The Anderson Intelligencer. (Anderson Court House, S.C.) 1860-1914, November 27, 1901, Page 8, Image 8

A Negro Commits an Atrocious Crime and is Lynched

Last Saturday afternoon the happy home of Mr. Perry Craft, in Rock Mills Township, about eight miles west of this city, was the scene of a most atrocious crime, for which there was not the slightest provocation. Mr. Craft lives on the plantation of his father-in-law, Mr. Alex Glenn, a highly esteemed citizen of that section, and not far from the latter’s home.

About 1 o’clock a negro man came to Mr. Craft’s home and found Mrs. Craft alone in the house. He asked her for something to eat, and she replied that she had nothing prepared except some cold potatoes. The negro said he would buy five cents worth of them.  Mrs. Craft went back to the pantry and brought them to him. As she handed them to him she noticed a pistol in his hand, and he exclaimed “D–n you, I believe I will kill you.” This, of course, frightened Mrs. Craft, who ran to the rear side of the room and while attempting to open a door, the negro fired at her, the ball entering the back near the spine. She finally opened the door and ran some distance in the yard and fell to the ground.

The husband and father of the unfortunate woman were at work in a field nearby, and, hearing the shot and her screams, ran at once to the house.  They saw the negro fleeing from the house as they ran up. The father brought Mrs. Craft inside, and the husband, securing his pistol, started after the negro. Mr. Craft soon got in shooting distance and snapped his pistol, but it would not fire. The negro turned and snapped his pistol two or three times at Mr. Craft, but it also would not fire. In the meantime, Mr. Lucius Glenn, an uncle of Mrs. Craft, who happened to be in a distant field with his rifle, hearing the alarm and seeing the negro, ran to the road and fired several times at him, apparently without effect, and the negro was soon out of sight.

Dr. Pepper, who lives in that section, was at once summoned to the bedside of Mrs. Craft, and he telephoned to this city for Dr. Gray, who immediately went to his assistance. They probed the wound but could not find the bullet, and they informed the family that it was a very serious wound.

The news of the terrible crime spread rapidly through the neighborhood, and in a short while every citizen who could leave his home went to Mr. Craft’s. A telephone message was sent to Sheriff Green, and in a few minutes Deputy Sheriff Dillingham, with his bloodhounds, was on his way there. The announcement caused a sensation in the city, and in a short while many of our younger citizens started for the scene to assist in capturing the brutal negro. Deputy Dillingham’s dogs trailed the negro tor several miles and lost his track at a branch running from a swamp on Robert Chamblee’s plantation. The party then scattered and went in every direction searching for the villain. Some of them went to Holland’s and Cooley’s Ferries on the Savannah River, and at the latter place, the ferryman, who was aroused from his sleep, stated that a negro, whom he described, had crossed the river that afternoon from Georgia. Mrs. Craft, who was able to talk, had given a description of the negro, and her description fitted the negro whom the ferryman described. The negro carried a bundle of clothing, which he dropped as he left Mr. Craft’s house, and had an old towel tied around his neck. Both the ferryman and Mrs. Craft spoke of this.

About 8 o’clock Sheriff Green left the city and went to Mr. Craft’s to take supervision of the search, and after midnight it was feared that the negro could not be found. A. large party, however, continued the search all night, and early Sunday morning others joined them. As the morning passed away the crowd increased in numbers, the excitement increased and every number of the party was determined to capture the negro if possible.

On Sunday about noon a negro, who lives on the Cooley plantation, about six miles west of Mr. Craft’s home, approached a posse who were hunting the villain and told them that he was at his house. They returned with this negro to his home, and, surrounding the house, ordered the criminal to come out and surrender, which he did. The party then brought him to the home of Mr. Craft, and he was at once identified by his victim. The negro was wounded in the calf of his right leg, which showed that one of the balls from the rifle fired by Mr. Lucius Glenn had struck him.

After the negro had been identified he confessed that he was guilty of the deed, and said that the reason he shot Mrs. Craft was because she insulted him by saying that “you negroes are always around begging.” By this time a crowd of nearly two hundred people, fifteen or twenty of whom were negroes of that section, had congregated at the home of Mr. Craft, and it was soon decided that the criminal must be put to death. He was carried a mile or more and hanged on a limb of a tree near Gray’s gin house. Some of the negroes expressed a desire to burn the prisoner, but this was not permitted, and after he was swung from the limb a number of pistol balls punctured his body. Some of the best citizens of the County participated in the lynching and not one of them attempted to disguise himself. Everything passed off quietly and an orderly manner.

The news of the lynching reached the city about 5 o’clock p.m. and a number of our citizens went out to the scene to view the body, which had been left hanging to the tree, bat had slipped the noose and fallen to the ground, where it lay until Monday morning, when Coroner Banister went out there and held an inquest. The verdict of the jury was to the effect that the negro came, to his death at the hands of parties unknown to them. A piece of paper was pinned to his coat bearing the following words: “This negro was hanged for shooting a white lady in this settlement without cause, November 24, 1901.”

The negro proved to be John Laddison, an ex-convict, who had been sent to the penitentiary from Newberry County for three years. He had served the greater portion of his sentence in the convict camp on the Cooley plantation in this County. He was released from the camp last spring and since then had worked on farms in that section and on the Georgia side of the Savannah River.

While a large majority of the people of this County do not uphold lynch law, it is the general opinion that in this case the negro met the fate he deserved.

Mrs. Craft is a most excellent woman, about nineteen years of age, and was married about six months ag. Since she was wounded there has been no change in her condition, but it is feared that when a change does come it will prove fatal.