Clarksville, TN "The Great Fire of 1878", Apr 1878 - After the Fire


CLARKSVILLE, April 16 - At about 10:30 o'clock, Saturday night, Policeman FRANK PHILLIPS was notified of some trouble that had occurred between a young white man and a negro named COLUMBUS SEAY. PHILLIPS started in search of SEAY, who, it is claimed, resisted arrest and attempted to run away. PHILLIPS called "halt" two or three times, but, no attention being paid to this, he fired. He again called "halt" a few times, when he fired the second shot, which felled SEAT, who was taken to the station house and soon expired.

The coroner's jury returned verdict of "killed while resisting arrest."

A very bad feeling was manifested by the negroes towards the whites, owing to the killing of SEAT by Policeman PHILLIPS. The negroes acted very badly on the streets on Sunday morning, and in several instances caused those fighting the fire great inconvenience. There was a grave feeling over the people to-day. Threats of mobbing Policeman FOLEY were made, and on this account and for the protection of goods, fifty deputy policemen were enrolled. PHILLIPS is still in jail for protection and everything is quiet, but the least disturbance would likely precipitate a collision between whites and blacks. There is no longer any doubt that of conflagration was not started by the blacks, there was a concerted understanding that they would not lend a helping hand for love or money; but there were many worthy exceptions. Some prominent colored men are heavy losers by the fire, and have no insurance to fall back upon.

If was rather curious to note the different rumors along the road concerning the fire. At Guthrie they had it that the loss by fire was two millions; that the colored people had assembled and sent a note to the mayor demanding PHILLIPS for the purpose of lynching him. No such proceedings were had, and on Sunday night the negroes had quieted down, and not twenty-five were seen on the street. The Equitable of Nashville, had $18,600 on the property destroyed, and the State, of Nashville, $7,550.

The citizens held a meet at 12 o'clock Major HENRY, chairman, and MESSRS. WRIGHT and INGRAM, secretaries. Expressions of sympathy and offers of aid were received.

Judge LURTON made a speech relative to the feeling between the whites and blacks. He said rumor attributed the fire to the killing of a negro Saturday night. The killing, as well as the burning, should be fully investigated, and he moved the appointment of a committee of ten to investigate them, both races to be represented.

H. H. LURTON, POLK JOHNSON, ex-Mayor SULLIVAN, JOHN RICKE, D. KINCANNON, JOHN O'BRIEN, were appointed on the part of the whites, and J. A. JACKSON, A. EWING and JOHN BARLEY on the part of the blacks.

It is probable the courthouse will be rebuilt on a new style. Everybody seems determined to go to work and rebuild at once. The feeling between the whites and blacks is very bitter, and I fear we have not seen the end of it. This has been growing ever since the lynching of WINSTON ANDERSON for attempting rape. The white people are very determined. Special policemen were out last night.

Already is the debris being removed and arrangements made for rebuilding at once. Some have already bought lumber and bricks. The houses will be of a more substantial character.

KIRBY, the negro who was shot some days ago, was very boisterous, cursing everybody white. He was disarmed; he is very dangerous.

The Atlanta Constitution Georgia 1878-04-17