pretense, escaped late last night by sawing a bar in two and climbing to the ground on tied blankets. Love Vickers, colored, reported it to Deputy Sheriff J. B. Griner, but they had already successfully effected their escape. When last seen they were headed for Sparks on the Georgia and Florida track.

James B. Griner Elected Nashville Police Chief, February 11, 1915

James B. Griner

In the 1940s James Benjamin “Jim” Griner served as the Chief of Police in Ray City, GA (see also A Christmas Wedding for Mary Catherine Hill).   But long before that he served as Deputy Sheriff of Berrien County, and in 1915 he was elected Chief of Police in Nashville, GA.   He was sworn in on February 11, 1915.

James B. Griner was elected Nashville, GA Chief of Police in 1915.

James B. Griner was elected Nashville, GA Chief of Police in 1915.

Since at least 1905, Jim Griner had been working as Deputy Sheriff of Berrien County, and in 1915 he ran for the office of Police Chief of Nashville.  The incumbent Police Chief was Richard McRae Rhoden.  The election was a close race, and Nashville Mayor F. M. Barker cast the deciding vote for Griner.

1915-jb-griner-sheriff

 

Tifton Gazette
February 19, 1915

GRINER NASHVILLE CHIEF

Mayor Cast Vote Which Defeated Rhoden

Nashville, Ga., Feb 11 – Inauguration of city officers at council chamber last night was attended by a big crowd. After much discussion, it was decided not to lower salaries of any officials.

The city electrician gets an increase in salary. Chief R. M. Rhoden and ex-Deputy Sheriff J. B. Griner were tied for chief of police, until Mayor F. M. Barker cast his vote for Griner.

John T. Griffin was elected over R. W. Tygart. Horace Sikes was elected water and light superintendent, and Austin Avera was named night policeman.

 

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Cauley Hammond Shaw was Ray City Police Chief

Cauley Hammond Shaw (1883-1961)
Ray City Police Chief, 1914

Cauley Hammond Shaw. Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw and www.berriencountyga.com

Cauley Hammond Shaw. Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw and http://www.berriencountyga.com

In 1914 Police Chief Cauley Shaw was the officer responsible for law and order in Ray City, Ga.

The Shaw Family Newsletter: In the Name of the Law by Bryan Shaw, relates that Cauley H. Shaw served as Deputy Sheriff in Berrien County, 1907; Nashville Police Chief, 1908; Milltown City Marshal, 1910; Douglas Police Chief, 1911; Ray City Police Chief, 1914; Willacoochee Police Chief, 1920; and was the first motorcycle police officer in Valdosta, GA.

Shaw Family Newsletter: In the Name of the Law

Shaw Family Newsletter: In the Name of the Law

Cauley Hammond Shaw was born November 5, 1883, a son of Charlton Hines Shaw and Rebecca Jane Devane.  As a boy, he attended the local schools through the 7th grade. In the Census of 1900 Cauley H. Shaw, age 16, is enumerated in his parents’ household. His father owned a farm near Adel, GA where Cauley assisted with the farm labor. Cauley’s elder brother, Lester H. Shaw, worked as a teamster, while his younger siblings attended school.

As a young man, Cauley Shaw entered the profession of  law enforcement, serving as a Deputy Sheriff of Berrien County in 1907.   On January 16, 1907 he married Julia Texas Peters , in Berrien county, GA. She was the daughter of William Peters and Sarah Mathis, born May 20, 1883 in Berrien, GA.

A year later  Cauley accepted the position of Police Chief in Nashville, GA. The newlyweds were blessed with their firstborn child on February 21, 1908, a boy they named James C. Shaw. Tragically, their infant son died just six months later on September 3, 1908 and was laid to rest in Cat Creek Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA. The following year on October 24, 1909 Julia delivered a second child, Julian C. Shaw. Again, tragedy struck, the newborn surviving just a few weeks. The baby Shaw was interred at Cat Creek Cemetery.

In April of 1910, Cauley and Julia were found in Hazelhurst. GA. They were boarding in the household of Rebecca W. Barber, widow of Dr. John W. Barber. Cauley owned a barbershop where he worked on his own account. Soon, though, Cauley returned to police work, serving as City Marshal of Milltown (now Lakeland, GA) in 1910, and Police Chief of Douglas, GA in 1911.

In 1913 a third child was born to Cauley and Julia, a daughter they named Hazel Annie. By this time, Cauley Shaw had moved his young family back to Ray City, GA where he served as Chief of Police.

Bryan Shaw relates an incident report from the Nashville Herald, October 9, 1914:

Considerable excitement was occasioned here Monday by a report that Cauley and Bruner Shaw and two other young men of Ray’s Mill had been shot about twelve miles down the Valdosta Road. Several gentlemen from here went in an automobile. But when they reached the scene, they found that the wounds were not serious. A negro for whom they had a warrant, shot at them with a shotgun loaded with bird shot.

Again, January 22 , 1915:

 Officers at Ray’s Mill raided a skin game a few nights ago and brought in ten colored men and boys.

The first World War found Cauley Shaw and his family still in Ray City. On September 12, 1918 Cauley Shaw registered for the WWI draft in Ray City. Signing as Registrar on his draft card was the town pharmacist, C.O. Terry. He was 34 years old, medium height, medium build, with blue eyes and light hair. Cauley had given up  his position as Ray City Police Chief to Charlie H. Adams,  and was  employed in farming at Ray City.

1918 Draft Registration for Cauley Hammond Shaw.

1918 Draft Registration for Cauley Hammond Shaw.

By the time of the 1920 census, Cauley Shaw had moved his family to Willacoochee, GA, where he had returned to law enforcement, working as a city policeman. When the Shaws were enumerated on January 2, 1920 they were renting a house on Vickers Street. The Shaw household consisted of Cauley, wife Julia, their seven-year-old daughter Hazel, and their niece Myrtie Smith, age eight.

The Valdosta City Directory shows, in 1923, Cauley and Julia Shaw were living in a home at 406 Floyd Street, Valdosta, GA.  Cauley was employed as a foreman. His cousin, Brodie Shaw, owned  home a few blocks away at 203 S. Lee Street, and was working as a “yardman” [lumber yard?].  By 1925, the directory shows  Cauley was back in police work for the city of Valdosta.  Brodie Shaw had moved even closer, to a home at 307 Savannah Street.

Some time before 1930, Cauley and Julia moved to Douglas, GA where Cauley had served as police chief in 1911. Cauley again took work as a city policeman. They first rented then purchased a home near the corner of Ashley Street and College Avenue.   In 1930, their daughter, Hazel, married John H. Peterson, of Douglas.

Julia and Cauley remained in Douglas, GA.  The census records show Cauley’s 1940 salary as a police officer there was about  $23 dollars a week.

Family of Cauley Hammond Shaw , circa 1953. Left to right John Henry “J.H.” Peterson, Hazel Annie Shaw Peterson, Cauley Hammond Shaw, James Russell Peterson, Juliah Peters Shaw, Benajah Peterson, Mary Juliah Peterson. Front row: Sue Ellen Peterson, John Hammond “Pete” Peterson. Photo courtesy of Susie Peterson and www.berriencountyga.com

Family of Cauley Hammond Shaw , circa 1953. Left to right John Henry “J.H.” Peterson, Hazel Annie Shaw Peterson, Cauley Hammond Shaw, James Russell Peterson, Juliah Peters Shaw, Benajah Peterson, Mary Juliah Peterson. Front row: Sue Ellen Peterson, John Hammond “Pete” Peterson. Photo courtesy of Susie Peterson and http://www.berriencountyga.com

Julia Peters Shaw died March 16, 1956.   Cauley Hammond Shaw died in Douglas, GA on March 28, 1961.  Both are buried in Cat Creek Cemetery, Lowndes county, GA.

Graves of Cauley Hammond Shaw and Julia Peters Shaw, Cat Creek Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA.  Image courtesy of  Cullen and Jeanne Wheeler.

Graves of Cauley Hammond Shaw and Julia Peters Shaw, Cat Creek Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA. Image courtesy of Cullen and Jeanne Wheeler.

 

The Ray City Skin Game

Skin Game

The Nashville Herald briefly reported in the January 22, 1915 edition:

 Officers at Ray’s Mill raided a skin game a few nights ago and brought in ten colored men and boys.

According to Bryan Shaw’s In the Name of the Law, the Ray’s Mill officers at the time were Cauley Shaw and Bruner Shaw.

Ray City Police Officers, Cauley and Bruner Shaw.  Image detail courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Ray City Police Officers, Cauley and Bruner Shaw. Image detail courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia (1897)  provides the following definition:

skin game – n. A game, as of cards, in which one player has no chance against another, as when the cards are stacked or other tricks are played to cheat or fleece; any confidence-game.

The Online Etymology Dictionary adds:

skin game – In 19c. U.S. colloquial use, “to strip, fleece, plunder;” hence skin-game, one in which one player has no chance against the others (as with a stacked deck), the type of con game played in a skin-house.

Skin games were operated from towns large and small, New York City to Ray City.

the-skin-game

At the gambling table.

Title: Migratory laborers and vegetable pickers playing "skin" game in back of juke joint and bar in the Belle Glade area of south central Florida. Image source: Library of Congress, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000037636/PP/

Title: Migratory laborers and vegetable pickers playing “skin” game in back of juke joint and bar in the Belle Glade area of south central Florida. Image source: Library of Congress, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000037636/PP/

In Lights and Shadows of New York Life,  James D. McCabe describes the skin game:

In gambler’s parlance, it is called a “skin game.”  In plain English it means that the bank sets out to win the player’s money by deliberate and premeditated fraud… Here every guest must stake his money at the risk of encountering personal violence from the proprietor or his associates.  The dealer is well skilled in manipulating the cards so as to make them win for the bank always, and every effort is made to render the victim hazy with liquor, so that he shall not be able to keep a clear record in his mind of the progress of the game.  A common trick is to use sanded cards, or cards with their surfaces roughened, so that two, by being handled in a certain way, will adhere and fall as one card.  Again, the dealer will so arrange his cards as to be sure of the exact order in which they will come out.  He can thus pull out one card, or two at a time, as the “necessities of the bank” may require.  Frequently no tally is kept of the game, and the player is unable to tell how many turns have been made—whether the full number or less.  Even if the fraud is discovered, the visitor will find it a serious matter to attempt to expose it.  The majority of the persons present are in the pay of the bank, and all are operating with but one object—to get possession of the money of visitors.  The slightest effort at resistance will ensure an assault…


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