Judge Parks left his question unanswered, but it was clear
where he stood. He said in closing, “I
have serious doubts as to the justice of the law, but the remedy is not to be
found in disobeying it, but in having it repealed.”
He fined the defendants
$2.50 each, suspended the sentences, but asked them to pay the court
costs. The Sabbathkeepers
refused to pay the costs, choosing rather to go to jail. They explained their reasons by saying that
the State had taken them from their homes and work for no just cause, and they
simply submitted to the powers that be, but they refused to become parties in
any degree to the iniquitous proceeding by the payment of a fine. They were given prison sentences of 20
to 76 days.
Bill Burchard left
behind a note in his daughter’s autograph album: “Dear Hattie, This is the 6th
day of March in the year 1895 a.d., in the Cove in Rhea
County, Tennessee, in the
so-called free America. I go to Dayton
today expecting to go to jail for the crime (?) of believing the Bible. I was found guilty by the court.
. . . Yet these things and
worse happened in all ages to God’s people—why not to us? Verse 12 of 11 Timothy
3 says: ‘all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer
persecution.’ I want you to be a good
girl and live for God and His truth.
That is the only thing we can live for in this world,
that is worth living for. Read
and meditate on Hebrews 11:32–40 [a brief history of
persecutions suffered by Old Testament heroes], and you can see what awaits us
only a little way in the future.”
Jailhouse life was not severe, but there
were hardships involved in the incarceration.
Several of the men were nearly penniless, and their families were left
without support. Then, too, with three
key staff members gone, Graysville Academy
had to send its 100 students home two months early, some of them
without the diplomas they had expected.
Sheriff Darwin was kind enough to put the
men up in the two-story house attached to the jail rather than in the
cells. The quarters, the Sabbathkeepers reported, were not “offensively dirty.” They were allowed to have visitors and were
given access to the well in the front yard, thus escaping the mucky water from
the jail-yard pump.
The residents of Dayton
petitioned the court to release the prisoners, but in spite of the uproar in
the nation’s press, the court denied the petition by a narrow margin. Judge Parks recommended to Governor Peter Turney that the prisoners be pardoned, and finally the last
two still serving sentences were granted clemency, even though they gave no
evidence of repentance.
Scarcely had they returned home when 20
more indictments went out for Graysville Sabbathkeepers.
. . . The court convened in
July. Some of the cases were continued,
a few dismissed, but eight Sabbathkeepers—including Burchard and Colcord again were convicted. This time, however, their enemies had
succeeded in reinstating the county chain gang—a practice that had not been
followed for years.
be concluded . . .