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A hundred years ago, an Oconee County posse riddled the bodies of three African American men with bullets and burned their bodies. Their names were Aron Birdsong, Wes Hale and George Lowe. 

To honor the lives of the three men who were lynched, around 60 people attended a 100th anniversary memorial service on Dec. 4 alongside Lampkin Branch Creek across from Harris Shoals Park. 

According to a study published in The Georgia Historical Society, Birdsong had gone to a white farmer’s house to ask about renting land and borrowing money from him but was denied. Birdsong was later accused of entering the farmer’s home, and a posse formed believing Birdsong had assaulted the farmer’s wife and daughter. 

That night, the Oconee County sheriff and other armed men surrounded Birdsong’s home, and Birdsong fled.He was surrounded four miles away from Watkinsville and a gunfight ensued. He died as a result of “resisting officers and killed by bullets,” according to his death certificate.

The posse went after Hale and Lowe next. Lowe had given Birdsong a pair of shoes, and Hale had given Birdsong four bullets

Hale and Lowe were dragged from their homes and taken to the spot where Birdsong had been killed. They tortured Hale, burning his feet in a fire. Both were shot to death.

During Saturday’s service, three crosses bearing the names of Birdsong, Hale and Lowe were hammered into the ground and flowers were laid at the base of each cross.  

For more on this story, see the Dec. 9 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, call (706) 769-5175 or visit the tab on our we bsite. 

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