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African American Obituaries

Transcribed and contributed by Lee Freeman, February 2004


Florence Enquirer, Saturday, November 28, 1840, p. 3.


Unfortunate Casualty.
          On Sunday last, as Mrs. J. Coffee's overseer was crossing to an Island in the Tennessee River, with nine hands, in a canoe, by some means it got upset, and three out of the nine negroes were drowned. Two others were taken out of the water in a dead state, but fortunately soon enough to be resuscitated. The overseer narrowly escaped.



Florence Gazette, Friday, October 1, 1858, p. 3.

          DRED SCOTT DEAD-This rather celebrated personage died in St. Louis on the 19th, after a long illness of what is termed "negro consumption." Dred was free for some time prior to his death, having been manumitted by his owner, the Hon. Mr. Chaffey, not long after the decision rendered in his case before the United Supreme Court.


From the Florence Gazette, Wednesday, April 29, 1859, p. 2.

          NEGRO DROWNED.---Last Thursday week, our friend B. B. Barker, lost one of the likeliest negro men in the county by drowning. A difficulty having occurred between the negro and the overseer, the former left the field, making towards the river some four miles distant. After some delay pursuit was made, but all traces were lost at a point on an arm of the river. Mr. Barker, knowing the desperate character of the boy, directed the water to be dragged, where some of his clothing was found, and the body was recovered. He had evidently committed suicide, as he was not pressed, and knew that the water was beyond his depth. 

From the Florence Gazette, Wednesday, January 19, 1859, p. 3.

The Memphis Avalanche, of the 14th, which we received on the 15th, contained the following paragraph:
     FATALITY AMONG SLAVES.-- Mr. William H. Key, a wealthy planter, who resides near Florence, Ala., and who has been on a business visit to this city for several days, was called home yesterday, by the announcement of the prvalence of a fatal disease among his servants. Five valuable negroes had died very suddenly, and others were not expected to survive the attack of the fatal malady. The nature of the malady is unknown to us.
     We have made some inquiry, in regard to the statement in the above paragraph, and have learned nothing. In regard to the general health of our town and surrounding neighborhood, we would state that it is very good, as far as we know.


From the Florence Journal, Wednesday, June 27, 1866, p. 3.

     In this place at the residence of Mr. Robert Campbell, on the morning of the 22nd inst., Jennie Campbell (colored) aged 84 years.
     We cannot in justice to the very excellent character of "Old Aunt Jennie," allow the occasion to pass without adding a tribute of well-merited respect to her memory; a respect which is shared by our whole community, white and colored. Aunt Jennie was from Virginia, but became the property and was a member of the Campbell family for upwards of forty years. Mr. Robert Campbell who inherited her from the estate of his Uncle Isaac, has watched over and cared for her in her declining years, with a solicitude that was as notable in Florence as it was creditable to the memories of early and never ceasing associations. When Aunt Jennie became nominally free, she clung with a mother-like devotion to her "Master Robert," determined that nothing but death should separate them, which came at last to relieve her from the increasing infirmities of a ripe old age. - Ed. Journal.

From "Died," Florence Journal, Thursday, July 25, 1867, p. 3.

          Lately of cholera in Memphis, Tenn., Candace Clay, colored. She was long and most favorably known in Tuscumbia and Florence, and was esteemed because of her honesty and faithfulness.

From the Florence Journal, Thursday, November 18, 1869, p. 3.

Executor's Notice.
          Notice is hereby given that letters testamentary were granted the under[s]igned on the third day of November 1869 by Hon. Thomas T. Allington[,] Judge of Probate of Lauderdale county [sic] upon the estate of John H. Rapier deceased. All persons indebted to said estate are requested to to make immediate payment to me; and all persons having claims against the said estate are hereby required to present the same within the time prescribed by law or they will be forever barred.
Nov. 11th, 1869 151 6 w prs 1c $7 87 1/2. 


Florence Journal, Wednesday, January 4, 1870, p. 3.

          A colored boy was found frozen to death on the Huntsville Road in this county one night last week during the intense cold.

Florence Journal, Thursday, February 24, 1870, p. 2.

          UNFORTUNATE SHOOTING.- We chronicle with regret, a case of an accidental and unfortunate shooting in Florence, on last Saturday evening, whereby a negro named James Sothern, who was respected as a very decent and well behaved man, was killed by a pistol shot fired unintentionally by Mr. Henry A. Flynt. A Coroner's jury, consisting of some of our most substantial citizens, was immediately empanelled, who promptly rendered a verdict of accidental death. Mr. Flynt, who was very much afflicted at the serious result, was therefore honorably discharged.


Florence Journal, Thursday, August 25, 1870, p. 3.

          Ross PETERS, colored is said to be the husband of one wife. Dinah should therefore have been the wife of one husband. But not so. She was fair to look upon in the eyes of one Rhodes, also a man and brother, who paid her ATTENTION. This excited the ire of Ross and aroused all the fires of jealousy in his loyal bosom.- On Friday night last, Ross visited the domicile of Rhodes who lived on the Plantation of James Williams in this county, and called him to the door.- When Rhodes presented himself Ross struck him on the head with an axe, instantly killing him, and then fled from the scene of action. So far as we have been able to ascertain, no effort has been made to arrest the murderer. The "High Sheriff o' the county," was seen on Saturday evening riding up Court Street probably intending to go to Williams plantation. If he did go it is not likely he accomplished anything, as he had been, during the day carrying on an equal and spirited contest with a branch of the celebrated Kentucky Bourbon family, and seemed to have suffered a defeat.

Lauderdale Times, Tuesday, August 8, 1871, p. 3.

SAD ACCIDENT.-On Tuesday last there was a colored picnic at Courtland. Delegations were present from all points on the Railroad between Florence and Huntsville. Coming home a negro woman attempted to jump from one car to another, and fell between and under the cars. She was instantly killed, her body being severed in twain.


Lauderdale Times, February 13, 1872, p. 3.

          KILLED.-Richard Pearson, [a] negro boy about 14 years old, was [te]rribly mangled at Capt. Taylor's Gin [ne]ar Centre Star, on the 29th ult. He [lo]st his life through his own carelessness, having been caught between the [ar]m of the cog-wheel and the stirrups [o]f the band-wheel, while driving the ?  am.

Lauderdale Times, March 5, 1872, p. 3. 

          A little negress, about ten [y]ears old, living in town, commenc[ed] bleeding at the nose last Thursday and died before medical aid could be [o]btained.

Lauderdale Times, Tuesday, June 25, 1872, p. 3.

          A negro boy died Friday night last from the effects of playing Base Ball a few days before. It seems that he drank too much water, it being a very warm day.
          MORAL.-Never drink too much water.

From the Florence Times and Journal, December 4, 1872, p. 3.

     Ed Crow, col., was brought into town Monday and lodged in jail under indictment for the murder of Jack Harkins, col.

Florence Times and Journal, January 1, 1873, p. 3.

          Died in this place on last Friday “Aunt Eve,” a colored woman, [ag]ed about 85 years. Aunt Eve was [a] servant in the Kirkman family of [th]is place nearly of all her li[f]e. And [after] her race was freed by the result [of?] the war, she remained with her for[mer]  ?     and? would not leave him. ?    attempt  the support o[f] herself under the new order of things.

Florence Times and Journal, January 8, 1873, p. 3.

          Died, in this county, on the 3rd inst. Sam Bates, an old and highly respected colored citizen. We have known Uncle Sam nearly all our life, and he has ever been regarded as [a] strictly honest man and a pious christian.


Florence Times and Journal, October 15, 1873, p. 3.

          When William Handy, the colored preacher of the Methodist (colored) church departed this life, on last Friday, a good man went to the unknown bourne. Since 1867 he has lived in Florence, and by his humble consistent conduct, he won and retained the good will of all persons, white and black. The largest funeral procession this year followed his remains to the grave; and that he might rest in peace was the prayer of all who knew him.

Florence Republican, Tuesday, June 9, 1874, p. 3.

           DROWNED.- Gray Boyd, and two other colored men, went to the river, on Saturday morning last, to run a Trot-line, they had previously set out. Boyd, it is said, commenced swimming, and the other two supposed he would reach the bank without any trouble, but all at once he went under to rise no more. The alarm was given by the two who were with him, and a great many went to the river to find him. Several dives were made, but he was not found until Sunday evening. Un[fortunate] man!

Florence Republican, Tuesday, June 30, 1874, p. 3.

          MURDER AT THE COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH.-At the colored Baptist church in this place, on Sunday night, two colored men, Cole Williams, and Simon Jackson, got into a dispute about a girl that both wished to accompany to church, when Jackson stabbed Williams in the neck,  severing the jugular vein and killing him almost instantly. Jackson escaped.
         Since writing the above, Jackson has come in and surrendered himself. His examining trial will come off today.


Florence Republican, Tuesday, July 7, 1874, p. 3.
          Simon Jackson, col., who killed Coleman Williams, col., last Sunday was a week ago, was held for trial at the next term of the Circuit Court  in the sum of $500 at his examining trial last Thursday, and in default of bail was sent to the Tuscumbia jail.

"Alabama News--Press Sparks," the Moulton Advertiser, Thursday, March 1, 1877, p. 2.

     A negro baby was burned to death in Lauderdale county last week.

From the Florence Gazette, Wednesday, March 27, 1878, p. 3.

     DIED.--Last Sunday [morn]ing old Uncle Gib Pettus, (col.). Uncle Gib was 110 years oldd, so Hon. W. J. Wood says, and was the kind old darkey who used to entertain the children with "odd-long, odd-long injin talk" [.] W. J. Brock says he was the last body servant General Washington ever had in North Alabama, and Cal Carson says he was the first man who ever planted a tobacco seed on the James River. Peace to his ashes. [Contributed 27 Dec 2006, by Donald Murks.]

From the Florence Gazette, Wednesday, April 10, 1878, p. 3.

     Peggy Messenger, colored, died in this city last Tuesday, at the advanced age of 115 years., [sic] She was the oldest person in Colbert county, and probably the oldest in the State.--Tuscumbia Democrat.

From the Florence Gazette, Wednesday, October 2, 1878, p. 3.

The following colored persons have died in our town recently, almost all of them in the neighborhood of the old brick yard pond: Joe Francis, on the 25th ult*, of billious fever, contracted on the shoals**; Frank George, on the 27th, of billious fever, contracted on the shoals; Logan Howell, on the 30th, of billious fever; Thos. Kennedy, on the 30th, of consumption; Jack Baugh's child, Mary McCorstin's child, and Jim Hogan's child, have also recently died in the same neighborhood. We learn that in the same neighborhood some tern or twelve persons are now sick[.] Will our authorities drain the pond, or put lime in it, or burn tar around it, or let people die about it?
*Ult.: Abbreviation of ultimo, "of the previous month."
** Shoals: The Muscle Shoals canal construction project.

From the Florence Gazette, Wednesday, June 4, 1879, p. 3.

Negro Killed.
          Last Wednesday Mac Abernathy colored, killed George Decatur, colored, near Kimball's commissary, on the Muscle Shoals. We were unable to learn the particulars.
[Contributed by Donald Murks, Jun 2007]

From the Florence Gazette, Wednesday, July 9, 1879, p. 3.

     Nancy Hardy, colored, has lost two of her daughhters, Mary and Maggie, by consumption, within the last two weeks. Aunt Nancy is an industrious, well-behaved woman, and has our sincere synpathy. [Contributed 17 Apr 2007, by Donald Murks.]

From the Florence Gazette, Wednesday, July 30, 1879, p. 3.

Tragic Death.
     On Sunday, the 20th day of July, Leroy Posey, colored, killed himself at LaGrange, Texas, by shooting himself in the head with a gun while temporarily insane. Leroy was the son of Charles Posey, one of the most industrious, intelligent and respectable colored citizens of our county. Leroy was noted for his politeness, morality and general good character. He took advantage of his opportunities and gave himself a very good education for one of his race. Last November he went to LaGrange, Texas, where he took charge of a colored school, which he still had charge of at the time of his sad death.
     By letters from LaGrange we learn that during his stay in Texas he bore the same good character for which he was noted here.
     We sympathize with his bereaved relatives who are highly respected in this community. [Contributed Jan 2007 by Donald Murks.]

Florence Gazette, Wednesday, November 5, 1879, p. 3.

          Robert Key?, a colored shoemaker who is well known in this community died in Mississippi last Wednesday of a congestive chill. Only a few weeks ago Rob left here with his family, hoping to improve his condition.



From the Florence Gazette, Saturday, March 13, 1880, p. 3.

From the Gallows into Eternity!
John Mayfield Hanged for Killing Tobe Irvine.
     At 1 o'clock last Friday, John Mayfield was brought from his cell by Sheriff Carson, and his deputy, A. D. Carson, and carried to the gallows. He ascended the gallows firmly and without a quiver, accompanied by Parsons Rand and Dunn. Parson Rand opened his hymn book and read the hymn "Am I born to die, and must I lay this body down?" which was then sung by the two preachers, Mayfield participating in the singing. Parsons Rand then said "let us pray," and the two preachers, the prisoner and the Sheriif knelt--After the prayer, Sheriff Carson asked Mayfield if he had anything to say, to which he replied, "I don't believe I have. This is all from malice, and I am ready to go to a better world than this."-- He then stepped upon the "trap-door" without a tremor, and with not the least apparent excitement. The cap and noose were then adjusted, and Sheriff Carson said, "Gentlemen, I want to say a word to you all, I am not here of my own free will, as you know, but to perform a duty which the law imposes upon me, which I shall proceed to do with no ill feeling toward the prisoner." The rope was then cut and the drop fell at precisely 15 minutes past 1 o'clock. His neck was undoubtedly broken in the fall, and he must have been dead in five minutes, as there were no convulsions of the body after that time, and indeed, the convulsons whre [sic] but slight at any time. At 29 minutes past 1 o'clock, Drs. Stewart, Brock and Hayes examined his pulse and heart and pronounced him dead.-- The coffin was then brought up and he was cut down and put in it and taken charge of by his friends.
     Quite a crowd witnessed the execution, having climbed into neighboring trees, and gotten upon the fence surrounding the yard.
     Services were had in the jail in the morning by Rev. W. H. Ash, colored, and the prisoner expressed his faith in God and his readiness to die.

Florence Gazette, Saturday, April 17, 1880, p. 3.

          Last week a negro girl, named Jane Davis, was thrown from a mule and killed on the McVay place about three miles east of town.

Florence Gazette, Saturday, May 22, 1880, p. 3.

          A negro named Alex Vaughn was killed at Lime Kiln Hollow on Muscle Shoals last Sunday.- Our information is that a woman shot him, but we could not learn the name of the woman, nor the circumstances.


From the Florence Gazette, Saturday, June 12, 1880, p. 3.

     Bob Farmer, an aged and respected colored man of this county, died at his home on Friday the 4th inst.


Florence Gazette, Saturday,  July 10, 1880, p. 3.

Cold Blooded Murder.
          At Willard’s works, on Muscle Shoals last Monday afternoon, about 2 o’clock, a white man named Streit shot and killed Lewis O’Neal, colored. The facts as we gather them are these: on Sunday night Streit came on the works, and on Monday afternoon he asked the negro O’Neal to give him a deck of cards he had. O’Neal declined saying Maj. Willard would not permit it. Streit drew a pistol and fired three shots into space and then shot the negro twice, once through the heart and once through the stomach. Streit then ran a way [sic] and O’Neal died in about an hour. The work was at once suspended and everybody went in search of the foul murderer.
          O’Neal is said to have been a polite, inoffensive man who was very popular on the works. [He] was the husband of Susan O’Neal who was sent to the penitentiary from this county last year, for killing a man on the Shoals in 1878.

Florence Gazette, Saturday, August 7, 1880, p. 3

          DIED.-On Sunday the 1st inst., of consumption, on the widow Summerhill’s place, Frank Summerhill, colored[,] about 25 years, a good honest citizen and a Democrat.

Florence Gazette, Saturday, September 11, 1880, p. 3.

          On Thursday, the 2d inst., Leathy Benham, col., was found dead in her bed. She had been complaining a little and sent her husband, Willis Benham, a decrepid [sic] old man in town for some medicine and when he got back he found her dead, as stated.

Florence Gazette, Saturday, November 27, 1880, p. 3.

          On Dr. N. Rowell’s place, in this county, on last Wednesday night, a negro named Willis Williams shot another negro named Henry Austin. On Thursday morning Williams gave himself up to Esquire A. J. Parker stating that at the time he shot Austin, Austin was cursing him and attempting to draw a knife on him. Austin died from the wounds on Thursday, and Williams was bro’t [sic] to Florence and put in jail. We understand Austin made a confession before he died from which it appears that Williams acted in self-defense.

Florence Gazette, Saturday, November 27, 1880, p. 3.

          Fount Turpin, a negro man, was killed at his home near Waterloo recently, by unknown parties.


Florence Gazette, Saturday, April 1, 1882, p. 3.

          Jenny Brown, a colored woman, an old citizen of Florence, died Tuesday night, aged 58 years. Her disease was dropsy.

Florence Gazette, Saturday, April 1, 1882, p. 3.

          A young colored man, named Henry Blair, who went from here to Decatur, to work with Dr. Brock, returned home sick with pneumonia, of which disease he died Wednesday.

Florence Gazette, August 5, 1882, p. 3.

          An old colored woman, who is named Mely Decatur, living near Pruitt’s Mill, in the upper edge of this county, drew  here on Tuesday, through Campbell & Cos. Bank, the snug little sum of $2,180, from the Federal Treasury, on account of services rendered Uncle Sam by her deceased son, in the late unpleasantness.

Florence Gazette, Saturday, September 23, 1882, p. 3.

          A little colored girl, Mattie Cook by name, aged 10 years, grand-daughter of Martha Cook, died here Tuesday, of typhoid fever.

From the Florence Gazette, Saturday, October 28, 1882, p. 3.

          A colored girl, twelve years old, named Mahala [sic] Peters, was killed last Sunday evening, near Bethel church, in the Reserve, while returning from preaching, by a kick from a mule, which was rode [sic] by Grief Kernachan. -  She was struck in the side, and died in a few minutes after being hurt. An inquest was held by Esq.  J. R. Cox.


Florence Gazette, Saturday, November 4, 1882, p. 3.

          We are sorry to hear that Rev. W. H. Ash is quite ill. [NOTE: see next two entries, below.]

Florence Gazette, Saturday, November 11, 1882, p. 3.

          We are glad to note an improvement in the condition of Rev. W. H. Ash. His attending physicians state that there has been a decided improvement in his symptoms, and now a possibility of recovery. God grant it! His course has been of such a nature here as to make him indispensable. [Note: See above Florence Gazette article from Nov. 4, 1882, and below from Nov. 18, 1882.]

Florence Gazette, Saturday, November 18, 1882, p. 4.

          On Monday morning, at 3 o'clock, Rev. W. H. Ash, pastor of the colored Congregational church of this place, died, after a sickness of some two weeks, of an affection of the bladder. He was born in 1847, in South Carolina. Moved when very young to Providence, R. I. [.] Took a college course at Lincoln University., [sic] and a theological course in Boston, Mass.- He had been here about three years, and had always conducted himself so as to win and retain the respect of all our community, by his uniformly correct, unobtrusive, gentlemanly, Christian deportment. No man in Florence stood higher than he, in the good opinion of the community, and no man in the South was doing more for the real advancement of his race. He was not only a man of culture but also of fine intellect. His body was carried to Montgomery, Ala., Monday night, where his father-in-law, a highly respected man, resides. [Note: See above two articles from the Florence Gazette of Nov. 11, and Nov. 4, 1882.]

Florence Gazette, Saturday, June 2, 1883, p. 3.

          Ex-Congressman James T. Rapier-the most prominent colored man in Alabama-died Thursday, in Montgomery, quite suddenly. He was a native of Florence, and about 50 years old. His father, John Rapier, was a barber here,. [sic] and was highly respected by our people. He was educated in Canada, and was a man of fine sense. Besides representing the Montgomery district one term in Congress, he was Collector of Internal Revenue for this district for a number of years, and very lately removed by President Arthur. He was unmarried, and leaves a good property, over $50,000, it is said. One of his brothers, Thomas Rapier, left yesterday for Montgomery, with his attorney, Emmet O'Neal, Esq. [.] His body will be buried here.
         The obituary notice received too late for publication this week, shall appear in our next issue. [Note: See the Florence Gazette of June 9, 1883, the Banner of June 5, 12, and 19, 1883, and the Lawrence County, AL, Moulton Adv. of June 14, 1883, below.]

Florence Gazette, Saturday, June 9, 1883, p. 2.

          Ex-Collector James T. Rapier was buried at St. Louis, at the request of relatives there, and not here, as was first intended. We hear he leaves no will. [ Note: See the Florence Gazette of June 2, 1883, the Banner of June 5, 12, and 19, 1883, and the Lawrence County, AL  Moulton Adv. of June 14, 1883, below.]

Florence Banner, Tuesday, June 5, 1883, p. 1.

          James Rapier, well known in Florence, died of consumption in Montgomery, on last Thursday. James Rapier was educated in Canida [sic] before the war, and since that time has figured in the politics of this State, in different ways to a considerable extent. [Note: See the Florence Gazette of June 2 and  9, 1883, the Banner of June 12, and 19, 1883, and the  Lawrence County, AL Moulton Adv. of June 14, 1883, below.]

From the Florence Banner, June 5, 1883, p. 1.

          The wife of Frank Hooks, col, died on last Saturday morning, in the vicinity of Florence. . . .


From the Florence Banner, June 5, 1883, p. 1.

         . . . The daughter of Caroline Gray, col, died on Saturday morning last, near town.

Florence Banner, Tuesday, June 12, 1883, p. 1.

          James T. Rapier, whose death we mentioned last week, was carried to St. Louis for burial. [Note: See the Florence Gazette of June 2 and  9, 1883, the Banner of June 5 and 19, 1883, and the Lawrence County, AL Moulton Adv. of June 14, 1883, below.]

Moulton Advertiser [Lawrence, Co., AL] Thursday, June 14, 1883, p. 2.

          James T. Rapier, the most prominent colored man in Alabama, died recently in Montgomery. He was born in Florence 50 years ago, was unmarried, educated in Cuba [sic], had been a member of Congress, hold [sic] other important offices, and left a fortune of $50,000  00. [Note: See the Florence Gazette of June 2 and  9, 1883, above, and the Banner of June 5, 12, and 19, 1883, above and below.]

Florence Banner, Tuesday, June 19, 1883, p. 1.

          The Moulton Advertiser [sic] says that J. T. Rapier who died recently was educated in "Cuba." It was Canada, not Cuba. [Note: See the Florence Gazette of June 2 and  9, 1883, above, and the Banner of June 5 and 12, 1883, the Lawrence County, AL  Moulton Adv. of June 14, 1883, above.]

Florence Banner, Tuesday, June 19, 1883, p. 1

          John Holland, a colored man, with a lame arm, died Saturday evening last.

Florence Banner, Tuesday, July 3, 1883, p. 1.

          Elder J. D. Ray, Pastor of the colored A. M. E. Church of this place died on Wednesday morning last about 10 o'clock, with a very aggravated case of scrofula. He had been in charge of said church for about six months, and had deported himself in a manner to gain the respect of his people to whom he was sent to labor. He was sorely afflicted with this dread disease, and was confined to his room only about eleven days, and was conscious of his condition, but remained in his right mind till the last moment.

From the Lauderdale News, Thursday, July 5, 1883, p. 3.

          Rev. J. D. Hay [Ray], pastor of the A. M. E. Church, died on Wednesday the 28th ult., of  Scrofula. Though he had been but a short time here, his influence was felt for good in the community.

Florence Gazette, Saturday, December 8, 1883, p. 3.

          Derry Leigh, col., sexton of the Presbyterian church, died a few days ago.

Florence Gazette, Saturday, December 8, 1883, p. 3.

          Erastus Jackson, col., the old and faithful carriage driver of the late Col. James Jackson, died Friday.


Florence Gazette, Saturday, December 15, 1883, p. 3.
          Dan'l Parker, col., died Saturday, after a long and painful illness. He was well-known here abouts [sic] in horse circles.

Florence North Star, Thursday, February 28, 1884, p. 3.

          Will Claibourne, a colored man of our town, who has been running the river on the Nisbit, got his leg caught in the coil of the spring line at Johnsonville on the last trip of the boat and it was severely bruised, would have been crushed, but for the presence of mind of a deck hand standing by, who seizing a hatchet quickly cut the rope. Claibourne came on up here on the boat and was not thought to be seriously hurt, but about Friday mortification set in and he died of blood poison last Monday morning. He had no physician.

Florence North Star, Thursday, March 13, 1884, p. 3.

          Old Aunt Mary Hargraves, the faithful old house servant of the late lamented Dr. James T. Hargraves, died recently.

Florence North Star, Thursday, March 13, 1884, p. 3.

          Lucy Woods, an aged colored woman, was found dead in an old field about 6 miles west of Florence last week. She is supposed to have been taken by a severe storm while going to visit a neighbor, and being old and feeble she could not withstand the exposure.

Florence North Star, Thursday, March 20, 1884, p, 3.

          Alfred Moore, a respectable colored man, died here on last Monday of glanders. It is said that he had been treating a horse which was afflicted with glanders, but of this ther [sic] is some doubt. This is the first instance of a man having glanders ever known in this county, although according to the medical books, it not infrequently occurs.


From the Florence Banner, Tuesday, April 22, 1884, p. 1.
          David Oliver, col., who was sent to the Newcastle coal mines at last term of our court, for selling mortgage property, did [sic] a few days ago.

From the Florence Banner, Tuesday, May 6, 1884, p. 1.

     A colored woman, named Bulls, died near Center Star last week.

From the Florence Gazette, Saturday, August 16, 1884, p. 3.

     A colored woman, named Jane Hill, died at Needmore, Wednesday.

     Sol. Beckwith, a very old colored man, died here Wednesday, after a long illness.

Florence Gazette, Saturday, September 6, 1884, p. 2.

          Among the deaths of convicts during August, we find the name of Willis Williams, from Colbert County, killed by a rock falling on him. Perhaps this is a negro Wilson Williams from Lauderdale for murder.

Florence Gazette, Saturday, September 13, 1884, p. 3.

          Ira Davis, a very well conducted young colored man, who was raised in this place, died recently, at Marianna, Ark., where he was teaching school.

From the Florence Gazette, Saturday, December 13, 1884, p. 3.

          Thomas Hicks, our colored dyer, will dye no more. He died Monday night, after a brief attack of general congestion, and was buried next evening, from the A. M. E. church, a large crowd attending his funeral.


From the Florence Gazette, January 10, 1885, p. 3.

          Lewis McClure and John Hart, two darkey urchins, were serenading Tuesday night.- Lewis pulled a pistol. It went off. John shot through the head. To be continued. [Note: see the Florence Gazette entry for Jan. 17, 1885,  below.]

From the Florence Gazette, Saturday, January 17, 1885, p. 3.

          Johnny Hart, the boy who was shot by Lewis McClure, died on last Thursday. Lewis is in jail. No trial yet. Justice is slow and not any too sure. To be continued. [Note: See the F. G. entry for January 10, 1885, above.]


From the Florence Gazette, Saturday, January 17, 1885, p. 3.

          Two colored boys, Sim Martin and Jesse Barnett, left Woodland together on the 4th of Dec., for Prides Station on the South side of the river, and Barnett has never been seen since. Last week Martin was committed to jail charged with the murder of Barnett. We hear that Barnett's pistol was found on Martin's person.


From the Florence Gazette, Saturday, April 4, 1885, p. 3.

          An old colored woman, named Maria Patton, died here last Tuesday night.

From the Florence Gazette, Saturday, February 27, 1886, p. 3.

          Uncle Billy Hall, colored, living near town, died some days ago.

From the Florence Gazette, Saturday, May 28, 1886, p. 3.

          A colored boy named Frank [R]owell, aged about 16 years, was [d]rowned recently, at Cheatham’s [F]erry. He was ferryman for Mr. C. Smith, and was crossing the [r]iver in a skiff, the water being [ve]ry rough. He dropped an oar, [a]nd, in reaching over to get it, fell [in] the water. His body was found, [a] few days after, in the drift at the [he]ad of Colbert Island.

From the Florence Gazette, Saturday, June 19, 1886, p. 3.

          A colored man named John Jackson, aged about 40 years, was drowned at South Florence, on Wednesday. He was in a skiff running his trot-line, when, by some means, he fell into the river, going down like lead. His body had not been recovered, at last report, but his boat was found tangled up in the line.

From, “DIED,”  the Florence Gazette, Saturday, July 31, 1886, p. 3.

          In Colbert’s Reserve. [sic] on the plantation of Dr. John Rowell, of dropsy, Lucy Rhodes. [col]


From “DIED,” the Florence Gazette, Saturday, July 31, 1886, p. 3.

          On July 22nd, Julia Buckingham, [col] wife of John Buckingham. She was a good woman and by her excellent deportment commanded the respect of her neighbors.


Florence Gazette, Saturday, August 28, 1886, p. 3.

          A colored woman named Emma Seawright, died here, Wednesday night, after a brief sickness.


Florence Gazette, Saturday, September 4, 1886, p. 3.

          A young colored man, named Babe Bourland, was accidentally shot and killed on Monday, on Mr. Ingram Fuqua’s farm, near Rodgersville [sic]. He was out, squirrel hunting, with a boy, who was carrying the gun at full cock. It struck a tree, went off, and the load was put in Babe’s body.

Florence Gazette, Saturday, September 11, 1886, p. 3.

          Two colored men, Cornelius Coffee and---Frazier, were drowned, on Thursday, at Lock 10, on the Shoals works. They were dumping dirt on the towpath, and engaged in a wheelbarrow race.- Both barrows ran off, and they fell in, where the water was deep and the current swift. The bodies have not been recovered. [Note: see Sept. 18, 1886, below.]

Florence Gazette, Saturday, September 18, 1886, p. 3.

          Wednesday morning, the body of Bob Frazier, one of the colored men drowned at Lock 10, last Thursday morning, was found just below the R. R. bridge, by Mr. Dick Perry. It was much swollen and decomposed, and the fish had eaten much of the flesh. It was buried near where it was found, no inquest being necessary.
          LATER.- We learn that the body of the other man drowned, Cornelius Coffee, has been found, near the head of 7 mile Island [sic].

Florence Gazette, Saturday, October 16, 1886, p. 3.

          Two very clever colored women-Aunt Mintie Murdock and Lottie Pool, wife of Bob Pool-died here Wednesday. Both had been sick for some time.

Florence Gazette, Saturday, May 7, 1887, p. 2.

          A little colored girl, about 3 years old, daughter of Ashton Webster, was drowned, in the slough at Koger’s Island, in the Reserve, on Wednesday. Her father, with two children, undertook to ford the slough in a buggy, to go to the Island. The stream, swollen, swift and rough swept them down; he and the boy lodged on a log, from which they were taken, after staying several hours. The girl’s body was not recovered.

Florence Gazette, Saturday, June 4, 1887, p. 3.

          Ed Flynt, colored, who was sent to the coal mines, for two years, at the Spring term of our Circuit Court, for arson, died there last week, of fever.

Florence Gazette, Saturday, June 25, 1887, p. 3.

          Last Friday evening a colored man, named Wm. Grady, who was painting the cupola of the Colored Baptist church, fell to the ground below, striking his head on a rock breaking his neck, fracturing his skull and causing almost instant death. It is thought he had an attack of vertigo or sunstroke, which caused the fall. His body was carried to Mississippi, whence he came here.

Florence Wave, Saturday, June 25, 1887, p. 3.

          Rev. Sidney H. Dale, (col.), who has for the past few months so faithfully ministered to the spiritual needs of the members of the Congregational church at this place, died at the parsonage on June 18th. He was also principal of the Carpenter High School[,] an institution conducted under the auspices of the “American Missionary Society.” He was born in Marion, June 1855, where he attended the State Normal School, until within a few months of graduation when he went to Talladega College to complete his studies and enjoy the benefits of a theological course. While there he was placed in charge of the church at that place. He graduated in June 1886 and in December last accepted an invitation to take charge of the flourishing school and church here. Of course he came to our town a perfect stranger, but his conservative course, christian [sic] example and general deportment has been such as to guarantee for him the respect of both white and black. [Note: See the next entry.]

Florence Gazette, Saturday, June 25, 1887, p. 3.

          Last Saturday evening, Rev. S. H. Dale, pastor of the Congregational church (colored) of this place, and principal of the Carpenter High School, died here, of inflammation of the bowels, followed by a congestive chill. He had lived here about a year, and had conducted himself in a quiet, unobtrusive manner, having the good of his people at heart. His remains were carried to Marion, where his parents reside.

From the Florence Banner, Thursday, September 1, 1887, p. 1.

          Uncle Sidney DePriest, well and favorable [sic] known in Florence, as an honest upright, colored man, died at his home in Salina, Kansas, on the 24th of August. Uncle Sidney once lived here and made many friends by his polite manners to one and all. [Note: See the F. W. entry of Sept. 3, 1887.]

Florence Wave, Saturday, September 3, 1887, p. 3.

          We learn that Sydney DePriest, who left here several years ago to make his home in Kansas, died at Salinas, that State, on Wednesday of last week. The deceased was a highly respected colored man, and enjoyed the confidence and good will of both white and black here at his former home.

Florence Gazette, Saturday, September 24, 1887, p. 2.

          On last Saturday evening, John Buckingham colored, was accidentally shot and instantly killed by a Winchester rifle in the hands of Carter Todd colored, at the house of Henry Patton colored, near town. It was afterwards thought by some of B’s friends., that the shooting was intentional, and Todd was lodged in jail, but a full and lengthy examination before Esqrs. Jackson and Smith satisfied those gentlemen that the suspicion was unfounded, and he was honorably discharged by them.

Florence Gazette, Saturday, September 24, 1887, p. 3.

          Lawson Murdock, a colored man of our town, died a few days ago, of injuries recieved [sic] by the kick of a horse.

From the Florence Gazette, Saturday, October 1, 1887, p. 3.

          Sarah, the daughter of Uncle Allen McVay, one of our cleverest colored men [,] was buried last Sunday.


From the Florence Gazette, Saturday, October 8, 1887, p. 3.

          Aunt Pinky Hargraves, one of our landmarks and a very clever old colored woman, died last Sunday, aged about 75.

From the Florence Banner, Thursday, September 1, 1888, p. 1.

          Mr. J. H. Moody and a little negro girl were killed near Stevenson a few days ago by being run over by the train. They were crossing the railroad at the time in a buggy, when the engine struck it broadside, tearing it into splinters. The horse was not hurt.

From “Deaths,” The Watcher [African-American], Friday, October 12, 1888, p. 1.

          Miss Mary Brumley, of Centre Star, departed this life Oct. 4. She was a member of the Missionary Baptist Church.

From “Deaths,” The Watcher [African-American], Friday, October 18, 1888, p. 1.

          Mrs. Candes [sic] Howell, of Greenhill, Ala., departed this life on Oct. 3.

From The Watcher [African-American],  Friday, October 26, 1888, p. 1.

          Mr. Bob O’Neal, died suddenly last Friday. We sympathize with his bereaved family. Death has been here and gone away; a young man from our side just in the morning of his days, as young as he, died.

Florence Herald, Thursday, January 16, 1889, p. 8. 

Child Burned to Death.
         The two year old child, a little boy [sic], of Will Corpier, colored, was burned to death last Thursday at her father's home in Canaan, in the western part of the city. The child had been left alone in the house for a few minutes and when those who had been attracted by her screams, reached the house, the child's clothing was in flames. Death came to her relief in a few hours.

From the Florence Wave* Saturday, June 1, 1889, p. 3.

A Horrible Death.
          On Thursday evening at about 3 o'clock, a negro named Gabe Pierson, who had become a little too much under the influence of liquor, while lying with his head on the track in the cut between the furnace and the M. & C. depot, was run over by an L. & N. freight, consisting of an engine and four cars, and his head entirely severed from his body. The scene of the accident being in a cut and on a sharp curve and the train being reversed, the engineer was unable to perceive the unfortunate in time to check up. The coroners jury after sitting over the case several hours, rendered a verdict that the death was entirely accidental, despite rumors to the contrary.

From the Sheffield Enterprise (Colbert County, AL), Tuesday, June 4, 1889, p. 1.

A Negro Killed at Florence.
          Dave Pearson [sic], colored, of Tupelo, Miss., was run over and killed by an L. & N. freight train at Florence yesterday. Pearson, had been laying around that place for the past week, drunk most of the time. Yesterday he concluded to take a nap and chose for his resting place the L. & N. track near the bridge, using the rail for a pillow. His body was concealed in the weeds that grow along and near the side of that part of the track and not until the engine and tender had passed over his head was the fact of his being there known. The remains were taken to Morris' undertaking establishment and will be interred to-day by the city. [NOTE: On 1 Jun 1889, p. 3, the Florence Wave, listed above, reported this death as that of Gabe Pierson. In the Sheffield Enterprise of 4 Jun 1889, p. 1, the deceased's name is given as Dave Pearson. It is not known which is correct.]

Florence Herald, Wednesday, August 24, 1889, p. 3.

A Case of Neglect.
          A sad case of neglect is reported by the marshal, which shows up the negro character in its true light. A negro baby died on College street and laid three days without burial. The parents and friends were too indolent or unconcerned to bury the baby and it lay in the house until the body began to decompose. The neighbors heard of it and complained to the marshal, who had it buried by some negroes in the neighborhood. He had, however, to get some strange negroes to perform the act of charity, as the old negroes would not assist. Such cases of flagrant and criminal neglect should be taken in charge by the strong arm of the law, and the parties dealt with accordingly. 

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