Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Washington Court House


     We stopped for the night in Washington Court House, Ohio, a small city—population 14,000—whose name demands explanation, particularly since the imposing structure on Main Street is not officially known as the Washington Court House, but the Fayette County Courthouse, Washington C.H. as the name is sometimes abbreviated, being the seat of Fayette County. 
   Rather, the name speaks to the lack of creativity, or excess of patriotic zeal, of those who settled Ohio in the early 1800s. There were lots of place named after the father of our country, and as the state congealed, and roads were built, and the various Washingtons became acquainted with each other, they sorted themselves out as New Washington and Old Washington, Port Washington and Washingtonville and Washington Court House, being the Washington with the court house in it (this one, built in 1885, is the town's third, and still in use).
      With the anniversary of the George Floyd killing, I took particular interest in this plaque located before the courthouse. It seemed a positive that the residents would feel proud enough, or perhaps just compelled, to commemorate the shooting of a lynch mob on a plaque. Though McKinley, who'd become president in 1897 and himself shot in 1901, was being optimistic: there would be dozens more extra-judicial killings in Ohio before the lynch era came to an end in 1937, though it should be noted, because it will be a surprise to some, that about half the victims were white people.
    William Dolby, by the way, served 13 years of his sentence and then was released. The state gave him a $5 bill to start his life anew.




3 comments:

  1. Another interesting column.

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  2. The firing through the doors bothers me in that I'm not sure what would have been an equally effective, but less lethal choice of deterrent. At least they charged the good Colonel, so it can't be said he got off scot-free.

    john

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  3. Bad as the Ohio incident was, I still wish a similar outcome had taken place in a different Washington on January 6, 2021, when democracy itself was almost lynched.

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