Monday, January 04, 2010

January 1870: Closing the Circle

After the reimposition of order and the arrival of the troops, normal life resumed in Jackson County. The circuit court judge finally deemed it safe enough to travel to Marianna and Calvin Rogers, still in hiding, was charged with Maggie McClellan's murder. Aleck Dickens was charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact. Murder charges were also brought against Jack Myrick, who was safely far removed from Florida and justice. Judge Anderson's county criminal court charged Myrick with assault with intent to kill and resisting an officer. Billy Coker, long since disappeared, was accused of only assault and battery. Quiet was not complete, however, as evidenced by some unidentified gunman's taking pot shots at the guard posted in front of the troops' quarters and the unexplained murder of Lassiter Shadrach, an African American farm laborer, in December.

The Regulators still had one score left to settle. On January 26, 1870, Calvin Rogers was finally tracked down. "Several citizens" cornered him at the home of a black resident of Marianna. The Courier reported that Rogers "in attempting to break arrest was killed by the constable and posse." Thus, the life of Jackson County's first black law-enforcement officer ended in a vigilante lynching. No evidence was ever put forth to prove Rogers's responsibility for the murder of Maggie McClellan other than James Coker's claim that he recognized Rogers's voice calling "fire" in the darkness.

The same day that Calvin Rogers was slain, the murder that had initiated the year of terror was remembered in Tallahassee. In the Florida legislature, Senator Purman had introduced a bill calling for state financial support of Dr. Finlayson's two orphaned children. The state assembly approved the proposal and awarded John and Sallie Finlayson, sheltered by their grandparents in Mobile, a grant of three hundred dollars per year to be paid out for ten years.

This account is adapted from my forthcoming narrative history, The Jackson County War.

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