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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
"Affidavits Relating to Outrages Mar. 1866-August 1868"

Nashville Tenn.
July 18" 1868

I certify that the following is a correct statement of the outrageous conduct as perpetrated upon the colored Loyalists of Giles County.

While at Connersville and engaged in teaching school I was visited by a gang of men in disguise who claim to be Ku Klux. They searched my valise, which contained miscellaneous epistles of which they possessed themselves. They then departed leaving orders to myself and other inmates of the Boarding House to not vote for Brownlow again or any other radical aspirant for office.

Soon after they returned and ascended to the top of the School House, which is located near the Boarding House, and ?preapitated there from the steeple and Church Bell. Shortly before the attack upon the School House they halted on the highway one Charles McClure (colored) and compelled him to take an oath that he would not aid or support any Radical ticket whatever. On or about the first day of June 1868 the colored people had assembled near Connersville in prayer meeting when they were attacked by the Ku Klux, the meeting broken up, and the leaders of the meeting taken out and severely whipped upon their bare backs.

On the 25th of June 1868 an order was found upon the floor of my School room warning me to not attempt to teach any longer at Connersville. On the 26th inst. my school term expired. I begged that I might be permitted to proceed with the examination and exhibition of the school as the session was so soon to close. On my effort to gain the assurance of those in authority at Connersville I was told by them that my school was outside of the corporation. Finding ourselves at the mercies of such characters I thought it best to close the school before sunset, but to our surprise, in the day, and before 12 o'clock N, a gang of white men, all mounted on horses passed by the School House uttering threats of their intention to visit the school at night. They made their appearance according to their promise. They found a crowd of adults, marched in solid column on the School ground, as for a battle, gave three cheers for Jefferson Davis, and three for the Ku Klux. After they done this they dismounted, told the col'd people to hide themselves, hunt their holes &c; the women and children became frightened at these unexpected guests, they commenced screaming and run.

These men were not in disguise at all, and some of the colored men to my astonishment made their appearance on the ground armed with such old muskets as were not yet stolen from them by this nightly Klan. The col'd men being well skilled in tactics surrounded their enemies, took them into custody, and would have marched them to Pulaski but owing to their pitiful begging for mercy and the intercession of some of the influential colored men and their promises to disturb them no more if they were allowed to go at liberty.

On the night of the 27th inst. the colored people met at their School House, being the regular night for the colored "Debating Club" to meet, when they were waited upon by the following named white citizens of Connersville, Ferris Baird, Dr. Jones, Parson Hensley, Willis Walden and James Jarrett, and were told to disperse the meeting, that they were the friends of the colored people, and that there were in town a great many armed men who intended mischief, and if they (the col'd people) would disperse and go home it would be best for the community. The colored people being desirous of peace heeded the admonition and went home.

I omitted to state that after the release of those captured on the night of the 26th inst. they managed to get into the rear of the colored people and fired into them, fortunately no one was hurt. The white people of Connersville thinking it would not do for the colored people to protect themselves in the way they did, they (the whites) held a meeting, passed a resolution &c. but not one of the names of white Loyalists was attached to these resolutions.

On the night of the 4th of July they turned out with shot guns, revolvers, clubs &c., they met at the house of Milton Burks (col'd) and shot him dead. The following Monday night they visited my Boarding House and called for me, but they were too late, for a friend of mine had informed me of what was said concerning me. They said that I was implicated in admonishing the col'd people to insurrection against the whites, which is a gross falsehood. There are in this city several colored men whose lives have been threatened by these same men. Most of them have left their families and come to this city. They all will certify to the truth of my statement. If we can get any assurance for the protection of our lives, it would be a high and grand favor conferred upon suffering humanity. These colored men who have fled are in this city without food or means of support.

Respectfully Submitted by

Signed: G. J. Bowles

Attest: G. W. Walter