Creating Our Own Monsters – This Week in Lynchings

This week, our look at racially-motivated lynchings involves four specific events. Mobs numbering 200 to 3,000 broke open jails to hang, cut, shoot and burn to death victims without trial. As was normal, not a single member of these mobs was arrested for lynchings. All of the lynching in this week’s focus took place less than 100 years ago. In one, 1934 moviegoers were greeted with the sight of a lynching as they exited a theater in Louisiana – a lynching for a crime whose story seemed inspired by the monster movie they had been watching.

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.

Negro Lynched at Roxboro (1920)

Roxboro, N.C., July 7 – As the result of attempted criminal assault upon Annie Lou Chambers, a 14 year old white girl, Ed. Roach, a 24 year old Negro from Reidsville, was lynched early this morning by a mob comprising approximately 200 men. An investigation held today failed to disclose the identity of any member of the mob. 2According to an account in the New York Mail, July 8, 1920, the mob of 200 were all masked.

Person County Courthouse (jail) in 1946.
Person County Courthouse (jail) in 1946.

Miss Chambers, who is the daughter of Mr. Edward Chambers of Chatham county is visiting her uncle, Mr. Garland Chambers, who lives several miles south of Roxboro. Yesterday afternoon she was found badly bruised and with Roach’s finger prints on her throat and face.

Roach was next seen boarding a Norfolk and Western train at Helena, seven miles south of here, about six o’clock yesterday afternoon. Dr. George Gentry of Roxboro, who was near the station, heard that the Negro was on the train and raced the locomotive to Roxboro, arriving in time to have Roach arrested at the station. A pistol was said to have been found in Roach’s pocket.

Miss Chambers was brought to the jail and positively identified Roach as her assailant.

No move was made to seize Roach until two o’clock this morning, when a mob of about 200 men formed at the Person county jail where Roach had been held since his arrest. Sheriff N.S. Thompson was at the jail and pleaded with the crowd to disperse and permit the law to take its course. The response of the crowd was that it would give the sheriff three minutes to leave the jail. Fifty shots were fired to intimidate the sheriff. He left.

No further effort was made to thwart the mob and Roach was taken to the graveyard of the Negro Church three miles south of here on the national highway and hanged to a tree. After the lynching the corpse was riddled with bullets. The scene of the lynching is not far from the Chambers home.

There have been no indications of any race trouble as a result of the lynching. however, the entire road force of which Roach was a member comprising about 75 men, has quit. The force was engaged in the construction of sand clay roads in the county. The Negroes declared they will not work any more in Person county.

A week later, the same newspaper (the Raleigh Independent) ran a piece quoting Roach’s former employer, Nello Taylor, which claimed he was at work when the assault upon Miss Chambers happened.

“When this Negro was lynched,” Mr. Taylor says in his statement, “as innocent a man was murdered as could have been, had you or I been the victim of the mob.”

Continuing, the contractor says: “Roach was working for me and was a quiet, hard-working inoffensive humble negro. On Monday he came to me and stated that he was sick and wanted to go with me to Durham that night to see a doctor. Instead I arranged for him to go Tuesday night to Roxboro. He continued his work all day Tuesday until 5:30 (Bear in mind that the crime for which he was lynched occurred between 2 and 3 o’clock that afternoon), when he asked permission of this foreman to stop and go to Mt. Tersa station to catch the train for Roxboro.

“Permission was given him and he left for the station walking. At 5:45 he passed the State’s bridge crew (white men) and two men who were out searching for the guilty Negro saw him and followed him up to road to the Mount Tersa station, where he sat down and waited for the train there.

“He was not arrested until he got off the train. I am advised by the chief of police he asked what they had him for and told them he had not done anything, but he was not told until he got in jail what they had him for. He asked to be taken to my office to see my superintendent with whom he had arranged to carry him to the doctor, but permission was refused him.”
The Raleigh Independent, July 10 and July 17, 1920.

Fair Grounds Flagpole Scene of Double Lynching (1920)

Paris, Tex., July 6 – Two negroes were burned at the stake by a mob here tonight at 8 o’clock. The pair, Irving Arthur, 19, and Herman Arthur, 28, brothers, were accused of the murder last Friday of their landlord and his sons, John and William Hodges. A dispute over money was said to have been the cause.

The negroes were taken to the fair grounds, lashed to the flagpole, doused with kerosene and burned alive. The flagpole had been the scene yesterday, Monday, of Fourth of July celebrations and oratory.
Kansas City Times

The fairgrounds were Paris, Texas' de facto location for lynchings. The photo depicts the 1898 lynching of Henry Smith on the same spot where Irving and Herman Arthur would be lynched 22 years later.
The fairgrounds were Paris, Texas’ de facto location for lynchings. The photo depicts the 1898 lynching of Henry Smith on the same spot where Irving and Herman Arthur would be lynched 22 years later.

Negro and White Scuffle; Negro is Jailed, Lynched (1933)

Clinton, S.C., July 5 – A negro truck driver who had come to blows with a white truck driver was found dead today. Norris Bendy, Laurens county negro, had argued yesterday with Marvin Tollis, white, after each had driven a truckload of Fourth of July picnickers to Lake Murray. When the men came to blows, the negro was arrested.

Sometime this morning the negro was spirited away from the Clinton Jail. Later, his body, showing signs of shooting, beating and strangulation, was found seven miles from here by Deputy Sheriff Thad Moore. it was hanging from a tree on the lawn of the Old Sardis Church.
Atlanta Constitution

Note: The following story seems almost like a Bigfoot sighting. The “Negro” is portrayed as a random monster who conveniently bursted out of the woods to attack a young girl only to be frightened off by the approaching headlights of a car. Even stranger, the “Negro” was picked up shortly thereafter in his home twenty-five miles away. Make of it what you will.

Suspect Hanged from Oak on Bastrop Public Square (1934)

Bastrop, La., July 9 – A mob of 3,000 stormed the Morehouse parish jail tonight, dragged out Andrew McCloud, 26, Negro, suspected of attempting to assault a white girl, and hanged him to an oak tree in the public square.

The mob tore down a telephone pole intending to use it as a battering ram to gain entry to the jail. Three other Negroes imprisoned with McCloud were so badly frightened that one of them shouted out, “White folks; batter down the side of the building and we’ll throw him out to you.” This the mob proceeded to do.

Just then District Attorney Hawthoren arrived and made a speech. “I sympathize with your attitude, but I’m afraid you’ll get into trouble,” he said. “If you sympathize with us,” one of the leaders shouted, “why don’t you take off that straw hat and take a hold of this telephone pole?”

McCloud had been arrested Sunday, some hours after a white girl reported an attempted attack Saturday night. She and her escort were returning to Bastrop from a dance. Her escort had been drinking and he ran his car into a ditch. He was too intoxicated to go for help and the girl started out for a gasoline station on foot.

A Negro stepped out of the night, she said, and started to drag her into the woods. Before he could get her off the road, a car approached, frightening him away.

McCloud was later picked up at his home, twenty-five miles away.

After he was removed from jail by the mob, McCloud was taken to a tall oak on the village green. He was placed on top of a car, and a noose tied around his neck. The car was driven off. He fell with such force that the rope snapped. An unidentified man ran up with a knife and slit McCloud’s throat from ear to ear. Nearly dead, he was strung up again. This time the rope held.

The Rose Theater in Bastrop, Louisiana. Mr. McCloud was lynched near where this photo was taken. As moviegoers left the theater, they saw his body hanging from an oak tree.
The Rose Theater in Bastrop, Louisiana. Mr. McCloud was lynched near where this photo was taken. As moviegoers left the theater, they saw his body hanging from an oak tree.

The lynching site was located across the street from a picture show where a horror film was playing. A number of women emerging from the theater saw the Negro hanging from the tree and fainted. 3A short piece which ran in the New York Daily News on July 11, 1934 stated that “Parish authorities showed little interest today in the capture and punishment of a mob which lynched a colored man in the public square here last night. Sheriff J.F. Carpenter said he recognized none of this fellow townsmen in the mob. District Attorney F.W. Hawthoren, who had told the crowd he sympathized with its attitude, was non-committal.
New Orleans Tribune

Nearly Sventy Other Lynchings This Week

What follows is a list of all known racially-motivated lynchings between July 4 and July 10, 1878-1949. 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. 4For more information on all of this, please see our post here.

Year	Victim	  City State	Race	Sex	Form    Alleged Offense

June 4

1892	Unnamed Negro		 Walker	AL	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	Attempted assault of two “highly respectable” white women
1894	George Pond	       Itawamba	MS	Black	Male	Hanged			Entered the bedroom of a young white woman and touched her
1895	Robert Bennett	       Columbia	FL	Black	Male	Shot			Learned identity of some members of robbery gang  or  Being improper with 11 year-old white girl
1896	Courtney Kendrick      Ouachita	LA	Black	Male	Hanged			Murderous assault on a white man
1910	Unnamed Negro  	     Montgomery	GA	Black	Male	Shot			Annoying whites by being boisterous
1910	Unnamed Negro        Montgomery	GA	Black	Male	Shot			Annoying whites by being boisterous
1910	Unnamed Negro  	     Montgomery	GA	Black	Male	Shot			Annoying whites by being boisterous
1915	Alonzo Green		  Jones	GA	Black	Male	Shot			Complicity in murder of a white man
1915	Son of Alonzo Green	  Jones	GA	Black	Male	Shot			Complicity in murder of a white man
1915	William Bostick		  Jones	GA	Black	Male	Shot			Complicity in murder of a white man
1930	John Robertson		 Sumter	AL	Black	Male	Shot			Accessory to the murder of a white man
1933	Norris Bendy		Laurens	SC	Black	Male	Hanged and shot		Striking a 22 year-old white man

July 5

1878	George Bullitt		  Rowan	KY	Black	Male	Hanged			“outrageous conduct toward” a white family; threatening to burn a white man’s house
1881	— King		       Hernando	FL	Black	Male	Hanged			Murder of a 14 year-old white boy, an 11 year-old white boy, and cutting throat of a 8 year-old white girl, all children of the sheriff
1884	Bill Gillespe	       Nicholas	KY	Black	Male	Shot			Murder of a black man
1891	— Thompson		 Gibson	TN	Black	Male	Shot			Verbally abused and shot at a white man
1892	Edward Prater		   Clay	AL	Black	Male	Shot			Criminal assault of a young unmarried white woman
1892	John L. Adams		 Warren	MS	Black	Male	Hanged			Murder of a white man, a merchant and planter
1892	Smith Tooley		 Warren	MS	Black	Male	Hanged			Murder of a white man, a merchant and planter
1895	Theodore Puckett	 Rankin	MS	Black	Male	Hanged			Robbing a white man, a farmer
1896	Nimrod Cross		 Panola	MS	Black	Male	Hanged			Outraged a 8 year-old white girl
1900	John Roe		  Henry	AL	Black	Male	Hanged/RwB 		Attempted criminal assault on a married white woman
1904	John Taylor	   Chesterfield	SC	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	Attempted assault on a married white woman and a 9 year-old white girl, both from prominent families
1905	Joe Woodman		  Desha	AR	Black	Male	Hanged			Eloped with 16 year-old white girl
1910	Unnamed Negro	          White	AR	Black	Male	Shot			Mistaken identity
1912	John Williams		 Conway	AR	Black	Male				Killed a white man, a deputy
1920	James F. Spencer	 Clarke	MS	Black	Male	Unreported		Stabbed a white man, a railroad postal clerk
1930	Esau Robertson		 Sumter	AL	Black	Male	Hanged			Murder of a white man

July 6

1884	Richard Henderson	  Logan	KY	Black	Male	Unreported		Cutting white boy
1888	Robert Bryan	      Henderson	KY	Black	Male	Hanged			Murder of a white teenaged boy
1892	Edgar Jones		 Weston WV	Black	Male	Hanged			Murder
1892	Joe Williams Anderson	 Louisa	VA	Black	Male	Hanged			Attempted outrage on a 14 year-old white girl
1894	Jim Bell	       Cheatham	TN	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	Murder of a child and arson
1904	Green Daniel		Terrell	GA	Black	Male	Hanged/RwB		Unknown
1910	Sam Powell		  Union	AR	Black	Male	Hanged			Robbery and arson of the residence of a prominent white citizen
1913	Roscoe Smith		   Clay	FL	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	Murder of a white man, a sheriff
1913	Unnamed Negro	     Santa Rosa	FL	Black	Male	Hanged/RwB		Criminal assault on a 6 year-old white girl
1922	Joe Pemberton		Bossier	LA	Black	Male	Hanged			Shooting two black women
1927	Joseph Smith		  Yazoo	MS	Black	Male	Hanged			Attempted attack on a young white girl
1930	Viola Dial		 Sumter	AL	Black	Female	Shot			Race prejudice and mob furor
1938	Tom Green		Sharkey	MS	Black	Male	Shot			Murder of a white man, a planter

July 7

1885	Charles Williams	Laurens	SC	Black	Male	Ridded with bullets	Entered a young white girl’s bedroom and touched her
1885	Felix Williams		Grenada	MS	Black	Male	Hanged			Murder of a white man, a peddler
1885	Perry McCristian	Grenada	MS	Mulatto	Male	Hanged			Murder of a white man, a peddler
1891	James Coones	      Wilkinson	MS	Black	Male	Hanged			Assault and robbery of an elderly white man, a judge and brother of a prominent merchant
1891	Robert Brown		 Pierce	GA	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	Criminal assault on a married white woman
1892	Issac Flowers		  Wayne	GA	Black	Male	Shot			Participating in the Jesup “riot”
1893	Seay J. Miller	       Carlisle	KY	Black	Male	Hanged			Outrage and murder of two white girls, sisters
1894	Charles Roundtree	  Irwin	GA	Black	Male	Hanged/RwB		Attempted rape of a 16 year-old white girl, daughter of his prominent employer
1894	James A. Nelson	      Abbeville	SC	Black	Male	Shot			To prevent him from giving evidence in a trial against bootleggers
1898	Wesley Gould	     Washington	MS	Black	Male	Hanged			Attempted murder of a white man, a planter
1903	Cato Garrett		 Warren	MS	Black	Male	Hanged			Murder of a young white man, a prominent planter
1905	Leon Beard		Spencer	KY	Black	Male	Riddled with bullets	Attempt to assault a married white woman
1920	Edward Roach		 Person	NC	Black	Male	Hanged/RwB		Attempted attack on a 14 year-old white girl

July 8

1885	Bartly James		Grenada	MS	Black	Male	Hanged			Murder of a white man, a peddler
1885	John Campbell		Grenada	MS	Black	Male	Shot			Murder of a white man, a peddler
1891	James Bailey		  White	AR	Black	Male	Hanged			Outraged a prominent married white woman
1902	Unnamed Negro		Neshoba	MS	Black	Male	Hanged			Attempted criminal assault on a 15 year-old white girl, daughter of a planter
1906	William Anderson	   Drew	AR	Black	Male	Hanged			Robbery and criminal assault on a “respectable white lady”

July 9

1882	Mack Taylor		Webster	LA	Black	Male	Shot			Murderous assault on a white boy
1883	Henderson Lee	      Morehouse	LA	Black	Male	Hanged			Larceny
1897	Atticus Thompson	  Scott	MS	Black	Male	Shot			Criminal assault on a white woman
1904	Jesse Tucker	      Chickasaw	MS	Black	Male	Hanged			Entering the bedroom of a married white woman; attempted criminal assault
1904	Will Roberts		Pickens	AL	Black	Male	Hanged			Insulting proposals to two white women
1915	Warren Fox	     Crittenden	AR	Black	Male	Hanged			Murder of a white farmer
1934	Andrew McCloud	      Morehouse	LA	Black	Male	Hanged			Attempted assault on a white girl
1938	John Dukes		  Crisp	GA	Black	Male	Burned/RwB		Killing white police officer
1949	Malcolm Wright	      Chickasaw	MS	Black	Male	Beaten			Did not yield road to white men

July 10

1879	Neal Wimbush		Fayette	GA	Black	Male	Hanged			Attempted rape of a young white “lady”
1887	Ross Griffith	     Oglethorpe	GA	Black	Male	Hanged			Attempted rape of a white woman
1889	Martin Love	      Whitfield	GA	Black	Male	Hanged			Attempted rape of a young unmarried white woman
1900	John Jennings	         Shelby	AL	Black	Male	Hanged			Murder of a white man, a railroad worker
1906	Unnamed Negro	      Claiborne	LA	Black	Male	Hanged			Attempted criminal assault of a prominent farmer’s sisters
1913	"Kid" Tempers		Calhoun	FL	Black	Male	Hanged /RwB		Assisted murderer of a white deputy sheriff

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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