Sunday, November 20, 2016

"Foul Murder"

A while ago, I was looking up family surnames in Wayne and Judy Dasher’s Wiregrass Obituaries and Death Notices Volume III (copyright 1998 by the authors), and came across a transcribed article from The Valdosta Times about the murder of Herman D. Parramore. I was shocked! I’d never heard anything about this. Herman is my paternal second great uncle and the brother of my great grandmother, Susan (Susie) Catherine Parramore, wife of Alexander (Andy) Shaw Pendleton

Herman was the son of Susan Catherine Dasher and Noah Parramore, my paternal second great grandparents. He was born February 10, 1860, possibly in Thomas County, Georgia, as he is recorded in the 1860 census for that county as being three months old.[1] Sometime between 1866 and 1868, the family moved to Lowndes County, Georgia.[2] 

At the time of his death, Herman was employed as a salesman for The A. S. Pendleton Company in Valdosta, Georgia. According to an article in the December 19, 1891, issue of The Valdosta Times, Herman had been to Jasper, White Springs, Lake Butler, and other towns in Florida, and had finished up in Branford, Florida, on Friday, December 11, 1891, where he spent the day.[3] He’d had dinner at the hotel and had left to board the train to return to Valdosta when he was attacked. 

Valdosta, Georgia, and Live Oak and Branford, Florida, are circled in yellow
(Click on the map for a larger view. Map from Google maps)

The murderer or murderers took Herman's pocket knife, watch, keys, and a few dollars. Herman was found still alive in a pool of blood. His pockets had been turned inside out, and he had a wound under his left eye and his skull had been cracked by a “blunt iron instrument.” The motive for Herman’s murder was speculated to have been robbery and that the robbers had probably assumed he was carrying a lot of money. However, the $77 he’d collected from customers had already been wired back to Valdosta.

Word of the attack was telegraphed to Valdosta, and a party of eight men left for Branford by train. When the men reached Branford, they wired Herman's brother-in-law, Andy Pendleton, that Herman wasn't going to make it. Andy, along with W. T. Varn and S. L. Staten, took the 3 a.m. train to Branford. Herman died at 4 a.m. Saturday morning, December 12, having never regained consciousness. His body was taken back to Valdosta later that morning, and he was buried in Sunset Hill Cemetery the following day, on Sunday.

Head stone for Herman D. Parramore in Sunset Hill Cemetery, Valdosta, Georgia

The marshal of Branford, Florida, and a posse went in search of the murderer or murderers. Two African Americans, Brady Young and Alfred Jones, were accused and arrested for the murder. Alfred was shot during the arrest, though not fatally, by a Mr. Wilkinson, who Alfred and Brady had been harassing earlier. Brady and Alfred were interrogated separately, apparently telling conflicting stories. According to the newspaper article, Alfred ultimately confessed, but then later said his confession wasn't true. Another black man, a Mr. Williams, was arrested on suspicion but was found not guilty and released.[4]

Alfred Jones and Brady Young were held in separate jail houses in Live Oak, Florida. A week after Herman’s murder, a group of armed men came in on the train from Branford. They overpowered the sheriff and deputies and took the two accused men from their separate jails. Brady and Alfred were taken to the woods by the mob, tied to a pine tree, and shot multiple times. A jury was convened, and after examining witnesses, they concluded that a large group of unknown men had killed Alfred and Brady.[5]  

This story is tragic from beginning to end, with the murder of Herman Parramore and the lynching of the accused, Brady Young and Alfred Jones. Why was Herman's life deemed less valuable than money by the attackers? Did he struggle with the attackers over his few possessions, so they hit him? Did they mean to kill him or just stun him or knock him out? Would Brady Young and Alfred Jones have been lynched if they'd been white? Was anyone from Valdosta or from Herman's family involved in the lynching? Questions that will probably never be answered.


[1] 1860 U.S. Census, Thomas, Georgia; Roll M653_138, Page 30, digital image

[2] U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918 for Noah Parramore, 1866, digital image, www.ancestry.comGeorgia, Returns of Qualified Voters and Reconstruction Oath Books, 1867-1869, digital image,

[3] "Foul Murder: H. D. Parramore the Victim." The Valdosta Times, 19 December 1891, Page 1, microfilm image; 

[4] See Footnote 3.

[5] "Lynched!" The Valdosta Times, 19 December 1891, Page 1, microfilm image; "The Live Oak Lynching." The Valdosta Times, 26 December 1891microfilm image.

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