Contributed by klstacy_home
Description: Horrible Murder - Daughter of James ThortonDate: June 20 1855
Newspaper published in: Lancaster, SC
Page/Column: Page 2, column 5
We are indebted to our kind friend, Andrew Bigeam McKeown, of Intercourse, Sumter Co., Ala., for the following particulars of one of the most brutal and shocking murders we have ever read of, which was perpetrated in that county on Sunday evening, the 29th April last. It appears that as an only daughter of one James Thornton, aged about 14 years, was walking out alone not far from the house, a negro man of Mr. T. seized her, and putting one hand over her mouth, carried her some considerable distance to an unfrequented place, and there attempted to accomplish the hellish purpose of violating her person. But her cries for help alarmed him, when he deliberately struck her a blow on the head with part of an old stump, which knocked out one of her eyes and deprived her of sense. He then placed a stick across her throat and choked her to death, this being done, he took her some two hundred yards further, and, to make sure work, pressed the stick across her throat a second time, laid her in a drain of water, and having procured a hoe, covered her over with green sod in such a manner as to be make any one believe that nothing was hidden under them. At night, however, she was missed, and the alarm being given, the neighbors collected, and made diligent search and next morning she was found.
Suspicion immediately rested on this negro, Davie, and he was arrested, when he made a full confection of his guilt. He was taken to Livingston jail, where Court was to he held on the following Monday, which was the first Monday in May. But the State docket was not taken up till the second week of Court, and Wednesday was appointed as the day of trial, when everyone expected justice speedily to be administered. How great, then, were the chagrin and disappointment of all to find that he was to be removed to Green county, there to await his trial until October at which time justice might be thwarted. This was more than even law abiding men could bear.
A public meeting was called on Wednesday, the 23d May, and a resolution unanimously entered into, that the murderer should be brought back to the place where he committed the crime and there burnt to death, on Friday, the 25th.
Accordingly about seven men went that same evening to Livingston, a distance of twenty-two miles, and carried another negro of Mr. Thornton's with them, under pretense of committing him to jail. It was night before this party arrived at Livingston, and the Sheriff and Deputy were absent. The doors were soon opened to receive the supposed prisoner and the party, taking possession of the jail keys and doors, carried the negro Dave away with them, without committing any violence or disturbance.
On the day appointed, between one and two o'clock, P. M., the prisoner was chained to the stake over a large pile of dry wood and shavings, before a large concourse of some 2,000 or 2,500 persons of both white and black. He then made a full confession of his crime and guilt, said that no other person was implicated with him, but that be alone was to blame. He also told where he had hid the girl's bonnet, which had fallen off when he had seized hold of her.
Everything being ready, fire was applied to the wood and shavings, and strange to say, while it was kindling he began to sing; but in a few more moments he was enveloped in flames, and with a few shrieks died, having suffered the just penalty due to his brutal and fiendish crime.—Chester Standard.