Mary Turner Historical Marker
Backstory and Context
On Sunday May 19th, 1918 an eight-month pregnant twenty-year-old named Mary Turner publicly objected to her husband’s lynching murder. She threatened the people who were responsible for the unfair treatment of her husband. Her remarks were seen as antagonistic and in turn enraged many of the locals. As a result of this matter, Mary Turner fled for her life in hopes that the white men would not get a hold of her. Unfortunately, Turner was captured and taken to a place called Folsom’s Bridge in Lowndes County, Georgia. In the form of punishment, the mob tied Mary Turner by her ankles and hung her upside down from a tree. They then proceeded to pour gasoline on her and burned off her clothes. One member of the mob cut her stomach open and her unborn child dropped to the ground and then was repeatedly stomped on and crushed by a member of the mob. Later that night, she and her baby were buried ten feet away from where they were murdered.
Lowndes County, Georgia then became a place where blacks feared their lives. Three more days after the murder of Mary Turner and her baby, another three bodies were found in the area. Sydney Johnson was one of them as he was killed in a shootout with police. Succeeding his killing, the crowd of people cut off his genitals and he was then tied by a rope on his neck and his body was dragged for nearly 20 miles. Shortly after this chain of events, more than 500 people fled the county and surrounding areas.
Fast forward to present day, Mary Turner’s death has been memorialized through the creation of the Mary Turner Project, a community group that brings awareness to the violent acts of the early 1900s and the legacy of racial violence in America. The public is invited to the special gathering which takes place every May, known as the Mary Turner Commemoration, which includes a shared meal and reflections from the descendants of the 1918 lynching victims. The group also takes a journey to the site of Mary Turner's murder.