Looking Back. Way Back.

June has come and gone, and July is passing swiftly.  This year we celebrated another Father’s Day.  My mom went home to be with the Lord almost 5 years ago, but dad is 87 and still going strong and we are all very thankful he has seen another year come and go.  My oldest son celebrated his first Father’s Day this year too and we are hoping for many more beautiful, healthy, happy grandchildren.  For today’s post, I want to share a story about my great grandpa’s brother, Columbus W. Jones, who was inducted into the SC Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame.  The story posted on their Facebook page today and I will share it below, exactly as it was written…

SC Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame

Pickens County Magistrate’s Constable Columbus W. Jones

End of Watch:  July 7, 1904


Columbus W. Jones was born on September 30, 1879, in Pickens County to Zachariah Taylor Jones and Susan Whitmire Jones.  He grew up on the family farm near Easley with a sister, Tammie, and two brothers, Taylor and Homer.  After his mother died in 1886, his father married Martha Alice Skelton and together they had five more children.  Columbus never married.

Around 1900, Columbus Jones started working as a Constable for Pickens County Magistrate J.M. Jamison.  On July 7,1904, Magistrate Jamison issued a warrant for Henry Jones, charging him with “Violating a Written Labor Contract”.  Constable C.W. Jones was appointed to execute the warrant.  Constable Jones took three other men to assist in serving the warrant, Robert W. Miller, W. C. Seay, and L. K. Couch.  At around 11:00 o’clock that night, the posse went to the home of Henry’s mother, Mary Jones, about six miles from Easley, near Kays Mill.  Constable Jones and Robert Miller approached the house while Seay and Couch waited by the road.  Constable Jones called to Henry from the porch, asking him to come out.  Henry knew that there was a warrant out for him and he had been dodging the law.  Couch moved up to watch the back door, as Constable Jones continued to talk with Henry through the front door.  Henry threatened to shoot if anyone came inside.  Constable Jones continued to talk Henry into coming out.  When he pushed on the door, Henry pulled it open and shot Constable Jones.  Constable Jones said, “Oh Lord, I’m killed,” as he fell on the porch.  Inside, Henry was reloading, as Couch ran around to the front.  Henry slipped out the back door and fled into the darkness.  Constable Jones was carried by Miller and Couch away from the house and laid on the ground.  He died about 15 minutes later.  Magistrate’s Constable Columbus W. Jones was twenty-five years old.

The two women in the house, Henry’s mother, Mary and his grandmother, Dilly Wells, were arrested and charged as accessories. 

At the inquest on July 8, the Coroner found that Constable Columbus Jones came to his death by a gunshot wound, at the hand of Henry Jones.

On July 9, at 11 o’clock in the morning, funeral services were held for Pickens County Constable Columbus W. Jones at Cedar Rock Baptist Church, and he was buried in the church cemetery.

Columbus W. Jones Tombstone at Cedar Rock Baptist Church Cemetery

Henry Jones was arrested in Spartanburg County and held at the County Jail.  On July 18, the Pickens County Grand Jury indicted Henry Jones for the murder of Constable Columbus Jones.  The charges against Mary Jones and Dilly Wells were “no billed”.  After the indictment was issued, Henry Jones was transferred to the Pickens County Jail.

Over 2,000 people showed up for the trial at Pickens County Courthouse, on July 25th.  The Dispensary was closed before and during the trial, so “there was no whiskey to be got in the county”.  Solicitor Julius E. Boggs prosecuted the case, before Judge D. A. Townsend, and J. P. Carey served as Henry Jones’ attorney.  The other men present during the shooting, all testified for the state during the trial.  Henry’s grandmother, Dilly Wells, testified that Henry shot Constable Jones.  The jury found Henry Jones guilty of the murder of Constable Jones and he was sentenced “to be hung on the 26th day of August 1904.”

On Friday, August 26 at a little before 11 o’clock in the morning, Sheriff McDaniel escorted Henry Jones to the gallows.  “Fully 1,200 people, outside the walls of the building, listened with bated breath at the last words of the man soon to be hurled into eternity.”  Henry Jones avowed his readiness to go to heaven and following the conclusion of his confession, he began to pray. As his prayer trailed off, Sheriff McDaniel descended the steps, one of which when stepped on, sprung the trap.  Henry Jones’ family did not claim his body and he was buried at County expense.

Sheriff McDaniel and Henry Jones

Pickens County Magistrate’s Constable Columbus W. Jones was inducted into the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall or Fame in 2000, never to be forgotten.

“To forget one’s ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root.” ~Chinese Proverb

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