Lest WE forget--Mary Turner and the Innocent Afrikans Murdered in Valdosta 1918
Hampton Smith, a white farmer, was killed, and newspaper
dispatches report six persons as having been lynched for
complicity. Investigation shows that at least eleven persons
The first of the mob's victims to be captured was Will Head,
a Negro of the community, who was caught on Friday morning,
May 17, at 8:30, near Barney, Georgia; the second was Will
Thompson seized later on the same day. That night both were
lynched near Troupeville, about five miles from Valdosta.
Members of the mob stated to the investigator that over seven
hundred bullets were fired into the bodies of the two men.
On Saturday morning Hayes Turner was captured and lynched
near the fork of the Morven and Barney roads. On being
captured he was placed in the Quitman jail and for some
reason unknown to the investigator was taken later in the day
by Sheriff Wade and Roland Knight, the clerk of the county
court, ostensibly to be carried to Moultrie for safekeeping.
Turner was taken from these men en route to Moultrie, at the
fork of the roads about three and a half miles from town. He
was lynched with his hands fastened behind him with handcuffs
and was allowed to hang there until Monday when he was cut
down by county convicts and buried about half a hundred feet
from the foot of the tree on which he was lynched. During
Sunday following the lynching, hundreds of automobiles,
buggies and wagons bore sightseers to the spot while many
more tramped there on foot.
Mrs. Turner made the remark that the killing of her husband
on Saturday was unjust and that if she knew the names of the
persons who were in the mob that lynched her husband, she
would have warrants sworn out against them and have them
punished in the courts.
This news determined the mob to "teach her a lesson," and
although she attempted to flee when she heard that they were
after her, she was captured at noon on Sunday. The grief-
stricken and terrified woman was taken to a lonely and
secluded spot, down a narrow road over which the trees touch
at their tops, which with the thick undergrowth on either
side of the road, made a gloomy and appropriate spot for the
lynching. Near Folsom's Bridge over the little River a tree
was selected for her execution-a small oak tree extending
over the road.
At the time she was lynched, Mary Turner was in her eighth
month of pregnancy. The delicate state of her health, one
month or less previous to delivery, may be imagined, but this
fact had no effect on the tender feelings of the mob. Her
ankles were tied together and she was hung to the tree, head
downward. Gasoline and oil from the automobiles were thrown
on her clothing and while she writhed in agony and the mob
howled in glee, a match was applied and her clothes burned
from her person. When this had been done and while she was
yet alive, a knife, evidently one such as is used in
splitting hogs, was taken and the woman's abdomen was cut
open, the unborn babe falling from her womb to the ground.
The infant, prematurely born, gave two feeble cries and then
its head was crushed by a member of the mob with his heel.
Hundreds of bullets were then fired into the body of the
woman, now mercifully dead, and the work was over.
After the lynching more than 500 Negroes left the vicinity
of Valdosta, leaving hundreds of acres of untilled land
--quotes from various works describing the brutal murders of
Mary Turner, Hayes Turner and their unborn child. Their blood
and the still unrecompensed unavenged blood of all those
Afrikans killed in Valdosta, Georgia 1918 cries out to US for
remembrance and justice.
Lest WE forget...