Thursday, January 15, 2015

January 15, 1901: Frederick Alexander

Today we'll start with a hint at what follows through an article in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, N. Y.) dated January 13, 1901:


He Is in Leavenworth Jail for Assaulting a Woman.

Leavenworth, Kan., January 12—Miss Eva Roth was assaulted to-night by Frederick Alexander, a negro. Alexander was arrested and a mob is trying to get him out of jail. The town is wildly excited.

The same man was suspected of the Pearl Forbes murder.

We follow with the earliest article I could find about the lynching. It comes to us by way of the Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, Virginia) dated January 16, 1901:


Frederick Alexander, a negro, who, it is charged, attempted to assault Miss Eva Roth at Leavenworth, Kan., last Saturday evening, and who was also accused of having assaulted and murdered Miss Pearl Forbes on the night of November 6, was burned at the stake there yesterday afternoon. The fire was kindled by John Forbes, father of the girl whose dead body was found two months ago. The burning took place in a little ravine near a well traveled street, the stake being set on the spot where the body was found. Eight thousand persons witnessed the burning, many of them being women and children, as well as business men, whose offices and stores were closed so that they could see what they believed to be a just retribution for the crime. He wrs [sic] taken from the jail and paraded through the city at the head of a procession. The man, after being chained to the stake and his clothing saturated with oil, swore his innocence to the father. Crowds of people gloated over the horrible spectacle and grabbed relics. Gov. Stanley is indignant over the lynching. He says it will result in the establishment of the death penalty in Kansas. The Governor condemns Sheriff Everhardt, of Leavenworth, in unmeasured terms. He said the sheriff should be forced to make suitable retribution, if such a thing is possible.

Our next article is the beginning of the aftermath and we find it in The New York Times (New York, N. Y.) dated January 20, 1901:


Seattle Negroes Offer $500 for Conviction of Each Man Implicated.

SEATTLE, Washington, Jan. 19.—The Seattle Branch of the International Council of the World, an organization of colored citizens, has decided to offer a reward of $500 for the apprehension and conviction of each and every person implicated in the death at the stake of Frederick Alexander at Leavenworth, Kan., on Thursday night.

Copies of the resolutions passed at the meeting will be forwarded to the Governor of Kansas, the Sheriff of Leavenworth County, and the Chief of Police of Leavenworth. The other councils throughout the country are asked to co-operate in the work.

I found two exact copies of this next article. I state that because of the way the article ends. I looked to find one with a different ending, but I failed. This copy comes from The Daily Notes (Canonsburg, Pennsylvania) dated January 22, 1901:


Gov. Stanley, of Kansas, Says it Would Be Useless to Offer it.

Governor Stanley, of Kansas, says he will not offer a reward for the arrest of anyone concerned in the burning of Frederick Alexander, the negro, at the stake in Leavenworth. "It would be of absolutely no use to issue the offer," said the governor. "If the guilty persons were arrested they would necessarily have to undergo the first trial in Leavenworth county, and on account of the present condition of public sentiment there it would be useless to attempt to prosecute anybody there for the crime."

A joint resolution has been passed by the Legislature condemning the Leavenworth lynching. It favors rigid investigation and demands that the per-

There the article ends. The same paper did have some other details about the lynching and I will include them in the following:


. . . The negro was taken from his cell at the State penitentiary Tuesday afternoon and taken to the Leavenworth jail, where he was locked in a cell. Hardly had the task been completed when the mob reached the jail and demanded the prisoner. The crowd first attempted to gain admission to the jail by peaceful means, but Sheriff Everhardy [sic] refused to grant their demands. In a trice heavy sledge hammers and cold chisels were brought into action and after a few minutes work the doors were forced open, and with an exultant cry the infuriated mob espied the negro crouching in his cell.

In a short time the doomed man was in the jail yard, surrounded by an immense throng, which clamored for revenge. Still protesting his innocence, Alexander was taken to the scene of the murder of Pearl Forbes. The first thing done was to plant a railroad iron upright in the mud. This was made fast to cross irons firmly bound to the upright iron with wire. Around the improvised stake wood and boards were piled. To this the man was dragged and chained in a standing position to the upright railroad iron. Chains and irons were wrapped about him, and, with his hands still shackled, he was made fast to the post. Coal oil was then poured over him.

Coal oil was applied for the second time, and while it was being done Alexander called to acquaintances in the crowd, and said goodby [sic] to them.

. . . Again Alexander was asked to make a confession, but he replied that he had nothing to say. In five minutes the negro was hanging limp and lifeless by the chains that bound him. . .

I have two more articles both published on the same day. The first article comes from The Indianapolis News (Indianapolis, Indiana) dated April 15, 1901:

LEAVENWORTH, Kas.—Alfred Alexander, father of Frederick Alexander, the negro who was burned at the stake for the alleged assault and murder of Miss Carrie Forbes and for the assault of Miss Roth, has filed information with the county attorney against a number of those participating in the burning, and asks for a warrant for their arrest on the charge of murder.

The second article comes from the Lawrence Daily World  (Lawrence, Kansas):


Warrants Demanded for the Arrest of Those Concerned in the Burning at the Stake of a Negro at Leavenworth.

Leavenworth, Kan., April 15.—John Alexander and about a dozen others, relatives and friends of Frederick Alexander, the negro burned at the stake in Leavenworth in January, appeared before the county attorney, Harry E. Michael, Saturday and demanded that warrants be issued charging William G. Forbes and others with murder. Mr. Michael secured a notary and stenographer and began questioning the witnesses.

Acting under the provisions of the new state law giving county attorneys the right to question witnesses before instituting proceedings, Mr. Michael brought the witnesses against the mob leaders into his office one at a time. It is reported that a number of witnesses swore that they saw William G. Forbes apply the match to the wood pile around the negro. The examination of all the witnesses was not concluded Saturday evening and it will be resumed today. No warrant will be issued for any of the alleged mob leaders until the preliminary examination of all the witnesses for the state is completed.

That is the last I could find about the incident. It seems to be the norm for things to lead toward prosecution and then nothing. Maybe the newspapers lost interest, but more than likely only a subterfuge of prosecution is all that happened. Thank you for joining me and as always, i hope I leave you with something to ponder.

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