Sunday, January 25, 2015

January 25, 1886: Clement Simpson

The Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) dated: January 25, 1886:


Clement Simpson Lynched at Henderson, Ky., for Killing Mrs. Graves.

He Says "The Old Woman Would Not Pray to God," So He Killed Her.

A Mob Takes Him from Jail Early This Morning and Ushers Him Into Eternity.

EVANSVILLE, Ind., Jan. 25.—3:30 a. m.—[Special.]—About 9 o'clock last night a plan was perfected to take the negro Simpson from the Henderson, Ky., jail and hang him. nothing was seen or heard that would indicate trouble until a few minutes after midnight.

Fully 100 determined men went to the jail and demanded the keys, which were refused, when the doors were battered down.

Two of the men took the prisoner between them, and the balance formed on either side and also in front and behind. The negro was walked to a spot about a mile from the jail, where he was strung up and his body left hanging.

The following, received last night before the lynching, will show Simpson's crime:

EVANSVILLE, Ind., Jan. 24.—[Special.]—The citizens of Henderson were thrown into an intense state of excitement this morning by news being received that a white woman, residing in the county about two miles from town, had been brutally murdered by a negro. Officers Hicks and Kohl were detailed to go to the scene of the tragedy. The officers proceeded out on the Corydon road to a hamlet known as White Bridge. Here their attention was attracted by a large crowd about a cottage, a short distance off from the road. On reaching the house they saw the form of a woman about 65 years of age lying on the front porch with her head beaten into a jelly and with her brains oozing out of the ghastly wounds. Mr. Graves, a son of the murdered woman, made the following statement to the officers:

"About 2 o'clock this morning my mother, my two sisters, and myself were awakened by a loud rapping at the door, and in answer to the question, 'Who is that?' a negro, whom my sisters afterwards recognized as Clement Simpson, a mulatto about 26 years of age, answered, 'Open the door and pray.' I replied, 'You had better go away.' He continued knocking, saying he was going to come in. I then arose, put on my clothes, and started for assistance, and when I returned I found my mother lying on the floor with her brains beaten out and the negro gone. My sisters say he broke the door in shortly after I left for help and struck my mother on the head with a heavy club, and followed it up by several other blows. After being satisfied that his victim was dead he left the house, but not before he had compelled my sisters to kneel and pray. He did not offer to injure my sisters.'

The officers after hearing the statement of Mr. Graves, left the house to look after the murderer, whom they found in a shanty about a mile from the scene of the murder. On seeing the officers approaching the murderer took up a hatchet and started to attack them, when Officer Kohl drew his revolver and told him to drop his hatchet or he would put a bullet through his heart. Upon this threat the negro dropped his weapon and gave himself up. On the way to Henderson the prisoner was asked why he killed Mrs. Graves, to which he replied that the old woman would not pray and that God had told him to kill her, and the reason that he did not murder the young women was because they prayed. He informed the officers that he was crazy on the subject of religion. Arrived at the jail the handcuffs were removed, and while being searched he attacked the jailer, but was promptly subdued and placed in a cell. 

The murderer is nearly white and though short in stature is heavily built and very muscular. He has resided in the neighborhood but a short time and is comparatively a stranger to persons living in the vicinity of the murder. 

Mrs. Graves, the murdered woman, is a widow, and has resided in that neighborhood for a number of years with her son and two daughters, all of whom are most estimable people. The officers, after arresting Simpson, started for the jail in a roundabout way, taking the most obscure roads for fear they would not reach their destination. After learning that the murderer was behind the bars the excitement greatly increased, and tonight the prospects are that Judge Lynch will dispose of Simpson. 

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

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