Wednesday, April 29, 2015

April 29, 1897: Fayette Rhone,Will Gates, Lewis Thomas, Aaron Thomas, Jim Thomas, Benny Thomas and Will Williams

Today we learn about a Texas lynching through the pages of The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) dated May 1, 1897:


Horrible Triple Murder Is Followed by Wholesale Vengeance,


Quick Work by Angered Men To Pay for a Desperate Deed,


Six Bodies Were Found Dangling at Hemp's End in the Morning Breeze—Sunnyside, Texas, Was the Scene of the Activity.

Houston, Tex., April 30.—For the murder of an old man, a child and a woman, the assaulting of two girls, the burning of the home of the victims, two of the bodies being consumed in the flames, six young negroes were last night hanged by an infuriated mob of negroes, at Sunnyside, Walter county.

The list of the lynched follows:

WILL GATES, aged 35.
LOUIS THOMAS, aged 20.
AARON THOMAS, aged 13.
JIM THOMAS, aged 14.

Last fall a German from Brenham was robbed of $65. Suspicion pointed to the four Thomas boys and they confessed to having committed the theft, saying they had given $30 of the money to Henry Daniels.

Daniels spent the money and on Sunday evening last, the four Thomas boys, according to their confession, decided to either collect their $30 or kill Daniels.

They carried out the latter part of the programme. Henry Daniels, an old negro, lived there in a little hut with his step-daughter, Marie, and a seven year old child. Wednesday night the house was broken open. Marie Daniels and the child were killed and old man Daniels clubbed to death while trying to protect those in his charge.

Then old man Daniels and his step-daughter were thrown into the house and the child cast into the well. The house was set on fire and the negroes left, thinking that they had covered their inhuman deed from the sight of the world. The fire had not attracted much attention, but when Daniels and his people did not show up, the charred remains of the house was searched.

Search for the Negroes.

The local officers were assisted by the best citizens of the neighborhood. The bloodhounds from Steele's plantation were secured and they were not long in finding the right track.

Before night they went straight into the place where the Thomas boys resided, and one by one they were secured. Fayette Rhone, twenty-one years old; Will Gates, thirty-five years old; Louis Thomas, twenty years old; Aaron Thomas, thirteen years old; Jim Thomas, fourteen years old; and Benny Thomas, fifteen years old, were placed under arrest. The last four are brothers. Later on William Williams was captured.

The bloodhounds worked splendidly; and after the boys were confronted with the evidence, they confessed to committing the crime and laid the killing to Louis, the eldest.

Mob Gets in Its Work.

All seven of the prisoners were under guard and last night about 12 o'clock the guards were overpowered by a strong body of men and the prisoners taken toward the Brazos bottom, north of here. A little later forty or fifty shots were fired and then all was quiet. This morning, dangling from the limbs of a large tree, were found the bodies of six negroes, limp and lifeless.

Hundreds of negroes from all over the country are surging back and forth with the tree as the center of attraction. All of them are still there except Williams, and he is not to be found, but the shots probably explain his absence.

As far as can be learned, the mob was composed of both white and black men, with the colored element largely predominating.

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

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