FAIRFIELD COUNTY — Recently, narratives about the brutality of law enforcement have been ubiquitous. In 2015, there have been riots in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, Md., connected to the conduct of law enforcement officers.
However, 100 years ago, Adam Dubard Hood, then Fairfield County’s sheriff, was brutalized.
Hood died, Monday, June 14, 1915, after suffering injuries from gunfire on Fairfield County’s courthouse steps, while protecting a prisoner. Almost a month later, on July 3, 1915, Deputy Sheriff Raleigh Boulware would succumb to injuries sustained during the shooting.
Newspapers from the period portray Hood as stoically facing death, and he is quoted as saying, “I expect to die, but I did my duty.”
The officers were escorting Jules Smith, an African-American man accused of criminal assault, out of the courthouse and to cars that would transport Smith to Columbia. The shooting was later dubbed the Winnsboro Massacre of 1915. Smith was killed in the shooting.
“The story of Sheriff Hood exemplifies the fact that a hundred years ago, it was just as dangerous then, as it is now for law enforcement,” said Fairfield County Sheriff Will Montgomery. “Sheriff Hood was following the letter of the law by trying to deliver the prisoner safely to the courthouse so he could stand trial for the charge against him.”
Marsha Ardila, administrator for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Hall of Fame, said Hood has always struck her as a particularly heroic inductee.
“He’s one of my heroes in the Hall of Fame,” Ardila said.
Ardila said for the time period, it was common for members of the community to seek vigilante justice, but it was less common for sheriffs to carryout their duties in the face of violence and rebuke from their peers.
“He did his duty,” Ardila said. “He’s exceptional in that respect.”
Montgomery similarly lauded Hood’s commitment and dedication.
“Before Sheriff Hood died, he was quoted as saying, ‘I did my duty’, and Duty is defined by Miriam Wesbster as “something that you must do because it is morally right or because the law requires it,” Montgomery said. “I hope we can all honestly say, at the end of the day, ‘I did my duty’.”
In 1915, it was common for members of law enforcement to face turbulence when protecting black prisoners, but the particulars surrounding the shooting that would claim the lives of Hood, Boulware and Clyde Isenhower, brother of the alleged assault victim, are unique.
Smith was a farmhand known to the area and fled after being accused of assaulting a white woman.
A posse found Smith near Blythewood and he was transported to Columbia, and kept in protective custody.
During Smith’s trial, a group of men alleged to include Ernest Isenhower, Clyde’s brother; James Rawls and James Morrison opened fire as Smith was being escorted for transport.
Although the shooting is sometimes described as an act of mob violence, a letter to the editor published in The Herald and News states the shooting “was not the act of a mob, but seems to have been the deliberate act of a few men bent on having revenge.”
Jim Young, who is compiling an oral history of the shooting, agrees while public opinion was in favor of the vigilante violence, the shooting was a coordinated act, and a group led by the Isenhowers was a catalyst for the fatal shootings.
Young said it is disputed how many shots were fired and if Morrison gave a signal to open fire, but there is an accepted fact.
“The only thing everyone agrees on is Isenhower fires the first shot,” Young said.
In 1915, Ernest Isenhower was tried for fatally shooting Boulware and was quickly acquitted. He was notable defended by ex-Gov. Cole Blease.
“That trial took 10 minutes to decide,” Young said.
A trial was held in 1916 for the homicide of Hood, and the result was a similar, speedy acquittal.
Young said it is not apparent if a trial for Smith’s homicide ever occurred.
“It appears to me that the third trial never happened,” Young said.
Young said for the headlines the Winnsboro Massacre of 1915 generated, fallout from the event was minimal beyond jockeying for the now vacant office of sheriff.
Pelham Lyles, director for Fairfield County Museum, said a county-wide short attention span is to be expected ,given the era and region.
“It’s just like the history of the South everywhere,” Lyles said. “There were lynches, and shoot-em-ups, it was kind of like the Wild West, I would imagine.”
However, the legacy of the lawmen persists.
Hood and Boulware are both remembered on the Officer Down Memorial Page. A memorial in his honor was erected in his honor by the Woodmen of the World, and Hood is an inductee of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Hall of Fame.
“He is definitely not forgotten,” Ardila said
Phillip Broome, whose late great aunt Bessie Mae Broome Richardson was Hood’s widow, said he grew up hear tales about the man his aunt called Mr. Hood.
“She would tell us the story of him,” Broome said. “She re-married, but she seemed to talk about him all the time.”
Broome said he remembered a photo of Hood being hung on the wall.
“He must’ve been quite the fella,” Broome said.
Broome said it seems his distant relative was ahead of his time and died for an admirable cause.
Montgomery, Young and Ardila hold that opinion as well.
“Sheriff Hood laid down his life to defend the constitution of the State of South Carolina,” Young said.
Montgomery echoed this sentiment.
“Sheriff Hood lost his life serving and protecting the citizens of Fairfield County,” Montgomery said.