These men were convicted of the August 1922 murder of mail carrier Cyrus Jones in Swansboro, NC, largely on the testimony of another man, Willie Hardison, who was tried separately for the murder. Hardison later confessed that he had made up their involvement under the threat of being lynched. The state electrocuted Hardison in 1923, but both the trial judge and the prosecutor wrote letters requesting executive clemency for George Williams and the brothers Frank and Fred Dove. After almost six years on death row, the three were given full pardons in March 1928 by Governor A.W. McLean.
Sidenote: My people are from Onslow County, just west of Swansboro. My furthest traceable Henderson ancestor was a free woman of color named Patsey Henderson, born about 1800. Patsey’s sister Nancy married (or perhaps didn’t) a free man named Simon Dove. The Onslow County Doves, including Fred and Frank, are descended from their son Durant Henderson, alias Durant Dove.
Image from “Capital Punishment in North Carolina,” Special Bulletin from the North Carolina State Board of Charities and Public Welfare, Raleigh, N.C. (1929). Copy courtesy of the North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.