'We are now busy dividing crops - closing contracts for 1865 and making new agreements for 1866. Complaints of injustice are very numerous- there are also gangs of Bushwackers in the district of the Upper Country - who rob and beat the freedpersons unmercifully - also two (2) murders, in Laurence District. All such cases we have referred to the Pro. Courts for action. ___
James Egon, a citizen of Lexington, is to be imprisoned for life at Albany, NY (Gen. Ames decision) He murdered 'General Egon', a Freedman.'
Freedmens Bureau records 5 Dec 1865 South Carolina
On 24 Sept. 1865, General Egon was murdered in Lexington. He was shot to death 'feloniously and with malice aforethought' according to the court that presided over the trial of the accused. The clerk at the Freedmens Bureau, quoted above, described the murder as occurring against a backdrop of numerous injustices perpetrated against Freedpersons including robbery and 'unmerciful' beatings. The man found guilty of General Egon's murder was James Eagan (or Egon), an Irish-born slaveholder.
The court was presided over by General Adelbert Ames, then a Union Army General and later U.S. Senator for Mississippi. Ames sentenced James Eagan to life imprisonment in solitary confinement at Albany Penitentiary in New York.
On 16 May 1866, James Eagan was deemed to be illegally imprisoned by Samuel Nelson, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States in New York and two days later he was released from Albany Penitentiary, New York. Upon his return to South Carolina, Eagan was again arrested by the Military. On 28 June 1866, the Yorkville Enquirer, reported that Eagan was released by order of President Johnson.
After months of online research the only information I have about General Egon, apart from the date of his death, is information about the man who murdered him. I don't know General Egon's age or who his parents were. I don't know if he had a wife and children. I don't know the exact circumstances of his death, whether it happened in a private struggle between the men or whether it happened in public and therefore is more rightly described as a lynching. I can't even tell you where he is buried. I can only tell you that he was murdered 'on or about' 24 Sept. 1865.
James Eagan/Egon was born in Ireland about 1790. In 1850, he was living with his wife Susanna (poss. Steedman. b. abt. 1799, SC), his son John S (b. abt. 1832, SC), his son Daniel G (b. abt. 1833, SC) and daughter Louisa (b. abt. 1836, SC) in Lexington, South Carolina. James Eagan's Real Estate was valued at $124 in 1850.
The eleven people he enslaved were recorded according to age, the oldest was a woman aged 37 and the youngest was a new-born baby girl. In 1860, Eagan enslaved thirteen people, the oldest recorded was a woman aged 40 and the youngest a baby boy aged one year. Eagan's nearest neighbour in 1860 was a Jonathan Egon (possibly his son) who enslaved a 25 year old woman and three childen aged 5, 4 and 1.
In 1860 James Eagan's Real Estate was valued at $3000 and his Personal Estate (which included enslaved people) at $15,000. His neighbour and possible son Jonathan, recorded as an overseer, had Real Estate of $1,500 and Personal Estate of $4,000.
Louisa Eagan (b. abt 1836) married Robert Brogden in 1855 and was a member of Mount Ebal Baptist Church at the time of her death in 1858. Her sister Matilda, wife of Bazil Hartley died in 1900 and is buried at Bateburg Cemetery, Lexington County.
Their brother John S Eagan(b. abt 1832) died in 1863. He was a member of Company F, Palmetto SS. Within months, John's daughter Anna Louisa died aged 1yr and 5 months. They are both buried in the Eagan Family Cemetery in Leesville, Lexington. According to Probate records, Daniel G Eagan died intestate in 1864. His father James Eagan, his sister Martha Hartley & her husband Bazil Hartley, his sister Mary Gregory (died 1875, buried Gregory Cemetery, Aiken County, SC) & her husband William Gregory petitioned the Court for the division of the proceeds of the sale of Daniel G's property of 230 acres.
(all links accessed 31 Aug. 2023)
1850 US Federal Census Lexington, SC
1850 Slave Schedule Lexington, SC
1860 US Federal Census Lexington, SC
1860 Slave Schedule Lexington, SC
John S Eagan
Daniel S Eagan in the South Carolina, U.S., Wills and Probate Records (1670-1980) (ancestry.com).
Edgefield Advertiser 30 June 1858
The Daily Phoenix Columbia 3 Dec. 1865
The Daily Phoenix Columbia 2 June 1866
The Yorkville Enquirer 28 June 1866
Equal Justice Initiative, “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror” (3d Ed. 2017).
Martine Brennan (Curator) While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this work, mistakes may occurr. If you offer a correction, please provde documentation or a link to an historical document. Many thanks. MB
Enslavement to citizenship: African Americans in Irish Slaveholder records by Martine Brennan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.