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 lynchings 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.
Today we take a closer look at four lynchings that made headlines during this week in history, and forty that didn’t – where just a name and a location could be found. 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.
Lynch Mob May Have Erred
Savannah, Ga., Mar. 30 – It is possible that in the search for Richard Young, the negro wanted for the murder of Dower Fountain in the southern part of this county, a negro now unknown has been caught by a posse and burned in error.
A bright bonfire was seen in the swamp in the direction a posse went Friday night and the members of the posse returned stating that they were satisfied with the night’s work. It now develops, however, that their victim may not have been Richard Young, for whom the officers of the law are still searching.
The remains of the burned negro were brought before the mother of Richard Young who says that they resemble her son in no particular.
-Chicago Record-Herald, March 31, 1902
Mob Victim Pleads Innocence; Prays Culprit Will Be Found
Rome, Ga., April 1 – Walter Allen, a negro, charged with assaulting Miss Blossom Adamson, a 15-year-old girl, in this city yesterday afternoon, was taken from the jail to-night by 4,000 persons, who battered down the prison doors and hanged him to an electric light pole in the principal portion of the city. A volley was then fired afterward, and fully a thousand bullets entered the negro’s body.
The sheriff tried to save Allen from the mob and refused to deliver the keys, but the crowd forced the jail door with sledge hammers. Allen was allowed to make a statement, in which he declared that he was innocent and prayed that the guilty party would be found.
-Chicago Record-Herald, April 1, 1902
Colored Woman is Hanged
Muskogee, Okla., Mar. 31 – Marie Scott, a negro woman, was taken from the Wagoner County jail early today and hanged to a telephone pole.
A mob of at least a dozen armed men overpowered the jailer, a one-armed man, threw a rope over the screaming woman’s head, dragged her out of her cell and strung her up a block from the jail.
Marie Scott was charged with driving a knife into the heart of Lemuel Peace, a youthful white man who, in company with other young white men, had gone to the negro quarter of Wagoner last Saturday night.
-Seattle Times, March 31, 1914
Bumps Into Girl; Is Lynched
Cedar Bluff, Miss., Mar. 31 – Jeff Brown was lynched by a mob here late Saturday afternoon. Brown was walking down the street near the car tracks and saw a moving fright [train] going in the direction in which he wanted to go. He started to run to board the moving train. On the sidewalk was the daughter of a white farmer. Brown accidentally brushed against her and she screamed. A gang quickly formed and ran after him, jerking him off the moving train. He was beaten into insensibility and then hung to a tree. The sheriff has made no attempt to find out who the members of the mob were. Picture cards of the body are being sold on the streets at five cents a piece.
-Birmingham Voice of the People, April 1, 1916
List of This Week’s Lynchings
With our focus upon the repercussions of slavery and the Civil War, this is our list of the lynchings of black Americans and their allies which took place between March 28 and April 3. It is compiled from several databases. For more information on that, please see our overview page on lynchings.
The information is laid out as follows (and I apologize for the layout):
Year Victim City State Race Sex Form Alleged Offense
1891 El Hudson Franklin AL Black Male Hanged Arson of a town 1891 Jeff Denzmore Franklin AL Black Male Hanged Arson of a town 1906 Corrolle Cotton West Carroll LA Black Male Hanged, Shot Attempted criminal assault of young unmarried white woman 1917 Joe Nowling Mitchell GA Black Male Shot Possibly for testifying against a white man 1935 T. A. Allen DeSoto MS Black Male Shot Trying to organize sharecroppers
1885 George Rouse Dooly GA Black Male Hanged Rape and murder of a white woman 1886 Fred Villerosa Warren MS Italian Male Hanged Rape of a white woman 1886 Tobe Williams Crockett TN Black Male Shot Murder of a prominent white man 1886 Weakley Ridley Crockett TN Black Male Shot Murder of a prominent white man 1888 Theodore Calloway Lowndes AL Black Male Hanged, Shot Murder of a white man 1890 Frank Griffin Chilton AL Black Male Hanged, Shot Rape of two white girls, ages 9 and 4 1894 Oliver Jackson Montgomery AL Black Male Shot Murder of a prominent white planter 1910 Charles Carroll Edmonson KY White Male Shot Unknown 1912 Frank Whisonant Cherokee SC Black Male Hanged Forced a white man to drink a pint of whiskey and then “forced him to an unmentionable action” 1912 Joe Brinson Cherokee SC Black Male Hanged Forced a white man to drink a pint of whiskey and then “forced him to an unmentionable action” 1914 Allen Turner Winn LA Black Male Shot Wounded a white man, a prominent planter 1920 Grant Smith Fleming KY Black Male Hanged Rape [twice] of the teenage daughter of his former employer 1931 Elijah Johnson Warren MS Black Male Shot Attempted attack on a white woman
1897 — Haines Coahoma MS Black Male Hanged Robbery and murder of one young white man, and murderous assault and robbery on another white man 1897 Unnamed Negro Coahoma MS Black Male Hanged Robbery and murder of one young white man, and murderous assault and robbery on another white man 1898 Unnamed Negro Berrien GA Black Male Hanged, Shot Assaulted 10-13 year-old white girl and tried to cut her throat 1902 George Franklin ClaiborneLA Black Male Riddled with bullets Murderous assault on a white man, a relative of the Governor of Louisiana (who later died)
1891 Zachariah Graham Mobile AL Black Male Hanged Attempted rape of a white child
1884 Erwin McCullough Gaston NC Black Male Hanged Murder of his white employer, a prominent young man 1884 Frank Elliott York SC Black Male Hanged Assault on a 5 year-old white girl, daughter of a prominent citizen 1902 Walter Allen Floyd GA Black Male Hanged, Shot Attempted criminal assault of a prominent 16 year-old white girl 1911 — Cheatham Decatur GA Black Male Shot Unreported 1920 Joe Steward Laurens SC Black Male Hanged Knife fight with young white men 1933 Reuben Micou Winston MS Black Male Shot Slapping a white boy
1880 Ben Johnson Clark KY Black Male Hanged Assault on a “respectable young [white] lady” 1891 Martin Mayberry Maury TN Black Male Hanged Rape of a white woman 1893 Charles Morgan Tazewell VA Black Male Hanged, Shot Murder of a black man 1895 William Rawles Alachua FL Black Male Hanged, Shot Murder of a white man, a prominent merchant 1898 William Bell Tangipahoa LA Black Male Hanged, Shot Suspicion of having connections to a murderous gang/group 1911 Abberdine Johnson Bullock AL Black Male Hanged, Shot Assaulted a married white woman 1912 Abe Coleman Oktibbeha MS Black Male Shot Frightening a married white woman and throwing an ax at a white man
1877 Alfred Turner Oglethorpe GA Black Male Shot Thought to have been connected to a black conspiracy 1883 Albert Williams Union AR Black Male Hanged Ravishing the 8 year-old daughter of a white judge 1889 Martin Rollins Russell VA Black Male Hanged, Shot Murder of a white man 1892 Unnamed Negro DeKalb GA Black Male Unreported Criminal assault on a white girl, daughter of the Postmaster 1896 Harvey Mabry Lee MS Black Male Hanged Attempting to rape a white woman 1900 Allan Brooks Chatham GA Black Male Hanged, Shot Raped a white woman 1908 George Tutt Todd KY Black Male Unreported Carrying a revolver 1924 Boots Wright Meriwether GA Black Male Shot Murder of a white chief of police
The title for these weekly posts – This Disgraceful Evil – comes from a speech delivered by President Woodrow Wilson in 1918. Wilson appealed to “the governors of all the states, the law officers of every community and, above all, the men and women of every community in the United States, all who revere America and wish to keep her name without stain or reproach, to cooperate, not passively merely, but actively and watchfully, to make an end of this disgraceful evil. It cannot live where the community does not countenance it.”
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|1.||⇡||In 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.|