Death In The Swamp — By Tommy Purser

A hundred years ago this week, The Hazlehurst News — which later became The Georgia Cracker, then The Jeff Davis County Ledger, and finally Jeff Davis Ledger — carried a story about a young farmer who drowned in the river swamp.

There’s a small reference to the story in The Ledger Looks Back below this column

But there’s more to the story about A.C. Rooks’ untimely demise while hunting with his brother-in-law Henry Rowland.

I’m not sure what they were hunting but it was night and it was cold. And a cloud cover blocked out the moon making the swamp dark, indeed.

When the pair got lost, they stumbled around in the dark, wet, woods trying to find their way out. It turned out that, rather than stumbling out of the swamp, they were actually getting closer to the river.

At some point they came to a lake and, thinking dry land was on the other side, they tried to wade across. When it deepened, they tried to swim. Young Rooks was overcome by the cold and, according to Rowland, he died before he could get him out. So he dragged Rooks’ lifeless body to a clump of trees which he mistook for a small island. There, he clung to Rooks’ body in waist deep water and waited. Then he heard an animal headed toward him, splashing in the water. Unable to see, he feared it was an alligator and shot into the darkness to run off the animal.

Once the clouds cleared from the sky, Rowland was able to see that, instead of an alligator, it was Rooks’ dog who was swimming toward his master.

With the moon out, Rowland was able to find his way to dry land and get help to retrieve Hooks’ body

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