The Beginning of our Serialized Exhibit
A Picnic Tragedy
Leisure in America, 1900
Railroads & Recreation
The "Shawsheen Grove" at Pole Hill
BallardVale in the Early 20th Century
The Main Players
After "The Affair"
Law Enforcement, Part 1
Law Enforcement, Part 2
"No Bill Against Janifer"
Edward Janifer's trial took place on schedule at Lawrence Superior
Court on Saturday, September 16, 1900. Janifer's family and friends
rallied to his side and secured Clement G. Morgan, 1859-1929, was
the first black Cambridge City Councilor. In 1905, along with W.E.B.
DuBois, he was one of the founders of the Niagara Movement, a
predecessor of the National Association for the Advancement of
Colored People (NAACP).
Janifer's case was heard by the grand jury in Lawrence. The jurors
were troubled by the testimony of Robert Walker and Edward Hamilton
that George Davenport was shot while his head was being held by two
men who were trying to break up the fight. The jury called for a
second hearing and this time questioned the character of the two
witnesses. After the second hearing, the jury decided that not only
was Janifer innocent of murder, he was also innocent of man
slaughter charges as well. Janifer was freed at his September 16th
G. Morgan, who represented Edward Janifer at his trial, was
the first black Cambridge City Councilor and one of the
founding members of the Niagara Movement.
the September 21, 1900 Andover Townsman
"Among the dozen
prisoners who were brought to the court house from the jail
Saturday afternoon was ... Edward Janifer of Cambridge who
had been bound over to the grand jury on the charge of
murder of one of his fellow men, George Davenport, killed at
Shawsheen Grove in Andover, by a bullet from a revolver
fired by Janifer. There was a look of resignation, but not
despair, on his face as the accused man took his seat in the
prisoners' dock beside his companions. Twenty feet away sat
his wife and a lady friend, eagerly awaiting the report of
the finding of the grand jury, which so much to her and to
him. Husband and wife had a long, anxious wait as the report
of the jury was not made known for over an hour after the
appointed time. At times they exchanged glances, the wife's
face always wreathed in a confident smile, which the husband
answered with a look which told all who saw it that was
guiltless of all crime, notwithstanding that he had killed a
After the jury
had filed in and been counted, Clerk Woodbury took the
papers and the first name he read was that of Janifer. The
negro stood up, tall and straight. A moment later and he had
heard the welcome words" "The grand jury finds no bill
against you and you are free to go." Janifer's wife
rushed to him and kissed him. The man's face lighted up with
joy, and picking up his hat he walked out of the court room.
The officers at
the jail and all who have had any dealings with him since
the unfortunate shooting say that he has shown a splendid
spirit, regretting exceedingly that Davenport had died but
confident that his innocence of any crime would be proven,
as he appeared to feel certain that it would be clearly
proven before the jurors that he fired to save his own life
and not to take away Davenport's."
and founding members of the Niagara Movement at Niagara
Falls in 1905
Movement was founded by W.E.B. DuBois and William Monroe
Trotter in 1905 to develop and promote a more radical course
to social equality. Fifty-nine people were invited to the
first conference, which was held on the Canadian side of
Niagara Falls in July 1905. Committees were formed to
address social issues such as voting rights, and segregation
in travel and education.
grew rapidly over the next year to 170 members in twenty-one
states. Four more conferences were held between 1906 and
1909. By then internal divisions and financial problems had
taken their toll and the Niagara Movement disbanded in 1910.
The work of the
Movement lived on when DuBois and others formed the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909.