Sunday, October 26, 2014

October 26, 1934: Claude Neal

Join me today for a glimpse into a moment of our history. Today's lynching is a hard one to pin the date down. I have chosen to place it for the 26th since that is when the mob took the victim. We start our journey with the Marshall Evening Chronicle (Marshall, Michigan) dated October 26, 1934:  

MOB TAKES NEGRO FROM ALA. JAIL

Believe He Will Be Turned Over to Father of Girl Whom He Killed

BEWTON, Ala., Oct. 26—(U.P.)—Oct. 26, (UP) A mob which stormed the county jail here early today to seize Claude Neal, 23 confessed attacker and slayer of Miss Lola Cannidy, 20, was believed enroute to Marianna, Fla. to turn their prisoner over to the girl's father.

Neal was taken by 100 armed men who came here in 30 automobiles bearing Florida licenses.  A spokesman for the band told told the jailer they would not harm the negro but would turn him over to the girl's father at Marianna.

MARIANNA, Fla., Oct. 26 (U.P.)Sheriff W. F. Chambliss said today he had heard nothing from the mob reported en route from Brewton, Ala. with Claude Neal, negro, confessed attacker and slayer of Lola Cannidy, 20 year old Marianna girl.

Reports here said the mob planned to bring the negro back to the scene of the murder. Some persons believed Neal had been lynched en route to Marianna.

Miss Cannidy was criminally attacked and beaten to death with a pine sapling last week.


Our next stop comes to us through the pages of the Hope Star (Hope, Arkansas) dated October 27, 1934:

FLORIDA SLAYER IS LYNCHED

Mutilated Negro Body Found After Delayed Lynching

Gruesome Discovery Climaxes Long Day of Infuriated Mob Rule

FAMILY VENGEANCE

Mob Carries Confessed Slayer to Home of Murdered Woman

Copyright Associated Press

MARIANNA, Fla.—(AP)—The body of Claude Neal, negro, shot and mutilated with knives, swung from a limb of a tree on the courthouse  square here Saturday, bloody evidence of the fury of a mob that exacted toll for the assaulting and slaying of a white woman.

The body was brought here in the early morning by a small band of men who found it stretched in the yard of George Cannidy, farmer of near Greenwood, whose daughter, Lola, 23, was ravished and beaten to death by an assailant last week.

Whether the negro was shot to death first and mutilated afterward or whether he died in agony from his wounds, could not be determined.

Witnesses at Greenwood said he was dragged several miles tied behind an automobile to the Cannidy home.

There, more shots were pumped into the negro's body, and he was further mutilated with knives.

The mob took Neal from the Brewton jail early Friday. The negro, who officers said confessed to attacking and slaying the girl, was held in the woods while the mob gathered.

The lynching was delayed by the mob until many of the crowd left.

Copyright Associated Press

GREENWOOD, Fla.—(AP)—A crowd of several thousand persons, gathered to see the lynching of Claude Neal, negro, slowly dwindled away Friday night to a thousand of the determined who remained to witness the death of the man accused of attacking and slaying Lola Cannidy, young white woman.

The crowd began gathering at noon when word spread that a mob had entered the Brewton (Ala.) jail and would bring Neal back to the scene of the crime and kill him. The lynching was scheduled for between 8 p.m. and 9 p. m., but when the crowd grew to unexpected size, a "Committee of Six" appeared and said they feared disorder and Neal would not be killed until the crowd grew smaller. 

The "committee" told newspapermen that they had Neal "down in the woods" a short distance away and as soon as they believed it safe he would be brought out and killed. They said they feared shooting as there were many armed men in the crowd, and wanted to wait until it was safe. 

After the negro was killed, the committee announced, the body would be taken to Marianna, county seat, nine miles away, and there hanged in the courthouse square. 

No Officers Found

Natives of the county in the crowd when questioned said they recognized no officers and none could be found. Governor Scholtz of Florida had offered to call out troops in needed but the Jackson county sheriff said he felt capable of handling the situation. 

The crowd first gathered in front of the farm home of George Cannidy, father of the slain girl, in response to messengers who had said "there will be a lynching" at the Cannidy home. It was made up of men, women, children and babies in arms. The throng was good humored and orderly for the most part, patiently awaiting developments.

A man who identified himself as a member of the Florida legislature made a humorous address and promised action but urged his audience to be quiet.

The Cannidy family, father, mother, eight children and aunts and uncles, came from the house and stood before the crowd.

A member of the lynching committee said the negro first would be brought to the home and the family allowed to do with him as they pleased, then he would be taken to the pigpen a half mile away in the middle of a cotton field where Lola Cannidy was killed and there Neal would be slain. At the house were sharp pointed sticks and many knives.

Bonfires near the pigpen attracted the crowd shortly after dark and it moved into the cotton field but near midnight started breaking up and a mile-long line of automobiles slowly moved toward Marianna.

Governor's Offer

At Arcadia, where he was stopping Friday night, Gov. Dave Sholtz authorized calling out of the National Guard if Jackson county authorities considered troops necessary to prevent a mob from killing Neal.

J. P. Newell, executive secretary to the governor, said earlier that Sheriff W. F. Chambliss told him he believed he was capable of taking care of any situation that might arise. Newell again was trying to reach the sheriff with the governor's offer of troops.

Meanwhile hundreds of visitors were reported heading toward Greenwood after the mob had issued an invitation for "all white folks to attend the slaying."

Earlier a telephone call to the sheriff in an adjoining county had  informed him the negro would be tied to a stake and the father of the slain girl given the opportunity to shoot him to death.

Special Officers Sworn

Sheriff Chambliss said he had sworn in special officers and believed he could handle the situation but another officer said if the mob was determined to kill the negro he knew of "no way to prevent it."

He said his office had heard of several places where the scheduled lynching might take place and that a force of 32 deputies and a dozen special officers were prepared to try to stop the lynching.

The head of the Florida Council for the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said they had sent telegrams to the governor.


Our next stop is in The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) November 17, 1934

Florida Tells The Same Old Story --- Blames Lynching On "Unknown Parties"

Usual Verdict of "Lynched By Unknown Persons" Rendered By Jury In Neal Death Orgy, Proving That Florida Has Sense of Humor. 

MARIANNA, Fla., Nov. 15—(ANP)—The Jackson County Grand Jury reported last Friday that Claude Neal was lynched by "persons unknown to us." 

The lynching of Neal was advertised twelve hours before it took place, after he was seized in an Alabama jail and brought back to Florida. All white persons were urged to come to the lynching. 

The Grand Jury report stated "We are not able to get much direct or positive information with reference to this matter practically all our evidence and information being hearsay and rumors. 



Continuing on our journey, we come again to the pages of The Pittsburgh Courier dated November 10, 1934:

Howard Law Dean Insists Uncle Sam Punish Neal Lynchers; "Remember Lindbergh Case!"

Challenges Attorney General's Statement That Neal and Lindbergh Cases Differ In Point of Law and Federal Government Has No Jurisdiction. 

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8—(ANP)—Challenging published statements of Attorney General Homer Cummings to the effect that the Lindbergh kidnaping [sic] act does not apply to the kidnaping [sic] and lynching of Claude Neal in Florida two weeks ago, the senior law class at Howard University, Chas. Houston, dean, has wired statements to President Roosevelt and Mr. Cummings, insisting that the federal law specifically provide for action in such cases: 

The wire to President Roosevelt reads: 

"Department of Justice asserts no federal jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute murderers of Claude Neal lynched last Friday near Marianna, Fla. In so doing Attorney General repudiates 1934 amendment to Lindbergh law introduced in Congress at his very request to give federal authority jurisdiction in all interstate kidnaping [sic] regardless of reason. The senior law class of Howard University urges you to bring influence of your office to bear on the Department of Justice to compel it to recognize and enforce the very law which it promoted and sponsored. The class also urges you to make public declaration against lynching and your support of an effective federal anti-lynching bill in view of constant failure of state machinery to check lynching and punish the lynchers." 

In similar vein was the wire to Mr. Cummings: 

"Newspapers quote your Department as stating no federal jurisdiction in case of lynching of Claude Neal kidnaped [sic] in Alabama last Thursday, transported to Florida and lynched last Friday. In view of fact Department of Justice itself sponsored 1934 Amendment to Lindbergh law making interstate kidnaping [sic] for any reason a federal offense. The senior class of Howard University regards the position of the Department of Justice as a repudiation of its former position and a surrender for its trust to the entrenched forces of lawlessness and race hatred. We call upon you for the same vigorous enforcement of the amended Lindbergh law in the Claude Neal kidnaping [sic] as your department showed in tracking down Hauptmann, Bailey and the other criminals who kidnaped [sic] for ransom." 

The original Lindbergh Act read: "Whoever shall knowingly transport or cause to be transported, or aid or abet in transporting, in interstate or foreign commerce, any person who shall have been unlawfully seized, confined, inveigled, decoyed, kidnaped [sic], abducted, or carried away by any mans whatsoever and held for ransom or reward shall, upon conviction, be punished by imprisonment in the penitentiary for such term of years as the court, in its discretion, shall determine..." 

As amended the Act states: 

"Whoever shall knowingly transport or cause to be transported, or aid or abet in transporting, in interstate or foreign commerce, any person who shall have been unlawfully seized, confined, inveigled, decoyed, kidnaped [sic], abducted, or carried away by any mans whatsoever and held for ransom or reward or otherwise, except, in the case of a minor by a parent thereof, shall, upon conviction, be punished (1) by death if the verdict of the jury shall so recommend, provided that the sentence of death shall not be imposed by the court if, prior to its imposition, the kidnaped [sic] person has been liberated unharmed, or (2) if the death penalty shall not apply nor be imposed the convicted person shall be punished by imprisonment in the penitentiary for such term of years as the court, in its discretion, shall determine..."

In its report to the Senate Judiciary committee, the Department of Justice, speaking of the words "or otherwise" in the amendment said the purpose of the words was "to extend the jurisdiction of this act to persons who have been kidnaped [sic] and held, not only for reward, but for any other reason." 


Continuing along with the Pittsburgh Courier to December the fifteenth of the same year:

Governor Shultz Urged to Halt Return of Neal Women to Marianna

Victim's Mother or Aunt Had No Connection With Alleged Crime, N. A. A. C. P.  Contends.

NEW YORK, Dec. 13.—Governor David Sholtz of Florida was urged today by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to prevent the return to Marianna, Florida, of Mrs. Annie Smith, mother and Mrs. Sallie Smith, aunt of Claude Neal, who was lynched there on October 26th, after being kidnaped [sic] from the Brewton, Alabama jail.

The telegram, which was sent upon receipt of news from Pensacola that the two women were to be returned to Marianna to  be tried as accessories to the crime for which Neal was lynched, stater: [sic]

"Investigation has shown that neither Neal's mother nor aunt had even the remotest connection with the crime with which Neal was charged. To return these helpless women to Marianna which is still in a state of excitement and hostility is practically to invite mob vengeance either by physical violence or farcical trial upon these persons. The National Associatiaon [sic] for the Advancement of Colored People vigorously urges you to prevent such return and also urges that speedy action be taken to release them from custody."



As has been the case for this lynching, we come to another very long article from the Pittsburgh Courier of which I will share a small amount, dated January 23, 1937:

Then, since our white folks are making such to-do about kidnaping [sic], what about the case of Claude Neal? Here was a young colored boy, not much older than the Mattson child, and whose parents loved him. Neal and a young white girl had been alleged friends for years, a fact known to many people of both races in Marianna, Fla. When she was discovered murdered, he was promptly  charged with the killing. The sheriff whisked him from jail to jail, with the mob in hot pursuit. Finally Claude was taken to Pensacola, Fla., across the State line to Brewton, Ala. There the mob surrounded the jail and kidnaped [sic] him, while the jailer protested so loudly that he could scarcely hear himself. The lynching was advertised in the newspapers and over the radio for twelve hours before it took place. An Associated Press reporter had time to motor from Montgomery, Ala., to the scene of the orgies. Spectators came from half a dozen States. Claude was tortured with red hot pokers and mutilated with jack knives by a "committee" throughout the night. His perforated carcass, minus several fingers and toes, was deposited in front of the girl's home. Her old mother came out and buried a butcher knife in the dead body. Finally Claude was hung in front of the courthouse, appropriately enough.


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


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