Today, we’ll examine five racially-motivated lynchings that took place this week in history. Let us start with a strange tale of poisoning and suicide that left at least five black Arkansans hanging. We’ll then move north to Pennsylvania, where a law enforcement officer led a lynch mob of hundreds. Oklahoma is next, complete with a warning from the local Klan. Lastly, we’ll look at two later lynchings that were both ignored by the white press, largely due to the pressure to pass a federal anti-lynching bill.
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.
Strung Up The Whole Outfit (1898)
Five Negro Murders Lynched in Arkansas – Two of them Women – Now a Woman Escaped.
Clarendon, Ark., Aug 10 – A mob of about 200 men gathered in front of the Monroe county jail at 11:30 last night, forced Deputy Sheriff Milwee to surrender and turn the keys over to them, and then proceeded to hang five prisoners all negroes, for the assassination of John T. Orr.
The dead are: Manse Castle, Dennis Ricord, Rilla Weaver, Susie Jacobs and Will Saunders.
Four of the bodies (one of a woman and three of men) were hanging this morning from the limb of a tree not far from the railway station, and a few paces away there dangled the body of another negro woman, the former cook in the Orr household.
The bodies of the lynched men and women are placecarded: “This is the penalty for murder.”
Mrs. Orr, wife of the murdered man, cheated the lynchers by committing suicide. She took a dose of morphine.
On the night of July 30th, J.T. Orr was assassinated. Mrs. Orr confessed that she abetted the assassination, and the negroes said she promised them $200 each if they would kill her husband.
-The Lenoir Topic; Lenoir, North Carolina; Wed, Aug 17, 1898 2More details are available here: “Five Were Lynched” Evening Star; Washington, District of Columbia; Wed, Aug 10, 1898.
Mob Burns a Wounded Desperado After Taking Him From Hospital (1911)
Coatesville, Pa., Aug. 13 – Zachariah Walker, a negro desperado, was carried on a cot from the hospital here tonight and burned to a crisp by a frenzied mob of men and boys.
The negro, who had shot and killed Edward Rice, a special policeman of the Worth iron mills, last night, was first dragged to the scene of the shooting, begging piteously for mercy. He had been arrested by a posse late this afternoon after a search that had stirred the countryside.
When the posse finally located him he was found hiding in a cherry tree and with the last bullet in his revolver, shot himself in the mouth, falling from the tree. He was removed to the hospital and placed under police guard.
A few minutes after 9 o’clock a crowd numbering almost 1,000 persons appeared at the hospital. The leaders were unable to gain admission, but quickly smashed the window frames and crawled through the corridor. A policeman who was placed on duty to watch Walker was the only person in the building beside the nurses and patients.
The leader of the mob placed his hands over the policeman’s eyes while the others who had entered the building set about to take their man from the hospital. When Walker was taken to the hospital he was strapped down in order to prevent his escape.
The mob seeing this, gathered up the bed, and placing it on the shoulders of four men, started for the country. They left the town by the way of the Towerville road and, when a half mile from the hospital, stopped at teh farm of Mrs. Sarah Jane Newlin.
Here they entered a field and, quickly gathering up a pile of dry grass and weeds, placed the bed containing their victim upon it. A match was applied to the pile of grass and the flames shot up quickly, entirely enshrouding the screaming victim.
That not a vestige of the murderer be left, the mob tore down the fence along the road and piled the rails upon the burning negro.
After waiting for half an hour, the mob dispersed as quickly as it had come. There were almost as many women in the mob as men. The mob was orderly, scarcely a murmur being heard from the time that it began to congregate on the streets until it had disappeared, less than an hour later.
During the march from the hospital to the scene of the burning of the negro, a distance of less than three-quarters of a mile, not a policeman was encountered by the determined mob.
Coatesville is a town of 10,000 persons, about 20 miles west of Philadelphia.
The Topeka Daily Capital; Topeka, Kansas; Mon, Aug 14, 1911
The next day, as the identity of one of the leaders of the mob was discovered, this story ran in the New Castle Herald:
Policeman Leader of the Mob that Burned Negro at Coatesville
Coatesville, Pa., Aug 15 – A policeman on the regular force of this borough was the chosen leader of the mob that burned Zachariah Walker, the negro slayer of Policeman Rice, according to positive evidence declared by District Attorney Gawthrop today to be in his possession. The man’s name is being withheld until the authorities have arranged all the evidence they have collected and they are ready to act.
“Yes, one of the regular police force of Coatesville led that mob,” said the district attorney when the matter was squarely placed before him today.
According to Gawthrop, it may be two weeks before any arress are made. He realizes the magnitude of the task confronting the authorities, he said, and does not want to act until he is sure of his men.
State police, commanded by Captain Wilheim, are patrolling the streets today and have the situation completely under control. Their presence has put a stop to all talk of rioting or of storming jails. In event of arrests, however, the prisoners will be hustled to West Chester, the county seat, where they will be safe from attempts to rescue on the part of their comrades.
New Castle Herald; New Castle, Pennsylvania; Tue, Aug 15, 1911
It’s unclear from other articles just who this officer was. Nevertheless, a week later, eight men were arrested and held without bail. 3“Man-Burners Held for Court” Harrisburg Daily Independent; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Sat, Aug 26, 1911.
By October, all were acquitted:
“The acquitted defendants were taken on the shoulders of a waiting populace outside the court house and with cheers and hurrahs of joy escorted with the honor of martyred heroes to their homes.” 4“Coatesville’s Second Chapter” The Topeka Daily Capital; Topeka, Kansas; Sun, Oct 22, 1911.
Negroes Leaving Durant, Oklahoma (1911)
And a Warning Has Been Posted for Them to Leave the Town of Caddo.
Durant, Okla, August 14 – Negroes are rapidly leaving Durant, following the burning of the body of John Lee, a negro, who was shot to death by a posse near here Sunday morning, within twenty hours after he had assaulted and fatally shot Mrs. Redom Campbell. Mrs. Campbell died in a hospital at Sherman, Texas, at noon today.
Caddo, Okla., August 14 – A warning to all negroes to leave town was posted here late today, following the capture and killing of the negro who on Saturday attacked Mrs. R. Campbell, of Durant, Okla. During the day the excitement ran high and there were many reports of clashes between whites and blacks, but none has been verified. The notice, which allows the negroes until next Sunday to leave is signed:
“Kaddo Klan – Our motto is clean town. Pass word – we do.” 5This warning from the Kaddo Klan is interesting. As most of us know, the original Ku Klux Klan was disbanded in the late 1870s. The second wave began in 1915. Since this warning came in 1911, it would be worth a further exploration.
The negro who attacked Mrs. Campbell, later causing her death, and whose body was burned at Durant, is believed to have lived here. This fact caused the disturbance today.
It is said the negroes here will ask Governor Cruce for protection.
Altoona Tribune; Altoona, Pennsylvania; Tue, Aug 15, 1911
The Galveston Daily News of the same date told of the “fake report of negro outrage”. 6“Fake Report of Negro Outrage” The Galveston Daily News; Galveston, Texas; Tue, Aug 15, 1911.
Another Lynching Reported In South (1938)
Unusual ‘Rape Story’ Held Cause of Brutal Killing of 22-Year-Old Otis Price in Perry, Fla. – White Press Has Ignored Story.
New York, Sept. 22 – From Tallahassee, Fla., has come confirmation of the lynching in Perry, Fla. on August 9, 1938, of Otis Price, 22. The story is confirmed also by a letter to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People here from a citizen of Macon, Ga., who viewed the body of the lynched man. The Price lynching brings the total for the year thus far to five.
Guilty of No Crime
According to the account of the lynching sent to the NAACP Price and his wife lived near a white farmers house and both got water from the same well. Price was on his way to the well to get a bucket of water and the white farmer’s wife was taking a bath in the doorway or window of her home as Price passed.
She screamed that she had been raped and Price fled home in terror. Although urged by his wife to take their little money and leave the vicinity, Price refused to leave saying he was not guilty of any crime.
Sheriff Wilson of Taylor county arrested Price and was taking him to jail when a mob of undetermined size took the prisoner form the custody of the officer and killed him. Prices throat was cut and his body riddle with bullets.
No mention of the lynching appeared int he papers of that section of Florida, but Price’s body was viewed by several persons in addition to the undertaker. 7This seems to be true. The article you’re reading is the only one I could find on the lynching. Rev. Mr. Burke, pastor of the church, at Hufford, where Price was a deacon, also knew of the lynching.
Ignored By Press
The NAACP, in commenting on the lynchings of 1938, pointed out that only two of them have been heralded in the press. The prolonged debate over the federal anti-lynching bill last January and February has driven lynching underground and much more diligence is required to search out lynchings than was needed before. The Perry, Fla. lynching is a case in point. Still another lynching is supposed to have taken place in Perry, but not facts have been brought to light as yet.
The Pittsburgh Courier; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Sat, Sep 24, 1938
Demand Probe Of Ala. Death
Birmingham, Ala., Sept 16 – The Birmingham branch of the NAACP turned up Wednesday, Sept. 8, with sufficiently complete evidence to brand the mysterious death August 9 of Willie Lee Cooper, garage Mechanic, as a “lynching” and to make an insistent demand on state and federal authorities for an immediate investigation of the case.
The NAACP expose disclosed that Cooper, employed by Edward and Wilbert Owens, white brothers of Monroeville, one of whom is a deputy sheriff, allegedly left his job without notice and that Cooper, later hunted by the Owens brothers, with the aid of Monroe County Sheriff Nichols, was found and taken away in an automobile and, eventually, a Dr. Eddins came to the home of a Bill Stallworth, who had been asked to prepare a bed for Cooper, who, according to their statement to Stallworth, had been hurt.
Victim Was Afraid to Talk
The NAACP report indicated, further, that Cooper was later brought to him around 11 o’clock that night in August – his head and face badly bruised, an arm broken, and his body whipped to pulp. The physician said he asked the victim how he had come to be in such a condition and, in turn, was told by Cooper that he was afraid to tell – that they might beat him up again.
Cooper died around eight o’clock the next morning.
The Pittsburgh Courier; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Sat, Sep 18, 1943
Nearly Ninety Other Lynchings This Week
What follows is a list of all known racially-motivated lynchings between August 8 and August 14, 1877-1946. 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. 8For 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. I’m working on ways to fix this.
Year Victim City State Race Sex Form Alleged Offense
1882 Dan Blakeney Lancaster SC Black Male Unreported Assault on 12 year-old daughter of white employer 1883 Unnamed Negro Amite MS Black Male Hanged Swindling railroad contractors 1883 Unnamed Negro Amite MS Black Male Hanged Swindling railroad contractors 1883 Unnamed Negro Amite MS Black Male Hanged Swindling railroad contractors 1892 Robert Jordan Ouachita AR Black Male Shot Insulted white women 1898 John Meadows Spalding GA Mulatto Male Hanged and riddled with bullets Attempted rape of 7 year-old white girl 1898 Richard Thurmond Lauderdale TN Black Male Hanged Attempted criminal assault on a young white woman 1899 "Echo" Brown Tangipahoa LA Black Male Shot Unreported 1899 Benjamin Thompson Alexandria VA Black Male Beaten and shot Attempted criminal assault on a 8 year-old white girl 1903 Amos Jones Perry MS Black Male Hanged and shot Mortally wounding a white man, a jailer 1915 James Fox Monroe AL Black Male Shot Murderous assault on a white man, a deputy sheriff 1917 Aaron Jimerson Little River AR Black Male Hanged Attacking a white constable and shooting a negro 1920 Monroe Wood Henry AL Black Male Shot Insulted a white woman 1943 Willie Lee Cooper Monroe AL Black Male Beaten Quitting his job as a mechanic 1946 John C. Jones Webster LA Black Male Trauma Attempting to break into a white woman’s house
1882 Alex Brown Coweta GA Black Male Hanged Rape of 15 year-old white girl 1885 Henry Davis Randolph GA Black Male Hanged/RwB Outraging a 9 year-old white girl, daughter of a preacher/farmer 1890 Unnamed Negro Russell VA Black Male Hanged/RwB Outraging a married white woman 1892 Port Magee Simpson MS Black Male Hanged Found under the bed of a white woman 1893 Jack Chambers Ware GA Black Male Riddled with bullets Rape of a married white woman 1897 John Gordon Warren MS Black Male Hanged Killing a white man 1898 Dennis Ricord Monroe AR Black Male Hanged Murder of a white man, a wealthy merchant 1898 Manse Castle Monroe AR Black Male Hanged Murder of a white man, a wealthy merchant 1898 Rilla Weaver Monroe AR Black Female Hanged Murder of a white man, a wealthy merchant 1898 William Sanders Monroe AR Black Male Hanged Murder of a white man, a wealthy merchant 1899 Unnamed Negro Hamilton FL Black Male Shot Attempted outrage of a married white woman 1902 John McDaniel Amite MS Black Male Hanged Lawlessness 1908 Charles Lokie Tift GA Black Male Hanged Insulted a prominent 14 year-old white girl 1909 John Simpson Allen KY White Male Shot Involved in a dispute over custody of a child 1909 Wallace Miller Trigg KY Black Male Hanged Attempted assault on 11 year-old white girl, daughter of a prominent farmer 1914 Unnamed Negro Ouachita LA Black Male Hanged Murder of a white man, a foreman in a logging camp 1916 Unnamed Negro Arkansas AR Black Male Hanged/RwB Attempted criminal assault on a 16 year-old white girl, a farmer’s daughter. 1938 Otis Price Taylor FL Black Male Shot Sexual violation of a white farmer’s wife; insulted a white woman; saw a naked white woman bathing
1887 Daniel Pleasants St. Mary LA Black Male Hanged Murder of his step-daughter 1888 Amos Miller Williamson TN Black Male Hanged Rape of a married and pregnant white woman, wife of a prominent farmer and Miller/Davis’ employer 1890 William Beaver Bradley AR Black Male Hanged Attempted criminal assault on an unmarried white girl and criminal assault on a black girl 1893 Unnamed Negro Columbia FL Black Male Riddled with bullets Outraged and murdered a 9-19 year-old white girl 1895 John Harris Colquitt GA Black Male Riddled with bullets Rape and murder of 65 year-old white woman 1895 Unnamed Negro Gibson TN Black Male Hanged Barn burning 1896 Homer Smith Calhoun GA Black Male Hanged Criminal assault on a 14 year-old white girl 1901 Joe Washington Bryan GA Black Male Burned Criminal assault on white woman, wife of the section master at Ways Station 1913 Richard Puckett Laurens SC Black Male Hanged/RwB Criminal assault on a well-known young white woman 1923 Edward Brock Union AR Black Male Hanged Insulted white woman
1877 William Thompson Culpeper VA Black Male Hanged Assaulting a young white girl 1886 Columbus White Sharkey MS Black Male Hanged Burglary and arson 1889 Wm. Blanenship Charlotte VA Black Male Hanged Attempted outrage on an orphaned white girl 1893 Dug Hastleton Fayette GA Black Male Unreported Attempted assault on a married white woman 1897 Bob Brackett Buncombe NC Black Male Hanged Criminal assault on an unmarried white girl 1898 Mullock Walker Alcorn MS Black Male Hanged Assaulting a white man 1899 William Chambers Bedford TN Black Male Hanged Rape and murderous assault 14 year-old white girl 1899 William McClure Carroll GA Black Male Hanged/RwB Attempted assault on a married white woman 1899 William Wilson Claiborne MS Black Male Hanged and shot Criminal assault on a white woman 1905 Unnamed Negro Jackson LA Black Male Hanged Shot and wounded a white man, a merchant and deputy sheriff in Eros, who was acting as a quarantine guard 1909 William Robinson Washington MS Black Male Hanged Altercation with a white man 1910 Jim Toler Montgomery GA Black Male Riddled with bullets Entered girls’ room of a prominent white family 1918 Ike Radney Miller GA Black Male Hanged/RwB Rape of a white woman 1926 Charles Powell Lafayette AR Black Male Hanged/RwB Murder of a white man, a deputy sheriff
1886 James Moore Bibb GA Mulatto Male Hanged Rape of white girl 1899 Sam Wright Pulaski GA Black Male Shot Informing on trespassers 1909 John Stoner Morehouse LA Black Male Hanged/RwB Sued a white man for killing his cow 1925 Sidney Towns Yalobusha MS Black Male Riddled with bullets Murdering a 65 year-old white man and his wife (or his 70 year-old sister) 1946 James Walker Barnwell SC Black Male Shot Altercation with white men
1881 George Absner Vermilion LA Black Male Hanged Murder of two black women and the rape of one of them 1887 Green Hosley Union LA Black Male Whipped - 500 lashes Race prejudice 1889 Keith Bowen Monroe MS Black Male Hanged Attempted assault of an unmarried white girl 1893 Monroe Smith Marengo AL Black Male Hanged/RwB Attempted criminal assault on a married white woman 1894 Unnamed Negro Lafayette FL Black Male Hanged Assaulted a 14 year-old white girl 1894 Unnamed Negro Lafayette FL Black Male Hanged Assaulted a 14 year-old white girl 1897 George Wilson Nicholas KY Black Male Hanging Bad reputation; robbery 1900 Jack Betts Alcorn MS Black Male Hanged Criminal assault on a 10 year-old white girl 1908 Unnamed Negro Shelby AL Black Male Dynamited Son of a non-union coal miner 1911 John Lee Durant OK Black Male Shot and burned Wounding a white woman 1912 T. Z. McElhaney Muscogee GA Black Male Riddled with bullets - shot to pieces Murder of 12 year-old white boy, son of a prominent planter 1913 Zachariah Walker Coatesville PA Black Male Hanged Murder 1933 A. T. Hardin Bibb AL Black Male Riddled with bullets Murder of an unmarried 21 year-old white woman 1933 Dan Pippen Bibb AL Black Male Riddled with bullets Murder of an unmarried 21 year-old white woman 1934 Robert Jones Benton MS Black Male Hanged Killing two white men 1934 Smith Houey Benton MS Black Male Hanged Killing two white men
1883 Harry Bradley Miller GA Black Male Riddled with bullets Murder of young married white woman 1883 Joseph Fulford Miller GA White Male Riddled with bullets Murder of his young wife 1883 Son of Thomas SullivanJefferson MS White Male Unreported Murder of a white man 1883 Thomas Sullivan Jefferson MS White Male Unreported Murder of a white man 1888 Bob Broome/Broom Hinds MS Black Male Hanged Murder of a white man, a doctor, and wounding a second white man 1894 Marshall Boston Franklin KY Black Male Hanged/RwB Rape of a married white woman 1899 Ben Washington Liberty FL Black Male Hanged/RwB Killed a white man 1919 James Grant Wilcox GA Black Male Hanged Shot, not seriously, two white men 1921 Jerome Whitfield Jones NC Black Male Hanged/RwB Criminal assault on wife on a prominent white farmer 1926 Ed Chisholm Putnam FL Black Male Shot Race prejudice 1926 Willie Steen Putnam FL Black Male Shot Race prejudice
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.||⇡||More details are available here: “Five Were Lynched” Evening Star; Washington, District of Columbia; Wed, Aug 10, 1898.|
|3.||⇡||“Man-Burners Held for Court” Harrisburg Daily Independent; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Sat, Aug 26, 1911.|
|4.||⇡||“Coatesville’s Second Chapter” The Topeka Daily Capital; Topeka, Kansas; Sun, Oct 22, 1911.|
|5.||⇡||This warning from the Kaddo Klan is interesting. As most of us know, the original Ku Klux Klan was disbanded in the late 1870s. The second wave began in 1915. Since this warning came in 1911, it would be worth a further exploration.|
|6.||⇡||“Fake Report of Negro Outrage” The Galveston Daily News; Galveston, Texas; Tue, Aug 15, 1911.|
|7.||⇡||This seems to be true. The article you’re reading is the only one I could find on the lynching.|
|8.||⇡||For more information on all of this, please see our post here.|