Discover your family's story.

Enter a grandparent's name to get started.

a state:
Start Now

The Freedmen's Bureau Online

Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Tennessee
Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1869
National Archives Microfilm Publication M999 Roll 34
"Reports of Outrages, Riots and Murders"

Franklin, Tenn.
July 9th, 1867
House, Saml. S.
Affidavit before Esquire J. L. Burch, Justice of the Peace, in regard to the riot at Franklin, Tenn. on Sat. July 6, 1867

Personally appeared before me this 9th day of July 1867 Samuel S. House and having been duly sworn deposes and says

At about half past 6 o'clock p.m. on Saturday the 6th inst. I reached my office from the country (which office is near the Court House). I saw at that time a large crowd of persons in front of my office and the Court House being addressed by a colored man. Upon inquiry soon after my arrival I learned that the speaker was Joseph E. Williams. I went to and got up on the steps of the porch in front of the Court House. Stood there some ten or fifteen minutes, the crowd seemed to be well disposed and good humored. While in that position I saw Mr. John Bliss approach the court yard crowd outside the court yard, he seemed to be in conversation with a young man of color for a few moments. The young man and Mr. Bliss separated. The former came inside the court yard and went across the square in the direction of where it is said the Loyal League holds its sessions. Mr. Bliss walked down the pavement outside the court yard. I saw him speak to several colored men who also left in the direction of the League rooms. In a few moments the drums were tapped at or near the League rooms & the party there yelled. Instantly after the yelling about one half of the crowd left the front of the court house running in the same direction that the others had gone. In a few moments the head of a procession precedent by drums entered the square and were marching across the square in the direction of the Court House. Fearing when I saw the procession that there would be trouble, I met the procession about the corner of the square and called to them to stop if they pleased, in a few moments they did partially stop. I then told them my mission was peaceable one and that I wished them to go to the steps in front of Karr's shop, that I desired to say a few words to them. William Youngman, a col'd man, replied: they would go. We all then started in that direction. I was walking backwards with my face to the procession. We had gone a few paces when I saw Mr. Bliss in front of a squad of some ten or fifteen persons, whose gestations were excited and violent, pointing in the direction of the Court House. A pistol or pistols were fired in the air by some of the persons in front of Mr. Bliss. I heard some person in that crowd say: "Let us go for John House." They then yelled. That portion of the procession that was with me joined those with Mr. Bliss, some eight or ten.

The col'd people on the square were very much excited and many of them quite drunk. I returned to my office and found substantially the same crowd there that I left. I left that party at the Court House quiet & orderly and found them so. On my return I saw no disposition manifested or heard any language used by any person at the Court House that was violent or sitious. The procession then marched down Main street out of my view. In a few minutes they returned to the square with Allen Williams as I then believe and still believe conducting or trying to get them out of town. Knowing that Williams was for peace I felt satisfied that he would do all in his power to preserve the peace. They passed up Main street and I saw no more of them. I was told some half hour after they left the square that they had disbanded. Feeling that there would be no further trouble I rode home our mule in the country about dark. The negroes in the procession were generally armed. Some with army guns, others with pistols and many of them seemed to be infuriated. While I was with them on the square one of them that was very drunk ran up to me trice attempting as I then believed and still believe to shoot me. I spoke to him each time kindly as well as some others near me. Up to the time that I left town I saw no harm nor conduct nor language that was calculated to provoke a breach of the peace on the part of the crowd at the Court House but all seemed disposed to convict a difficulty with the League so far as I know or believe. A short time after my return to my office from the Square I learned that my brother Jno. J. House & John C. Bliss have had some words. I learned from my brother that he saw Bliss get the crowd started to the League room or in that direction, that he called to Bliss to stop the disturbance as he Bliss commenced it. Bliss told him that he House was a "liar" whereupon House slapped him in the face.

(signed) Sam S. House

Subscribed before me this July 9th, 1867
(signed) J. L. Burch, J. P.