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George Jackson

The Daily Constitution
Atlanta, GA
March 27, 1880
Transcribed and submitted by: 

Jackson, Georga

27 Mar 1880 (The Daily Constitution - Atlanta} Clotted with Human Blood; Fully five thousand people at Dallas yesterday to witness the first hanging that ever occurred in Paulding county, Georgia. The unfortunate person upon whom the sentence of the law was executed was George Jackson, a Negro of twenty-four years of age, and the offense for which he swung was murder.

Jack Moss was his victim and three dollars was the incentive. The place of execution is just one mile north of the Paulding county court house. The scaffold had been erected in a bellow, surrounded on three sides by steep, precipitous hills and by nature was fitted for such an event, and abundant opportunity was give all to witness the execution in its most minute details.

It was on Sunday, December the 7th, 1870, that Jack Moss, a negro companion of Jackson’s, was last seen alive and then in company with Jackson himself. From Sunday until Wednesday Moss was not seen’ yet this created no remarks until a party of young people found, on the day last mentioned, a hat by the roadside covered with blood; near the hat was also found a large sassafras stick. It was not difficult task to follow the track of blood across the road to a marshy hollow some fifty yards distant, where the body of Jack Moss, with a fractured skull and severed wind-pipe lay.

Thomas Ragsdale, coroner of the county, was notified and he at once proceeded to the spot where he found the body. A jury of inquest, with john George as foreman, was impaneled and an investigation began. The had was recognized as the property of Jack Moss and the stick as that of George Jackson’s, therefore, it is not strange that suspicion at once pointed to Jackson as the guilty party. He was sent for, but when told what was wanted, refused to go: yet a little persuasion brought him face to face with his victim. At first he denied any knowledge whatever of the killing, but subsequently said he knew the man who did kill him, and gave the name of a Negro residing nearby.

The evidence adduced before the coroner, although wholly circumstantial, was conclusive as to the guilt of Jackson, and further established the fact that the deed was done for the purpose of procuring three dollars which Moss’s father had paid Jack that day in Jackson’s presence. In accordance with the verdict of the jury of inquiry Jackson was committed to jail to await the action of the grand jury, which body on the 21 of February, 1880, found a true bill against the accused. On the same day the trial began and continued two days, Judge Underwood presiding and the solicitor-general and Mesars. Harper and Adair appearing for the prosecution.

The defense was represented by Mesars, Bartlett, Bell and Thompson. A plea of not guilty was entered, and although the defense had not a single witness a stubborn fight was made in behalf of the prisoner.

At the conclusion of the second day’s trial the case was submitted to the jury who after an absence of an hour and a half rendered a verdict of guilty, and on the 4th, sentence was passed upon Jackson by the presiding judge. Since then Jackson has seen his end approach day by day, until yesterday at 11:55, when he was hung. By request of the doomed man, 12 o’clock was the time appointed for his execution.

Yester, in company with Sheriff Braswell, at 10am, a Constitution reporter visited the condemned man in his cell in the Paulding county jail. When they entered the corridor, Jackson was standing at the door of his cell holding to the bars and quietly looking at the crowded streets, made so by his execution. When told that a reporter had called to see him his face beamed with smiles and he extended his hand. Jackson was evidently a Negro of superior sense, quick, sharp and clever. In height he was five feet nine inches and weighed one hundred and ninety-seven pounds and although as black as jet was rather pleasing in his facial expression. He talked freely and sensibly, acknowledging the crime as given in his remarks upon the gallows. During the conversation his shroud was brought in and preparation for his execution begun. When the shroud was put on it was found to be too long and it was proposed to have it cut off, when he said: “No, pin it up. I can hold it up like the women folks.” The shroud having been adjusted and hi hands manacled and arms pinioned, the rope-a three quarter inch hemp-was adjusted, but during the whole time he displayed remarkable nerve and calmness. At 10:30 Drs. Foster and Robertson made an examination and pronounced him not the least bit rattled, and in five minutes he was on his way to the wagon for his last ride, from which, when he entered, he quietly surveyed the crowd, smiling calmly at the curious upturned eyes. He then took a seat on his coffin, and surrounded by a guard of forty men armed with double-barreled shot-guns began his march to the scaffold.

At 10:45 he descended from the wagon, and with a firm treat coolly ascended the twenty steps to reach the floor upon which he should make his last stand. Upon the scaffold, besides the prisoner, were Sherriff Braswell, Rev. Wm. Colster, Drs. Robertson and Foster, the sheriff from Polk county and a Constitution reporter. Sheriff Braswell, stepping to the front of the gallows said that he hoped good order would be maintained.

It may be well to said that fears of an outbreak among the negroes was feared on account of a trade and rue which Jackson had made of his body with a certain Paulding county physician. Then the rev. Mr. Colster read a portion of the 37th chapter of the book of Numbers, and after its completion Jackson stepped to the front of the gallows and said: “Ladies and Gentlemen: I know what you are here for. My time has come. I must die and be hung. I killed Jack Moss and I killed him to save my life – but now I lose both. We was playin cards and I win’ed his money, and he said I must give it back or die. I said I wouldn’t and he cut at me

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Last modified: Wednesday, 07-Apr-2010 18:00:00 CDT