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Thomas G. Woolfolk
It was a warm August night in Macon. Windows would
have probably been opened to allow for greater cooling and ventilation.
All in the house, except possibly one, were asleep.
At some point between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. an axe
murderer was in the house. He murdered eight members of the Woolfolk
family and one relative of Mrs. Woolfolk, bringing the total number
of victims to nine. The youngest was little Mattie, 18-months old,
the oldest was 84-year-old Temperance West, a visiting relative
of Mrs. Woolfolk.
On August 6, 1887, at about
dawn, twenty-seven-year-old Tom Woolfolk arrived at a neighbor's
home, telling a story of his family being slaughtered!
According to Tom, he was awakened by the noise and
jumped out a window to escape. He ran down a hill where some sharecroppers
lived to get volunteers to go with him to help the family, but he
could get no volunteers. Tom then returned to the house alone and
when he entered it, he heard the sound of the backyard gate being
closed. He said he went from room to room, checking on the family
members and they were all dead. He then changed clothes and dumped
his bloody clothes down a well before heading out to get assistance.
Among the dead were Tom's father, Richard F. Woolfolk,
aged 54, and his wife, Mrs Mattie H. Woolfolk, aged 41. Richard
F. Woolfolk Jr., aged 20, Pearl Woolfolk, aged 17, Annie Woolfolk,
aged 10, Rosebud Woolfolk, aged 7 and Charlie Woolfolk, aged 5 were
all found dead inside the house. Most had been chopped to death
in their sleep, but little ten-year-old Annie was found kneeling
by a window. She had apparently been trying to escape the carnage
when the murderer reached her.
The Bibb County Sheriff's Office was notified. The
deputies transported Tom Woolfolk back to the scene of the crime
so they could more closely investigate the crime scene, while questioning
Tom. A coroner's inquest was conducted at the site.
In a matter of a few hours a crowd gathered at the
Woolfolk's house. The crowd did not believe Tom's story. Opinions
were running so high against Tom that the sheriff decided that it
was best to quietly incarcerate him for his own benefit. It was
noted that the deputies had spotted flecks of blood in Tom's ears.
Tom admitted that a bloody footprint found in the house was his.
There was a bloody handprint on one of his pants legs. Tom was unemotional.
The coroner's jury decided that since there were no signs at all
of a forced entry into the house that the victims had all been murdered
with an axe wielded by Tom Woolfolk, who was already inside!
Tom was generally described as a very cranky, disagreeable
sort. He was also described as sharp, cunning, very stubborn and
probably mentally deranged. Tom's former wife said of Tom, "He
is not crazy, it is simple meanness. He is the meanest man I ever
saw and there is nothing too mean for him to do!" She had lived
with him only three weeks and then left, later getting a divorce.
Tom was the third child and first son of Richard
Woolfolk and his wife, Susan. He was born on June 18, 1860. Tom's
mother died when he was a baby and Tom and his two older sisters
were sent to live with his aunt, Fannie Moore of Athens, the sister
of his mother. For about the first seven years of his life, he lived
at his aunt's house in Athens.