A few months ago, in the Aug. 31 edition of The Progressive Era, I wrote about the infamous “Unfilled Hole,” one of the spookiest locations in all of Wilcox County.
This hole, which supposedly wouldn’t stay filled, was located beneath a pecan tree on the northwest corner of the downtown square in Camden. This tree, which has since been replaced by a brick flower bed, was reputed to be the site of public hangings over a century ago.
I’ve visited this location many times, and each time I tried to imagine a large crowd on the courthouse grounds, quietly waiting for the county sheriff to lead the condemned out of the jail and up to the rough rope hanging from the now-missing pecan tree. Standing there, I knew this scene would have played out many times before the year 1927, the year that Alabama outlawed public county executions and began using the electric chair to put criminals to death.
I ended my Aug. 31 column by asking the reading audience for more information about Wilcox County’s last legal execution. As things go, I didn’t have to wait long for more details.
Progressive Era reader Scott Mitchell directed me to a book called “Lummie Jenkins: The Unarmed Sheriff of Wilcox County” by Delynn Jenkins Halloran, which contains a description of the “Last Hanging in Wilcox County.”
According to this book, which was published in 2008, Lummie vividly remembered the years (1910-1914) that his father P.C. Jenkins Sr. served as Wilcox County Sheriff.
“And the year of 1913 he had a prisoner in jail to be hung, which was the last legal hanging that we had in Wilcox County, was Jan. 13, 1913 at one o’clock,” Lummie says in the book. “I was a boy of about 11 or 12 years old and two or three of us ran away from school to come down, so we could see what was going on.
“There were so many people in town. They were up on top of buildings, up in trees, sitting all around on top of the fence, at the courthouse, to see this hanging and so it looked just like a show day.
“But I remember it very well. And so we never did have any more hangings or electrocutions after I got to be sheriff around, oh, close to 60 years or more.”
With that said, it appears that the last legal execution was carried out in Wilcox County a little over 103 years ago, and a little research would likely reveal the name of the person executed and his crime. I suspect that editions of the newspaper from that time probably carried detailed descriptions of the event.
In the end, I appreciate Mitchell taking the time to send me more information about the county’s last legal execution, and I look forward to reading the rest of Halloran’s book on Lummie Jenkins.
Anyone else in the reading audience with more information about the county’s last legal execution is invited to e-mail me at email@example.com. In the meantime, I plan to delved into back issues of local newspapers in an effort to see who was executed in January 1913.