Sunday, October 11, 2009

Oct. 11, 1869: The murder of Samuel Fleishman - 140 years ago

During the week following his expulsion, Fleishman had not been idle. After being ejected across the Georgia border, he proceeded to nearby Bainbridge. There he encountered Marianna merchant Louis Gamble who, on his return to Marianna, reported that Fleishman had informed him that he intended to go first to Quincy and then back to Marianna. Fleishman traveled to Quincy, where his relatives lived, but he soon departed for Tallahassee.

Fleishman was undaunted and determined to return to his family, home, and property. He was next spotted at the Chattahoochee penitentiary where he asked Malachi Martin for protection. Martin responded that he had no power in Jackson County and advised Fleishman not to cross the river. Fleishman, Martin later testified, insisted that he must return to Marianna as "all he had in the world was there...his family,... his store and stock of goods and all his interests." The two men proceeded to the village where they learned that communication with Jackson County had been cut and all were afraid to go there except those who were "one of the white people who belonged to the party there." Disregarding these warnings, Fleishman set off for Marianna. After crossing over the Apalachicola River, Fleishman encountered Martin's employee, Sims, who stold Martin he had warned Fleishman that he would be murdered should he proceed on his route and offered to drive him in his buggy back to Chattahoochee. Fleishman insisted on continuing his journey. Sims was the last person to report seeing Fleishman alive.

On Monday night, Fleishman's bullet-riddled body was spotted about a half mile from the place where he encountered Sims.

The story of the Fleishman family in Jackson County ended abruptly at this point. Fleishman's burial site is unknown and the county records contain no file of his estate. Shortly after the murder of her husband, Sophia Fleishman and her children left Jackson County for New York City. Unconfirmed stories suggest that the Altman store was ransacked. A final inquest held two months after the murder reiterated the previous inconclusive verdict. Despite the extreme likelihood that Fleishman's slaying was an orchestrated ambush, no suggestion as to the identity of the murderer was ever publicly offered.

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