|Lake City Reporter May 9 1924 P.W. (Priest) Williams|
Along my journey through the paper, I copied interesting articles and added them to my flash drive. One such article was a June 20, 1924 notice about the 500 member Klan parade that had marched through town the previous Tuesday. I found it interesting that no one knew who any of the participants were--at least that's what was said in the paper.
|Lake City Reporter June 20 1924 Klan Parade|
Last Sunday, I dropped by the library again for a quick (2 hour) visit to browse the microfilm and a November 14, 1924 article entitled "Negroes Attacked By Five Masked Men" caught my eye. I started to read about the abduction and murder of W.L. Shaw, negro proprietor of a wood yard. As I reached the 2nd paragraph, I yelled out "Oh my God! I found him!" There, right in the 2nd paragraph, was the account of Priest Williams' beating that my grandmother, as a little girl, had overheard being discussed.
I had expected maybe a short blurb or a mention, but I hadn't expected it to be front page news of the Lake City Reporter for 3 consecutive weeks! (Of course, the paper was only published on Fridays) There was a long article on the 14th about the abduction and severe beating of the two men, Shaw was found dead on Wednesday morning and Priest Williams was found alive but severely injured. Priest told authorities that he had been ordered to leave town by noon Wed but couldn't do so because of his condition after the beating. The authorities assured him that he would be protected.
|Lake City Reporter Nov 14 1924|
|Nov 14 1924 article continued|
|Lake City Reporter Nov 29 1924 Priest Williams Death|
The December 5, 1924 edition of the paper notes that a $2000 appearance bond had been paid by each defendant in the case, who were released from custody pending action of the grand jury at the Spring Term (May 1925). I have scrolled through the paper page-by-page up to June 1928 and there is no more mention of the case nor what happened to the defendants.
According to the 1930 census, Cody Witt, 29, is living in Jacksonville, FL. with his wife and two kids; he works as a stockman for an Auto Factory. Norman Ives Jr., 26, lives with his mother and siblings in Lake City and he works as an agent for Seaboard Railroad. Steve Dukes, 24, lives with his siblings in Alachua, FL and is employed as a lumber dealer. B.F. Eastman, 27, is boarding in a house in Daytona Beach and works as a Steam Fitter. I have contacted the County Courthouse with a request for any information about the case or the defendants. Hopefully I will hear something soon.
I find it quite interesting that there appeared to be such an uproar over the crimes, even going so far as to arrest the suspects and have them post bond, only to find them living free and unencumbered only 6 years later. I found accounts of the incidents in several newspapers both in Florida and as far away as Trenton NJ and Cleveland OH by searching Genealogybank for the names of the victims. Google brought no definitive results UNTIL I searched for "W.L.Shaw" "Priest Williams" and then the most informative accounts of the incident to date, were found in the Bradford Telegraph (Bradford Co. FL).
The first article describes in detail how the victims were both taken/lured from their homes/businesses. The second article tells of the public's "condemnation" of the attacks on the negro men. And again, it seems as though the perpetrators will definitely receive the full measure of justice but just like the Lake City Reporter, The Bradford Telegraph falls silent after a small mention of a preliminary hearing on December 12 1924. I sure hope there is some explanation of all this in the Court proceedings.
|Bradford Telegraph Nov 21 1924 Article 1|
|Bradford Telegraph Nov 21 1924 Article 1 cont.|
|Bradford Telegraph Nov 21 1924 Article 2|