Henry Shultz FAQ

Q: Did Shultz whip a slave to death?

A: No. He whipped a free white man to death. Actually, another guy was whipping with a grape vine and Shultz was ducking Joseph Martin’s face in a muddy ditch. Martin died several days later, on August 5, 1827. To his credit Shultz was genuinely contrite, immediately turned himself in at the Edgefield jail,  and threw himself on the mercy of the court at his murder trial. The whole affair was extensively reported in the Augusta Chronicle, unusual in a time when a newspaper consisted of advertisements, international news, and poems.

Q: Was Shultz branded for murder?

A: Probably not. In a sensational trial, he was convicted in the Joseph Martin case of ‘Assault with Intent to Murder’. The sentence of the court was that ‘you be imprisoned until the first day of the next term of this court [six months]; and that you then be branded on the Brawn of the Left thumb with the letter M.’ This bizarre sentence was as prescribed by South Carolina Statutes enabling the ancient English right to Benefit of Clergy. Shultz served about half of his sentence before receiving a pardon from the governor, and somehow the branding part did not come up again.

Q: Where was Shultz Born?

A: He was born Klaus Hinrich Klahn on October 10, 1776, in the village of Dahme on the Baltic coast of the duchy of Holstein.

Q: How / Why did Shultz emigrate to America?

A: Shultz left Dahme for the nearby port city of Lübeck at age 16. He became a wealthy trader, ran into difficulties, changed his name, and left for America.

Q: Did Shultz really hate Augusta?

A: Yes. He felt that he had done Augusta a big favor, and when he was down they stole his bank and his bridge. He declared ‘The taking of my bridge was the founding of Hamburg’, and that was just the beginning of his rants against the city of Augusta.

Q: Did Shultz try to commit suicide?

A: Yes. Shultz expected a lifetime of honor and privilege for his masterwork, the Augusta Bridge. Getting shafted by his business partners and the Bank of the State of Georgia drove him momentarily out of his mind. According to Edwin Scott, “he attempted to commit suicide by discharging a loaded pistol in his mouth, but it happened to range upwards and outwards, so that the load came out between his eyes, frightfully mutilating him for the time, and leaving indelible marks of the powder in his face, yet, strange to say, he recovered, with his eyesight unimpaired.” According to a tattling article in the Newport (RI) Mercury, Shultz attempted suicide on the morning of August 6, 1822.

Q: Do we know what the bridge looked like?

A: Yes. There are many engravings, drawings, and even photographs of the bridge. Its design was rather old fashioned, about as sophisticated as timber rafters for a large building repeated many times across the river. But it had back bracing against flood currents, was largely built of nearly-imperishable cypress, and had its deck raised thirty feet above low water. Opened in 1814, it was finally swept away by a flood in 1888.

1816 'Bridge Bill' showing prominent toll gates at each end of the bridge

1816 ‘Bridge Bill’ showing prominent toll gates at each end of the bridge


Remains of Shultz’s Bridge during 1888 flood (the covered bridge in the background is for the South Carolina RR).

Q: Did Shultz steal $50,000 from the State of South Carolina?

A: Well, Shultz didn’t think so. He received a loan on a share of Hamburg, and after his bankruptcy the $50,000 was paid by repossessing and selling off lots. The State wanted to keep Shultz going, and forgave interest and all sorts of other expenses.

Q: Did Shultz have artillery by his house to defend himself from angry Augusta mobs?

A: Shultz owned a brace of cannons and kept them on the the bluff above Hamburg. He fired salutes to celebrate any possible occasion, for example to punctuate toasts at banquets. According to Edwin Scott, the administrators of Shultz’s estate threatened to set up a toll booth at the Carolina end of the Bridge. Augustans said they would shoot at the booth, and the administrators offered to return fire with the cannons.

Q. When did Shultz live?

A: In the 1850 census, Shultz reported his age as 74, which if correct works out to a birth year of about 1776. He died October 13, 1851.

Q: Did Shultz marry?

A: Yes. According to a newspaper report, he married Fanny Edee on 30 March 1827 in New York City, but I haven’t found anything else about her.

Q: Was Shultz buried standing up, defiantly facing Augusta with a six shooter in his hand?

A: Don’t know. He would have liked that.

Q: Well then, was his backside facing Augusta?

A: Don’t know, I have never found where that story came from.

Q: What did Shultz have to do with the Hamburg Massacre?

A: Absolutely nothing, by that time he had been dead for twenty-five years.

So post a comment with your ‘Frequently Asked Question’!


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