Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Milbry Brown
 
Though not as "famous" as George Stinney, Jr., Milbry Brown is an equally tragic figure. She was (most likely) fourteen-years-old when she was executed on October 7, 1892, in the Spartanburg County jail-yard.  Milbry was convicted in July of 1892 by an all-white jury of the June 1892 murder of Geraldine Carpenter. Geraldine was an eleven-month-old white infant for whom Milbry acted as the caretaker in her capacity as the Carpenters' "house girl."  According to available contemporary sources, Milbry put two drops of carbolic acid in Geraldine's mouth while the baby slept; the motive was said to be revenge for the fact that the infant's mother had scolded Milbry earlier the same day.  By some accounts, Milbry confessed to killing the child; in others she denied any intent to kill and insisted she only wanted to make the baby sick. To the jury, it did not matter.
 
The execution was originally scheduled for September, but due to a robust campaign for clemency based on Milbry's age, her intellectual disability (she was described as "ignorant' and as an "imbecile"), and the lack of clear evidence that she intended to kill Geraldine, Governor "Pitchfork" Ben Tillman delayed the execution so that he could investigate the case.  Some of those petitioning for clemency also noted that had Milbry been white, she would not have been sentenced to death.  There  were also counter-petitions asking the Governor to let the sentence go forward. Governor Tillman decided, without much apparent angst, that the execution should proceed.  According to Tillman, Milbry was "convicted of one of the most diabolical, cold-blooded murders in this criminal annals of the state."  He went on to say that since South Carolina "courts had decided that fourteen was the age of consent, and in view of the atrocious nature of the murder, I decided to let the law take its course."  Although a large crowd gathered to witness Milbry's original execution, which was halted literally as the young child stood on the gallows waiting to die, when the sentence was actually carried out, only a few people were present. Apparently, this was due to the fact that Tillman did not publicize the clemency denial until after Milbry was dead, and instead quietly sent word to the Sheriff of Spartanburg County to let the execution proceed.  Even Milbry's parents did not attend their daughter's execution. Newspaper accounts of her death described the arrangements for the hanging as "perfect"; Milbry-- clothed in a white dress--fell approximately six feet, her neck was immediately broken and "not a muscle moved" after the drop.  Press reports also noted that according to the Reverend C.C. Scott, pastor of the "colored Methodist church" in Spartanburg, Milbry had come to religious terms with her maker (i.e., "confessed conversion") a few days prior to her death. 

The site is available without logging in. However, if you want to post a comment you must login. Your email address will only be use to provide updates on race, racism and the law.

 patreonblack02