Thursday, June 11, 2015

January 1, 1921: Jim Roland

Today we learn about a lynching in Georgia through the pages of The Index-Journal (Greenwood, S. C.) dated April 22, 1921:



Camilla, Ga., April 22.—Nine indictments returned by the Mitchell county grand jury and made public yesterday in connection with the lynching last January of Jim Roland, a negro, are said to be the first in the state under what is known as the "mob violence act." Two of the men indicted are from Mitchell county, five from Grady, and one from Jasper and one from Putnam.

The indictments are on two counts, one for murder and one for mob violence. The men indicted are:  J. W. Tucker, of Hillsboro, Jasper county; Grady Spearman, of Eatonton, Putnam county; M. K. Boutwell, and J. B. Bettison, Mitchell county; Paul Gray, L. B. Harrell, Will Reaves, Guy Harrell and Charles Lee Harrell, Grady county.

All of the indicted men, except Tucker and Spearman have been arrested and released on bond in the sum of $10,000 each, with the exception of Bettison, who is charged only with mob violence and whose bond was fixed at $2,000.

In granting application for bail, Judge R. C. Bell, of superior court stated that the defendants would be put immediately on trial and later, after consultation with Solicitor General B. C. Gardner announced that the trial would begin Monday of next week.

Negro Lynched January 1st.

On the first day of January last, Jim Roland, a negro was shot and killed by a mob after he had shot and seriously injured Jason Harrell, of Grady county. Witnesses testified before the grand jury it is stated, that Harrell was making some negroes dance, and that when Roland came along Harrell tried to make him dance also. Roland, it was testified, refused to dance, whereupon both pulled their pistols and began firing. Harrell falling badly wounded. Later a party of men in automobiles captured Roland while he was at a negro cabin, having sent for the sheriff of Mitchell county to come and get him.

It is alleged that one of the men in the party represented himself as a deputy sheriff, whereupon the negroes in the cabin delivered Roland to the party. Shortly afterwards the sheriff's party arrived on the scene only to hear the shots that killed the negro and to find his body.

Harrell's story of the trouble with Roland was that it arose over some cows which he, Harrell, had lost and concerning which he questioned the negro. Harrell is still confined to a hospital in Cairo, and will not be able to attend the trial next week.

We learn about the verdicts for two of the men charged in The Charlotte News (Charlotte, N. C.) dated April29, 1921:


Camilla, Ga., April 29.—Will Reeves was found not guilty of the charge of murder by a jury in Mitchell county superior court at 12 o'clock Thursday night.

The jury was out for one hour.

Reeves was one of nine men indicted in connection with the lynching of Jim Roland, the charges being violation of the mob violence act, the first prosecution of the kind in the state, and also murder.

M. K. Boutwell, first to be placed on trial, on Monday, was found not guilty on Wednesday under the mob violence act. The trial of Reeves began Wednesday afternoon and lawyers speeded [sic] up their work so that state and defense rested Thursday afternoon and arguments were gotten under way before supper.

The charge to the jury was delivered at 11 o'clock and Judge Bell announced that he would receive a verdict if reached during the night. An hour afterward the jury reported its verdict.

The jury was discharged for the term, which means that no more of the accused men will be tried before the October term of court.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any articles about the trials of the other seven men. It would not be surprising if all ended up with the same verdict. Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder. 

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