RBH Report Keene for George Hamilton


RBH Report Keene for George Hamilton
RBH Keene
Carroll, Jennifer
Recovering Black History report compiled by volunteers from Keene for George Hamilton
Individual Mentioned
extracted text
George Hamilton
Residing in LA and Keene, NH

1878: George Hamilton was a 22 year old black man residing in Keene. He was born in 1856 in
Thibadeaux, Louisiana. According to the NH Sentinel, George Hamilton came to Keene from
LA in August 1876 to work for the Manchester and Keene RR. He lasted one day, having hurt
his hands. He then moved into a boarding house and worked 1 month but was never paid. He
then went to work in Pat Mulville's house until November but was never paid. He continued to
stay in the house until after the 1876 election where he participated in the Democratic torchlight
procession so he could get presented with some new clothes. From Nov. 1876- Jan 1877 he
worked for M. J. Sherman of the Cheshire House. IN Jan he moved to Boston and stayed until
April 1877 and then moved to New Orleans. He was attacked by a man on the job and
shot/killed the man in self defense. He was taken to jail where police found a Keene Odd
Fellows badge on Hamilton. The police devised a plan to pay for the trail of Hamilton by getting
him to say that he was also responsible for the murder of Alvin C. Foster. Foster was a traveling
tree salesman who was working in Keene but about to travel on to Philadelphia and had been
found dead on the sidewalk on Washington Street on May 23, 1876. Foster was found with a
sponge filled with chloroform on his mouth and a towel wrapped around his head. Some
believed he had tried to knock himself out to pretend to have been robbed because he had met
a woman from Bellows Falls and was having an affair with her and they were going to run off to
Philadelphia so Foster was going to steal the money he had collected in Keene from his
company. But he fell face first and suffocated. Others believed he had been murdered and
robbed. Law enforcement in the south used this to say that George Hamilton was the murderer
so that they could collect the reward money and send Hamiliton up to NH for trial. Hamilton
agreed to profess his guilt at the murder to get out of a trial in the south, in favor of a trial in the
north. He was not in Keene at the time of the murder. He had found the Odd Fellows badge
while attending a dance one evening. The badge had no connection to the dead salesman.
While NH law enforcement believed the story and pursued a trial, the NH Sentinel investigated
and interviewed Hamilton in jail and determined he could not have done it. He was released by
the jailer and secretly put on a train to Boston. But Hamilton got off in Marlborough and came
back to talk to reporters again to prove he was innocent and share his life story. He then went
on to Boston to stay with friends. (PDF copies of the articles are on file)1
1879: George Hamilton, the negro indicted for the murder of Foster, has made affidavit to the
effect that he was not in this city at the time of Foster's death-- and there is not doubt


New Hampshire Sentinel, Thurs. May 2, 1878. page 1-2

Jennifer Carroll

whatsoever in the minds of most people that his statement is true. The indictment against him
will not be prosecuted. 2

Census Records

Keene Evening Sentinel. http://keene.advantage-preservation.com/



New Hampshire Sentinel, April 25, 1878, page 2, col 5

Recovering Black History in the Monadnock Region project: Keene