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In Their Own Words

April 01, 1839

Journal Entry on Feud

During her visit to her husband’s plantation on St. Simons Island, English actress Fanny Kemble Butler took a ride on this day. Her journey took her over a strip of land claimed by two adjacent land owners - Mrs. Margaret Wylly, a widow, and Dr. Thomas Hazzard. The dispute, which would eventually lead to Hazzard killing Mrs. Wylly’s son, had developed into a bitter feud, as evidenced by Fanny’s journal entry for this day:

“… While going along this delightful boundary of these two neighboring estates, my mind not unnaturally dwelt upon the terms of deadly feud in which the two families owning them are living with each other. A horrible quarrel has occurred quite lately upon the subject of the ownership of this very ground I was skirting, between Dr. H[azzard] and young Mr. W]ylly]; they have challenged each other, and what I am going to you is a good example of the sort of spirit that grows up among slaveholders. So read it, for it is curious to people who have not lived habitually among savages. The terms of the challenge that has passed between them have appeared like a sort of advertisement in the local paper, and are to the effect that they are to fight at a certain distance with certain weapons - firearms, of course; that there is to be on the person of each a white paper, or mark, immediately over the region of the heart, as a point for direct aim; and whoever kills the other is to have the privilege of cutting off his head, and sticking it up on a pole on the piece of land that was the origin of the debate; so that, some fine day, I might have come hither as I did today, and found myself riding under the shadow of the gory locks of Dr. H[azzard] or Mr. W[ylly], my peaceful and pleasant neighbors… .”

Source: John A. Scott (ed.), Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838-1839 by Frances Anne Kemble (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1984), p. 292.