do you have one to tell, share or write?
Let us know we would love to add your story to this list.
Murder of the
children of Sheriff Jacob B. Mickler.
Fiendish Murder in Hernando
A Negro kills one and mortally wounds the TWO other children
Sheriff Mr. J. B. Mickler
Mr. J. A. Wilson, mail contractor came down last Wednesday morning from
Brooksville, and brought the news of a terrible tragedy in
our sister county. It seems that a young Negro man, named
Sidney King, had been convicted of burglary in that county and
sentenced to pay a fine and was in the employ of the Sheriff, Mr
Mickler, working it out. On last Monday afternoon while Mr.
Mickler was absent Kint went into the house and was rifling trunks and
drawers in search of money and wearing apparel when discovered by Mr.
Mickler's three sons, the eldest age about 15 years, and the youngest
about 5 or 6 years. He immediately shot the eldest boy when
the other two ran off whom he followed and shot the next oldest and
then caught the youngest whose throat he cut, severing the wind pipe
and opening the gullet, and inflicted two stab wounds in the left side
besides beating him with a pine knot. The only one of three
children killed outright was the second boy that he followed and
shot. The fiend then returned to the house and closing the
door concealed himself with the intention of killing the Sheriff when
he returned; but fortunately for the gentleman another man rode up
simultaneously when the murderer came out of his hiding and precipately
It is thought that both the eldest and youngest boys are mortally
wounded and will not recover. What is remarkable was that the youngest
should have revived sufficiently to be able to find his way to the
house and communicate with his father where the body of the other
brother could be found, after the receipt of such sever and probably
mortal injuries. The whole county up there is said to be in a state of
great excitement and that at least one hundred and fifty men white and
black are in pursuit of the murderer.
This is indeed a terrible blow to poor Bart who only a few months since
buried his wife the mother of the three boys who was a most amiable and
lovely woman. Such a bereavement is too overwhelming for human sympathy
to soothe and to God alone can we commend our poor friend in the hope
that in His grace and mercy he may find some comfort and consolation in
this hour of grief and despair.
Since writing the above we learn that the murderer Sidney King, was
captured Wednesday taken to Brooksville and promptly lynched by hanging
by an outraged community.
Later news to the effect that there is some hope of the recovery of the
youngest boy whose wounds were inflicted with a knife.
NOTE: The youngest boy lingered one month before
dying. All three of the children, Thomas Edward, Bartlet Law,
and Robert Bloxham are buried in old Spring Hill Cemetery AKA Lykes
Cemetery, Brooksville beside their mother, Martha E. Law.
Their father remarried Mary E. Hope. He is also buried in the
Note I can't find any listing of these graves in this
cemetery or county if anyone has anymore info on this story or any
story to be added please contact me.
The following newspaper articles are from the 1877 Sunland
Tribune, a Tampa based newspaper. The articles detail the
unrest in Brooksville and Hernando County Florida that began with Rev.
Sinclair marrying a black man and a white woman. The unrest
lead to Rev. Sinclair's murder and the burning of the Hernando County
Court house. I have attempted to arrange the articles in
chronological order and in the order they appeared in the newspaper.
Page 1 Chaos that
followed announcement of the marriage of James and Day.
Page 2 Hernando County
Resolution, part 1 of the Murder of
Page 3 Part 2 of the Newspaper
Accounts of the Murder of Arthur St.
Page 4 Part 3 of the
Newspaper Accounts of the Murder of Arthur St.
Page 5 Interview with Miss
Tanner, witness of the Murder
Page 6 Court House fire
Chaos following James and Day
Sunland Tribune, May 12, 1877
It is reported here that there was quite a little riot at
Brooksville a few days ago, which, it is feared, may be repeated at any
time. It became known in the town it seems that a Negro man
had married a white woman in the vicinity , whereupon for white men
concluded that they would call on the couple and give the Negro some
sensible advice. It was understood among these men before
they stared that they would not seek to create any disturbance, but
simply reason with the Negro in a quiet way. Their intentions
became known by some means to the Negroes of the community, who laid a
plot at once to defeat their purpose. The report goes that
after the white men arrieved at the place, they had not proceeded far
with their talk, until they were fired into by a party of Negroes who
had stationed themselves about the premises. Three of the
white men were wounded, one shot in the mouth, another in the arm and
one in the thigh. It seems that the white men were armed with
small pistols, white they have taken to use in self defense probably in
case they should be assailed; and they returned the fire inflicting
three wounds upon the Negro who married the white woman and one upon
another. The Negroes had emptied their pieces by that time
and the riot ceased, but our informant says that the Negroes are making
bold threats, and declare their intentions to make another
assault. We shall wait for further particulars, before we
make any comment.
Sunland Tribune, July 8, 1877
Shooting in Hernando
Towards the close of last week we heard a rumor of two
having been killed in Hernando, some ten or twelve miles from
Brooksville on the road between the latter place and Fort Dade.
Since then we have seen several parties from that county and have
learned the following particulars: It seems that on the night of the
26th June Rev. Arthur St. Clair was returning from a church where he
had preached to the people of his own color, and where also the colored
people had held a mass meeting for the purpose of choosing delegates to
the colored convention at Tallahassee, when a short distance from the
church, he was met by a party of men and shot dead. On the
report of the gun being heard at the church, Henry Loyd and John O'Neil
ran down the road to where it occurred, when the former was shot and
killed also. A colored woman riding was riding St. Clair's
horse and St. Clair was walking when the assassins came upon
him. The first shot fired at him did not take effect when he
started to run, but he was pursued by the assassinating devils and shot
in the head. When Loyd and O'Neil came up, Loyd was shot down
at once, O'Neil mad his escape by getting into a pond and swimming out
of reach, though frequently fired at. During the melee the
Negro woman made her escape or possibly she would have met the same
At the inquest it appears to have been impossible to obtain any
evidence pointing to the perpetrators of this fiendish and inhuman
butchery. Leading Democrats in the county say that St. Clair
exercised a favorable influence over the colored people of whom he was
the acknowledged political leader, and that his assassination is to be
attributed solely to personal enmity.
We are informed that a mass-meeting of the citizens of Hernando is to
be held to day for the purpose of expressing their indignation at the
perpetration of such crimes. All good citizens not only
deplores such occurrances, but should exert themselves in putting the
seal of their condemnation on crime by doing all in their power to
mmete out a rigid retributive justice on the perpetrators.
The local law officers should do their whole duty in this
matter. Such outrages are neither to be condoned nor allowed
to sink into oblivion, for all crimes, that of assassination ranks
beyond human (unreadable text)... feel secure while such villians live
Independently of the interest of society which should be tantamount and
above all in every good citizen's breast, it is incumbent upon the
people of Florida and this administration to prove clearly,
conclusively and beyond the shadow of a doubt that the laws are able to
protect the lives and vindicate the rights of our citizens of every
grade and color. Nothing short of this can demonstrate that
the better elements of the social fabric in this State have the will as
well as the power to stamp out such heinous crimes. In
fighting for Democratic supremacy in the late campaign, we labored for
what we honestly believed was for the good of all classed and colors,
and not for the supremacy of the mid-night assassins, and if we are
disappointed wo worth the victory, wo worth the day that gave the
Democracy the reigns of power.
We speak out boldly and fearlessly, knowing full well that we are but
giving expression to the better sentiment of the people of South
Sunland Tribune July 21, 1877
Sunland Tribune July 21, 1877
Two colored men, Rev. Arthur St. Clair and Henry Loyd were shot dead in
Hernando county, on 26 of June, while returning from a church meeting,
by a party of unknown men. It appears to have a most brutal
assassination, and the Tampa Tribune denounces the act unsparingly. The
people of Hernando are to hold a indignation meeting. It is to be hoped
that the governor will at once offer a heavy reward for the
apprehension of the murderers, and that they will be brought to speedy
justice. Such crimes should not remain unpunished a moment. -- Sun and
The Sun and Press is right, the Governor should offer a sufficient
reward to make it interesting to detectives to ferret out the guilty
parties. It might also be well for the County Commissioners of Hernando
to offer a large reward, as money thus expended in suppressing crime
would not only indicate the determination of all good citizens to put a
stop to such outrages, but by impressing on the public mind the fact
that murder and assassination are amenable to punishment, tranquility
would be secured for the future, and immigration encouraged.
Lawlessness and crime must be put down by the heavy hand of justice,
and this can only be accomplished where all good citizens unite in a
determination to live by the laws and see that the same are properly
Homicides have become entirely too common, and it is high time that the
people wee awakening to the necccestiy of putting a stop to it by some
good old fashioned legal hanging. A stern public sentiment against
crime can only manifest itself by bringing its perpetrators to speedy
We clip the following from a later issue of the Sun and Press, and know
that many of the leading citizens of Hernando are morally convinced
that this assassination grew out of the previous Brooksville shooting.
We presume that author of the anonymous communication was deterred by
fear from giving his name. Nothing short of a thorough investigation
will satisfy the public in regard to this matter.
"We are in receipt of an anonymous communication from Brooksville
giving an account of the outrage mentioned in the Sun and Press
yesterday morning, in which Arthur Sinclair and Henry Loyd, tow colored
men, were shot and killed in Hernando county, recently, while returning
from church. Had our correspondent given his name we would have
published a portion of his letter, but since it contains some grave
charges, reflecting upon several parties, we, of course cannot give it
in our columns, without some responsible name to back its statements.
The unknown correspondent, however, makes one statement about which we
have corroborating facts, having seen the statement of marriage in the
papers, and that is that this shooting grew out of the fact that St.
Clair, who was a preacher, had officiated at the marriage of one Dave
James, a colored man, and Lizzie Day, a white woman, who are now said
to be in this city, whither they have come fearing assassination, an
attempt having been made upon the life of James, prior to the shooting
of St. Clair.
The people of Hernando were to have held a mass meeting to denounce the
perpetrators of this outrage, and we trust they will not stop until the
last one of them is arrested and punished. This will, doubtless, have
the active aid of Governor Drew, who will, we have not doubt, use all
the power given to him by the constitution and law to bring the
perpetrators of this deliberate murder to condign punishment. It might
must as well be demonstrated now as at any time, that Florida is
governed by laws, which must be supreme, and that she is abundantly
able to protect the lives and property of her citizens to the _____
corners of her territory. Let the citizens of Hernando lead off in the
matter and shield no one, no matter who he is or what his position, and
let Governor Drew back up their efforts with all the aid necessary, and
the murders can be brought to punishment and an effectual stop be put
to such outrages in the future.
Continuation of the Arthur St. Clair Murder
Sunland Tribune August 25, 1877
"Having been a resident of the county, (Hernando) for the past ten
years, and known personally and by reputation throughout east and south
Florida, I flatter myself that all who know me will believe that I
would nothing externate or set down aught in malice." T. S. Coogler
Will Mr. Coogler explain how he had been a resident of Hernando county
for the past ten years, and has been able to prove up a homestead in
Hillsborough county which, according to the official records of the U.
S. Land Office in Gainesville, he entered, or homesteaded (Dec. 2,
1868). Has ever built a house or cleared an acre of land in this
homestead in Hillsborough county? If so we defy him to bring forward a
witness to the fact. No doubt his personal acquaintance and reputation
became known and extended when he was standing for the State Senate in
1876 against the regular Democratic nominee Hon. John Henderson. When
he flatter himself that those who know him, will take his word for
gospel about the Hernando disturbances, he is egregiously mistaken. Was
it no externation when he speaks of Mr. McIntosh as "my clerk", and
fails to give the relationship that of brother-in-law, which exists
between him and Mr. McIntosh? Can his assertion make the distance
between two fixed points greater than it is and convert ten or twelve
miles at most into sixteen or eighteen miles, and make it extend into
the Southeastern portion of the county, the extreme point of which is
at least forty miles from Brooksville? When Mr. Coogler cracks these
conundrums, and establishes the facts, his credibility will be
established in the public mind, Not before, no sir, not before.
Did it ever strike our Hernando neighbors who "indignated" recently
against the Tribune, that there are many citizens in this county
settled up as they are? Even accepting the statements of those
interested as participants in the James affair, does not the threatened
violence which the county Judge and his friends apprehended would
befall James, conclusively show that a turbulent and lawless spirit
obtained extensively throughout the county?
Continuation of the Arthur St. Clair Murder
Sunland Tribune Saturday Sept 1, 1877
Editorial comment by the Paper
If any citizen of Hernando had taken it upon himself to criticise
publicly T. S. Coogler's whitewashing and prevaricating letter or the
panegyrics in behalf of Judge Center or J. M Rhodes and R. M. Wilson,
then we would hasten to acknowledge the error of our statement about
the people of Brooksville lacking the moral courage to express
themselves openly and freely in condemnation of the recent outrage in
the county. We know that many condemn it but have they taken the bull
by the horns as they should?
"RESOLVED That the criminal records of Hernando and the general
character of her citizens, will compare favorably with that of any
county in the State."
We have nothing to say against the general character of the citizens of
Hernando County, nor have we ever said anything against them. There are
plenty of good people even about Brooksville where nearly all acts of
outrage and lawlessness in the county have occurred, for , as is well
known such acts have not been perpetrated about Crystal River and Fort
Dade proper. But we would simply ask, have there been no hangings and
shots by night raiders in the vicinity of Brooksville, within the last
few years, of which there is no criminal record? Think.
Mary Tanner's statement as reported in the Key West Dispatch, is
published today. It is but just that this colored woman's version
should appear; and if what she says is true, we can understand very
well why she would not state the facts before the coroner's jury. While
we neither deny nor affirm her statement, nevertheless we are convinced
that it possesses sufficient intrinsic merit to justify the Governor in
seeing that a most rigid and through investigation is made into the
circumstances and antecedents of this diabolical murder. It is useless
for the relatives and friends of the accused to hold public meetings
for the purpose of covering this thing up and bulldozing the next the
grand jury. "Murder will out," and we have no doubt but what the truth
will come out about this one.
THAT MASS MEETING
These are the names of the twenty appointed to draft resolutions at the
mass meeting at Brooksville on the 11th ult. when the Tribune was
denounced for tell the "truth the whole truth and nothing but the
truth," as a citizen of that county has since assured me, S. C.
DeBruhl, Thos. Pinkston, C. Q. Nevin, Wm. Hope, T. S. Coogler, W. A.
Smith, David Hope, John H. Gold, W. R. Cray, S. E. Hope, Wm. Mickler,
J. J. Pyles, Cato Mills (col.,) Wm. J. Baker, Isaac Scriven, (col) H.
C. Tucker, (white) Dan'l Riggan, Henry Taylor, Henry Turner, George
DeBurhl is the law partner Coogler, and Coogler is the brother-in-law
of McIntosh. Wm. Hope is the father-in-law of F.E. Saxon, and James M.
Rhodes; while S. E. Hope in their brother-in-law. David Hope is uncle
to Saxon's and Rhodes' wives; and Pyles is a son-in-law of David Hope;
W. R. Cray is a brother-in-law of Wm. Nicks.
It will be seen from this that one half of the white men on this
committee of resolution are close relations of parties accused of St.
Clair's murder by the colored woman Mary Tanner.
No notice was stuck up about Brooksville before hand calling this
public meeting, but Judge Center had been riding over the county for
several days to get up his partisans. Most of the colored men were
bulldozed into it and one said afterwards that he took part in it for
the reason that he though his life would be safer if he did so. Some
few of the white men whose names appear in the proceedings were
entrapped into the thing, have gone into the Court House out of mere
curiosity. We have been assured by both whites and colored men from
Hernando and this in the presence of others, that is was not safe to
express oneself freely abut those murders. Now one will deny that
terrorism prevails extensively among the colored people in that county,
and that many of them contemplate leaving a country where they say,
"protection is afforded to dumb animals but none to them."
We are informed by an intimate friend of the editor of the Guardian
that he said he would not publish Coogler's letter as requested in the
last resolution, for the reason that "he knew it to be a pack of d----
We firmly believe that there are good people enough in Hernando to put
a stop to outrages and lawlessness, and this we expect to see them do.
A strict adherence to, and enforcement of, the law is the only cure for
the evils which now afflict Hernando County.
Just as the late strikes in the United States reflected, in European
eyes, on the whole American people as indicating that feebleness of our
system of government to preserve law and order, and to protect life and
property, so are outrages and acts of lawlessness occurring in any of
the counties of South Florida looked on at a distance as involving the
whole section, and, to some extent, the whole State. It is impossible
for us to wholly separate ourselves from our neighbors; and, to a
certain extent, are we made to bear with the odium of their misdeeds.
The history of the Southern States, since reconstruction, abundantly
demonstrate this fact, for let anything occur in Mississippi or
Louisiana obnoxious to Radical criticism, and we have all seen how
readily it was taken up and made to apply to the whole South.
Just so, then, do acts of lawlessness committed in Hernando or Polk
county affect the good people of Hillsborough in their disparaging
effects. It is, therefore manifestly to the interest of Hillsborough
county to see the same respect for law in their sister counties as
obtain throughout her border; and it is impossible for the people of
this county to be indifferent to what is calculated, if permitted to
continue, to result in serious injury to her prospects for a rapid
increase of population by immigration. What is true of this county is
likewise true of the whole State; and as in the latter resides the
central power, to it do the people look for a faithful and rigid
enforcement of the laws
As a corollary from the foregoing, it is easy to see how important it
is for all county officers to do their whole duty in executing and
enforcing the laws without favor, fear or affection. If the officers
have only the moral stamina to do their duties in upholding the
supremacy of the laws, there is no doubt of their always having a
sufficient following of good, law abiding citizens to give them moral,
and, if necessary, physical support. Let grand juries keep in mind the
important duties devolving on them as the body of inquest for the whole
county, and let them remember that crime overlooked or condoned is only
encouraging violations of law. All of us feel the necessity of peace
and security, and in Heaven's name, let all good citizens rise in their
might and put an end to every thing that can disturb the one or
endanger the other.
dia_olive_1.gif Nothing can be more painful to us as public
journalists, than to be compelled in the interest of justice and law to
ventilate the lawlessness which recent outrages in some of the counties
of South Florida, have demonstrated to exist. We do not mean, nor are
our readers to so understand us, as condemning the entire people of a
county for the lawless acts of a few. Our object has been to arouse all
good citizens to a realizing sense of the situation for the purpose of
the their seeing and appreciating the necessity of upholding the
supremacy of the laws to secure peace and social stability. Some may
say that by our publicity of these things we deter people from seeking
homes in this part of the State. Possibly this may be so, but would not
a still greater back-set be given to immigration should people coem and
after seeing for themselves, become disgusted with the social status
and leave. Such would not only report broadcast the facts, but, in many
instances, would so pervert and exaggerate the truth, as in the end to
do us a great deal more injury than can be done by washing our dirty
linen before the public.
Again, when is this thing to stop? Do we have any more guarantee for
the future than the past? Are wicked men going to turn Saints all of a
sudden, and stay their hands from murder? Will not good honest citizens
be compelled at length to violate the laws themselves in self defence?
Are not these assassinations likely to lead to acts of retaliation, and
thus will deadly feuds be kept up indefinitely to the grief and well as
injury of all orderly and peace loving citizens? These are grave
questions which every good citizen should take home to himself. It is
extremely dangerous as a practice to condone crime because its victim
may have been an obnoxious member of society in the eyes of most
people, because it is licensing crime and emboldening criminals to
persist in their career of lawlessness. Surely there are good citizens
enough in those counties the most flagrant crimes have recently been
committed to look at these things in their true light and when the time
arrives, see that the grand juries do their whole duty, and , that no
sickly sentimentality or profuse use of money can save the guilty from
deserved punishment. We have not the slightest doubt that our being
able to announce the fact, at no distant day, that the perpetrators of
the late outrages in Hernando and Polk have been brought to the bar of
justice and adequately punished, will do more to encourage immigration
into those counties and South Florida than volumes of mere praise of
the country and its productiveness.
Court House Fire
work in progress
Sunland Tribune, October 6, 1877
Another act of Lawlessness in Hernando - The Court House, at
We are deeply pained and profoundly regret to have to record another
outrage perpetrated in our sister county. Such, however, is the
legitimate fruit of such public meetings as the one held in Brooksville
on the 11th of August, when and effort was made to cover up a most
dastardly and recent outrage, and to condemn the press for giving it
About 1 o'clock A. M., on Saturday morning of last week, the courthouse
was discovered in flames in both the lower and upper stories. Some of
the citizens arrived about the time the flames were beginning to burst
out of the windows, and prompt efforts were made to save the records,
but in vain. Nothing was saved; all of the county records were
destroyed. Only through herculean efforts was the store of Mr. John
Hale saved. From the rapidity with which the flames spread there is
little doubt but that the incendiary made free use of kerosene oil. The
floors had just been carpeted with a layer of sawdust in preparation of
the expected term of court, and it is surmised that this offered a good
medium next the walls and partitions for saturation with the
A correspondent says, "It has created the greatest possible excitement,
and the highest degree of indignation is depicted upon every man's face
who had the interest of society and of the county at heart."
The object of the incendiary was evidently to prevent a fall term of
the court being held; and the inference is that he was well posted and
knew that the destruction of all the county records, and especially of
the registration list, would accomplish his purpose; for as the case
now stands there is not a registered voter in the county; and, in the
opinion of legal gentlemen, it is questionable whether court can be
held without such registration, to say nothing of the venire and other
It is generally conceded that the incendiary was a white man, and
already, we understand, suspicions are directed to a certain party, and
there is some talk of summary justice by Judge Lynch's code. We trust,
however, that wiser counsels will prevail, and that the present
excitement will not be intensified by any such violations of law which
cannot fail to lead to other outrages in illegal proceedings. In a
rigid enforcement of the laws all good citizens should look for their
remedy in putting down and stamping out every kind and form of
lawlessness. This is incumbent on all for the sake of example as much
as anything else. Once the precedent is established of redressing
public grievances by mob violence, there is no telling where the thing
is going to end, or in what outrages it will culminated. By all means,
then, let all good citizens unite for their mutual protection in seeing
the laws faithfully enforced and executed. Only by a strict adherence
to such a course is it possible for good men to avoid being misled by
the cry of "stop thief" from rogues. The "Mollie Maguire" element in
Hernando must be put down, stamped out, but it must be done by legal
methods and according to law; and the last outrage will doubtless
convince all good citizens of the fact.
Sunland Tribune, October 13, 1877
Fort Dade Steam Mill
Hernando County Fla.
September 29 1877
Editors Sunland Tribune:
Doubtless ere this reaches you, you will have been informed of the
great calamity which has befallen our county, in the loss of our court
house by incendiarism. Quite a number of citizens were assembled at the
mill this afternoon awaiting the grinding of their corn when a
messenger fro the Post Office announced the startling news. A silence,
as painful as that attending the presence of death, and equaled only by
the great sorrow which shadowed every face, as the truth of the news
was solemnly vouched for the messenger, fell suddenly upon us all.
Could it be possible? What unhappy creature could have been so lost to
all human feeling, as to perpetrate so foul a deed, so terrible a wrong
upon the people as this? At length, when language found terms of
expression, a general burst of indignation arose from that angry
company, and earnest hopes were freely expressed that the infamous
fiend, or fiends, as that case may be, would be detected and brought to
speedy punishment. Our informant state that nothing was saved from any
of the offices, the Clerk's, Sheriff's, and Probate offices were on the
ground floor of the building, their valuable contents are therefore in
ashes. Hernando county is well nigh in a state of chaos. Language
cannot adequately describe the feeling of those who have the good of
the county at heart in contemplation of this terrible misfortune. What
must be the feeling of those who had valuable records in the building,
the loss of which is to swell the measures of the regretfulness. An
unhappy fatality seems to be brooding over us. The last few months have
been fraught with calamity to the county from which it will not recover
for years to come. Our reputation abroad has been blackened by the
crime of others most abhorred among men, and the stain has been so
persistently spread out, that it is difficult for any one who resided
in the county to escape it contaminating influences - however innocent;
and yet to add to its sum and to complete our misfortune, the hand of
the incendiary must be put forth as if to fix our disgrace indelibly,
even by fire. What can we say to the good people abroad now? What
assurances can we give them, that we are, as a mass, a law abiding
people, and entitled to their respect and confidence? We can but wait
and hope, that the hand that holds the destinies of all men in its
palm, will vindicated the cause of the innocent, and bring to condign
punishment the guilty.
And while we thus wait and hope, we trust it will not be asking too
much of those who are at a distance from us to extend to us the common
charities of life, and in the benign spirit of that lovely principle,
hold the many blameless of those crimes which are perpetrated by the
few, and who do so. under cover of the shades of night, when we are
powerless to prevent them. Truly can we say, as was said by one of old,
"an enemy hath done this while we slept."
This disaster had brought to our consideration a matter which had been
in contemplation for some time, but until now has not been deemed of
pressing importance, viz,; a division of the county. I will not intrude
upon our time and space by referring to it at length. It will be
presented in due time and in proper manner, and the voice of the people
had up it.
Very truly yours
J. H. Wallace
Sunland Tribune, November 10, 1877
The Burning of Hernando Court House
A communication appeared in the columns of the Sunland Tribune several
weeks ago written by a citizen of Fort Dade, relative to the
destruction by fire of the Court House of Hernando county, - and it
rightly expressed the sad feelings that pervade the hearts of the
entire people. In contemplating the magnitude of the this important
occurrence, we must not for a moment suppose that "there is no balm in
Gillead." That the evil influences of such a monstrous deed.
perpetuated while we slept , shall eventuate in our flight, we say no.
That foreign opinion will not be too hasty in condemning the masses for
the act of one, we earnestly hope , for the act is not without a
parallel, though the records of our county lie in ashes. As Americans
we have the ability to wipe out the stain and build upon the ruins
thereof. But in order to do this we must pause upon the brink and not
leap head-long into the dark chasm that is before us, without a few
moments of reflection. Not as our fellow-citizen of Fort Dade
recommends - "a division of our county." This would only add fuel to
fire. The heads of her citizens could never rise above that drift of
approbrium by which they have been engulfed. The name of Hernando would
be thrown aside in dishonor, her people divided and disgraced, while
Hernando would be thrown aside in unity of action by her citizens may
soon recover from her present misfortune.
Madison Court House was destroyed by fire many years ago, which was
supposed to have been the work of incendiarism, as Negro stealer and
horse thieves were plentiful in those days. Now Madison ranks among the
first counties of the State. The greater the acts of lawlessness at the
time, the more united and determined the people were, - the result was
law and order prevailed. History points out to us as many places that
now retain their names and boundaries and returned to their former
greatness that have had their reverses. And why may not the name of
boundary of Hernando County fr upheld by the young men of her land who
are the master of the situation; and when the voice of their county is
heard, may not the prove recreant to that once honored name and
birth-place that gave rise for the cradle to the Senate, and not forget
the language of "one of old" - "United we stand divided we fall."
Thomas S. Winn
Crystal River, Fla.
Continuation of the Arthur St. Clair Murder
Sunland Tribune Saturday Sept 1, 1877
From Key West Dispatch, Aug 18 1877
On Monday evening last Mary R. Tanner the woman said to have been in
company with Rev. Arthur St. Clair at the time of the murder, requested
to see "a newspaper man," as she had a important tale to be printed. A
reported of this paper hearing this called on her the next day, when
the following took place, Mary asking "please be careful and write it
all down just as I give it."
On the evening of June 26th, at about 10 o'clock, I was in cmpany with
Arthur St. Clair, at Fort Dade, on the road, about 12 miles from
Brooksville. I was on horseback and he walking. We were on our way from
Chruch where Mr. St. Clair had officiated. I saw through the moonlight
a crowd of men (I judged to be about 20 or more,) approaching. They
were all on horses, and they all had guns. On passing us I distinctly
hear "that's him, that's him!" and one of the party quickly turned his
horse's head towards us. I got alarmed and cried out "my God Mr. St.
Clair! run, those men are going to kill you!".
Reporter - What made you think they were going to kill him?
Answer - Because sir I know them too well, and seeing them all with
guns, and often hearing threats before against St. Clair.
Reporter - Well, go on.
Ans. - By the time I told St. Clair to run, the foremost man said,
"halt!." George Cross is his name. He said to St. Clair "don't you
run," and St. Clair said "I am not going to run." Cross then cocked his
gun when St. Clair said: "hi! hold on! what do you mean?" He (Cross)
then rode back to the party who by this time formed themselves, (on
horses), in a circle completely surrounding us. Mr. St. Clair then
recgnizing some of them called out: "Mr. Saxton, Mr. Rhodes, Mr.
Center, Mr. McIntosh, Mr. Holmes, Mr. O'berry, let me talk to you; I
know you all." At this I noticed that they immediately drew their hats
over their faces. O'berry cocked his gun. St. Clair then backed towards
my horse. I sung out "O my God, Mr. Rhodes will you kill this poor man
after hiring him to come here to do your work." (I believe he was
running off some land for him and others.) They laughed.
Reporter - You say St. Clair calle the name you just mentioned, but do
you know whether they were correctly named or not?
Ans - Yes sir, I live in Brooksville, have lived there all my life,
that is I am now living at Fort Dade but we call it all Brooksville,
and kewn the men full well.
Reporter - Then you are certain these were the men?
Ans - Yes sir, quite certain, and other who I have not yet named. They
were William Nicks and Robert Nicks.
Reporter - Is this Mr. Cross a white man?
Ans - Yes ther were ALL white men and I know them full well.
Reporter - Well go on.
Ans - After some of them had laughed, George Cross levelled his gun at
St. Clair and another man who I cannot swear to also levelled his gun.
Cross fired and then the other man fired, but I don't think either of
the shots killed him immedidately as he started to run saying " O my
Lord I am gone." When they fired I saw the flash of a light blaze on
St. Clair's head. The whole party then galloped after him, and while
their attention was turned in that direction, I too the opposite way
and made my escape. I started on my horse but my saddle not being
girted I could not get along as fast as I wanted so I got off and took
my feet. I heard several shots fired in the direction the party took.
Reporter - Do you know anything about the killing of Loyd?
Ans - No sir, I didn't hear of it until sometime after.
Reporter - Are you willing, Miss Tanner, to go up to Tallahasse or
before a Court and swear to all this?
Ans - (Vehemently and striking the table with a clenched fist) Yes! I
will go anywhere ! I have already made an affidavit of this and hope by
this time it is in Governor Drew's hands.
Reporter - Did they hold an inquest on St. Clair's body?
Ans - Yes sir, and I was a witness but was afraid to call the name as
the greater portion of the jurors were the indentical men who murdered
the poor man!
Reporter - Why were you afraid?
Ans - Why? Do you suppose I was fool enough to leave my life in danger?
Repoter - If you had told, do you think they would have done you
Ans - Do I think? My God, don't ask me such a question.
Reporter - You think yourself at liberty in Key West?
Ans - Yes, anywhere except Brooksville.
Reporter - Say, Miss, you appear to be rather intelligent. Have you any
schools in Brooksville and di you ever attend any?
Ans - Yes sir, I am now attending a private school since Mr. Drew has
had the chair. I believe there is no money, but I can't explain why
they are stopped.
Reporter - Can you read and write?
Ans - Yes sir: here is an unfinished letter I was writing when you came
in (shows letter).
Reporter - How long have you been attending school?
Ans - Since the year after emancipation.
Reporter - Thank you Miss Tanner, Good Morning
Ans - Good morning sir. Please let have a couple of papers to send to
Reporter - I will.
portion of the citizens of Hernando county help a public convention at
Brooksville on the 11th inst. for the purpose of condenming the
newspapers that condemned the outrages recently committed in that
county. The resolutions wer particularly severe on the Tampa Sunland
Tribune and Ocala Banner. Against the outrages the convention had no
word to utter in condemnations; but instead, "resolved that the
criminal records of Hernando county would compare favorably with that
of any county in the State" which, if true, speaks very bad for the
State in general - Ocala Banner.