The Arrest, Trial, Conviction, Appeal and Execution of African-American James Boddie, alias James White, for the Alleged Attempted Rape of Artelia Little, a White Woman, at Colbert's Reserve in Lauderdale County in September of 1874. Part I:

Subject

The Law, Crime and Punishment

Description

A Series of 1874, 1875 and 1876 Florence Gazette, Florence Times-Journal and Tuscumbia North Alabamian newspaper articles chronicling the arrest, trial, conviction, appeal, escape from jail, recapture and execution of James "Jim" Boddie, alias James White, for the attempted rape of "an orphan girl" named Artelia Little in Colbert's Reserve in Lauderdale County on Friday, Sept. 4, 1874.

Boddie allegedly dragged the young lady off of her horse but was interrupted before he could rape her by unnamed passers-by.

Boddie's preliminary hearing was held at the fall term of the Circuit Court in Lauderdale County at which time he pled innocent to the charge of attempted rape; his trial was set for "the second Wednesday of the Second Week of this term of this Court."

At some point before his trial Boddie was transferred to the Colbert County jail in Tuscumbia and his trial took place in Tuscumbia, Judge William B. Wood presiding.

Boddie was represented by Col. Richard O. Pickett and and the Hon. James S. Clarke, two of the ablest attorneys of the bar. Boddie insisted that he was innocent and another African-American man, Abe Walston, was guilty; "From his own description of Wlaston, however, the evidence proved that Walston was not the man," and the jury found Boddie guilty of attempted rape and he was sentenced to be hung on Friday, August 6, 1875 at the court house in Tuscumbia.

Boddie's attorneys appealed his case to the Alabama Supreme Court, which upheld his conviction and sentencing.

Sunday, September 12, 1875 Boddie escaped from the county jail in Tuscumbia, which occasioned a series of editorials and letters to the editor in the North Alabamian of Tuscumbia and Florence Gazette of Florence attempting to place blame for the escape on the jailor and his assistant who allowed Boddie to escape.

In the meantime a wanted poster was circulated by Colbert County Sheriff JG Alexander and published in the North Alabamian which offered a $500 reward from the sheriff for Boddie's capture as well as a $900 reward offered by Alabama Governor George S. Houston (1874-1878). His wanted poster described Boddie as:

"About 5 feet 8 inches tall, fleshy--weighing about 160 pounds--full, round face, large prominent eyes, showing much white of them, is about 30 years old, brown in color, nose somewhat lighter shade, has rather small foot for his size. When he escaped . . . he wore thin beard all over his face."

Boddie was recaptured Monday night, December 12, 1875 at the home of an alleged relative in Iuka, Mississippi and he was remanded back to the Colbert County jail, to the same cell he had earlier escaped from. The North Alabamian of Tuscumbia reported on December 23 that his "papers" had been sent to the Alabama Supreme Court and that Boddie sentence would be carried out and "he will probably be hanged next month."

James "Jim" Boddie was hung in Tuscumbia on Friday, April 28, 1876 with the Colbert Greys militia company and several extra deputies on hand to prevent any possible violence. He died protesting his innocence.

Source

1. Florence Times-Journal
2. Tuscumbia, Alabama North Alabamian
3-4. Lauderdale County, Alabama Circuit Court Minute Docket "G," 1870-1875, pp. 702-703.
5. Florence Gazette
6-10. Tuscumbia North Alabamian
11. Florence Gazette
12-13. Tuscumbia North Alabamian
14-16. Florence Gazette
17-20. Tuscumbia North Alabamian
21-22. Florence Gazette
23-27. Tuscumbia North Alabamian
28-36. Tuscumbia North Alabamian

Publisher

Newspapers.com

Unknown Microfilm Company

Contributor

Lee Freeman

Rights

Images are available for educational and research purposes. This image may not be reproduced for commercial purposes without the express written consent of the copyright holder. It is the responsibility of the interested party to identify the copyright holder and receive permission.

Format

Jpeg

Language

English

Type

Still Image

Files

James Boddie Arrested on Rape Charges FTJ Wed Sep 9 1874 p 3.jpg
A Negro Man NA Thu Sep 10 1874 p 3.jpg
Boddie Indictment I.jpg
Boddie Indictment II.jpg
The Circuit Court FG Wed March 31 1875 p 3.jpg
Circuit Court State Docket p I NA Thu Apr 1 1875 p 3.jpg
Circuit Court State Docket p II NA Thu Apr 1 1875 p 3.jpg
Circuit Court State Docket p III NA Thu Apr 1 1875 p 3.jpg
A Little While Longer NA Thu Aug 5 1875 p 3.jpg
Bodie's Sentence Upheld by AL Supreme Court NA Thu Aug 19 1875 p 3.jpg
Boddie Escapes FG Wed Sept 15 1875 p 3.jpg
Escaped the Gallows p I NA Thu Sep 16 1875 p 3.jpg
Escaped the Gallows p II NA Thu Sep 16 1875 p 3.jpg
Mr. Editor p I FG Wed 22 Sept 1875 p 2.jpg
Mr. Editor p II FG Wed 22 Sept 1875 p 2.jpg
Citizen's Letter to the Ed FG Wed Sept 29 1875  p 2.jpg
The Escape of Boddie I NA Thu Oct 7 1875 p 2.jpg
The Escape of Boddie II NA Thu Oct 7 1875 p 2.jpg
The Escape of Boddie III NA Thu Oct 7 1875 p 2.jpg
$500 Reward NA Thu Oct 7 1875 p 3.jpg

Citation

“The Arrest, Trial, Conviction, Appeal and Execution of African-American James Boddie, alias James White, for the Alleged Attempted Rape of Artelia Little, a White Woman, at Colbert's Reserve in Lauderdale County in September of 1874. Part I:,” Shoals Black History, accessed February 5, 2023, https://shoalsblackhistory.omeka.net/items/show/1080.