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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk


The New York Times
December 2, 1909

John Harvard Had Shot a White Automobilist Who Frightened His Mules.

COCHRAN, Ga., Dec. 1.—John Harvard, a negro preacher, who shot and fatally injured Will D. Booth, two miles from this place late this afternoon, was captured by a mob five miles from here to-night at 10 o'clock and burned at a stake, more than a carload of light wood, being heaped about the body.

Booth, who is a business man of Hawkinsville, was en route to Cochran in an automobile and drove up behind Harvard, who was in a wagon.  Harvard charged that Booth's machine frightened his mules.  He drew a pistol after a few words and fired upon Booth, three shots taking effect.  Booth returned the fire, and it was learned after the negro was captured that he carried two bullets, but neither in vital spots.  Booth was brought to this place soon after the shooting.  Surgeons to-night gave out the statement that there was little hope for his recovery.  He has a wife and several children.

Officers from Hawkinsville in automobiles and carrying hounds went immediately to the scene of the shooting, but a party of citizens had been formed and had trailed the negro on horseback to his hiding place in a barn three miles away.  He showed fight, but was suffering so severely from the effects of his injuries that he could offer little resistance.  He freely admitted the shooting, and it is stated justified his action by the fact that Booth's automobile frightened his mules.  He was given an opportunity to pray, after which he was securely bound with chains to an improvised stake.  The fuel was piled high above his head and the torch applied.  The roaring of the flames prevented any sound being audible if any escaped the man's lips.

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