Monday, November 17, 2014

November 17, 1895: James Goings

Today we learn of a lynching that occurred in Maryland by way of The Evening Bulletin (Maysville, Kentucky) dated November 18, 1895:


Deals Out Justice to a Maryland Outrager.

Not in a Spirit of Madness, but Simply to Make an Example of the Brute, the Determined Men Performed Their Work With Neatness and Dispatch—But One Shot Fired.

FREDERICK, Md., Nov. 18.—James Goings, who assaulted Miss Lillie Jones at the home of Hamilton Geisbert, near this city, Saturday night, was taken from the jail by a mob of 300 men Sunday and hung to a tree in a field on the Jefferson turnpike, one mile from the city.

A report reached the city about midnight that the woman had died from the cuts and beating inflicted by the negro, and this infuriated the men, who had been gathering in the streets, and discussed the outrage.

A mob was quickly gotten together, and unmasked, but armed with revolvers, the men marched to the jail. They had previously broken into a machine shop in the neighborhood of the jail and procured sledges, crow bars and files. The made at once for the door on the west wing of the jail, and began to batter upon it.

Fully 20 shots were fired from the windows above by Sheriff A. H. Zimmerman and his deputies, but the mob paid no attention to them, and went on with their work. The jail bell was rung to summon assistance, but none came.

In 20 minutes the large door panels gave way under the heavy blows, and the mob burst into the corridor. They quickly overcame the slight resistance the officers on the inside were able to offer, and found the cell in which Goings, cowering and crying was confined.

The lock was opened, the bolt swung back, and the trembling wretch seized and dragged out in his night clothes and stocking feet.

In the meantime the friends of the lynchers on the outside had lowered an electric lamp near the jail, and cut the rope from it, extinguishing the light.

Goings was led out amid the howls of the crowd, the rope placed around him, and he was hurried down the road to his place of doom.

He protested his innocence as they dragged him along, and begged them not to kill him. He was promptly recognized by a number of men who knew him, and the mob did not hesitate in its work.

Arrived at the tree, the negro was asked to confess, but this he would not do. Two officers of the Salvation Army asked to be allowed to pray with him, and their request was granted. The Lord's prayer was then repeated and the negro and most of the crowd joined in.

Goings feet and hands were then tied and the rope was then drawn around his neck. A man seizes the other end of it, climbed the tree and threw the cord over a limb.

"Let him go," was shouted, and quick as a flash he was jerked from his feet and hung dangling in the air six feet from the ground. One shot was fired into his body and in a few minutes he was dead. The mob during the process of lynching observed order; none were allowed to fire at him except the one.

A member of the mob made a brief speech, in which he said that they were there with the unfortunate wretch, not in a spirit of malice, but to make an example of him, and teach his race that they must let the women of Frederick county alone.

The assault for which Goings suffered death was a cruel and dastardly one. Miss Jones has 13 cuts and stab wounds on her body where he hacked at her with a knife and razor. She says he asked her for something to eat, and when she gave it to him, he said:

"I will give you a dollar."

She screamed and ran 50 feet down the garden, where he overtook her, knocked her down and cut her, also crushing her nose.

The field which the negro was lynched is the same spot the negro Biggus was lynched on in [sic] November, 1887. After watching the body swing, and in a few minutes the crowd left it dangling there, and dispersed.

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


  1. I think it's James Bowens. That's the name that comes up in the MD State archives. At any rate, thank you so much for this blog. It's phenomenal!!!

    1. Thank you. The archives are a good place to search and more reliable than newspaper articles that have a habit of changing names as the time passes. I'll have to see what I get under James Bowens' name. I'm glad you like the blog, it's nice to hear.