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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 191878 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 201883 — 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 211878 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 221893 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 231880 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 241877 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 251883 — 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 [ + ]
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 Scranton Republican; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Fri, Dec 27, 1901 – Page 1. Here. 3. ⇡ This took place on December 23. 4. ⇡ The Leavenworth Post; Leavenworth, Kansas; Thu, Dec 27, 1906 – Page 1. Here. 5. ⇡ The Vicksburg Herald; Vicksburg, Mississippi; Sat, Dec 29, 1906 – Page 8. Here. 6. ⇡ The Monroe News-Star; Monroe, Louisiana; Wed, Dec 26, 1928 – Page 1. Here, here and here. 7. ⇡ The Monroe News-Star; Monroe, Louisiana; Tue, May 14, 1929 – Page 1. Here. 8. ⇡ For more information on all of this, please see our post here.