In the Jim Crow era, justice for black citizens was often illusive, even when attempted through legal means. When the law was instead placed in the hands of a vigilante lynch mob, justice wasn’t simply illusive, it was incompetently deadly. Among the eighty or so lynchings that took place this week in history, we’ll highlight four. In two, the mob, in its blind and unconstitutional rage, murdered people who immediately proved to cases of mistaken identities. In the two others, unable to control themselves, innocent bystanders were gravely wounded.
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.
One Negro Lynched; Four Beaten (1903)
Norway, S.C., July 1 – Charles Evens, colored, suspected of the murder of John L. Phillips, was taken from the jail here last night and lynched by an unmasked mob. Four other negroes who were confined in the jail were also taken by the mob and beaten into insensibility. Evans was charged with murdering John T. Phillips, a one armed confederate soldier.
Mob Lynches Negro Man, Flogs Three Negro Women (1903)
Columbia, S.C., July 1 – A dispatch just received here form Piedmont, Anderson county, says that Ruben Elrod, a respectable old negro, was shot and killed at his house last night by a mob of fifty men. Three women who lived in the house were taken out, stripped, and flogged severely, and then warned to leave the county. No reason for the attack was given.
Two Accidentally Killed in Swamp Hunt for Negro (1914)
Shaw, Miss., June 30 – A member of the posse hunting for Jack Farmer, negro, was accidentally shot and killed by a fellow member of the posse early today. Fred Young mistook James Jolly, a fellow posseman, for Farmer as they were both pushing their way through a swamp here where it was believed Farmer was hiding.
This is the second life sacrificed in the hunt for Farmer, who is wanted for fatally shooting Earl Chase, a leading citizen in the county. The other death was that of Jennie Collins, a negro woman, who was alleged to have assisted Farmer in his flight.
Fatally Wounded Wrong Negro (1919)
Dublin, Ga., July 2 – A negro, Cleveland Butler, was shot and fatally wounded by four white men in Twiggs county yesterday, according to news reaching Dublin, when he was arrested by the men on suspicion that he was Hubert Cummings, the negro badly wanted in Laurens county. After the negro had died, parties from Dublin saw him, and stated positively that he was not Cummings.
According to the story told by members of the Laurens county parties who went to identify the negro, the four white men implicated were Messrs. Tharpe, Griffin, Myers, and another man they did not know.
These men stated they heard of a strange negro working in the chalk mines just over the line in Twiggs county, and after seeing him, decided that he very much resembled Cummings. They decided to capture him, and laid their plans.
Learning that he was asleep at a negro house near the mines, they went to the house Tuesday, and went into the room where the negro was sleeping. They stated they called to him twice, and when he did not answer, they decided he might be preparing to shoot at them through the coverings, and decided to shoot first, which they did.
The load from the shotgun fired at close range tore away a portion of the negro’s jaw and chin, teeth and tongue, making an ugly wound. Neither of the men was an officer of any kind, but they carried the negro to the sheriff of Twiggs county, who refused to take him, telling the men that the negro should go to the hospital at once, and if he proved to be Cummings, Macon was the place to carry him.
They carried the negro to the jail in Macon, but here again the sheriff refused to take him but told the men to rush the man to the hospital at once. They carried him to the Macon hospital, where he died a few minutes after being taken in.
While this was going on Deputy Sheriff Lester Watson had been notified by Sheriff Griffin of the negro’s capture, and he gathered a party who knew Cummings well, and went to Macon to identify the negro.
The Dublin party saw the negro about ten minutes after he had died, and immediately stated that he was not Cummings. Although he favored Cummings, the dead negro was reported lighter in color, with an old scar on his face that Cummings did not have. The men from this county were positive that it was not Cummings.
Just what will be the outcome of the case against the white men who were responsible for the negro’s death is not known here, but they are in a rather peculiar and somewhat uncomfortable position as a result of the affair.
Nearly Eighty Other Lynchings This Week
What follows is a list of all known racially-motivated lynchings between June 27 and July 3, 1869-1929. 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. 2For more information on all of this, please see our post here.
Year Victim City State Race Sex Form Alleged Offense
1893 Ernest Murphy Tallapoosa AL Black Male Hanged/riddled with bullets Criminal assault on an unmarried white woman 1894 George Linton Lincoln MS Black Male Hanged Attempting to outrage a married white woman 1895 Thomas Bowen Lincoln MS Black Male Hanged Criminal assault on a blind white woman 1896 John Manuel Oktibbeha MS Black Male Shot Breaking into a white woman’s room 1899 Henry Stewart Fulton KY Black Male Hanged Robbery and assault on a white man 1907 Mathis Jackson Rapides LA Black Male Hanged Criminal sssault on a young white woman 1908 Albert Baker Ware GA Black Male Riddled with bullets Rape of 14 year-old white girl 1908 Unnamed Negro Wayne GA Black Male Hanged/RwB Complicity in rape of 14 year-old white girl 1908 Walter Wilkins Ware GA Black Male Hanged/RwB Rape of 14 year-old white girl 1910 — Jones Simpson MS Black Male Shot Assaulting a white man, a farmer, and killing another white man 1911 Joe Watts Walton GA Black Male Hanged/RwB Watching little white girls while their father was away 1911 Thomas Allen Walton GA Black Male Hanged/RwB Rape of married white woman 1915 Unnamed Negro Clay MS Black Male Hanged Entered a young white girl’s bedroom
1877 Unnamed Negro #1 of 2 Yazoo MS Black Male Hanged Barn burning 1877 Unnamed Negro #2 of 2 Yazoo MS Black Male Shot Barn burning 1884 — Maipero St. Bernard LA Black-Creole Male Shot Unreported 1890 George Howard Tangipahoa LA Black Male Shot Wounding several white men; supporting black demands for higher wages for cotton picking 1892 Thomas Lillard Cannon TN Black Male Hanged/RwB Rape of a married white woman 1897 Harry Gilliam Monroe MS Black Male Hanged Robbery and attempted criminal assault of a white woman 1901 Billie Magruder Barbour AL Black Male Hanged Attempted to enter a white girl's room 1902 Ike Collins Aiken SC Black Male Riddled with bullets Fighting with white men 1902 Wyatt Holmes Aiken SC Black Male Riddled with bullets Fighting with white men 1914 Jennie Collins Bolivar MS Black Female Unreported Complicity in the murder of a white man 1919 Unnamed Negro Man Perry MS Black Male Unreported Assault with intent to murder and discussing the lynching of a black man 1929 Mose Taylor Copiah MS Black Male Shot Altercation with white man/men
1869 Unknown black man Uintah UT Black Male Shot, Hanged Because he “is a damned nigger” 1885 Benjamin Holt Hinds MS Black Male Unreported Killing his wife 1891 Daniel Buck Clay GA Black Male Riddled with bullets Invaded white girl's "chamber" 1891 William Gates Clay MS Black Male Hanged/RwB Attempted rape of a 16 year-old white girl 1892 Robert Donnelly Lee AR Black Male Hanged Outraged a 12 year-old black girl 1892 Unnamed Negro Cross AR Black Male Unreported Outraging a black girl 1896 Jake Williams Madison FL Black Male Hanged/RwB Entering girl’s room 1905 Claude Elder Oconee GA Black Male Riddled with bullets Murder of white couple 1905 Gene Yerby Oconee GA Black Male Riddled with bullets Burglary of white man’s home 1905 Lewis Robinson Oconee GA Black Male Riddled with bullets Murder of white couple 1905 Lon J. Aycock Oconee GA White Male Riddled with bullets Murder of white couple 1905 Richard Allen Oconee GA Black Male Riddled with bullets Murder of a black man 1905 Richard Robinson Oconee GA Black Male Riddled with bullets Murder of white couple 1905 Robert Harris Oconee GA Black Male Riddled with bullets Murderous assault on a black man 1905 Sandy Price Oconee GA Black Male Riddled with bullets Attempted assault of white woman 1909 Robert Jenkins Emanuel GA Black Male Shot Murder of a well-known white man and his wife 1912 Brooks Garden Pickens SC Black Male Attempted assault on the wife of a “highly respectable” white farmer 1914 James Robinson Tunica MS Black Male Unreported Complicity in murder of a white man, a 21 year-old store clerk and member of a posse 1921 "Red" Bilbro Madison MS Black Male Hanged Assaulting a white man, his employer 1928 James Bearden Lincoln MS Black Male Shot Wounding of two white men, brothers 1928 Stanley Bearden Lincoln MS Black Male Dragged behind an automobile Wounding of two white men, brothers 1929 Willie McDaniel Mecklenburg NC Black Male Hanged Unknown
1885 Unnamed Negro Sharkey MS Black Male Unreported Rape and attempted murder of a black girl 1887 James Walden Lincoln LA Black Male Hanged Larceny 1894 Lewis Bankhead Chilton AL Black Male Criminally assaulting a 12 year-old white girl and attempted criminal assault on another girl 1896 Unnamed Negro Lincoln GA Black Male Hanged/RwB Rape of a married white woman 1903 Andrew Diggs Jackson AL Black Male Hanged Attempted criminal assault on a 19 year-old unmarried white woman 1903 Reuben Elrod Anderson SC Black Male Shot Protecting three women 1904 Cairo Williams Williamsburg SC Black Male Riddled with bullets Murder of white man 1910 — Skiffer Simpson MS Black Male Riddled with bullets Hiding a black man accused of assaulting a white man
1886 George C. Parker Hancock MS Black Male Hanged Criminal assault on a white woman 1888 Calvin Moody Lawrence AL Black Male Unreported Murdered his wife 1901 Joseph Walton Brunswick VA Black Male Hanged Criminal assault on the daughter of a white farmer 1903 Charles Evans Orangeburg SC Mulatto Male Hanged/RwB Murder of a white planter, an old Confederate soldier 1904 John Jones Bartow GA Black Male Hanged/RwB Assaulted of a young married white woman 1916 Sam Meeks Pickens AL Black Male Hanged Murder of a white man 1922 James Harvey Liberty GA Black Male Hanged Criminal assault on a white woman 1922 Joseph Jordan Liberty GA Black Male Hanged Criminal assault on a white woman
1878 Sam Champion Livingston KY Black Male Hanged Entered the bedroom of a 16 year-old white girl 1883 Martin Jones Issaquena MS Black Male Hanged/RwB Murder of a married white woman 1885 John Boggan Anson NC Black Male Hanged/RwB Criminal assault on a married white woman 1893 Unnamed Negro Harrison MS Black Male Hanged Criminal assault on a white woman 1893 Unnamed Negro Harrison MS Black Male Hanged Criminal assault on a white woman 1901 Jim Bailey Johnston NC Black Male Hanged Outraged a 14 year-old white girl 1901 Robert White Elmore AL Black Male Hanged Shot at a white man during a quarrel 1903 John Osborne Union NC Black Male Hanged Criminal assault of an aged married white woman 1909 Henry Isaac Brooks GA Black Male Hanged/RwB Caught in white girl’s bedroom, daughter of a prominent man 1910 Henry McKinney Houston AL Black Male Drowned Entered an unmarried white woman’s room 1912 William English Manatee FL Black Male Hanged Making insulting proposals to the daughter of a respected white citizen 1928 Shug McElwee Pike MS Black Male Hanged Attempted assault on a white girl, daughter of a well-known farmer
1885 Calzar Carooth Marion FL Black Male Hanged Arson of a white home and murdering an old black woman, her daughter, and two grandchildren 1891 Henry Gentry Warren MS Black Male Hanged Murder 1894 Frank B. Hood Amite MS Black Male Riddled with bullets Writing an insulting letter to a white man and the killing of another white man, son of a former sheriff 1897 Jim Thomas Jefferson AL Black Male Riddled with bullets Knowing who entered married white woman’s room 1898 Goode Gray Cleveland AR Black Male Hanged Murder of a white man 1904 Burton Wade Bolivar MS Black Male Hanged Murder of a white man
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.||⇡||For more information on all of this, please see our post here.|