Saturday, April 1, 2017

April 14, 1882: Henry Ivy and Sim Acoff

I just wanted to say hello to everyone. I'm K, daughter of the author who originally started this blog. Since she is currently focusing on life, but thinks its important to continue covering lynchings, I am going to be posting lynchings. You'll still hear from the author, but not as frequently as you will hopefully be hearing from me. You may note that our styles are different. I have a Masters in history so I have more of a background to comment. However, the style that the author uses in just providing the facts, is excellent so I will try to keep comments to a minimum.

Today we learn about the lynching of two men in Dallas County, Alabama. You may note that Sim Acoff's name is also noted as Jim Acoff. I am unsure if it is Sim or Jim as two Alabama papers differ in the use of his first name. Today we will start our story through the pages of The Marion Commonwealth (Marion, Alabama) dated April 20, 1882: 


Lynched.


Two More of the Slayers of Weisinger Meet Their Doom.


Selma Times, 14th.]

From various reports and rumors that have reached the city from Brown’s Station, it is known, beyond the possibility of a doubt, that Henry Ivy and Sim Acoff, negroes who it has transpired were implicated in the killing of Mr. J. B. Weisinger on the 19th of December last, were taken out and lynched by a body of 


FORTY MASKED MEN, 


at two o’clock yesterday morning, in the woods five miles south of Brown’s Station on the Ala. Central Railroad, near Bell’s church. The hanging of Ledlow and Weisinger for participation in the horrible crime, has hardly been consummated, the death-dealing scaffold has only lately been laid away, and now we are called on to chronicle the slaying of two more of 


THE RED-HANDED MURDERERS, 


for their share in the killing. It seems that before, but particularly since, the execution of March 31st, matters on the Weisinger plantations have not been altogether lovely as it was thought by many white people, and their belief was largely shared in by numbers of negroes that others besides the two unfortunates whose necks were stretched were concerned in the crime, and threats were freely made that it would go hard with anyone who had a hand in the murder. Last Wednesday afternoon Henry Ivy, who has been haunted by thoughts of the execution, suffering from the pants of conscience, made 


A CLEAN CONFESSION OF THE CRIME,
 

giving himself away as the man who really did the killing, and implicating his brother, Porter Ivy, who received a life sentence; Ledlow and Weisinger, who were hanged; Sim Acoff, who was then at large on the plantation, and Abb Smith, who has left for parts unknown. 

This confession was voluntarily made to seven intelligent white men. Ivy and Acoff were immediately arrested and taken before Esquire Gwinn, who hold them to await action by the grand jury. When it became generally known on the neighboring plantations that 


IVY HAD MADE A CONFESSION,
 

the negroes, who had devotedly loved their “old master,” and still revere his name, became furiously excited, and it was with great exertion on the part of white people that they were kept from stringing the two culprits up then and there. Ivy, it appears, was very unpopular with his own people, many of whom declare that he and his brother swore away the lives of Ledlow and Weisinger. After some trouble, consequent on the incensed negroes’ frenzy, the prisoners were given in charge of three white guards—Messers. E. J. and Enoch Bell, and W. C. Whitt—and were by them taken to a school house, not far distant, for safe keeping through the night. At two o’clock, while Mr. Whitt was absent at a well seventy five yards off, getting a drink of water for Ivy, forty masked men, thought to be all whites, rode up to the building, quickly overcame, bound and gagged the guards, and made off with the negroes who


IN VAIN PLEAD FOR MERCY


and just one day more of life. 


The Messrs. Bell, who were seated before a fire, with their backs to the door, were taken completely by surprise, as they thought the footsteps were those of Mr. Whitt in returning, and so were easily overcome, and unable to identify any of the maskers. The party was out of sight before Mr. Whitt returned.


 The exact transpirings of the next half hour cannot be obtained, but when the results of the


SWIFT, SURE AND DEADLY WORK

Of the vigilants [sic] are known, imagination can vividly color the scene of strangulation in the dark and somber woods at dead of night, the writhings of the self-confessed murderers, dangling from a rope thrown over a far spreading limb of some monarch of the forest that cast its gloomy shade over that lawless 


BAND OF AVENGERS


and the two miserable horror-struck villians [sic], can be easily pictured.


While taking their way through the woods, near the school house, late last evening, a crowd of negroes were badly scared by seeing


IVY’S LIFELESS BODY


swinging two [sic] and fro betweed [sic] Heaven and earth. Acoff was not to be found thereabouts, but that he met his death at the hands of the lynchers may be set down as a certainty. Who the lynchers were is not known; where they came from is not known; where they formed, or whither they went is not known. That they fully accomplished their unlawful designs is known; that they performed 


THE FIRST ACT OF THE KIND


ever enacted in Dallas county is known; and that they will keep the matter as sacredly secret as possible may be relied on. 


There was little or no excitement at Brown’s Station yesterday over the occurrence. It was talked of, but not frequently; business was transacted; negroes went to and from their work; the occupations of the people were quietly carried on; and from the looks and appearances of men and things, no one would ever have mistrusted that out there in the green woods, where nature had seemingly been most beautifully lavish, Judge Lynch had but the night before sat in all his erroneous glory and carried into eflect [sic] his unwise and semi-barbaric intentions. 


THE CONFESSION OF IVY


and its accompanying document, which were handed us yesterday by Mr. William Bell, are appended:


HENRY IVY’S STORY OF THE MURDER.


The morning Mr. Will Weisinger went to Selma he told me to go down and work with Bill and Al if I wanted to.

I stayed at home and cut wood till 12 o’clock, it looked so much like raining. That day my sister came up there and she, my wife and myself went to the store. My sister came at 12 o’clock. Al Weisinger came to the store for nails while I was there; I asked him was he going to use the wagon after dinner; he said he was going to haul one load of posts with it, and then I could get it. Myself and a little boy named Campbell, went and got the wagon and commenced hauling wood. Campbell cut and I hauled. The second load I hauled, Abb [S]mith stopped me and told me that he, Bill Ledlow, All[sic] Weisinger and another fellow were going to get some money that night. I asked him what fellow it was: he (Abb Smith) said it was Sim Acoff. I asked him how they were going to get it; he said they were going to run over the “old man” and get it. I told Abb it would be wrong to do that. I went to hauling wood and said no more to him until night. About half an hour by sun my wife went to the residence to milk the cows, (Mr. W. T. Weisinger’s residence). She told me to come to the yard and bring her baby back, as she had milk to bring back. Al Weisinger and Emily Nelson were in the yard. We all left the yard together.  When we got to the store, Al Weisinger and Emily stopped; myself and wife went home. About an hour after we got home Emily came to my house. As soon as she got there, she told me these fellows said come on. I asked ‘What fellows?” She said Bill Ledlow, Al Weisinger and Sim Acoff, up at the store. My wife then spoke and said she wanted some fish from the store. I said take this nickel and go up there and get some. She said, “No I am afraid to go up there where all those men folks are.” I then took the nickel and remarked that I would go up there and borrow a nickel from old master and get three, and pay him when Mas. Willie came back from Selma. When I got there Bill Ledlow, Al Weisinger, Abb Smith, Porter Ivy, and Sim Acoff were going in the store. Bill Ledlow and Sim Acoff saw me and they turned back and came to where I was. Bill Ledlow said, “Henry, we want to make arrangements to get some money to-night.” I asked him how they were going to get it. He said they had concluded to hold the “Old Man” and get it. I told him that was wrong. Bill Ledlow said, “You do as I tell you.” He told me to get a stick and go in and hit the “Old Man.” I told him again it was wrong and I didn’t want to do it. When he said “Old Man” I knew he meant Mr. J. B. Weisinger, the old gentleman in the store, and who was killed that night of next morning. Bill Ledlow said not to kill him, but to knock him senseless. Sim Acoff said kill him. I told [__] Acoff [_] was wrong, and I did not want to do [_]. Bill Ledlow said “Do as I tell you.” We then went in the  store where Al Weisinger gave me a piece of rail. Mr. Weisinger was standing behind the counter talking. Bill Ledlow called for [whi__]. When Mr. Weisinger stopped to draw the whisky I struck him one lick and he fell on his knees. Bill Ledlow said, “Strike him again.” I then struck him the second blow. Then Bill Ledlow jumped over the counter and got one of the money drawers. I went behind the counter and got the other drawer and gave it to Sim Acoff. We all went down in the woods and poured the money in Sim Acoff’s hat. We then carried the money to my house. Bill Ledlow did not go up to my house with us. Sim Acoff and Al Weisinger divided the money at my house. Al Weisinger, Bill Ledlow and Sim Acoff got twenty five dollars each, Al Weisinger taking Bill Ledlow’s share’ myself, Porter Ivey and Abb Smith got fifteen dollars each. Emily Wilson was in my house. Sim Acoff and Al Weisinger told her to say  nothing about it; that they would see her after awhile. Then they left my house.

His

HENRY M IVY.

Mark.


We, the unders’nged citizens, do hereby certify that Henry Ivy made the above confession in our presence without fear or compulsion.  


W. C. Billingsley,
C. P. Whitt,
Wm. Bell,
L. C. Ellis,
W. C. Whitt
Enoch Bell,
E. J. Bell. 

I don't know whether Ivy actually struck "Old Man" Weisinger or not. I find it hard to believe that he confessed to seven white men without fear or compulsion. Our next article comes to us from the Alabama Beacon (Greensboro, Alabama) April 21, 1882: 
 
Henry Ivy and Jim Acoff, (colored,) two of the murderers of Weisinger, were lynched on Wednesday night of last week, by a masked mob,—numbering about forty.  The former had made a voluntary confession that he participated in the killing of Weisinger, in fact, he said that he struck the fatal blows. He also implicated Jim Acoff, and the three men tried and convicted.


Ivy’s body had been found, but Jim Acoff’s was not. A colored man has said that he met and spoke to Acoff in Meridian since the lynching.



It is to be regretted that lynch law was resorted to. Three of the murderers had been tried and found guilty, and two of them hanged, while the third was sentenced to the penitentiary for ten years. As a general rule, to which there can be very few exceptions, the courts of the country should be resorted to, for the punishment of violators of the criminal law. Lynching, though probably justified under some peculiar circumstances, should never be resorted to where the courts are open, and no special impediment in the way of a fair administration of justice. Our Northern enemies, who take an especial pleasure in commenting on acts of lawlessness committed in the South, will not fail to notice this affair to our prejudice.



It wasn't uncommon for Southern papers to claim that Northerners were against them and therefore they needed to prove that the South wasn't full of terrible people. Clearly this is not the opinion of the journalist of the Marion Commonwealth, who takes a romantic and almost gleeful approach to detailing the crime and lynching. Something interesting to note is that this lynching actually came up in a speech made at a convention of newspapermen held that same month. (I will not completely post the article here because of the size and because it is more about the convention.) An article on the convention appeared in the Greenville Advocate published in April 27, 1882 and stated that:  "In the course of his address [the speaker] warmly commended the denunciation by Alabama journals of the recent lynching of two negroes, Ivey and Acoff, in West Alabama."  By distancing themselves from lynchers, journalists assisted their communities in attracting business into the area.


Our next part of the story is a take on the lynching from a paper outside of the South. The Ottowa Free Trader (Ottowa, Illinois) dated April 22, 1882 published the following article: 

Thriving Business of Judge Lynch,

On the 19th of December last, J. B. Weisinger, a planter, near Brown’s station, Alabama, a man 60 years of age, was brutally murdered in his own house, half a dozen negroes being supposed to have had a hand in it. Two of them named Bill Ludlow and Al. Weisinger, were finally brought to trial and convicted, and on the 31st of March executed. On Wednesday of last week Henry Ivy, suffering under the pangs of conscience since the execution, made a voluntary confession to seven intelligent colored men to the effect that he and his brother, Porter Ivy, and another negro named Sim Acoff, had been parties to the murder of old man Weisinger, he himself (Henry Ivy) having really done the killing, though Porter Ivy and Sim Acoff, as well as the two men who were hanged, had been equally guilty participants. When this confession became generally known the negroes upon the plantation became furiously excited, and Ivy and Acoff who had meantime been arrested and bound over for their appearance before the grand jury, were taken in charge by three white men and placed in a school house for safe keeping. At midnight, however, forty masked me, thoroughly armed, rode up to the building, quickly overcame and bound the guard, and rode off with the negroes. Next day the lifeless bodies of Ivy and Acoff were found in the road hanging from the limbs of two trees.
 

 Our final chapter of the story is from The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) published April 25, 1882: 

The body of Sim Acoff, one of two negroes who were lynched near Brown’s Station on the 14th for complicity in the Wiesenger murder, is reported to-day to have been found in a swamp near where Ivey was hung. Buzzards were eating his flesh, but his head showed bullet holes. The report has been denied, but has again been asserted, and is probably true. 

Thank you for joining us and as always, we hope we leave you with something to ponder. 
 

2 comments:

  1. 10/25/2017 Just read about Acoff from Dallas Cty, AL; around 4/20/1882; and thanks for this ENRICHING post Ms.K Last. My interest centers around what happened to loved ones after the final event, especially SC family ties - CAL

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  2. 10/25/2017 AL, Huntsville-Madison County Public Library Obituary Index, 1819-2006 lists "Mr.Jim Acoff" with death date of Abt 1882, Publication Title: Huntsville Weekly Democrat; Pub 19 Apr 1882 Alabama, US- (REF:ANCESTRY)- CAL

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