Hayes and Mary Turner was husband and wife. Hayes Tuner was born August 15, 1892. Hayes and Mary Turner Married on February 11, 1917, in Colquitt County, Georgia. Very little is known about Hayes Childhood. Mary Hattie Graham/Turner was born on December of 1890 in Brooks County, Georgia to Perry Graham Sr. and Elizabeth Betsy Johnson. Mary had one older sister named Pearl and two younger brothers named Perry Jr. and Otha. Mary and Hayes two children named Ocie Lee and Lester.
On the evening of May 16, 1918 Hampton Smith a white plantation owner was shot and killed and his wife was injured. Smith was known among the black community his a abusive boss. Many blacks avoided working for him. Smith had his ways of solving his labor shortage. Smith would bail black men out of jail, people typically arrested for petty crimes and having them work off their debt (bail money) by working for him on his plantation. Nineteen year old black man named Sydney Johnson was arrested for rolling dice and fined thirty dollars. Smith bailed Johnson out exchanged that John would have to work for him until his debt was paid off. A few days working on the Smith’s plantation, Johnson asked Smith for his wages but Smith refused to pay Johnson and one day Johnson missed work because he was sick and Smith beat him for being sick and missing work.
On May 16, 1918 Fed up with Smith abusive ways Johnson got a gun and shot up the Smith home. A bullet came through the Smith window one his Smith’s wife in the arm the other bullet hit Smith in the head killing him instantly. Smith’s wife claimed that after she and her husband were shot through the window, she ran into the front yard after the shooter, and she claimed that Johnson responded by beating her. Mrs. Smith claimed that after she was beaten by Johnson a group of black robbed her home.
A Lynch mob gathered and lynched 13 blacks including Johnson, but among the lynched was some of the innocence like Hayes Turner. Hayes had his own history with Smith. When Smith beat Hayes wife Mary, Hayes went to Smith and threaten him and Hayes was sent to a chain gang for the threat, but Hayes was not near the Smith’s plantation when the shooting happened but he was still lynched.
Mary Turner was 8 Months pregnant with their third children. Sadden over the lynching of her husband Mary spoke out publicly about the lynching saying her husband was innocence and threatening to have members of the lynch mob arrested.
The mob then turned against Mary saying they were “determined to teach her a lesson”.
After learning the mob intent Mary fled but was captured on the noon of July 18 1918. The mob of about several hundred brought her to a bridge, where they pregnant Mary ankles and hung her upside down from a tree, doused her in gasoline and set her alight. While Mary was still alive, a member of the mob split open Mary abdomen with a knife. Her unborn child fell on the ground, Where it gave out a cry, then was stomped on and crushed. Mary body was riddled with bullets. After lynching of Mary and her baby she was cut down and buried under a tree with a whiskey bottle marking the grave.
Hayes and Mary two remained children was sent to live with Mary’s relative’s.
Following the lynching’s more than 500 black residents fled the area, despite threats against the lives of anyone who tried.
Hayes Turner was 26 years old at the time of his death.
Mary Turner was 28 years old at the time of her death.