The tale of Ed Johnson

from by Bob Wiegers

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about

A true tale of one of the darkest moments of my old hometown.

lyrics

on a cold winter’s night in St. Elmo
the year was 1906
miss Nevada Taylor
attacked and waylaid
and dark was the criminal’s skin
and dark was the criminal’s skin

worst crime in all the towns hist’ry
Chattanooga was pulsing with rage
the hounds came up empty
so the sherriff’s deputy
found a black man of young age
found a black man of young age

Ed Johnson declared he’d done nothing
he’d been at the Last Chance Saloon
but downtown they took him
and justice forsook him
though he had done nothing wrong
though he had done nothing wrong

the lynch mob came with their fury
they stormed with rifles and rope
but the guard stood strong
and sent the crowd home
and Ed had a glimmer of hope
and Ed had a glimmer of hope

12 white jurors assembled
a trial was speedily done
Nevada wasnt quite certain
but her hand pointed to him
he was probly the one
he was probly the one

the appeal went to the courts highest
Judge Harlan granted a stay
but the lynch mob returned
to kill and to burn
and noone dared stand in their way
and noone dared stand in their way

for hours they hammered the jail doors
they mocked and they beat young Ed down
and down at the span
each woman and man
rejoiced as his feet left the ground
rejoiced as his feet left the ground

so here on the Walnut Street Bridge
remember poor Ed and lament
for the last thing they heard
were his final words:
God bless you, I am innocent
God bless you, I am innocent

credits

from Context, released April 1, 2008

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