Friday, June 13, 2014

June13, 1910: Elmer Curl

Today I will start with a small article to get you acquainted with the Elmer Curl lynching followed by longer article from the words of a witness.  This first article is from The Times and Democrat (Orangeburg, S.C.) dated June 16, 1910:


Mob Overpowers the Sheriff and Takes the Prisoner.

While officers from Arkansas was enroute to Mastoden, Miss., with Elmer Curl, a negro, they were overpowered by a mob at Como, Miss., Monday night, who took the negro to Mastoden and lynched him.  Curl was charged with shooting W. P. Miller, a plantation manager, who attempted to arrest him for writing an improper letter to a white woman.  

Following the shooting several weeks ago, Curl escaped although he was pursued for three days by a posse with bloodhounds.  He was captured at Marion, Ark., Sunday, and the officers and the prisoner were aboard an Illinois Central train when the mob boarded the train at McGees near Como.

This next article is from The Washington Post (Washington, D.C.) dated June 26, 1910:


"Best" People of Mississippi Conduct Hanging Without Rowdyism.

From the Philadelphia Telegraph,

"It was" wrote Col. Thomas H. Benton, after seeing fair play between his friend and another on the Virginia side of the river from Washington, "It was the high-tonedest duel I ever witnessed."

And the colonel had witnessed a good many of them in his day, sometimes while looking into the muzzle of a long-barreled pistol and sometimes in the less exacting role of attendant.  He never figured as a casualty, after one of these diversions, but that was due to the deadliness of his aim and the unemotional quality of his nerve.

The spirit of Benton still lives—in Mississippi, where an unruly black was lynched "in a nice, orderly manner," as one of the participants declares, the other day.  The best people of the county, as good as there are anywhere, simply met and hanged Elmer Curl without a sign of rowdyism.  There was no drinking, no shooting, no yelling, and not even any loud talking."

The faithful historian of this event goes on to chronicle that the company of avengers, vulgarly known in impolite communities as a "mob," was composed of bankers, lawyers, farmers, and merchants.  "When the party arrived," says the brother of a man whom Curl had shot, "they asked me what were my wishes in the matter.  Their courtesy to me could not have been surpassed."

This seemed to make a deep impression on Mr. Miller, the bereaved brother.  He himself caught the spirit of chivalry that permeated the crowd, and not to shock the spirit of civilization and gentility, at once so obvious and so opportune, he lifted his voice against cruelty.  "I told them," he declares, "that I did not approve of brutality or believe in the mutilation of bodies by the torture of slow burning, but that I would like to have the privilege accorded me of making the first pull on the rope."  This privilege being granted, the passing of Curl was accomplished with tone and eclat.

It was a great day for civilization in Mississippi;  it marked an distinct advance in the science of summary justice;  it was in fact, to adopt the enthusiasm of Benton, about the high-tonedest lynching reported from the beautiful but impulsive Southland. 

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