Deaths of James K. Polk Thompson and Sloan Perry

Source: “Banks County (Georgia) Journal”, 13 Feb, 1902



The kind and generous hearted Friend of the Poor has met an untimely death. The friend of all has passed to his reward, leaving sadness and sorrow in many hearts and homes throughout all this section and the entire state.



Met Death in a Canal, Thirty Feet under Ground. Life Crushed out by Tons of Massive Earth Falling upon Him. Sloan Perry, a negro, a Faithful and Honest Hand, Lost His Life near the Side of His “Boss Man”.

The genial and clever big hearted Polk Thompson is dead and the sad news has flashed wherever he was known.

He has administered to the wants of more poor desperate destitute people than any person that has ever come under our knowledge. Will he be missed? Whom has he not favored? He was the friend of all—the humble tenant in the rude hut, the leading influential citizen in his stately mansion. His death will be a personal loss to many.



The funeral took place at the residence at 2 p. m. Tuesday evening. Rev. P. L. Stanton officiating. The internment was made in the family buying ground. His sons, six in number, were selected as pall-bearers. Hundreds of people had gathered to pay their last sad tribute to their deceased friend.

The family and relatives have the deepest sympathy and condolence of friends everywhere.



Hon. J. K. Thompson met a most horrible death at noon Monday. He was cutting a canal through a hill and during the morning he had worked a dozen mules and fourteen hands. A large rock was in the bottom of the Canal and Mr. Thompson and a negro, Sloan Perry remained to get the rock out of the way of the scapes while the other hands went to dinner. Sam Turk was one of the hands, who last left. Mr. Thompson asked him to hurry back, that he had something good to tell him. Sam lived just across the branch and thinks he returned in about fifteen minutes. He found that a huge mass of dirt about 60 ft. long had almost filled the ditch where Mr. Thompson and Sloan Perry were left at work. Sam hallooed for Mr. Thompson but there was no response. Believing they were under this great mass of earth he rushed to the home of Mr. Thompson and broke the awful news to the family. Telephone messages for help were sent throughout the country and to neighboring towns. People came from everywhere and the dirt was removed as rapidly as possible. There was great danger of other slides falling, but the work of rescuing the bodies was kept up. About 4 o’clock a light rain began to fall but the work continued and at 6 o’clock the hands of Mr. Thompson were seen and at 7 o’clock his body was taken from the ditch. He was in a standing posture, his hands raised as if to ward off danger. His body was not badly bruised, yet his left leg was thought to be broken in two places.

The search for the body of Sloan Perry continued until after midnight–about 2 o’clock when the heavy rain forced the rescuers to quit work. About 1 o’clock his body was found.

Their bodies were about eighteen feet apart, facing a opposite directions. It is thought that the death of Mr. Thompson was instantaneous while Perry died of suffocation as there was signs of struggles with both hands and feet.

From the estimation gathered the embankment that caved was about 60 feet long. The ditch at this point was 25 feet deep. Evidently the south end of the falling embankment broke loose first. Perry was found 10 feet from the tools in running posture. He was making a run for his life but was caught near the central point of the fallen embankment.

As stated in the Journal some weeks ago Mr. Thompson has 200 acres of bottom land in a body with a branch passing through it to the river. It was his purpose to carry the water from this branch to the river above the bottoms. To do this it would require a canal about 200 yards long and about 25 feet deep at the highest point on the hill with a 10 foot dam at the head of the canal. The canal was about 8 feet wide. He expected to finish up the canal Tuesday.



on the 2th day of June 1844, James K. (Polk) Thompson was born in Hall County, Georgia, and was therefore 57 years, 8 months and 19 days old. He was large robust and the picture of health. He was 6 feet tall and weighed 250 pounds. He had a sunny happy nature and made friends of all he met. His entire life was spent on a farm. His education was very limited, but he had brains, ambition and energy.

He was one day going to mill carrying his turn of corn on his back. The turn became heavy, the distance grew longer and the boy became fatigued and sat down on the roadside despondently crying. A lady came along and found the boy in this condition and asked him the cause of his trouble. His reply was: “I’ll bet if I ever get to be a man I’ll have me a mule to ride to mill.”

The first horse he ever owned in his life he bought from Lewis Carter and worked at a peck of corn a day until the horse was paid for.

When 18 years old he enlisted in the army in Skid Harris’ regiment 43rd Ga. Company K, under Captain Law. He served through the war and was a brave soldier.

In August 1865, he was married to Miss Margaret Armour, daughter of Taylor Armour. They settled on a farm on the Chattahoochee river near Belton and soon they began their accumulation of this world’s goods.

In the spring of 1878, he bought the William Brewer farm, 2 miles south of Homer on the Hudson River. Years passed by and other little farms were added till now he has left more than a thousand acres in one body. He leaves an insurance policy of $2500.

In politics Mr. Thompson was a recognized leader among his people for Democracy and pure Democratic principles. For years in the county his every wish and suggestion was followed. It may be said of him that he fought and won some of the closest and most hotly contested political battles ever fought in any county. In the state he was an influential factor. He has represented the county in the legislature three times; was senator two terms. So at home and abroad, and in the quiet precincts of his lovely home, and in the sweet companionship of his devoted wife and sons; among his friends, in social circles and everywhere he will be greatly missed. The faithful and conscientious discharge of his duty as a Legislator, as Senator, and in whatever he undertook his big heart and clear brain gave his friends reason to predict for him a future of still greater usefulness.


Transcribed 2005 by Jacqueline King

Copyright 2005 Jacqueline King