Sunday, November 30, 2014

November 30, 1885: Henry Mason

We learn of a lynching that occurred on this date through the pages of the Staunton Spectator (Staunton, Virginia) dated December 2, 1885:


About 2 o'clock last Monday morning a party of disguised men broke open the jail of Campbell Court-house and took out and hanged the negro Henry Mason, who murdered J. R. Hammersley, a young farmer of that county. He had previously confessed his guilt. At the inquest, Callahan, the jailer, stated that he recognized two of the lynchers, whose names he gave the Commonwealth's Attorney.

At least two other newspapers reported that the members of the mob were "painted all colors." It was also reported that he was hanged and then shot.  Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

November 29, 1892: Commodore True

Today we learn about a lynching from the paper in the town it occurred. The Brown County World (Hiawatha, Kansas) informs us through its pages printed December 2, 1892:


William Walthall Killed, Commodore True Lynched.

The Murder.

Thursday night Commodore True, a worthless, drunken negro, killed William Walthall, an upright citizen in all ways.

The members of the Colored Methodist church were holding a festival and Thanksgiving service over Kenigsberg Bros. store, Commodore True, with several others, had been disturbing the gathering all evening, and finally Will Walthall, who was superintending the entertainment, asked True to leave the room. He refused to do so and struck Walthal[l], who thereupon, righteously threw him down stairs.

There was quiet afterward for awhile but finally True got back into the hall armed with a pocket knife, and rushing up to Walthall, he struck him, before anyone knew he had a knife. The weapon made a deep cut above the heart, severing an artery. Walthall died in less than 15 minutes. He bled internally. There was just a small spot of blood on his shirt front and the fatal cut was so small as to be scarcely visible. His last words were "I'm smothering."

A few nights before True killed Walthall he was on the street flourishing his razor and telling the boys they did not have any nerve. Someone remarked that his nerve would either lose his life for him or land him in  the penitentiary walls.

Preliminary Hearing.

True came up for preliminary hearing Monday morning before Judge Herbert. The prosecuting attorney was not able to be present, and S. F. Newlon, attorney for True, moved a continuance until next Monday. The Justice's court was crowded and the foolish wretch seemed to feel his importance—actually seemed proud of his awful deed.

The undoubted cause of the crime was ignorance, lack of home training and bad whisky. There are others in Hiawatha, both negro and white boys, who need reform of the strictest sort to save them from making such a terrible blunder as True made.

Walthall's Funeral.

The funeral of William Walthall was held Saturday afternoon. It was one of the largest ever held in Hiawatha, whites and blacks attending. William Walthall was 29 years of age and had always lived so as to gain the confidence and esteem of our people. He was a prominent worker in the Colored Methodist church and had been a delegate to the national conference at Philadelphia. He had been for years the trusted engineer at the Raff & Bechtel mill. His employers speak of him in highest terms. He leaves a wife and two children.

The Lynching.

Tuesday morning at two o'clock fifteen colored men came out from the shadows of the lumber piles, coal sheds and freight cars where they had spent the greater part of the night waiting until the town slept. They stood for a brief time about the union depot platform and spoke of what they were about to do. A bottle of liquor, was passed around, the last, it is said, of eight gallons. The men were armed with revolvers. These were looked to and then they marched up the deserted Oregon street in an irregular line to the court house park. Turning the corner they went direct to the county jail. They hesitated a minute, as they stopped in front of it. From Haver's livery stable near by and from several stored in the neighborhood a number of white men, who had an idea of what was to take place, came out to witness it. There were cries of "break in the door." With wild and fierce yells the door was pounded and kicked until it was nearly battered to splinters. Sheriff Brown heard the first blow and opening a window faced what had become a mad mob.

"Men," he said, "what do you want?" "We want the colored gentleman," answered the leader.

Was Powerless.

 The sheriff talked to them. He begged them to go away and allow the law to take its course:  but the mob's patience soon wore out and someone in the crowd put a stop to his argument by crashing a heavy plank through the door. Then Sheriff Brown and his deputy fired their revolvers; but the lynchers rushed into the house and as the officers bravely came down the stairs to oppose the intruders they were covered by a dozen guns. "Put 'em down," cried the sheriff; but there was a wicked laugh and to save his life he handed over the keys, and was forced to get a light and lead the way to the cell of the negro, Commodore True. True had heard the noise and was up and dressed, with the exception of lacing his shoes. A rope was placed about his neck and with terrible yells from his executioners, he was lead out into the court yard. Once he slipped and fell. Three or more negroes pounced upon him and beat him until the leader stood them off with his revolver. The rope was tightened and he was led to several trees before a suitable one was found. The one selected is near the center of the park, within a dozen steps of the court house. The poor wretch, if he whimpered at all, was not heard in the awful tumult. The fire bell had been rung, the night watchman having had to climb to the top of the tower to ring it, the rope having been cut to prevent him giving an alarm, and a great crowd had collected.

The Last Scene.

Standing in the moonlight, staring certain death in the face, True mumbled,

"Well boys, I hope you will all live a long and happy life, and I'll meet you in Heaven."

"Hell, you mean," was the correction offered by a dozen or more.

The victim shuddered and moved, and one of his captors warned him not to stir or he would shoot him.

"I didn't budge," he replied, "some one pulled the rope."

The rope had been passed over a tree limb and all was in readiness to swing him off into darkness; bu[t] not a man in the mob offered to pull on the rope. There was a great silence and then one man gave a pull that jerked the murderer off the ground.

"Let me pray," he cried as he struggled an[d] choked. His words seemed to enrage his lynchers. They grasped the rope and pulled until his body dangled above them; then someone fired a bullet into his body and all the others did the same. Fifty bullets were buried in his corpse. The fusilade [sic] of bullets was so wild that a window in Allendorf's bakery was broken and the trees were clipped with the flying lead.

The work done the crowd dispersed.

The body hung to the tree until half past seven,, [sic] when it was cut down by order of Judge Herbert.

It Was Not Unexpected.

The lynching was not unexpected for it had been threatened ever since. Recent trials of murderers had resulted in the acquittal of Mrs. Bradley, of Everest, of child murder. Another murderer has had his trial continued two or three times since the prosecuting witnesses have disappeared. Another was given six months in the county jail for his crime, while a man who stole a horse got six years in the penitentiary. The white people who witnessed the hanging, in no way tried to prevent it nor did they take part. The general sentiment rather upholds the shameless tragedy, on the ground it was not more shameless than those cited.

True was buried Wednesday afternoon without services.

Make a Clean Sweep.

Now if Horton would hang some of its criminals the cleaning up would be complete and Brown co. could begin anew.  

True's Parents.

The father of the murderer, Commodore True, hung himself a year or so ago. He was thought to be insane. True's mother is a good woman and since his wicked act has prayed for him almost constantly.

The Last Words.

The most disgusting thing in the last words of murderers is that they nearly all affect to believe they will meet us in heaven.

The Sheriff's Brave Resistance.

Sheriff Brown and his deputy stood off the mob fully 20 minutes. He couldn't get anyone to help him. A few citizens had agreed to come to his rescue at the tap of the fire bell; but they didn't come. The sheriff's overcoat, which hung in the hallway, was riddled with bullets.

The Inquest.

An inquest was begun Tuesday afternoon by Squire Herbert, acting coroner. The jury was John Walters, N. B. Moore, M. L. Guelich, Thurston Chase, J. V. Rollins, and Ed. Turner. The sitting will be continued for some time, to get all the evidence in the case, and if possible fix the crime where it belongs.

Someone tried to steal the shoes of Commodore True, after the crowd had left the court yard. Very few persons would want to stand in his shoes.

When the mob had gotten away with True Monday night, someone in the crowd cried, "Now put Page on the other end of the rope."

After the mob had secured the prisoner and had placed the rope around his neck—a terrible jerk pulled him nearly to the gate. Fred Rogers stepped up and told them to let up on that but no attention was paid him.

The lynchers were masked and wore jersey caps drawn over the eyes, and had long overcoats which nearly reached the ground.

Mrs. Brown, wife of the sheriff, plead with her husband to give up the keys.

Mrs. J. W. Pottenger saw to it that True's body was buried where his mother wished, on her farm 12 miles southwest of Hiawatha.

Dennis Dillingham and Fred Schilling looked down the revolvers of two of the lynchers, but could not recognize them.

Harry Guelich found one of the masks in front of Capt. Lacock's house Tuesday morning.

This next bit comes from the same newspaper, dated December 9, 1892, under the following title:

Things Which Are Talked About When the Boys Are Together.

A bullet which passed through Commodore True's body is valued at $2 Curtis Yost has it.

An article of interest concerning the brother of Commodore True comes from the same paper, but two years later on September 28, 1894:


The New Superintendent Didn't Need to Send for the Police.

Albert True, a brother of Commodore True, colored, who was lynched because of his general cussedness, bids fair to meet an equally sudden end.

Recently he behaved badly at school. He left the school room and ran about the South Side school grounds disturbing teachers and scholars.

After enduring his noise and ill manners for sometime, one of the lady teachers asked Janitor Harris to bring True in. True scratched and bit the janitor and got away from him.

The next morning True came to school with a knife in his hand and announced he would cut anyone who touched him.

He took his seat and had things all his own way until the active young superintendent of the schools happened in and learned of young Mr. True's performances.

He called him and they went out in the hall together and a few seconds later there arose various sounds from that place that were not made by a knife.

True was given a terrific trouncing and sent home. His mother will not allow him to come back to school and will complain to the school board which will uphold Prof. Rhodes, of course. True was not whipped because of his color; but because he acted badly.

We judge from the looks of the new superintendent that any boy, white or black, who misbehaves, will regret it.

Another little tidbit of interest comes to us through the pages of The Leavenworth Times (Leavenworth, Kansas) dated February 11, 1893, under the following title:


The ghost of Commodore True, the man who was lynched at Hiawatha, haunts the jail, having been heard on several occasions by plain drunks.

That finishes all the information I have on Commodore True's lynching. Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

November 28, 1933: Lloyd Warner

We start our journey today with an article from The Sedalia Democrat (Sedalia, Missouri) dated November 29, 1933:



Crowd of 7,000 Batter Way Through Jail To Get Prisoner


Sheriff Gives Negro Up; Officers Battle Hand to Hand With Mob

By The Associated Press

ST. JOSEPH, Mo., Nov. 29—Lynch law has settled the case  of Lloyd Warner, confessed attacker of two women.

The 19-year-old Negro died in flames at the end of a rope last night before the eyes of a mob of 7,000 which battered its way through national guardsmen and peace officers to seize him in the Buchanan County jail.

Warner was hanged to an elm tree near the court house, drenched with gasoline and set afire. Women and children watched him die. Some were friends of the white girl of 21, who, officers said, Warner assaulted in an alleyway here Sunday night.

"String him up," shouted from many throats, drowned out the last attempt of the muscular young Negro to speak.

Terror-stricken and stripped to the waist, he was pulled from a third floor cell by four young members of the mob, beaten, kicked and cursed.

"I'm a fighting Dutchman," said Sheriff Otto Theisen, 60, "but there are too many Irishmen here for me."

Tear gas fumes, remnant of the defense of forty city and county officers and the hastily mobilized members of the 35th division tank company, Missouri national guard, floated on the stairway down which the Negro was dragged to death.

He was hanged and burned about a block from the jail after impatient members of the throng decided against a plan to lynch him at the scene of the assault, a mile away.

The girl victim of the attack, waylaid on her way home from a motion picture theater, was reported near hysteria. Battered and bruised by her assailant, she was found in the alley tied with her own stockings.

Officers said she was the second woman Warner had attacked. He was accused of assaulting a Negro girl six months ago, but there was no prosecution.

Machines were called into play for both the offense and defense in the jail warfare, started soon after dusk with the hurling of stones and a vain attempt to break in the front door with a 5-inch pipe as a battering ram.

Officers scattered the crowd with tear gas. Governor Guy B. Park ordered out the tank company.

The mob obtained a truck and moved it around to the grilled back door. A chain was attached and the truck took the door away. A tank driver who failed to close a door of his vehicle securely was hauled out, and the tank put out of action.

Sheriff Theisen drew a revolver as the mob started in. He held the leaders at bat momentarily. They brushed past him as tear gas fogged the corridor.

Police and sheriff's deputies battled hand to hand with the crowd, but were pressed back by the heavy odds. Tear gas bombs exploded at intervals. A few wild shots were fired.

State highway patrol headquarters appealed to northwest Missouri peace officers to "rush all available men to St. Joseph."

The mob had won, however, before reinforcements arrived.

The noose was placed on Warner's neck, gasoline obtained from a nearby filling station was hurled upon his trousers and a torch was applied. Later men built a fire beneath the body. The flames burned the rope and the body fell upon the embers.

At 1:05 A. M. Fire Chief Leo J. Urbanski drove to the scene and extinguished the fire. The body was taken to an undertaking establishment.

Officers said Warner sought to plead guilty yesterday to the assault charge. Judge J. V. Gaddy, however, directed postponement of the case until today.

"I don't want to rush things," he said.

Governor Park declined to comment on the lynching.

The jail wrecked last night three years ago withstood the assault of a mob seeking Raymond Gunn, a Negro accused of the brutal slaying of Velmer Colter, a young Maryville, Mo., school teacher.

A few days later, however, Gunn was seized by a crowd on his way from jail to court at Maryville. He was taken to the frame school house where Miss Colter was slain, chained to the roof and burned with the building.

Found Knife At Scene. 

ST. JOSEPH, Mo., Nov. 29.—A long knife that officers said he used to threaten the young woman he is said to have attacked led to the arrest of Lloyd Warner, Negro lynched by a mob here last night.

The knife was found at the scene where the attack victim was tied with her own stockings. The Negro was tied with her stockings. The Negro was traced through the knife in what Prosecutor Frank L. Kirtley described as "one of the finest" pieces of detective work he had ever seen.

Warner's confession followed his arrest, Kirtley said.

A second case of criminal assault was solved yesterday, officers said. They reported Ray Lacy, 32, a white man, had confessed he had attacked an elderly white woman Monday.

Casteel To St. Joe.

ST. JOSEPH, Mo., Nov. 29.—Under orders of Gov. Guy B. Park, Marvin Casteel, superintendent of the state police, arrived here about 4 A. M. to conduct an investigation into the lynching of Lloyd Warner, Negro, confessed attacker of a white girl.

Accompanied by Capt. L. B. Howard, and Sgt. Porter Clark of the headquarters troop, Superintendent Casteel made the trip from Jefferson City in four hours.

After surveying the jail, wrecked in the efforts of the lynch-crazed mob to reach the prisoner, the state police head told Sheriff Otto Theisen he had done a good job "under the circumstances."

"We were ordered here to prevent bloodshed at the governor's orders," Casteel said. "It was a regrettable occurrence but there was too much risk of human lives to take any other course."

Sheriff Theisen relinquished the prisoner after the mob had broken into the jail.

Sheriff's Story of Lynching.

ST. JOSEPH, Mo., Nov. 29.—Sheriff Otto Theisen stood in the wreckage of his home in the Buchanan County jail today and described an invasion by the crowd which lynched Lloyd Warner, 19-year-old Negro who had confessed attacking a white girl Sunday night.

The 60-year-old self styled "fighting Dutchman" told the howling throng "there are too many Irishmen here for me" as he announced he was ready to surrender his prisoner after several hours spent in defending him and the jail from attack. Then he led the crowd to the place where he had hidden the Negro.

"I did everything I could to stop them," said the sheriff, leaning on the scarred piano in the living room. Windows in the room were smashed, the glass covering a picture on the wall had been shattered by a missile and was strewn over the rug. On the piano was all that remained of what had been a large vase.

"I brought two vases like that one 26 years ago and paid $150 apiece for them," he said. "Now look at it.

"They didn't stop with breaking up my home. They stole things. They took an overcoat of mine that cost $45. They took some hats which belonged to my men in the jail.

"I had learned that trouble was brewing and I thought I was ready for it. We were equipped with tear gas. We deemed the jail mob proof.

"Some of the mob came to the front door first and knocked. They wanted the Negro but I told them they couldn't have him. I locked the door and they tried to beat their way in.

"To pacify the crowd I invited some of them to come in and see for themselves if we had the Negro. But first I had hidden him. I won't say where but it was where they couldn't find him. They looked the place all over but never saw him. Then they went out.

"We began throwing tear gas bombs when the crowd started wrecking the jail. We had the city officers send over their supply.

"I called the governor at Jefferson City when I saw how things were going. I asked him for national guardsmen and he told me he would do whatever he could.

"The mob kept making headway. They tossed rocks and bricks and eggs—whatever they could lay their hands on. We fought 'em even after they got inside but I saw it was no use. I had nine Negroes in jail and I was afraid the mob would lynch them too. The crowd was wrecking everything in sight. Why they would have left nothing standing standing if I hadn't given in.

"They were shooting the windows and I expected one of my men to get hit any minute. So I told 'em I was ready to let them have Warner. I went outside and talked to them.

"If you keep quiet and be careful you can have the Negro in two minutes," I said. "There's no use tearing down any more. I can't hold out. I've never known an Irishman to lick a Dutchman before but there are too many Irishmen here for me."

Exhausted, the gray-haired man shook his head in despair as he talked. Often he was interrupted by the milling hundreds who continued to wander curiously through his home and battered down jail entrances.

"Sheriff, I'm so glad you're all right," a passerby would say. "Don't worry about this, it was all for the best." 

What did he propose to do about the mob violence? 

"What can I do?" he asked. Then answered it:  "Nothing."

"My worry now is to get the jail and my home back in order. Why, if I had been in here and seen what they were doing to my own house, I'd have shown them a real fight.

"Think of it, my own wife and relatives were somewhere in here."

The sheriff estimated the damage to the jail building, including his home, at $5,000."

The next article comes from Miami Daily News-Record (Miami, Oklahoma) dated November 29, 1933:

Missouri Governor Denounces Lynching of St. Joseph Negro


State Police Chief Arrives To Investigate Jail Attack That Ended With Hanging and Burning of Black Who Had Confessed Attack Upon Girl, 21.

JEFFERSON CITY, Nov. 29.—(AP)—Governor Park, in a statement today, said that "there is no justification" for the lynching last night of Lloyd Warner, Negro, at St. Joseph.

"While it appears from press reports that Lloyd Warner, the Negro boy lynched by a mob in St. Joseph last night, confessed to a heinous crime, punishable by death, yet there is no justification for the action of the mob."

William Orr Sawyers, Jr., an assistant attorney general, today was directed by Atty. Gen. Roy McKittrick to go to St. Joseph immediately and make an investigation of the lynching last night of Lloyd Warner, Negro.

Our next article comes from The Sedalia Democrat (Sedalia, Missouri) dated December 7, 1933:


Former St. Joseph Officer Accused of Murder In Death of Negro


Defendant To Ask To Be Given Chance To Appear Before Jury

By The Associated Press

ST. JOSEPH, Mo., Dec. 7.—John F. Zook, former policeman, pleaded not guilty today to a charge of first degree murder in the death of Lloyd Warner, Negro, lynched Nov. 28. The ex-patrolman is accused of pouring gasoline over the Negro. Judge J. V. Gaddy in the criminal division of the circuit court ordered Zook held without bond. Zook told the court he will ask permission to appear before the grand jury next week.

We continue through the pages of The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Missouri) dated January 15, 1934:


Lloyd Warner's Mother Asks $10,000 of Sheriff's Surety.

Mrs. Lucille Mitchell of St. Joseph, Mo., Negro, mother of the 18-year-old Negro, Lloyd Warner, who was lynched November 28 by a mob, filed suit today in circuit court for $10,000 damages for her son's death against the United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company and Otto Theisen, sheriff at St. Joseph.

She alleges in her petition that the company was on Theisen's bond as sheriff of Buchanan County, and that Theisen, "charged with the duty of protecting Lloyd Warner, wrongfully and unlawfully permitted a mob of lawless individuals to take charge of Lloyd Warner and permitted them to burn and kill him."

The suit was filed here presumably because the bonding company operates the bonding company operates a Kansas City office.

Our final article comes from The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) dated February 17, 1934:

Automatic Changes Of Venue Suggested In Lynching Trials

State's Attempts to Punish Leaders of Mob That Lynched Lloyd Warner Fail—Alexander Urges Change of Venue.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15—(CNS)—The State's attempt to punish leaders of the mob that lynched Lloyd Warner, Negro youth, at St. Joseph, Mo., the night of November 28, collapsed at St. Joseph on Monday, February 5th. As a result of that and other failures to punish participants in lynching ogres [sic], Dr. W. W. Alexander of Atlanta, Ga., director of the Commission on Interracial Cooperation, urges a general move for state legislation to provide automatic changes of venue in trials of men accused of lynching.

Dr. Alexander said:  "Such a procedure offers the only hope of bringing lynchers to justice,  because local courts and juries just will not convict lynchers."

Dr. Alexander's statement was occasioned by announcement that there would be no further prosecution of persons indicted as alleged leaders of the St. Joseph, Mo., lynching mob of last November 28, after the acquittal of the first man tried. He commented:  "This is the old story over again of the failure of courts to convict in the cases of mob violence. In the 1,880 recorded lynchings from 1900 to 1930 inclusive, convictions were secured in only 12 instances, or less than 1 per cent. Local courts and juries just will not convict lynchers, even in the rare cases where officers have the courage to make arrests and grand juries the courage to indict."

All pending cases will be dismissed as a result of the acquittal by a jury Saturday night of Walter Garton, one of seven men charged with first degree murder in connection with the lynching at St. Joseph, Mo.

In making the announcement at Jefferson City, Attorney General Roy McKittrick said the case against Garton was the strongest.

Charges to be dropped include malicious destruction of property in connection with the damage to the county jail when the mob fought back National Guardsmen, forced its way inside and took the youth from the sheriff.

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

Thursday, November 27, 2014

November 27, 1891: George Mixy and Nathaniel Hadley

Since today is Thanksgiving and I am very tired from a busy day of cooking and family, I am only putting two names from the Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) dated January 1, 1892:

November 27. Nathaniel Hadley, colored, murder, Gurdon, Ark.
November 27. George Mixy, colored, rape, Manny, La.

Thank you for joining me and I hope everyone had a wonderful day with their families. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

November 26, 1933: Thomas Thurmond and John Holmes

Join me in a jaunt to the past through the pages of November 27, 1933 issue of The Daily Mail (Hagerstown, Maryland:



Thurmond and Holmes, Abductors of Brooke Hart, Son of Wealthy San Jose, Cal., Merchant, Were Lynched Last Night; Governor Praises Action.

SAN JOSE, Calif., Nov. 27 (AP).—Thomas H. Thurmond and John M. Holmes, confessed kidnaper-slayers of Brooke Hart, were lynched here last night by a mob of 100 men who smashed their way into the county jail after a two-hour battle to seize the pair. A whooping, cheering crowd estimated at 6,000 persons looked on.

Thurmond, first to confess, was unconscious when dragged to St. James Park, 100 yards from the jail, partially stripped and hanged to a tree.

Fights For Life.

Holmes, a powerful man, fought for his life in vain. Twice he wrenched his hands free and lifted the noose from his head, but the third time it was put there to stay and, still kicking, he was yanked into the air.

In the glare of torches and flashlights the bodies dangled for half an hour or so—a macabre picture for the thousands who assembled swiftly after the news of the lynching movement spread through the city. Then the lifeless forms were cut down and there was no further attempt to interfere with officers.

Thurmond's body had been burned slightly by flames from blazing newspapers held by the mob as torches during the hanging.

The lynching, occurring only a few hours after the torn body of young Hart, son of a wealthy San Jose merchant, had been taken from San Francisco bay, climaxed a spectacular battle between officers barricaded in the jail and the determined mob.

The muttering throng began to gather about the jail about 9 p. m. The jail, an antiquated brick building to the rear of the courthouse, had been prepared against the possibility of a lynch movement but was unable to withstand the improvised battering rams of the attackers. Automobiles parked across the alleys about the jail building, did little to impede the advances of the beseigers [sic].

Two shots, fired from the ground as a signal, started the first attack. A barrage of rocks, gathered from across the alley where a new post office building is under construction, clattered against the jail walls. Officers within the jail let loose with three tear gas bombs. Blinded and weeping, the attackers fell back.

By this time some 3,000 persons had gathered to match [sic]. The 35 officers in the jail building sent out a call for more tear gas. All lights in the building were extinguished.

The blinding tear gas from the first three bombs was still hanging like a thin veil about the building when the second attack began. Several attackers took from the post office building a piece of steel pipe eight inches in diameter and about 20 feet long and used it as a battering ram, smashing in the jail door. Officers turned loose another barrage of tear gas, momentarily stopping the assault. After waiting a few moments for the gas to lift, the mob stormed ahead once more, playing a fire hose on the building as it advanced. A second group seized another pipe and joined the attackers. The steel doors of the jail gave way and the mob poured in, encouraged by cheering thousands outside.

Sheriff Knocked Out

Sheriff William J. Emig, whose quick action had resulted in the arrest of Thurmond while the latter was making a ransom demand by telephone to the Hart home a week after the young victim had been put to death, was knocked senseless. Other officers were manhandled and brushed aside.

The deadly mob demanded Antone Serpa, recently convicted of manslaughter in the slaying of Leonard Remonda, a ranch foreman. Deputy sheriffs persuaded the group to let Serpa alone and the invaders pressed on.

In the cell which had imprisoned David A. Lamson now under sentence to hang for the murder of his attractive wife Allene at Stanford University last May, the mob laids [sic] hands upon the whimpering Thurmond, dragging him to the street and raining blows upon him.

Holmes struggled as he was dragged from the cell that once had held Douglas Templeton, now serving a life sentence for the murder of his aunt. Likewise he was dragged out and pummeled.

Begin Death March

Cheers, jeers and catcalls from thousands of watchers became the death march of Thurmond and Holmes, Down the alley between the Court House and the partially constructed postoffice [sic] and across the street in the palm fringed park they were dragged. Officers who had given up the fight, were closed out of the picture as the approving thousands lined the bordering streets.

The mob selected the limb of a tall tree, looped a rope around the unconscious Thurmond's neck, and hoisted him aloft while the crowd whooped its approval. The clothing was torn from the lower part of the body and he hung there half clad.

The business of choosing a limb for Holmes required about ten minutes. A tree some 200 yards from where Thurmond was dangling was finally selected. He was stripped of all clothing and jerked upward.

Street lights and flashlights shedding intermittent gleams through the leaves, gave the scene a peculiar ghastliness. The crowd, augmented by thousands who had emerged from the theaters just in time to witness the gruesome climax, quieted. Photographers whose equipment had been seized in the earlier stages of the spectacle were not molested.

The body of Thurmond was cut down finally and the crowd swarmed into the park to break souvenir twigs from the hanging limb. The assembled thousands were beginning to drift away when the body of Holmes was taken down.

Hours after the lynching the tear gas still hung about the jail like a sinister veil. The doors of the building were filled with wreckage. Two steel barred doors that had been smashed were barely hanging on their hinges and the heavy pipes that had served as battering rams lay in a corridor.

Not an arrest was made. The only shots that were fired, with the exception of the charges from the tear gas guns and bombs, were the two that started the attack on the jail.

Sheriff Emig, after recovering consciousness, stood by, helpless, until the crowd had wreaked its vengeance. Then he went to a hospital for treatment. Howard Buffington, a deputy who was struck from behind while pleading with the mob, and state highway patrolman Nick Gladner, also received emergency treatment. Several persons were struck by flying missiles or were burned by tear gas bursts.

Earlier in the evening in Sacramento, when Governor James Rolph, Jr., was asked if he would call out national guardsmen to reinforce the officers, the chief executive said:

"What, call out the troops to protect those two guys? That's the sheriff's job."

Informed later that Thurmond and Holmes had been lynched Rolph said:

Praises Action.

"This is the best lesson that California has ever given the country. We showed the country that the state is not going to tolerate kidnaping."

The lynching was the first in California in 13 years. The last time a mob took the law into its own hands was December 10, 1920, when George Boyd, Terance Fitts and Charles Valento, San Francisco gangsters accused of killing three police officers, were hanged from a tree after being dragged from the Sonoma county jail at Santa Rosa.

John Holmes

Thurmond on top and Holmes on bottom.

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

November 25, 1889: Hans Jacob Olsen

Today we learn of an unusual lynching from the pages of The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) dated November 28, 1889:




He Had a Quarrelsome Disposition, But Committed No Crime—Arrests to Be Made of the Perpetrators.

MILWAUKEE, November 27.—The bloodstained records of Judge Lynch's court do not show a more dastardly crime than was committed Sunday night, at Preston, in Trempleau county, in this state. Hans Jacob Olson [sic], aged fifty, was torn from his house and lynched by a party of masked men. Olsen was partially insane and somewhat quarrelsome, and had been ordered by his neighbors to leave the country. He neglected to do so, and was strung up. Olsen was seized in bed, pulled out and his hands tied behind him, despite his desperate efforts and the screams of the family. Without even allowing him time to put on his clothes, the men led him out of the house. Once outside Olsen learned what was to be done with him. He caught sight of a new rope hanging over a limb of a large tree which stands not more than twenty feet from the little cabin which was his home. He struggled to free his hands


until they bled freely, but finding himself unable to get loose, submitted, in sullen silence.

The rope was put around his neck and willing hands drew him up to strangle. His legs were not tied and his kicking and struggling was fearful. The mob remained sometime, however, lest he might be cut down before he was dead. Then after shouting threats of lynching any one who should dare cut down the body, they dispersed. The body was discovered in the morning, but was not cut down until the coroner arrived. The coroner's inquest was held yesterday at Preston and the following verdict was returned:

Deceased came to his death by strangulation, caused by being hanged by the neck by masked persons unknown.


No evidence as to the identity of the lynchers was offered. It is Preston's common gossip that the lynchers were led by one of the most prominent farmers in Preston. Further facts will be brought out by evidence following arrests about to be made by the state. The district attorney has the case in charge and wholesale arrests are expected.

This next excerpt comes from an article in The North Carolinian (Elizabeth City, N. C.) dated December 11, 1889:


. . . Olsen had served five years in State Prison for loading wood with powder with intent to blow up the stove of a family at Blair. Arriving home from Waupun, he was shortly afterward sentenced to the County Jail for six months for threatening the lives of his family. He had just returned home from the County Jail when he was hanged.

I didn't add the first part of the article because the information was the same as the first article. Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.

Monday, November 24, 2014

November 24, 1886: John Davis

The Wichita Beacon (Wichita, Kansas) gives us the details for the lynching on this date. The article comes from the edition printed November 25, 1886:


MONTGOMERY, Ala., Nov. 25.—John Davis, the negro rapist, was lynched at Randolph, Ala., last night. Davis was the perpetrator of three outrages, The last outrage was committed near Randolph, on the 21st inst., on the person of Mrs. Curpton, a white lady. The victim had gone out a distance from her residence and was gathering up fire wood. he and a little boy while picking wood were suddenly sprung upon by two negroes from behind some bushes. One of the negroes drew a pistol and cocked it placing it to her head and said:  "If you scream I will kill you:"  telling the boy the same thing.

Davis was captured about nine last night. A mob of about fifty men over-powered the guard and took the prisoner out, and hanged him to a coaling derrick.

Today the article of interest comes from the Pittson Gazette (Pittson, Pennsylvania) dated July 8, 1887:

Fiendish Knights of the Switch.

LOUISVILLE, July 8.—The mob at Eckerly, Ind.,  known as the Knights of the Switch, who six weeks ago lynched John Davis for an alleged assault upon Ella Flanagan, have just dug up Davis' remains and tried to burn them. They fear detection and prosecution, and are trying to obliterate all traces of their deeds. It is said they tortured Davis to death by beating him and thrusting sharp sticks down his throat before they swung him by the neck to the sapling where he was found. These sticks had been driven clear into his lungs. The mob has threatened instant death to any who reveal anything about the lynching.

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

Sunday, November 23, 2014

November 23, 1887: John H. Bigus

Join me in a journey to a moment in history. We learn about this moment through the pages of The Topeka Daily Capital (Topeka, Kansas) dated November 25, 1887:


A Popular Lady's Colored Assailant Lynched at Frederick, Md.—An Orderly Mob's Method of Procedure.


At the Preliminary Hearing—Heavy Bolts and Bars in the Jail Smashed in Short Order.

Negroes Infuriated Over the Lynching and Threaten Vengeance—Trouble Apprehended by the Authorities.

Swung Into Eternity.

FREDERICK, Md., November 24.—The corpse of a colored man dressed only in overalls dangling from a tree on Jefferson Heights is a spectacle that attracted thousands of people yesterday. It is the result of an assault that has excited Frederick City as nothing else has excited it since the war. The victim of the assault is Mrs. Mary Yeakle, who was in her youth the belle of the city, and who is now one  of the most esteemed ladies in this section of the state.

Last Friday she called at several houses in her neighborhood, and after making short visits started home. The street was well lighted and the distance was not great, and people were passing in the vicinity. She reached a part of the street where there is comparative isolation, and suddenly a negro sprang out and dealt her a terrific blow on the side of the face, knocking her down. She fought desperately and screamed. The brute then hit her with brass knuckles and mashed her face terribly. The screams brought assistance and the man ran off. He was promptly pursued, but his fleetness enabled him to escape. When the news of the assault spread the excitement became intense, and plans were at once laid to lynch the scoundrel if he could be caught. The result was the arrest on Monday of John H. Bigus, a medium-sized negro, aged about 23 years, who had acted very suspiciously and had arrived at a friend's house shortly after the assault, excited and breathless. He told many conflicting stories about himself, having stated to one person that he came from Harrisburg, Pa., to another that he came from Hagerstown, and he testified that he came from Woodville. When he was arrested he wore on one hand three heavy brass rings. While in jail he was visited by a friend and gave away the rings, evidently having been informed that they would assist to convict him, as it is known that the assailant used a metal weapon of some kind on the hand with which he struck her.


When the testimony was taken in the preliminary hearing of his case on Monday, Deputy Sheriff Mille secured his prisoner and proceeded with him to the house of Mrs. Yeakle. Just before the house was reached the negro was taken from the wagon, ordered to remove his overcoat and button up tightly the double breasted coat which he wears. He was then walked up and down the pavement in front of the house on the opposite side of the street several times. Mrs. Yeakle sat at the window in an armchair. The moment she saw the negro she signified to the officials that she recognized him as the man so far as his walk was concerned, his peculiar limp having been noticed by her on the night of the assault. Bigus was then handcuffed and taken to the room of his victim. As he entered and turned to face her she exclaimed:

"That is the contemptible scoundrel; take him from my sight!" and added:  "I am satisfied he is the man."

Then turning to Bigus she said:  "You are the fiend that assaulted me, and there is no mistake about it."

Bigus did not utter a word while in the room. On the outside was a large crowd wild with excitement, and a number of voices were heard to say:

"Hang him!" "Shoot him!"

Mrs. Yeakle's affidavit was taken and the prisoner, upon her evidence, was committed to jail for the action of the grand jury. The attempt of Bigus' counsel to prove an alibi was a failure.

Wednesday night crowds of men gathered mysteriously on the street corners.There were no outward demonstrations, but evidently something was in the wind. About 12:15 o'clock in the morning 100 men, who were well organized, gathered at the jail. When they arrived within a short distance the leader, who seemed to be a man of experience and courage, ordered them to halt. Pickets were at once thrown out to warn off any persons who might approach and others surrounded the jail. The leader called in clear tones to Sheriff Derr, who by this time was looking down on the crowd, to throw the keys of the building to him. The sheriff promptly refused.

"Then," said the leader, looking back on a number of comrades, "I want six men to follow me."


The invitation met a hearty answer in the action of the lynchers not on guard duty, each of whom showed a marked willingness to follow their commander. The required number, however, indicated in the request, originally made was only allowed to follow. Among them was a man who carried an ax. He set to work at once chopping the basement door, and in a few minutes the panels gave way before his blows. A passage was thus opened into the interior of the jail, but another door intervened between the masked men and Bigus. With celerity they attacked the second barrier, and disposed of it as rapidly as the first. This placed them in the corridor surrounding the cells. It was the work of but a minute to discover the location of the one occupied by Bigus. A big lock dangled in front of it from steel fastenings.  A few strokes of the ax and the lock fell with a ringing sound on the floor. The whole proceeding occupied comparatively a short time. The moment the rope was adjusted around his neck Bigus realized the fate in store for him, but showed no perceptible signs of weakness. Through the whole of the trying ordeal his exhibition of courage was remarkable. He loudly protested he was not the man who assaulted Mrs. Yeakle His pleas were interrupted by a member of the band, who ordered him to move along. Bigus was walked over the route taken by the lynching sextet in their search for him, and out into the jail garden. Here again he called aloud he was innocent, but his protestations met with no response from his custodians save a command to continue his walk. He marched with steady step between those who had taken him from the jail and others of the party who had joined them. When in front of the residence of Mr. Rider a halt was made and the leader asked Bigus to confess his crime. A change had come over him, not that he was less plucky, but that he evidently intended to adopt a different manner of speech.  He answered:

"I'll tell you all when we reach where we are going."

The journey to the tree on Jefferson Heights, about a quarter of a mile distant, was continued in silence, no one speaking until the spot agreed upon by the lynchers for the consummation of their purpose was reached. All this time a rope dangled from the neck of the colored man.


At the foot of the tree the masked man who held the rope gave it a jerk; the noose tightened with such effect on Bigus as to make him ask that it be loosened so that he might speak. His request was granted. At this juncture, by some means his hands, which had been tied behind him, became unfastened, and he made a grasp for the halter on his throat. Quick and surprising was his action but equally as rapid were the lynchers in their movements. Though he fought desperately, and begged for his life, his arms were pinioned promptly and the rope again adjusted. Finding all hope gone Bigus gave his version of the assault, in which he blamed Joe Hall, colored, for it, and contradicted a statement made when arrested by saying he stood close at hand when Hall attacked Mrs. Yeagle [sic], instead of being at a meeting of the Salvation Army, as he insisted when arrested. A prayer in tones so subdued that only those around could hear it, fell from his lips. No sooner had he finished speaking than the rope was thrown over a limb of the tree and Bigus, before he really knew what was to be the next move, was swinging in the air. His body swayed an instant and the convulsively swung from side to side. The death seemed rather slow for one of the lynchers, who drew a revolver and emptied three chambers of it into the suspended figure. On being satisfied that death had occurred the masked men moved of as quietly as they had approached. People have flocked to the city from all over the country. Public sentiment here seems satisfied that what was considered inevitable is accomplished.

The negroes are infuriated over the lynching and threaten vengeance. All day they marched through the streets, carrying heavy horsewhips and denouncing the whites. They promise to make it warm for the ex-policeman who was recently acquitted of the charge of murdering a negro. Not a woman has been seen on the streets, and at night the street looks deserted. Trouble is apprehended by the authorities. Quite a number of fights between whites and blacks have occurred, and but for the interference of the police there would have been bloodshed.   

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

Saturday, November 22, 2014

November 22, 1891: William Black and Daniel Gladney

Today's lynching is short and simple. We find our lynchings in the Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) dated January 1, 1892:

November 22. William Black, colored, insults, Moscow, Tex.
November 22. Daniel Gladney, race prejudice, Atlanta Co., Miss.

An article on the lynching of William Black is not as clear on the date, it comes to us through the pages of The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana) dated November 23, 1891:



Lynched by White Caps.

MOSCOW, Tex., Nov. 22.—[Special.]—The white caps paid this town a visit last night, the result of which was learned this morning on finding the body of Billy Black, colored, hanging to a large scale beam erected in the middle of the most elevated spot in the street.

The victim was a stranger here, having been in the city only three or four days, during which time he made himself very insulting to the ladies and children. He struck the railroad agent's 5-year-old daughter, while he was in his office. One young lady sprained her ankle in attempting to escape this rascal, and has been in bed two days. The officers of the law were too slow in attending to their duty for the outraged citizens, hence the results.

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

Friday, November 21, 2014

November 21, 1895: Charles Hurd

Today we learn about a lynching that occured in Tennessee 119 years ago. The details are contained in the following article found in The Scranton Republican (Scranton, Pennsylvania) on November 22, 1895:


They Lynch a Murderer in Morgan County, Tenn.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., Nov. 21.—A determined mob of from 100 to 200 armed men from the vicinity of Joynerville took the negro Charles Hurd, the slayer of the white boy James Kelley, by striking him on the head with a whiffle tree, from the Wartburg jail at midnight last night and hanged him to a tree about half a mile away. Wartburg is the county seat of Morgan county, in the northern part of the state, and some miles from a railroad, consequently reports of the affair conflict. The lynchers were a grim, determined set of men and dressed in homemade jeans and mountain garb, without disguise of any kind. They marched in an orderly body across the mountains to Wartburg, returning the same way after the deed.

The jailor refused to give up the negro, whereupon they battered in the outer doors with sledge hammers, over-powered the guards and forced the jailor, at the point of revolvers, to surrender the keys to the inner door and cells. The murderer was conducted to a tree a short distance off and given a minute to talk. He admitted his guilt, saying that he intended to kill the boy. He asked not to be shot and his request was complied with.

Our article of interest today is connected to the lynching and comes to us from The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) dated December 2, 1895:


Because the Canine Did Not Locate the Negro They Wanted.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., December 1.—[Special-Sergeant Perry Fipps [sic], of the Chattanooga police force, was until two weeks ago the possessor of three fine bloodhounds, one of which had become quite famous, having run down a number of criminals, but now his famous dog "Bud" is no more and about this comes an interesting story.

About two weeks ago Phipps took his dogs to Morgan county to run down a negro named Hurd, who had killed a young white man. The dog was put on the trail and led about a hundred men a chase of about two hundred miles, consuming two days and nights, but it seems the old dog deceived them, for while they were gone the negro was caught and lynched. This so frustrated the party which had followed the dog that they in some way got her away from Phipps and kept her until he had gone home and then lynched her. Phipps spent two days looking for her and does not yet know what became of her.  

In case you are wondering what a whiffle tree is, you can read about it here. Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

November 20, 1902: James Dilliard and Lige Wells

Today we are reviewing two lynchings from the same paper. We find these lynchings in The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) dated November 21, 1902:


Swung to a Telegraph Pole Near Scene of His Crime.

Sullivan, Ind., November 20.—James Dilliard, the Kentucky negro, who criminally assaulted Mrs. Mary Davis, of Sullivan county, and Mrs, John Lemon, of Knox county, on Tuesday, last, was hanged to a telegraph pole 1 mile east of John Lemon's farm at 8 o'clock tonight by a mob.

Dilliard was captured at Lawrenceville, Ills., late yesterday, after a battle with the town marshal, during which the negro was shot three times and severely wounded. He was then taken to Robinson, Ills., for safe keeping.

John Lemon, husband of one of the women who had been assaulted by the negro, with a party of friends, went to Lawrenceville last night and identified him as the woman's assailant. Late this afternoon he was brought to Sullivan in a wagon by the sheriff and his deputies to be taken before the women for further identification.

The sheriff and his deputies attempted to steal into town with their prisoner, but a mob of forty or fifty farmers, heavily armed, took the prisoner away themselves. The negro was taken to the home of Mrs. Davis, where he was identified, and then the mob started with the negro for the farm of John Lemon, 10 miles from the city. The mob, in the meantime, had swelled to enormous proportions.

The negro was identified by Mrs. Lemon. The crowd then started back to Sullivan with the prisoner, but 1 mile east of the Lemon farm a rope was thrown over the arm of a telegraph pole and the trembling wretch was quickly jerked into the air.

The governor had ordered out the Vincennese militia company to protect the negro, but his instructions were received too late.

After hanging the negro the mob quietly dispersed. It was composed mostly of farmers, but was largely augmented by the citizens of Sullivan, Oaktown and other towns of this county.

Negro Lynched in Arkansas.

Wayne, Ark., November 20.—Lige Wells, a negro, charged with assaulting Max Campbell, an Iron Mountain passenger conductor, with a knife and slightly wounding him, was taken from the officers tonight by a mob of armed men, and it is reported that he was lynched. The officers had just boarded the train with their prisoner at this point to take him to the county jail at Forest City, when a dozen masked men entered the coach and forced the officers to give up the negro. The mob left at once for the swamp country to the south of Wynne with the avowed intention of lynching Wells. Information received at a late hour tonight tends to show that the mob carried out it[s] plans.

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

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

November 19, 1888: William Arnold

Today we go to the pages of the Los Angeles Herald (Los Angeles, California) on November 20 1888:

Mississippi Justice.

NEW ORLEANS, November 19.—The Picayune's Yazoo City special says:  A week ago William Arnold, colored, came here and surrendered himself to Sheriff Stoling in self-defense. He had shot and killed Captain Robert Johnson, one of the most prominent citizens of the county, at his home near Satartia. This morning a large number of Johnson's friends went to jail and took Arnold, saying they intended to avenge the death of their friend and neighbor. Since their departure nothing has been heard from them, and it is reasonably certain that Arnold has been lynched.

Our article of interest comes to us through the pages of the Logansport Pharos-Tribune (Logansport, Indiana) dated Mar 9, 1893:



Thomas Dixon, Jr., The New York Preacher, Draws Some Deductions—Crime Is Always Punished in the South While Northern Criminals Escape.

NOW THAT THE question of lynching in the South is removed from the realm of practical politics it may be worth while to turn our attention to it for a serious study. It is asserted that negroes are lynched in the South because they are black. It is asserted that, as a fact, the South is yet in a state of partial barbarism; that it condones murder and approves of lynching, which gratifies passion and saves the expense of courts and prisons.

Is this a fact? Certain it is that lynching is too common in the South, and for that matter throughout the whole nation, I would distinctly say that I believe that lynching is in every a sense a disgrace to a civilized nation. The uncertainty that attends such execution is a horror inexpressible.

The possibility of murdering an innocent man through the passion of a mob sends a chill to the heart of humanity. But as for that matter, the possibility of a legal execution of an innocent man is likewise an unspeakable horror. And there is just about as much uncertainty attending legal executions as upon the average execution execution by lynch law in the South. If we take such a case as that of Carlyle W. Harris, who has been sentenced to death, having been duly convicted by a jury, we have a fair illustration of the fact that with all the possible light thrown upon such cases, by long delay and the most careful judicial investigation, there is still an element of great uncertainty. Whether this young man is guilty or not the world does not know; and how a jury could agree upon the evidence in the case I for one do not see.

For this reason among others I might say in the beginning that I do not believe in capital punishment. I do not believe that it is the true remedy for homicide.

We have in America on an average two hundred lynchings every year and about one hundred legal executions. The majority of those lynchings are in the South—perhaps 60 per cent of them. This is an unmitigated disgrace. It is a disgrace to the South. It is a disgrace to the nation. It is a disgrace to humanity.

But the question to which we address ourselves is one that affects the attitude of the races. It is true that the negro is lynched because he is a negro? I do not believe there is one word of truth in the statement. Negroes are not lynched because of their color; they are lynched for crime.Bishop Fitzgerald has well said, in reply to this assertion, that "the white man in the South who is guilty of the same crime meets an awful doom as swiftly as does the black man. It is notable that in all the spasms of indignation against the Southern people because of these lynchings no word of sympathy has been spoken for the white women who were the victims."

A Republican newspaper in the West collected during the late Presidential campaign the statistics of lynching reported in the South for ten years, with the following result:—

Out of 728 negroes lynched in eight years it finds "that 269 were charged with rape, 252 with murder, 44 robbery, 37 incendiarism, 32 unknown offenses, 28 race prejudice, 13 quarrels with white men, 10 making threats, 7 rioting, 5 miscegenation and 4 burglary."

These statistics may be taken as an approximation of the facts. With this classification of causes, however, much allowance must be made for the time and the purpose for which the collection was made. I should take issue with the classification. For instance that twenty-seven men were murdered for race prejudice is pure assumption of the collector of the statistics. That thirteen were lynched for quarrels with white men , it seems to me, is manifestly absurd. That ten were lynched for making threats passes the belief of any sane person who knows the facts in Southern life. These statistics, however, are sufficient to indicate that men are lynched in the South not because of their color, but because of crime. It will be found by examining the statistics that there are as many white men lynched, in proportion to the criminal population, as negroes. According to these figure[s], in one year there were even more whites lynched than negroes. 

The recent bulletin of the census, classifying crime by color, is a most interesting document. An analysis of the figures gives a most surprising result, and would give some most valuable information to many philosophers upon the negro problem. The classification in both the bulletins is very thorough. A comparison shows that the prevalence of crime among the negroes is out of all proportion of their numbers. Taking imprisonment as the basis of estimate, the bulletins show that in 1890 there was a ratio of one prisoner to each 308 of the African population, while the white race showed one prisoner to 947 of the population, including foreign and native elements. And this proportion does not apply to crimes of lesser gravity alone. In 1890 the negroes formed somewhat less than one-eighth of our population, though they contributed no less than 37 per cent of our homicides.

But your average northern philosopher would immediately reply that this would indicate nothing, for says he, the negro does not get justice in the South. He is arrested and imprisoned without mercy, while the white man escapes. If this be true then an analysis of the statistics for the North Atlantic States would prove it. But a careful comparison of the two bulletins shows that in the North Atlantic division of the census, including New England, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, there is one negro criminal to every 132 of the negro population in 1890, and that there was one prisoner to 650 whites.

The showing is twice as bad as the South. It does not indicate that the negroes who migrate North are so much worse than the negroes of the South, but indicates that the number of offenses for which men are imprisoned in the North is larger than the South.

In other words, where is the safest place in America in which to commit a murder? Suppose I should desire to murder my enemy and escape with impunity, in what community would I go to commit that deed? One thing is certain, I would not go South. If I should kill a man in North Carolina the chances are that I would be hung for the deed. I certainly would not go to Texas. I should expect to be swung from a limb in short order out there. The fact is, I would not dare to choose either a Southern or a Western State in which to commit murder.

Where would I have the highest number of chances for escape? If I desired to commit this high crime, with, the best chances for going unpunished, I should choose New York city as the field for operation.

In the South there is a public sentiment which is omnipotent, which is fearful in its vengeance when driven by such awful crimes. But it is a sentiment that indicates a deep and abiding respect for law and order, and the rights of every ragged waif in the streets are high and holy before that august court of the communal sentiment. The poorest child of the streets would arouse that sentiment as quickly as the child of the rich and the strong. If you wish to find a community in which murder and crimes of a similar rank are condoned you will not go South or West. You will search in the great centers of our civic life, and there you will find the darkest spots to-day on the American continent.

The picture of a lynching has an unspeakable horror, but the picture of the victim of the crime which that lynching symbolizes is more unspeakable in its horror. It does not indicate a collapse of law. It indicates a collapse of the machinery for the enforcement of law. Law has its source in the heart of the community. Lynch law is justified—if capital punishment is justified at all—in two cases. First, when there is no law statutory, and, second, when the law cannot be enforced. The fact that we have 7,000 murders and 100 legal executions in a year indicates that our legal machinery of enforcing laws against homicides is a total failure. It indicates that there is a call for a radical and sweeping reform of our laws and the methods of  legal procedure in such cases. It must be remembered by those who philosophize from the Northern point of view that the crime of rape in the South, as well as burglary, is classed among the capital offenses. The great number of negroes who are lynched are lynched for this first awful offence, which, in my opinion, forfeits the life of the criminal ten times over as compared with homicide. Such as the sentiment universal of the South.

The question of lynching, let me repeat, is not a question of color, but of crime, and the collapse of legal procedure.


The more things change, the more they stay the same. Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November 18, 1898: John Smartt

Today we read about a lynching by whitecaps in Tennessee through the pages of The Times (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) dated November 20, 1898:


A Tennessee Band Shot Down an Inoffensive Colored Man.

Nashville, November 19.—John Smartt, a well-disposed colored citizen, living at Chapeltown, one and a half miles from Smartt's Station, in Warren county, Tenn., was shot and killed by whitecaps last night. The whitecaps had served notice upon Mack Smartt, son of the old man.

At a late hour twenty-three men visited his house, Mack was ordered to come out, but refused, whereupon coal oil was poured on the side of the house, but not ignited. A torch was lighted and placed near the house, and old man Smartt, thinking the house was on fire, rushed out into the yard, where he was shot and died instantly. The whitecaps rode away immediately after the killing.

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

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.