Jake McKenzie was born in the early 1860s in Macon County, Alabama. He had two older siblings, Lewis and Nelly McKenzie. The 1866 Macon County census report does not list any parents for these children. At some point, Jake McKenzie moved to Jefferson County, Alabama, and worked at Brookside Mines, a mine owned by Sloss-Sheffield Steel and Iron Company ten miles north of Birmingham.
On March 22, 1897, a Saturday night, a group of black men gathered at Burgins, a bar in Brookside. City Marshal Glen Tetherow entered the establishment with a warrant for the arrest of Henry Johnson, a black man, for a charge of abusive language. A group of black men, including Mr. Mckenzie, tried to stop the arrest. Tetherow and other officers began shooting at the men, killing Mr. McKenzie. An officer was also killed and several black men were wounded. Mr. McKenzie was in his late twenties or early thirties. No records show that the men were ever prosecuted for his death.
Jefferson County Memorial Project
Alabama State Census, 1820, 1850, 1855 and 1866. Montgomery, Alabama: Alabama Department of Archives & History.
“Blood was shed at Brookside Saturday Night,” The Birmingham News, March 23, 1897, page 3.
“The Brookside Fight,” Montgomery Advertiser, March 23, 1897, page 3.