Friday, June 7, 2013

The Murder of Francis Bartow Lloyd from The Greenville Advocate, September 1, 1897

I found these articles (all on the front page) in The Greenville Advocate while I was doing some research a few weeks ago. I have typed it and am sharing it because it's just too good to keep to myself!

From September 1, 1897 issue of The Greenville Advocate

A Shocking Tragedy
Hon. F. B. Lloyd
Shot Down in the Public Road
By Mr. John A. Gafford Who Had Been Impatiently Waiting for Him

Last Wednesday evening, as night’s shadows were falling over our quiet little city, the news of an awful tragedy three miles east of here was received. Hon. Bartow Lloyd had been killed by John A. Gafford. He had left the city less than an hour before and his friends who had talked with him and those who had shaken hands with him as he bade them good bye, looked aghast, incredulous. They could not grasp the awful reality. Frank Daniel and Earle Lewis were out on their bicycles; when near the home of the late Mr. Gus Gafford they were accosted by Mr. John Gafford who called to Mr. Daniel, asking if that was Frank Daniel. They stopped and he came to them saying: “Boys, I’ve emptied both barrels of my double barrel shotgun into Bartow Lloyd. He’s up the road; you’d better go and see what you can do for him; good-bye.” They remounted their wheels and soon reached the spot, less than half a mile beyond, where the dead man lay. There had been no witness to the deed, the two men had met and with the blood of one wiped out a bitterness that had come between them. A crowd soon gathered and carried the body to the home of Mr. Lewis, near by [sic]. The news spread like wild fire. In a short time messages were flashed over the wires and the next morning’s daily papers told of the awful fate of one of Butler county’s most prominent citizens. Sheriff Shanks and posse went out at once to arrest Gafford, but failed to find him. A pack of blood hounds was telegraphed for and arrived on first train Thursday. In the meantime a message had been received from Gafford to the effect that he would surrender if assured protection. Judge Gaston called a number of citizens together and they gave the pledge of safety and a fair trial to him if he would come in and give up. All day passed and still he did not show up. A large posse of men from Greenville, Ft. Deposit, Pineapple and the surrounding country gathered at the place where the murder occurred, having the dogs ready to take up the trail in case Gafford did not surrender. Messages passed between him and the posse, Neil Gafford coming to them from his brother. Some of the men grew impatient but others advised caution. So the hours dragged by.
Sheriff Shanks and deputy, Mr. W. H. Shanks and Mr. William Creech accompanied Neal [sic] Gafford finally, to Mr. Mat Hawkins, where the sheriff and deputy remained while Neal Gafford and Mr. Creech went to the hiding place of Gafford to bring him in. This took some time, as he was in the fastness of Pigeon creek swamp beyond the McKenize old mill, eight miles from here. It was said that this was his hiding place on a former occasion when his whereabouts baffled all the officers. The posse received word from Mr. Shanks about night to return to their homes, and he would come in later with the prisoner. At ten o’clock they entered the jail ward and John Gafford heard the click of the big key which shut him out from liberty and freedom, to await the action of the next grand jury.
            John Gafford is a Butler county boy, and lived in Greenville some years ago. Since reaching man’s estate his career has been checkered to the regret of those who knew him. For several years past he has led a quiet life on a farm about four or five miles from the city. It has been learned since the tragedy that Mr. Lloyd had been warned of impending danger, and had evidently feared trouble, for he was armed with a pistol when killed, though it had not been fired. Only two reports were heard by persons who were near enough for the sounds to reach them. Two ghastly wounds were in his body, one in the region of the heart, the other near the center of the chest. He was lying on his side, his face buried in the sand. Mrs. Joe Hartley, who lives on the hill to the left of the place where the tragedy occurred, saw Mr. Gafford just before the shooting took place, he having called at her home for a drink of water. Mr. C. H. Dees, who was working his field to the right of the scene, but nearer this way, also saw him pass up and down the road several times. Both heard the shots and saw the smoke from the gun. No one heard what passed between the men, if, indeed, there were any words.
            The body was not removed at once, some deeming an inquest necessary. Later on it was carried to the home of Mr. Lewis until a casket could be procured, when it was conveyed home. What sad home coming to the young wife! Mr. Lloyd had built a new home in a delightful location just opposite his father’s, and it was one of the prettiest places in the county. To those who enjoyed the hospitality of this home there remains the picture of a genial, big-hearted, entertaining host, a gentle, modest, refined hostess and four bright children, the oldest seven years, and the youngest four months old. Oh! The pity of it all—that the picture should be marred, and the beautiful home ruthlessly shattered.
            Thursday afternoon a large gathering of friends and relatives assembled to pay the last tribute to the deceased. The body was conveyed to Antioch church, half a mile distant, and the casket placed before the sacred desk. Rev. Mr. Ross conducted the service, after which the pall bearers lifted the casket and carried it to the cemetery, where friends of bygone days and those near and dear had preceeded [sic] him to their last resting places.
            Mrs. Lloyd’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Carter, of Butler Springs, also her brother and sister were with the poor, stricken wife in her hour of dire trouble.
            Francis Bartow Lloyd was born in this county in the first year of the civil war, and was named for General Francis Bartow, the distinguished Georgian who fell in the first battle of Manassas. He was the son of Dr. C. C. Lloyd; his mother was Miss Lee, daughter of the late Mr. David Lee, of Mt. Willing, a Baptist minister who was loved and admired wherever known. His paternal grandfather was also a minister, being one of the most prominent Primitive Baptists in this section of the state, and the compiler of a hymn book used in that denomination.
            Mr. Lloyd was a very quiet man but a man of great force of character. He had a fertile imagination and was a fluent speaker and writer. Memorial Day of ’96 will oft be recalled by those who heard his masterly effort on that occasion, and in succeeding anniversaries when dead heroes will be honored the “Sage of Rocky Creek” will be remembered and his untimely end deplored.
            Mr. Lloyd chose journalism as his work, and his first position was on the staff of the Selma Times. He afterward went to Montgomery where he served on the Advertiser. His facile pen made him an acquisition to any paper, but the close confinement was telling on his constitution, which caused him to seek the quiet of a country home. Six years ago he severed his connection with the Advertiser, since then he has been a familiar figure on our streets, his home being five miles east of the city. From there he has given to the world his letters under the non de plume of Rufus Sanders and the quaint characters in these humorous articles have become almost as old friends to thousands of readers.
            His last contribution was mailed the last afternoon he came in to the city, for it was on his return from the post office that he met his death. “Rufus Sanders” last copy has been set up, and thousands of readers, reading it, felt a pang of sincere regret that the pen of the gifted writer had been laid aside forever.
            Mr. Lloyd represented Montgomery county in the Legislature while a resident of that county, and at the time of his death was the Representative from this county. In 1894 he received a very large vote for Secretary of State, and was prominently spoken of as the next incumbent of that position.

“Rufus Sanders”

            The general sorrow that is felt everywhere over the assassination of Francis B. Lloyd, “Rufus Sanders,” is shared in deeply by many of those who toil at the State house; yesterday the sad subject was discussed in every office about the building.
            Most of the officials and clerks were wont to regard Mr. Lloyd as a future companion in the service of the State within the big white pile; they looked upon him as being, in all probability, the next Secretary of State.
            While passing through the upper corriders [sic] a reporter instinctively glanced into the deserted chamber of the House of Representatives, and instantly in the mind’s eye there appeared on the floor, the straight, lithe figure of one who in succession was recognized by “Mr. Speaker” as the “gentleman from Montgomery,” and then “the gentleman from Butler.” Vividly the mental photograph portrayed that lithe figures thrilling with the force of its own sound and honest convictions expressed in language that frequently have the index to his own manliness and sincerity, while the rugged face with its broad, high forehead, either bore the iron cast of serious argument, or else was as genial as a May day, dark eyes twinkling as he related an anecdote of possibly some bright saying full of quaint and homely philosophy from the lips of “old Aunt Nancy,” his child of fancy in the “Rufus Sanders” papers.
            But the chamber was empty; a great white vault filled with only memories; tombs of the past!—Advertiser


            A reporter of THE ADVOCATE visited John A. Gafford in jail last Monday morning about 8 o’clock. He was just getting up, having been awake most of the night before on account of the Sheriff’s apprehending that an attempt would be made to lynch him, (Gafford).
            The first question asked Gafford was, “Do you believe a mob would attempt to lynch you?” and he said “I do not, I have no fear of mob violence.” He was as cool and collected as any man could be.
            We then asked if he had seen Sunday’s Age-Herald with the article in it over his signature. He said he had not, but a gentleman representing that paper had called to see him, and he had given him a statement covering his side of the case. We then handed him a copy of the paper and asked if that article was satisfactory, as we had come to have a talk with him for publication on the same line, and if that was correct, and contained what he wanted to say, we would publish it. He read the article carefully and gave it back to us, and said that would do, it was all right.
            We then asked him how he was getting on since he had been in jail. He said, “Oh, it is rough, but I am getting on very well.”
Special to the Age-Herald.
            Greenville, Ala., Aug. 28—Two weeks and three days before the tragedy, I went to F. B. Lloyd’s house, accompanied by his father, who went at my request.
            I asked Lloyd about this talk about my sister and himself, and he denied that there was any ground for the talk. We parted in the friendliest manner, and it was agreed that everything should be friendly, but Lloyd was to so conduct himself that no further talk would arise. We were on a perfectly amiable understanding, and Lloyd spoke in the kindest manner of our old friendship and of our being brothers in the church. He and his father both invited me to remain to supper, but I did not remain. This was on Saturday evening.
            On the next Monday my sister went to Spring Hill church in a neighbor’s wagon along with his family, and the deceased went in his buggy and carried a young lady relative of his wife. He paid such marked attention there to my sister that general indignation was expressed by decent people who were there, and wound up by transferring the young lady who had accompanied him to the wagon, and taking my sister in her place, and coming as far as his house with her, a distance of three or four miles. The next day he and his father came down to where I was, and we had a perfectly friendly talk and parted so. I did not know anything about the church trip at the time.
            The day before the shooting my sister used his horse and buggy all day. The day of his death we met and I asked him why he had broken his agreement. We talked about the matter a few moments, when he suddenly drew a large revolver and I instantly shot him. He jumped up and fell out of the buggy, and I walked up the road about 100 yards and sent Charlie Dees down, telling him I had shot Lloyd, and to go down and do all he could for him. I also sent Claude Parmer and Earle Lewis down for the same purpose. I sent word by Mr. William Butler and others to Sheriff Shanks that I would come in and surrender myself in a day or so.
            The next day I surrendered to Neil Gafford, my brother, and Wm. J. Creech, they having been deputized by Sheriff Shanks. They delivered me to Sheriff Shanks at the house of Mat Hawkins, and we all came to Greenville.
            Lloyd has tried to frighten me out by threats sent by others, but I would not go. We were both cool and sober at time of the killing.
            Yes, Mr. Lloyd was a brave man. His nerve was better than his judgment. We never had any conversation that was not perfectly friendly in our lives until the time of the killing. At the time Lloyd paid a fine for me in Montgomery no cause existed as far as I know for any but the friendliest feelings between us. I had never had any hint of this until I was in Coalburg. I talked with Mr. F. H. Gafford, of Birmingham, on the subject, and when I came home I went to investigating. But everyone naturally kept what they knew from me. The Sheriff offered to take me to Montgomery, but I did not want to go.
            My conscience is clear in this matter, although I deeply deplore the necessity for this trouble. I am sorry for his widow and children. Mrs. Lloyd is one of the best women I have ever met. Had her husband not forced this trouble she would not have been a widow today. Had I not felt entirely justifiable, I would not have surrendered, as it was in no sense compulsory.


            Gafford has waived a preliminary hearing, and will await the action of the grand jury and trial in the court.


            Last Monday evening Sheriff Shanks rather than be harrassed [sic] by the rumors, whether false or otherwise, that Gafford would be lynched, carried his prisoner to Montgomery, and there placed him in jail. Messrs. G. J. Peagler, J. F. Brown, and J. D. Owen accompanied the Sheriff. A large crowd went to the depot to see the prisoner depart.



            About 9 o’clock Sunday evening, a young man came in with a note to Sheriff Shanks, from a man in the western portion of the county, in which it was stated that a mob was forming to lynch John Gafford. The sheriff immediately summoned a possee [sic], to guard the jail, and then visited his attorney who advised him to take no risk, and to telegraph the Governor ordering out the Grenville Rifle Company. In obedience to the Sheriff’s request, this Gov. Johnson died, and by 12 o’clock our military boys were on duty guarding the jail; but no mob made its appearance and the night passed without a ripple of excitement except that felt by the boys doing guard duty. At this writing nothing further has been heard of a mob, and the people generally seem to think there is no danger to be apprehended from one. There is, and no doubt there will be, rumors for some time that an attempt will be made to lynch Gafford, but it will, in our judgement [sic], prove as unfounded as was the rumor that a mob would visit the jail and lynch old man Atkinson and his sons some months ago.