It all started in the schoolyard.
Lamb’s son was the resident bully at the local Braden River School until one day that January he picked a fight with the son of Dave Kennedy and surprisingly got his — the bully’s — ass kicked.
Like many a child since, young master Lamb sent his problem up the generational chain of command. Ed Lamb, a mill hand, raised the beef with Dave Kennedy, a farmer, when the latter stopped by the mill a few days later to sell his wares, even menacing Kennedy with a knife.
But for the second time, a Kennedy went all lion on a Lamb and overpowered his antagonist. Enraged and embarrassed, Lamb stalked away to his nearby home, got a shotgun, and wasted Dave Kennedy. Masculinity: vindicated. Stunned bystanders allowed Lamb to escape.
Our Manatee County correspondent gives the surreal vignette from his own family history of the Kennedy children — being dismissed from school at news of the murder — walking home on a dirt road that very day and passing the disgraced Lamb family on a wagon with their possessions, heading out of town. “One of the children standing beside the roadway became frightened thinking that Ed Lamb would pop out fo the trunk at any moment.” He didn’t: Ed was on a lam all his own, and was recaptured the next morning and spirited away to Tampa to protect him from lynching. Lamb spent the months between his conviction and his execution harrying the local newspaper with letters entreating folks straighten up and get right with God, letters that notably failed to breathe word one of apology to the Kennedies.
The drop fell at 12 minutes past 12:00 non. But the rope slipped and the prisoner was raised a second time and shot into eternity. He was rendered unconscious by the first shock and never knew that he was let to fall a second time. His neck was broken by the second fall and he was pronounced dead by Dr. John Holten of Sarasota. He mounted the gallows cool and fearless and died without a murmur or a struggle. Inside the jail, 40 witnesses were in the jail when the execution took place, the gallows being inside the building. A few white people and a great many Negroes were congregated around the jail, but perfect order was maintained.
Lamb’s son, brother and sister-in-law were present when he mounted the scaffold, but were overcome and left before the drop fell. The doomed man kissed them goodbye and asked them to meet him in heaven. His wife was unable to come to the jail to see him for the last time. Was photographed. Lamb dressed himself for the scaffold with great deliberation. And at his request, was photographed after being attired for death. He talked freely. But in his last speech he said nothing about the crime for which he suffered. He said that he was willing to die. That he had made his peace with God and wanted all of his heirs to meet him in a better world. Sheriff Wyatt was cool and carried out his part well. The noose was adjusted and the black cap pulled down over the prisoner’s face. And the trap sprung that sent the murderer to meet his maker. The death warrant directed that the execution take place in private between the hours of 11:30 and 12:00, but the sheriff allowed the condemned man 12 minutes longer lease on life.
Manatee County paid Coursey and Barnett $16.70 for Lamb’s hangin’ suit, and paid J.W. Wilhelm & Co. $21.35 for his coffin.
On this day..
- 1937: Nikolai Nikolayevich Durnovo, Slavist - 2020
- Feast Day of the Talavera Martyrs - 2019
- 1799: Egyptians after the Revolt of Cairo - 2018
- 1938: Chinese soldiers and civilians after the Battle of Wuhan - 2017
- 1821: Elizabeth Warriner, Lincoln poisoner - 2015
- 1441: Margery Jourdemayne, the Witch of Eye - 2014
- 1698: Old Believer popes and Princess Sophia's petitioners - 2013
- 1942: Helmuth Huebener, Mormon anti-Nazi - 2012
- 1449: Ulugh Beg, astronomer prince - 2011
- 1659: The first two Boston Martyrs - 2010
- 1666: Robert Hubert for the Great Fire of London - 2009
- 1553: Michael Servetus, but not to defend a doctrine - 2008