Richmond H. Peacock was born Aug. 24, 1807, in what then was Liberty County but now is Long County. He was the son of Samuel (1777-1839) and Mary Peacock (1786-1869). Samuel was born in South Carolina and was in the War of 1812. They were married in 1802 in Georgia, and both died in Liberty County.
Richmond first married Anna Susannah Howard Sullivan. She was born Jan. 9, 1804, in the Barnwell District in South Carolina to George and Christine Platts Howard and was the widow of Daniel Francis Sullivan. She had a son, Daniel E. Sullivan. She died Oct. 11, 1870, and is buried in the Jones Creek Cemetery, where her tombstone reads that she was a member of the Baptist Church for many years.
One of Anna’s brothers was Jacob Howard, who married an ancestor of mine, Rebecca Moody. Jacob was the father of C.C. Howard, who owned the land where Pigott Branch Missionary Baptist Church is today.
In 1874, Richmond married Martha Sheldonia (Shellie) Lang, born July 13, 1859, the daughter of William and Rebecca A. Parker Lang of Tattnall County. Martha was only 15 years old when she married the 67-year-old widower. They had two children, Mary S. (Mamie), born Jan. 15, 1875, and William R. (Billy), born Jan. 29, 1879. Mr. Peacock owned 562 acres of land with an estimated value of $1,000 in 1881. He lived on and owned land in the vicinity of Baxter’s Branch across Highway 301 from where Sheriff Cecil Nobles grew up. They attended Jones Creek Baptist Church.
People across Liberty County were shocked when they picked up the Hinesville Gazette and read about Richmond:
“On last Tuesday evening, Feb. 8, 1881, the community of Jones Creek was startled by the announcement that Mr. Richmond H. Peacock, a very respectable 74-year-old man who lived on the road from Darien to Reidsville, had been murdered. A coroner’s inquest was held a mile from the residence of the deceased, and the following facts brought to light. The deceased was returning from the grist mill in his buggy when he was fired upon by some unknown party. The whole load, including the wadding, lodged in the body, entering the right side just under his arm. The old man must have fallen out of the buggy and died instantly. He was known to have $100 on his person, but his vest was torn open and the money was gone. The piece of cloth, which formed the wadding, was identified by a young lady as part of an old dress that she had given to Jasper Price for gun wadding. Price, who is a young man and nephew of the deceased, was accordingly examined and upon the authority of the inquest, he was arrested and lodged in jail. We forbear all comment as the matter will undergo judicial investigation. Mr. Peacock was a quiet, peaceable citizen.”
From information I have heard and gathered from older people, Jasper Price was tried in the Liberty County courts and found not guilty due to not enough evidence. Some said that after the trial, he took the pretty young 22-year-old widow and went to Florida to live. Others said this is not true.
I read some different case histories about people being tried when the only evidence against them was that the wadding matched the wadding in the gun and in the body of the deceased. One man in Nashville had used the town newspapers for wadding in his gun. The lawmen found the wadding matched exactly, even to piecing the papers together to make a sentence. He was found guilty and sentenced to hang from the gallows.
It seems to me that knowing the dress material had been given to Jasper Price for wadding a few days before — the same kind that was found in the deceased’s body — was pretty good evidence. It must have been someone who lived close to him and knew his goings and comings and the fact that he always carried a $100 in his vest. Maybe “Cold Case” should be called in.
We do know that Martha Peacock, 25, married James Newton Sullivan, 24, in January 1884, three years after Peacock’s murder. They had five boys and four girls. Martha died March 20, 1945, at the age of 86, and is buried in Jones Creek Cemetery.
Richmond also is buried there. This is his tombstone’s inscription: “R.H. Peacock born Aug. 24, 1807 and murdered Feb. 8, 1881 by a rude hand near his own residence. He lived an honest life, industrious and inoffensive and was a member of Jones Creek Baptist Church. Be ye also ready.”
My uncle and aunt lived in the “old Peacock” house when they were first married. They said that Mr. Peacock was carried home and placed on his front porch after being killed. There was a pool of blood left on the porch. When it rained, the blood stain could still be seen on it, no matter how many times it had been scrubbed. The house has long been gone.
Another story I have heard all my life was told by people that were kin to Peacock. It was said that many years before, Peacock had seen a crippled man walking with a cane coming across his woods. The man stopped by a grape vine and ate some ripe grapes.
Richmond allegedly shot and killed the “grape thief” and buried him in the Old Cotton Field Branch. I would think the crippled man probably had walked from around the Altamaha River and was headed to who knows where. I am sure he was mighty thirsty and when he saw the grapes, he didn’t give it a thought that someone would mind him eating a few of them.
The old Peacock house was located far back in the dense woods, and there could have been an old Indian trail that went across his land to the Altamaha River. If the crippled man had a family, they never knew what became of their loved one.
It also was said that at the old house one sometimes could hear a tap, tap, tap — like a walking cane coming across the porch at night. Maybe the “grape thief” was coming to get Richmond.