Discussion 70yr old Confederate Veteran working on a Ga. Chain Gang, seeks Pardon 1907

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fltelman

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I found a newspaper article from the Atlanta Georgian dated April 12th 1907. It's about a 70 year old Confederate Veteran that was sentenced to 6 months on a Worth County, Ga. chain gang. His crime was "illegally selling whiskey".
His name was J. J. Ford. The article states that he was a member of Capt. Fulton's company of the Gen. Ed Thomas brigade and of Stonewall Jackson's corps.
It states that he was one of 6 survivors of a company of 78 men at Malvern Hill.

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Atlanta Georgian and news. (Atlanta, Ga.)April 12, 1907, Image 1

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The Tifton gazette. (Tifton, Berrien County, Ga.)April 19, 1907, Image 4


Veteran's Pardon refused by board. (repeat offender).

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Atlanta Georgian and news. (Atlanta, Ga.) April 13, 1907, Image 11
 
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Kurt G

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Sentenced to a chain gang seems way too harsh . Why couldn't he have been just sentenced to jail for 6 months ?
BTW being from Michigan I couldn't help but notice the story about 8 feet of snow on the ground in the upper peninsula . That has happened many times since .
 

redbob

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I wonder if he made it home? And I can still remember from high school the ATF coming to lecture us on the evils of moonshine and also the State Troopers lecturing us on drinking and driving-the highlight of this talk was we got to see that classic movie Blood on the highway with Broderick Crawford.
 
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Kurt G

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To me the age and condition of J. J. Ford is more of a consideration to me than his veteran status . Genealogy research shows that not all vets were good men .
 

7thWisconsin

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Yeah, I agree. The picture I get is of someone who was probably described at the time as "poor white trash" getting bulldozed. 6 months was kind of a standard chain gang sentence, but it would have been hard physical labor, under unrelenting conditions. It wasn't weed-whacking beside the highway. It was often the sentence given to African-American men who were hoovered up on "vagrancy" charges in order to provide cheap contract labor. Mr. Ford didn't have the status or connections, in the midst of the Jim Crow south, to get out of it - his appeal was declined, after all. For moonshining, well before the days of Prohibition. I smell a miscarriage of justice, even at the distance of 100 years.
 

Kurt G

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I wonder if he made it home? And I can still remember from high school the ATF coming to lecture us on the evils of moonshine and also the State Troopers lecturing us on drinking and driving-the highlight of this talk was we got to see that classic movie Blood on the highway with Broderick Crawford.
We never got a moonshine lecture up here in Michigan , but I'm sure some of it was going on .
 

7thWisconsin

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I was given a gallon of shine when I lived in Kentucky. (seriously) Smelled terrible. Went down smooth as silk. After a while, every muscle in your body just quietly moved out of state... I've also made a couple batches of applejack the traditional freeze and thaw way. Not as fierce, but very good.
We got something like 8 feet of snow here last Christmas. It was mind-numbing.
 
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Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.
Still a harsh sentence for a 70 year old, but not necessarily one that was a death sentence. I just wonder if he lasted the whole six months, depending on the time of the year he was serving his sentence. Summer heat down here is not a joke, and winters back then were not as mild as they are now either.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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Well peddling illegal whiskey was common in rural areas back then. Rural folks wanted an extra buck, and tax collectors had conniption fits. I think I'm gonna do some digging on this veteran, he has an interesting story, with some of the story seeming suspect CW wise at first glance.

But I wouldn't say the six month sentence for a 7- year old back then was a death sentence. It'd kill most 70 year old's now, but folks that lived to that age, especially CW vets tended to be incredibly durable old farts. They survived some of the most dangerous disease epidemics ever in American history, (I say most dangerous because they faced these epidemic in camp and so forth with very little food, and what food available not the most conductive to bodily resistance of disease), and those old vets were just immune to most disease, and they're bodies tough as leather from decades of hard labor. It was survival of the fittest with those old farts when they were young. Besides if he was actually brewing the bootleg whiskey, over and over for years, he was doing hard time making that stuff in secret.

But what raises most questions for me is his supposed war record. Some details seem off or unbelievable, Imma go digging.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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Well a quick check into the Order of Battle at Malvern Hill, I'm not seeing a Ed Thomas' Brigade, and references I've found to the existence of it period is not under Jackson, but A.P. Hill.

I thought something didn't smell right, this CS Vet bootlegger's story of one of only six survivors out of a company of seventy-eight men smells the most. An absurdly high casualty count like that one would is likely to be forgotten, and be very noteworthy somewhere.
 

7thWisconsin

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Remember Malvern Hill was, I believe in the words of A.P. Hill "not war but murder." Confederate infantry charged straight into hub to hub Federal artillery. I could see a terrible slaughter, even if the exact number details were mixed up. The newspaper is probably using Ford's own numbers, and he actually may be counting total casualties over the entire period of the war.
 

Lubliner

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I still get the feeling of listening to a drunkard begging for one more drink, as to how he set upon Judge Park to convince him of gaining amnesty and release. The old man, though probably tough as nails, could get pretty weak in the mind and belly if he needed his liquor, and could be very convincing of it. Then also I must note the family pulling strings behind the scenes for Mr. Ford's release, such as a hefty payment for representation, should not be discounted. I can only wonder if they stipulated payment only upon delivery of said subject.
Lubliner.
 

7thWisconsin

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I don't think he had the community standing, education and family connections to get the sentence reduced. The sad story I'm seeing is of an old man who is losing everything.
 

Lubliner

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It says Mr. Ford had been convicted numerous times and his brothers always paid the fine to have him released. So he did family that had enough to cover his butt when he got into trouble. Moonshine could be a profitable business.
Lubliner.
 

7thWisconsin

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I did forget that detail. Maybe the old man is the weak link in the chain, and they're tired of having to go into the profits to pull his bacon out of the fire. One of my great-uncles had such profound differences with his younger brother that he would cross the street rather than walk by him, and tell people who asked that they were "no relation." Perhaps that level of family warfare was going on too.
 

Lubliner

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I did forget that detail. Maybe the old man is the weak link in the chain, and they're tired of having to go into the profits to pull his bacon out of the fire. One of my great-uncles had such profound differences with his younger brother that he would cross the street rather than walk by him, and tell people who asked that they were "no relation." Perhaps that level of family warfare was going on too.
Yes, with his wild tale of service that is not verifiable I figure he was a wily old coot that was versed in the art of bargaining and selling. I see the exaggerated motions of Ford holding onto the lapels of Judge Park's coat, saying, "Oh, plleeasse do sumfin for me..." and at the same time feeling for which pocket the billfold is hidden in.
Lubliner.
 
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