Monday, September 29, 2014

September 29, 1919: Robert Croskey and Miles Phifer

Join me for a jaunt to the past where we will learn about a lynching from several newspaper accounts.  Today we travel to The New York Times (New York, N. Y.) on September 30, 1919:

2 Alabama Negroes Lynched; Mob Takes Them from Officials

MONTGOMERY, Ala., Sept. 29.—Two negroes, Miles Phifer and Robert Croskey, the latter a discharged soldier, were taken from county officials about five miles from Montgomery late today and shot to death by a mob of about twenty-five masked men. The negroes were charged with having assaulted white women.

The negroes were being taken to the State prison at Wetumpka for safekeeping when the mob held up the automobile carrying them. The mob forced the county officials to surrender their prisoner.

The mob took the negroes into a wood, released them and told them to run. The frightened negroes made little effort and were only a few yards distant when the mob opened fire. Phifer was instantly killed, but Crosky lived several hours.

The previous article was the longest I found detailing the lynching. The following was the second longest, others were just a few lines reporting that they were lynched and no more. All the articles used the name Miles for Phifer except the following article from The Huntington Herald (Huntington, Indiana) dated September 30, 1919:

Robert Croskey and Relius Phifer, negroes who were committed to the circuit court in a preliminary hearing Monday morning on charges of criminal assault on white women were dragged from an automobile at Hughes Ferry Monday afternoon at 3:30 by a masked mob of more than fifty men and riddled with bullets. Croskey lived five hours, however, the mob leaving him on the ground in a dying condition.

Our final leg of this journey is a list of negro soldiers who were lynched in 1919. It is a shame that after serving their country in WWI this is the legacy remaining. The following article was published on May 22, 1920 in The Muskogee Cimeter (Muskogee, Oklahoma):


The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 70 Fifth avenue, New York, today published a statement showing that nine colored ex-soldiers had been lynched in the United States during 1919. Of the nine, two were burned to death, two were hanged, four were shot and one was beaten.

One of the colored soldiers was shot to death because he did not turn out of the road soon enough for passing white men. The list follows:

Colored Soldiers Lynched During 1919.

March 14—Castlebury, Fla., Bud Johnson, burned to death. Said to have confessed to attack on white woman.

April 9—Pickens, Miss., admitted he had hired a woman to write an insulting note to a white woman.

May 21—Eldorado, Ark., Frank Livingston, charged with killing his employer and the latter's wife; burned to death.

July 15—Louise, Miss., Robert Truett, lynched for having made indecent proposals to a white woman. Hanged.

August—Fayette County, Ga., Charles Kelly, shot to death by white man because he did not turn out of the road soon enough.

August 14—Pope City, Ga., Jim Grant, alleged to have shot a white man and his son. Hanged.

Sept. 29—Montgomery, Ala., Robert Croskey, charged with having assaulted a white woman. Shot.

Sept. 3.—Star City, Ark., Flinton Briggs, accused of having insulted white woman. Shot.

Dec. 21.—Smithville, Ga., Charles West, accused of murder of white man. Shot.

Thank you for joining me on this journey to the past. As always I hope I have given you something to ponder.

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