The Hanging of Little Abe

During the summer of 1849, Abraham “Big Abe” Rabon, Sr. and his sons, Abraham “Little Abe” Rabon, Jr. and Duke Rabon, farmed in the Popular section of Horry County, South Carolina which was located north of Cool Springs, about ten miles from Conway, SC. Another family of Rabon’s, (brother of Big Abe) lived nearby, the sons of both families which were cousins of Little Abe and Duke were in the habit of feeding their hogs on the lands of Big Abe. On September 3, 1849 they were told to stop by Big Abe or there would be trouble. In spite of the warning Little Abe’s cousin, Willis and his little brother George continued to feed their hogs on the Abe Rabon land. Later on the day of September 3 Willie and his brother were caught feeding their hogs on their land, Big Abe, Little Abe, and Duke went to stop the trespassing once and for all.

When Big Abe and his sons encountered Willis and George Rabon on “Big Abe’s” land, Willis & George were told by “Big Abe” to get off his land or he would release his dogs. Willis responded by saying he would kill the dogs, the dogs were released and Willis struck one of the dogs in the head. As the altercation escalated Willis Rabon was stabbed by “Little Abe” in the right side and died 15 minutes later. “Big Abe”, “Little Abe”, and Duke Rabon were arrested for Murder and were jailed. The trial was held in the 1850 Spring Term of criminal court. The Winyah Observer reported that all three were convicted of murder. They appealed their conviction, Duke was given a new trial and charges against Duke were eventually dropped. The Winyah Observer reported Little Abe was found guilty of murder and sentenced to be hanged but his father “Big Abe” was released. After “Big Abe” was released he went to the judge to ask that his son “Little Abe” be released until his hanging, “Big Abe” pleaded with the judge and gave the judge his word that he would have him there for his hanging (Judge’s name was not disclosed) if he would let him take his son home so help put the crop in. The Judge granted him this privilege and set the execution day for Jun 6, 1851

On the day of the hanging, “Big Abe” brought his son in on an ox and cart and an 11:00 that morning he turned him over to the Sheriff (W.H. “Hickory Bill” Johnston and the hangman). “Big Abe” also brought a pine coffin he had made for Little Abe to be buried in. Little Abe was hanged at 12:00 in the old muster field (corner 6th Avenue & Beaty St.) in Conway, SC. The hanging must have been the talk of the county, the Winyah Observer reported that about two thousand people witnessed the spectacle. Among the two thousand were 500 women and young girls. After it was over, “Big Abe” placed his son in the coffin, and drove him back home in the rain. The next day he was buried in Pleasant Union Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery located in Bayboro, SC in Horry County.

Little Abe

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