Monday, October 13, 2014

October 13, 1892: Jim Packer, Handy Packer, Burrell Jones, Morse/Moses Jones

The first leg of our journey through time is brought to us by The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Missouri) on October 14, 1892: 


Bodies of Four Negro Brutes Torn to Pieces and Cremated. 

Monroeville, Ala., Oct. 14.—The bodies of the four negroes, Jim Packer and his brother, Morse Johnson and Burrell Jones, who were lynched for the foul murders of Planter Johnson and his daughter last night were cut down as soon as life was extinct and the bodies torn to pieces by the maddened mob and then gathered together in a large heap and burned as they had burned the bodies of their helpless victims. 

Our next stop is the Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) on October 14, 1892:


A Mob Takes the Four Men Who Killed Mr. and Miss Johnson and Hangs Them. 

SUNNY SOUTH, Ala., Oct. 13.—A mob at Monroeville last night took Burrell Jones and his son Moses, with two accomplices, who were charged with murdering Mr. Richard L. Johnson and his daughter, Miss Jonnie, and burning the bodies at their residence at Davis Ferry on the Alabama River. The officials learned that a mob had been organized from the neighborhood of Teach Tree for the purpose of burning the four negroes at the stake. The prisoners were at once taken from the jail and an attempt made to spirit them away, but the officials ran into another mob who took the prisoners and after hanging them to a tree filled their bodies with bullets. Burrell Jones made a full confession while in jail and said that the four men went to Johnson's for the purpose of robbery, and the old man discovered them, whereupon he was murdered with an ax. The daughter, Miss Johnnie came to the rescue of her father and they murdered her. The house was then set on fire to hide all traces of the crime. The mob that was to have burned the culprits expressed much dissatisfaction at being thwarted in their designs. 

Our final leg of our journey comes to us from the The Wilmington Messenger (Wilmington , N. C.) October 16, 1892:



The Fiendish Perpetrators Riddled With Bullets and Instantly Killed—False Accounts By Sensational Reporters Corrected—The Bodies of the Murderers Not Burned or Mutilated. 

MOBILE, Ala., Nct.[sic] 15.—On Wednesday last there was so vigorous a demand for the particulars of the lynching of the negroes who murdered Richard L. Johnson and his beautiful daughter Jennie, at Davis' Ferry Friday night October 7th, that special correspondents of a number of papers manufactured details suitable to the occasion, stating that after hanging the men and riddling their bodies with bullets, the mob burned them, the roasting proceeding while one of the victims was yet alive. The locality was so distant from a telegraph station that it was impossible for these details to have been communicated at the time, and it is not surprising to learn that they are for the most part false.  

Friday night Johnson was killed at his front gate and his daughter was killed in the house while she was playing the piano. The house was then set on fire and consumed, Johnson's body being previously placed therein. Saturday morning Handy Packer, Jim Packer, Moses Johnson and Moses Jones, with several other negroes, were arrested. Handy Packer made a statement which convinced the crowd that his brother Jim Packer and Moses Johnson were guilty and a proposition was made that the two be lynched, but wiser counsel prevailed. The two men were taken before a magistrate where both asserted their innocence and were duly charged and committed to jail at Monroeville, twenty miles distant, where they arrived Saturday night. During the day blood was found on the clothing of Moses Jones, and an ax with blood and hair on the eye was found in the yard of Burrell Jones, Moses' brother. Thereupon Moses Jones was rearrested and also Handy Packer, because his evidence had not hitherto implicated Moses Jones. 

Handy Packer them made a full confession. He said that on the morning of the murder he, Moses Johnson, Moses Jones and Jim Packer agreed to kill Robert L. Johnson and get his money. They arranged the details and met that night in the woods about 300 yards from Johnson's. They advanced to Johnson's gate at 9 o'clock. Handy and Jim Packer were set to watch the roadside in each direction and the other two called Johnson to the gate. As soon as he came up Moses struck him with an ax and Moses Jones and Moses Johnson went into the house. Packer claimed that he and his brother remained outside all the time. He did not know what happened in the house, and heard but one scream from Miss Jennie. The two men ran out very quickly and all four departed, much scared and without any money. They recovered their courage in half an hour, however, and returned. They found Johnson had crawled ten feet towards the house and died. They took up his body and carried it into the house depositing it in a room different from that in which Miss Jennie lay dead. They all four set fire to the house and awaited to see that it was burning well before they departed. Handy Packer and Moses Jones were sent to Monroeville jail Tuesday, arriving there at 8 o'clock at night. Jim Packer and Moses Johnson were then questioned and the answers they made convinced the questioners that Handy Packer had told the truth. They all denied that any violence offered to the young lady. 

The news of the confession spread rapidly and Wednesday morning early 200 men gathered and consulted near the jail in Monroeville. They called on the Sheriff and Jailor [sic] J. D. Foster for the keys of the jail, but he replied that he had sworn to do his duty and would not surrender the prisoners. The mob at once tore down the fence surrounding the jail and broke in the jail door. They overpowered Foster and took the keys of the cells from him and soon had possession of the four negroes. The people were very much excited, and some proposed to start a bonfire and throw the negroes into it, but the leaders said that the men should be taken to the scene of the crime. At 7 o'clock the procession started in the direction of Davis Ferry. At Gratom's bridge over Flat creek the patience of the mob gave out, however, and they decided upon the immediate punishment of the four negroes. The doomed men were marched twenty yards up the road and stationed in line, their hands tied behind their backs. Then the order was given to fire and every gun was discharged. The negroes were all killed instantly. Their bodies were left where they fell and were neither burned nor mutilated. The oldest of the four was about 19 years of age.   

None of the newspaper accounts seem to agree and I found this with most of the accounts I read. Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I have left you with something to ponder.

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