Three Christmas Day Lynchings – This Week in Historical Lynchings

This week, we’ll take a look at three lynchings that happened on Christmas Day. One might be tempted to think that racial lynchings would decrease over the holidays, but that was not the case. Looking at the data, there is no detectable change in the frequency, type or reason for lynchings during the Christmas season.

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.

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Preacher Murdered

December 25, 1901 – Prairie Blossom, Texas

Our first Christmas lynching seems unbelievably senseless, even as far as lynchings are concerned. A black southern preacher was called to his door, but ignored the calls (and gunshots), believing them to be “Christmas frolickers.” They soon returned.

Rev. J.N. McClinton is Killed in his Own Doorway at Prairie Blossom, Texas
Dallas, Tex., Dec 26 – The people of the counties of Red River and LaMare are aroused because of the assassination of the Rev. J.N. McClinton, a popular evangelical preacher and well known farmer. McClinton lived on Blossom Prairie near the village of Deport, in LaMar county.

He was called to his doorway between 8 and 9 o’clock last night by a part of men who fired several pistol shots toward his house. He concluded they were Christmas frolickers and retired soon to his bed.

He was aroused about 2am by more shots and calls. On going again to the door he was fired on from pistols and shotguns, one pistol ball passing through his body near the heart. As he fell he reached for his own pistol and shotgun, firing twice with each.

McClinton lived for three hours during which time he was sufficiently conscious to make a dying statement to the proper officials, in which he gave the names of the men whom he claimed were his assassins.

Sheriff Baker, of LaMar County, and Sheriff Huffman, of Red River County, organized posses and started a search for the men named .Today one of the posses arrested Howard McGill, a farmer and who was a neighbor of McClinton.

In his dying statement the preacher declared that trouble had existed between himself and McGill for several months because he had reported McGill for violation of the laws. McGill was placed in jail at Paris. The other man named by McClinton as an assailant has not yet been captured.

A horse owned by him was found, however, badly wounded by buckshot. While the officers seem to have the situation well in hand serious threats have been made because of McClinton’s assassination. 2The Scranton Republican; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Fri, Dec 27, 1901 – Page 1. Here.

It does not appear that the unnamed assailant was ever arrested.

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Lynching Was Not Race Riot

December 25, 1906 – Kemper County, Mississippi

Our second Christmas lynching drops us into a very muddled story. Kemper County in December of 1906 was a hotbed of racial tension. A white deputy sheriff had been killed by a black man, who was subsequently lynched on the 23rd. Despite this, a white mob continued to “look” for him, killing as many as four innocent black citizens, and getting a few of their own number killed.

Five White Men Identified as Lynchers
New Orleans, Dec. 27 – That white men protected innocent negroes and that every effort is being made by whites to punish those “hoodlums” of their own race, who are responsible for the Christmas riots in Kemper county, Mississippi, was the information contained in detailed accounts, arriving today from the little towns which were the scene of the bloodshed.

“A conference has been held,” these dispatches say, “between the civil and military authorities at which evidence was produced that will establish the identity of five white men of good families of the county, who took part in the lynchings.”

District Attorney Currie has made public a statement, in which he says:

“I found, upon investigation, that the trouble was caused by a mob of hoodlums and outlaws, who openly violated all the laws of God and man and decency.

“The four men killed Christmas day were not connected with the affair in any manner, and, I am informed, that the houses burned were occupied by negroes, who were not even in sympathy with any of those who were connected with the outrages.

“These men will be captured, if it is in the power of the state of Mississippi to do so.”

The dispatches say that the total death list is probably twelve; that the mob element among the whites has slowly fled toward the Alabama state line, while the negroes, in terror, have gathered at Scooba and Wahalak to place themselves under the protection of the troops or of citizens.

The killing of a negro named Colvin Nicholson is reported as “one of the most brutal, which has occurred since the days of reconstruction.” Nicholson was one of the best classes of negroes.

A white posse was searching for a negro named Simpson, who had killed a deputy. They entered Nicholson’s house and several persons began shooting at him. Deputy Sheriff Alexander and two others rushed to the negro, shielding him. They protected him until they were overpowered, after which he was shot and his house burned. 3This took place on December 23.

District Attorney Currie says he has fixed the blame for this murder upon three men and will arrest them if they are still in the state. 4The Leavenworth Post; Leavenworth, Kansas; Thu, Dec 27, 1906 – Page 1. Here.

In most cases, the whites responsible for the lynching of blacks were seldom caught. However, a day or so later, the three deemed responsible – named as Kerr, Byrd and Bryan – were discovered.

Kerr, Byrd and Bryan will Resist Arrest
Meridian, Dec. 28 – It is reported here tonight that Dan Kerr, Hal Byrd and Ernest Bryan, of Kemper county, who are charged with the murder of the negro Nicholson, have been located in the extreme eastern end of the county. It is stated that they are among their friends and say they will resist arrest. Their friends are reported as arming themselves, being in sympathy with the three men. 5The Vicksburg Herald; Vicksburg, Mississippi; Sat, Dec 29, 1906 – Page 8. Here.

Though this story seems to end in a standoff, no further information can be found.

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Two Negresses Slain By White Men

December 25, 1928 – Jackson, Louisiana

Our final case finds a mother, her four children and a one year old grand child, at home on Christmas Day when set upon by a group of white men who lynched them in cold blood – supposedly over an argument about a dog. Their youngest victim was fifteen. The one year old’s mother was also murdered.

All Three Sisters; Mother is Also Shot by Band of Men – Quarreled Over Dog
A quarrel over possession of a hunting dog, the property of Mrs. J.W. Wingate, who owns a plantation five miles west of Eros, resulted in the slaying of two negro women, tenants on the place, and of the probable fatal wounding of a third one. Another one also is injured and a fifth negro woman escaped by fleeing.

Dudley Sanderson, a white man, his three sons and Jack Bagwel, also white, are in jail in Jonesboro, being held in connection with the shootings.

The dead are: “Blossom,” 15 years old; her sister, 20 years old, shot with a year-old babe in her arms, the infant barely escaping a like fate.

Besides these, two other negro women were injured. One is a sister of the two previously named, aged 17 year, probably fatally hurt, while the mother of the girls was shot in the shoulder as she fled. Her injury is not critical. Both of these women are patients in St. Francis sanitarium, this city, where they were brought for treatment. They are all members of the family of Bob Taylor.

A dog owned by Mrs. Wingate, for whom the negroes worked on the farm, had been obtained by Dudley Sanderson, white man, and was to be surrendered to the negroes, who were to keep it for Mrs. Wingate while she was in Monroe over the holidays. The white men, it is said, resolved to keep the dog. The negroes urged that they have it back in their possession as Mrs. Wingate instructed.

Was Christmas Afternoon
About 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon, Dudley Sanderson, his three sons and Jack Bagwell, all of whom are said to have been drinking heavily, went to the Wingate farm and, proceeding to the negro tenant’s cabin, asked for Bob Taylor, the negro tenant. Only Taylor’s wife, four daughters and a grand-child were at home.

The white men are said to have told the negroes that they were going to keep the dog. Words arose and the visitors are said to have become angry and to have ordered the women to stand up in line that they were going to kill all of them, according to Mrs. Wingate.

The negro women, thinking the white men were jesting, made no effort to get out of the reach of their visitors, all of whom carried guns loaded with buckshot.

Two Women Slain
An instant later, the first shot rang out. It is believed to have been fired by Dudley Sanderson. It instantly killed “Blossom,” the 15 year old daughter of the negro tenant. She was shot through the heart.

A second shot rang out and “Blossom’s” married sister, 20 years old, fell dead. In her arms was a one year old babe which escaped unharmed.

Next a sister of the two women, aged 17, was shot and her injuries are believed to be fatal.

The mother of the women received a shot in her shoulder as she turned to flee. Her injury i snot necessarily fatal. The other woman, sister of the slain ones, escaped by fleeing.

The inured negresses were rushed to Monroe and are patients at St. Francis sanitarium.

Mrs. Wingate stated today that she has been spending the holidays with her sister, Mrs. L.P. McKeller, at 2013 Richmond Street, this city. She states that her negro tenants were inoffensive and that she has ever had on the place.

Shortly after the killings, the five men gave themselves up to Deputy Sheriff Walpole, at his home. They admitted the shooting, Sanderson telling the deputy sheriff that at his request, Bagwell had done all of the shooting.

Further6The Monroe News-Star; Monroe, Louisiana; Wed, Dec 26, 1928 – Page 1. Here, here and here.

Frank Bagwell was tried and found guilty of murder. He was sentenced to life in prison. Dudley Sanderson was also convicted, but appealed the ruling. No further information can be found about his ultimate fate. 7The Monroe News-Star; Monroe, Louisiana; Tue, May 14, 1929 – Page 1. Here.

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.

Over Seventy Lynchings This Week

What follows is a list of all known racially-motivated lynchings between December 19 and December 25, 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. 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 understandably inadequate.

Year	Victim	  City State	Race	Sex	Form    Alleged Offense

December 19

1878	Bill White				Caddo	LA	Black	Male	Hanged					Planning on testifying to a U. S. Grand Jury about election irregularities
1880	Granville Harrell		Hinds	MS	Black	Male	Hanged					Murder of a white man
1883	Albert Thomas			Hinds	MS	Black	Male	Hanged					Raping a young white girl, daughter of a prominent citizen
1888	Anthony Wilder			Kemper	MS	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	Defending a black man’s home against an attack by white men
1888	Dick Cheatham			Kemper	MS	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	Defending a black man’s home against an attack by white men
1888	Zack Maury				Kemper	MS	Black	Male	Shot					Defending a black man’s home against an attack by white men
1889	Doc Jones				Daviess	KY	Black	Male	Hanged					Murder of a white barber
1892	James Bond				Todd	KY	Black	Male	Hanged					Attempted outrage on a married white woman
1909	George Bailey			Prairie	AR	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	Shot a white man, a bartender
1912	Unnamed Negro			Sumter	AL	Black	Male	Shot					Murder of a white man, a jeweler
1925	Lindsay Coleman			Coahoma	MS	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	Murder of a white man, a plantation store manager

December 20

1883	— Howard			  Issaquena	MS	Black	Male	Unreported					Murder of a white man
1886	W. P. F. Sanders	   Franklin	GA	White	Male	Hanged						Murder of white family (husband, wife, and three children)
1890	Clarence Martin			  Yazoo	MS	Black	Male	Hanged/Riddled with Bullets	Killing a white man
1893	Ike Anderson		Spartanburg	SC	Black	Male	Hanged						Miscegenation
1894	James Allen			Brownsville	TX	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets		Burning barns
1900	Henry Lewis			   Harrison	MS	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets		Murder of a white man, a marshal
1903	Eli Hilson				Lincoln	MS	Black	Male	Shot						Refusing to leave property
1909	Clinton Montgomery		Marengo	AL	Black	Male	Burned; Riddled with bullets	Murder of a young white man
1909	Cope (Coke) Mills		Rosebud	TX	Black	Male	Hanged						Shooting of city marshal
1912	John Felder			 Orangeburg	SC	Black	Male	Shot						Altercation with a white man
1914	George Gibson			   Hart	GA	Black	Male	Beaten						Race prejudice
1914	Green Gibson			 Oconee	SC	Black	Male	Shot and beaten				Arson and race prejudice; attempt to save his son’s life
1914	Tom Spight				   Hart	GA	Black	Male	Beaten						Barn burning
1915	Samuel Bland			  Dodge	GA	Black	Male	Hanged/Riddled with Bullets	Murder of a white man, a merchant
1915	William Stewart		  	  Dodge	GA	Black	Male	Hanged/Riddled with Bullets	Murder of a white man, a merchant
1918	Alma House				 Clarke	MS	Black	Female	Hanged						Murder of a white man, a wealthy dentist
1918	Andrew Clarke		 	 Clarke	MS	Black	Male	Hanged						Murder of a white man, a wealthy dentist
1918	Maggie House			 Clarke	MS	Black	Female	Hanged						Murder of a white man, a wealthy dentist
1918	Major Clarke			 Clarke	MS	Black	Male	Hanged						Murder of a white man, a wealthy dentist

December 21

1878	Jule Davidson			Iredell	NC	Black	Male	Hanged						Murder and robbery of a white man, a merchant
1879	Bill King				Russell	AL	Black	Male	Hanged						Murder and robbery of two young Irish peddlers
1879	Squire Smith			Russell	AL	Black	Male	Hanged						Murder and robbery of two young Irish peddlers
1891	J. A. Smith			   Arkansas	AR	White	Male	Riddled with bullets		Hired a black man to kill his ex-wife after a contested divorce
1891	Mose Henderson		   Arkansas	AR	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets		Murder of a married white woman
1895	Barney Brown			Pulaski	AR	Black	Male	Drown						Living with another man’s wife
1896	James Stone				 Graves	KY	Black	Male	Hanged and shot				Criminally assaulting a married white woman
1906	Henry Davis			  Annapolis MD	Black	Male	Shot, Mutilated 			Rape
1914	Charles Williams	  Sunflower	MS	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets		Bit off the chin of a 40 year-old white man, a plantation manager
1919	Charles West			Stewart	GA	Black	Male	Hanged/Riddled with Bullets	Murder of a white farmer, a soldier returned from the war and working as an overseer

December 22

		
1893	Sloan Allen				 Holmes	MS	Black	Male	Hanged						Murder of a white man
1894	Eli Frazer				 Brooks	GA	Black	Male	Shot						Aided murderer of a white constable in the Morvin district of Brooks Co.
1894	Henry Sherod			 Brooks	GA	Black	Male	Shot						Aided murderer of a white constable in the Morvin district of Brooks Co.
1894	Samuel Pike				 Brooks	GA	Black	Male	Shot						Aided murderer of a white constable in the Morvin district of Brooks Co.
1894	Samuel Taylor			 Brooks	GA	Black	Male	Shot						Aided murderer of a white constable in the Morvin district of Brooks Co.
1896	Jerry Burke			 Livingston	LA	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets		Murderous assault  on two married white women
1896	Joseph James			   Bibb	AL	Mlatto	Male	Hanged						Assaulted 14-17 year-old white girl
1896	Will Suett				 Graves	KY	Black	Male	Shot						Race prejudice
1905	Frank de Loache		   Barnwell	SC	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets		Killing of a prominent white farmer [a merchant in the Gazette] following an altercation
1905	John de Loache		   Barnwell	SC	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets		Killing of a prominent white farmer [a merchant in the Gazette] following an altercation
1920	Coleman Brown			  Lamar	MS	Black	Male	Hanged/Riddled with bullets	Implicated in the murder of a 14 year-old black girl

December 23

1880	John Campbell			   Hart	KY	Black	Male	Hanged						Murderous assault and robbery on a white man
1880	Sam Campbell			   Hart	KY	Black	Male	Hanged						Murderous assault and robbery on a white man
1890	Kinch Freeman		   Hertford	NC	Black	Male	Hanged						Murder of a white man and his aged mother
1893	Unnamed Negro			 Rankin	MS	Black	Male	Hanged and shot				Stealing a hog
1894	— Benjamin				 Marion	FL	Black	Male	Hanged						Criminally assaulting a married black woman
1894	Daniel McDonald			Winston	MS	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets		Murder and robbery of a 75-85 year-old white man, a storekeeper
1894	George King	St. 		Bernard	LA	Black	Male	Shot						Murderous assault and threats to kill
1899	Charlie West			  Hinds	MS	Black	Male	Hanged						Murder of a 80 year-old white man and an attempted criminal assault on his niece
1899	James Martin			  Hinds	MS	Black	Male	Hanged						Murder of a 80 year-old white man and an attempted criminal assault on his niece
1906	Bob Simpson				 Kemper	MS	Black	Male	Shot						Thought to have been implicated in the killing of a white man, a police constable
1911	John D. Warren			Decatur	GA	Black	Male	Hanged/Riddled with bullets	Murder of white marshal
1912	Norm Cadore	West    Baton Rouge	LA	Black	Male	Hanged/Riddled with bullets	Murder of a white man, a wealthy planter
1936	Mack Henry Brown	 	 Fulton	GA	Black	Male	Shot and neck broken		Tried to kiss white woman's hand

December 24

1877	John Nephew			  Jessamine	KY	Black	Male	Hanged						Murder and robbery of a white man, a grocer
1884	Charles Smith		   Johnston	NC	Black	Male	Probably shot				Robbery and being a “desperado”
1887	Thomas Doss				Simpson	KY	Black	Male	Hanged						Killing an old white man
1890	Unnamed Negro		Mecklenburg	VA	Black	Male	Hanged						Murder of a “prominent and influential” white dentist
1900	Unnamed Negro			  Henry	AL	Black	Male	Shot						Stole a set of keys; larceny
1907	James Garden		  Henrietta	OK	Black	Male	Hanged/Riddled with bullets	Killing a white man

December 25

1883	— Fagan #1			   Hernando	FL	Black	Male	Shot						Murderous assault on two white men
1883	— Fagan #2			   Hernando	FL	Black	Male	Shot						Murderous assault on two white men
1889	Peter Jackson			  Wayne	GA	Mulatto	Male	Shot 						Race hatred
1889	William Fluid			  Wayne	GA	Black	Male	Shot						Unreported
1889	William Hopps			  Wayne	GA	Black	Male	Shot						Race hatred
1897	Jim Greene			   Richmond	NC	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets		Unknown
1898	Jeff Bolden			    Jackson	GA	Black	Male	Hanged						Attempted murder of prominent white man and arson
1901	Rev. J.N. McClinton Blossom Prairie	TX	Black	Male	Shot					Reporting white man for a crime
1902	Montgomery Godley	  Pittsburg	KS	Black	Male	Hanged						Shooting a police officer
1906	Calvin Nicholson		 Kemper	MS	Black	Male	Shot						Race prejudice
1906	Isham McNiece			 Kemper	MS	Black	Male	Shot						Race prejudice
1911	King Davis (King Johnson)Brooklyn, MD	Black	Male	Beaten, Shot			Murder
1928	Unnamed Negro #1 of 2	Jackson	LA	Black	Female	Unreported					Dispute with whites over a hunting dog
1928	Unnamed Negro #2 of 2	Jackson	LA	Black	Female	Unreported					Dispute with whites over a hunting dog

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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