Monday, October 6, 2014

October 6, 1907: William Burns

Come along with me on a journey to the past. Today we travel to The Record-Argus (Greenville, Pennsylvania) on October 7, 1907:



Cumberland's First Lynching Follows Killing of Policeman by Desperate Negro


Mob Takes Cowering Black Man from Cell and Beats and Shoots Him to Death—Lone Deputy Unable to Resist Assault.

Cumberland, Md., Oct. 7.—William Burns, a negro, was lynched here last night for the murder of a policeman. This is the first lynching in the history of Cumberland.

The shooting of Policeman August Baker by Burns, a negro desperado, while the latter was resisting arrest created a great deal of excitement owing to the excellent reputation of the officer and his well-known kindly disposition. His death was followed by threats against the negro, these coming as much from those of his own race as from the whites. Few, however, seem to have thought a lynching possible, and the police paid no attention to the rumors that were afloat. Only Deputy Sheriff Adam Hendley was at the jail when after midnight a crowd of less than 100 men, a few of whom were disguised in one way or another, appeared and demanded the keys. These being refused, a telegraph pole was used as a battering ram and entrance to the building was forced. Other negroes in neighboring cells were careful to guide the lynchers to that of Burns and here the battering ram was used.

The lynchers found their victim crouched behind his cot and, seizing him by the feet, dragged him up and down stairs and into the street, where within a few yards of the entrance to the jail Burns was kicked and shot to death.

The Rev. W. Cleveland Hicks, an Episcopal clergyman, did his best to save the negro and afterward protected the body until the arrival upon the scene of Judge A. Hunter Boyd and the police. Judge Boyd called on the crowd to disperse and in this was promptly obeyed. The body was removed to an undertaking establishment, where 10,000 persons are estimated to have viewed it.

Follow me to one more glimpse to the past, to the Cumberland Evening Times (Cumberland, Maryland) on the 8th of October, 1907:

Reward Offered.

The County Commissioners who met again this morning for the purpose of visiting the county institutions offered a reward of $500 for the arrest and conviction of the parties who lynched William Burns Sunday morning.

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

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