Thursday, July 20, 2017

April 3, 1910

April in Augusta-- it is hard to think of anything besides The Masters. Yet, in 1910, the first Masters Champion, Horton Smith will be turning 2 years old. 1934 is still 24 years and hundreds of golf games away.

April 3rd is a Sunday and families are waking up to a spring day. The weather forecast is "fair. Winds variable." 

The first page of the newspaper is an advertisement for J.B. White's. Any Augustan reading this is smiling right now at the memory of the old department store. In typical modern fashion, the department store building downtown fell into disrepair, housed whatever was out there before meth dens, and has since been purchased and renovated into condos where you can't buy sofas and furniture anymore, rather- you can place your sofa and furniture in your yuppy downtown loft.

I have to dig past articles titled things like:

Asheville Lady Killed by Lightening

Oratorical Contest in Laurens Co.

Ireland to have Aviation Meet

... the kiddy page...

... the poetry corner...

The Washington DC Society column

Past all these and then some, all the way to page 10 is the first mention of this ground breaking, earth shattering, life chaining information that there has been an actual arrest based on real evidence. Next to the Want Ads and an advertisement looking for a laundress at Steam Co. is the article that proves justice can be served, sorta.

"I have Dr. C.W. Hickman's Watch," the only statement which Chief of Police Elliott would make. 
James Mathis, Col., negro [sic] who offered watch for pawn

And this, fair readers, is where we really to get to the point of all this. We have real live evidence that can actually be used in court in front of a judge. Again...Sorta.

When first arrested negro [sic] said he had bought the watch at the Georgia-Carolina Fair months before Dr. Hickman was assassinated- Warrants sworn out for negro woman-- negro woman underwent "sweating" process by police chief-- all night investigation at the barracks-- after examination of hours, negro [sic] put in county jail


So, my kids didn't want to nap today. They voted it down, so you're just going to have to wait. My sincerest apologies.

While  you are waiting, have you ever thought about clicking on any of those advertisements on the right hand side? I get paid when you do that. Especially when you buy something. It's not much, a few pennies here and there, but it adds up. 

Consider supporting our sponsors. You don't have to, but it'll help pass the time until tomorrow's nap time. If you really want to support the sponsors, go to the "EVER" link and check out the skincare. It's good stuff. I use it and love it. That really helps a gal out. Okay, that's it for my shameless plug.

Until tomorrow, fair readers! Until then... 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

More Evidence

So often throughout this research I have been doing, I can't help but think about Atticus and Boo Radley. More so, the details of To Kill a Mockingbird and the symbology therein. I think about something Mr. Buckley, our esteemed Lit teacher, told us as we were reading the trial scenes:

It didn't matter how poor of a white man you were in the 1930s, it was still better than being a black man.


I digress.

An eye witness has miraculously been found but hardly mentioned. I only read about him once, in one article, found below the fold on the first page. He was less than 150 yards from the murder- that is about the length of a football field and a half. In my mind, that does not seem so big.

At night.

On a 33% moon.

Without any street lights.

My eye witness sounds a bit more like an "ear" witness. Better still, I looked at my map from 1920 and marked where 450 feet would be for the radius of this eye witness... (forgive my circle, I drew the line at nerdiness when it came to the use of a protractor.)

Don't worry about those names just yet-- focus on the blue box in the middle. That's where the murder took place. That diamond looking circle is the 450 foot radius of where the eye witness was. It's safe to say that a 

The eye witness, Dennis Wigfall, was a negro [sic] boy just 15 years old. He actually saw two of the shots being fired-- the muzzle blast for those that don't know much about guns. (FYI: MIT did a study on sight several years ago and it was determined that the human eye can see a candle flickering up to 30 miles away in the right conditions) Dennis also stated that he saw no one crossing the street. 

Rev. Johnson passed the scene preceded by the negro [sic] about 40 seconds before Dr. Hickman was killed. The negro [sic] was returning when he saw two of the flashes from the pistol, fired directly from the grove or thicket across the sidewalk. These details are pulled from an article called "Agreed that Lone Foot Pad Killed Him to Rob Him."

Also, it was determined that at least two people passed the area where Dr. Hickman was murdered before the murder occurred at the edge of the Mr. A. DeWitte Cochrane property. The henchman laid in wait for Dr. Hickman.

After the murder, the perpetrator took off through the vacant lot, hopping the back fence into Tracy Hickman's backyard. On the fence, a tape line was found dangling. It was the sort usually used by carpenters or plumbers. 

What was the tape line doing? Why was it there?

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday in the coroner's report was that Dr. Hickman was not assaulted from behind, rather he saw and faced his attacker head on- falling backward. His clothing was only dirty on the back, not the front.

For Dr. Hickman's funeral, Mrs. Charles Harper of Garden City, Long Island came into town as well as Mrs. T. P. Hager of Savannah- sisters of the late doctor.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Coroner's Report

Dr. James Rufus Littleton, known by most as JR, was the coroner in 1910. When researching his life in 1910- I find that he was coroner on several cases. The last two:

Negro Infant Found in Cotton Field, Dead (September 26, 1910)

Alcohol Poison caused her death (December 16, 1910)
     Mrs. Nancy Anderson did not die from blow to head, Anderson states he did not strike her
             **sidenote: the only witness to this crime was the young daughter of the couple- no more than six years old. Bless that child and the woman she became.**

JR was a very busy man in 1910 as these are only 2 of the dozen plus deaths reported in the Augusta Chronicle for the year. Fast forward six years and JR will be elected mayor of the consolidated Summerville and Augusta. JR ran unopposed and followed the mayorship of Thomas Barrett, sr.-- the mayor during the time of Dr. Hickman's death.

Sometimes, you have to ask... who benefits the most from the death of a man.

Dr. Littleton died in 1925 and was a Master Mason (read: top of the Mason Food Chain). HIs funeral was carried out with Masonic burial rites as well as the rites performed by the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

Pause. Did I just say KKK? Yes. Yes, I did. When I saw this, I took a screen shot of the death announcement and sent it to a friend; editor if you will. And said, "WHY DO I FIND THIS SO DISTURBING??" As if, in my mind, people who upheld the law and oversaw things like life and death were above racism. Foolish me. No one is above anything, be it 1910, 1925, or 2017.

Littleton was survived by his parents, wife, two sons, one daughter, and two sisters: Mrs. Mamie L. Harison [sic], and Mrs. H.I. Niven.

But, we aren't here to read about JR, rather we are here to look at the coroner's report.


Let's start with what we know:

Dr. Hickman is still very, very dead on February 4, 1910 when the report is released.


Now, let's look at what the coroner's report says:

When Dr. Littleton was called to receive the remains, he found Dr. Hickman lying with a bullet hole extending from the back part of the head through the front. After checking the box of "Yes, he is dead and there's a bullet hole," He returned home.

Solicitor Reynolds requested that Littleton go with the undertaker and make further examination. Off he goes to Platt's Undertaker Parlors where he decided to actually look into the case slightly further.

He removed the scalp and examined the external parts of the skull.  Above the eye and under the skin was a small, round wound. In the bone was an opening of five-eighths to half an inch. Said another way, those measurements are .625 to .5 of an inch.

Calibers of bullets are measured in decimals of inches. Remember that.

In the back of Dr. Hickman's skull is an elongated wound looking as if it had been torn, known as speculum of the bone. In the front, the bone seemed to stick inward toward the brain. In the back, the inside of the wound was smooth, round hole while on the outside bones stuck out.

The skull was cracked on the left side of the head extending irregularly toward the back. This caused Littleton to conclude that he was struck after he was shot, probably with a sandbag. This is purely  hypothetical and is only the opinion of Dr. Littleton. Following this, he further examined the left hemisphere of the brain. Using a probe, careful not to disturb the course, he found that there was a clear wound entirely through the brain. The line of the bullet was exactly perpendicular.

When asked if it were possible that the bullet going through the skull caused the cracks, he said it was possible and that it has happened before- but it is his opinion that Dr. Hickman's skull was cracked by a blow and not the result of the pistol ball or of the fall following the gunshot.

Littleton was strongly of the opinion that Hickman had been shot by a professional thug operating under the theory of 'dead men tell no tales' and needed to confirm that the job was complete.

On the right side of the frontal bone (read: forehead) a bruise which perhaps had significance in the same direction or may have been caused in falling. In addition, there was a fresh abrasion on the back of the right hand, which led Littleton to believe that the body might have been dragged or moved. This theory is exacerbated by several new scratches on the gold band ring which Dr. Hickman wore on his right hand. {this also could have been caused by trying to remove the ring}

There were no powered burns on the body or around the wound, which indicates that the shots were fired farther than five feet away. After removing the vest from the body, the little clasp used to hold a watch fob in place was found- but the watch was gone.

It was Dr. Littleton's opinion that the bullet which killed Dr. Hickman was fired from a revolver not smaller than a .38 caliber.

Great, we have a bunch of words that amount to, what, exactly?

Dr. Hickman was shot facing his assailant above his left eye. The bullet entered through the front and exited out the back of his skull. There is a wound perpendicular to the path the bullet took. This is on the left side of his skull, which is further cracked. The bruise over his right eye is peri-mortem (happened immediately preceding death) and is of an unknown origin. The bullet made a hole that is equal to a caliber of .625 to .5, double the size of .38. It is believed that a sandbag was used after he was shot to confirm that the good Doctor is, in fact, actually dead. He was shot at a distance greater than five feet as there was no gun powder on his person or surrounding the wound.

Allow me to regale you with my master drawing abilities. 

On the top of his right hand is a small abrasion- no deeper than the skin- and there are new scratches on the gold band he wore on his right hand. Based on these two facts, it is thought that he was moved or the small possibility that these are caused by trying to remove the ring. The only thing taken from Dr. Hickman was his watch.


And that, fair readers, is the coroner's report.

I find it interesting that they said he was hit with a sandbag. When talking to my dad about this, his first question was, "Where's the sandbag? Why would he have grabbed it?"

Of all the things taken from Dr. Hickman, why would the watch be it? Why would the watch, a gold monogrammed object be taken? It is identifiable and unique to Dr. Hickman, with his initials engraved on the side. Me? I'm going for the chain and the cash. Maybe the glasses if they were gold. You can keep the thing that has his name on it.

Was this a hit and proof of death was needed? The watch was on his vest and not something that would have been easily accessible.

Have you ever heard the expression that the building can be no taller than the crane? The same is true for bullet holes- if the bullet hole is 1/2 an inch, a 3/4 inch bullet cannot make that hole. On the other hand, depending on speed and distance- a smaller bullet, say a .38 cal can make a hole twice the size. But, it has to be traveling awfully fast and from an awfully far distance.

Two more things to note:
.38 cal handguns are accurate at about 5 yards, max. This was a kill shot, expertly made.
.38 cal guns were also the gun of choice for police officers.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Who's Lt. Stone?

Hindsight is 20/20, right? As I read through the articles, I can only think of those cartoon characters from Bugs Bunny. Bugs would pop up from his rabbit hole (see what I did there?) and all his fans would run to him pulling dust up along the way. He'd drop down and back up again somewhere else and the fans would move thusly. If you're too young for Bugs Bunny, think Whack-A-Mole.

If you're too young to know what Whack-A-Mole is, go away. You're too young to be here. Come back when middle school is complete.


We are at February 12th, 1910 right now. Dr. Hickman is still dead, vagrants have been cleared from the city, and every negro [sic] in town is a hot suspect. Five arrests have been made and then withdrawn. Five African American Men had to find an alibi satisfactory to the witch hunt. Innocent until proven guilty is getting pretty questionable.

But, suddenly- the tides are turning. Things are looking up for the justice that Dr. Hickman is so well-deserved of. After all, he is a ... what was it... right.... ministering angel in physician's guise. The police have a legit suspect.

Like totally legit.

So legit, he is a certified lunatic. Like CER-TEE-FRIED.

Woah. This is Augusta in 1910, not Milledgeville. Ain't no loonies here. The state Asylum is 90 miles up the road.

sidenote: did you know that 2 U.S. Senators tried to abolish the word 'lunatic' from the English language in 2012? No kidding. Lunatic will be replaced by 'mentally insane' in the 1940s as 'lunatic' connotes someone who is spontaneous and dangerous. Also known as any 19 year old in college.

Who is this certified lunatic? What makes him a legit suspect besides the fact he has his papers.

Aiken, 20 miles over the river in South Carolina arrested an insane man suspected for having murdered Dr. Hickman. The warrant was issued by Chief of Police George P. Elliott. FYI: Chief of Police Elliott, seen below is the chief of police of... Augusta... Georgia. Not Aiken... South Carolina.

The warrant was issued as a precaution. [article dated 2/12/1910]

"His actions having been somewhat suspicious and that his retention under the charge of murder upon arrest by warrant is an action to prevent officers from the sanitarium in Maryland from which he escaped taking him out o the reach of the local authorities until he has been actually dismissed as a probably factor in the case. This is not an extraordinary step to have been taken when it is considered that the local authorities, and the special detectives employed in the case, have been working persistently upon ever clue, report and suspect in the neighborhood since the commission of the crime."

Long story short: They heard about a crazy guy who was in town and went ahead and arrested him so that he can't be swooped back to Maryland for a lobotomy.

First Lieutenant William C. Stone was 33 years old at the time of his arrest. Conflicting reports say he was either of the Philippine army while another says he saw service in the Philippines, Cuba, and Alaska. In 1906 he was serving in Alaska and displayed symptoms of paranoia. He was sent to Washington where he was judged to be insane and committed to the Government hospital. He was there until about 1909 and was paroled after showing signs of improvement. Released less than six months, he again showed "symptoms of insanity" and was removed to the Gundry Sanitarium at Catonsville, Maryland [Baltimore county] in August on 1909. Lasting just five months, he escaped on January 23. Dr. Gundry, head physician of the sanitarium, stated that Stone gave him no trouble and does not believe him to be associated with the Hickman murder.

Aiken police arrested poor Lt. Stone but were quoted as saying, "Stone is being held as a dummy." Over the river, ya know, back where the crime was actually committed, the opinion was that he is merely a demented man who happened to be in the neighborhood at the time of the crime.

Pause: Aiken is a forty five minute drive from where I am sitting at this exact moment. That's with the interstate and a nice fancy car with air-conditioned seats. Would you like to guess how many times I have been to Aiken in my life? Three times. Un-Pause.

It would be discovered that Lt. Stone was in Lexington, South Carolina on the night of February 2nd and February 3rd. Chief of Police, Jacob Taylor of Lexington started to place the man under arrest and later regretted not doing so. Stone came into town on foot about 9pm on February 2,1910 . First stop: Kaufmann Drug Co. where he asked where he could buy some rolls. He took this information and did not use it, rather walking in a different direction. His actions were "not right" and Policeman Taylor was thusly notified. Stone was collected by the police and questioned fully. When Stone was asked his name, he said, "That makes no difference, I'm only a friend."

In response to the question of his occupation, Stone stated he was an "organizer from the north and being short of money decided to walk around the country." Taylor asked Stone if there was any kind of money in that line of work. His response?

"Not in this country; the people were too ____ settled."

From an article dated 2/13/1910, it concludes: "He said he walked into town and was invited to walk out as soon as possible. He asked the way to the station and left whistling a soft melody. About an hour later, a freight came along and it is the opinion of the officer that Stone beat it on down the road."

When Chief Elliott was asked about the arrest, he stated that he was holding Stone for reasons best known only to himself.

Working in chorus with the police, but certainly not in conjunction, were the private investigators- the Pinkertons- hired by the family. They did not feel the arrest was of sufficient importance, thus they did not report it to the family.

There went that lead... Onward!

Apologies, I did it again

My bad. Listen, sometimes I am going to make mistakes and I need to know when I make them. Those grammatical things- comma splices being my #1 faux pas and grammar errors (then? than? and that dastardly apostrophe 's' that makes me question myself every single time) being a top 2nd can stay under your hat-- but facts? FACTS are all I have. When something is wrong, tell me!

Back to my factual error. The last blog came off the top of my head and pulled directly from memory. If you haven't pick up yet, there's a lot of detail in this murder and a heck of a lot of people. This paragraph is where the problem lies:

And herein lies my problem, I know why he was on Milledge- I just found out. But, do I tell you, fair readers, why he was there or do I let it unfold chronologically? When I tell you, do I go ahead and drop the fact that this was under suspicious circumstances? The fact that one of the officers of the Kings' Mill had a bullet hole through his door- where do I drop this little tidbit in the conversation? The Kings' Mill where, I'll have to double check my notes, T.I. Hickman- the good doctor's baby brother- is president in 1910.

 I got my mills mixed up. Shockingly, there were quite a few back then and were all within the throw of a stone. T.I. was not president of the KINGS' Mill, rather he was president of the Graniteville Mill. Tracy and Charles' father, H. H. Hickman, was president from 1867-1899 following the death of the founder- William Gregg. Tracy took over in 1899 by a unanimous vote of the board of directors. Tracy added a second mill, Hickman Mill and was forced out in 1915 when the mill went into receivership. At this point, Jacob Phinizy took over and after a few quick years was able to pull it out of receivership.

Hickman Memorial Hall- Hickman Mill is the red brick building in the background

One of the biggest things I have learned while researching this murder, as with most things, there is always more going on than the story being told.

Yesterday, Husband and I went over the coroner's report and he explained to me what some of the terms meant. As I made notes and drawings on a brain, he would look across the table and correct my errors. It was fascinating to watch his brain turn as he knows many, many things that I don't even have a clue about. Take the medical knowledge out of it. As an avid lover of hunting and guns- he was quick to call some things to my attention that brushed right by me.

Phinizy, that's not a very common name, is it?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

So, where are we?

In the past several days, I have given you the very beginnings of the information that they police and the newspaper had to give. Dr. Hickman was buried on February 4th and by that time, thousands of dollars had been generated in reward money. Governor Joseph M. Brown issued the maximum amount the state could offer towards a reward for the arrest and evidence of the culprit: $200 in 1910, which is about $5,000 in today's money.

The police have identified various nefarious characters, interrogated them before finally deeming and granting their innocence of this crime.

So now-- here we are: I have more pieces to provide, but am unsure as to how to provide them. Do I state my questions? Do I rewrite articles in verbatim? Do I list the characters and follow their trail? Do I do this whole thing chronologically? And, I have to be honest-- there is a lot of fluff in these news articles. Dr. Hickman was, apparently, a little like Jesus in the way he is described and it gives me pause- was he really as good as these articles make him out to be?

I have some excerpts from the coroner's report. When do I introduce this information? Dr. J.R. Littleton was very thorough and opened a whole new box of worms when it came to how he died, even using the expression, "Dead men tell no tales."

Only today, I read an "intimate sketch" of the distinguished physician and learned that we share the same alma mater as the majority of fellow Augustans, The Academy of Richmond County. Granted, I was in the class of 1999 and he had to have been somewhere along 1870ish as he was born in 1852. We are only 130 years apart; so close. Didn't people graduate from high school earlier back "in the day?"

The sketch of his life says that the tourists who visited the city for the season would seek him out for his counsel and knowledge... "and to those who had not the money to recompense him for his service he was a ministering angel in physician's guise."

Really? A ministering angel in physician's guise? I mean, don't get me wrong-- I think a lot of my husband and say very, very nice things about him. I put him on a pedestal, even. But, my pediatric intensive care husband, who has saved many... many lives has never been called a "ministering angel in physician's guise," at least to my knowledge. Honey, let me know if that changes, um-kay?

And then the question begs- what was he doing on Milledge Road? How did he get there? WHY did he go there? And where exactly was he murdered?

And herein lies my problem, I know why he was on Milledge- I just found out. But, do I tell you, fair readers, why he was there or do I let it unfold chronologically? When I tell you, do I go ahead and drop the fact that this was under suspicious circumstances? The fact that one of the officers of the Kings' Mill had a bullet hole through his door- where do I drop this little tidbit in the conversation? The Kings' Mill where, I'll have to double check my notes, T.I. Hickman- the good doctor's baby brother- is president in 1910.

Or, since I did not get to the conclusion faster, has everyone lost interest and I need to get back to pretty pictures of my kids?

All these questions...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Dr. C.W. Hickman Laid at Rest

In an article dated February 5th, 1910:

Dr. C.W. Hickman Laid at Rest

Funeral Exercises at Church of Good Shepherd-- Touching Tribute to Beloved Dead.

The saddest funeral ever witnessed in Augusta was the yesterday afternoon of Dr. Charles W. Hickman; and never in the history of the beautiful Church of the Good Shepherd was so large a crowd gathered to pay tribute to the beloved dead. Every pew in the church was filled to its full capacity; chairs were placed in the aisles and still many people were compelled to remain standing as there was no room to seat them. Even the belfry space was closely packed with sorrowing friends who wished to dignify their grief in the last and only possible manner.

Long before the appointed hour groups of quiet men and women entered the dim church and sadly took their seats; loving hands in silence brought in the beautiful flowers, placing them about the altar space. There were so many that there was scare room to place them without marring their freshness; and their beauty and sweetness intensified by contrast the atmosphere of heavy grief that lay like a palpable influence over the church.

The deep stillness was broken by the slow sound of the minister's voice as he recited the Episcopal service of the dead. The minister, the Rev. William Johnson, preceded the funeral procession up the long aisle of the church; and following him came the honorary pall-bearers, Dr. W.H. Doughty, Judge William F. Eve, Dr. W.H. Harrison, Dr. Thomas R. Wright, Dr. G.A. Wilcox, Dr. J.E. Bransford, General Alfred Cumming, Major Cumming, Major W.E. McCoy, Mr. Paul H. Langdon Sr., Mr. J.W. Dickey, and Mr. Fred Cuthbert.

As the organ sent forth the solemn notes of the funeral dirge the casket borne up the aisle by Mr. L.A. Berckmans, Mr. E.S. Johnson, Mr. George R. Sterns, Dr. L.W. Fargo, Mr. Paul Langdon Jr., and Mr. John M. Adams; and by their tender, reverent hands was placed in the midst of the fragrant flowers.

The casket was literally covered with a pall of blossoms, for white carnations, roses, sweet peas, lilies-of-the-valley, ferns and soft pink carnations drooped like a richly embroidered veil over the coffin's blackness, hiding all but the dull silver handles. To many present the magnificently beautiful covering suggested a thought of the light and flory of the life eternal into whose brightness the immortal Christian spirit had passed from the darkness of his tragic mortal death, and as the sorrowful music filled the church the tears gathered in many eyes and dropped slowly, one by one, while the minister read the prayers for the dead.

At the close of his service the choir sang, "Abide with Me," and their voices were tremendous with deep grieving that was beyond control. As the sad cortege passed from the church all remained standing until the music ceased. Then all went to the cemetery.

The long line of carriages was equalled by the two long processionals of people the passed along the street on either side; and at the cemetery everyone who had been at the church was gathered in a circle about the open grave.

The Rev. William Johnson read the burial service for the dead and at the conclusion the Rev. Ashby Jones in a low voice, that yet was distinctly audible, in the quiet City of the Dead, made a short and beautiful prayer. Then, as the last rays of the descending sun flooded the western skies with glory, a flat covering of flowers was laid over the gentle physician's last resting place, and pale-faced women began to place the innumerable offerings to the dead.

When the sorrowful work was finished the flowers lay on the winter gross for several feet on all sides of the grave. Among the many handsome pieces was a great "Gates Ajar," surrounded by a white dove with outspread wings- the offering of the Graniteville Manufacturing Company; and another was a severe wreath of dark palm leaves raised on a stand. The straight and sombre lines of the wreath were lightened by a great cluster of pink carnations caught with tulle and at the base of the stand were the words, "The Graniteville Band." Another tribute was a large sheaf of waxen calla lilies bound with tulle on which in gold letters were the words, "Our Friend." The other tributes represented every phase of the city's population, and never have such magnificent flowers been seen at any grave.

Gates Ajar floral arrangement
popular at the time, but can we just say-- CREEPY?!?

A noticeable feature at the cemetery was the large group of colored people, who stood in a cluster to one side, their faces saddened and their heads bowed.

Yesterday morning the colored nurses went in a body to the Hickman home to express their respectful grief; and their faces were lengthened by sorrow and the eyes of many were reddened.

Never were a man's characteristics, universal kindness, humane charity,and splendid standing so plainly evidenced as in the grief of the varied crowd that stood about the grave of Dr. Charles W. Hickman yesterday afternoon in Summerville Cemetery.