Meet Coleman “Cole” Blease, the mustachioed governor and later senator of the great state of South Carolina from 1910 – 1915.

As you will soon learn, Cole Blease had some major character flaws. However, nobody is all bad or all good, and it’s more charitable and interesting to consider him as a whole person. So, my goal is simply to present this man to you as he presented himself to the citizens of the day.

Gov. Cole Blease

When Governor Blease assumed office, South Carolina was in the throes of civil unrest. Many farmers were giving up the land and going to work in the mills, in quest of a living wage. Black and white, men and women, children and adults were thrown together for the first time – with the only commonality being an unfamiliar environment. The results were frequently chaotic and violent.

Cole Blease didn’t create the stormy environment in South Carolina, but he definitely contributed to it. For one thing, the governor worsened tensions between black and white workers with racist tirades. Black men, he told audiences, would gain the right to vote just as surely as poor white men would lose it.

No one asked the governor how he felt about women of any race getting the vote, but it’s probably safe to assume he was no suffrage advocate. He was violently opposed to women “doing society” instead of staying home with their families. He warned mill workers that the aim of women was to “give us their dresses for our pants.” (No word on how the governor figured out our secret plan.)

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This is the second update on the 1903 James Patterson murder cold case. Here’s a link to the original story and a link to part one of the update. The first update is about new information uncovered about the time before the murder. This post deals with what happened after the murder.

Incidentally, is a murder that took place over a century ago really a cold case? A case can be cold in a matter of weeks – as soon as the active investigation ends. This one may be cryogenically frozen.

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The year was 1902; the place Columbia, South Carolina. Annie Laurie was fed up with a pesky suitor named Charley Hall. She didn’t care if it was Christmas Eve. She told him she didn’t want to see him anymore.
Charley didn’t take it so well. He flew into a rage, storming, swearing, and threatening to kill Annie Laurie. And yet, even this display of affection failed to move her at all, and Hall was shown the door.

Columbia
Main Street in Columbia, South Carolina, in 1903

For many weeks afterward, Hall talked incessantly of his love for Annie Laurie. He shadowed her day and night and his friends said he threatened to murder any man he saw with her. In February, Hall heard Annie Laurie had been seen with a man named James Patterson. He was wild with jealousy, and told everyone he would kill Patterson if he saw them together.

It isn’t known if Patterson and Laurie were actually an item, but on the evening of February 27, they walked into town together on an errand. They thought nothing of the footsteps following them but as they neared the corner of Laurel Street, Annie glanced backward and saw Charley Hall, just a few paces behind them.

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