Black Micanopy Marshal Shot Dead & Forgotten

Black Micanopy Marshal Shot Dead & Forgotten

In February 1885 newspapers across the country reported a double murder in Micanopy, Florida.


White Man Killed by Negro Boy and a Town Marshal Shot

Jacksonville, Fla, Feb. 25.-A bloody double tragedy occurred in the town of Micanopy, not far from Gainesville, in which two men lost their lives from a quarrel over five cents. A Micanopy man named Cheeves Carne met a colored boy, about fourteen years of age, to whom he owed the sum of five cents,

The boy dunned him for the nickel, using abusive language, and at the same time pulled out his knife. Carne tried to take the knife away from him. Another colored boy rushed in and dealt Mr. Carne a murderous blow on the back. Carne fell helpless with a broken spine, and died in six hours. The excitement ran very high and there was some talk of lynching the negroes.

Andy Shuford tried to quiet the people, and had almost succeeded in doing so when the town marshal, who is a colored man, became greatly incensed at Mr. Shuford, and, stepping up to him, told him to consider himself under arrest. At the same time the marshal commenced to pull his revolver: Shuford was too quick for him. He pulled his revolver and shot the marshal, the ball entering the forehead.

The marshal expired instantly.

Mr. Shuford came to Gainesville and gave himself up to the authorities, and was released on bail.

~ The Daily Evening Bulletin, February 25, 1885

This story ran more than 10 times in newspapers across the country with certain details edited out as the story continued to circulate, in particular the word negro/colored as it described the Marshal who was shot dead.

Yet the overall mystery that plagued me was – Who was this Colored Marshal of Micanopy in 1885?

No newspaper had published his name. The omission of his name from this murder scandal effectively erased his legacy from history. In 1885, the position of Town Marshal was one of honor and responsibility. The Town Marshal of Micanopy was responsible for maintaining peace, upholding the law and collecting taxes. The Town Marshal was a person to be respected by all.

If a Black man was the Marshal of Micanopy in 1885, before the Civil Rights Movement, it should have been a big deal. He should have been named. He should have had an identity, even in death.

During my search to identify this fallen hero, I was shut down at each turn. I poured over the 1880 census looking for a man whose occupation was listed as Constable or Marshal and found no one. I searched the newspaper archives for mentions of a Marshal in Micanopy and I found several names, but none mentioned the Colored Marshal in 1885. I clicked through death records from 1885 in Micanopy and did not find a Black man who died here in Micanopy in 1885 and was old enough to be a Marshal. I sent out bulletins to everyone I knew who had a shred of history research experience and asked them to give it a try.

Nothing came of it.

No evidence of his identity turned up until I heard back from Erik Murray of the Micanopy Historic Society Archives. After a couple of days of trying to recall where he saw the record, Erik found the physical copy of the complete list of Micanopy Marshals and sent over a photo of the document.

The first name listed as the first Marshal of Micanopy was Amos Barber in 1883. Next to Amos Barber’s name in simple handwriting someone had written – NEGRO.

We have our Black Marshal of Micanopy. He has a name. His name is Amos Barber.

This is solid evidence that Black leadership in Micanopy did not begin after the Civil Rights Movement and extends well beyond the pulpit. The first Marshal of Micanopy was Black and he died in the line of duty trying to calm a blood thirsty crowd.

The man who shot and killed Marshal Amos Barber, Andrew “Andy” Shuford, was questioned about the murder but he was never prosecuted. Andy Shuford went on to live a fruitful and joyous life.

Amos Barber was born in Florida in 1850. He lived and worked in Gainesville, Florida as a Farm Laborer and then moved to Micanopy, Florida with his wife Lizzie Barber and their four children. Amos Barber served on the Board of Trustees for the Micanopy Colored School as well as served as the Marshal of Micanopy.

His only living descendants thrive among the Payton family. His son Amos Barber, Jr. married Catherine Barber. They gave birth to Everett Barber, Carrie Barber and Mary B. Smith.

**Note** Marshal Amos Barber’s name has been nominated by the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office for Line of Duty Death recognition at the local, state and national levels. 

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