Friday, September 8, 2017

November 10, 1918: William Bird

To put today's lynching into some historical context, Mr. Bird was lynched 5-8 hours before Germany signed the Armistice ending World War I. We were that close to the end of a major war and people were still lynching black men for little things like disturbing the peace. Please keep this in mind if you wonder why there is so much anger over Confederate monuments or events like the one in Charlottesville. The papers didn't provide much information about the lynching we're covering today. However, this lynching is connected with a lynching we covered on November 12, 2014. George Whitesede was lynched for the murder of a policeman. Our first article covers both lynchings and is from The Concord Times (Concord, North Carolina) dated November 12, 1918:


Self Confessed Slayer of Policeman Taken from Jail and Lynched.

Sheffield, Ala., Nov. 12.—Geo Whiteside, a negro self confessed slayer of John Graham, a Policeman of Sheffield was taken from the Colbert County jail by a mob early today and lynched.

Shortly afterward the mob left for Russellville, 20 miles south of here, some of their leaders declaring they would lynch Henry Willingham, and Charles Hamilton, two other negroes arrested in connection with the killing. They were taken to Russellville for safekeeping after William Bird, another negro implicated in the affair, had been lynched Sunday night.

It is unknown whether Mr. Bird actually did have something to do with the killing of policeman Graham. No other paper hints that he was involved. They simply mention that he was lynched for "creating a disturbance." Our next and final article is from The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) dated November 11, 1918:


Sheffield, Ala., Nov. 10 (by A. P.)—William Bird, a negro, was taken from the jail here to-night by a mob of about 100 men and hanged. Bird was captured and placed in jail this afternoon after a running fight with officers following a disturbance he was said to have created in the lower section of Sheffield. The negro was surrendered to the mob without violence.

Thank you for joining us, and as always, we hope we leave you with something to ponder.

Friday, August 18, 2017

August 1, 1917: Frank Little

Our lynching today stems from labor issues going on in Montana. Our first paper is The Wichita Beacon (Wichita, Kansas) dated August 1, 1917:





He Had Been Prominent in Labor Troubles in Arizona— Incendiary Speech Cause of Lynching.

Butte, Mont., Aug. 1—Frank Little, member of the executive board of the Industrial Workers of the World, and prominent in labor troubles in Arizona, was taken from a lodging house early today by masked men and hanged to a railroad trestle on the outskirts of a city.

Body is Identified.

The body was cut down at 8 a. m. by the chief of police, Jerry Murphy, who identified it. Little, in a recent speech here, referred to United States troops as "Uncle Sam's scabs in uniform.

Had Talked Much.

Since his arrival in Butte recently from Globe, Ariz., Little had made a number of speeches to strikers in all of which he had attacked the government and urged the men to shut down the mines of the Butte district. He was bitter in his denunciation of the government. His record was under investigation by the Federal authorities whose attention had been called to his activities. On the other hand, the report was current that Little was in the employ of a prominent detective agency and one theory was that he was the victim of the radical element of whom he appeared to be a member.

Wrote to a Governor.

Little took a very prominent part in recent labor troubles in Arizona. He addressed a wire to Governor Campbell of Arizona, protesting against the deportation of I. W. W. members from Bisbee. This letter was written from Salt Lake. Governor Campbell replied, telling Little he resented his interference and his threats. Little was understood to have the confidence of William D. Haywood, secretary of the I. W. W. national organization, and was regarded as one Haywood's confidential agents.

Hanged Him Naked.

Little was a cripple but very active and a forceful speaker. On Little's body was a card bearing the words "First and Last Warning, Others Take Notice. Vigilantes." Little, when taken out of the building in which he roomed, was not given time to dress.

By the Old Sign.

The card found on Little's body when he was cut down was pinned to the underclothing on his right thigh. It bore in red crayon letters the inscription:

"Others Take Notice. First and Last Warning. 3-7-77. L. D. C. S. S. W. T."

A circle was about the letter "L." The letters were inscribed with a lead pencil.

The figures "3-7-77" are the old sign of the vigilantes in Montana. The custom of the vigilantes was to send three warnings to a marked man, the last being written in red.

Only Six in Party.

Six masked men in an automobile drove up to the front of Little's hotel at five minutes after three. One stood upon the sidewalk in front of the rooming house. The others entered the house. Everything worked by seeming pre-arrangement.

Without speaking, the men quickly broke into room No. 30 on the ground floor. Light from an electric torch showed them the room was unoccupied.

Mrs. Nora Byrne, landlady of the hotel awoke when the door to room No. 30 was broken in. She occupied an adjoining room at the front of the building.

"Some mistake here," she heard a voice say. Then she heard the men move to the door of her room which they pushed slightly open. Mrs. Byrne sprang to the door and held it. "Wait until I get my clothes on," she said. Then she asked who they were and what they wanted. "We are officers and we want Frank Little," one of the men told her.

Landlady Directs Them.

"Mrs. Byrne got into a bathrobe, again went to the door and opened it. The leader of the masked men poked a revolver into the opening. "Where is Frank Little?" he asked.

"He is in room No. 32," answered Mrs. Byrne. The men ran down the hall and tried the door to that room. Then one of their number gave it a kick that broke the lock and they entered.

Mrs. Byrne said she heard them coming from the room.

She Saw Him Last.

"I saw them half lead and half carry Little across the sidewalk and push him into the waiting motor car."

Little began to make speeches on the day of his arrival in Butte three weeks ago. In all of them he attacked the government. On July 19, before a mass meeting of miners, Little referred to the United States soldiers as "Uncle Sam's scabs in uniform." In the same speech he said:

"If the mines are taken under federal control we will make it so damned hot for the government that it will not be able to send any troops to France."

Referring in another address to his interview recently with Governor Campbell of Arizona, Little said that he used these words: "Governor, I don't give a d—— what your country is fighting for; I am fighting for the solidarity of labor."

His Latest Tirade.

Last Friday night, before the Metal Mine Workers' Union, Little said:

"A city ordinance is simply a piece of paper which can be torn up. The same can be said of the Constitution of the United States."

Following the identification of Little's body, local members of the I. W. W. telegraphed appeals for aid. A message was sent to William D. Haywood at Chicago. It was said that a message was received from Haywood saying the resources of the organization would be employed to bring the lynchers of Little to justice.

Early in the day men gathered at Finn Hall, headquarters of the Metal Mine Workers' Union, and threats were made against "gunmen" said to be employed here.

This afternoon steps probably will be taken by the local I. W. W. to protect other leaders here. At Union Hall threats were made by individuals against local newspapers.

Haywood Hears It.

Chicago, Aug. 1.—Frank Little had been identified with the Industrial Workers of the World since 1906. His home was Fresno, Cal. He was 38 years old and single.

Word of his death was received with emotion by W. D. Haywood, secretary of the national organization of the I. W. W.

His Threat to Governor.

Salt Lake, Utah, Aug. 1.—Little, the I. W. W. organizer lynched today at Butte, telegraphed Governor Campell of Arizona, from here July 17 as follows regarding the deportation from that sate of members of the I. W. W.:

"Understand that the mine owners' mob will take same action at Globe and Miami, as was taken at Bisbee. The membership of the I. W. W. is getting tired of the lawlessness of the capitalistic class and will no longer stand for such action. If you, as governor, can not uphold the law, we will take same into our own hands. Will you act or must we?"

Our next article is from Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, South Dakota dated on August 2, 1917:


Government Plans Drastic Action to Meet Disturbances Throughout the West


Nothing Will Be Left Undone to Prevent Tie Up of Nation's War Industries

Chicago, Aug. 2.—William D. Haywood, secretary of the national organization of the Industrial Workers of the World, received a telegram today saying that the funeral of Frank Little, member of the executive committee of the I. W. W., who was hanged by a mob in Butte, Mont., would be either in Fresno, Cal., his old home, or in Chicago. The funeral the message said, would be marked by a demonstration of protest by the Industrial Workers of the World.

Washington, Aug. 2.—Drastic action by the government to meet the labor disturbances in the west and southwest which officials are sure have been stirred up by German propaganda will be taken if the situation shows any growth.

Intimations of an attempt to call out the United Mine Workers should the government intervene on behalf of the Industrial Workers of the World in labor disputes in certain sections of the west have resulted in the department of justice undertaking a broad general inquiry.

The inquiry has not yet reached the stage where definite action has been formulated by officials assert that nothing possible will be left undone to prevent the tie up of industries deemed vital in the conduct of the war.

Study Butte Lynching.
Butte, Mont., Aug. 2.—Attorney General Ford and County Attorney Jackson conferred today with a view to determining upon a course of action in respect to the lynching of Frank H. Little, chairman of the general executive board of the I. W. W. national organization, who was hanged by masked men on the outskirts of Butte early yesterday morning.The police and sheriff say they are without clews[sic] thus far as to the identity of the lynchers. Despite the fact that William Sullivan, counsel for the Metal Mine Workers' Union, declares he knows the identity of five of the men, the authorities do not credit his declaration.

Guardsmen on Hand.
Two companies of the national guardsmen were in Butte this morning, one having arrived last night from Bozeman. The other has been here for some time.

Among Little's personal effects was found an envelope containing ashes. Upon the envelope was the title "Ashes of Joe Hill." It is supposed that the ashes were those from the cremated body of Frank Hillstrom an I. W. W., executed at the Utah state prison for murder.

Identify the Lynchers.
In a bulletin issued by the Metal Mine Workers' union today the statement is made that the name of five of the lynching party are known.

"Two of these men and one is connected with law enforcement in the city."

The bulletin adds:

"Threats have already been made that if we succeed in convicting those who committed this crime we will never live to tell it. We want to inform them that three copies of every bit of information we have are deposited in three different places to be used in case they succeed in getting any of us. We know already that alibis were prepared in advance for every one of the murderers yet we have evidence that will break every alibi completely and when we finish some very prominent murderers will be headed for the gallows or Deer Lodge penitentiary."

William G. Sullivan, lawyer, retained by the union, would not disclose their names today. Sheriff O'Rourke interviewed Sullivan but said he obtained no information from him.

Not Planning Strike.
Indianapolis, Ind., Aug. 2.—The idea of intimations of attempts to call out the United Mine Workers of America should the government not intervene in behalf of Industrial Workers of the World in labor disputes in certain sections of the west, was ridiculed and branded as misleading and incorrect today by William Green, secretary-treasurer of the United Mine Workers.

Mr. Green last night made public telegrams he sent to President Wilson and others protesting against the deportation of members of the United Mine Workers. At the same time he specifically stated his protest was not because of any action taken regarding the Industrial Workers but because of an alleged deportation of United Mine Workers from a tent colony at Gallup, N. M.

"Statements that there were intimations of an attempt to call out the United Mine Workers should the government not intervene in behalf of the I. W. W. are incorrect and misleading," he said.

Our next article is from Pittston Gazette (Pittston, Pennsylvania) August 6, 1917:


Butte, Mont., Aug. 6.—Butte today was facing several additional strikes which threatened to tie up all industries of the city, as a direct result of the lynching of Frank Little, the 1.[sic] W. W. leader last week.

All mine engineers are the latest craftsmen to declare their intention of striking, according to leaders of the Metal Workers' union. This would completely shut down the mining industries.

No attempt was being made by the street car company to break the strike of carmen and no cars had moved since the strike was called Saturday morning.

Union leaders declared that 12,000 miners miners are still out as a result of the original miners' strike and that less than three per cent. of the miners have deserted the union. The mining officials, on the other hand, claimed that many union men have deserted the union and operating conditions are becoming normal.

Our final article is from the San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California) dated August 27, 1917:


I W. W. Man Held in Connection With Little Lynching

BUTTE (Mont.), August 26.—Butte's streets today were crowded with thousands of miners, idle because of the shutdown of all the copper mines of the district, made necessary by the closing Friday of the Washoe smelting plant of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company at Anaconda, when of 3000 men employed on the day shift only 110 reported for work. It is expected that the company's plant in Great Falls will be closed down within a day or two, as soon as the ore in transit has been sent through the smelter.

C. A. McCarthy, alias Albright, is held in the City Jail in connection with the lynching of Frank H. Little, national exectuvie board member of the Industrial Workers of the World. McCarthy, local executive member of the I. W. W., was arrested several days ago. He denies any knowledge of the Little affair.

Indications are that the independent mines of the district, which did not shut down Friday, will be compelled to cease operations in the near future. These include the zinc- producing properties, among them the Butte and Superior, Elm Orlu and others. Miners gradually are failing to report for work at the Independent properties.

There is a belief here that the machinsts' union will declare a strike soon. The machinists have formulated new demands, which they declare they will insist upon.

Several weeks ago they accepted the agreement reached between the operating companies and State Metal Trades Council.

Thank you for joining us, and as always, we hope we leave you with something to ponder.

Friday, August 11, 2017

June 20, 1917: Ben Harper

Our lynching today comes from The Times (Shreveport, Louisiana) dated June 24, 1917:

Courtney, Texas, Is Quiet After Lynching Of Negro Wednesday

Courtney, Texas, June 23.—The populace of this little town resumed normal activities Saturday following excitement due to the lynching Wednesday of Ben Harper, negro chauffeur, who while celebrating emancipation day with a party of negroes, drove his automobile into a horse on which Iola Goodrum, 12 years, of Navasota, was riding. A moment later she was killed when an oncoming automobile carrying another party of negroes ran over her.

Seven other negroes are held in the Grimes county jail at Anderson in connection with the case, but authorities say they do not fear further violence.

Harper, with seven companions, was arrested after the inquest into the death of the Goodrum girl, but escaped while being taken to Anderson. His body was found Thursday morning hanging from a tree near the spot where the girl was killed.

Thank you for joining us, and as always, we hope we leave you with something to ponder.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

December 12, 1917: Wade Hampton

Today we'll be looking at the lynching of Wade Hamilton in Rock Springs, Wyoming. It's unknown whether this was actually the man's name because only one article lynches it and it's facts differ from two other articles. Our first article is from the Ogden Standard (Ogden, Utah) dated December 12, 1917:


According to advices received in Ogden today, twenty- five infuriated and determined men appeared at the city jail in Rock Springs, Wyo., early today, overpowered the jailer, took an unidentified negro from his cell and hanged to a railroad bridge north of town. The negro had been molesting wihte[sic] women in the vicinity of Blairstown, a suburb of Rock Springs.

Details accompanying the abrupt execution of the negro are lacking. It is known, however, that the victim of the mob had been terrorizing the women residing near the mining camp for some time and that murmurings of a lynching had been in circulation. The men were unmasked when they appeared at the jail and demanded the culprit. Upon being refused they used such force as was necessary to obtain the keys and take the prisoner.

The body was left dangling to the bridge stringer. It was found there this afternoon by passersby. No snots[sic]were fired. The mob was well organized and orderly.

Our next little blurb is from the Gastonia Gazette (Gastonia, North Carolina) dated December 14, 1917:

Lynching in Wyoming

Rock Springs, Wyo., Dec. 12.—An unidentified negro charged with molesting women residents of Blairtown, a suburb, was taken from the city jail today and hanged to a railroad bridge. Twenty-five citizens overpowered the jailer at the city prison to secure the negro.

Our last article has a different take on the number of people involved in the lynching. It is from the Greeley Daily Tribune (Greeley, Colorado) and is dated December 20, 1917:


Cheyenne, Dec. 20—That the negro lynching at Rock Springs on the night of Dec. 11 was participated in by only three men in the surprising feature of the report of the affair received by Governor Houx. The prosecuting attorney states that if the "mob" had more than three members the others were invisible.

Wade Hamilton, the victim of the lynching, was arrested the day previous to his' death on the charge of assaulting three white women. The district attorney stated that the discovery of the identity of the three lynchers will be a matter of pure luck as they carefully safeguarded themselves the night of the lynching.

Thank you for joining us and, as always, we hope we leave you with something to ponder.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

December 27, 1880: Joseph Snyder

Our lynching today comes out of The Daily Union-Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) published December 29, 1880:

Full Particulars of the Double Tragedy Near Bethlehem—A Horrible and Graphic Recital— How the Crime Was Committed—Flight and Discovery of the Murderer, Etc.
The Murderer Found in a Hay Loft.

EASTON, Pa., Dec. 27— Two crimes of the most terrible and most sickening character, by which three human beings have been deprived of their existence. were committeed[sic] within the past twenty-four hours at a little settlement called Santee's Mills, a few miles from Easton. The story is not a pleasant one to read.
Joseph Snyder is a worker in the Coleman Ore Mine, was about twenty-eight years of age, a German by birth, of muscular build and not bad looking. He had lived for some time as a boarder in the family of Mr. Jacob Gogle, of whose daughter he became enamored. Alice was but fourteen years old and her parents objected to the acceptance of Snyder as a husband. Thus there arose ill-feeling between Snyder and Mr. And Mrs. Gogle.

About eleven o'clock last night Snyder arose from his bed, and entering in a nude state the room where Mr. and Mrs. Gogle were sleeping brained each of them with an axe. He then sought the chamber of the young girl whom he had professed to love. With her there at the time a girl named Clara Young, was paying her a visit, and her younger sister, Mary. Snyder here conducted himself in a shameless and brutal manner, and the terrified girls—two of them mere children—screamed at the top of their voices.

Clara and Mary, crying "Murder!" ran down stairs into the room of Mr. and Mrs. Gogle and crouched, trembling with fear, upon the foot of their bed. Hearing no sound from the couple whom they supposed to be there the strange silence increased their terror, and Miss Young, hastily springing to the floor, struck a match upon the wall. The scene that met their gaze under the feeble rays of the match was enough to freeze the blood of older and braver hearts. Mr. and Mrs. Gogle were there, but they were apparently dead. The bed clothing and even the walls were covered with blood. Overcome, almost faint with horror, the girls gave only one glance, and then tottered headlong from the room and mounted the stairs screaming.

The murderer, bravely repulsed by Alice Gogle, was still in her room ; but when he heard the approach of Clara and Mary he savagely seized them, and, pushing them into another room, locked the door. They remained for some time shivering with both cold and terror, but the door was finally unlocked and they were allowed to go into another room, above the kitchen, which was warmer. The murderer then went down stairs and taking off his shirt burned it in the stove. The girls remained locked in the second room for several hours until they were almost dead with fright and suspense. Alice Gogle, looking through a pipe hole in the floor, saw the murderer putting his shirt in the stove. She asked him what he was doing, and he replied that it was not his shirt but some shingles that he was burning. She told him that she knew it was his shirt.

Snyder now went out and alarmed the neighbors, telling them that a murder had been committed at Gogle's house. He did not appear excited or concerned in the least, but while the neighbors were assembling he took care to disappear. This was about four o'clock this morning, and several neighbors had already come to the house where the murder had been committed. Word was at once sent to Bethlehem and other places in the county, and in a short time a very large crowd had assembled, among whom was Detective Yoke, of Bethlehem. A systematic investigation was then commenced.

The excitement and confusion were great, and little or nothing had yet been done toward caring for the children or looking for the murderer. Threats of lynching were at once made contingent upon the finding of the murderer. The two murdered people were well known as good and worthy persons, and that so horrible a crime should have been committed for so foul an end by one who lived in the house of his victims was exasperating in the extreme and provoked the bitterest menaces. The farmers and neighbors, though excited in action, seeming, in talking of vengeance, perfectly cool and clear. It was altogether a singular scene, and was followed by one still more remarkable for a peaceful county like Northampton. This was the hanging of the murderer by a crowd of men who uttered neither curses nor reproaches, but pulled hard and calmly on the end of a rope to the other end of which a human being was swinging into eternity.

Shortly after the arrival of Detective Yoke, he, with others, commenced a search for the murderer. They were a long time engaged in tracing every footprint in the snow, but could find none that seemed to lead to his hiding place. For hours the murderer was hunted without success. Finally Detective Yoke concluded to search Captain Keller's barn, and while in a loft that contained sheaves of wheat he hand touched something which, on being brought to the surface, was found to be a man's arm, and a voice was heard to say, "It's me." The detective asked if it was Snyder, and, receiving an answer in the affirmative, ordered him to hold up both hands. The murderer obeyed and the detective handcuffed him, at the same time taking from him a revolver.

The report that Snyder was found spread like wild- fire, but the fact that he had been armed caused the greatest portion of the crowd to keep out of harm's way until they were assured that the detective had the weapon. As soon as possible he was removed to the house where his victims were still lying on their bloody couch. While he was on his way threats of lynching were made on all sides, growing louder and more numerous, and the desire to take the matter out of the hands of the law seemed to have reached a stage where it was no longer controllable. It was found that there was a rope in the possession of one of the men in the crowd, who had taking it from a bedstead in the upper part of the Gogle house, probably with the intention of applying it to the fatal use for which destiny had reserved it. This was about nine o'clock, over an hour after the murderer had been found by Detective Yoke. This officer resisted to the best of his ability the advances of the crowd, which now became thoroughly infuriated. One of the most frequent expressions heard was a determination to spare the county the expense of a trial and the risk of an evasion of justice.

The example of Allen C. Laros, who escaped hanging on the plea of insanity, was of great force in producing the result which followed. The people entered the house, overpowered the detective, threw him out of the door and marched the murderer to a tree in the front yard, where he was told to prepare for death. He begged for a reprieve of an hour, but it was denied him. The detective attempted to intercede, assuring the lynchers that the murderer could not escape being hanged if they permitted him to be tried by a jury and that the District Attorney had been sent for and was momently expected. His pleading was of no avail, and the prisoner was quickly hoisted into the air. He died instantly, his neck being broken. The crowd then threw snow in his face and on his body. After hanging twenty minutes the latter was cut down by the poor house authorities and taken to that institution.

The Coroner's jury was at this time holding an inquest on the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Gogel[sic], and so quietly was the hanging done that they did not know what had taken place till informed that the man was dead. Snyder was very cool and collected, admitted committing the deed and only asked for time that he might be given a trial by jury.

The girls gave their story to the Coroner's jury and verdict was rendered that Mr. and Mrs. Gogle had died from blows given them by Snyder.

All day long the scene of the tragedy has been visited by crowds of people, several hundred going out from Easton alone. The detectives will spare no pains in arresting the persons who were implicated in the lynching of the murderer. It is claimed that nearly two hundred men were concerned in it, led, however, by one man whose name up to this writing has not been revealed. He was fired upon by Detective York, but without effect.

Mr. Gogle was a miner and worked in the mines near his residence. He was thirty-eight years old and his wife was thirty-four. They were both natives of this county. The victims presented a horrible and sickening appearance. Their skulls were crushed in, the wounds showing that the murderer had struck them with the blade of the axe. The walls of the room and the bedclothes were bespattered with blood.

During the interval between the arrest of the murderer and the lynching he told the following story :—"I wanted to live with the girl, but her parents would not let me. We had quarrelled[sic] about it yesterday afternoon. In the evening I went to bed determined to get square with them. I waited until they were all asleep and there was quietness int he house. About eleven o'clock I got up, took an axe and entered the room of the old folks. They were sound asleep. I struck them both several times and left them dead. I then went to the room of the girls. I put them into another room and burned the shirt I had on, which was bloody. I then aroused the neighbors and hid up in Ritter's barn. I did the deed, and suppose they will hang me for it."

The Coroner held an inquest upon the body of Snyder this afternoon and rendered a verdict to the effect that the deceased came to his death by hanging, and that parties who committed the deed were to the jury unknown. It is generally believed that the murderer committed a terrible outrage upon the girl Alice after killing her parents, although she denies that he did so.

District Attorney Anstett visited the scene this morning and at once commenced investigating the case. He will, if possible bring the lynchers to justice. The quick action of the lynchers is commended by a large number of citizens of Easton, while other indignantly condemn it.

The hanging of Joseph Snyder is, according to the oldest police officers and detectives whom I have been able to see, the first case of lynching that has occurred in this State. There have been several instances, however, in which the populace have come very near resorting to illegal violence. The more prominent among these happened when Mike Doyle and Ned Kelly were arrested for the murder of the Summit Hill mine boss, John P. Jones. The citizens at Tamaqua and Landsford turned out in two bodies to lynch them, being provided with ropes and a plentiful supply of arms, but they were outwitted by the Coal and Iron police.

Thank you for joining us and, as always, we hope we leave you with something to ponder.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

August 19, 1874: Tennesee Massacre

The lynchings that we'll be covering today are outrageous. It was heard across the United States, but today is relatively unknown. Like the lynching of Washington and Johnson mentioned earlier this week, this lynching was the result of tensions due to Reconstruction. I want to apologize ahead of time because this post is going to be very long.

Our first article about the lynchings is from the county where it occurred. It is covered by The Milan Exchange (Cairo, Illinois) published August 27, 1874:

"Cleaning out the Country"— Twelve Fiends Arrested and Imprisoned!
An Outraged People Rise Up in their Majesty and Lynch them!

For several weeks past vague rumors have been afloat of the negroes in this and Carroll counties arming and drilling regularly. It is said they have quietly bought all the buckshot that could be had in several country stores, and none of them have been seen hunting lately. Two weeks ago it was suggested by a number of our citizens that it would be well to organize a company here for guard and police duty, but our citizens thought it unnecessary and imprudent and the matter was dropped. Now, in view of the occurrences of the past few days, we think it very important that something should be done at once. We should have a military company in each town in the State. The issue is forced upon us and we dare not disregard it. The safety of our families may depend upon it. Our neighbors in the villages around are calling on us for help and we have no organized force to help ourselves. Read the following and judge whether we are saying too much when we urge prompt action on the part of our citizens.

Saturday night as James Warren and Monroe Morgan were going home from Pickettville, a band of thirty or forty negroes, ambuscaded just below the village, fired upon them and wounded Morgan's mule, peppering its head and shoulder with shot. Morgan and Warren fled back to Pickettville and gave the alarm. A posse was soon out in pursuit of the dusky fiends, and twelve of them were caught that night and Sunday and held for trial Monday. THe news of the trouble reached Milan Sunday morning, and it was rumored that the citizens of that section needed assistance and protection from threatened destruction by the blacks. A party of thirty of our citizens immediately equipped themselves and repaired to the scene of the action. When they reached Pickettville they found considerable excitement, but no one hurt, and apprehending no further trouble they returned.

Monday the negroes were tried at Pickettville before Esqs. Fly, Parker and Jordan, and all twelve were committed. They confessed their guilt, stating that they were organized and designed "cleaning up" the whites and controlling this country themselves. They mentioned three companies in this county—one at Humboldt, commanded by one Reagon, another at Hope Hill, commanded by Rial Burrow, and the one near Pickettville, under the immediate command of Col. Josh Webb, who says they have endured the whites as long as they can and must exterminate them and take charge of the farms and rule this country as they see fit.

Three or four hundred men were present at the trial, coming from various parts of the country to witness the trial of the would-be destroyers of their families and homes. Great excitement was manifested by the crowd; however, no demonstrations of violence were made toward the prisoners, who appeared very impudent, intimating that this was but the beginning—that we might check them for a while, but an issue must and would come.

Writs were issued for fifteen others, but as yet only two or three of them have been taken, among whom is Rial Burrow, captain of the Hope Hill clan. Considerable excitement prevails throughout the country, every citizen being on the alert and many of the negroes frightened.

It is rumored that two white women have been killed near Pickettville, but we have as yet not been able to trace it to anything definite. The mayor of Trenton, we learn, telegraphed to Jackson to hold a company in readiness, and an engine and train is at that point, ready to move at a moment's notice.

We have reliable information that a party of about eighty men went to Trenton Tuesday night and took sixteen negroes from the jail. Up to the time of going to press six of their bodies had been found riddled with bullets. It is supposed the others were killed and left in the swamp near that place.


L. M. Jones telegraphs from Trenton to Gen. Campbell, at Jackson, that the excitement is without any real foundation and the help will not be needed.

It is due to the negroes here to say that they have made no demonstration and seem perfectly quiet, for which they deserve commendation.

Our next article comes from The Indianapolis News (Indianapolis, IN) and is dated August 27, 1874:

The negroes at Picketville, Gibson county, six miles from Humboldt, Tennessee, last Saturday and Sunday, threatened a riot on account of some supposed wrong done them, and manifested a strong desire to kill two or three citizens and fire and sack the town. On Tuesday sixteen ringleaders were arrested, taken to Trenton and placed in jail for safe keeping. About 1 o'clock next morning, 75 to 100 men entered the town, rode up to the jail, demanded and compelled the Sheriff to deliver up the keys. After the maskers had obtained possession of the prisoners they tied them together and marched off on the Huntington road. Half a mile from town six of the number were cut loose and ordered to escape, and as soon as that command was given a full volley was fired upon them, killing four and wounding the other two, one mortally. The remainder were carried up the river two miles and killed. Their remains were collected and are being taken care of. On the assembling of the court several speeches were made by the members of the bar denouncing the conduct of the disguised men who were from the country, and urging upon the Judge to give the grand jury an extra charge, ordering him to send out for witnesses all along the road, from here to Pickettsville, in order to arrest and punish the criminals. While the charge was being delivered, runners arrived in hot haste, with a report that a large body of negroes, well armed were marching to Trenton, which caused an adjournment of the court. Scouts were sent out, but returned reporting all quiet. There is no mistake that the negroes are well organized, and ready for action at a moment's warning.

Our next article is the first article I found on the subject. A warning, this article sounds like it is from a conspiracy theorist. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, MO) dated September 5, 1874:

An Inside History of the Affair—A Radical Plot to Affect the Fall Elections.

[From the Cincinnati Enquirer.]

From a party of prominent citizens of West Tennessee we learn the inside history of the late killing of negroes near Picketville, Gibson county, in that State. Picketville is near the borders of Carroll county, and is situated in what is known as


where during the war, Radical bushwhackers and negroes had it all their own way, and committed not less than two hundred murders for the purposes of rapine and robbery. Throughout that section the negro outrages have recently been frequesnt and horrible, and just before the election of the 6th of August, during the campaign preceding which the questions arising under the Civil Rights bill were bitterly discussed, the alarm among the whites became so great that in many instances women and children


believi[n]g they were in danger of being burned in their beds by organized gangs of blacks, led by white desperadoes, as they almost invariably are. The fears were founded partly on the plot overheard by one Bostwick, a Republican, and a member of Jack Rogers' Tennessee regiment, Federal, during the war, and partly on the frequent recurrence of murders of negroes by masked me, such as the late one in which an aged colored man named Dick McKinney, four miles east of Chestnut Mound, Smith county, was shot without provocation in his house, or the shooting of Julia Hayden, a school- teacher, at Hartsville, and which, though taking place since the event of which we are about to treat, are a part of its outgrowth and history.

To confirm Bostwick's statement of a contemplated rising on the 5th of August:

"Two or three negroes in the neighborhood of Gleason, Tennessee, in Weakley county, went to their employers on the morning of that day and gave up their guns and asked his protection. The citizens thereupon commenced arming, and to their dismay and in confirmation of their fears they found that not a pound of buck-shot nor a pistol could be had in Henry or Weakley counties."

The alarm turned out to be false, however, for that night, but on last Saturday week it was proved that Bostwick's warning was not idle. A few days previous Joe Whole and four other citizens of Picketville bought


from a negro named Joe Webb, and, after eating what they wanted, gave the residue to a negro with them. Their right to do this was disputed by Webb and his friends, and a fight on the spot seemed imminent. The men reached home safely, however, leaving as it proved, the negroes thirsting for vengeance. On the Saturday named, while two young men named Munroe Morgan and James Warren were riding along the road, some three miles from Picketville, they were fired upon by some thirty or forty negroes hid in the woods. The young men abandoned their horses, which were killed or badly wounded, took to the woods and escaped to the town and alarmed the citizens. Suspecting a negro named Jim Walker of complicity in the shooting, a constable with a posse, proceeded to his house, where they captured a negro named Ben Ballard, who confessed that negroes chiefly from Humboldt and vicinity, had met Saturday night and organized to protect Col. Webb, colored, from ku-klux, and after that, to go to Picketville, kill five men, (the give concerned in the pig affair), burn the town, take possession of the lands, and to use their own expression.


They had expected to meet another company of negroes that night, but they failed to come, and after the firing on Warren and Morgan, they dispersed. Sixteen negroes in all were arresed and tried before a magistrate, five more turning State's evidence in addition to Ballard.


as is already known, soon followed. Eighty-six men, armed and masked, called at the jail at midnight and demanded the prisoners. The jailer, being alone and helpless, gave them up. THey were first tied in couples, and then the couples all tied together, and marched out of town. Shortly after they had left, shots were heard, and next morning six negroes were found outside the limits of the village, four dead, one mortally and the other dangerously wounded, all having been shot several times. They were the six who had confessed, and the other ten


Where were they? A search of the country far and wide failed to develop any dead negroes, and it soon began to be whispered about by Radicals that the ten had escaped. They had, when the shooting began, according to the thin story circulated, rushed over a bluff, and bound as they were, had gotten away from eighty-six armed men. The citizens saw plainly through it all now. The Radicals and negroes, to counteract the effect of the discovery of their plot and the leniency of the whites—the very five men whom they had intended to kill first forming part of their safety escort from court to jail—had taken the negroes out, shot those who had betrayed them and from whom they feared further revelations, and released the others.

The moral is clear to the wayfarer. The very sun shines through the whole affair. The negroes are instigated and organized by white Radicals for election purposes, who themselves caused the lynching for effect, as told, while on the other hand, Governor Brown's offer of an aggregate reward of $43,000 for the lynchers shows where the Democrats stand. There are men in Gibson county ready to declare that the real hard criminal is high in position and far away from the actual scene of outrage, while the following figures will go far to show why Gibson county and vicinity should be selected for such deep and damnable political plotting. The county is the largest voting county in West Tennessee, except Shelby. Her white voting population is 5,000, negro 1,000. The Democratic majority is 4,000. Carroll, adjoining, and in three or four miles of Pickettville, has a voting population of 4,000—1,800 Democratic and 2,200 Republican. The civil district, "Alwood," in Carroll adjoining this Picketville county, is Republican by fifty majority.
I'm only including a portion of our next article because much of it repeats the same details that the others have already done. This article is from The Whig and Tribune (Jackson, Tennessee) and is dated April 29, 1874:

Right here we would be glad to close this sad and terrible story of ignorant passions run wild—all the result of the agitation of the civil rights bill, that acme of all villianies forced upon the people of Tennessee by the representative men of the colored race in this State. But it is our duty to go further, and tell the whole horrible story.

On Wednesday morning at one o'clock, a hundred or more masked men entered Trenton, overpowered the jail guard, took the sixteen negroes there confined for participation in the Pickettsville outrage—and murdered them to a man within a few miles of Trenton. This action was an outrage, that demands and has received the unqualified condemation of the people regardless of race. In Trenton an indignation meeting was held, and the lawless maskers denounced in unmeasured terms. The Governor has offered a reward of $500 each for the apprehension of the thoughtless, cruel and lawless maskers, who perpetrated this unncessary and shameful crime. Intense excitement grew out of this fearful outrage, and the negroes throughout Gibson county were greatly aroused and alarmed. Dispatches full of blood and thunder flashed over the whole country, and from the lakes to the gulf, and from ocean to ocean the crime of the maskers has met a universal condemnation. Yet is is true, that terrible as their crime was, it was provoked by crimes as great—crimes either perpetrated or contemplated by the blacks themselves. But while there are palliating circumstances in the matter, the lawless maskers who killed the sixteen negroes on Wednesday morning are murderers, and should be dealt with as such. These negro would be assassins, had been tried by the law, under the law they had been remanded to jail, they were in the keeping of the law, the law in the hands of white men, and there was neither reason nor excuse for the summary vengeance that was visited upon them.

Growing out of this fearful affair—Trenton, Pickettsville and Humboldt were agitated on Wednesday by the news that large bodies of negroes were marching on those towns. The wildest excitement prevailed, and dispatches were sent in every direction asking immediate help. One of these dispatches reached Jackson about 10 a.m., and within an hour two hundred well armed men were ready to march. A train was put in order, an engine fired up and everything was placed in readiness to move at a minutes warning. No satisfactory dispatch being recieved from the threatened towns, the two hundred men referred to, under the command of Gen'l Campbell, marched to the depot to emark for the seat of war. A finer body of men never marched on any occasion, or under any banner. But at the depot a dispatch was received that the services of the Jackson boys was not needed. Here, without further comment, we leave this whole terrible business, determined in future issues of the Whig and Tribune to discuss it more fully.

Our next article comes from The Herald and Torch Light (Hagerstown, MD) and is dated September 2, 1874:

A Slaughter of Colored People.

The news from the South for the several months past, has embraced a number of accounts of fights and riots between the whites and blacks, in which the latter are not only made to bear the blame, but pretty nearly all the killed and wounded. In nearly every one of these encounters the colored people are the greatest sufferers, and not unfrequently the only ones, and yet we are asked to believe that they bring on the collisions which result in such terrible punishments to them.—One of the most cruel of these stories came to us last week from a place called Pickettsville, Gibson county, Tennessee, as follows:—

"Nashville, August 26.—A number of negroes at Pickettsville, Gibson county, six miles from Humboldt, threatened a riot last Saturday and Sunday, on account of some supposed wrong done them, and manifested a strong desire to kill two or three citizens and fire and sack the town. Yesterday sixteen of the ringleaders were arrested and taken to Trenton and placed in jail for safe keeping—About 1 o'clock this morning between seventy-five and one hundred masked men entered the town, and riding up to the jail, demanded and compelled the Sheriff to deliver up the keys thereof.—They then took the sixteen negroes from prison, and after killing four and mortally wounding two on the confines of the town, rode off with the remaining ten, and are supposed to have killed them.—Nothing has been heard of the party since they left. Considerable excitement exists among the negroes, and the whites are taking steps to defend themselves in case of an outbreak.

The poor excuse, which is generally offered for lynching negroes in other Southern States, VIZ: that they are governed by carpet baggers, can't be availed of to mitigate this outrage.— Tennessee is Democratic, and overwhelmingly so, in all its departments of government, and it would be a remarkable occurrence, indeed, if a negro received less than legal justice from such hands.— We are, however, glad to perceive that a portion of the white people of Tennessee have denounced this frightful slaughter of the colored prisoners at Trenton, and that the Governor has offered a reward for the apprehension of those guilty of it.

Our next article comes from The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY) and is dated August 29, 1874:

Indignation Meeting in Memphis—The Governor Urged to Vigorously Enforce the Law.

MEMPHIS, TENN. Aug. 28.—There was a large meeting of citizens held at the Exposition Hall tonight to express the indignation of the community at the barbarous murder of the colored prisoners taken from the Trenton jail. Mr. B. M. Estes presided, with Ex-Gov. Harris, Judge Archibald Wright and Charles Clatericht as vice presidents. Speeches were made by Ex-Gov. Harris, Jefferson Davis, Col. Duncan McRae, Gen. Forrest, and others, denouncing the cowardly assassination of the prisoners, and calling for the prompt and most energetic enforcement of the law against the perpetrators. General Forrest stated he stood ready to start to-morrow to assist the officers of the law in bringing the assassins to punishment. Resolutions were adopted expressing the horror and indignation of the community at the foul crime, and demanding of the Governor prompt and energetic measures for bringing the murderers to the bar of justice, and relieving the State, as far as possible, from the disgrace of such horrible crimes, asking the Government to employ the police experts of Memphis to assist in capturing the assassins, and to employ the best legal counsel int he State to assist the Attorney General in prosecuting them.

I could post article after article on just the fallout of this lynching, however, this post is already very long so it will suffice if I mention that: several towns in the South publicly denounced Gibson county and it's citizens for their actions by passing resolutions, the governor offered rewards for information, both Northern and Southern papers blasted the county for it's actions, and a lot was discussed about the Civil Rights Bill being pushed in congress. As far as I can see in the papers, nothing was ever done to prosecute the actual perpetrators and the names of the murdered were never revealed.

Thank you for joining us and, as always, we hope we leave you with something to ponder.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

June 22, 1874: Clark Evans

Our first article comes from The Cairo Bulletin (Cairo, Illinois) published Tuesday June 23, 1874:

Sequal[sic] to the Halbirt Murder.

The Murderer, Clark Evans, Lynched.

CARROLLTON, ILL., June 22—At last we have the sad sequel to the horrifying details of recent Halbirt murder, in this county, which have been given in your columns, together with the particulars of the arrest of one Clark Evans, and his subsequent confession of the murder and other crimes of which he had been guilty in the course of the past few years.

At about 2 o'clock this morning the jail in this city was visited by a large number of men in wagons and buggies. The jailer was aroused by an alarm at the door, and the statement that the party on the outside were in possession of a party arrested for murder, whom they desired to imprison. When the door of the anteroom was opened some nine or en men rushed in, pushing one of their number before them, under pretense that he was the culprit. Getting fairly in the jailor discovered that they were all in disguise, either by wearing masks or with blackened faces, and at once suspected the object of their vist [sic]; but as quick as thought he was pinioned by several of the party, pointing cocked revolvers at his head, and demanding the keyes [sic] of the main door and cells. Simultaneously some of the party discovered the keys hanging near the barred entrance, and took possession of them. While one-half of the party held the jailor at bay, the other half proceeded to unlock the doors, going immediately to the cell where Clark Evans was chained down, and they released him by means of a hatchet and cold chisel. In a few moments they rushed back to the entrance, with Evans in charge, and hurried him into one of the wagons. On looking out into the streets the jailor saw a large number of persons afoot as well as in the buggies and wagons, and they hurried away in various directions. He gave the alarm at once, but could not get enough persons together at the hour to pursue. The sheriff and deputies started out, but could not get on the track of the fleeing party. About 7 o'clock this morning ex-Sheriff Bell, who resides at Providence, came in, bringing the news that a man was found by some passers by hanging to a tree by the road side, near the south approach to the Apple Creek bridge. Hurrying thither the officers ascertained that it was Clark Evans, the prisoner who had been taken from the jail a few hours before. The culprit was suspended in such a way that his feet nearly touched the ground by the bending of the limb but he was dead and cold.

A coroner's inquest was held, in the presence of a vast crowd of people, who had gathered from all quarters. The corpse was taken down and placed in a rough box made at the saw mill near-by, and then deposited in the Providence grave yard.

Of course, the authorities have not the remotest idea as to who composed the lynching party, but the whole affair was well planned and adroitly executed. One of the buggies evidently used by some of the midnight visitors, broke down within a block from the jail, by running off a small bridge. Doubtless as quick as the horses could be removed from it the parties accompanying it fled, as in the buggy were found an old felt hat, the sleeve of an old coat, two plugs of tobacco neatly wrapped in a portion of the county papers, a quart bottle with about half a pint of whisky in it, and a small leather valise containing some heavy twine, a cold chisel and a hatchet. This buggy has not been identified or claimed, but a rumor prevails that it belongs to a party residing near Whitehall. The whole affair has created a profound sensation, and so outrageous was the murder committed by Evans that but few are disposed to blame the parties who have taken the law in their own hands. The broken buggy is in the hands of the sheriff and will probably never be claimed.

Our next article is about the murderer and comes from the Decatur Daily Republican (Decatur, IL) dated May 4, 1874:

CARROLLTON, Ill. May 2.—It is quite definitely ascertained that a desperate character who hails from the vicinity of Montezuma, Pike county, Illinois, is the murderer of Mr. John Halbirt, which occurred near this city on Thursday night last. He is best known by the name Clark Evans, but has traveled under the names of James Bridges and William Owens.— Those who saw him on the day of the murder describe him as about five feet eight or nine inches high, fair complexion, short sandy or light hair, and no beard. He has two or three teeth out of the lower jaw, and is about twenty-four years old. When last seen he wore a pair of stogy boots, striped store pants with a patch on one knee, a close-bodied blue- black soldier's coat with frock tail, and a grayish cap. He carried away from Halbirt's house a suit of nearly new dark steel mixed clothes and a pair of light pegged boots nearly new, one of which had been cut below the instep and sewed up. Halbirt's son offers $300 reward for the arrest of the murderer, and late this afternoon news were[sic] received that parties were in close pursuit.

As you can see from the previous and will see in our final article, Evans was clearly considered an undesirable in the community. Our final article comes from the New York Times (New York, NY) dated May 6, 1874:


Special Dispatch to the New-York Times.

CHICAGO, May 5.—A special from Carrollton, in this State, says that Clark Ivans, twenty-four years of age, who was brought up in Pike County, is ascertained to be the murderer of John W. Halbirt, killed near that city on the night of the 30th ult., the particulars of which were telegraphed THE TIMES. Ivans was arrested this morning in Scott County, and all the evidence leading to his detection and arrest are almost positive proof of his guilt. He is supposed to be one of the party who murdered Dr. Foley two years ago in Pike County. His brother is now serving a term of twenty years in the State Prison for killing an old man in Pike County about four years ago. The culprit just arrested has but recently concluded a term of years at Joliet for breaking into the Catholic Church at Carlinville and stealing the church plate and jewels.

Thank you for joining us and, as always, we hope we leave you with something to ponder.