Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20, 1884: Jane Wade and J. R. Dorsey

Join me into the past, to Cherokee County, Alabama through the pages of The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) printed October 22, 1884:



The Alpine Tragedy Results in the Lynching of the Guilty Pair Who Were Suspected of the Murder of Mrs. Davis—The Appearance of the Midnight Riders—Their Mission.

ROME, Ga., October 21.—[Special.]—On the morning of October 8th. THE CONSTITUTION published the account of the terrible murder of Mrs. Mary H. Davis , in Cherokee county, Alabama, near Alpine, Chattooga county, Georgia. Her uncle, J. R. Dorsey and Jane Wade, were arrested for complicity in the crime and lodged in jail at Centre. The sequel to this terrible tragedy occurred last night, when Dorsey and Jane Wade were taken by a mob from Centre jail and lynched. The following details of the affair were received to-day, over the wires of the Coosa River telegraph company:


About 11:30 o'clock last night a mob composed of about forty men, three or four of whom were masked, all armed with shotguns, arrived in Centre. It is supposed that they came from Chattooga county, Ga., having crossed the Coosa river at Hardwick's ferry, four miles above Cedar Bluff. The mob proceeded to the jail very quietly, so quietly in fact, that the citizens of Centre were not disturbed in their slumbers, and the mob met with no opposition. The sheriff of Cherokee county was not at home, and his wife, with a young brother of the sheriff, had charge of the jail.


The mob having aroused the sheriff's wife, presented their guns and told her the sooner Dorsey and Jane Wade were given up the better it would be for her. Three masked men then seized the keys and entered the jail. The other prisoners were terribly frightened, but the men told them to keep quiet; that they wanted no one but Dorsey and Jane Wade. When the cells of Dorsey and the woman were reached, they were taken without difficulty out of the jail, and placed in a buggy. Jane Wade wept bitterly, but neither she nor Dorsey made any efforts at resistance. Three quarters of a mile from the town the cavalcade halted.


The buggy containing the two culprits was driven under a tree, a rope was fastened around the neck of each and fastened to two limbs of the same tree. The buggy was driven from under them and Dorsey and Jane Wade were launched into eternity. Dorsey's neck was broken. The woman died of strangulation. They made no confessions.

Today Centre was unusually quiet. The mob had left no traces of their terrible work save the two dead bodies, and these were taken to the court house.


A coroner's inquest was held. The verdict was rendered in accordance with the facts above detailed. The bodies were viewed by large numbers of people to-day.

J. R. Dorsey was 74 years of age. Up to the beginning of the late war he was considered one of the most prominent citizens  of Cherokee county. He leaves considerable property.

Jane Wade was 46 years old. She was a woman of bad character. Dorsey took up with her several years ago.


None of the mob have as yet been identified, but one person is suspected of having taken part in the proceedings last night.

Now we will travel a little further back to see what led to this lynching. Our journey brings us to The Atlanta Constitution on October 11, 1884:


The Alleged Assassins Threatened by an Infuriated Mob.

CHATTANOOGA, October 10.—[Special]—Further details of the terrible murder of Mrs. Mary Davis at Alpine, in Chatooga county, Ga., have just been received. C. C. Jones, a relative of the family was standing on a direct line with Mrs. Davis, when the assassin fired. He received twenty-four slugs in his body and died in a few hours. At the preliminary examination of J. R. Dorsey and Jane Wade, the prostitute who was arrested as an accomplice in the murder, the evidence adduced was very conclusive and the magistrate remanded to jail without bail. The officers were instructed to convey the prisoners to jail, but before they could leave the scene excitement became so intense, that they were rapidly taken to the mountains and concealed to prevent being lynched. The mob numbered fully 300 and was composed of the best citizens in the county. The leader of the mob states they will yet hang the murderer. Dorsey is the postmaster at Alpine, and is one of the leading men of that section.

One more trip a little further back to the same paper dated October 8, 1884:


She is a Cousin of Sam Hardwick, Who Was Murdered Near the Same Place Three Months Ago—Her Uncle Arrested for Complicity in the Crime—Crimes Elsewhere.

CHATTAHOOGA, Tenn., October 7.—[Special.] A shocking murder occurred last night near Alpine, Ga., surpassing in horror any crime that has happened in this region in years. Mrs. Mary H. Davis was shot and killed while standing in her own door way. The shot was fired from an ambush. Mrs. Davis fell across the threshold, perforated with slugs. The shot was heard by neighbors, but the lady was in her dying throes before assistance reached her. Officers at once began a careful inquiry. To-day her uncle, J. R. Dorsey, and a prostitute named Jane Wade were arrested for complicity in the deed. About three months ago a cousin of Mrs. Davis, Sam Hardwick, who lives near her was called from his house and assassinated in the same manner. About a week ago Dr. Freeman, a prominent physician in that locality, was arrested for that murder. All the parties are wealthy and are among the leading families in their county. Some deep mystery is attached to both crimes and it is thought that the investigation now on foot will solve it.

According to a different article, Dr. Freeman was a relative of J. R. Dorsey. Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder. 

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