|William J. Purman|
Library of Congress
Few Reconstruction era officials would generate as much outrage as this Pennsylvanian did among the people of Jackson County. And white citizens were not alone in objecting to Purman's tactics and operations. John Wallace, for example, was an educated freedman who served as a state legislator in Florida during Reconstruction. He linked Purman's arrival in Marianna to what he called,"The Purman-Hamilton Reign of Terror in Jackson County."
Wallace left no doubt of his opinion of Purman and Hamilton, saying of them that, "Every device was resorted to by these agents to embitter the colored man against the white man." In fact, Wallace corroborated the claims of many white citizens who accused the two Bureau officials of operating Jackson County like their personal fiefdom:
|Fancified Northern Artist's View of a Brave Bureau Agent|
Library of Congress
Critic of Purman & Hamilton
Wallace himself was familiar with meetings of the Brotherhood near Tallahassee and there is no doubt that the sessions in Jackson County were very similar:
...The freedmen considered this league a great thing, and their meetings at the church were carefully guarded by armed sentinels, who halted any one who came into the vicinity of the church, requiring the countersign under the penalty of the contents of the old musket. Auxiliary lodges were formed in every part of the county and throughout the State. The regular meetings of these lodges were held every Thursday night, in the most secret places to be secured. - John Wallace, Carpetbag Rule in Florida,
|The Lincoln Brotherhood|
John Wallace said many Brotherhood members believed they
became true brothers of Abraham Lincoln when they joined the group.
The activities of the Lincoln Brotherhood played a significant role in the violence that took place in Jackson County during the Reconstruction era. In fact, local freedmen later would testify before the U.S. Congress that they had been threatened by what they called the "Black Klan." This, they said, was a Klan-like organization, but made up of black men instead of whites. The reference, undoubtedly, was to the Lincoln Brotherhood.
Not all of the targets of the Brotherhood were freedmen, as two Jackson County families soon would learn. I'll detail the group's raids on the McKay and Watson farms in coming posts. But first, in the next of this continuing series on Reconstruction in Jackson County, I'll focus on an event remembered in Marianna to this day as the "Battle of the Flowers." Check back on Thursday for that!