Tuesday, April 21, 2015

April 21, 1895: John Rattler, Zeb Calley, Martha Greene, Alice Green and Mary Deane

Today we learn about an Alabama lynching from the pages of The Sedalia Democrat (Sedalia, Missouri) dated April 22, 1895:


Three Women and Two Men Hanged By a Mob.


A Popular Young White Man Murdered and His Body Burned—The Crime Confessed.

GREENVILLE, Ala, April 22.—Two men and three women were lynched near here early yesterday morning. The five were arrested Saturday near Butler Springs, charged with the murder of Watts Murphy, a splendid young man of prominence, and the nephew of ex Governor Tom Watts.

They were John Rattler, Zeb Calley, Martha Greene, Alice Greene and Mary Deane. Another negro man, who was also implicated, made his escape.

The murder of young Murphy was most brutal. After he had been killed his body was placed in a brush heap and cremated. One of the negroes implicated confessed, and an examination of the place revealed the teeth, liver and heart, which, the reports say, for some unknown reason, failed to burn.

The confession was made by Rattler, who implicated the others. Butler Springs is sixteen miles from here. A posse of men, who had charge of the five prisoners, left there about 11 o'clock Saturday night to bring them to jail here for safekeeping. The route was a lonely one, and the trip was necessarily slow.

At about 3 o'clock yesterday morning at a lonely part of the road the party was suddenly surrounded by armed men who seemed to spring from both sides of the road. The posse was covered with Winchesters, and under pain of instant death were halted. Reports say that there were about 100 men in the attacking party, all heavily armed and all cool and brave.

They made short work of it. Taking the five negroes, they tied their hands and then took them one at a time and hanged them to limbs of trees that lined the road. The five bodies were found hanging there yesterday by churchgoers.

The affair has created a great deal of excitement here, but it is claimed there was no doubt whatever of the guilt of all of the victims of lynch law.

The crime for which these five people were lynched was an exceedingly brutal one and there is no disguising the fact that a majority of the people of the county believe that the fate the negroes met was a deserved one.

The is considerable mystery as to the cause of the murder of Watts Murphy; in fact, no two stories from the scene agree. The story is that the negro who made his escape concocted the plot and that he planned the murder as revenge for an imaginary wrong of a trivial nature. The confession which implicated the other men and women was full and explicit.

It was reported here last night that the set of lynchers was made up of the most prominent farmers and merchants, resident near the scene of the murder, but it is believed this is an exaggerated statement of the situation. There is little doubt, however, but the prominent citizens condone the affair.

There is also some talk about the negroes being highly wrought up over the affair. They were especially indignant over the hanging of the woman [sic]. Whether the women had a hand in the actual killing or were only in the plot as the negroes now claim, is not definitely known. There may, however, be trouble for them.  

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

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