Thursday, September 10, 2015
October 26, 1906: "Slab" Pitt
Join me in learning about a Texas lynching found in the October 28, 1906 edition of The Sun (New York, N. Y.):
COWBOYS LYNCH A NEGRO.
Got Into Part of Texas Reserved for Whites and Lived With White Woman.
TOYAH, Tex., Oct. 27.—Western Texas had its first lynching last evening when a mob of cowboys gathered in town and stretched up Slab Pitt to the crossarm of a telegraph pole.
The offence of which Pitt was guilty was living with a white woman.
Negroes are barred from this town and a surrounding radius of 100 miles. When the town was located following the building of the Texas and Pacific Railroad many years ago the declaration went forth that it was to be a white man's country.
Since then negroes have been under the ban. Pitt was treated very leniently, all things considered, the cowboys say.
When Pitt crossed the New Mexico line and located at Toyah a few days ago he invited trouble. The people of this section would have let him off easy, however, if he had heeded the warning to leave town. Instead he sent for a white woman with whom he had been living in New Mexico.
This settled Slab Pitt's fate. Word was sent around among the cowboys of the violation of social usages and every cowboy in the county wanted to be the leader of the mob.
The hour for the lynching was given out and the town began to fill up with cowboys. They came galloping in from all directions and awakened the cho-es with their yells and pistols.
On the pommel of each saddle was a lariat, so there was no lack of means for hanging the negro.
A leader was selected and the cavalcade of cowboys rode over to the hut occupied by Pitt and the white woman. The negro was called out and told that his time had come to die, and that the cowboys were there to put the finishing touches on him in the most approved style.
Pitt begged hard for his life. He promised to leave town at once if his life was spared. The mob was determined and his pleadings fell upon unheeding ears. The white woman also made a tearful plea, but it availed nothing.
At a signal one of the cowboys circled his lariat around his head and dropped the noose over Pitt's neck. The negro was dragged by the rope to the nearest telegraph pole, where he was strung up without further ceremony.
A purse was then made up for the white woman and she was ordered to leave town on the first train. She went.
In the October 29, 1906 edition of The El Paso Herald (El Paso, Texas) is found an article concerning Roswell, N. M. which has a small paragraph about "Slab" Pitts:
RAISING COTTON NEAR ROSWELL
Bale Is Auctioned Off and Brings $50—Carrie Nation Lecturing.
Roswell, N. M., Oct. 29.—. . . J. I. "Slab" Pitts, the negro killed at Toyah by a number of cowboys for consorting with a white woman, Eva Ruff, was from Roswell, and was run out of this town and of Pecos, Texas.
Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.