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Author to discuss 1912 Hamilton lynching in Columbus

Karen Branan, author of “The Family Tree,” speaks to a group in Hamilton in January.
Karen Branan, author of “The Family Tree,” speaks to a group in Hamilton in January.

Karen Branan, the author of a book documenting a 1912 lynching in Hamilton, Ga., will return to the Chattahoochee Valley later this month for appearances at several libraries.

Branan, a Columbus native and 1959 graduate of Columbus High School, is currently a journalist living in Washington, D.C.

She’s also the great-granddaughter of the white sheriff whom she believes conveniently left Hamilton when four black people were being lynched.

Branan said she learned of the lynchings while interviewing her 90-year-old grandmother, who said her most memorable memory was “the hanging.”

The lynching occurred Jan. 22, 1912, just days after Branan’s great-grandfather, Buddie Hadley, was elected sheriff, she writes in the book.

Branan said the lynching occurred after Hadley’s nephew, Norman, a known womanizer, had been found dead on the front porch of Loduska Crutchfield, a black woman living in Hamilton.

A white mob killed Crutchfield and the three black men in retaliation for the murder, hanging them from a tree near the baptismal font at Friendship Baptist Church, a predominantly black congregation, Branan said, adding that it was later determined that the lynching victims were innocent.

Branan’s book sparked a bit of controversy when she held a memorial service for the four victims in Hamilton a few months ago.

Some Hamilton residents disagreed with her account of the lynchings. So, it will be interesting to see the reaction she receives when she appears at other venues.

Branan last came to Columbus in March, speaking at Barnes & Noble and the Carson McCullers Center.

This time, the readings, discussions and book signings will be held at the following venues:

▪ 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Aug. 30 at Mildred L. Terry Library, 640 Veteran’s Parkway

▪ 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 31 at Manchester Public Library, 218 Perry St., Manchester, Ga.

▪ 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 1, Lagrange Public Library, 115 Alford St., Lagrange, Ga.

▪ 11:15 to noon Sept. 3, Decatur Book Festival, Decatur Library, 215 Sycamore Street, Decatur, Ga.

Alva James-Johnson: 706-571-8521, @amjreporter