Wednesday, March 25, 2015

March 25, 1902: W. H. Wallace

Today we learn about a lynching of a railroad porter in The Wichita Daily Eagle (Wichita, Kansas) dated March 26, 1902:

HOWLING MOB OF 4,000 CITIZENS

Take Negro Porter From a Sheriff and Lynch Him.

OUTRAGED AN OLD LADY

He Denied Guilt But His Victim Identified Him.

HIS BODY WAS RIDDLED

Peace Party Tried in Vain to Save His Life.

Pueblo, Colo., March 25.—A special to the Chieftain, from La Junta, says:

W. H. Wallace, a negro sleeping car porter, was lynched at 8 o'clock tonight in a corner of the court house square, being hung to an electric light pole by a howling mob of 4,000 people who had been wildly hunting for him all day. After the hanging the body of the negro was riddled with bullets. Wallace had been kept out of town all day by Sheriff Farr, in an attempt to save him from the mob. The prisoner made no resistance to the lynching, and died protesting his innocence.

La Junta, Colo., March 25.—Mrs. Henrietta Miller, a resident of Los Angeles, California, 76 years of age, was assaulted by a negro in the railroad yards here early this morning, and is suffering severely from the injuries received and the shock to her nerves. She asked a Pullman porter to show her to the car which she should take. He started through the railroad yards with her and struck her on the head, she says, with his fist, rendering her insensible. She was then criminally assaulted and left unconscious in the yards. When she regained her senses she dragged herself to the depot and reported the circumstances. The Chicago train had not yet left the depot, and W. H. Wallace, a Pullman porter, was immediately arrested. He had just been washing his clothing. Bloodhounds were put on the trail made in the yard by the man who accompanied Mrs. Miller and they followed it to the car in which Wallace was found. Threats of lynching are uttered by many persons in the crowd surrounding the hotel where Wallace is being held by the officers.

Fearing a lynching, Sheriff Farr decided to take the prisoner to Pueblo. When his intention was made known, however, the railroad employes [sic] declared that he could not travel by rail, as they would refuse to operate the train out of La Junta with Wallace on board. The sheriff placed his prisoner in a carriage and started for Sugar City, on the Missouri Pacific, twenty miles north. At that place he was too late to catch the train for Pueblo, and then decided to drive through. Meantime an armed party had left La Junta to overtake the sheriff and prisoner. The carriage was finally overtaken at Patterson Hollow, midway between Rock Ford and Manzalona. Sheriff Farr made no resistance and Wallace did not ask for mercy. The carriage was turned back toward La Junta. Passing through Rocky Ford the mob was joined by 300 men of that town. La Junta was reached about 7 o'clock, where thousands of men, women and children, many from the surrounding country, awaited them. A peace element endeavored to stop the proposed lynching and a committee consisting of Robert Patterson, banker; Dr. Fleming, Charles Dearborne, county treasurer, and other prominent citizens, asked the privilege of trying to get from Wallace a confession. This was granted, and the negro was taken into the court house. After half an hour or so the word went out that the court house doors were locked, and that the committee would try to prevent a lynching. Immediately pandemonium reigned. Stones were hurled at the building until every window was broken. Then, with a telegraph pole for a battering ram, the crowd broke in the doors and Wallace was taken out. Mayor Fred A. Sabin made a speech to the crowd counselling them to lat the law take its course. He was listened to, but as soon as he finished the crowd moved down the street, dragging the negro by a rope.

A boy was sent up a telegraph pole with a rope. It was thrown over the crossbar and the end dropped into the crowd. A hundred hands grasped it and in an instant the negro was in the air. Hardly had the boy climbed down out of danger when scores of pistols were drawn, and before the negro's body reached the top of the pole it was riddled with bullets and the man was dead.

At a late hour tonight the body had not been taken down. The coroner lives at Rocky Ford.

Sheriff Farr said tonight that Wallace steadfastly maintained his innocence, but the police declare that when they arrested him in his car there was blood and gray hairs on his clothing and other evidences which satisfied them that he was the guilty man.

Wallace lived with his wife at 2157 Lawrence street, Denver. They have no children. He is said to have come here from Sedalia, Mo., and had been employed by the railroad company for several years.

The Denver police declare that he has no police record so far as they know.


A little more background on Wallace comes to us through the Albuquerque Citizen (Albuquerque, N. M.) dated April 2, 1902:

Wallace Was Dangerous Man.

Evidence in correspondence, received at La Junta from Missouri, makes it positive that W. H. Wallace, who was lynched last week, entered a plea of guilty for assault and was sentenced to two years' imprisonment in the penitentiary at Jefferson City, Mo., January 9, 1899. He had been arrested twice before that on similar charges.

On the evening of January 19 last Wallace came to the Santa Fe hospital at La Junta and asked to have his face dressed, stating that he had fallen from the train while coming into La Junta and cut his face severely. Upon looking up the date it was found that a house had been broken into that night and that the burglar had been shot at. The discharge being so close to him and coming through a window, it is thought the cut on his face came from flying glass. His wounds were dressed at the hospital.


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

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