Execution By Hanging In Georgia

By Evelyn Goble Steen

Not all the Goble stories we find are of ministers, doctors and countrymen of note. According to a news article written by Charles Webb in August of 1995 his ancestor, Anthony Levi "Tone" Goble was the last man hanged in Georgia. Another article written by Robert S. Davis, Jr. confirms the crime and punishment. New information has proven this was not the LAST hanging in Georgia. Arthur Meyers was sent to the gallows in 1931.

Anthony Levi "Tone" Goble was the son of Corbin and Naomi Goble of the Southern Goble line. He was born about 1848/1849 according to the 1850 census. In early 1870 Tone married Mary E. Webb. They had a child together, Little Levi Goble born about 1875. Tone Goble murdered Wofford L. Brown on November 2, 1876 and the terrible crime was covered in several newspaper columns, one written by his great-grandson, Charles Webb.

On November 2, 1876, Wofford L. Brown of Gordon County and William Gentry went to the government licensed distillery of Mart Barnes, near Ellijay in Gilmer County. A crowd was already there, not just buying whiskey but also drinking it "freely". Brown, "well-intoxicated," came up to a man who was observing some others playing cards. Brown asked the man if his name was Goble. The man replied "it passed for it." Brown then charged that during the Civil War "your father stole meat from my father and you helped eat it." Goble did not deny the charge but pointed out that since he was only a boy during the war, he did not know anything about it. Brown apologized and the two men seemed to become friends. Brown even asked Goble to show him the route to the Watkins' house. They were seen leaving together, laughing and talking. Goble was witnessed putting a rock in his pocket and was said to have been sober. Legend tells that Brown was warned that Goble was dangerous but he didn't listen.

About 7 hours later Goble appeared at the home of Mrs. Tuck and when inside announced he had killed a man, showing the occupants the blood on his hands and shoes. To prove his point, he pulled some whiskers out of his pocket and announced "here's the --- rascal's whiskers, and if you will give me a dollar apiece for them, I will go and stick them back." When asked if the victim put up a fight, Goble replied "no he never offered to strike me but begged like a --- puppy, and I made him pray manfully. After having as much fun of him as I wanted to, I took a big two pound rock and smashed his --- brains out, then jumped on him and stomped him into jelly. I then placed his hat over his face and put his bottle at his head for a tombstone." He was asked if he knew the man was dead and Goble replied that if he wasn't he would be by the time they got to him. A crowd assembled and followed Goble to the site where Brown was found just as Goble had described. Finding Brown was not yet dead Goble kicked him again and was restrained by the crowd. Brown soon died. Brown was 40 years old and had been paralyzed on his left side for years. Goble was 26 years old, 217 pounds and described as "a fine specimen" The witnesses described the murder as the most atrocious ever committed in a civilized community.

Tone Goble didn't defend himself, refused to leave town, and said he didn't care if he hanged. He pleaded "not guilty" to murder on May 14, 1877 in Gilmer County. He made no effort to defend himself and was defiant to the court. No one was called to testify on his behalf but many witnesses took the stand. Goble was found guilty and sentenced to die. Tone made jokes about the need for a strong rope and on the morning of June 22 he converted and was baptized in the Methodist faith. Legends tell of Goble riding to the site of execution on top of his coffin. Reporters wrote: "at least half the population of Gilmer County" and people from other counties came to watch." A confession was read which Goble had dictated, blaming his faults on whiskey, cards, women, bad company, lack of education and religion. More than 500 people were allowed to come to Goble to say their good-byes. The execution proceeded and became a Gilmer County, Georgia legend.

Newpaper stories written on this incident include a great deal more detail than I have included above. If you would like a copy of the story by Robert S. Davis Jr., or the article by Charles Webb, let me know. Other articles provided by Don Rhodes, Morris Communications Corp., Augusta, Georgia.(2002)

Return to Goble Stories

Return to Southern Goble Features

Copyright © 1998-2016 by Evelyn Goble Steen, All Rights Reserved
This page last updated May 2016
Send Feedback to EvelynGobleSteen@gmail.com