Statements, depositions, and other records submitted by Gov. William W. Holden relating to crimes of the Ku Klux Klan

Letters Received by the Office of the Adjutant General (Main Series), 1871 – 1880

National Archives Microfilm Publication M666 Roll 1

“Statements, depositions, and other records submitted by Gov. William W. Holden relating to crimes of the Ku Klux Klan against citizens of North Carolina, 1869 – 1871″

Jany. 5, 1871
Case of Holden, Govr. N. C.
Concerning Outrages in North Carolina & Miss.
Respectfully referred to the Honorable Secretary of War
By order of the President: (22 enclo.) D. E. Babeoth

Received W. D. Jany. 7, 1871

The jail of Lenoir County broken open, and five men taken out, their throats cut, and their bodies thrown in Neuse river.

The jail of Orange County broken open, and three men shot at, two escaped, but one was wounded, and died of his wound.

The jail of Chatham County broken open and a United States prisoner released. He was in jail for violating the revenue law. He has not since been arrested.

The Sheriff of Jones County and Colonel of Militia, shot and killed from behind a blind, in the open day, on the public highway. His death was decreed by a Kuklux camp in the adjoining county of Lenoir. He was hated because he was a Northern man and a Republican.

A colored man who was on horseback, in company with Sheriff Colgrove, was also shot and mortally wounded.

The Colonel of the Militia of Jones County, and a Justice of the Peace, shot and killed in the open day while at work in his saw mill. A colored man with him, at the same time badly shot.

A man named Grant shot and killed in Lenoir County, by order of a camp, because he threatened to divulge the secrets of the Kuklux.

A man shot from the back of a horse in Lenoir County and killed.

A colored man in Wayne shot in his own door and killed.

The family of Daniel Blue, colored, murdered in Moore County. Blue was wounded and escaped. His wife was killed. She was heavy with child. His five other children were murdered, the house set on fire, and the bones of all found next morning.

A colored man murdered in Harnett County.

Two white men of the name of McLeod murdered in Cumberland. The men who murdered them had painted faces. The Kuklux charged the murder on colored men, and one colored man was killed by them on account of it.

A colored man hanged in Chatham County. A revenue officer riding along the road, saw his body hanging and reported. His wife and children were sitting under the body moaning. Nothing was done about it.

A colored man in Chatham County badly whipped. As he returned to his house, the Kuklux followed. One of his daughters came out of his house with an infant in her arms, and fled. The Kuklux fired on her and wounded her and her infant.

A colored woman near Pittsborough, Chatham County, beaten with a club until her life was despaired of, because she complained to a magistrate that a white man, a Kuklux, had stolen her chickens.

A colored minister of the gospel in Gulf Township, Chatham County, compelled to take a torch and burn his own church, which he and others had built on his own land. The next morning, after the Kuklux had departed, the melancholy sight was presented of the minister and his congregation holding prayer over the ashes of his church.

A colored exhorter taken out of his house, in Orange County, made to double-quick for half an hour in the public road, and then required, on pain of death, to fall on his knees and pray!

A colored woman drowned in a mill pond in Orange County, because she had been “impudent” to a white lady! This is the only charge.

Two colored men taken out of their houses in Orange County, and hanged, on suspicion of having burnt barns.

A colored man in Orange County hanged, because he was found in the house of a white man at night, and suspected of being intimate with his daughters.

A colored boy in Orange County taken at midnight from his father, while they were burning charcoal, and hanged. The charge was that he had made some improper and foolish remark about the white ladies. His body hung ten days until the vultures partly consumed it, and no one during that time dared to take him down.

An expedition from the camp at Hillsborough, Orange County, to Gilbreath’s Bridge, to aid in murdering Mr. Shoffner, one of the Senators from Alamance and Guilford, because he had introduced into the legislature a bill to protect life and property and to punish the Kuklux. A leading Kuklux, fearing the consequences of such an act, met this force of Kuklux and turned them back.

Wyatt Outlaw, a colored man, hanged near the Court House in Graham, Alamance County. He was a leading Republican, an industrious mechanic, and a man of unblemished character. His offense was that Gov. Holden had appointed him a justice of the Peace, and he had accepted the appointment, and was President in that county of the Union League of America. It was charged that he had incited colored men to fire on the Kuklux on the public highway, but this statement can be disproved by respectable witnesses. He was dragged from his house at midnight, his little son clinging to him as long as he could, and his aged mother pleading for him. He was hanged near the Court House, that the Kuklux might thereby show their contempt for the civil law.

William Puryear, a half-witted colored man who witnessed the murder of Wyatt Outlaw, followed two of the disguised murderers to their homes. On his return to Graham he told who these murderers were. In a short time he was taken out of his house and drowned in a mill pond near Graham.

Caswell Holt, a colored man, taken from his house in Alamance and badly whipped. He presumed to complain and appealed to a magistrate for justice. The case was tried and the parties who had whipped him proved that they were not present when he was whipped! One of the camps then decreed his death because he had asked for justice. He was again attacked in his own house, shot through the body, and was carried to Graham by order of the County Commissioners, nursed, and at last recovered.

The house of a colored man (Harvey) in Alamance, was visited by the Kuklux. Their appearance and conduct so frightened his wife that she dropped her infant child which she had in her lap, and the infant died from the fall. They then cruelly whipped Harvey. They whipped the father without cause, and were the cause of the death of the child.

A school house and church at Company Shops, Alamance County, for the use of the colored people, was burnt by order of a camp. The guilty party was arrested by order of Gov. Holden, and will be tried for the crime.

The Rev. Mr. Conliss, a native of Vermont, and a teacher of a colored school at Company Shops, Alamance, was taken from his house at night and badly whipped. His wife endeavored to protect him, and was struck on the head with a heavy pistol and badly wounded. Mr. Conliss was lame, and went on crutches; but the Kuklux had no mercy on the poor old crippled man. He was whipped because he taught a colored school and was a loyal man.

John W. Stephens, State Senator from the County of Casswell, was murdered in the open day in the Court House, in the town of Yanceyville. Four persons charged with having murdered him, or being accessory thereto, have been bound to appear and answer, as the result of the military movement of Gov. Holden. He was killed in the Court House, in the open day, to show Kuklux contempt for the civil law.

Sam Allen was driven from his house near Leasburg, Caswell County. A few nights afterward some colored men, friends of his, were watching at his house with his wife while he was concealed in the woods. The Kuklux appeared, these colored men fled, and Robin Jacobs, one of them and an old man, not being able to get out of the way, was shot through the head and killed.

The Kuklux of Rockingham County made a raid and fired into a house and shot a colored woman through the brain and killed her. In the same county, in another case they thrust chunks of wood on fire into the faces and mouths of their victims!

In Forsyth County, a colored man was taken from his house, his hands and feet were tied, and a gag, described thus, placed in his mouth: — a ball of hardwood, filled with hard, sharp, wooden pegs. This was forced into his mouth, and by leather strings attached to it, it was tied behind his head. He was then laid on his face , and one hundred lashes given him on his bare back.

In Alamance County a colored man named Noah Trollinger was whipped, and compelled to take a knife and hack and mutilate his private parts! After they had whipped Trollinger, and compelled him to mutilate himself, they rubbed his back with a rough persimmon stick!

Mr. A. L. Ramsour, white man, of Catawba County, was set upon in his house by about thirty Ku Klux, taken out, and whipped on his naked back by three men with hickory switches. His son, a young man grown, was forced to stand and see his father whipped. His little daughter clung to him as long as she could, and begged for her father. Mr. Ramsour is a farmer of excellent character, a peaceable man, and religiously a non-resistant. His only fault was that he is an iron clad Republican. When Gen. Stoneman, in 1865, was in his neighborhood he hoisted the Stars and Stripes on his house. A certain man, one of his neighbors, took the flag down. Mr. Ramsour reported this traitor to Gen. Stoneman. This no doubt added to the venom and hatred cherished against him.

A colored man, a tenant on Mr. Ramsour’s land, was also badly whipped at the same time by these Ku Klux.

In Lincoln County, the Kuklux were on the public highway, looking for a certain colored man to whip or kill him. They met another colored man, fired on him and wounded him. Seeing their mistake, they laid him on a pile of rails, and told him to call for help. A gentleman who recently visited the cabin of this man says, he found his little children crying for bread, the mother absent working to get a little bread for the family, the father hobbling about on crutches unable to work and a cripple for life.

Sandy Sellars, colored, of Alamance, was whipped in January, 1869. After they had whipped him they rubbed or scraped his back with a rough persimmon stick!

Frederick Pool and wife, white, were taken from their bed at night in February, 1870, and severely whipped for speaking against the Ku Klux. This in Coats’ District, Johnston County.

These are some of the worst Kuklux cases in North Carolina. Hundreds of other cases of scourging, and the cases of mutilation are necessarily omitted.

There have been no cases thus far in which the parties have been convicted by the civil courts. As the result of the action of Gov. Holden about sixty have been bound over for trial in the counties of Lenoir, Jones, Alamance and Caswell. We shall see whether any of these 60 persons, thus charged with crime, will be convicted by a jury.