Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Lynching of George Meadows, Part II: the Inquest

[From the Birmingham Weekly Herald, January 16, 1889]

Before the coroner, George stoutly protested his innocence. He said that he was not the negro they were after and claimed that if they would investigate the matter closely they would find that he was not. He briefly reviewed his record and claimed that it was untarnished.

When the coroner called the jury to order the following testimony was educed:

George Meadows, being sworn and says: I live in Lowndesboro, Ala. I work at Ensley City on the cinder train. I worded from August, 1888 to Christmas, 1888. Went to Lowndesboro Friday before Christmas and came back Thursday after. I came to Pratt Mines Saturday.. I was in the check office from the time I came till I heard of the murder. I saw Henry Herring and Geo. Brown. I talked with Henry Herring 9 or 10 minutes. I went to the company’s store from the check office and thence to Ensley City. I board with Addie Brown at No. 156 Furnace House, Twenty-First Street. I don’t know where Mrs. Kellum was hurt. I have never been arrested. I do not know Doc Fulton, I never saw him before in my life. I did not ask him for a job at Drifts on Friday. I didn’t work at the furnace last week. I don’t know anyone at Corn Bread Station, Jack Hubbard gave me his check book to draw checks. George Brown gave me $2 in checks. I had a pistol in my hand when I came to draw the checks. I had on a white shirt with dots in it on Saturday. I had a blue coat on. I had the same pants on then that I am wearing now.

W.F. Lyon—I saw George Meadows Saturday at the check office bet6ween 11 and 12 o’clock. He and George Brown were talking. He had on the same hat and clothes that he has on now. He had no coat on. I didn’t see any pistol in his hand.

George Brown – I live back of P. J. Bogers’ house, in the company house No. 33. I came back from Lowndesboro Thursday after Christmas with George Meadows. I went on through Pratt Mines to Ensley on the dummy, then came to Pratt. The last day I worked was Friday night till 2 o’clock in the morning. E. D. Williams is my boss. When I quite work I came home and went to bed. I got up about 8, then went to breakfast. I ate about 9. I went to the clerk’s office after breakfast and saw George Meadows there. I got my check about 11 o’clock. After I left the clerk’s office I went to the company’s store. I was arrested last June a year ago for concealed weapons and gambling and sentence for a year. Geo. Meadows had a pistol in his hand Saturday. I think he had on the same clothes he has on now. I stayed in prison about two months before my father paid me out.

Bob Fielder – I live in Happy Hollow. I was suspended from the employ of the Tennessee Coal, Iren and Railroad Company Friday. I was sick Friday night. Jerry Gorr called me Saturday morning to go to work, but I didn’t go. I stayed around the house till 4 o’clock Saturday evening. I went to the companies store about 4 o’clock in the evening. When they arrested me I didn’t have anything to say.

Felix Thomas: My name is Felix Thomas. My home is at Gainsville, Ga. I worked last at Connelsville, near Blue Creek. I was paid off Saturday. I stayed at the mines all day Saturday. I came up to Birmingham Sunday morning and worked at the North Birmingham furnace last night. I was standing in the auction house on Second avenue when I was arrested. The officer brought me out here.

James G. Thompson: I am employed at Ensley furnace as assistant superintendent. I know the prisoner, George Meadows. I had him at work as switchman on the cinder dump train about six weeks ago. I have not seen him on the works in about a month. The last time he put in was December 8, 1888. To my knowledge he has not applied for work at the furnace since Christmas.

George Meadows (recalled) – I know Will Bragg. I have seen him a time or two. I have talked to him in passing. Have never had a girl in Logtown. I never have been to a dance at Ezell’s. I didn’t see Will Bragg there at any dance. I never stopped at Ezell’s, but always passed by. I had $16 when I was paid off and drew $40. I spent $3.62 going to Lowndesboro and $3.62 coming back. I gave George Brown and Jack Hubbard $6. I gave my mother $10 and my father $5. When I came back I had $50 left.

Will Bragg: I know George Meadows the prisoner. I have known him about two years. He lived back of Rogers’ house when I first knew him. He was “kused” of getting girl in trouble. That was about a year ago. I am sure George Meadows is the man. He skipped out, and came back about a month ago. I saw him at the Ensley furnaces. I have played the harp with him often, and know him well. I have seen him twice since he came back.

It being now after 12 o’clock the jury adjourned for dinner and the prisoner was held by the constable in the room where the investigation had been progressing. The negro ordered lunch and ate heartily during the absence of the coroner and made no manner of attempt to escape.


At 2 o’clock the jury convened for the evening session and the testimony was again commenced.

Mrs. Annie Clark being sworn, said: “ live near the dummy line, beyond Pratt station. Was at home Saturday morning. Katie Trainor or her brother told me that a negro, apparently much excited, passed through the neighborhood just after the time the arrest was said to have occurred.”

Rufus Meadows, brother of the prisoner, being sworn said: “I live at Ensley furnaces; have been there about a year. I work there steadily. Was at work Saturday. Saw brother George between 8 and 9 o’clock at the Ensley check office. He couldn’t get a check at that place and left, saying he was going to the Pratt Mines check office. He came back to Ensley about half-past 12. When I saw him each time he had on the same clothes that he now has on. I was with him all day yesterday. He had on a white calico shirt, dotted, and a dark coat.”

Jack Hubbard being sworn said: “I live at the Slope No. 3 Laura Slope. Have been here about two years. I have known George Meadows a long time. I saw him between 10 and 11 o’clock Saturday. I gave him my check book to draw $2 on me, as I owed him some. I owe him $1 yet. George came back to the Laura Slope at 12 o’clock and he gave me some tobacco and soap. He went up in the quarters to get his dinner. George has lived here before. He left here about two years ago. I don’t know what he left for. Don’t know where he lived when he was here. I am 20 years old going on 21. I voted at last election. My vote was challenged by Mr. Pasco, and I swore it in. Ben Cleveland swore that I was 21 years old. When George Meadows came to me on Saturday, both the first time and the second time he had on the same clothes he now has on. I saw George yesterday (Sunday). He had on his white dotted shirt, and wore a dark coat. Yesterday afternoon he changed his shirt and clothes and put on the clothes that he now has on.”

[Tomorrow:  Part III:  the Plan.]

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