MY GEORGIA ROOTS: The Story of Eli “Bo” Griffin, Sentenced to Death By Electrocution for the Stabbing Death of A White Man

Photo of Eli “Bo” Griffin

While researching the details of my Griffin family that originated from Putnam County, Georgia during the years of slavery and where many of them remain to this day, I came across my great grandfather, Richard Griffin’s first cousin, Eli “Bo” Griffin who had great nieces and nephews that I knew since childhood growing up in Newark, New Jersey.  My cousins in New Jersey, never heard of their uncle, but some of my cousins who still reside in Putnam County has heard of him, referring to him as Bo, but they didn’t know much about him accept for how he died.  I even recently met his grandson who read an article I wrote in which his grandfather, Eli “Bo” Griffin was briefly mentioned in it.  Eli’s grandson has never met or heard much about his own grandfather except for an over-the-top causal mention of how his grandfather met his end, which he really didn’t believe until it was confirmed for him after reading my article.   

Eli “Bo” Griffin was born on 20 August 1909 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia, where he was recorded on the federal census in his father’s household in 1910 when he was 6 months old.  He was the son of John “Wesley” Griffin, a brother of my 2 times great grandfather, Warren Griffin and Hettie Jane Green Griffin whose family married into both my Griffin and my Maddox families and who’s family can be traced back to the same plantations as my Griffin’s and Maddox’s ancestors during the years of slavery.

As a child, Eli grew up on his family’s farms in Eatonton and in Thompkins, Putnam County and in adjacent, Morgan County, Georgia in a town called Durdin.  Like my great grandfather, Eli more than likely had to leave school to work as a laborer on his family’s farm.

On 13 Dec 1930, he married Eva Julia Butts in Putnam County, Georgia, but in 1934, he apparently had a child with a woman named Patience Cole, the 17-year-old daughter of Sam Cole (1879–1968) and Hattie Walker Cole (1893–).  In 1936, Eli and Patience apparently had another son together. The cousin who reached out to me recently was his son.

Marriage Certificate of Eli Griffin and Eva Julia Butts [Putnam County Marriages, Vol M, page 215]

Eli left Putnam County before 1940 and was recorded in his older brother, William Henry Griffin’s household in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the 1940 federal census. William Henry Griffin was the father of Eli’s nephew who had moved to Newark from Putnam County to live with his mother and who would eventually have a family there. Eli was unemployed and looking for work as a laborer in construction. He reported that he didn’t work in 1939. He earned no income that year and that he was unemployed for 104 weeks prior to 30 Mar 1940.  Meanwhile, Patience Cole had began a common law relationship with Wille Jeff Greene, who’s father Major Greene was a brother of Eli’s mother Hettie, making Willie Jeff Greene and Eli Bo Griffin, first cousins.  Willie Jeff Greene was actually Eli’s “little cousin” as Eli was a decade older than Willie. Eli’s two sons with Patience Cole were recorded as Willie Jeff Greene’s sons and they were recorded on the 1940 census with his “Green/Greene” surname but in 1950, Patience and her 2 sons with Eli would be recorded on the federal census in Eatonton, without Willie J. Greene and with the 3 of them using the “Griffin” surname.

First page of Eli Griffin’s 1940 WWII Draft Card [U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947]
Second page of Eli Griffin’s 1940 WWII Draft Card [U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947]

Six months after being recorded on the 1940 federal census in his brother’s house, on 16 October 1940, Eli was residing in Hammonton, Atlantic County, New Jersey when he registered for the WWII draft there.  He was 31 years old, and his birth date and birthplace were respectively recorded as 20 Aug 1909 and Eatonton, Georgia. His height was recorded as 5’ 8”; his weight, recorded as 160lbs, his complexion, hair and eye color all recorded as “black”, and it was noted that he had a scar on his left hand, 3rd knuckle. He worked for Angelo Jacobs on First Road in Hammonton.  His listed his next of kin as Mrs Katie Griffin, his wife.

Alabama, U.S., Convict Records, 1941 (Showing Eli Griffin)

The following year, Eli was in Calhoun County, Alabama when he was arrested for assault and battery with a weapon on 19 April 1941. He had a paternal aunt, Mariah Griffin Williams who moved there when he was a child and died there in 1927. She had a husband, his uncle, and she had offspring his age and older, still residing in the area in 1941.  Most of their surnames were Peters and Goodman. Additionally, a couple of first cousins from his paternal uncle also named Eli Griffin had moved there in the 1920s. One of them had married his maternal first cousin who was a Green. Even though some family members had left the area and moved to Detroit prior to his arrival, he had plenty of family still residing in Calhoun County at that time.  But something happened and it resulted in an episode of violence.  As of now, I have not learned any of the pertinent details, specifically who the violence was acted upon but I wonder if was against one or more of his family members?  Eli was sentenced to 60 days on 19 April 1941 for his “assault and battery with a weapon” charge and had to pay a fine of $50 or serve an additional 20 days pushing a release date out to 8 July 1941. There was also $21.80 in court charges to be paid or serve an additional 43 days. He apparently could not pay the fine or the court fees, nor did any of his family members pay them for him because instead of him being released in June, he was released on 20 Aug 1941 but into the custody of Montgomery County Sheriff. [Calhoun County Alabama Convict Records Volume 10: 1940-1941].

Georgia, Central Register of Convicts, 1946 (Showing Bo Griffin’s case)

I speculate that he, after having exhausted the patience and good graces of his family in first Pennsylvania, New Jersey and now Alabama, Eli probably contemplated moving to Detroit, where he had other cousins who left Calhoun County between 1935 and 1940 but they may have gotten word about the trouble that came with Eli and not encourage his travel.   He eventually returned to his place of origins, Putnam County, Georgia which I imagined did not make him happy. When he left Putnam, he may have felt that he “escaped” and moved on from there like several of his family members did, but instead, he was back in Putnam where the bulk of his family still resided, including his mother and where in 1946, he was arrested. Although his arrest was considered a misdemeanor, this time, his violence appears to have escalated. He was called “Bo Griffin” and was sentenced on 18 September 1946 to serve 9 months for “assault with intent to murder”. [Georgia, Central Register of Convicts, 1946].

Georgia, U.S., Central Register of Convicts, 1949 (showing Eli Griffin’s case)

In 1949, Eli Griffin’s escalation of violence episodes appear to have continued.   That year, he was arrested in Putnam County for a felony and on 22 Sep 1949 he was sentence to serve time in jail for 2 counts of “assault to murder” charges. The 1st charge was to be served between 1 and 4 years and the other was for 6 months to be served after the 1st. [Georgia, Central Register of Convicts, 1949].

Book Cover for the Reported Cases of the Supreme Court of Georgia (April & Sep 1851 & Jan 1852)

Sadly in 1951, Eli Griffin’s violent pattern escalated for the worse.  This time a man was killed and even worse for Eli Griffin, this man was white.   WD Elder was a white man in Walton County of good standing in both Putnam County and in his home community of Walton County, Georgia. [Walton Tribune, Page13, 1951-10-03] According to Atlanta Journal published on 21 August 1951, Eli was on parole in 1951 for shooting an Eatonton police officer which likely occured in 1949.

Based on the newspaper articles and the testimonies of the witnesses and of Eli himself documented in the Reported Cases of the Supreme Court of Georgia (April & Sep 1851 & Jan 1852), on 21 Aug 1951, Eli and another black man named Eddy Monday arrived at the Ingrams Planning Mill to pick up lumber for their employer. They had a difficult time loading the lumber into their truck so the deceased, WD Elder who worked at the mill tried to assist them with the help of another white man who also worked at the mill name J. C. Dorster. Apparently while struggling to hold the gate of the truck open, Dorster “snapped” at Eli who was either sitting in the truck or standing next to it, asking Eli to help open the gate. Apparently, Eli felt that he was cursed at by Dorster and now Eli was offended. Eli looked as if he was going to help but walked away instead, saying that he “don’t get spoken to that way”. According to another witness who heard Eli tell WD Elder, the victim that Mr. Dorster “cursed” him. The deceased replied saying that Dorster didn’t curse him, and Eli responded, “He ain’t got no business cursing me. What business he got cursing me? I ain’t scared of nobody here.” The witness walked away but turned around moments later when he heard the “tussling”. Eli and Elder were down on the floor rolling on it in the tussle and when Dorster hit Eli with a plank of wood to stop him, Eli chased him with the blooded knife he had in his hand. With Eli out of the vacinity, other workers who had come to help had a chance to notice that Elder had a stab womb on his jaw exposing his bone. Just minutes later, they arrived at the hospital with Elder who was unconscious by then. It was at that time that they saw that Elder was also “sliced” in his right thigh. Minutes after arriving at the hospital, the men were informed by the hospital that Elder died on the way there due to him bleeding to death. [Reported Cases of the Supreme Court of Georgia (April & Sep 1951 & Jan 1952), Eatonton Messenger, Page1, 1951-09-20, ] Eli had fled the scene and hid in a home where he found by the sherrif. That night, Eli was whisked away by police for his own safe keeping as a crowd of at least 100 people gathered in front of the jail. [Marietta Journal, Wednesday August 22, 1951, page 1]

Order Granting New Trial

On 19 Sep 1951, Eli was indicted for murder and plead not guilty. His lawyer argued that the trial was set less than 30 days after the incident, and he had no time to prepare having only met Eli twice within 6 days prior to the day of the trial. The judge offered no mercy and sentenced Eli to die on 30 Oct 1951.[Eatonton Messenger, Page1, 1951-09-20] Meanwhile another murder trial was occurring in Putnam County during the same time, also involving another black man who’s named was Clifford McDaniel and who was accused of murdering C. G. Dennis also black but on Friday, 21 Sep 1951, only 2 days after Eli were sentenced to death, McDaniels was acquitted. [Eatonton Messenger, Page1, 1951-09-27] Although Eli’s fate at this time seemed certain, news of the McDaniels case may have given Eli, his mother Hettie and anyone who loved him some hope to hold on to as his attorney worked to change the status of his case by plotting new and promising strategies.  Apparently their hope paid off.  On 20 October 1951, just 10 days before Eli was set to die by electrocution, Eli’s case was stayed and a new trial was granted based on the new medical evidence submitted. In this new trial, new and expert testimony was to be provided in hopes to explain Eli’s behavior and to change the original outcome of the case and the sentencing.

In a January 1952 hearing, testimony was given by Eli and by his doctor over the years who stated that he has been treating him with drugs for epilepsy since 1939.  A psychiatrist testified that the disease called “epilepsy” was known to lead to burst of rage and eventually into total insanity.  

This medical issue may have been an unknown factor for the “recorded” violent events attributed to him which seems to have started in 1941, two years after his diagnosis, plus the charges and severity of each arrest, subsequent to the last one, seems to have escalated. Also, his medical illness may have been factors in him leaving his relationships in Putnam County, in him leaving Pennsylvania where his older brother lived and in him leaving New Jersey where he had a relationship just month before being arrested in Alabama.

Eli’s lawyer introduced similar cases to the courts that happened prior to Eli’s case.  Those cases were thought to have set a precedent and were used in Eli’s defense. I can imagine that the fact that he had a new trial granted to him just in a “nick of time” in October, and weeks after McDaniels was acquitted gave him and his mother Hettie hope that he might also be spared and now these expert testimonies probably offered them both even more it.  

Eatonton Messenger, Page1, 1952-02-28

On 13 Feb 1952, the Superior Court decided to uphold the September 1951 verdict and death sentence which was now rescheduled to happen in March 1952.  It appeared in that moment that Eli now had about a month to live.

Eatonton Messenger, Page1, 1952-03-20

In March 1952, just in a “nick of time”, the Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended to the governor that his case be heard before them, and he was given a 15 day stay.  This was more hope for Eli and his family.  They likely thought this might be the end of this drama for them.  There were probably a lot of prayers and a lot of bible reading.  However, at the beginning of April 1952, the board denied his request and Eli was scheduled to die on 17 April 1952 at Reidsville, Georgia State Prison, in Reidsville, Tattnall County, Georgia.

Eatonton Messenger, Page1, 1952-04-17

It’s understandable how Eli might still hold on to hope even after hearing his recent fate from the courts and after hearing that his request to have his sentence commuted to life was denied by the board.  Twice, he was scheduled to have died by way of electrocution but both times, he was given news at the last minute that he had been spared from death and given more time.  I am sure that he hoped that this time would be no different.   

Eatonton Messenger, Page1, 1952-04-24

Eli’s grasp for hope lasted until the night before his execution, when he asked his warden to call his attorney to see if there was any “hope” left for him which the warden did but only for them both to learn that all legal steps had been exhausted. The warden advised Eli to “prepare to die the following morning”.   The next morning, the prison’s chaplain spoke with Eli but could not get him to say much.  “I told my story”, he said, “but the 12 men in Eatonton wouldn’t believe me.  I don’t see any reason to tell it to a preacher.”  Later on that morning, one hour before he was scheduled to die, Eli’s family came to visit him one last time in his prison cell.  The warden, who wouldn’t witness any of the electrocutions witnessed all of the families last goodbyes.  He described the last visits of condemned men as one of the most touching features of executions.  Eli was said to have remained his “usual silent self” while he was being prepared for “the chair” and while he was being escorted to it from his cell through a short corridor that was nicknamed “the last mile” where condemned men were able to look through a large window for one last view of “the great outdoors”.  Even while being strapped to the chair, Eli remained silent and at 11:10 am, that Thursday morning, on 17 April 1952, lethel charges of electricity was shot through his body killing him. His death left a sadness in the death ward as the remaining condemn fated men counted the few days they themselves had left to live.  [Eatonton Messenger, Page1 & 5, 1952-04-24]

Eli Griffin was one of 218 executed by the state of Georgia between 1941 and 1964. Each of them electrocuted. One of them was a 44 year old Black woman. The rest were 46 white men between 18 and 54 years old and 171 Black males between the ages 16 and 72. [DeathPenaltyUSA, Index by State – GEORGIA – 1941-1964]

Eli Bo Griffin’s 2 teenage sons with Patience Cole, were left to deal with the grief of their father’s death and how and why his death occured. Just a few short years later, his sons who were then adults left Putnam County. According to Eli’s grandson, one son moved to Detroit where he started a family and had a sucessfull career working at Ford Motors, while the other son had a sucessfull military career and started his family while living abroad.

For more historic information about Eli “Bo” Griffin’s family see:

MY GEORGIA ROOTS: The Story of Rev. Benjamin Lundy of Mitchell and Dougherty Counties Georgia

Photograph of Rev. Ben Lundy

I was about 8 years old when I first heard about my 2 times great grandfather, the Rev. Benjamin Lundy. His name was written in the bible of my maternal grandmother, Roxie Griffin Hawkins’s, who married Lundy’s grandson Rufus C. Hawkins on Dec 7, 1957, in Newark. In 1957, Ben Lundy’s son, Uncle George Lundy moved to Newark, New Jersey where his apartment would be one of two on the 2nd floor in a small tenement building on Morton Street in the Central Ward of Newark. Across the hall from them, was my 19-year-old grandmother’s childhood home where she lived all her life with her parents, until her father passed away in July of 1955. When my 21-year-old grandfather who was born in Baconton, Mitchell County, Georgia arrived in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey in late summer 1957 from Perry, Taylor County, Florida to live there with his uncle, he met my grandmother.

From what I was told as a child by my grandmother, Ben Lundy was a minister and was sort of a civil rights activist. He led protest against the police who wrongly jailed black people. I did find in my research that he was a minister of a church in Albany, Georgia, but I wasn’t able to find any information printed about the protests they he led. However, in my research, I did find events in his life that may have been the sparks to his call of duty to work on behalf of those he felt couldn’t. This is a short summary of his story.

Partial County Map of Georgia showing locations where Ben Lundy and or his parents resided

Benjamin Lundy was born about 1849 and according to his death certificate he was born in Forsyth, Monroe County, Georgia. His parents, Washington and Matilda Jones were born in neighboring Bibb County, Georgia. According to oral family history, he was the son of an Indian, but he was likely one of the 40 slaves reported on the 1860 federal slave schedule of Robert Lundy in Dougherty County, Georgia. He spent the first 15/16 years of his life as someone else’s property. By 1865, he was one of the more than 460,000 enslaved people freed in Georgia during and after the Civil War.

He married Nancy Beal on 09 Dec 1867 in Dougherty County, Georgia and lived in nearby Lee County Georgia in his mulatto father’s Washington “Wash” Jones’s household in 1870 with his wife and child. Like most people of color during that time, recently freed or otherwise, this family more than likely saw political tensions in the new south and may have experience racial violence and or threats of it. Both the Freedmen’s Bureau and the Ku Klux Klan played as prominent a role in Georgia as in any former Confederate state.

Ku Klux Klan Cartoon, Harper’s Weekly

In 1866, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) began first in Tennessee and then in other states like Georgia, amidst the political, economic, and social upheaval that was the aftermath of the American Civil War. This movement targeted the most primal fears of Southern white populations, claiming to seek justice for crimes against whites, reiterating antiquated social status quos, and ensuring white supremacy were top priorities for the Klan. [Southern Poverty Law Center – Jordan Adams, “A History of the Ku Klux Klan in Georgia from 1868-1944”] African Americans had been given the right to vote, and in the months that followed that decision, whites across the state used violence to combat Blacks new potential political strength, often through the newly founded Ku Klux Klan. Georgia agents of the Freedmen’s Bureau recorded 336 cases of murder or assault with intent to kill against freedmen from January 1 through November, 15 of 1868.

On September 19, 1868, between 150 and 300 blacks, as well as a few whites, marched from Albany, Mitchell County, Georgia, to Camilla, the Mitchell County seat, to attend a Republican political rally on the courthouse square. The local sheriff and “citizens committee” in the majority-white town warned the black and white activists that they would be met with violence, and demanded that they surrender their guns, even though carrying weapons was legal and customary at the time. The marchers refused to give up their guns and continued to the courthouse square, where a group of local whites, quickly deputized by the sheriff, fired upon them. This assault forced the Republicans and freedmen to retreat into the swamps as locals gave chase, killing an estimated nine to fifteen of the black rally participants while wounding forty others. “Whites proceeded through the countryside over the next two weeks, beating and warning Negroes that they would be killed if they tried to vote in the coming election.” [Johnson, Nicholas (2014). Negroes and The Gun: the black tradition of arms.] This horrible event was called the “Camilla Massacre” and Ben Lundy was a victim of it. As of now, I have no records indicating that Lundy was part of the march that prompted the attention of the white citizens of Camilla but he was injured from the massacre that followed it. On 19 September 1868, Benjamin Lundy was shot with a buckshot, causing wounds to his right shoulder and elbow and to his head. [ Evidence Before the Committee on Reconstruction Relative to the Condition of Affairs in Georgia By United States. Congress. House. Committee on Reconstruction · 1869] He survived the attack and after he recovered from it, he and his family may have felt the need to leave the area and move to nearby Lee County from Dougherty and Mitchell Counties perhaps thinking that it might be safer, but race relations there would not be any better.

Thomas Nast Cartoon, The Camilla Massacre, 1868
Illustration by Thomas Nast, Public domain

By 1871, the KKK had died down and Ben Lundy moved his growing family to Baconton, a town in neighboring Mitchell County, Georgia where he worked as a farmer for a white man named Robert James “RJ” Bacon while his father relocated back to Dougherty County and worked as an omnibus driver. RJ Bacon who was born around 1830 was reported on the 1870 census having personal assets valuing $5,000 and real estate valuing $20,000. Ten years prior in 1860, the GA agriculture digest in Mitchell reported 1000 acres of improved land and 1000 aces of unimproved land valued at $20,000 for Bacon. On the 1880 Census RJ Bacon was recorded in Dougherty County and his occupation was recorded as a “warehouseman”. Ben Lundy consistently worked for RJ Bacon, and he apparently developed a good reputation in the community but then one day things changed. During the holiday season in December 1882, he was accused a breaking into a store and robbing it and he would face years of hard labor in a segregation Georgia state prison if he were to be found guilty.

Bill of Indictment 12/30/1883

On the Friday before the Christmas of 1882, the small store front of a black or mulatto man, Squire Walton was burglarized. Walton’s business dealt in general merchandise and in liquor and 3 days after his store was burglarized, Ben Lundy was accused of robbing it. Having stolen property on his person that was identified by a clerk who worked for Squire Walton, made Ben Lundy the only suspect in the robbery as far as the local law was concern and on 30 Dec 1882, he was indicted for the burglary by a grand jury of 22 white men. On 22 March 1883 the courts began prosecution hearings for Lundy who had been in the Mitchell County jail since around Christmas of 1882. According to the court documents that I’ve read, Ben Lundy was accused of the crime he was indicted for because of a coin he had in his possession. The coin was a silver quarter which was only one of the “several” items Squire Walton claimed to have been missing. The coin had certain “notches” on it and the date of 1854 which Walton claimed to have recognized. When asked how he came into possession of the coin, Lundy apparently wasn’t consistence with his claim of who he received it from. He named both Bill and John Glozier who were father and son as the source of his receipt of the stolen coin. They were both white men who testified in court that Ben Lundy didn’t receive the coin from either one of them. The Gloziers, were also merchants themselves and Squire Walton’s business may have been in competition with theirs. The courts believed them and convicted Lundy on 29 Mar 1883 in Mitchell County. The courts sentenced him to 2 years hard labor in the Georgia State Penitentiary.

Ben Lundy apparently had a lot of support within the community. According to the Atlanta Constitution, which was a Georgia newspaper, Lundy’s major support was led by a black man named Ira Wright. Wright worked to have the court’s decision appealed and on 5 Apr 1883 the decision to rehear his case was granted. This victory must have sent hope not only to Lundy for his freedom but to blacks in and outside of Georgia who may have been following this case. After several months having gone by and after character testimony given by people in the community, the Georgia Court of Appeals made their decision. On 18 Sep 1883, the judge in the matter upheld the original decision even after hearing character testimony. The judge’s decision was based on the coin being in Lundy’s possession and stated that “the new evidence, [mostly character testimony], was immaterial”. On 1 Apr 1884, Lundy was placed into the custody of the Georgia State Penitentiary and sentenced to 2 years hard labor. He was described as 5’8″, age 39, black complexion with black hair and brown eyes.

The_Atlanta_Constitution_Tue__Apr_3__1883_ (Ben Lundy)

Ben Lundy may have been involved in a system called “Convict leasing” which was a system of forced penal labor historically practiced in the Southern United States and overwhelmingly involved African American men. In Georgia convict leasing began in April 1868, when newly appointed provisional governor Thomas H. Ruger issued a convict lease for prisoners to William Fort for work on the Georgia and Alabama Railroad and as their state prison in Milledgeville, Georgia became dilapidated after the Civil War, this system was a welcome substitute.

Convict Labor
Courtesy of Georgia Archives.

Within five years, convict leasing was a major source of revenue for the state. Over a span of eighteen months in 1872 and 1873, the hiring out of prison labor brought Georgia more than $35,000. With this success, the state legislature passed a law in 1876 that endorsed the leasing of the state’s prisoners to one or more companies for at least twenty years. Three companies took on these convicts at the price of $500,000 to be paid at intervals over the twenty-year span of the lease. During this period, there were attempts to reform the system of convict labor in Georgia, although such efforts were never successful, in part because of the sheer profitability of the convict lease system. In 1881, expressing intentions to improve the prisoners’ quality of life, the state legislature passed a law requiring that only one person in each work camp be authorized to administer punishment. Rather than ease the difficulties of leased convicts, however, this legislation enabled the harsh treatment of prisoners by men known as “whipping bosses.” [Todd, William. “Convict Lease System.” New Georgia Encyclopedia, last modified Jul 17, 2020. Lease System”] Georgia ended the convict lease system in 1908.

By the spring of 1886, Lundy was released from the state prison. He found a job working for a white man whose last name was Montgomery. It may have been there where he met his future father-in-law and future grandfather in law, Stephen Downer and Anthony Downer, respectively. Both Stephen and Anthony worked as farmers for Montgomery as well. His first wife Nancy had apparently died or left him.

On Christmas day in 1890, Ben Lundy married a young Leah Williams, who was either divorced or widowed with a young daughter of her own. Leah who was born in 1863 was the daughter of Stephen Downer born 1836 and Mary “Polly” Flanagan Downer born 1841 and was the granddaughter of Anthony and Mimi Downer, my four times great grandparents who were born in 1815 and 1800, respectively. They had a family together of their own which was as large as his family with Nancy Beall. By 1891, Ben Lundy as well as his Downer in laws were living in Dougherty County and were probably there for a year or two. Lundy remained there until the late 1890s only to return to Mitchell County where he continued working as farmer.

Marriage Certificate of Ben Lundy and Leah [Downer] Williams

Beginning in the 1890s, Georgia and other southern states passed a wide variety of Jim Crow laws that mandated racial segregation or separation in public facilities and effectively codified the region’s tradition of white supremacy. Under Jim Crow, Black Georgians suffered from a system of discrimination that pervaded nearly every aspect of life; they were denied their constitutional right to vote, encountered discrimination in housing and employment, and were refused access to public spaces and facilities. [Hatfield, Edward. “Segregation.” New Georgia Encyclopedia, last modified Jul 20, 2020.

Lynching Of A Black Man Accused Of Rape In Royston, Georgia Around 1935-1940

During the introduction of Jim Crow, suppression of Black citizens took a far more violent turn. More lynchings took place in Georgia between 1889 and 1918 than anywhere else in the United States. [Tolnay, Stewart and E. Beck. “Lynching.” New Georgia Encyclopedia, last modified Aug 12, 2020.

During the late 1890s and early 1900s, there were hundreds penitentiary convictions of black men within the Mitchell/Dougherty area; one of them being, Israel Lundy, Ben Lundy’s son from his first marriage to Nancy Beale. Anyone of these men, especially his son may have been among the black people whose imprisonment Lundy protested. On 30 Apr 1895, 22-year-old Israel Lundy was sentenced in Dougherty County, Georgia to 5 ½ years prison for 3 counts of simple larceny. He served his 5 ½ year prison sentence in the state prison and was released from it on 30 Oct 1900.

By 1910, Lundy relocated his family back to Dougherty County, Georgia and resided in Militia District 1097. Lundy was a farmer in this area of Georgia and he was probably a member of different churches, likely a preacher during this time. In 1920, he was recorded on the census for the first time as a preacher while his wife and his children worked on a farm where he had his own account.

He relocated one last time back to Mitchell County sometime in the 1920s, maybe when he began serving at 1st Bethesda Baptist Church in Dougherty, County, becoming the church’s 3rd minister in 1926. The “Rev. Ben Lundy assumed his new role while at the same time running a farm in Baconton, Mitchell County. He may have attended that same church as early as 1865, when the church was donated to its newly freed black members, and when the first African-American deacons were ordained. He ministered at Bethesda for 6 years until on 30 Aug 1932, at 8pm, he passed away in Putney in Baconton, Mitchell County, Georgia from stomach cancer.

The Rev. Lundy and Nancy Beale were the parents of Martha Lundy born 1869, Sarah Steele, born 1871, Israel Lundy, 1873–1948, Benjimen J Lundy Jr born 1874, James Lundy, born 1876, and Washington”Wash” Lundy (1878–1879).

The Rev. Lundy and Leah Downer were the parents of Benzola Riley (1891–1958), George A. Lundy (1892–1970), Leonza Means (1896–1988), Arrilla “Mercy” Tensley (1898–1966), Ruth Lundy (1898–1992), Eugene James H Lundy (1902–1956), Mary Anne Hawkins (1903–1963) and Marie Lundy born 1906.

Leah Downer Williams was the mother of Kattie Laura Bell Williams born (1885) before she married Ben Lundy.