This week, we’ll take a closer look at not only some of the fifty or so lynchings that took place between April 25 and May 1, but a couple of near-lynchings. These include the 1902 whipping of four people from Indiana, a black teenager who was mutilated for kissing a white girl, and two men who were both saved from lynchings only to meet that fate days later.
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.
Four Are Whipped and Beaten (1902)
Three Women and a Man Beaten Near Bloomington
Bloomington, Ind., April 26 – Twelve masked men, carrying bundles of switches, visited the house of Rebecca and Annie Stevens, two middle-aged white women who live a mile north of this city, this morning at 1 o’clock and dragged from the house a negro Joe Shively, who had been living there several weeks.
Shively was roughly handled, taken to a grove of trees near the house, tied to a sapling and severely beaten. A few minutes afterward the two white women and Shively’s sister, a young colored girl, were taken from the house, stripped to the waist, and whipped until the blood ran.
The mob was led by a tall man, whose orders were obeyed implicitly. He allowed no talking and the punishment given the four was administered in silence, only the screams of the victims being heard by terrified neighbors.
The Stevens house has borne a bad reputation in this community. It was learned by the members of the mob that a negro had been living at the house for some time on terms of perfect equality with the white women. His sister also was there.
Stories of more or less unprintable nature were afloat, and rumors that the people in the house would be severely dealt with had been whispered around. So far as known no warning of the proposed visit of the whitecappers had been given to the Stevens women. The belief here is that the twelve men that composed the mob are citizens of Bloomington of excellent character. Some names are whispered about with the utmost caution.
It is said that public opinion became so aroused at the condition of affairs that a trip to the house was decided on and the details quietly planned. After being lashed fully fifty times Shively was ordered to leave the county, and it is said that he obeyed the mandate at once. The Stevens women were ordered to depart, it is said, but it is not known whether they have gone. The whitecapping has created great excitement here, and sentiment seems to be with the unknown visitors to the Stevens home.
-Indianapolis Journal, April 27, 1903. 2Other papers, much farther away (NYT), reported that the attackers were unmasked and numbered thirty-eight. It was also reported that the white victims were aged thirteen and sixteen. Other details that barbed wire and brass knuckles were used were also reported.
Negro Youth Mutilated for Kissing White Girl (1914)
Marshall, Tex., April 29 – Because he is alleged to have hugged and kissed a white girl, daughter of a farmer, Charles Fisher, a negro youth, was recently badly mutilated by a mob near here. According to Sheriff Sanders and County Health Officer Taylor, the mob sheared off the youth’s ear, slit his lips and mutilated him in other ways below the belt.
-Boston Guardian, April 30, 1914.
Illiterate Negro Lynched for Writing Improper Note
Shreveport, La., April 29 – A Vicksburg, Shreveport and Pacific train was held up by an armed mob about five miles from Monroe, La., today, and George Holden, a negro, accused of writing an insulting note to a white woman named Onlie Elliot, was taken from the train and shot to death. Holden was taken from a stretcher in the baggage car. He had been wounded in two previous attempts to lynch him.
Holden was being sent to Shreveport for safekeeping. He was shot in the leg Monday night by unidentified persons shortly after the woman received the insulting note. Later he was beaten into insensibility. When the local sheriff heard of this, he placed Holden aboard the VS&P train for the purpose of taking him to Shreveport for safekeeping. Local citizens, hearing of this, raced ahead of the train in automobiles and reaching the next station pulled the helpless negro form the train, took him to a nearby tree and riddled his body with bullets.
The note sent to Mrs. Elliot was written in plain handwriting. Acquaintances of the Negro state that he had no education and could hardly write his name.
-Knoxville East Tennessee News, May 1, 1919.
Lynched Just Before Trial
Royston, Ga., April 28 – Lint Shaw, a burly negro farmed once saved from lynching through the pleadings of an aged judge was shot to death by a mob of forty men eight hours before he was to have gone to trial on a charge of attempted criminal assault today.
His body was found at dawn, tied to a pine tree in a creek bottom near Colbert, Ga., his home.
Pierced by shotgun, pistol and rifle bullets, he died at the scene where two white girls reported he attempted to attack them after their motor car broke down April 10.
The mob, climaxing a series of demonstrations against the 45-year-old negro which once required the intervention of national guardsmen, broke into Royston’s one-story jail about midnight, cornered Night Chief of Police W.A. Dickerson and smashed a lock on the prisoner’s cell.
‘I couldn’t see exactly what happened,’ Dickerson said. ‘They just told me they wanted the negro. He didn’t say a word when they dragged him out.’
Plowlines, cotton ropes used for guiding work animals in the fields, were cut up to tie the negro to the tree.
The jail here was the third in which he had been held since he was identified by the girls as the man who pursued them with a knife and threw one into a gulley. The assailant was frightened away by their screams.
First he was taken to jail a Daniesville, Ga. A mob of 100 men formed there and battered some bricks from the jail in an attempt to reach him.
Superior Judge Berry T. Moseley, 74, left a sickbed to warn the throng against a lynching, and deterred the leaders until a national guard unit, rushed to that city from tornado emergency duty at Gainesville, Ga., took the negro into custody.
‘Stop violating the law by breaking into jail,’ warned the judge.
At Judge Moseley’s suggestion, Sheriff T.L. Henley deputized several members of the crowd to help keep order.
From Danielsville, Shaw was taken to Atlanta, to save him from further mob outbreaks. He was returned to Danielsville last night to await trial before Judge Moseley, but a threatening crowd caused Sheriff Henley to move him to this city. Inflamed citizens learned of the transfer and followed.
Several house after the lynching, Shaw still was found to the three as throngs assembled on the nearby highway.
Terrified members of the negro’s family refused to claim the body.
-Hickory (North Carolina) Record, April 28, 1936.
Nearly Fifty Other Lynchings This Week
What follows is a list of all known lynchings of black Americans between April 25 and May 1, 1882-1939.
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.
Year Victim City State Race Sex Form Alleged Offense
1895 George Ray Washington KY Black Male Hanged Illicit relations with white women and making threats against whitecaps 1901 William Goolsby Elbert GA Black Male Drowned Assaulted 14 year-old white girl 1909 John Thomas Jefferson AL Black Male Hanged Criminal assault on a married white woman 1926 Lillie Cobb Blount AL Black Female Shot Unreported
1903 Unknown Negro Near Thebes IL Black Male Hanged Assault on white girl 1921 Unnamed Negro Pearl River MS Black Male Hanged/RwB Assaulting a white woman, wife of a dairyman
1884 King Hill Ouachita LA Black Male Hanged Murder of a young white man 1894 Pomp Claxton Madison LA Black Male Hanged Murder of a white manager of a plantation 1894 Scott Harvey Madison LA Black Male Hanged Murder of a white manager of a plantation 1894 Shell Claxton Madison LA Black Male Hanged Murder of a white manager of a plantation 1894 Tony McCoy Madison LA Black Male Hanged Murder of a white manager of a plantation 1895 Thomas Gibson Sevier TN White Male Shot Failure to heed a whitecap notice 1898 Paris Suits Wise VA White Male RwB Murdering a white man and a black man 1899 Alfred Thurman Lee GA Black Male RwB Informer on criminality of three black men who were lynched 1926 Charles Davis Hernando FL Black Male Unreported Murder of a white man, a deputy sheriff
1883 George Ware Lauderdale AL Black Male Hanged and riddled with bullets Murder and robbery of 12 year-old white boy 1886 Meredith Jones Logan KY Black Male Shot Attempted rape of two white girls 1887 Gracy Blanton West Carroll LA Black Female Hanged Robbery and arson of a white man’s store 1887 Richard Goodwin West Carroll LA Black Male Hanged Robbery and arson of a white man’s store 1892 Henry Grizzard Davidson TN Black Male Hanged Raped two white girls, sisters 1895 Unnamed Negro Butler AL Black Male Hanged Murder of a white man and burning his body, a nephew of an ex-Governor of Alabama 1904 Thomas Searcy Haywood TN Black Male Hanged Attempted rape of 8-9 year-old white girl, daughter of a farmer 1909 Charles Scarborough Polk FL Black Male Hanged and riddled with bullets Attempted rape of a married white woman 1915 Thomas Brooks Fayette TN Black Male Hanged Murder of two white men and wounding a white deputy 1936 Lint Shaw Madison GA Black Male Riddled with bullets Attempted criminal assault on a white woman 1939 Jesse Lee Bonds Shelby TN Black Male Shot and beaten Altercation with a white man, a storekeeper
1877 A. McClellan Kemper MS White-Scottish Male Shot by KKK Murder of a white man, a Democrat 1877 Cornelia Chisolm Kemper MS White Female Shot by KKK Protecting her father who was accused of the murder of a white man, a Democrat 1877 Davis Rosser Kemper MS White Male Shot by KKK Murder of a white man, a Democrat 1877 J. P. Gilmer Kemper MS White Male Shot by KKK Murder of a white man, a Democrat 1877 Johnnie Chisolm Kemper MS White Male Shot by KKK Murder of a white man, a Democrat 1877 Judge Chisolm Kemper MS White Male RwB by KKK Murder of a white man, a Democrat 1891 Jim Taylor Williamson TN Black Male Hanged/RwB Shot a circus man and a white police officer 1892 Unnamed Negro Sunflower MS Black Male Unreported Outraged a 8 year-old white girl, niece of a sheriff 1895 John Coleman Duval FL Black Male RwB Shot and mortally wounded his wife because she did not make good soup 1906 William Brown Tishomingo MS Black Male Hanged Murder of a white man, a railroad contractor 1919 George Holden Ouachita LA Black Male Shot Writing an insulting note to a “respectable white lady” 1936 Willie Kees Poinsett AR Black Male Shot Attempted rape
1882 Frank Fisher Gallion OH Black Male Hanged Assault of young girl 1892 Eph Grizzard Davidson TN Black Male Hanged/RwB Raped two white girls, sisters 1899 Willis Sees Mississippi AR Black Male Hanged Barn-burning and suspected of burning houses 1900 George Gordon Tallahatchie MS Black Male Hanged Assaulted a white man, a plantation manager 1900 Henry Ratcliff Amite MS Black Male Hanged Altercation with three white men; race prejudice 1902 Ernest Dewley Meade KY Black Male Hanged/RwB Shooting (wounding) a young white man 1904 Gaines Hall Autauga AL Black Male RwB Criminally assaulted a married white woman 1907 Silas Faly Bossier LA Black Male Hanged Outraged an 8 year-old white girl, daughter of a prominent planter
1883 Amos Bailey Franklin MS Black Male Hanged Murdering a white man, a prominent farmer 1888 Henry Pope Chattooga GA Black Male Hanged Rape of a white woman 1888 Tom Harris Warren MS Black Male Unreported Criminally assaulting a white woman 1891 John Barrentine Lowndes MS Black Male Hanged Attempted poisoning of a white man 1891 Wesley Lee Lowndes MS Black Male Hanged Attempted poisoning of a white man 1892 Lyman Purdie Bladen NC Black Male Hanged Murder of a white man 1901 Dock Mays Dallas AL Black Male Shot Implicated in murder of a white man, a deputy sheriff 1901 Edward Mays Dallas AL Black Male Shot Implicated in murder of a white man, a deputy sheriff 1901 Robert Dawson Dallas AL Black Male Shot Implicated in murder of a white man, a deputy sheriff
For more information concerning the lynching data, please see our page here.
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.||⇡||Other papers, much farther away (NYT), reported that the attackers were unmasked and numbered thirty-eight. It was also reported that the white victims were aged thirteen and sixteen. Other details that barbed wire and brass knuckles were used were also reported.|