In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the economic situation in the Bahama Islands was as bad as it had every been. The plantations and agriculture that had once flourished had long since seen their demise. Sponging was doing well, and the fledging winter tourist season was only just finding its feet. Many Bahamians, many black Bahamians, desperate for work, emigrated to Florida. They took whatever job were available, which were usually fruit and vegetable pickers, labourers, cleaners and house maids. The Roberts family, father Jacob, mother Matilda and sons Charley and Ed. emigrated was well. Theirs was not so much of a happy ending.
In part two, we read a more detailed version of the events of Thursday December 18, 1924, when Charles Roberts shot his boss Milton Hall. Roberts then went on run from the KKK who were pursuing justice. He left his family to face the brunt of the fury of the KKK. We see that a posse surrounded their house in the colored section of Miami. His brother is shot, as well as his mother. His brother Ed, eventually dies.
In the Miami Daily News on Thursday 18th December, 1924, the headlines were
MIAMI MAN SHOT AND KILLED
OFFICIAL AT ICE PLANT VICTIM OF NEGRO’S GUN
Worker He Discharged Hunted as Slayer of Milton M. Hall
SHOTS ARE FIRED INTO HIS BACK
Brother of Assailant Hurt When Shot as as Posse Surrounds Home
Milton M. Hall, 2244 N.W. First ct., platform superintendent at the Southern Utilities Co. ice plant at Sixth st. and the Florida East Coast railway tracks, was shot early Thursday morning by a discharged negro employee and died in an ambulance on the way to the Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Ed. Roberts, brother of Charley Roberts, the Nassau negro who is being sought as the slayer of Hall was shot in the stomach by a member of a posse that surrounded the Roberts home in colored town shortly after the shooting. His condition remain critical.
Chief of Police Quigg, who was with a block and a half of the Roberts home when young Robinson shot Ed. Roberts, deplored the organisation of posses where the services of the authorities are available, and said the shooting of Roberts was unjustified so far as the police could learn.
“If the men had waited for the police before trying to enter the house, the shooting would never have happened.” said the chief, “because our investigation failed to reveal the presence of a gun with which it was claimed by Robinson Roberts was armed.
“Apparently the young man, secreted in the brush near the house, became alarmed when the negro went to the door to see what was going on. The shot that hit the negro in the stomach first passed through a wash tub hanging outside the house.
“The trouble with posses of this kind is that they are composed of untrained men who shoot when there is no need to take such action. The man being sought was not even in the house.”
According to the information given the police, the posse was headed by an 18-year-old son of the slain man.
An inquest has been set for 4 p.m. Friday by George Okell, justice of the peace, to inquire into the killing of the superintendent.
Hall was shot down when he started to open the door of the stables at the ice plant shortly before 5 a.m. The bullet entered his right side.
A negro driver who was waiting to take out his wagon said he recognised the platform superintendent’s slayer as Charley Roberts. Roberts had his back to him at the time of the shooting. Roberts was also said to have passed the boiler room about 4:30 a.m. and to have recognised by the night engineer S.A. McCormick.
Officials of the company said Roberts was discharged by Hall when he showed up at the plant last Friday in a drunken condition and after call the superintendent a vile name, was knocked down by Hall with a piece of pipe.
Wednesday, it was said Roberts appeared at the loading platform to get some ice, and when he was denied the right to take it away without pay, was reported to have made threats to “get” Hall and a white driver.
Leon Booth, a nephew of Hall and also employed at the ice plant, organised a posse shortly after the shooting and went to the Roberts home in colored town. C.A. Robinson, who rooms at the Booth home was a member of the posse.
According to the statements made by Robinson, Ed. Roberts, brother of the suspected slayer, came to the door partly dressed, saw the men and hurriedly slammed the door. A minute or two late, with his coat over his arm and a revolver in his hand, Roberts appeared at the back door and started to go out. Seeing the negro armed, Robinson shot him.
“Booth stayed at the front door and I was assigned to guard the back door.” Robinson said, “wile other were sent to get the police. I did not fire until I saw the negro start towards me with he gun in his hand,” Robinson is being held by the police to await the outcome of Roberts’ wound.
Milton Hall was the father of Bevil Hall, 18, who was fatally stabbed by Marvin Boswell, a 15-year -old boy, July 3, during an argument between several boys near his home. Young Boswell was to be tried last week, but the case was continued for the term.
Hall had been employed at the ice plant nine years, while Roberts had worked there five years.
The body of Hall was taken to the undertaking establishment of the W.H. Combs CO.
Hall was 38 years old and had been a resident of Miami nine years coming where from Sumpter country. He is survived by Louisiana Hall, his widow and five children Roy 18, Charles 14, Spurgie 11, Clyde 9 and Lonnie. His father. M. H. Hall is living in Okeechobee, as is his mother.