In Their Own Words
October 06, 1868
Threats Against Blacks Recorded
In Dougherty County, former slave James Roberts testified to officials of the Freedmen’s Bureau as to threats by whites against him and other fellow blacks:
“John Roberts, white, of Baker County, Georgia, about four months ago drove me from his plantation in Baker County, telling me that no Radical Negro could stay on his place and drawing a pistol on me with the remark to leave his place, never to come back and not to open my mouth or he would shoot me. Since that time John Roberts met in the road four different times and told me each time not to show my head on his place again or he would kill me. Mr. John Roberts, James King, Isaac Bronson and two or three other white men whom I did not recognize came to my house on the plantation of Mr. Musgrove in Baker County about bedtime on Sunday night, the 27th of September, 1868, called my name and asked me to come out. I saw them coming through the crack of the house and recognized those above named in the moonshine. They all were armed with guns and I, fearing to get killed, jumped out of a back window of the house unperceived by them. They went into the house and, not finding me, told my wife I must leave the county or else they would kill me. They immediately after coming out of the house espied me at a distance running through a field, pursued me very closely but I escaped them in the high weeds. I have been up in Dougherty County since, and I am fearful of being killed if I go to Baker County after my family, which I have not seen since Monday morning after this occurrence.
“Isom Ponder, a colored preacher who lives on Mr. James Porter’s place in Baker County, was, on refusal to come out of his house on the night of Saturday, the 20th of September, 1868, forcibly dragged out of his house by three disguised men and shot through his right thigh and left laying where he was wounded. I have seen the wound and heard these statements from Isom Porter himself, and Isom Porter is considered a leading Republican amongst the people of that neighborhood.
“Samuel Geder, colored, on James Porter’s place in Baker County, was cruelly and severely beaten by James Porter with a large white oak stick about as thick as a man’s arm and afterwards stamped so that he to be carried away from the spot to his house and spit blood several days. Dr. Han was called in, who considered his recovery doubtful. I was an eyewitness to the scene that James Porter done the beating and stamping, while James Whipcomb, white, of Baker County and Calvin Carvey, white, of the same place held him down on the ground by his head and feet. The difficulty arose about a quarrel between Sam Geder and James Porter’s children. Porter wanted to whip a child of Sam Geder, which Geder tried to prevent by trying to persuade him not to do so. Sam went to his house and was taken out the house forcibly and whipped as described.”
Source: Mills Lane (ed.), Georgia: History written by Those who lived It (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1995), pp. 225-226.