In Dec. 11 IssueBy Lu ShawSpecial to the Times Journal
This week it was the 100th anniversary of the brutal killing of a young girl in Russell Count and in the coming week it will be just as long since the man accused of the crime was lynched by a local mob.
Last week a production crew with the A&E TV Channel spent last week shooting a documentary on the rape and death of 10-year-old Mammie Pearl Womack and the hanging of Elmer Hill in Russell County.
They filmed at the Russell and Adair County libraries as well as gathering information from the Times Journal.
The crew also went to the reported site of the vicious attack and the area where both the little girl and her alleged killer were laid to rest.
One of the production company's tour guides was local real estate agent Denver Wilson.
During his high school years Denver E Wilson took special interest in the hanging of Elmer Hill.
Two of his favorite teachers were Beatrice Wehb Allen, her family was part of the mob hanging Elmer Hill and her father took the photos of the hanging and Jane Sullivan, her family was Russell County Jailer at the time of the lynching.
Wilson stated that the two women absolutely could not get along and in fact they just didn't like each other.
"I will never forget them." stated Wilson, "B. Webb Allen was some distant kin to me and Miss Jane was working on her book about the hanging of Elmer Hill."
According to Wilson, he was needing a good grade in Sullivan's class and she was needing the photos of the hanging that Allen held so dear.
Wilson said he talked Allen into letting him take her photos and making copies in his father's darkroom.
He said he did that and also made Miss Sullivan some copies for the book she was working on. Wilson said that Sullivan had promised Denver she would send him a copy of her book when finished.
However, Wilson said he understands that Sullivan died in Georgia before she finished her book.
"1 got a good grade in English that year. I guess I was already paid in full," Wilson said.
According to Wilson the best material he had read about the hanging and circumstances surrounding the deaths of Mammie Womack and Elmer Hill is The "Womack - Hill tragedies," by James D. Garner.
He said that 2008 book is extremely detailed; from the rape and murder of Miss Womack through the hunt, apprehension, the mob, the hanging and newspaper accounts of that time from throughout the state.
He said that the book is very close to information he was told as a youth by both Allen and Sullivan.
Wilson said the book he read indicated Hill may have also been called Elmer Holt. He added that the book alleged Hill, or Holt, had many run ins with the law from the time he was fifteen years old and only a few months before Womack was attacked Hill and another man had allegedly escaped the Russell County Jail by sawing out of the cell.
He added there was no mention of the other man's fate and that matter bacame overshadowed by the murder and lynching.
"Anyone who may be interested in the many murders in Russell County should read The Womack - Hill Tragedies," Wilson said.
There are numerous differences in the telling of the saga, from the spelling of names, the reported bad reputation Hill allegedly had, even the part of the county Hill was lynched in differs depending on who is telling the tale.
Russell County has been well known for its murders over the years, from the Levi House on Gosser Ridge where a poker game ended with four being shot to death, a baseball game near Creelsboro which ending with four people shot to death, as well as many others both solved and unsolved.
This week, and now possibly a television show, marks a remembrance of one of the most famous and one which is either solved or unsolved depending on who is telling the story.