COLUMBUS, Ga. – A Columbus High graduate returned to Columbus Monday sparking conversation about a new book detailing harsh realities in the Chattahoochee Valley. Karen Branan’s book, The Family Tree: A Lynching in Georgia, a Legacy of Secrets, and My Search for the Truth, came out in January and tells the story of lynchings in Harris County during the early 1990s.
The book takes place in 1912. It is primarily set in Harris County, but also includes Muscogee County.
The Family Tree tells the story of a black woman and three black men who were lynched after being wrongly accused of murdering the sheriff’s nephew. Branan says her great-grandfather was the sheriff at the time of the lynchings.
She says some of her family members were responsible for the lynchings.
“I think it has had a ripple effect down through the generations and has harmed us in ways that we are only just now beginning to recognize,” Branan said.
She spent 20 years researching and writing The Family Tree. Branan says someone did confess to murdering the sheriff’s nephew, but she does not know his name.
Branan discussed her book at the Mildred L. Terry Public Library Tuesday afternoon.