Thursday, October 23, 2014

October 23, 1898: John Anderson

Join me in a trip to the past brought to us by the Chicago Daily Tribune on October 26, 1898:


Now Believed an Alabama Mob Lynched a Negro for a Murder He Did Not Commit.

Lafayette, Ala., Oct. 25.—[Special.]—There is every reason to believe that the mob which lynched the negro, John Anderson, here last Sunday morning, hanged the wrong man.

On the scaffold Anderson confessed to a knowledge of the crime, but insisted that he was not the murderer.

According to his ante-mortem statement T. L. Norris, a neighbor of Holmes, the victim, and another white man, whom the prisoner did not know, had murdered Mr. Holmes and had subsequently given him $20 to carry the body away and conceal it in the swamp.

The mob refused to believe Anderson's story and hanged him without waiting to verify it. As they returned from the scene of the lynching, however, some of Norris' acquaintances stopped at his dwelling to inform him of the negro's story, and they found he had not been seen about the neighborhood since the morning after the murder.

Soon after it developed that Holmes, who was a law-abiding man, had recently reported Norris to the United States authorities for illicit whisky distilling, and was therefore chief witness against him in a case involving his personal liberty.

An industrious search for Norris has since been made with the result that he has been apprehended in a remote portion of an adjoining county. The probability is that he will not be brought into Chambers County, as he also might be lynched.

Government officers are here to ferret out the facts. The government is involved by reason of the murder of a government witness. Who Norris' and Anderson's other accomplice was is not known or surmised.

I have noticed many times that the reports frequently say that the lynchers came from a different area and are not their townspeople. While this may be true in some cases, in others it seems completely ridiculous. This case is no different, so here is a snippet from The Sandusky Star-Journal (Sandusky, Ohio) from October 24, 1898:

Lynched by a Mob.

Lafayette, Ala., Oct. 24.—John Anderson, colored, charged with the murder of Charles Holmes, a well known farmer, was lynched here by a mob of people of Fredonia and West Point, Ga.

Our final stop on our journey is the Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey) printed October 27, 1898:


The lynching of negroes in the South goes merrily on. In Edgefield County, S. C., a few days ago, two were lynched at the same time, although a coroner's jury had exonerated one of them, and not before turning over every stone and a hunt for evidence against him. The mob must have been greatly incensed at this coroner who could not somehow find evidence against a "niggah, sah," and the wonder is that he was not worked off also as an example to other coroners. These two negroes had each accused the other of killing a white woman. It was not thought that both had had a hand in the murder, but that no guilty "nigger" should escape the discriminating  mob killed both.

In the Times yesterday was printed a telegraphic dispatch from Lafayette, Ala., which conveyed the intelligence that John Anderson, the colored man lynched there Sunday morning, is now known not to be guilty of the crime of which he was suspected. This happens frequently, but it does not seem to have any influence upon public sentiment in the South against the brutal and cowardly crime of lynching.

The indiscriminate murdering of men has been going on so long and has become such a blot upon the national character that some administration at Washington will be obliged to take some more serious notice of it than a perfunctory mention in a message to Congress.

Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder. 

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