09 August 2010

Sketch of the Life of the Late Joseph Bond, Part III

[In 1872, thirteen years after the death of Joseph Bond, the following sketch was written as a "Letter to the Editor" to the Macon Weekly Telegraph by a friend of Mr. Bond. It is a very long article filled with much fluff I will break up into parts. It is an interesting read however, for a few reasons. The death of Mr. Bond was not natural, he was killed by an overseer from a neighboring plantation. This article tells of this incident while also speaking to the character of Mr. Bond and his relationship with his slaves. Go to Part I ~ Go to Part II.]

Macon Weekly Telegraph
24 September 1872
(Viewed online at GenealogyBank.)

Sketch of the Life of the Late Joseph Bond [continued, Part III]

He was brave and courageous beyond measure. He could not brook an insult, or submit tamely to a wrong, whether offered to himself or one of his dependents, and he at last, in the flower of his days and in the very prime of his manhood, yielded up his life for one of his slaves. Think of that, oh ye, who from ignorance or prejudice, could never believe there was any good in a slaveholder. Ah, those who knew nothing of that system of servitude, now numbered among the things of the past, never to be again revived on this continent, cannot understand how it was that master and slave were so closely linked together in the bonds of true affection, that one would lay down his life for the other. He yielded up his life in the field a few miles from where his family were then temporarily residing. He left them in the early morn, full of life, health and vigor. He returned to them ere the sun had reached the zenith, a lifeless clod, cold in the embraces of death. There is not an old slave of his now in life, though they may be scattered far from the "old plantation," but what remembers with fearful distinctness that terrible morning in March, 1859. They even now, never speak of their dead master, but with trembling accents of love and gratitude. The world should be again reminded of how he died, and what he died for. It is to rescue his name from oblivion that I pen this notice, imperfect as I know it to be, yet truthful what there is of it.

He had had in his employ an overseer by the name of Brown. For some cause, he discharged him, and thus incurred his enmity. Mr. Bond had a brother-in-law who owned a plantation adjoining his own ("White Hill") plantation. Mr. Beall, the brother-in-law, did not manage his farm interests himself, but entrusted everything to the overseer. Mr. Bond thought, that while Brown did not suit him, he would suit Mr. Beall, and in consequence of his recommendation, Brown was employed by Beall. Now, the "White Hill place" and the "Beall place" were stocked with negroes, who had been raised up by the same master, and many of them were related, and hence, Mr. Bond and Mr. Beall allowed them and encouraged them to visit each other, when time and opportunity permitted. After Brown took charge of Beall's place, he prohibited some of the Bond negroes from visiting with the negroes on the Beall place. Catching one of the forbidden Bond negroes on the Beall place, after he had issued this order, he gave him a severe whipping. As soon as Mr. Bond heard of the outrage, he rode over to see Brown and condemned his conduct in no measured or polite terms, informing him that it was his wish, and Mr. Beall's wish, that their negroes on the two plantations should visit; and that so long as they behaved themselves with becoming propriety, they must not be molested; and wound up by assuring Brown that if he ever whipped one of his negroes again, without cause of provocation, he Bond, would whip him. It is believed by those who were familiar with the fac's, that from that time Brown resolved that he would take the life of Mr. Bond. He knew, as well as he knew anything, that Mr. Bond did not deal in unmeaning threats or boasts, but that when he said he would do anything, he was certain to attempt it, and that he generally succeeded in what he undertook.

A few weeks after the interview with Brown Mr. Bond moved his family down from his Fowl Town plantation -- where they spent most of their time in the winter -- to the "White Hill" place. A favorite negro who drove a baggage wagon, which removed some of the household goods, on his return, stopped in at the blacksmith shop on the Beall place -- which was right on the road-side -- to get a drink of water. Brown being, at the time, some hundred yards off, started in a run as soon as he saw the wagon stop and the negro enter the shop, and reached the place just as the wagoner was returning to his wagon. In fact, I think the negro's statement was that he had got back to his wagon, and was in the act of driving off when Brown fell upon him in a fury, and gave him a terrible beating. This was done by Brown, no doubt, to induce Mr. Bond to attack him -- which he knew he would do -- that he might have an excuse for killing him, and thus evade the law.

The negro wagoner was whipped by Brown on Tuesday. Mr. Bond was absent from White Hill from that time until Friday. On that evening he heard of it for the first time. The next moring, Saturday, March 12th, he arose very early, and obtaining a small screw barrel pistol from his overseer, Mr. David Cheek, not longer than a man's finger -- the only weapon of the kind on the place -- mounted his horse and rode off in the direction of Mr. Beall's place. The encounter with Brown, we will relate in the language of the only white person who witnessed the homicide.

Wm. J. Sellers sworn, said: "Witness and Mr. Brown were together, saw a man approaching. On his coming nearer, saw it was Col. Bond; (they were in Mr. Beall's field) as he rode up Mr. Brown said, "good morning Colonel." Mr. Bond said, "good morning -- you are the rascal that whipped my negro," and struck him with a stick. The second lick he struck him, Mr. Brown either fell off or got off his horse, on the opposite side from Bond, and fell upon his knees and elbows. Mr. Bond got off his horse, caught hold of Brown, as he got up, pulled him down and struck him again. About that time, Brown called to witness to "come around there." Bond said, "no, stay where you are, this is our difficulty and we can settle it." After Bond struck Nrown the third lick, and as Brown was rising from the ground on one knee and one foot, he shot deceased. Bond, after being shot, struck Brown again with his stick, when Brown jerked loose from him and run -- he supposed about ten steps -- down Beall's fence, jumped over and run about fifteen steps into Walker's field. Bond followed Brown to where he jumped the fence and shot at Brown. He then turned and walked nearly to where witness stood, and remarked "I am a dead man" and fell. He then got up and fell again. Witness left Bond in care of Beall's negroes, before he died. Witness knew of no difficulty between Brown and Bond personally. Never knew that Brown had whipped one of Bond's negroes, until he heard Bond tell him so. Witness and prisoner were talking about the new ground, in which witness was then rolling logs. As Mr. Bond was riding up, and after Brown had said who it was, witness said, "he is a man I have seen, but never had any acquaintance with. I suppose he was once your master;" alluding to prisoner's having once overseed for Bond.

"As Bond rose up, Brown turned his horse around, passing Bond, so as to have Bond on his right hand. Brown's horse's rump was to witness. After Bond struck Brown on the ground, in the scuffle, both were down. Bond recovered first; was on his feet, but not straight when Brown shot. Brown drew his pistol with left hand from behind. Witness did not know he had a pistol until he saw him drawing it; did not cross the fence into Beall's field; saw Mr. Bond fall twice. Witness did not cross the fence because Bond had forbid him to do so; did not cross the fence because he was excited. Witness ran to the house to tell Mr. Walker. When they separated, Bond had hold of prisoner. Bond had a small hickory stick about two feet long, and not such a weapon as witness would think likely to produce death. If a man were to be killed with such a stick, witness would think it an accident. When Bond said to prisoner: "You are the rascal that whipped my negro," prisoner did not deny that he had whipped the negro. Prisoner said nothing at all. Immediately after making the remark, Bond rode up by the side of prisoner and struck him. Took place in Beall's field on the 12th day of March, 1859, about 8, or between 8 and 10 o'clock in the morning. (A stick exhibited to witness which he supposed may have been the stick used by Bond -- judging from its appearance he would think it was -- (a small hickory stick about two feet long and five-eighths of an inch in diameter at the big end.) When Bond struck Brown, on the ground, the third blow, he had hold of Brown. Witness does not thin, with such a stick, and in the position of the parties, a very severe blow could have been inflicted. As Brown jumped or fell from his horse his hat was about half off.

~ Go to Part IV.

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