Wednesday, December 3, 2014

December 3, 1892: Cornelius Coffee

Today we learn about a lynching that occurred in West Virginia through the pages of The State Chronicle (Raleigh, N. C.) dated December 4, 1892:

Negro Murderer Lynched.

By Telegraph to State Chronicle.

WHEELING, W. Va., Dec. 3.—A negro, Cornelius Coffee, shot two men, one of them a constable, during a quarrel at Keystone Monday and fled to Pocahontas. He was captured and brought back to Keystone where the mob met the sheriff and his prisoner at the train, took possession of Coffee, and leading him to a tree bound him to it and riddled him with bullets.


We learn a few more details through an article in The Atlanta Constitution dated December 14, 1892:

SHORT WORK IN WEST VIRGINIA

A Negro Tough Who Killed Some Officers Was Lynched.

Wheeling, W. Va., December 13.—Blood has been flowing freely down in the Elkhorn mining region the last few days. As the record now stands, two men have been murdered, one lynched and a faithful officer of the law lies mortally wounded.

The first victim of the murderer was officer James Brook, who was killed at Keystone, on the Elkhorn river, in an attempt to suppress disorder growing out of a too free indulgence by the miners in liquor on pay-day. Officer Dillon and Constable attempted to regulate a negro tough named Cornelius Coffee, when Coffee opened fire on them. Dillon was shot through the right breast, near the nipple, and died. Constable Burton received a ball in the body, but is expected to pull through with close attention.

This shooting following so closely on the murder of Officer James Brooks, stirred up great excitement and a close search was made for Coffee, who succeeded, however, in boarding a Chesapeake and Ohio train and was soon over the line into Virginia. Conductor Griffin recognized Coffee on the train and telegraphed to the officers at Pocahontas, who arrested him on the arrival of the train. The West Virginia authorities were notified and Detective Eugene Robinson went to Pocahontas, secured his man and started back to Elkhorn. When Keystone, the scene of the tragedy, was reached a mob of determined men entered the train, quietly relieved Robinson of his man and proceeded to a tree close by the track. Coffee was dangling from a limb in a few moments, when the mob riddled his body with 100 bullets and then dispersed, leaving the corpse dangling at the end of the rope.


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

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