Friday, March 27, 2015
March 27, 1900: Will Edwards (Wing Smith)
March of 1900 seemed to be a popular time for lynching. We learn today from The Public Ledger (Maysville, Kentucky) dated March 28, 1900 about a lynching in Mississippi:
Will Edwards, Alias "Wing" Smith, Was Hanged By a Mob Near Greenville, Miss.
Greenville, Miss., March 28.—The Negro, Will Edwards, alias "Wing" Smith, who murdered Edward B. Johnson at Dulaney's levee camp last Thursday, was hanged by a mob to a Yazoo & Mississippi Valley railroad bridge between Greenville and Leland, early Tuesday morning. Deputy Sheriff Chilton came after the prisoner to take him to Issaquena county for trial. He boarded the train here to go by way of Leland.
When the train stopped at Deer Creek bridge a crowd of 150 men took possession of it, knocked Sheriff Chilton down and threw a blanket over his head. Then they took his prisoner to the bridge, tied a rope around his neck, fastened the end to the bridge and pushed him off. After riddling the Negro's body with bullets the crowd dispersed.
Our article of interest is actually another article I found for yesterday's lynching. I didn't think to check the name Lewis until I found this article while searching for an article for today's lynching. The article comes to us through the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) dated March 28, 1900:
LYNCHED FOR CRIME.
VICTIM OF THE MOB DECLARES IF HE DID IT HE WAS DRUNK.
Lewis Harris, Colored, Was Taken From the Belair, Md., Jail After a Struggle, Hanged Twice and Shot. Left Hanging Till Morning.
BELAIR, MD., March 27.—Lewis Harris, the negro who was arrested here day before yesterday, charged with assault upon Miss Anne McIlvaine, was taken from the jail last night and lynched after a brief struggle between the sheriff and the mob, in which two men were slightly wounded, as reported this morning. It had been expected that an attempt would be made to hang Harris yesterday, when he was to be brought up for a hearing, but this was postponed until today, and everything seemed so quiet last night that the suspicions of the sheriff were allayed. He continued, however, to keep a close watch.
Shortly before midnight it was announced that a mob was on its way from Aberdeen, a neighboring village, and a general movement toward the jail took place. About 20 men soon appeared, some of whom were masked, and an attack upon the jail began. A fusilade [sic] of shots was exchanged between the sheriff and his deputies on the one hand, and the mob on the other, resulting in the wounding of Robert L. Bull, of this place, and one of the crowd from Aberdeen, whose name could not be learned.
Bull was shot in the shoulder and the other man in the hand, neither wound being serious.
The jail door was finally forced, and Harris was taken out. While in the hands of the mob he exclaimed: "If I did it, I was drunk and did not know what I was about. I have no recollection of it."
The mob hustled him to a neighboring dooryard, in which stood a large poplar tree, and placing a noose around his neck, flung the other end of the rope over a limb. As he was hoisted from the ground, the limb upon which the unfortunate wretch was suspended snapped short and Harris fell to the ground. He was lifted up again, moaning and groaning, and quickly hanged a second time, this time effectively. Several shots were fired into the body, the loose end of the rope was tied to a gatepost, a the corpse left hanging until this morning, when it was taken down.
Miss McIlvaine, Harris' victim, is an unmarried woman, about 54 years of age, who lives alone near the railroad station. She was called to her door at midnight Saturday, and attacked by a negro whom she afterward identified as Harris. The indignation aroused by the crime was more intense because of the fact that it is the second of the kind within a month, William Black, a negro, being now confined in the Baltimore jail, awaiting trial for assault upon Miss Jessie Bradford, a young woman residing in Aberdeen, from which place last night's mob is said to have come.
It is asserted that Miss McIlvaine, Harris' victim, was with the mob when the jail was attacked last night, but this cannot be confirmed, and it is certain that she was not present at the hanging.
I am willing to suggest that Lewis Harris was the correct name and spelling since I found over 50 articles about the lynching. I usually am very good about trying multiple spellings, but for some reason it slipped my mind yesterday. Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.