Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November 4, 1913: John Cudjo

Today's lynching is brought to us through the pages of The Chanute Daily Tribune (Chanute, Kansas) dated November 5, 1913:


Slayer of Sheriff Is Hanged to Telegraph Pole and Shot to Death.

Wewoka, Okla., Nov. 5.—John Cudjo, negro, who killed Deputy Sheriff John Dennis Saturday night, was lynched by a mob of one hundred men last night. The negro was hanged to a telephone pole in front of the county courthouse and his body was riddled with bullets. Cudjo killed Dennis White and the officer was endeavoring to arrest him. A posse had been trailing the negro since Sunday night. Late yesterday the negro surrendered after he was shot several times.

While County Judge Norvell was securing a confession from the negro a mob gathered, a noose was slipped over his head and he was drawn up to a telephone pole cross-arm.

The negro's body was left hanging from the telephone pole with a placard tacked beneath it bearing the words:

"To the Memory of Lee Cruce."

The action of Governor Cruce in commuting death sentences of convicted murderers has greatly incensed citizens and open declarations are made that hereafter the state's executive will have no opportunity to save the life of murderer's in this section.

The next article is from The Wichita Daily Eagle (Wichita, Kansas) dated November 7, 1913:


Wife of Slain Officer Watched Wewoka, Okla., Mob Work—Saved Black From Burning.

Muskogee, Okla., Nov. 6.—All that saved John Cudjo from being burned at the stake instead of being swung up to a telegraph pole and his body filled with bullets at Wewoka last Tuesday night was the express wish of Mrs. John Dennis, widow of Deputy Sheriff John Dennis, for whose murder the mob lynched Cudjo.

It was known hours in advance that the negro would be lynched when the officers arrived in Wewoka with him. It had been fully determined that he should be burned at the stake. When Mrs. Dennis heard of this she objected. She did not want the negro burned, and the mob respected her wishes to that extent. Mrs. Dennis sat in the front office of the Wewoka Democrat and watched the mob as they swung the slayer of her husband up to the telegraph pole and riddled him with bullets. With her were seven children, who had been made orphans by the negro slayer.

The people at Wewoka are expecting Governor Cruce to make an investigation of the lynching. The open insult that was offered the chief executive of the state when the mob tied to the feet of the negro's body as it swayed from the pole a placard which read


could hardly be expected to pass without some action on the part of the governor. The placard remained tied to the negro's feet until the body was cut down hours later. It was an expression of the sentiment of the community upon Governor Cruce's well known policy of commuting the sentences of all persons who are sentenced to capital punishment, including negro murderers.

In Wewoka it is said that scant courtesy will be shown representatives of the governor if they are sent there to investigate. And should the governor  go in person, the attitude of the people will be made known to him in plain words.

There was no effort at secrecy on the part of the mob. There were no disguises. Perhaps not more than half a dozen actually took part in the lynching. But a dozen more joined in shooting the body after it was strung up. Practically every woman and child in town, however, witnessed the work of the mob. They all knew it was going to happen and were out in the streets to see what was going on.

Wewoka is in the black belt and the sentiment there is unanimous on what should be done with a negro slayer of a white person. This has been accentuated by the governor's consistent refusal to permit a negro to be hanged in the state.

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

1 comment:

  1. John Cudjo was my grandmother's step-grandfather. According to family lore, he was a vigilante and took it upon himself to kill white law men in the area who he felt had wronged African-Americans. News reports from Oklahoma papers somewhat support that view . . .