Billy Lavender

Billy Lavender published his second book, this one a family history. Earlier he wrote about the history of Antioch Church.

Every family’s history has its share of crisis and turmoil, but not every family has an infamous murder story to tell.

Billy Lavender of Oconee County has recently published his second book, “Honorable Heritage: A Book of Family Folklore.”

 He was motivated to detail how his family had capitalized on the American dream.

“We came from poverty,” Lavender told The Oconee Enterprise. “We weren’t well-off folks, but we had riches in other ways, particularly in food and farming and taking care of families.”

Lavender said he hopes his book also teaches young people that the current generation is not that far removed from working the old-fashioned way, absent the combustion engine and electricity.

Of course, the infamous murder will garner much of the attention.

In May 1905, storekeeper F.M. Holbrook and his wife Lou were murdered. The prime suspects at the time were Lon Aycock, a white man, and three black men, Claude Elder and brothers Rich and Lewis Robinson. 

Newspaper accounts of the day praise the reaction of Oconee citizens in not rushing to judgment, but on June 29, at midnight, a lynch mob of men said to be from Morgan County executed its judgment.

Seven black men and Aycock were tied to a fence outside of the Oconee County jail and shot to death without benefit of a trial. A photo of the dead men hanging from the fence documents the tragic day.

See more on this story in the June 17 edition of The Oconee Enterprise.

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