Will She Hang?

May 16, 1896


The history and rationale of Solomon Marable, whose accusations had originally placed suspicion on the Lunenburg Prisoners, is told to a court.


The Lunenburg Case continues to attract wide-spread attention and sympathy, manifested in the most substantial way in behalf of the poor women. Solomon Marable and Mary Abernathy were removed to Lynchburg jail for safe-keeping.

Later he heard they were going to “white cap" all the colored people around until they made some confess who had murdered Mrs. Pollard. His wife said she was going to her uncle not far away, and your petitioner went part of the way there with her. Next morning (Sunday) your petitioner and his wife determined that they would go to their former home, in North Carolina, and they started off by way of Chase City. Going through that place your petitioner stopped to buy something to eat, while his wife walked on down the railroad. When he started to overtake her, he heard shouting behind him, and looking back he saw several white men coming towards him and calling out, "stop that man!" They frightened your petitioner very much and he commenced to run. The men pursuing him fired several shots and thereby greatly increased his alarm. Your petitioner ran to the woods and thereby escaped his pursuers
Your petitioner being now frightened almost to death, remained in the woods, and at the houses of different Negroes between Chase City and Five Forks until Tuesday morning, when a party of white men. armed with guns and pistols, came up with him and arrested him. Soon after they arrested him, they were joined by Mr. Lucius Pettus, a half brother of Dave Thompson. The men who had arrested your petitioner told him that he had better make a confession, or he would be hung before they got to Mr. Pollard's house and your petitioner, thinking that Lucius Pettus knew about it and would have your petitioner killed if he did not say what Dave Thompson had told him to say, told them that Mary Abernathy and Pokey Barnes killed Mrs. Pollard, while he held her and that Mary Barnes had been a party to the conspiracy to kill her.
Your petitioner was carried to Mrs. Pollard's rouse and the three Negro women were arrested and brought there when the coroner was holding an inquest. Quite a number of persons collected there, perhaps four or five hundred, and your petitioner heard that all of the prisoners were going to be lynched. Late in the evening, Mr. Clements, the constable, who had the prisoners in charge, smuggled them out of the back door in charge of four or five boys and they were got to the woods and marched by by-ways and through the woods all night to the jail at the courthouse, Mr. Clements remaining to put the crowd off with one excuse and another until the prisoners could be lodged in the jail.
When your petitioner was put upon his trial, the confession he had made was proved, and he was convicted. When Mary Abernathy was put upon her trial your petitioner was put on the stand as a witness, and, still under the domination of the terror with which he had been inspired, your petitioner told the same story, and she was also convicted.
On a succeeding day. Pokey Barnes was put on trial. Your petitioner being then convicted, and feeling that here was no hope for him determined that he would tell the truth about it. Being put upon the stand as a witness in said Pokey Barnes' case, your petitioner narrated the facts as he has stated them in this petition.
Whilst testifying to these facts, the aforesaid Lucius Pettus, who was squatting on the floor within three or our feet of your petitioner, winked at your petitioner in a threatening way and whispered to your petitioner, “Put it on Mary Abernathy and Pokey Barnes." Your petitioner was again terrorized by this man's threatening demonstrations and he took the statement back as he had made it, and made the statement anew that implicated the three Negro women, and Pokey Barnes, also was convicted and sentenced to be hanged. Your petitioner had told Capt. Frank Cunningham and Mr. Neblett, the Commonwealth’s Attorney, the true story of the crime, as herein set forth, before he went to the court room to testify in Pokey Barnes' case.
About this article

Location on Page

Upper Left Quadrant

Contributed By

Liam Eynan


“Will She Hang?,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed March 25, 2019, http://blackvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1619.