Thursday, September 4, 2014

September 4, 1912: Robert Johnson

I found the name and date of this lynching in a book and proceeded to research newspapers for an article. The strange thing is that I did not find any articles of the lynching itself, but several articles on the aftermath of the lynching. The following article, from The Washington Post published September 9, 1912, gives the most information:


Father of Miss Nita White to Be Tried for Murder.

Special to The Washington Post.

Huntington, W. Va., Sept. 8.—Gordon White, a railroad section foreman and father of Miss Nita White, for an alleged attack upon whom Robert Johnson, a negro, was lynched in the courthouse square at Princeton Thursday night, was taken through here to Charleston, W. Va., where he will be held for safe-keeping to await trial on a charge of first-degree murder. White was arrested at Bluefield late last night, and was hurried out of the county under a strong guard, as it was feared an attempt would be made to liberate him.

It is alleged that White was the first man to shoot the negro, and that he discharged the contents of an automatic pistol into the negro's body six times. Mercer county authorities were in secret conference today, and it is expected that a number of other arrests will be made shortly. Many members of the mob are said to be fleeing the county. The authorities say they will be followed and vigorously prosecuted.

The officials still hold firm in their opinion that the mob victim was an innocent man.

That was a doozy of a first sentence! Now a couple of interesting tidbits.  The first one comes from the Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) printed September 6, 1893:

Up to the time of going to press Governor Tillman, of South Carolina, had not lynched any capitalists.

The next tidbit was printed on September 12, 1902 in The Seattle Republican (Seattle, Washington):

Now let the heathen from South Carolina rage as only heathens can do, for the governor of Massachusetts has refused to return a Negro, charged with crime, to South Carolina to be lynched or burned at the stake by those barbarians and ruffians.

This last tidbit follows today's theme of South Carolina and was found in The Indiana Gazette (Indiana, Pennsylvania) dated October 9, 1926:

The South Carolina mob which lynched three Negroes may have felt that practice was necessary for retention of the art in which the South excels.

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