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.
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
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.
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 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
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
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
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
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
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”
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
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 [ + ]
|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.||⇡||According to an account in the New York Mail, July 8, 1920, the mob of 200 were all masked.|
|3.||⇡||A 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.|
|4.||⇡||For more information on all of this, please see our post here.|