On this day (well, earlier this week) in 1897, the Weekly Banner shared this daring story of a six-person escape from the Clarke County jailhouse:
Physical descriptions of the suspects were provided in the paper:
John Spratlin is about 22 years old, 6 feet tall, weight about 180 pounds, ginger cake colored.
Taylor Findley, about 27 years old, 5 feet 10 inches, weight about 160 or 165 pounds, ginger cake color.
Linton Findley, black, about feet 10 inches, weight about 160 pounds, short beard on face when escaped, about 27 years old.
Robert Harris, mulatto, about 22 or 23 years old, thin mustache, right leg a cork one, weight about 130 pounds.
Henry Armstrong, about 23 or 24 years old, 5 feet 7 inches, weight about 150 pounds, black.
George Whitfield, very black, about 5 feet 10 inches high, weight about 160 pounds, 22 years old.
The escape actually occurred several days before, but daily papers from the week of the event are not available. Despite one of their escapees having only one good leg, the sheriff and the special deputized officers searched all night and found "not a clew," calling the escape with a saw "a profound mystery." The paper reassured its readers that "It is believed they will be captured...sooner or later."
By February 26th, the $25 reward offered for Armstrong, Harris, and Whitfield were withdrawn, but kept in place for the Findley brothers and John Spratlin. Linton Findley was later caught in Putnam county in March, where officers there collected a $175 reward (the $25 from Clarke and $150 offered by the state of Georgia). He was tried and found guilty of murder in April, and scheduled to hang on May 7th. There is no mention of his brother or the other escapees being captured within the next year.
- Weekly Banner, Aug. 1895 - Jan. 1897 on Microfilm in the Heritage collection.
- Athens Historic Newspaper Archive in the Digital Library of Georgia.
- I Am A Fugitive From a Georgia Chain Gang! by Robert Elliot Burns in the biography collection.
- Criminal Justice, edited by Phyllis B. Gerstenfeld in the Reference collection.
- The Writer's Complete Crime Reference Book by Martin Roth in the general collection.
- It's All the Rage: Crime and Culture by Wendy Kaminer in the general collection.
- Careers in Focus: Public Safety in the general collection.
- On the Run by Al Browning in the general collection.
- Most Wanted: A History of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List by Mark Sabljak and Martin H. Greenberg in the general collection.