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The Colfax chronicle. (Colfax, Grant Parish, La.) 1877-1981, May 25, 1912, Image 1

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Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88064176/1912-05-25/ed-1/seq-1/

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Absorbed the GRANT PARISH DEMOCRAT May 1, 1900
A Dcmoc;,tic ournal, devotcd to Local and m(cnral Newo, Litcraturc, Scicncc, lgriculturc, 6tc.
A History of the Colfaxl Riot
Correcting the Misstatement that it Was a "Massacre"
of Innocent Negroes by Whites Without Cause or
Any Grounds or Warrant of Justification.
[From The ('olfax (La.) Chronicle. Juae . It82.]
The following account of the Colfax
riot contains such a glaring misstate- e
ment of some of the occurences on I
that memorable Easter Sunday of April I
13, 1873, and does such injustice to a J
majority of the whites who took part t
in that unfortunate conflict, that, for I
the purpose of correction, we publish I
the article entire. It is from the N. O.
Mascot of May 27, 1882: -
During the summer of 1873, in the
town of Colfax, parish of Grant, the s
nation was thrilled by one of the most t
frightful massacres ever recorded in
the annals of this State. I
According to the published state
mente of the time, a negro ring leader, i
named Ward, undertook to take forci
ble possession of the parish offices of
Grant, and install negro incumbents, t
claiming to be elected in opposition to
Judge Rutland, dnd other white parish c
officers who held commissions from
W. P. kellogg, then Governor of Lon
The testimony elicited at the trial of t
the case, before the U. S. District
Court in this city, was to the effect,
that Ward and a gang of negroes claim
ing to be legally elected officers of i
Grant parish, after taking forcible poe- r
session in several instances, were fin
ally driven by the infuriate whites, into
a building, formerly a sugar house in ý
the town of Colfax, which was then !
used as a court house. This edifice I
was surrounded and fired by the whites, t
and the negroes who attempted to es
cape, were at once seized, and stood in t
a long line, each being securely pin
ioned. After remaining in standing i
position several hours the signal was at
last given, and the massacre commenc
ed. The row of negroes were shot to '
pieces where they stood, and the t
slaughter becoming general, negroes s
throughout the parish were shot on
sight. If the writer be not mistaken
in the summary, one hundred and t
twenty dusky corpses in one heap, told d
the dismal story, and for days together, t
the birds of prey in the parish feasted
upon negro carrion. The individual
directly responsible for this horrible l
butchery whose fiendish brain conceived t
the murder, and who, with deliberate
deviltry, carried it into execution, is a
person named to The Mascot by aIt
prominent Republican, who makes not l
the slightest objection to the use of his c
name, and expressed to The Mascot his i
entire willingness to testify under oath,
to the exact truth of the revelation he'
is about to make. To quote substanti- a
aly the gentleman's very words, he c
"One day in the spring of 1873, I
was sitting in the office of W. P. Kel- I
log, Governor of Louisiana, when I
Ward, a colored member of the Legis- t
lature, and a colored political leader
in Grant ~rlsh, entered the Governor's 1
ellae, ih the commissions of the i
u s a/d Republicanparish officers, I
just been received from the i
ofce of the Secretary of State. I
heard W. P. Kellogg. direct Ward to
deliver those commnassons to the parties I
designated, in person, and say to each i
of them that he, Kellogg, expected I
them to take possession of their offies, I
and exercise their fullest functions,
even if in exerting their authority it '
were necessary to resort to violence. I ý
heard Ward ask Kellogg, if he were
authorised to tell these men that they I
would be sustained by' the Executive
of the State, and Kellogg replied, "If 4
necessary I will sustain them with the 1
entire militia force under my com
mand.' Ward had scarcely left, when
Judge Rutland, parish judge, and the
Democratic leader in Grant, made his I
appearance in the Governor's office.
He also had an entire set of commis
sions issued to white Democratic of
ficers of Grant parish. Kellogg inti
mated, in unmistakable language, to
Judge Rutland, that the Democratic
party claimed a majority of the votes
cast m Grant, and that he had com
mispioned them baut that their ability
to retain the ofices would depend upon
their exhibition of pluck. Feeling sat
isfied that a fearfual conflict of races
was about to be precipiated, I called
at the office of the Secretary of State,
and discovered that two sets of com
missions, one Democratic, and the other
Republican, had been iasued for the
parish of Grant. When W. P. Kellogg
was expostulated with upon this exbi
bition of treachery, be remarked sen
tentiously: "We must burn a little
powder, and spill a little blood. 'The
blood of the martyr is the seed of the
Schurch;' and my government has not
been recognised at Washington."
The statement of the Mascot, in re
lation to Kellogg's commissioning two
sets of officers for Grant parish at one
and the same time, with the view of
preciptating a conflict between -the
races, is correct in the main, being
well known to hundreds of living wit
nesses, and can be abundantly sub
The first misstatement of the Mascot
is in speaking of Judge Rutland as the
parish judge, and designating him as a
Democratic leader in this parish. Judge
Rutland was a Republican, not a Demo
crat, and at that time was simply a
lawyer practicing his profession, and
held and laid claim to no oaie what
ever. The contestants for the Judge- t;
ship at the time of the riot were Judge t'
A. Cazabat, Democrat, and Shep. Wil- b
liams, Republican. In the controversy,
Judge Rutland, who sympathized with [
the whites, made a visit to New Or- t
leans in their behalf, as stated by the "
Mascot. After the riot Rutland aban- o
doned the Republican party and became
a Democrat. a
The second, most glaring and unjust V
statement, is as to the manner in which a
the negroes were killed. In order to t
put our account of this affair in a con- n
nected shape, we will rehearse all the h
important occurences of the day and of c
a few days previous. To begin with, b
the condition of affairs were about as p
stated by the Mascot, namely, twosets a
of officers, one Democrat, the other c
Republican, held Kellogg's commissions, I
and had been instructed by him to hold "
their places by force ifnecessary. The P
whites sectred possession first, and °
were soon driven off by a mob of ne
groes, who installed their oicers. A b
meeting of the whites (Democrats) h
was called for the first day of April, to v
assemble at Colfax, to consider the n
propriety, and the best measures to
pursue, in order to gain possession of ý
the parish government. The negroes,
to the number of two hundred or more, -
assembled at Colfax early on the morn
ing of the Afirst. They were nearly all
armed, and exhibited their weapons
with such freedom and made suchopen
threats of violence in case the whites
attempted to hold their meeting, that, t,
although a large numberof whites came c
to town to attend the meeting, it was a
deemed best not to assemble. This se- Ii
tion of the whites seemed to give the E
negroes greater confidence and they r
began to boast and make direful threats
that they would kill all the white men f
and take the women and raise up a new f
people. In the next four or five days °
several hundred negro men, women and t
children gathered at Colfax, all making a
the most terrible threats and conduct- f
ing themselves in such an insolent t
and violent manner that the whites be- n
came terrorized and fed from their I
homes under cover of night. The ne- v
groes finding the houses vacated broke
them open and took possession, rifling a
the stores and residences of everything
in them. Their acts of vandalism dur- a
ing these days of terror almost beggar t
description. In the house of Judge t
Rutland they found a coffin containing e
the remains of a child, awaiting trans- I
portation, which was ruthlessly thrown I
into the yard, face downward, and the I
lid broken nearly off. Among the eats- I
logue of crimes committed by them t
was robbery, rape, and murder. The I
whites were terror stricken and the I
alarm spread into adjoining parishei
like wild fire. The call of the eitisens <
of Grant parish for help was responded
to by the adjoining parishes, who sent ý
about two hundred men to their assist- I
ance. These men encamped within two I
miles of Colfax on the 5th of April, I
and a demand was made on the negroes I
to disband and give up the offices and
records of the parish then in their poe
session. This they refused to do, and
set to work throwing up breastworks, I
saying they proposed to fight it out 1
Capt. C. C. Nash, who is at this time I
a resident merchant at Colfax, was the
acknowledged leader of the whites, be
ing the sherif elected by them, and he
made repeated demands for the negroes
to disband or he would attack them and !
drive them away by force. Day after I
day the same demand was made and I
refuse8. Thus things went on until 1
-the morning of Easter Sunday, April
18th, 18718, when the negroes were
notified to disperse, or else to remove
thei children, as an attack would be
made on the breastworks. The negroes
- sent off their women and children and
a manned their fortifications. The two
a opposing foreeswer. somewhat reduced
f in numbers, owing to the fact that the
e attack had been delayed so long they
Sthought there would be no fght, and a
- large number of men had left and gone
- home. At the time the fight com
menced, a little after 10 o'clock a m.,
t there were about 150 white men, some
a 25 of whom were kept detailed to hold
a the horses, and about 250 negroes be
e hind the intrenchments. A kind of
- skirmish was kept up all day until
a about 8 o'clock in the evening, when it
i was decided to send a sort of "forlorn
hope" of thirty m along the river
bank, who were to creep up until they
got behind the breastworks, then to
raise up and open fire on the negroes
in the rear. This was to be the signal
for those in front to charge to their
rescue. These thirty men were led by
Mr. James Daniels, a resident of this
parish until two years ago, when he re
moved to Rapides parish, where he
now resides. The most of the men
who accompanied Mr. Daniels were
Grant parish men, and a large propor
tion of them were of the citizens living
in the Rigolet neighborhood. While
they made their way along the river
bank those in front kept up a constant
fire to divert their attention away from
them. So successful was this storm
ing party that the negroes had no idea
of their approach until they opened fire
on them in the rear at a distance of
about one hundred yards. At the first
volley they were seized with a panic
and broke to run, the most of them
taking the road down the river and
making good their escape. About one
hundred negroes took refuge in the
court house, a stout two story brick
building, formerly used on the Calhoun
plantation for a stable (and never used
as a sugar house as stated by the Mas
cot). From this building they kept up
a constant fire, wounding three white
men in the meanwhile. The only ap
proach to the building was at one end
in which there were no openings. The
whites made a torch of oil and other com
bustible material, and, putting it in the
hands of a negro prisoner (alive at this
writing) compelled him to set the cor
ner eaves on fire. The wind being from
that direction the flames commenced to
spread immediately. The negroes at
tempted to punch off the burning shin
gles, but by keeping up a regular fusi
lade on the burning spot they were
forced to desist. In a few minutes
flags of truce were rub out at various
windows. The firing ceased the minute
it became known the negroes desired
to surrender. Right here the negroes
committed one of the most dastardly
acts of treachery ever perpetrated by
Sends in human shape. Mr. James
Hadnot, a gray-headed, venerable and
respected citizen of this parish, ddsir
ous of allowing the negroes to escape
from the burning building, rushed up to
the door in company with five or six
other white men, in order to make
terms of capitulation as quiclky as pos
sible. When they got within a few
feet of the door, a volley was fired at
them from the inside of the building,
mortally wounding Mr. Hadnot, Frarik
Moses and Sidney Harris, and slightly
wounding two others of the party.
After this act of treachery the negroes
attempted to escape in the confusion
F'that ensued. The whites were enraged
at the perfidy of the negroes, and, as
they rushed out of the building, shot
them down like dogs; and those that
escaped the first fire were ridden down
in the open fields by men on horseback
and shot without mercy. Notwith
standing this fearful carnage, some 40
prisoners were taken by those disposed
to be more humane. At 4 o'clock all
firing had ceased and the whites were
masters of the situation. The prison
ers were marched into the back yard
of a residence, so they would be con
venient to a cistern of water. They
were not bound, nor was even a guard
set over them longer than one hour,
after which they might have gone with
out let or hindrance, had it not been
for fear of incurring the displeasure of
their captors. The wounded whites
were taken into the house, so as to be
convenient to the same cistern to which
the negroes had access. There was a
general disbandment of the whites,
many of whom went home thinking all
wis over. About dark the steamboat
Southwestern came down the river and
landed at Colfax, taking Mr. Hadnot,
who was then in a dying state, and
other seriously wounded whites, on
board. While this boat was at the
landing a number of the whites drank
pretty freely and became intoxicated.
Among them were the sons,, relatives
and warm sympathizers of Mr. Jas.
HIadnot. After the boat wasgone, and
nearly all of the sober and imnfential
men had lain down to sleep, these prties,
all of whom were young, reckless and
irresponsible men, determined to go to
the yard where the negroes were, and
kill the last one of them in revenge for
the dastardly murder of Mr. Hadnot
and those with him who were shot
down under the flag of truce. About
10 o'clock at night, and before any one
was aware of their intention, they
opened fire on the defenseless negroes,
who broke and ran in all directions.
Of the forty negroes in the yard about
twenty were killed, the balance escap
ing under cover of the darkness. In
all there were some ninety-five negroes
killed. All the negro bodies that had
not been removed by their friends or
Isn't It a Fact?
That until we opened for business about eight months ago, you paid from 6c
to 7 1-2c a yard for calico, and everything else in proportion? Calico costs
just as much now as it did then. Why did the price go down to 5c a yard?
The Peoples' Cash Store Put the Price Down
Some of the other stores followed. Now, don't you believe that if we wer'e to
go out of business that calico would go back to 7 1-2c? Of course it would.
Now who is entitled to the business? The store that puts the prices of
goods down to the minimum, or the store that is forced to make prices to
meet competition in order to hold their customers?
In the face of these facts, don't you think we are entitled to your business,
even if other stores would make you the same prices? If they can sell you
calico now for 5c and make a profit, they could eight months ago? Bat, why
didn't they do it?
15 pounds sugar........ ........... 1 pound Star tobacco ...............................45
20 pounds rice (good Jap) ........... ......... Bet calico, per yard ....................................
Fancy full head rice ..................... .......... 12c ginghams .......................................
16 pounds black eye peas................... Spairs ldies' hose ...................................5
17 pounds Navy beans........ ....$1 No. 80 ribbon, all colors, yards............
Spackages Post tosties.......................... e Ldie' night gowns, 71 ·nd.............. $1.
2 cans American lye .................................15e Ladies' union sit., 265, and..... .....s a
7 bars Swift Pride soap .......... _.............. 10-4 sheeting, bleasched and unblesbched ....:
S boxes matches................................. Genuine Guyot suspenders...........5.
6 gallons coal oil.................... 56.... 5 W e's nd 's .....pp ......
a gý Yen's dress pents, full and medimm ý
10 pounds cottolene............... ..... pegs, very stylish, $2 to...... ............
2 cas Californi peaches....................35 Mosquýito bars, ready made, fll se, m·ge
Our method of selling for CASH ONLY makes it
possible for us to under sell others
Peoples Cash Store
W. B. Strother, Mgr.
Railroad Avenue Colfax, Louisiana
relatives were buried on Tuesday, be
ing placed in the ditch which they had
dug in making their fortificat ons, and
covered with dirt taken from the em
bankment. No birds of prey feasted
on their carcases before they were
One remarkable feature of the fight
was that'there was not a solitary white
I Republican with the negroes when the
fight came off, - while only the day be
fore they had with them Harvey,
I Payne, Shaw, Terry and one or two
other white wretches who helped to
agg on the terrible contest between the
Sraces. They all took good care to save
their own bacon.
The foregoing is a condensed account
of the "Colfax riot," which we have
gathered from eyewitnesses. We hope
the Mascot and other papers will do
our people the justice to give publicity
I to this account, which we vouch for as
being truthful in every particular.
What Txaas Admire
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gy into a person. Wife and I believe
ý they are the best made." Excellent
for stomach, liver or kidney troubles.
1 26 cents at all druaaists.
•# I Jrir r _iiA7
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