The Face in the Courthouse Window
By Kelly Kazek
In November 1876, the Pickens County Courthouse burned to the ground. Suspecting arson, residents wanted to punish the person responsible. After more than a year, a former slave was arrested in connection with a string of burglaries and taken to the newly rebuilt courthouse. Thinking Wells was also responsible for the arson, a mob gathered outside, ready to hang him.
From a garret room upstairs, Wells was reportedly peering down at the angry crowd when a bolt of lightning struck near the courthouse and somehow etched the anguished expression on Wells’ face into the glass of a window pane.