Osceola County Florida Public Records – Getting Public Records of Osceola County

Performing a search for Osceola County Florida Public Records is becoming easier with the availability of online resources where you can simply perform your search right at the comfort of your own home or office. You can simply log on to the internet and visit one of the official websites of this County at osceola.org where you can gain access to some public records.

The information you will get includes arrest reports which lists down the names and photos of person arrested for the past two weeks, Sheriff office and Federal law enforcers’ listing of sexual offenders and predators, as well as inmates information on the County’s correctional facility.

Another option for you is to visit the office of Osceola County Circuit Court office located at the Courthouse along 2 Courthouse Square Suite 2000, Kissimmee, of Florida. Personally make your request on your desired information and you can get quicker results. You may also call in your request using their hotline number 407-343-3500 or fax your applicaion at 407-343-3699.

Another better alternative solution for your search is to use the facilities of third party companies whose online services allow you to gain access to their huge database of public records. In this option, the results that you shall get are more detailed information about the person you are investigating and you can even gain access to other public documents of people outside of this State.

However, there is minimal investment required to use their facilities in order to cover the cost of updating the files and maintenance of the system; but the benefits that you will get from using their sites are worth much more than the amount you invested on it, considering the fact that you can perform your search anytime you want and regardless of your location. This option offers one of the best and most convenient ways to gain access to Osceola County Florida public records; and you can enjoy the numerous advantages of performing unlimited search with more detailed data gathered.

FBI Investigated George Lee’s Murder; Suspects Never Tried

As it turned out, the FBI did investigate the murder of the Rev. George Lee of Belzoni, and records show the agency built a circumstantial murder case against two men.

But a local prosecutor refused to take the case to a grand jury.

Peck Ray and Joe David Watson Sr., the suspects, were members of the small town’s white Citizens Council and both died in the 1970s.

Interviewed by Newsday years later in 2000, Ernest White, a close friend of Lee’s, said that he always suspected that Ray, a local handyman, and Watson, a gravel hauler, were involved in Lee’s murder. “We suspected them because of their reputation,” White told reporter Stephanie Saul.

Before Lee’s murder, Watson had been arrested, but not convicted, for randomly shooting into a black sharecropper’s home.

Some of Lee’s friends believed the murder was part of a larger conspiracy involving influential members of the community who wanted to silence Lee, who was encouraging blacks to register to vote.

“The big wheels paid them off,” said White, who became a city councilman years after Lee’s death.

The FBI released their investigation records to Newsday under the Freedom of Information Act. Many names in the records were marked out but reveal the FBI had named Watson and Ray:

“Witnesses saw two men leave a downtown street corner where they had been standing, enter Ray’s green two-toned Mercury convertible just before the shooting, drive away and return shortly afterward. Several witnesses saw a convertible fitting that description following Lee with only its parking lights on.

One witness said the fatal shots were fired from such a car. But no one could identify the shooters,” Saul reported.

The Newsday reporter also indicated that Ray had his convertible painted red following the shooting and that Watson’s pick-up had carried a sawed-off shotgun loaded with No. 3 buckshot – the same bullets used to kill Lee.

Further, Watson and Ray gave conflicting accounts of their activities that night,” Saul reported.

Ray’s wife told investigators that he had picked her up from the movie at about 11 p.m. and had gone home. But she could not remember the name of the movie.

Ray’s daughter, Doris Dalton, told Saul she did not believe her father could have committed such a crime and that it was her idea to paint the convertible because she was taking it to college.

Agents had turned over evidence to the local prosecutor, Stanny Sanders, but held Watson’s shotgun and shells for possible use in a trial. Sanders, who died in 1972, declined to prosecute.

An FBI memo in 1956 states that Sanders believed that while the investigation “conclusively demonstrates that criminal action was responsible for Lee’s death, he does not believe the identity of the subjects is sufficiently established by usable evidence to warrant presentation to the grand jury.”

Sanders told agents that a Humphreys County grand jury “probably would not bring an indictment, even if given positive evidence.”

Sanders suggested that Belzoni settled down after Lee’s murder, and he believed it would harm race relations to reopen the matter. The U. S. Justice Department did not file civil rights charges because it could not substantiate allegations that Lee was killed because of voting rights activities.

“The 20-gauge double-barrel shotgun was personally returned to Watson by an FBI agent, the file notes. Also delivered were the two No. 3 buckshot shells obtained … with the gun.”

That fall, political campaigns were negative, condemning voting initiatives and school desegregation efforts. The Citizens Council supported all five candidates for governor; and the state Democratic Party chair, Bidwell Adams, announced that blacks might be national Democrats, but they were not Mississippi Democrats.

“We don’t intend to have Negroes voting in this primary,” Adams said. Few blacks would have supported any of the gubernatorial candidates, anyway, black leader Aaron Henry of Clarksdale later observed.

Brown II follows Lee’s death

Shortly after Rev. Lee’s murder the Supreme Court handed down Brown II on May 31, 1955, ordering the South to proceed with integration “with all deliberate speed.” The wording seemed harsh to many, as Brown II spoke plainly in reaffirming the first decision.

This time anger was higher than before and chaos reigned in many communities throughout the South, including the Mississippi Delta.

Three weeks later, the NAACP in Vicksburg filed a petition signed by 140 parents calling for “immediate steps to reorganize the public schools on a non-segregated basis.”

The following week in Natchez, seventy-five parents filed a similar petition. Parents followed suit in Jackson and then within weeks, Delta parents in Clarksdale and Yazoo City joined the growing movement. It was a real act of courage for any parent to sign a petition, and NAACP leader Medgar Evers insisted that people know what they were signing and all possible consequences.

Evers, too, was later murdered and his widow, Myrlie Evers later wrote that parents were also assured they could remove their names if pressures became too great.

Black teachers were holding back in their support, afraid they would lose their jobs if identified with the movement. Myrlie Evers wrote.

Further, a problem existed for most black teachers because of their own inferior training. Few had advanced degrees or schooling outside of Mississippi. Some had no degree at all, and many black teachers soon lost their jobs.

Most school boards simply closed the matter, saying the petitions failed to meet certain requirements and presented them with nothing to take action upon. This advice, at least in Vicksburg, came from the state’s attorney general.

But white Citizens Councils did not see the situation as closed. New chapters quickly formed and in Yazoo City, the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of petitioners were listed in a paid advertisement in the Yazoo Herald as a “public service” of the Citizens Council of Yazoo City.

Myrlie Evers told how the toll of petitioners in Yazoo City quickly overcame any possibilities of change:

“Jasper Mims, treasurer of the local NAACP, had been a carpenter for thirty years. He had earned up to $150 a week. Months later he reported he had not had a call for work since the now-famous ad had appeared.

“The income of Hoover Harvey, a plumber whose customers were mostly white, was soon down to twenty dollars a week. Both Mims and Harvey removed their names from the petition, but there was no letup in the pressure.”

Fifty-one of the fifty-three signatures on the petition were removed; two people who left the county for good didn’t stop to have their names taken from the list, and this was the story in most towns where the petitions were filed.

Medgar Evers drove from city to city, speaking at meetings and asking petitioners to hold firm.

But this was not to be, and the Jackson NAACP soon became a distribution point for food and clothing as petitioners around the state suffered. People told the NAACP they received threatening telephone calls or were put off their plantations; and they were having police, money, voting, and even marital problems.

Others killed as violence grows

The growing violence was not limited to the Delta. Lamar Smith was killed on a Saturday morning, August 13, 1955, in Brookhaven.

The sixty-year-old farmer and World War II veteran was handing out voting literature to blacks on the Lincoln County Courthouse lawn, in the home county of Judge Brady, author of Black Monday, when he was shot by a white man in broad daylight who was never officially identified although dozens of people watched the killing. No one would admit they saw a white man shoot a black man.

Smith, who had voted in the primary election eleven days earlier, was explaining to blacks how to vote by absentee ballot to avoid violence at the polls. He may have also been campaigning against a county supervisor.

The NAACP later blamed Citizens Councils for the murder in a pamphlet entitled M is for Murder and Mississippi.

Even though the murder occurred on Saturday morning when the courthouse square was normally filled with people, investigators said there were no witnesses to be found.

Historian John Dittmer observes that, “Although the sheriff saw a white man leaving the scene ‘with blood all over him,’ no one admitted to having witnessed the shooting,” and “the killer went free.”

Later, a white farmer, Noah Smith, was charged with murder in a warrant filed by J. J. Breland, a “courageous attorney.”

Between the years of 1956 and 1959, Medgar Evers spent much of his time investigating racially motivated homicides. Officially, ten blacks were killed by whites in civil rights struggles in those years, and there were no convictions.

Evers’ job was to investigate, file complaints, issue angry statements, take reporters to crime scenes, issue press releases, and involve the federal government.

(Excerpt from Where Rebels Roost, Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited, by M. Susan Klopfer, copyright 2005 M. Susan Klopfer)

Something’s Up With Edgefield – Edgefield, South Carolina

“Are you making all this fuss over me?”

Strom Thurmond

While traveling on business through South Carolina on State Route 19 from Aiken up through Edgefield I came upon a place that was totally unexpected. Each day I would drive through the town on State Route 25 which passes through the town square which reminds me of a cross between the town featured in the movie “Doc Hollywood” and the square in the Spielberg film “Back to the Future” where Marty has to somehow generate 1.2 Jigawatts of energy and channel it into the “Flux Capacitor” so he can get back home.

There were several monuments in the town square and a stately old Courthouse on the North West corner. I kept telling myself that I was going to stop and read what was inscribed on those monuments one day after work. I finally got my chance on the last day that I was there and I discovered a community unlike any other that I have ever visited. I discovered a town where exploration, industry, war, agriculture, slavery, bigotry and feudal honor had been swirling in a vortex seemingly since the founding of the town back in the late 1700’s.

Thinking it would be a short and simple stop on my way back to Aiken after a long week of work, I parked my vehicle at the town square, grabbed my camera and went to quickly read the inscriptions on the monuments. My first stop was the Egyptian type obelisk located in the center of the square. Apparently it was dedicated to the incredible sacrifice the men of the community made during the Civil War.

Another granite marker told of 10 South Carolina Governors that the Edgefield area produced. It struck me as very odd that a tiny town like this could have projected such an influence on the rest of the State by sending so many of its men to the Governor’s mansion. The lawns of this beautiful little town square were so green, trim and neat it seemed as if the greens keeper from Augusta was attending to the details himself.

I walked from the granite “Governor’s” marker over to a bronze statue of a man facing the Courthouse. This statue was of the most famous and influential Governor and State Senator ever to come out of South Carolina – Strom Thurmond. I was now very interested as this little park held some serious significance.

The next stop was the courthouse. Atop the triumphant marble steps of this imposing old structure with white doric columns you have a fine view of the entire town square. I stopped a moment to observe, photograph and appreciate a scene of the south that to me was so foreign, being a westerner and all.

I descended the steps and noticed that there were some historical plaques on the side of the building. One in particular caught my eye and it was an ornate plaque placed in 1919 dedicated to the memory of the men from Edgefield who gave their lives in the First World War. It was very odd to see the names broken down into two categories – white men and colored men. It was a stark reminder of the tangled web of the politics and bigotry of slavery and continued animosity after the great war between the States that is still apparent just beneath the surface in so many parts of the south.

I walked through the portico under the courthouse steps and read a plaque about how a shooting occurred on that very spot taking the life of a man named Bird due to a dispute between locals. Apparently, a man’s name and honor was a huge thing back in the day in Edgefield and if you impugned a man’s honor or reputation, the Code Duello, a set of rules for a duel, would be initiated and you would shoot it out in the street.

The next plaque was quite disturbing as it told the tale of one “Becky Cotton- The Devil in Petticoats” 1765-1807, a beautiful seductress who murdered her husband in a brutal fashion by burying an axe in his head while he slept. According to legend, the all male jury in her trial was so taken with her charm and beauty that they acquitted her even though they had no doubt she committed the crime. Some say she went on to marry twice more and that she killed both of those husbands as well and threw their bodies in Slade Lake.

She was finally killed by her own brother after she was once again acquitted by the jury. The plaque on the courthouse states that the “Devil in Petticoats” was killed by her brother, who was disgusted by her behavior – he crushed her skull with a rock on the courthouse steps and then made his escape on a horse and rode west.

Very creepy yet interesting tale. Later in the day I explored Slade Lake and followed the “10 Governors Trail” which is a paved path from Slade Lake to Main Street that follows the old rail road grade and crosses Highway 25 on an old train trestle. This is a beautiful trail that has a granite marker every tenth of a mile – on these markers you will find information about all 10 Governors who came from the Edgefield area.

As I walked by Slade Lake in the waning golden light of late afternoon I thought of Becky Cotton. I looked down into the murky water and wondered if Becky actually did throw her husband’s corpses in there and if there are such things as ghosts, if they – and Becky still haunted the place.

Continuing on from the Courthouse I walked past the old black smiths shop where locals tell me for over 100 years, the town blacksmith has been on duty. Behind this shop is St. Mary’s Catholic Church and it is a wonderful old grey granite structure. I took a walk through it’s cemetery and noted several graves of confederate soldiers.

I walked back to the town square and noticed a cat inside a store window – lazily sleeping on a rocking chair. There were a bunch of cats just lounging around various places in the town. I looked at another historic plaque on a building just down the walk from the corner store.

This plaque told of the “Booth – Toney” shootout of 1878 where on that very spot, there was a gunfight between these two families that had a blood feud running back to 1869 when Benjamin Booth killed Luther Toney. There were more than 40 shots fired and when the smoke cleared – 3 men lay dead around the Edgefield town square – one in front of the public library.

By this time I was thinking to myself “What is up with Edgefield???” so much violence and fighting in such a small town. I stopped next at the old Tompkins library which houses the Edgefield Welcome Center and Genealogical Society. By this time I was fascinated with the history of the place so I bought several books on the history of Edgefield and one on the history of Company K – 14th South Carolina Volunteers.

I talked with the gentleman there for a bit and then made my way down a back alley to the old Edgefield Pottery building where I heard and exhaustive history of pottery making out of Red South Carolina Clay by the gentleman there who obviously loves his work. Apparently, Edgefield is famous for it’s clay and the pottery that is made from it.

I was hungry by this time so I went over to “Park Row Market No. 1” on the corner of Main street and the Courthouse Square. I ordered up a turkey and pepper jack panini with chipotle sauce and it was outstanding. This building is cool in itself as it housed a general store in Edgefield since 1852 and much of the interior of the place is just as it was back in the day.

It was a warm quiet evening and there was a gentleman playing guitar there and singing. When he dived into Jimi Hendrix’ “Little Wing” pulling off a great acoustic rendition, I knew I was going to stay awhile so I got a brew and elbowed up to a bench on the boardwalk in front of the store and commenced to munching my sandwich and observing the courthouse square as the sun went down.

So much interesting history took place in this tiny well manicured town square. It is impossible to capture it all in this short article and I’m sure if there are any mis-representations, I will hear about it from the Historical Society of Edgefield. Hopefully, the Code Duello will not be initiated as I will gladly correct any mistakes!

As I drove away from Edgefield passing by the peach orchards and pines with Stone Temple Pilots jamming on the radio it was as if I was in Marty’s De Lorean and I was heading “Back to the Future”. If you ever want to get a glimpse of the old south, Edgefield is a most amazing little slice in the up country of South Carolina. It is well worth a visit.