Burnsville GA, about 60 miles south of Atlanta, off US 41, may have missed destruction by Sherman’s army in 1864, but a fire, 17 October, 1888, destroyed a large part of the town anyway.
On the morning of that date, a fire started, among the cotton bales, stacked on the RR loading dock, and then went out of control.
Several homes and other structures were destroyed.
Mr. Taylor, whose home was lost, brought suit against the RR, alleging that sparks from one of their locomotives hit in the bales, causing the fire that cost him his home.
Mr. Taylor won the original case, then the RR appealed, and we end up in
the Georgia Supreme Court, as-
TAYLOR vs CENTRAL RR and BANKING.
In appeal, the RR presented facts that denied the allegation of sparks starting the fire, as the locomotive on the line at the time of the fire, had recently been updated with the latest in spark arresting equipment, and could not have caused the fire. Further, they show the time table for the day put the engine some distance from Burnsville at the time of the fire.
They then produced a witness that claimed to have seen a group of six or seven young boys, roughing about on the loading dock, just prior to the fire.
Amos WARE was identified as one of the group.
All the boys were brought in to testify, and perhaps come to the real cause of the fire. All seven gave their version of the events leading to the fire.
One of the boys said he saw Amos strike a match and drop it among the bales. Others said they beard the match being lit, but did not actually see him strike it.
Others claim to have seen the lighted match in Amos’ hand, but did not see him drop it onto the cotton bales.
A passerby saw the boys trying to beat out the fire with their hats, then running away from the dock. He identified Amos as one of those on the dock and then ran away.
In an intense Q&A before the Court, it was determined that there was collusion between the boys, and that this Court ruled to defer to the lower courts for a retrial.
Try as I might, I cannot bring up the results of the retrial. Should be interesting reading. Sure would like to know what happened with Amos Ware.
Inquiring minds, might want to know-
How old was Amos and the others?
According to transcript, Taylor, Amos, and two of the seven boys, were white, in case you care, one way or the other..
Were the boys cleared of arson, or were they prosecuted?
If charged, what was their punishment?
Who and where were Amos’ parents?
Why were these boys not in school?
Source: Southeastern Reporter, V 5 pg 114-119