Sunday, September 13, 2015
May, 1911: J. W. King and three other men
Today we learn about an unusual lynching in Kentucky through the pages of The Washington Herald (Washington, D. C.) dated May 24, 1911:
FOUR PEARL HUNTERS LYNCHED IN KENTUCKY
Motive for Hanging of Men Not Fathomed and Feeling in Vicinity at High Pitch.
Canton, Ky., May 23.—Swinging in the branches of a big tree in a deserted portion of Letcher County the bodies of four pearl hunters, who, it is said, have found many valuable pearls within the past week, were found to-day by a passer-by. It is believed by the Letcher County authorities that the men were lynched by thieves and their bodies swung from the tree. One of the bodies was identified by Dr. F. H. Lewis as that of J. W. King, a pearl hunter, who found a pearl a few days ago valued at $1,000. The other three were not identified.
The motive of the hanging has not been fathomed, and feeling is at a high pitch. The other three men are said to be from Oregon, who, attracted by the large finds along the Kentucky River at this point, came here to seek pearls.
The bodies had been hanging in the open air for probably a day or two. No clothing or anything about the four men was to be f[o]und which would lead to their identification.
There has been no trace of the guilty parties found. There has been no robberies in Letcher County in many months, and there were no strangers in the neighborhood the crime is clouded in mystery. Tales of rich finds have caused many people to come here in search of pearls, and if the men were robbed there was no trace left by the guilty parties. The bodies were brought to Campton, and an autopsy will be held by the coroner to-morrow.
Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.