Monday, November 3, 2014

November 3, 1902: Sam Harris

Join me in a moment in history. We are brought to Salem, Alabama by way of The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) on November 4, 1902:


Sam Harris Uses an Ax on Mrs. Meadows and Child, Near Salem, Ala.


Although Identified by Miss Meadows, the Negro Stoutly Denied Guilt to the Last—Purpose Thought to Have Been Robbery.

Salem, Ala., November 3.—9Special.)—Sam Harris, a negro, entered the home of George Meadows, a prominent planter who lives 4 miles south of here, about 9 o'clock this morning, during Mr. Meadows' absence, and with an ax struck his wife and 18 year old daughter each on the head, crushing Mrs. Meadows skull and fracturing that of her daughter. Mrs. Meadows has never regained consciousness and will die.

The negro was placed in custody and held till Miss Meadows had sufficiently recovered to identify him. This she did at 4 o'clock this afternoon and the negro was taken in charge by about 125 armed men and his body riddled with bullets on the spot. He denied his guilt until the first shot was fired, then he acknowledged the crime.

His purpose was to rob the house, which he, perhaps, did, as all the drawers in the bureaus and dressers were opened and showed evidence of being rifled. The whole country around is in a state of confusion.

The negro had heard that Mr. Meadows had disposed of two mules and that the money was on the premises, so when Mr. Meadows left the place this morning to attend the organization of a school some miles off, he prepared to act.

Casting aside the sack into which he was placing the cotton as he picked it, he went by his house and blackened his hands and face with smut, and taking an ax, started for the home of Mr. Meadows, which was near at hand. The home of Mr. Meadows is in a sparely settled community, but other houses are near. The settlement is about 6 miles from Salem and some distance from a telegraph or railroad station.

Arriving at the house, the negro went in and struck Mrs. Meadows two terrible blows on the head with the ax, and began searching the place for money. Hearing some one coming, he went to the door and saw Miss Meadows coming. As she came up the steps, he struck at her with the ax and she threw up one arm to ward off the blow, and her arm was broken by the lick. She turned and ran with the negro following. He caught up with her at the gate and struck her a fearful blow on the head, knocking her to the ground, and then he kicked her in the side, bruising her badly. He then returned to the house, but failed to find the money, and thinking both women dead returned to his work, after slipping home and washing off the smut.

The daughter came to herself, after lying in her blood a while, and started for the neighbors for help. Arriving at Mr.Codenhead's, she told the story, and the word soon spread over the county. Sheriff Hodges was sick in bed, but one of his deputies, Chief of Police Morgan, R. W. Capps, a son in law of Mr. Meadows, Tax Collector Booker, and others left for the scene of the attempted murders and have been gone all day. This afternoon the negro was caught by a posse and the smut was found on his face and the water where he had washed the other smut off was in the washpan at home. He was carried to the scene of the crime and was identified, as stated, by Miss Meadows.

The crowd was momentarily growing larger. After the evidences of his guilt  were seen, including his finger print on the back of the chimney where he had gotten the soot, he was carried to the Meadows home.

The negro never got 6 feet from the steps before the sharp report of a pistol rang out, the negro gave a groan, then another shot and then a sound like a rattle of artillery or shot pouring on a tin roof, and then all was still. The negro sank to the ground dead.

Mrs. Meadows cannot recover, and her daughter is in great danger.

The negro's wife is under arrest, charged with complicity.

Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.

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