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Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017

Picturing the Past 103: Trouble in town

Posted Tuesday, March 15, 2011, at 3:50 PM

Tennessee National Guard troops stand between a crowd and Bedford County Courthouse in 1934.
At first when I saw this photo -- before noticing the cars -- I thought this was from the Civil War, based on how the soldiers are dressed.

Then it became instantly obvious this is from the December 1934 courthouse riots, which I chronicled in depth quite a while ago in this blog. A man accused of attacking a girl outside a rural school was charged with rape and a few people thought justice meant a lynching, not a trial.

This was apparently shot from the courthouse steps looking east at some point before the full-scale riot began.

Reports indicated the Tennessee National Guard, which had been called in to protect the accused, surrounded the courthouse. Several civilians were killed in attempts to rush the courthouse until a mistrial was called and the accused was sneaked out in disguise. The Guard left and angry citizens burned the courthouse a few hours later.

Go here for a larger view.

An interesting view of the east side of the square at that time as well.

Picturing the Past is featured each Tuesday in this blog. Reader contributions are welcome.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Thanks David. It is interesting that the locations of Simmons Jewelry, Wrights Five and Dime, and Brantley's Drug Store are just as I remember them in the early 40s.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Mar 15, 2011, at 4:17 PM

Somewhere in that crowd stands my grampa, my uncles and my dad.

-- Posted by cherokee2 on Tue, Mar 22, 2011, at 9:03 PM

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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.