South Carolina experienced one of its most tragic and unforgettable family lynchings in 1925. Bertha Lowman and her mother, Annie, were home on April 25 when they received a visit from Sheriff H.H. Howard and four other officers from Aiken County.
The sheriff suspected that the women were making and selling illegal whiskey. The officers were dressed in plain clothing and did not present any badges to the women.
Annie, protecting her daughter told her to go back inside the home. But when Bertha Lowman turned to go inside, the officers ran toward the women and a chase ensued. Sheriff Howard hit Bertha Lowman in the mouth with his gun. Annie picked up and ax and was about to hit Sheriff Howard to defend her daughter. However, she was shot and killed by the deputies before she could help her daughter.
Bertha Lowman began screaming, after seeing her mother gunned down and murdered. Demon and Clarence Lowman-Annie’s son and nephew, respectively-wielded guns ready to defend and aid their family members. They exchange gunfire with the officers. The sheriff was killed and Bertha wounded.
Bertha, Demon, and Clarence were all charged with the death of the sheriff. Annie’s husband, Sam, was sent to a chain gang for allegedly possessing illegal alcohol. Both young men, received the death penalty, and Bertha was given a life sentence in jail. Sam, was eventually found not guilty on October 8, 1926 after a retrial. News of the trial spread quickly, and the Lowmans soon found themselves in front of the Supreme Court, represented by attorneys who had read coverage of the racially charged trial.
The Supreme Court overturned the convictions and ordered new trials, primarily based on the improper drawing and execution of a warrant. The Lowmans were taken back to Aiken to await a new trial. On Oct. 8, 1926, a mob of masked vigilantes stormed the jail, overtaking the jailer and leading the three prisoners out. They were taken to a pine forest north of town, and all three were shot and killed. No one was ever indicted in connection with the lynchings.