I’ve always been very careful over the years to focus on the restorative nature of my Slave Ancestry research. I’ve never felt it my purpose [or right] to spend time amplifying an Ancestors human flaws. Given the time period and life circumstances they endured, I choose to offer Ancestors peace and ease in lieu of judgement.
Today is no different.
As it often happens, I start out seeking one thing and discover something TOTALLY different! I can’t tell you what lead me to the story of Florence ENGLISH and Amanda CODY today — I’ve never heard of Florence nor paid much attention to Amanda’s 1870 Warrenton Census presence. I do believe it was their intention to be found though. As with all Ancestors, I believe they (Florence and Amanda) desire to not be forgotten or dismissed. I believe it’s possible Ancestors can seek redemption, forgiveness and understanding too.
Now in the case of the CODY, JOHNSON and ENGLISH families of Warrenton, it would take a lifetime of research and DNA testing to untangle the web of how these blood lines intertwine many times over. Marion Michael CODY (Madison’s brother) married Rachel ENGLISH — bringing together their family lines and slaves. The JOHNSON Farm was adjoined to both Madison and Robert CODY’s property. There was much intermingling across the families — and slaves. So Florence and Amanda [and even Cicero] were most likely cousins, and they are certainly connected to me.
Their 22 November 1895 story according to ExecutedToday.com:
On this date in 1895, Amanda (Mandy) Cody became the first woman hanged in Georgia’s Warren County when she died with her (male) lover Florence English for murdering Cody’s husband, Cicero and dumping his body in a swamp.
According to The Penalty is Death: U.S. Newspaper Coverage of Women’s Executions (citing the Atlanta Constitution), they were all set to get away with it until English told his mother and “to the surprise of all, [she] told it to the white people living near.”
To credit the New York Times (Nov. 23), they went to the gallows in a rhapsodic religious transport.
A Negro Man and Woman Continued Their Melody Until the Drop fell.
WARRENTON, Ga., Nov. 22. — Florence English, twenty years old, and Mandy Cody, both colored, were executed here to-day for the murder of the latter’s husband. They died in the ecstasy of religious enthusiasm.
A trio of colored ministers held a prayer meeting in the corridor of the jail during the early morning. The prisoners at times mingled their supplications with those of the preachers, producing intense excitement. The culprits stood in the midst of the visitors, swaying their bodies to and fro, singing plaintive melodies characteristic of the black race.
Shortly before noon the prisoners marched from their cells to the scaffold. As they stepped on the platform both commenced singing an old negro camp meeting melody, “We’ll Soon Be on the Way to Heaven.” While their hands and feet were being pinioned, the murderers still continued the hymn.
They refused to make a statement. The black caps were then drawn over their faces, the hymn still being sung with renewed vigor. When the trap was sprung they were still singing.
I’m working to confirm Amanda CODY as the daughter of Elbert CODY, my 5th Great Grandfather. This would make Amanda my Catie’s [and Ailey's] baby sister; a 4th Great Aunt. I believe Cicero was a JOHNSON and Florence ENGLISH a cousin.
Ironic how after seeing 12 Years A Slave, I blogged Friday about my 4th Wilkes County Grandfather James WINGFIELD, who was lynched in 1885. My prayer for him was in his last moment of life, Grandpa James was able to utter a prayer and find peace.
Then today I *stumble upon* Florence ENGLISH and Amanda CODY, who died under questionable and tragic circumstances for sure but wanted us to know, they did find peace. They prayed to the end!
Whew! Ancestor Work. SMH
Peace and ease. Peace and ease Cousins…