Wednesday, January 27, 2016
November 20, 1948: Robert Mallard
Today we learn about a Georgia lynching through the pages of The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) dated December 4, 1948:
HINT WIDOW FRAMED TO SHIELD LYNCHING
Husband Killed By Ga. Kluxers, Teacher Sobs
SAVANNAH, Ga.—A Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent told newsmen Monday that Mrs. Mallard was released Saturday in order to witness the burial of her husband.
By CHESTER L. WASHINGTON
(Courier Associate Editor)
LYONS, Ga.—Is blood-drenched Georgia desperately trying to cover up another infamous lynching?
Mrs. Amy James Mallard charges that her husband, Robert, 37, was set upon and shot to death by hooded Klansmen near Saturday midnight, Nov. 20.
But the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, assigned to the case by Governor Herman Talmadge, white supremacy leader, arrested Mrs. Mallard as a suspect in the killing.
The bureau then released her without requiring bond.
Local residents are now asking why Mrs. Mallard was arrested and charged with the murder.
They also want to know, if the charges against Mrs. Mallard have any substance, why the GBI released Mrs. Mallard without requiring bond and without withdrawing the murder charges.
In the light of obvious efforts being made to shift responsibility for the crime from whites, investigators here have raised the question as to whether or not Mrs. Mallard is being framed, or used, to divert attention from white responsibility.
These and other questions filled the air with mystery and suspense as officials of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation maintained a tight-lipped silence in their probe of the slaying of prosperous Robert Mallard on a lonely country road.
Less than ten miles from where Isiah Nixon was shot down in cold blood in the presence of his wife and six small children a few weeks ago, a band of hooded white men drew up a roadblock, according to Mrs. Mallard, widow of the slain man, and stopped their car.
The ambushers then shot her husband to death as she and her baby, and two young companions looked on in terror, Mrs. Mallard said. The band was reportedly made up of from fifty to seventy white men.
That was near midnight on Saturday, Nov. 20.
It was not until Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 23, that news of the ambush-killing reached the outside world, and then under most peculiar circumstances.
On that afternoon, a Macon, Ga., paper broke the story to the outside world that another murder had taken place in the Telfair zone—traditional home of the Talmadges at McRae. It is reported that the Macon paper had secured its information through a "tip" from a Macon lawyer—who, in turn, had gotten a "tip" from New York City, it is understood.
Rising quickly to keep Georgia's "white supremacy" escutcheon as clean as possible, two significant developments came to the fore.
Toombs County Sheriff R. E. Gray disputed Mrs. Mallard's charge that hooded Klansmen had committed the murder and two separate offers of $500 rewards were posted by white Georgians. One was for anyone who could prove that Mallard was killed by white men; the others were offered for the "arrest and conviction" of the killers. This was an anonymous offer and was left with Editor Ralph McGill of the Atlanta Constitution.
But, with startling suddenness, officials of the GBI—ordered into action by Governor Herman Talmadge—arrested Mrs. Mallard at the funeral of her husband and charged her with the murder. They reportedly found a .32 calibre pistol in her car. The Courier was advised that the gun was loaded when found.
However, advices from Jacksonville reached The Courier this week that photographs had been made of the murder car and that these photographs show a bullet hole in the windshield, placing any grave doubts on any possibility that Mrs. Mallard could have shot her husband since she was inside the car with him and holding their eighteen-month-old baby at the time.
Then, again with startling unexpectedness, on Saturday night, the GBI released Mrs. Mallard, who turned up in Savannah, Ga., where she told her story to reporters.
She related how she was released by the GBI nine hours after her arrest, without bond, into the custody of one of her attorneys, Ellis Pope of Lyons.
Bedraggled and thoroughly terrified, Mrs. Mallard told how she had spent most of Saturday night hiding in a thick of woods, protected against a heavy downpour of rain by only a thin raincoat. Her attorney had driven her to the home of friends at Reidsville after her release because she was fearful of violence in the Lyons area. She was to get a bus from Reidsville.
Mrs. Mallard said her release came when she positively identified one member of the mob which she said killed her husband. She also said she identified another man's automobile as one which was at the scene where he was killed. Both the men she named are white.
Two other young people were in the Mallard car at the time of the slaying, William Carter, 18, and Emma Carter, 13, his sister. They were taken into custody, along with Frank Brinson, identified as a white farmer, as material witnesses.
Officials of the GBI refused to make any comment early this week on the progress of the case or further developments and it is understood that the GBI has taken full charge of the probe.
At the time of Mrs. Mallard's arrest, GBI Captain Delmas Jones said he believed that the KKK had been wrongfully accused in the slaying. The widow, when taken into custody, became hysterical, and screamed that her husband was slain "by masked Ku Kluxers, that's who did it!"
The Courier was informed Monday that an autopsy showed that Mallard's heart was burst and that he had a bullet in one leg.
Motives advanced for the killing ran the gamut.
Mallard had been threatened because of recent political activity, and, like Isiah Nixon, had been told that his life "wouldn't be worth fifty cents" if he voted in the recent Sept. 8 Georgia primary. He was in Savannah that day and did not vote.
A farmer as well as a salesman for several firms, Mallard was also reported to be the object of envy of whites because of his apparent prosperity and his new auto.
He represented the Standard Advertising and Printing Company, Fort Scott, Kan.; the Duval Casket Company, Jacksonville, Fla.; the Egyptian Chemical Company, Boston, and the Schwartz Tailoring Company. His father is a retired Presbyterian minister the Rev. J. R. Mallard of Jacksonville, Fla. He has several other relatives.
Burial services took place in Griffin, Ga., Monday afternoon of this week, with his sister and father present for the final rites.
Meanwhile, there was no indication that the Federal Bureau of Investigation would move into the newest slaying which has shocked the Nation, although relatives of the dead man have said they would seek FBI assistance.
In New York City, Walter White, NAACP secretary, called the slaying "a dastardly deed and a cold-blooded murder." The NAACP has ordered its Georgia lawyers to step into the case.
The Kane Republican (Kane, Pennsylvania) dated December 6, 1948:
Widow of Negro She Claims Was Lynched Swear Out Warrants For Accused
LYONS, Ga.—(U.P.)—Amy Mallard,widow of a negro she claims was lynched, came out of seclusion today to return to the scene of the crime and swear out warrants for the white men she charged with the murder.
The 40-year-old school teacher who had been in virtual hiding since the slaying of her husband, left Savannah, Ga., this morning under protection of Lt. W. E. McDuffie of the state police and an armed trooper.
Aaron Kravitch, Amy's attorney, hustled her into a state car outside his office as the woman nervously watched a curious crowd that had gathered to watch the departure.
Amy returned to Lyons, near where her husband was ambushed and shot to death, after the promise of Gov. Herman Talmadge that she would be protected.
Three young white farmers were lodged in the Toombs county jail Saturday night to await the formality of warrants. They said they were willing to remain in custody until investigation of Robert Mallard's death is completed.
A special session of the grand jury has been set for Friday to look into the case and if it returns indictments, a superior court term will begin Monday.
Roderick L. Clifton, 32, William L. (Spud) Howell, 24, and James W. (Buck) Spivey, 27, gave themselves up voluntarily, said Sheriff R. E. Gray. All are residents of the lower part of the county, where Mallard, 37-year-old casket salesman, was halted at a roadblock and slain on the night of Nov. 20.
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan) dated December 11, 1948:
Georgia Jury Indicts 2 in Negro Killing
LYONS, Ga.—(AP)—Two white men were indicted on murder charges in the ambush slaying of Robert Mallard, Toombs County Negro.
A special grand jury returned true bills after hearing a hysterical account of the slaying by Mallard's widow.
Indicted were William L. Howell, 32, a farmer, and Roderick Clifton, 36.
[Amy Mallard (center), Negro school teacher, was charged with
murder for the fatal shooting of her husband, Robert Mallard,
on a lonely road near Lyons, Ga., but now Sheriff R. E. Gray
says the charges are being withdrawn. He reports his investigation
disclosed she was not implicated in the killing. The widow and
other witnesses said a band of men in white robes halted their
party on the road, and a shot was fired that killed Mallard.
This picture was made when the widow was arrested in Savannah,
Ga., and accused of the slaying. She is being questioned by Lt.
W. E. McDuffie (right) of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
At left is her brother, J. C. James, an attorney, from Buffalo, N. Y.
(A. P. Photo).
Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.