Remembering a time when the long arm of the law couldn't reach

Published: Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 04:42 PM.

The records show that it was up to the sheriff to find witnesses who were on the run and to find jurymen. Even worse, the impoverished reasoned that the poor man could not fight “money” in the courts and was at an immediate disadvantage if he was a victim.

Walton County was basically in the realm of that situation.

When the son-in-law of Morris Walden was gunned down at his home on a chilly September night in 1863, they gave up on law enforcement’s search for the killer and decided clan justice would have to be fulfilled. The discovered killer was caught plowing his field and each member of a hastily drawn posse put a hole in him so no one could be singled out.

There was never any court proceeding.

When a fellow by the name of W.D. Holly who lived on the east end of Choctawhatchee Bay killed his neighbor and his nephew, events boiled over. He was later found diseased in his cabin from various penetrations to the body. His score was settled by citizen justice and persons unknown.

Real unbiased justice was meted out when outlaws passed through a region. Then the communities, clans, and close-knit settlers would see that “outsider” justice was performed.

Other stories of early Walton no doubt abound with such circumstances. As more settlers moved into the area after the Civil War, the county finally achieved a formal courthouse located in Eucheeanna, and then later moved  to DeFuniak Springs.

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