Moore's Ford Lynching (Part II)

Part II – The Graves and Sites
From Moore's Ford Lynching

There then was a break from the action. They had made a decision to visit the graves of the victims and they were buried in three separate locations. The first stop was the Mount Perry Missionary Baptist Church in Appalachee, Morgan County. Here the bodies of George and Dorothy (Malcom) Dorsey were interred side by side. Most of the graves at the cemetery were simple wooden crosses, and when the Dorseys were buried they had the same. The Moore’s Ford Committee placed granite markers on all the lynching’s victims some years back. In front of George’s grave, there was a plaque recording his military service record, including the three medals he earned in service for our country during WWII. A prayer was said over the grave and we moved on to cemetery #2: Chestnut Grove Baptist Church in Rutlege, Morgan County, where Roger Malcomwas buried. Roger’s grave looked pretty much the same as the other, an elegant granite slab replacing the modest original marker. After the benediction here, we moved to another headstone, that of Lynn McKinley Jackson who died on August 8, 1982. Lynn was found hanging from a tree in Walton County, and even though most might think it suspicious, the local authorities ruled it a suicide. According to the GABEO leaders, they believe he was lynched as a result of his being involved in interracial relationships. After a prayer over Mr. Jackson’s grave, we moved on to the final gravesite.

The entire motorcade journey would wind up taking us better than 60 miles in total. The distances between the gravesites were the most substantial being 15 miles or better. The path to Mae Murray Dorsey final resting place took us through Hestertown. Hestertown, if you recall, was where Barnette Hester’s farm was and where the first scene was supposed to take place. Along the road, there were several old houses and barns, forming what might be almost a stereotypical idea of what rural country life in Georgia is like. The strange thing was the number of folk sitting on their front porches watching us drive slowly down there road. Many of them waved at me. This would normally be an endearing portrait of Southern warmth, if the fact was not known that there was little doubt someone from there either knew something, or knew someone who knew something about the unsolved murders. Were they greeting us or letting us know they had their collective eyes on us. It was an eerie experience.

Mae Murray Dorsey was buried at the now defunct Zion Hill Cemetery at 224 Alcovy Street in Monroe, Georgia. If you go to this site, you will notice a small office park with numerous small businesses. We parked there and in a field adjacent to the parking lot there were a fair number of graves marked with simply wooden crosses. We made our way down to the granite marker commemorating Mrs. Dorsey’s death. The marker has been place in the field apparently next to the grave of a member of Mae’s family because the actually grave is somewhere under the paved parking lot. A sad story true, but no more than the entire situation.

We then made our way to the Monroe Courthouse Annex IV at 203 Milledge Avenue in Downtown Monroe. In 1946, this building served as the jail where Roger Malcom was kept for the stabbing of Barnette Hester. At this site there were two reenactments. The first was of Eugene Talmadge’s stump speech taken from notes and recordings of the day. Mr. Talmadge had arrived in Monroe, two day s after the Hester stabbing. In this speech, he makes several references to purifying the Democratic Primary saying that black can vote in this election, but if elected he’ll make sure blacks won’t be voting in the next. The implication is that a racially inflammatory speech might have riled the mob into action against Roger Malcom. Some sources imply there was a direct deal between Talmadge and the Klan that their version of Justice would be permitted. The second reenactment centers around a man named Loy Harrision. Mr. Harrison had been George and Roger’s employer and apparently Mae and Dorothy were able to convince him to put up the $600 to get Roger out of Jail. Loy, pulled up in his car, along with George and the two women, and bailed Roger out. For the moment, the four were happy and filled with a spirit of reunion. They would work off their debt to Mr. Harrison and life might just return to normal.

But that brings us to the final reenactment, we drove down to Moore’s Ford Bridge. On the way, we saw the historical marker at the corner of Highway 78 & Locklin Road. Continuing down Locklin, 2.4 miles later we were at the bridge. The exact location is Mt Carmel Church Road, where the Appalachee river divides Walton and Oconee Counties. We had to walk about a half mile down to the bridge. It is now a concrete modern bridge, but at the time of the lynching it was a simple wooden structure. There is a signpost for Moore’s Ford Road, but there really is nothing there but a dirt path. At this place, the final confrontation was dramatized. For some unknown reason, Mr. Harrison decided to drive this circuitous route how with his four black travelling companion. We piece together the event of the day based on Loy’s testimony. First, armed Klansmen stop the car at the bridge, they pull the George and Roger out kicking and screaming. Roger’s crime was known to all, but apparently George had become to uppity after the coming back from the war or possible he was too friendly with white women. Mae recognized one on the armed men, and then the women had to be dispatched because they could have no witness. The four were tied together with a rope and shot over sixty times to make sure they were dead. They were then left in the field to rot. Hours later, funeral director Dan Young came to pick up the bodies for final preparation. Prayers were said and songs were sung concluding the reenactment.

Click here to continue to PART THREE

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