Sunday, November 23, 2008

Smithy Leonard-The Lizzie Borden of Georgia

Another wonderful story recounted by Milledgeville historian Hugh Harrington is the story of the murder of Smithy Leonard. The murder took place on March 23, 1892 in Baldwin County near Milledgeville. Harrington mentions that this murder took place just a few months before the famous Lizzie Borden episode.

Smithy Leonard was not the youthful young damsel that Ordeoro Shaw was, as also reflected by Harrington in More Milledgeville Memories. Leonard was sixty years old, and her husband, Simeon C. Leonard, was the pastor of Black Springs Baptist Church. It was Reverend Leonard who returned home the day of the murder to find his wife lying in a pool of blood. She was hanging on by a thread, a thread that would soon unravel and allow her life to slip away. The Leonard home was, according to Harrington, "ransacked during the apparent robbery but nothing was found to be missing." A coroner's inquest found that the murderer had used an axe to kill Mrs. Leonard. The murderer never was found.

Harrington ends the story of Smithy Leonard with somewhat of a weird twist. On May 25, 1896, in Gaithersburg, Maryland, a man assaulted a young family, killing one young child. Later on, one Sydney Randolph was apprehended and arrested for the murder. A mob eventually broke in to the jail where Randolph was being held and nabbed him. He was hanged by the angry mob on July 5th. Right before Randolph was lynched, officials from the Superior Court of Baldwin County had sent a letter to officials in Maryland inquiring as to whether or not Randolph had scars on his face near his eyes. The officials back in Milledgeville thought that Randolph might actually be a man named Ben Temple. It was believed that Temple might be the murderer who killed Smithy Leonard. Maryland officials examined the body of Randolph, and to their astonishment, the scars were present.

Was Sydney Randolph really Ben Temple, and did this man murder Smithy Leonard? If he did, why? As Harrington writes at the end of his story about the murder, "Whether this man, using the names of Temple and Randolph, was guilty of the Smithy Leonard murder will never be known."


Sparky said...

That was an interesting story. Thanks. Happy Thanksgiving. ♥ ∞

The Professor said...

Thanks Sparky. Enjoy your holiday.