A Northern Lynching, Coca-Cola, Leo Frank, and A Deadly Warning – This Week in Historical Lynchings

In our closer examination of several racially-motivated lynchings, we look today at a few anomalies. We’ll start first in Ohio – a northern state with few such crimes. It is then to a very early case of Jim Crow laws in Georgia, where a soldier in the United States Army wished to purchase a Coca-Cola. Then we look at the lynching of Leo Frank, a Jewish man accused of murder. And finally we arrive at a crowd of envious whites in Louisiana.

Between the Civil War and World War II, the black community, especially in the South, was terrorized by an epidemic of lynchings. As opposed to public executions, the point of lynching was to avoid the court of law, judge and jury. Often times, the victim, in a holding cell for an offense, was kidnapped by a mob before even being arraigned. According to a recent report issued by the Equal Justice Initiate, there were 4,075 lynchings of black Americans across the South between 1877 and 1950. 1In this case, “The South” pertains to the dozen states where the most lynchings occurred: Mississippi (614), Georgia (595), Louisiana (559), Arkansas (491), Alabama (363), Texas (344), Florida (307), Tennessee (238), South Carolina (184), Kentucky (170), North Carolina (122), and Virginia (88). See the EJI site here.

Lynched a Negro in an Ohio Town (1895)

A Frenzied Mob at New Richmond Makes Short Work of Murderer Anderson.
New Richmond, Ohio, Aug 21 – This usually quiet river town, 25 miles up the Ohio river from Cincinnati, was the scene of the wildest excitement to-day.

Pittsburgh Daily Post Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Thu, Aug 22, 1895
Pittsburgh Daily Post
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Thu, Aug 22, 1895

Two crimes were committed. The first was a brutal and cold-blooded murder of an aged and respectable man by a negro. The second was teh lynching of the murderer by a mob of furious citizens.

The first victim was Franklin Fridman, nearly 80 years old, and president of the First national bank of this place. The second victim was Noah Anderson, a negro.

Mr. Fridman was among the wealthiest men in Clermont county. He owned a number of farms, and lived at Clermontville, about two miles from New Richmond. He was driving into New Richmond shortly after noon to-day, when he stopped at one of his houses. Hitching his horse to the door yard, he went into an adjoining field, where he was suddenly attacked by Noah Anderson, a muscular negro, who had no weapon but his hands. With these he quickly bore the aged banker to teh earth, and then, clutching his throat with the power of a demon, chocked his helpless victim to death. When satisfied that the man was dead, Anderson fled.

Workmen in an adjacent field, who witnessed the murder but were too far away to render assistance, rushed to the scene, and quickly the prostrate man was borne to the house. He was found to be past all help, as he was already dead.

The news of the chocking crime traveled swiftly, for everybody knew Mr. Fridman. It was not long until Anderson was captured and taken to the New Richmond jail, where a great crowd quickly gathered.

Anderson made no attempt to conceal his crime. He gloatingly told all the details, and said he had given the old man what he deserved. It is said that Anderson was not right in his mind, and that one of his hallucinations was that Fridman had deprived him of a large sum of money. The truth is, the two men had no dealings together at all, as Anderson came to New Richmond on a shanty-boat only a few months ago and claimed to be a paperhanger.

The crowd about the jail soon became wildly excited. As the negro’s confession became known, cries of “Lynch him,” “Hang the coward” arose. A rope was brought. Then prominent citizens addressed the mob, imploring moderation. Anderson was in his cell on his knees crying for mercy when he heard the yells of the frenzied crowd.

The excitement might have been allayed and the crowd dispersed, as the speeches of the more cool-headed ones was having its effect, but for one unfortunate attempt on the part of the town marshal, during a temporary lull, to remove Anderson to a more secure jail at Batavia, the county seat.

At sight of the cowering wretch the fury of he crowd broke loose, and with hoarse yells a rush was made at the marshal, the prisoner seized and quickly dragged to the nearest tree, where he was hanged, and in a brief time he was dead.

There was no masking, no attempt at concealment. Every person present and engaged in the mob, knew all the others. It was simply an act of frenzy under most aggravating circumstances.

The murdered man was endeared to every citizen, and his taking off was so sudden that his friends and neighbors seemed to have lost their reason.

-Pittsburgh Daily Post; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Thu, Aug 22, 1895 2More (very very bombastic) details are available here: “Strangled” The Cincinnati Enquirer; Cincinnati, Ohio; Thu, Aug 22, 1895.

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Negro Soldier Slain in Hampton (1898)

Called for Coca-Cola at a White Soda Fountain.
Hampton, Ga., August 19 – The dead body of Jim Neely, a colored soldier belonging to the Twenty-fifth infantry, was found here this morning.

His death was the result of a general shooting match yesterday evening, in which he was the aggressor.

Yesterday afternoon Jim Neely marched down the street in all of the glory of his blue uniform and bayonet strapped to his side. Having been around here before he knew the portion of the city where he would be most welcome and made for the home of Ann Varner, a woman of questionable character, where he was quartered himself.

He Called for a Drink

He then came up to the business portion of the small village and walking up to the soda fount in the store of Messrs. H.A. & E.O Moore ordered a coca-cola.

Young Mr. Moore, who was waiting on the fount, informed him that in the rear of the store there was a place where bottled soda was sold for the benefit of the negroes and that he could be accommodated there.

At this he became very abusive, saying that his money was as good as any white person’s, and was decidedly obstreperous when ordered from the store.

The Quarrell Renewed

The Atlanta Constitution Atlanta, Georgia Sat, Aug 20, 1898 - coca-cola
The Atlanta Constitution
Atlanta, Georgia
Sat, Aug 20, 1898

In front of Mr. J.C. Tarpley’s he was cursing when Mr. Will Z. Henderson called his attention to the fact that ladies were present, and he became more abusive. Mr. Henderson ordered him to bush and as he did so the negro threw his hand behind him as if to draw a weapon, whereupon that gentleman gave him two licks upon the head with an ax handle that was hastily seized.

According to the very best evidence the negro went off and returned to abuse Mr. Henderson, having his bayonet and dirk, when Mr. Henderson drew his pistol and as he went to fire the negro cut him across the right hand, knocking the pistol out of his hand, and possessing himself of it, began firing at once.

This attracted other parties, and as the firing became general the negro ran toward his stopping place, still snapping the pistol at all he met, and never stopped until he reached his den at the Varner house.

Of the volley that was fired at him no one seems to know just who did it and the bare fact that he was found dead this morning at the house of Ann Varner is the nearest solution that the closest investigation can give.

The Atlanta Constitution; Atlanta, Georgia; Sat, Aug 20, 1898. more information here.

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Leo Frank Hanged By Mob to Tree Near Mary Phagan’s Home (1915)

The background:
“As celebrated as any court battle in the twentieth century, the trial of the “jew,” Leo Frank, for the murder of “little Mary Phagan” pitted Jews against Christians, industrialists against workers, northerners against southerners, and city against country folk. It launched political careers and destroyed others, prompted the formation of the Anti-Defamation league, and set the stage for the resurrection of a more sinister and brutal Ku Klux Klan.

“Leo Max Frank was arrested on April 27, 1913, the morning after Confederate Memorial Day. A grotesquely engineered trial led to Frank’s conviction and a sentence of death by hanging. After Governor John Slaton’s commutation of the death sentence, Frank was transferred, for his own safety, to a prison farm in Milledgeville, Georgia.” 3From WithoutSanctuary.org.

Armed Party Overpowers Georgia Prison Guards, Takes Prisoner 100 Miles in Auto.
Marietta, Ga., Aug 17 – Leo M. Frank was lynched two miles east of here today by the armed party which last night took him from teh State Prison Farm at Milledgeville, where he was serving a life term for the murder of Mary Phagan, 14-year-old factory girl, in Atlanta. Frank was hanged to a tree.

The lynching of Leo Frank.
The lynching of Leo Frank.

Frank was brought 100 miles from the prison farm to a point almost within sight of the former home of Mary Phagan. No shots were fired. Frank’s body, barefooted and clad only in prison tousers and shirt, was found at 8:30 o’clock this morning. It is believed he was lynched about daylight.

Several automobiles, well loaded, left here in the direction of Milledgeville last night. After the return of some of the machines today, officers started out on the road which they believed the automobiles had traveled. They had gone only two miles when they saw the body of Frank not more than 150 yards from the roadside.

News that the body had been found spread rapidly and within a short time hundreds of persons were crowding to the scene. No immediate effort was made to cut the body down, as Sheriff Hicks was not in town and the Coroner took no action.

Crowd at Scene of Hanging

It is believed that a stop made at the bridge over Little River, near Eatonton, when the armed party talked loudly and fired shots, was a ruse to delay pursuers. The vicinity of the bridge was thoroughly searched and at the time the search was being made it is probable Frank already met death.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch St. Louis, Missouri Tue, Aug 17, 1915
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis, Missouri
Tue, Aug 17, 1915

The crowd increased rapidly. By 10 o’clock many women and children were mingling with the crowd in the woods at the edge of which the body still hung. At that hour no effort had been to dispose of the body, although Coroner Booth had been summoned.

Frank’s body was cut down at 10:15 o’clock, but not until a man had spoken to the crowd, advocating mutilation of the body.

Another man pleaded with the throng to allow an inquest to take its proper course. A vote was suggested and taken. It was overwhelmingly in favor of allowing the Coroner to take charge of the body. It was then cut down and the two-mile trip to Marietta started. The inquest was set for 11 o’clock.

At the suggestion of Newton A. Morris, former Superior Court Judge here, the body was taken from the undertaker’s wagon in which it was placed at the lynching scene and put into an automobile at the outskirts of town. The automobile started toward Atlanta.

Judge Morris telephoned from Smyrna to an undertaker to meet the automobile and take charge of the body.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch; St. Louis, Missouri; Tue, Aug 17, 1915. More information here.

Postscript:
“Postcards of the lynched Leo Frank were sold outside the undertaking establishment where his corpse was taken, at retail stores, and by mail order for years. The owner of the property where the lynching occurred refused repeated offers to buy the tree from which Leo Frank was hung. The dean of the Atlanta Theological Seminary praised the murderers as “a sifted band of men, sober, intelligent, of established good name and character – good American citizens.” The mob included two former Superior Court justices, one ex-sheriff, and at least one clergyman.

“Leo Frank was posthumously pardoned in 1985.” 4Ibid.

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch; St. Louis, Missouri; Tue, Aug 22, 1922
St. Louis Post-Dispatch; St. Louis, Missouri; Tue, Aug 22, 1922

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‘Let That Be A Warning To You’, Whites Cry As They Shoot At Southern Negroes Working On Highways (1931)

The Pittsburgh Courier Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Sat, Aug 29, 1931
The Pittsburgh Courier
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Sat, Aug 29, 1931

One Killed, Another Wounded as Whites Show Resentment
Alexandria, La., August 27 – J.D. Skinner was killed and Ed Ivory seriously wounded Tuesday night when a group of white men in an automobile fired about ten shots into a highway construction camp in Grant Parish. The opinion has been expressed that the shooting was occasioned by the resentment to Negroes working on the highway while there are so many whites unemployed.

Witnesses state that before the shots the white men shouted in abusive language that if the Negroes did not get out of the camp they would be killed. A volley of 10 shots was fired into the tent where several workers were sleeping and Skinner and Ivory were hit.

Shouting “Let that be a warning to you,” the white men drove off into the darkness. No arrests have been made and little effort is being made to discover the identity of the whites.
The Pittsburgh Courier; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Sat, Aug 29, 1931

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Flag announcing lynching, flown from the window of the NAACP headquarters on 69 Fifth Ave., New York City. 1936.
Flag announcing lynching, flown from the window of the NAACP headquarters on 69 Fifth Ave., New York City. 1936.

Nearly Ninety Other Lynchings This Week

What follows is a list of all known racially-motivated lynchings between August 15 and August 21, 1878-1950. It should be in the forefront of your mind that the “crimes” listed are only what the victims of the lynchings were accused of committing. They were allowed no trials, and thus they were not guilty in the eyes of the law. Certainly some may have done what they were accused of doing, but in a constitutional society that values law and order over mob rule, each and every lynching was a miscarriage of justice and a horrible wrong. 5For more information on all of this, please see our post here.

It must also be remembered that this list is incomplete. Not only were there unreported lynchings, but the databases I draw from are woefully inadequate. For example – Texas, the state with more lynchings than almost any other, is completely uncounted. There will be a nearly-complete fix for this coming in September.

Year	Victim	  City State	Race	Sex	Form    Alleged Offense

Aug 15

1881	Charles Stewart		Hancock	MS	Black	Male	Hanged					Murder of his wife
1883	Joseph Payne	  Yalobusha MS	Black	Male	Hanged					Murder of a young white man, a merchant
1888	Nash Griffin		Calhoun	FL	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	Wrote insulting note to a young unmarried white woman
1893	Unnamed Negro	  McCracken	KY	Black	Male	Shot					Ravishing a married white woman
1913	Son Lovett			Calhoun	GA	Black	Male	Shot					Murder of two well-known white farmers
1917	William Page Northumberland	VA	Black	Male	Hanged					Attempted rape of a white woman
1918	Bill Dukes			  Adams	MS	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	A “crime too revolting to report”
1926	Raymond Bird		  Wythe	VA	Black	Male	Shot and beaten			Criminal assault on a 19 year-old white girl

August 16

1878	— Green (brother #1)Johnson	KY	Black	Male	Hanged					Murder of a white man
1878	— Green (brother #2)Johnson	KY	Black	Male	Hanged					Murder of a white man
1879	Israel Thomas	   Bradford	FL	Black	Male	Hanged					Outraging a young white girl
1881	Ed Reines			 Graves	KY	Black	Male	Unreported				Attempted ravishing of an unmarried white woman
1890	Henderson Fox		 Gibson	TN	Black	Male	Hanged					Rape of a young white woman
1890	Thomas Woodward		 Gibson	TN	Black	Male	Unknown					Assault and robbery of a white man
1898	Amos Neely			  Grant	AR	Black	Male	Shot					Criminal assault on a young married white woman
1899	Charles Hurt	   Crenshaw	AL	Black	Male	Hanged/RwB				Attempted criminal assault on a widowed white woman
1899	Tom Keith		 Greenville	SC	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	Found asleep in a 13 year-old white girl’s bedroom, daughter of his employer
1902	Charles Johnson		  Leake	MS	Black	Male	Unreported				Criminal assault on a young white woman
1904	Paul Reid			Bulloch	GA	Black	Male	Burned					Murder and burning of white man, his wife and three of their children
1904	Rufus Lesseur		Marengo	AL	Black	Male	Shot					Robbery and entering a white woman’s room
1904	William Cato		Bulloch	GA	Black	Male	Burned					Murder and burning of white man, his wife and three of their children
1905	Henry Young			 DeSoto	MS	Black	Male	Hanged					Murder of a white man
1906	Robert Davis	  Greenwood	SC	Black	Male	Hanged/RwB				Attempted assault on a 20 year-old white girl and criminal assault on 14 year-old black girl
1907	William Clifford	Hickman	KY	Black	Male	Hanged					Rape and murder of 50-56 year-old married white woman
1931	J. D. Skinner		  Grant	LA	Black	Male	Shot					Race prejudice; being employed while many whites unemployed; resentment
1937	Albert Gooden		 Tipton	TN	Black	Male	Hanged/RwB				Murder of a white city marshal

August 17

1883	Reuben Robinson		 Miller	GA	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	Murder of young married white woman
1888	Unnamed Negro   	  Smith	MS	Black	Male	Shot					Killing a white man, a police officer
1888	Unnamed Negro 	 	  Smith	MS	Black	Male	Shot					Killing a white man, a police officer
1897	Unnamed Negro	   Franklin	FL	Black	Male	Drown					Entered a 14 year-old white girl's bedroom
1915	John Riggins		Decatur	GA	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	Criminal assault on a married white woman, wife of a prominent planter
1915	Leo M. Frank		   Cobb	GA	White	Male	Hanged					Murder of a 14 year-old white girl
1923	Aaron Harris	   Bleckley	GA	Black	Male	Hanged					Attempted sexual assault of a white woman
1923	Lee Green			Houston	GA	Black	Male	Hanged/RwB				Assaulting a prominent white woman

Aug 18

1886	Eliza Woods			Madison	TN	Black	Female	Hanged/RwB				Poisoned to death a married white woman
1889	Walter Asbury		Chatham	GA	Black	Male	HaHanged/RwB			Attempted rape of 17 year-old white girl
1893	Charles Walton		  Union	KY	Black	Male	Hanged					Murder of a 10 year-old white boy
1898	Alex Walker			 Dallas	AL	Black	Male	Beaten-Whipped			Assaulting and insulting a white man
1898	Jim Neely			  Henry	GA	Mulatto	Male	Shot					Violation of racial etiquette and assault
1900	Bill Cato		   Colquitt	GA	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	Attempted rape of white woman
1911	Millard Lee			  Early	GA	Black	Male	Shot					Accessory to the murder of white marshal
1913	Louis King			  Early	GA	Black	Male	Shot					Broke labor contact with a white man
1915	"Kid" Jackson	 Montgomery	AL	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	Poisoning mules and burning a barn
1915	Henry Russell	 Montgomery	AL	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	Poisoning mules and burning a barn
1916	— Lewis				Lowndes	GA	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	Intent to murder his white employer
1919	Will Williams		 Pierce	GA	Black	Male	Shot					Murder of white deputy sheriff
1950	Clinton Walker	 Meriwether	GA	Black	Male	Shot					Knew too much about illegal whiskey

Aug 19

1882	Jack Turner			Choctaw	AL	Black	Male	Hanged					Alleged ringleader of a plot to kill whites; being a Republican and testifying against a Democrat in U.S. Court
1899	John Bolin			 Fulton	KY	Black	Male	Hanged					Murder and robbery of a white man
1906	Unnamed Negro 	  Calcasieu	LA	Black	Male	Shot					Race hatred; being black laborers on the railroad
1906	Unnamed Negro 	  Calcasieu	LA	Black	Male	Shot					Race hatred; being black laborers on the railroad
1912	Monroe Franklin		   Pope	AR	Black	Male	Hanged					Criminal assault on a white woman
1916	Andrew McHenry		Alachua	FL	Black	Male	Hanged					Accessory to murder of a white deputy sheriff
1916	Bert Dennis			Alachua	FL	Black	Male	Hanged					Accessory to murder of a white deputy sheriff
1916	Josh Baskins		Alachua	FL	Black	Male	Hanged					Accessory to murder of a white deputy sheriff
1916	Mary Dennis			Alachua	FL	Black	Female	Hanged					Accessory to murder of a white deputy sheriff
1916	Stella Young		Alachua	FL	Black	Female	Hanged					Accessory to murder of a white deputy sheriff

Aug 20

1879	Ed Rabun			  Union	LA	Black	Male	Hanged					Attempted to rape a married woman and failure to leave the area as ordered
1884	John Johnson		Carroll	GA	Black	Male	Shot					Rape of 14 year-old white girl
1887	Unnamed Negro		 Wilson	NC	Black	Male	Drown					Attacking a white girl, a farmer’s daughter
1889	Sherman Lewis	 Lauderdale	MS	Black	Male	Hanged and shot			Criminal assault and murder of a white woman
1893	Charles Tait		Coahoma	MS	Black	Male	Shot					Killing a white man, his employer
1896	Fred Robertson 	  Wilkinson	MS	Black	Male	Unreported				Murder of a white man
1896	Lewis Purnell	  Wilkinson	MS	Black	Male	Unreported				Murder of a white man
1898	Hamp Hollis			 Sumter	GA	Black	Male	Hanged/RwB				Murder—chopped to pieces a white woman and her son
1899	Isaiah Denmark		 Marion	GA	Black	Male	Head crushed			Found under the bed of a white woman
1899	Peter Louin			 Elmore	AL	Black	Male	Unreported				Murderous assault on a white man
1899	Son of Peter Louin	 Elmore	AL	Black	Male	Unreported				Murderous assault on a white man
1901	Frank Stevens		   Ohio	KY	Black	Male	Hanged					Assault on a married white woman
1904	Ed Avery			 Walker	AL	Black	Male	Shot					Murder of a white man, the town marshal
1906	Dan Etheredge		 Saluda	SC	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	Attempted criminal assault on 7 year-old white girl, his well-to-do employer’s daughter
1906	John Bapes			   Polk	FL	Black	Male	Hanged/RwB				Attempted murder of a prominent white man
1915	Bob —			  Red River	LA	Black	Male	Hanged					Attempted criminal assault on a 17 year-old unmarried white girl, daughter of a farmer
1919	Walter Elliott	   Franklin	NC	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	Attacking a white woman, the wife of a prominent farmer
1930	Oliver Moore		 Wilson	NC	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	Ravishing two little white sisters, aged 7 years and 5 years

Aug 21

1890	John Henderson	   Woodford	KY	Black	Male	Hanged					Murder of a prominent white farmer, his employer
1890	William AlexanderBaton RougeLA	Mulatto	Male	Hanged					Attempted rape of an 11 year-old white girl; entering the bedroom of two young white girls
1891	Ray Porter			Chilton	AL	Black	Male	Unreported				Murder and robbery of a 16 year-old white boy, a railroad employee
1893	Jake Davis		      Abbeville	SC	Black	Male	Shot					Rape of a 55 year-old married white woman
1895	Noah Anderson  New Richmond OH	Black	Male	Hanged					Murder
1898	Tom Miller			 Brooks	GA	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	Attempted rape of a white woman
1901	Luke Hough			  Anson	NC	Black	Male	Hanged/RwB				Outraged and murderous assault on a prominent young unmarried white woman
1903	Manna Ponton	    Halifax	NC	Black	Male	Hanged/RwB				Criminal assault and murder of a 13 year-old white girl, daughter of his employer
1908	Anthony Davis	  Jefferson	AL	Black	Male	Shot					Strikebreaker
1910	Tom Weaver			 Wilcox	GA	Black	Male	Shot					Murderous assault on the white postmaster
1922	Parks Banks			  Yazoo	MS	Black	Male	Hanged					Refused to leave neighborhood

References   [ + ]

Eric
Eric has always had a love for history and the Civil War. During the 150th anniversary of the war, he wrote the Civil War Daily Gazette blog, which published daily for nearly five years. Wishing to continue the exploration, following the Charleston murders in 2015, and the activism around removing the Confederate Battle Flag, he decided to dig a little deeper into the causes and repercussions of the War.
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