Wednesday, August 13, 2014 1:00 AM
On Wednesday and Thursday, August 6 and 7, 1930, large crowds gathered on the Neshoba County Fairgrounds to hear the state politicos rant about a variety of issues, while others enjoyed the music, races and aerial acts. On Friday morning, August 8, 1930, throngs assembled under the Pavilion for the long awaited debate between candidates for The Fifth Congressional District, incumbent Ross Collins and Bob Harrelson. Jim Easterling of Forest, Mississippi, added fuel to the debate when he told patrons that, "The attitude of Ross Collins toward the presidential candidate at the last election and his attitude and remarks toward the Democratic party is nothing short of treason to the Southland.
Loyalty to the Democratic party is the issue in this election." Easterling added, "Robert Harrelson of Walnut Grove is the only [real] Democrat in the congressional election. Bob Harrelson's life has proved his fitness for the office. He has a heart of gold, sincere to the public trust, loyalty to the ideals off the Democratic [party] and will protect the interests of his people." There is little doubt that Easterling still harbored ill feelings toward Collins, based on Collins' perceived lack of support for dyed-in-the-wool Democratic Alfred E. Smith in the 1928 presidential campaign. Many senators and representatives from the southern states found it difficult to support a Catholic, New York governor for president against Herbert C. Hoover, a man who promised, "A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage."
Easterling's words were of little help to Harrelson's candidacy, as Collins won re-election, one of his nine victories for this position. Collins served the Fifth District from 1921 to 1935 and from 1937 to 1943. Neshoba County's own, William Arthur Winstead, Sr. succeeded Collins, serving from January 3, 1943 to January 3, 1965. (Items from the Washington D.C. office of Congressman Winstead are now housed in the Annex Building of the Philadelphia-Neshoba County Museum - desk, chair, nameplate, gavel and several photos.)
Later that day, during the stockholders' meeting at 2:00 p.m., the group reduced the number of non-officer directors from 12 to seven. Hours later, an unfortunate accident occurred, an event detailed in the headlines of the August 15, 1930, issue of The Neshoba Democrat - "Tragedy Marks Closing Hours of County Fair." For the first time in the history of the Neshoba County Fair, misfortune struck the Fairgrounds last Friday evening at 10:00 o'clock, with the shooting of "Speedy" Palmer, age about 25 years, and address unknown.
A Democrat reporter wrote that Speedy acquired his nickname "as a result of his riding in a motor drome." After hearing a gun firing, Sheriff Josh H. Beall and deputies, Chester C. Perry and Marvin A. Posey, raced to the point of sound and found one of the carnival's joint owners, 46-year-old H. T. Freed standing over a body, screaming.
"My Lord, I didn't intend to shoot him, but the pistol went off when I hit him." Sheriff Beall arrested Freed and jailed him in Philadelphia on the charge of murder. In early September of 1930, a local judge refused Freed bond, and ordered that he be held in the county jail awaiting action of the grand jury.
The incident began when Freed questioned Palmer, a ticket salesman about a small amount of money that Freed believed Palmer was holding back from the funds taken in at the show during the day. Both men were standing on the Midway, according to witnesses, when Freed pulled a pistol from his pocket, and started pistol-whipping his employee.
As Palmer tried to regain his feet, Freed hit Palmer a second time across the forehead, this blow causing the firearm to discharge. A Dees Funeral Home ambulance transported Palmer to the Matty Hersee Hospital at Meridian, Mississippi, where he died of the single gunshot wound, four hours after the accident without regaining consciousness.
The newspaper writer noted that, "A sad note was sounded when it was learned through letters found in the victim's pocket that he was to have been married on Sunday following his death to Miss Mary Glover of Webb, Mississippi." Found also in his pockets were his fiancee's photograph, a crucifix and a German Iron Cross.
Finding no trace of relatives, the State of Mississippi buried the Chicago, Illinois, orphanage runaway in Meridian on Monday afternoon, August 11, 1930. Three years later, on August 16, 1933, a second carnival worker died during the Fair, one Harry Lee. Lee also died at the Matty Hersee Hospital from the effects of an attack that he was "taken so violently from the first that he never regained consciousness."
Civil War Veterans
Cook, Jacob Harrison - Private; enlisted March 1, 1862, at Philadelphia, Mississippi, in Company D, 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment; nick-named "Hal;" age twenty-five; farmer; wounded at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863; captured at Gettysburg, July 5, 1863; hospitalized at the U.S.A. DeCamp General Hospital at David's Island, New York, July 31, 1863; exchanged at City Point, Virginia, September 16, 1863; Muster Roll, May-June 1864: "Present;" Muster Roll, November-December 1864: "Present;" at home on furlough, January-April 1865.
World War II Veterans
May, Madison Cook - Private; enlisted May 14, 1943, at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, in the United States Army; age nineteen; college student; served and trained in the American Theatre of Operations at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Camp Cooke, California and Yuma, Arizona; served also in the European Theatre of Operations as a rigger with the 483rd Ordnance Evacuation Company, 199th Ordnance Battalion, and the 515th Ordnance (Heavy Maintenance) Company, March 1944 to November 1945; sailed aboard the U.S.S. Empire Arquebus (troop transport), arriving Greenoch, Scotland, March 9, 1944; participated in the Invasion of Normandy (Omaha Beach - June 13, 1944) and campaigns in Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe; awarded the European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (with three bronze service stars) , Good Conduct Medal and the World War II Victory Medal; discharged at Camp Shelby, December 7, 1945, demobilization; described as five feet seven and one-half inches tall, weighing 156 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.
Philadelphia-Neshoba County Historical Museum
Steven H. Stubbs, Curator
303 Water Avenue South Philadelphia, Miss. 39350
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.;
Tuesday thru Friday