Turpentine Chipping

Logging Cypress In The Swamps of N. Florida

Barrel Torture

Picture text: "Before the war we owned the negroes, a southern business man reflected, nostalgically. "If a man had a good negro he could afford to keep him....but these convicts we don't own' em, one dies get another." A chilling comment, even then--RS

This is typical of the buildings used to house the prisoners at the labor camps. Roughly constructed with cracks in the walls the men had lice and were swarmed at night with mosquitoes. As Robert N. Lauriault stated: "At best they got a tortured nights sleep."

Sweatbox as torture

Stocks as torture in the labor camps

Inside view of inmate's sleeping quarters

Torture in the labor camps

Convicts leased to harvest timber.  [35256]
Florida Photographic Collection
Image Number

Chicago Manual of Style

Convicts leased to harvest timber. 191-?. Black & white photoprint, 8 x 10 in. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/35256

 accessed 8 January 2017. MLA AP Style Photo Citation
(State Archives of Florida)

One Dies, Get Another By Matthew J. Mancini

https://books.google.com/books/about/One_Dies_Get_Another.html?id=im68YsXbvZ0C        Matthew J. Mancini
Univ of South Carolina Press, 1996 - Social Science - 283 pages

These books were instrumental in the abolishment of the convict leasing system in Florida. Hundreds or perhaps thousands died in these cruel labor camps

The Lumber, Phosphate Mines and Turpentine Camps

An Excerpt: By 1920, millions of board feet of lumber and thousands of barrels of turpentine and rosin had been shipped from Jackson County.

Note by R.Straley: This was during the "convict leasing program" that was in effect. Not only men but boys as young as 13-14 were sent to these camps. The level of brutality was severe. The boys were expected to do a man's work and if they didn't they were whipped where they fell:

The Death of Girrard H. Blake & Torture of Oscar Anderson

Revelations of abuses committed on juveniles in county convict camps continued to appear in the Florida Times Union and described in letters sent to the Governor.

One report stated a sixteen-year-old white boy from Georgia named Girrard H. Brake, charged with vagrancy, received a sixty-day sentence in the Alachua County jail.

The County authorities included Brake in a lease to a phosphate concern operating at Dutton. Witnesses reported that two men held Brake down while the owner of the camp applied the strap. The boy died as the result of the beating. Five physicians performed autopsies and they all attributed his death to torture.

Ex-convict W. F. Brown explained that a young prisoner named Oscar Anderson "was a docile boy, obedient to every order, and tried to do the tasks assigned to him as manfully as he could." Brown reported that the boy had orders to collect fifty-two buckets of turpentine every day, the same as required of an adult man, but the boy could not do it. "I saw them beat Oscar Anderson each and every day upon the alleged ground that he had not completed his allotted task. They beat him with a piece of 
leather, a strap, and they beat him until he was raw on the back." Brown explained the productivity quota doubled what free laborers did in a day.

"The boys are given the same tasks as the men, and are obliged to work sick or well. I have seen them fall over in the fields and afterwards whipped because they fell."

It was in one of these camps (Putman Lumber Company) that Martin Tabert, a young man of 22 was whipped to death resulting in the ban of all flogging in 1922 by Governor Cary Hardee as "too brutal a punishment for even the most hardened convict." It continued on at the Dozier School for 45 more years.


The American Siberia; Or, Fourteen Years' Experience in a Southern Convict Camp [Front Cover] J. C. Powell
Biblio Bazaar, Sep 8, 2010 - 362 pages