Friday, August 07, 2009

August 1869: A Plot Foiled

After the Finlayson/Purman shootings, Florida's Governor Reed posted a two thousand dollar reward for the arrest of Dr. Finlayson's murderer. The leading suspect, Sergeant Thomas Bond, was supposed to have fled to Texas, but in August, rumors spread that Bond had appeared in Jackson County. Green White, a Jackson County freedman, decided to take advantage of Bond's return to claim the money. White devised a plot seemingly taken straight from the Bible. Bond was known to visit a house of prostitution on Jackson Co. side of the Chattahoochee River. White enlisted a woman at the House in his plan. On Bond's next visit, the woman was to grab Bond's guns, presumably while he was in a vulnerable state, and White, waiting outside the House, would then enter and seize Bond. White recruited two black soldiers stationed as guards at the Chattahoochee penitentiary to join this conspiracy.
The result was a complete debacle. Instead of Bond's capture, the attempt ended in the shooting deaths of two of the conspirators: Sergeant Sancho Turner and Green White, and the wounding of a bystander.
Despite the murder of one his soldiers, Malachi Martin, the prison's warden, feared provoking Bond and his friends. Martin tried to convince his guards to accompany him without their weapons to investigate and recover the bodies. Naturally, the soldiers refused to disarm themselves. Instead, Martin and a Mr. Sims hired the ferry to carry them and two coffins across the river. Martin found the corpses about twenty paces apart with their loaded guns at their feet. Because the bodies were too decomposed to be moved, he buried them where they lay. No one was ever brought to account for the murder of Green White and Sgt. Turner.

This account is adapted from my forthcoming narrative history, “The Jackson County War,” to be published shortly.