The names of these people get me. They attack me sometimes. I look at W.F. Eve, for example and have driven down the street that our fair town named in his honor many times. Who is this guy?
I start digging into W.F. Eve and find his name on a roster with the Clinch Rifles. Jump over to Solicitor Joseph S. Reynolds who was part of the 2nd GA Volunteers, Company D, CSA- which would also be known as the "Clinch Rifles."
Clinch Rifles... Clinch Rifles.... where have I seen that before? Righhhht... Charles F. McKenzie, member of the grand jury and- Knights of Pythias and Clinch Rifles.
Georgia Railroad Bank and Trust stockholders, members of societies, and cotton mill owners or officers-- the small circles these men ran kept getting smaller and smaller.
But, names keep swirling and as I read them, I can't help but think not of the men they were, rather their descendants- the ones that I know today. Who were these dead guys? Have I jumped down a rabbit hole to disgrace the good names of people I call friends? Lord, I hope not. Because that would be aw-querd.
But, surely not impossible. These men were just that-- men. And we foolish humans are capable of many dastardly things. While I still hold that Mathis didn't do it, I have to find tangible proof to give an idea of doubt.
So I dig.
I dig into the names and get quick glimpses of their lives and I have to make notes upon notes of who is whom because I can't keep it straight anymore. Common themes start making their way to the surface and I have to stop digging in one direction to move in another--
And here I sit:
At the 1904 Locality Index of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity.
What did it mean to be in a fraternity at the turn of the last century? How did they value their brotherhood? These are questions I have not an answer. What I can say is that there area an awful lot of coincidences that are piling up....
Mental note-- query Husband, SAE alum, and see if he has any input.
In 1904 there are a little over 60 men that know the secret handshake of SAE in Augusta Proper, as my friend Caleb put it. Of these 60+ men, at first glance, 11 are somehow associated with the murder of Charles Hickman.
Let's look at it another way: on the scene 10 men were reported being there in addition to the police, the coroner's jury held another 6 and the grand jury was an additional 30-- total ~46 men. Almost 25% of these men were of the same fraternity. And I haven't even started looking at this connection until about two hours ago.
While there were siblings or fathers also of the fraternity- I did not count these in this number. (For instance, there is John W. Reynolds in the 1904 Locality Index- member of the Clinch Rifles and, I think, a lawyer. His home is located at 413 Greene Street and is the brother of Solicitor Joseph S. Reynolds, home located at either 411 Greene Street or 414 Greene Street-- either way... neighbors.)
Just how valuable are these SAE men to the case? If they were cursory witnesses or finger pointers to nefarious hooligans on street cars-- surely those men are not valuable.
But what if one of them found the body? One was the city attorney? Or the attorney for Mathis? What if they were:
James H Phinizy-- also known more commonly in his older years as Hamilton Phinizy; the same Hamilton that identified the body and stayed with Hickman while Doremus and Fraser went for help.
Carleton Hillyer-- Member of the Grand Jury who indicted Mathis
Tracy I Hickman-- Brother to the victim
Charles W Hickman-- Our victim
William H. Fleming-- "Able young attorney" who was one of the two that represented Mathis, the other being a former congressman
Leon H. Charbonnier-- Member of the Grand Jury who indicted Mathis
Henry C. Chafee-- The murderer rested at the edge of the Chafee property/house line, lying in wait for his victim.
Julien P.A. Berckmans and Robert C. Berckmans-- both friend, county commissioner who summoned the dogs in from McBean, usher at wedding, and honorary pallbearer
William H. Barrett-- City Attorney at the time of the Hickman death
It's certainly worth a moment to consider that there is something bigger at play than a robbery gone awry.