Jacksonville Republican clipping

Dublin Core



Moore, James Aaron; Meridian (Miss.)

Text Item Type Metadata


Correspondence of the Republican.



Mr. L. W. Grant,

Dear Sir: Meridian, for a few days past, has been the seat of most startling and tragical events. For more than 12 months, it has been evident that the citizens were subjected to many inconveniences, and annoyances arising from the utter inefficiency, and corruptions of a carpet-bag Mayor. One or two other extraordinary wicked white men, acting together with the mayor, and a number of fiends incarnated in negro flesh, especially one Rev. Aaron Moore, (black) Representative from this county, (Lauderdale) in the Legislature of Mississippi, were evidently misguiding the negro population, and inflaming their feelings against the whites. His excellency, Gov. Alcorn, either blinded by the false statements of Rev. Moore & Co., or influenced by party prejudice, persistently refused, though frequently memorialized by the best white citizens of the town, to remove the objectionable officers, or furnish the necessary protection of life and property.

Under these unfortunate influences, the colored population became gradually more and more insulting and defiant. The slumbers of peacable citizens were broken at all hours of the night, by the loud and repeated report of fire arms, occasionally the flying load rattling like hail upon their houses. In some few instances white men while walking the streets, were halted and fired upon. A guard of armed negroes were found of late placed around the colored church, indicating that some mischief was in contemplation. It was even dangerous for white persons to walk the streets, during the hours of night. A brigade of negro militia on Saturday, paraded the streets with drum and fife, frightening horses, and annoying the inhabitants.

On Saturday last, towards the close of the militia exercises, Billy Clopton, a notorious wicked wretch, 2nd to Aaron Moore, as a leader, became extremely abusive towards the whites, and declared that with one hundred men, he could annihilate a thousand white men - that the whites were afraid of the negroes, and he would have his way in Meridian.

Inflammatory speeches were made also the same evening by Aaron Moore, Warren Tyler and other negroes. Some spoke of the possibility of the town being reduced to ashes. About seven and a half o'clock Saturday night, the flames were discovered issuing from the roof of the store belonging to a brother of Mayor Sturges. They spread with great rapidity, soon enveloping the entire building, and communicating to the houses on either side. There being no organization for the purpose of extinguishing fire, the devouring element marched on despite the feeble efforts that were made, without any order, in the tearing down of sheds and roofs, and the use of buckets and blankets, until the entire block on Front street (10 or 12 store houses) between Lee and Johnson streets, was a mass of ruins. A few goods were saved, and through a merciful Providence the fiery element was prevented from crossing Johnson street to another block, and consuming perhaps one half of the town. The loss is estimated at about $75,000, $28,000 worth covered by insurance.

While the fire was raging, and while many colored men (to their praise be it spoken) as well as white, were doing what they could to check the flames, and to remove and save goods, the Bill Clopton was on hand "thanking God, that the rebel's property was burning," urging the negroes to cease working, and "praying that the flames would consume every building in the city." While marching up the street in front of the fire, pistol in hand, using profane and abusive language, gloating over the misfortune of the rebels, he was suddenly, and unexpectedly knocked down, disarmed and left to his colored comrades who carried him out of the crowd. About this time, before the fire was extinguished, the bell of the African church pealed forth the usual signal for the negroes to gather there. This proved too much for the already too long exercised patience of the white citizens. A company at once formed and marched to the residence of the Sheriff, where a tender was made of the posse, and a request for the arrest of Billy Clopton. The Sheriff sent his deputy Mr. Belk, in charge of the posse, and arrested Clopton, and placed him under guard at the Court House. (I here quote from the Daily Gazette.) "The turbulent threats of the negroes, and their white allies called the citizens together again; Sunday P.M., when 100 men volunteered to vindicate the majesty of the law, and put down lawlessness, no matter from whence it might come. The town was well policed on Sabbath night, and a strong guard kept over Clopton, to see that he was neither rescued nor molested.

The negroes did not carry out their threats. One squad of armed negroes was dispersed and sent home.

Yesterday morning (Monday the 6th,) there was an immense mass meeting at the Court House, to devise ways and means for keeping peace. The meeting was large and enthusiastic, perhaps five hundred in attendance, and all classes represented. The speeches were pointed and decided, but every one advised adherence to law and order, and the administration of justice to all parties. It was evident however that all the white men felt that they had been outraged, and refused that protection to which every good citizen is entitled. A committee was appointed to wait on his excellency Governor Alcorn, to lay the grievances of the people before him, and the causes thereof, and to request him to provide the citizens of Meridian, with a good, efficient and just executive officer acceptable to the people.

It was evident that the white people had determined, that, after trying every means to bring the law to bear upon offenders, and this failing, they would rise in their full strength, and check the mad and destructive career of bad negroes, and their white confederates.

But alas the tragedy does not end here. The meeting closed quietly, and every thing seemed to be moving in the right direction.

In the afternoon of the same day (Monday) while the examination of the witnesses in the case of the state, vs W. Clopton, and other negroes charged with riotous conduct, on Saturday night at the time of the fire, was progressing, an altercation occurred between a Mr. Brantley (white) and Warren Tyler (negro) who was armed with two pistols. Tyler stated angrily that he would impeach Brantley's testimony, when Brantley raised a cane and advanced towards him. At this juncture Gen. Sutten, city Marshal, caught Brantley and held him. While Brantley was thus held, Tyler drew a repeater and commenced firing at him. At the first fire Judge Bramlette (on the bench) was shot through the head and instantly killed. The room was crowded, and great excitement prevailed. An indiscriminate firing commenced, in which Bill Clopton (the prisoner) and a negro named Gus Ford were killed, and several persons white and black wounded. Tyler, after firing several shots, jumped out of the court room, on the 2nd story, and ran up Sydney street. The announcement flew along the streets, "a negro has shot Judge Bramlette." Stores were closed almost instantly, and in less than five minutes 50 armed men were in pursuit of Tyler, who fired a number of shots at those following him, refusing to surrender to the last. Taking refuge in a small store room, he was overtaken and instantly killed.

During the evening and night, intense excitement prevailed. Under the authority of the Sheriff, more than 100 men and boys were patrolling the town, arresting some parties, and giving notice to others, who had helped to stir up strife, to leave immediately, and disarming negroes. Aaron Moore made his escape. The notable Mayor Sturges wrote out his resignation, signed it, and asked to be guarded to the Railroad, where he took his leave of a town which he had been one of the instruments in bringing to the verge of ruin, and started on his way to his Northern home.

It is to be regretted that during last night, a rush was made upon a guard placed over three negroes, by 12 or 15 armed men, who had become desperate. The three negroes were taken out and shot; their bodies were found near town this morning. Thus one white man, universally respected, having been Probate Judge, and being Justice of the Peace, and six negroes, were hurried suddenly and violently into eternity.

The delegation has gone to Jackson to wait on the Governor, peace and quiet are restored, and the citizens of Meridian now hope for protection and wholesome Government.

Yours &c.


Large Fire at Meridian!

Number of Families Burned Out!

Fire the Work of Incendiaries!


Several Negroes Arrested.

MERIDIAN, 3:30 P.M., March 6.

A fire broke out just before eight o'clock in rear of the upper part of Theodore Sturges' store, Saturday evening, March 4th, and spread rapidly until the entire square was consumed. By great exertions of the people, favored by a perfect calm in the atmosphere, the fire was prevented from spreading across the streets.

The losses are Hurlbutt & Bro., partially insured, Theodore Sturges, fully insured; A. Schimpf, family grocery, no insurance; M. Roos, dry goods; don't know about insurance. The building belonged to J. W. Harvey, no insurance. The tenement house owned by R. B. McCaskill, loss about fifteen hundred dollars; insurance $800. Don't know about other losses and insurance. One bar room was burned, and five families burned out of homes. There seems to be no doubt that the fire was the work of an incendiary.

Dark suspicions are entertained as to who the guilty parties are. A committee of citizens are charged with the duty of working up the case and will report at 10 o'clock to-morrow morning. There has been no violence. When the fire broke out one prominent negro William Dennis, used incendiary language regarding it. He seemed in great glee at the prospect of great destruction of property, and did all in his power to prevent the saving of goods, and urged the negroes to shove them further into the fire instead of saving them. When the fire was stopped, a number of citizens assembled and waited upon the Sheriff, demanding the arrest of this negro and proposing to be his posse. The Sheriff sent his deputy, and a warrant was sworn out and Dennis hunted up, arrested and placed under a strong guard, where he now is. His trial will come off immediately. Everything was done in an orderly manner.

There had been a meeting of the negroes at the court-house during the afternoon, a few hours before the fire occurred, at which meeting seditious language was used by several negro speakers. Two more of these, Warren Tyler and Hon. J. Aaron Moore, members of the Legislature, were arrested to-day, and are now in charge of the Sheriff.

A mass meeting was held at 10 o'clock, this morning, to take into consideration the matter of preserving the peace of the city, lawlessness having become so alarmingly prevalent among the negroes of late. A committee of seven was appointed to go to Jackson and inform Gov. Alcorn of the true state of affairs here. The committee is composed of men of both political parties. A committee of safety was also appointed, with power to call out any necessary number of citizens to aid the civil authorities, when wanted.

An attempt to rescue Dennis was the programme of the negroes last night, but a strong guard of citizens and several squads of patrols made it the most quiet night Meridian has seen in six months. H.


Latest From Meridian.


The Murderer Riddled with Bullets

[Special to the Times]

MERIDIAN, March 6, 7 P.M.

During the trial, to-day of the negro Dennis for riotous conduct, a desperate negro named Warren Tyler, shot and killed Judge Bramlette and then fired into the crowded court-room. The officers and citizens fired upon him, wounding Dennis and killing another negro accidentally. Tyler ran into an adjoining room and jumped from the second story to the ground. He was pursued by the Sheriff and posse and killed, being riddled with bullets.

J. Aaron Moore, a negro member of the Legislature, was also wounded.

The whole town is in arms, but the excitement has abated.

Dennis, Tyler and Moore were notorious and mischievous characters.

Our contemptible little carpetbag Mayor has not shown himself since the tragedy. He has been the prime mover in bringing about the present state of affairs.

A strong patrol force will be kept on duty for the present.


Jackson, March 7. A riot occurred at Meridian, yesterday, during which Judge Bramlette, of the City Court, white, eight or ten negroes were killed, and a number of whites and negroes wounded.

A fire occurred Saturday night, destroying seventy-five thousand dollars worth of property. Loften, negro, was arrested as the incendiary, and was being tried before Judge Bramlette, when Tyler, negro, rose in the Court room and shot Judge Bramlette through the head, killing him instantly. A general melee ensued. Tyler and Loften were killed instantly. J. Aaron Moore, negro, a prominent politician and member of the Mississippi Legislature, was also a prisoner, as being accessory to the burning, was shot - it is supposed mortally.

Last night there was another fire, destroying a church and other buildings.

A meeting of the citizens was held and a safety committee to operate with the Sheriff in preserving order, was appointed. All is now quiet.

Sturgis Mayor, from Connecticut, who has been fermenter of strife in the town, took the North-bound train last night, promising never to return.

A committee arrived here this morning to confer with Gov. Alcorn in the matter.

The Legislature has been trying to evade the enactment of a law preparatory to holding elections this fall.

Yesterday, Governor Alcorn informed a committee that he would order an election for all offices to be filled under the Constitution, whether they enacted the laws or not. He also informed the committee that he would not occupy his Senatorial chair until the election would be held in November. By this bold stand, the Governor has shown his intention to work in the interest of the people, and not risk the State Government in uncertain hands making many staunch supporters, who a few weeks ago, were his political enemies.


Special to the Times.]

Meridian, Miss, March 8, 1871.

Three negro conspirators against the life of the Sheriff of the county were captured. Two of them were brought to town, but the third, the ringleader, is reported to have escaped. All of them lived in the country. Hon. J. Aaron Moore, negro member of the Legislature, hailed the Jackson bound train this morning fifteen miles west of Meridian. He was accompanied by a dozen negroes, but none of them got on board of the train.




Jacksonville Republican, “Jacksonville Republican clipping,” Mississippi State University Libraries, accessed December 2, 2023, https://msstate-exhibits.libraryhost.com/items/show/811.

Item Relations

This item has no relations.

Transcribe This Item

  1. Capture.PNG