In the early morning hours of 31 May 1936, Margaret Jacobs was awakened by a “lumbering in the kitchen.” She awoke to find the lights blown out and exclaimed, “Lord, have mercy! There is a ‘reefer’ man in here.” She saw someone going out the back door, and “he whirled right around then and ran though the front of the house, and then the gun fired twice.” That’s when she heard her son, George Collins, yell out “Lord, have mercy! I am shot.” Margaret Jacobs sought help from her neighbors, calling out, “Somebody come here. A ‘reefer’ man has been in here and shot George.” George later died at the Petersburg Hospital from sepsis as a result of the gunshot wound. Neither George Collins nor Margaret Jacobs knew who the shooter was, but a witness was able to identify a man he saw coming out of the home, who had earlier been to his house asking for George. Witnesses believed the shooter to be James Hines, alias Slim, but police were never able to connect Hines to the crime.
While processing Petersburg (Va.) Coroners’ Inquisitions, 1807-1947, I found these references to the “reefer man” intriguing. Early in Virginia’s history, the Jamestown Colony made cannabis cultivation mandatory because hemp was viewed as a critical crop for rope, clothing, and canvas. After the formation of the Federal … read more »