Monday, May 11, 2015

May 11, 1900: William Lee

Today we learn about a lynching in West Virginia through the pages of the Pittsburgh Daily Post (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) dated May 12, 1900:



Judge Tried to Argue With the Lynchers, but They Got the Keys of the Jail and Wreaked Their Vengeance on the Prisoner—Over 500 bullet holes in the Body. Telegraph Operator's Fights With the Criminal. 

Special to The Pittsburgh Post.

HINTON, W. Va., May 11.—William Lee was lynched to-night at 11:15 o'clock by a masked mob of over 100 men. He is the negro who attempted an assault on Mrs. H. H. Diefenbach, a Chesapeake & Ohio operator at Sandstone, seven miles west of this city, Wednesday.

The mob marched to the jail, where they were met by Judge McWhorter, who is holding court here, and who addressed them, asking them to let the negro be tried by law. They then demanded the keys from the jailer, and in less than 10 minutes Lee was swinging in the air with 500 bullet holes through his body.

He was 29 years old and his home was at Reedsville, N. C.

Mrs. Diefenbach was attacked early yesterday morning and escaped after a terrible fight. Her assailant was tracked with bloodhounds. She ordinarily worked only in day time, but unusual movements of trains made it necessary for her to remain on duty night. About 2 o'clock she left the tower to give a signal to a passenger train. As the train passed she turned to go back to the box, when she saw a dusky figure coming toward her. She ran, and was just entering the door, when the man seized her by the throat. She struggled desperately, and though her clothing was almost torn from her body, and her face terribly scratched, she succeeded in fighting him off until a freight train, whistling for the signal, frightened the negro away.

The trainmen came to the rescue, and Mrs. Diefenbach was brought to Hinton on an engine, and placed in the railroad hospital. She gave Sheriff Wood a good description of her assailant.

Sheriff George, Chief of Police   Early [sic] and a posse scoured the country about the falls for the assailant. A telegram was sent to Montgomery to send that town's pack of bloodhounds. Lee was soon taken and there have been threats of lynching ever since.

Hinton is a town of about 3,000 people, the county seat of Summers county.

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

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