This week, we’ll have a look at four separate lynchings by white mobs.
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.
The Bulldozers at Work
September 30, 1885
A Negro Slain by Masked Men in Bienville Parish
Arcadia, La., Oct. 10 – About thirty-two miles south of this place, near the line of Winn Parish, on the 30th of September, four masked unknown men entered the house of Sampson Harris, colored, pretending to be looking for another man, until gaining admittance into the house. On entering the house it is reported that one of the men caught the colored man, saying, “You are the man we want,” and shot him (Sampson Harris) twice, from which he died.
Report says the cause of the killing of Harris was that he had threatened to report some parties for whipping some colored men in the neighborhood.
This killing and whipping of some colored men near the same neighborhood has caused great indignation on the part of many white people in the locality. The trouble has been reported to the Governor, and he has instructed Judge Drew to cause the parties suspicioned to be arrested.
Warrants were issued here this week, and H.R. Ferguson, Deputy Sheriff, in company of three other men, arrested the supposed party of four and brought them in for trial today. Trial is set to take place Monday at this place before Judge Drew.
The accused were put in the lockup here until this evening, and for safety were taken to Minden on this evening’s train.
The white citizens seem to take great interest in bringing the guilty parties to justice, and are using every precaution to that end. It appears from reports that about ten men are concerned in the whipping and killing altogether. The matter will be thoroughly investigated.
The citizens in the vicinity had a meeting last Saturday to take action, and had another meeting this week, composed of about forty citizens of the neighborhood, they being determined to arrest the trouble in some way. In the meantime four of the supposed parties were arrested. The names of the four arrested are: W.E. Pratt, B.F. Ratcliff, A. Stringer and J.W. Lucky. 2The Times-Picayune; New Orleans, Louisiana; Sun, Oct 11, 1885 – Page 4. Here.
Ex-Rebels who Beat and Kill “Niggers” Released from Custody on Peace Warrants
New Orleans, La., Oct 14 – […] The accused had the most distinguished counsel in that section of the state, and today one was discharged and the three others released on $500 peace bond ot answer to the charge of assault and battery.
This was on account of the inability of the prosecution to find any one willing to testify against them. Prominent citizens of that section deprecate these outrages, but they are afraid to take any active steps to prevent them and keep silent.
No reason is assigned for this outbreak of bulldozing, as there is no political campaign now in progress, but it has been said that the negroes favored the prohibition movement, which is attracting attention in some parts of the state. 3The Des Moines Register; Des Moines, Iowa; Sun, Oct 18, 1885 – Page 2. Here.
Lake Charles Jail Assaulted By A Mob
September 27, 1911
Deputy Sheriff Killed in Protecting a Black Fiend from the Wrath of Citizens
Lake Charles, La., Sept. 27 – Rumors of a plan to lynch Horace Scott, in jail here accused of criminally assaulting Miss Oswald, aged seventy-three years, a sister of Mrs. Joe Goodman, were current all day.
About 9 o’clock tonight an unmasked crowd gathered at the courthouse. One of the crowd called for Sheriff Perkins and demanded the keys to the jail. In the meantime Judge Miller met the crowd and with well-chosen words told them that the punishment of criminals must be left to the courts in Calcasieu parish.
He reasoned individually with the Goodman boys, nephews of the victim of the negro. Judge Miller urged the crowd to disperse and promised to take the case against the negro up in court tomorrow morning.
On this promise the crowd broke up, and it was thought there would be no further attempt by the mob.
At 11 o’clock, however, a fresh outbreak was made by the mob, when the angry men advanced toward the jail with an iron battering ram fifteen feet long and three inches in diameter.
D.S.A. Harmon and Paul Sloane, deputies inside the jail, warned the mob to come no nearer, and shot over the heads of the crowd. Someone in the mob then fired at the deputies. Paul Sloane was shot and is believed to be fatally wounded.
The sheriff and deputies outside the jail dispersed the crowd at the point of their pistols, and members of the mob then called for the arrest of the man who killed Paul Sloane.
Willie Daniels, alias Pate, who was known to have had a double-barreled shotgun, had disappeared. The gun was left standing at the corner of the jail yard with both barrels exploded.
Paul Sloane died at 12:30 o’clock.
Willie Daniel and others of the mob who were known to be armed have been arrested. 4The Times-Democrat; New Orleans, Louisiana; Fri, Sep 28, 1900 – Page 2. Here.
Lynching of Negro in Kentucky
September 26, 1913
Judge Says Keys were Taken form Him After He Was Gagged By Mob
Frankfort, Ky., Sept. 26 – Joseph Richardson, a Nashville negro, who attempted to attack Ree Goff, a white girl, 11 years old, while on her way to school, was taken from the Grayson County Jail by a band of armed men early today and hanged from a tree in the courthouse yard.
Robert Jackson, Jailer, today claims that at 4 o’clock this morning he was called to his front door by someone, who claimed to be a night watchman, and said he wished to put a prisoner in jail.
Jackson opened the door and was instantly seized. he says, by three men, who demanded the keys to the jail. He refused and was gagged and tied, he says. The mob at once searched the jail, Jackson says, and found the keys to the outer door and quickly went to the prisoner’s cell.
The negro fought desperately, according to two white prisoners, but soon was overpowered.
The men who composed the mob wore masked and numbered about 25. They worked so quietly that no one in the city knew of the lynching until this morning, when the negro’s body was seen.
Sheriff Henry Ashley is trying to find who were members of the lynching party. They are believed to have come from the country, as horses and vehicles were heard passing out of the city about the time of the hanging.
There was no thought of lynching until the little girl told her story of the attempted attack so vividly and with so much feeling that the citizens of her community where the attempted attack took place were worked up to a high pitch of excitement.
The negro stated that he had been in jail at Nashville, Tenn., for a similar offense. At the coroner’s inquest this morning a verdict was returned to the effect that the negro had come to his death “at the hands of unidentified persons.”
When Governor James B. McCreary was asked tonight what action he planned to take following the lynching of Joseph Richardson, a negro, at Leitchfield, Ky., early today, he said the lynching was news to him.
“I shall not take any action until I receive formal notice that a lynching has taken place,” said Governor McCreary. “I will have nothing to say until, through the official channels, I have received word that such an act has taken place at Leitchfield.” 5The Cincinnati Enquirer; Cincinnati, Ohio; Sat, Sep 27, 1913 – Page 1. Here.
According to the website Without Sanctuary: ‘The photographer who took this picture peddled the cards door to door. A descendant of the original purchaser expressed the remorse the townspeople felt upon recognizing the victim as the town drunk, who had “merely stumbled into the child, and not even torn her dress.”‘ 6Without Sanctuary, The lynching of Joseph Richardson. Here.
Masked Men Kill Negro Who Testified Against Whites in Attack Case
September 28, 1930
Thomasville, Ga., Sept. 30 – Lacy Mitchell, a negro, who testified recently in court against two white men charged with attacking a negro woman, is dead – the victim of masked men who invaded his home Saturday night and shot him.
Members of his family said the assailants, who appeared to be white men, entered the house and started firing without explaining their reason. Mitchell lingered until yesterday.
County authorities are making an investigation and have arrested several men for questioning. 7The Monroe News-Star; Monroe, Louisiana; Tue, Sep 30, 1930 – Page 15. Here.
Given Life Sentence
Thomasville, Ga., Oct 30 – O.E. Allen, charged with participating in the murder of Lacey Mitchell, negro and star witness in the case of two white men convicted of criminally assaulting a negro woman, was convicted by a Thomas County jury late Wednesday and sentenced to life imprisonment. 8The Anniston Star; Anniston, Alabama; Thu, Oct 30, 1930 – Page 1. Here.
The Lynching of Will Brown, Omaha’s 1919 Race Riot
September 28, 1919
In some cases, such as this, it is much better to allow actual historians tell the narrative of the lynching.
The lynching of Will Brown, which involved an attempted lynching, as well as a multitude of horrific acts on the part of the white mob, was left mostly untold in the period newspapers of the time. The act went on to spur a full on race riot which led to the deaths of several in the black community, and nearly cost the mayor his life at the hands of the same mob.
This article was authored by Orville D. Menard, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of
Nebraska at Omaha. It appeared in the Nebraska History in 2010. This is available as a PDF here, and is well worth the read.
Seventy-five Other Lynchings This Week
What follows is a list of all known racially-motivated lynchings between September 26 and October 2, 1877-1950. 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. 9For 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 understandably inadequate.
Year Victim City State Race Sex Form Alleged Offense
1878 James Russell Rutherford TN Black Male Hanged and shot Attempted assault on an 60 year-old white woman, a widow 1881 Ben Robertson Iberia LA Black Male Shot or hanged Stealing chickens 1890 Jim Tate Bibb AL Black Male Unreported Murder of a white man 1891 Charles Mack Emanuel GA Black Male Hanged and riddled with bullets Assaulted respectable white woman 1891 Lee Bailey Volusia FL Black Male Hanged Rape of a married white woman 1897 Raymond Bushrod Hancock KY Black Male Hanged Rape of a 14 year-old white girl 1898 John Williams Johnson TN Black Male Hanged Rape of a married white woman and stabbing a white boy 1899 William Otis Perry MS Black Male Hanged Indecent proposals to a white girl 1903 Will Williams Decatur GA Black Male Hanged/RwB Assaulted 8 year-old white girl 1909 Charles Anderson Taylor FL Black Male Hanged/RwB Murder of white chief of police 1913 Joseph Richardson Grayson KY Black Male Unknown Criminal assault on an 11 year-old white girl 1914 Nathan Brown Wilcox GA Black Male Riddled with bullets Murder of “prominently connected” white plantation overseer 1926 Samuel Nelson Palm Beach FL Black Male Riddled with bullets Criminal assault on a white woman 1933 John White St. Landry LA Black Male Riddled with bullets Attempted assault on a white woman
1887 Henry Johnson Dallas AR Black Male Hanged Outraging a white girl, daughter of a “leading farmer” 1889 John Sleet Jefferson AL Black Male Riddled with bullets Murder of a white deputy sheriff 1891 Unnamed Negro Laurens GA Black Male Hanged Assaulting a prominent white man 1892 Benny Walkers Concordia LA Black Male Hanged Entered a married white woman’s bedroom with “evil designs” 1893 Calvin Stewart Aiken SC Black Male Riddled with bullets Murder of an old white man 1897 William Oliver Jefferson LA Black Male Shot Violated a ferry law and resisting arrest 1900 Paul Sloane Calcasieu LA White Male Shot Defending a prisoner 1911 Charles Malpass Sr. Desha AR White Male Hanged Father of two black men who were accused of killing a white officer and another white man 1915 Manson Shuler Orangeburg SC Black Male Riddled with bullets Attempted robbery 1916 Moxie Shuler Decatur GA Black Male Hanged Attempted rape of 14 year-old daughter of a well-known white family 1935 Lewis Harris Dooly GA Black Male Hanged/RwB Aided his son from being arrested; threatened a white sheriff
1891 Grant White Washington MS Black Male Hanged Murder of a white man, a bartender 1891 Louise Stevenson Washington MS Black Female Hanged Murder of a white man, a bartender 1901 Thomas Walker Hallville TX Black Male Hanged Disagreements over crop mortgages 1901 Unknown Negro Hallville TX Black Male Hanged Disagreements over crop mortgages 1902 Thomas Clark Alcorn MS Black Male Burned Murder of a married white woman 1913 Walter Jones Jefferson MS Mulatto Male Hanged Multiple murders 1913 William Jones Jefferson MS Mulatto Male Shot and hanged Multiple murders 1916 Manuel Carter Lewis TN Black Male Shot Murder 1916 Wiley Tedwell Lewis TN Black Male Shot Murder 1919 Will Brown Omaha NE Black Male Beaten, Hanged, Shot, Burned Assault of white woman 1922 James Johnson Johnson GA Black Male Hanged/RwB Rape of a white woman 1927 Thomas Williams Shelby TN Black Male Riddled with bullets Attacked 50 year-old white woman 1930 Lacey Mitchell Thomas GA Black Male Shot Witness against whites charged with assaulting a black woman
1880 Unnamed Negro Orange FL Black Male Probably hanged Murder of a white man, his boss 1885 Harriet Finch Chatham NC Black Female Hanged Murder of a 75 year-old white man, his 80 year-old sister, and a 16 year-old black boy 1885 Jerry Finch Chatham NC Black Male Hanged Murder of a 75 year-old white man, his 80 year-old sister, and a 16 year-old black boy 1885 John Pattishill Chatham NC Black Male Hanged Murder of a 75 year-old white man, his 80 year-old sister, and a 16 year-old black boy 1885 Lee Tyson Chatham NC Black Male Hanged Murder of a 75 year-old white man, his 80 year-old sister, and a 16 year-old black boy 1888 Sam Cornwell Chester SC Black Male Riddled with bullets Quarreled with white man 1889 John Duncan Murray GA Black Male Shot Living with white woman 1891 John Brown Talladega AL Black Male Hanged Testifying against two boys accused of barn-burning 1893 Henry Coleman Jr. Bossier LA Black Male Hanged Attempted assassination of a white man 1916 John Foreman Nowata OK Black Male Hanged Killed Deputy Sheriff 1916 Powell Nowata OK Black Male Hanged Killed Deputy Sheriff 1919 Miles Phifer Montgomery AL Black Male Riddled with bullets Criminal assault on a white woman 1919 Robert Croskey Montgomery AL Black Male Riddled with bullets Criminal assault on a white woman
1884 William Smith Adams MS Black Male Hanged Raping and injuring a black woman 1885 Sampson Harris Bienville LA Black Male Shot Threatening to give evidence against whitecappers 1891 Ben Patterson Lee AR Black Male Riddled with bullets Rioting 1919 John Temple Montgomery AL Black Male Shot Murder of a 41 year-old white man, a policeman 1923 Unnamed Negro Holmes MS Black Female Shot Race hatred
1892 Joe Barco Camden NC Black Male Hanged/RwB Outraged and murdered a married white woman 1893 George McFadden WilliamsburgSC Black Male Hanged Criminal assault on young unmarried white girl, 16 year-old 1896 Lewis Hamilton Bossier LA Black Male Hanged Arson of a cotton warehouse 1898 Walt Johnson Madison FL Black Male Shot Unknown 1901 George Muckleroy Hallville TX Black Male Whipped to death Disagreements over crop mortgages 1901 Unknown Negro Hallville TX Black Male Hanged Disagreements over crop mortgages 1901 Unknown Negro Hallville TX Black Male Hanged Disagreements over crop mortgages 1902 Walter Sullivan Ashley AR Black Male Hanged/RwB Shooting a white man for whipping Sullivan’s brother 1903 Walker Davis Marshall TX Black Male Hanged Murder 1910 Unnamed Negro Calhoun AL Black Male Riddled with bullets Criminal assault of an old black woman 1921 Ray Newsome Madison FL Black Male Shot Trying to hug a white girl and being offensive to another white girl 1930 John William Clark Bartow GA Black Male Hanged Murder of white chief of police
1879 Charles Brown Wilkinson MS Black Male Hanged Attempted criminal assault on a married white woman 1890 Ernest Humphreys Caldwell KY Black Male Hanged Murder of a black man 1897 Wash Ferren Ouachita LA Black Male Hanged Criminal assault on two white girls 1898 Wright Smith Annapolis MD Black Male Shot Attempted rape 1900 Wallace Townsend Elmore AL Black Male Burned Attempted assault on a married white woman 1901 Clarence Garnett Shelby KY Black Male Hanged Murder of a white man, a printer 1901 Jimbo Fields Shelby KY Black Male Hanged Murder of a white man, a printer 1912 Frank Wigfall Rawlins WY Black Male Hanged Rape
References [ + ]
|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.|
|2.||⇡||The Times-Picayune; New Orleans, Louisiana; Sun, Oct 11, 1885 – Page 4. Here.|
|3.||⇡||The Des Moines Register; Des Moines, Iowa; Sun, Oct 18, 1885 – Page 2. Here.|
|4.||⇡||The Times-Democrat; New Orleans, Louisiana; Fri, Sep 28, 1900 – Page 2. Here.|
|5.||⇡||The Cincinnati Enquirer; Cincinnati, Ohio; Sat, Sep 27, 1913 – Page 1. Here.|
|6.||⇡||Without Sanctuary, The lynching of Joseph Richardson. Here.|
|7.||⇡||The Monroe News-Star; Monroe, Louisiana; Tue, Sep 30, 1930 – Page 15. Here.|
|8.||⇡||The Anniston Star; Anniston, Alabama; Thu, Oct 30, 1930 – Page 1. Here.|
|9.||⇡||For more information on all of this, please see our post here.|