Friday, April 27, 2012

The Reported Difficulty at Kingstree (SC, 1866)

Newspaper article from The Anderson Intelligencer, Feb. 1, 1866, from the Library of Congress website :
Transcribed by Teresa McVeigh 26 April 2012:

The Reported Difficulty at Kingstree
From the Charleston Courier

Messrs. Editors: In your issue yesterday you made a brief editorial reference to an alleged difficulty with a freedman at Kingstree, S.C., and say that you received your information from an exchange. That exchange has received erroneous information, and he has therefore deceived you and your readers. As the report in the present shape is calculated to do injustice to the citizens of Kingstree, and to the gentlemen who were connected with the affair which I have no doubt gave origin the report in its present shape, as a citizen of Kingstree, and as one intimately acquainted with the facts of the case, I propose to give you a succinct and truthful account of the difficulty, that justice may be done all concerned.

On the evening of 21st November last [1865]. Mrs. Sarah Hanna, a widow lady and residing about fifteen miles northeast from Kingstree, intending on spending the night with her mother, also a widow and a few miles distant, left her keys and the entire charge of her plantation in the hands of Dick Singletary and Levenia Hanna, both freed laborers residing on the place. In the course of the night, the two negroes, combining and confederating with many others, both of this plantation and others adjacent, entered Mrs. Hanna's dwelling and proceeded to have a regular frolic. A large supper was furnished out of Mrs. Hanna's provisions, and one or two hogs killed for the purpose. Whiskey was also sent after to Graham's Cross Roads, a distance of some six miles, two or three times during the night, and Dick Singletary was the party sent, riding the mule, the property of Mrs. Hanna. After being fully glutted on the good things of Mrs. H's storehouse, and after imbibing to their hearts' content of the Whiskey obtained, they next proceeded to divide out amongst themselves every article of furniture, crockery, &c., in the house, except one bed and a few old chairs. In this bed several took lodging for the remainder of the night. Attending the frolic, there were also two or more white men.

Mrs. Hanna returned the next morning, and found her house in the condition of a hog pen--dirt and filth of almost every kind over the floor, and upon the clothing of the remaining bed. Riot, pillage, and plunder seemed to have reigned supreme, and the house was gutted of its contents. Mrs. Hanna now sent for her brother, Mr. Trisvan Eaddy, and other neighbors, who arrived in the course of the day. Search was made at once amongst the negro quarters, and most of the missing articles found in their possession, but in such damaged condition as to be almost worthless. Search was continued at the neighboring plantations till the evening of the 24th, when, despairing of finding the articles still missing, Dick Singletary, Lavinia Hanna, and Norris Gaskins (also a freedman,) were arrested and taken to the plantation of Mrs. Eaddy (Mrs. H's mother,) and kept under guard until the next morning. Two white men were arrested as implicated, and were similarly guarded. Some eighteen or twenty gentlemen were present, comprising some of the most intelligent and respectable people of the neighborhood, and they now took counsel together as to how to dispose of their prisoners. It was unanimously agreed that the white men should be taken to Kingstree jail, and that the negroes should be mercifully punished at once. Accordingly they were lightly punished with a stirrup leather strap, but no gagging was inflicted, nor was any blood drawn or any skin broken. Not long afterwards some or all of these freedmen reported the matter to some of the military authorities in Charleston, when orders were sent to the commanding officer of the post here to have the parties implicated arrested preparatory to a trial.

They were accordingly arrested about the last of December or first of the present month, but no court being ready for their trial, they were allowed by the gentlemanly commanding officer of the post to return to their homes on parole, to appear at such time as they might be notified of the organization of a Military Commission. The Commission was convened on the 8th instance, and every man summoned to attend promptly appeared. The trial now commenced, of such only as actually participated in the infliction of the punishment, each being represented by counsel and tried separately. As each case was disposed of, the defendant was sent for safe keeping to the headquarters at Darlington. The trial was concluded on the 11th instant. Various exceptions were taken by counsel as to the mode of conducting the trial pursued by the court. Also as to the exclusion of proper testimony, and had been laid before the proper reviewing authority, and suffice it to say that the action of the Court of the court in the matters disposed of has been disapproved, and a new trial allowed.

This is a brief but full account of the reported difficulty at Kingstree.

The exchange from which you made your extract will please copy.


Kingstree, S.C., January 18, 1866

Note: Concerns Trisvan Eaddy, his sister Sarah (Eaddy) Hanna (widow of John Hanna, who later married William Henry Singletary), and their mother Elizabeth Singletary Eaddy (wife of John D Eaddy).

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