Saturday, October 17, 2015

October 17, 1942: Howard Wash

Seventy-three years ago today there was a lynching in Mississippi. We learn about this lynching through the pages The Gazette and Daily (York, Pennsylvania) dated October 19, 1942:


Third Negro Lynched In Miss.

Sentenced To Life For Murder, Convict Is Seized By Mob. State Guard And Police Seek Mob Members. Five Other Negroes In Laurel Jail Taken To Jackson

(By The Associated Press)

Laurel, Miss., Oct. 18.—Howard Wash, a Negro sentenced to life imprisonment yesterday for the murder of Clint Welborn, a dairyman, was taken from jail yesterday and yesterday and lynched by a large mob of men.

Two companies of Mississippi State Guards from Jackson arrived early today to patrol the jail and vicinity. Five other Negroes, one accused of attacking a white woman and four held on murder charges, were taken to Jackson for safekeeping.

Today's was the third lynching in Mississippi this week. Two 14-year-old Negro boys were hanged by a mob near Shubuta Monday after they pleaded guilty to attacking a 13-year-old white girl.

Wash's body was found after daylight hanging from a small creek bridge near the home of the slain man. Wash had been employed by Welborn. Welborn was killed May 18.

Sheriff J. Press Reddoch estimated the mob at 100 men. He said the men overpowered him and three deputies, ignoring their pleas to let the law take its course.

In addition to the State Guard, Governor Paul Johnson sent 10 members of the State police and a special investigator here to aid in seeking out mob members. Reports were current that three or more citizens have been arrested.

Circuit Judge F. B. Collins recalled the Jones county Grand Jury to investigate the mob action.


Our next article, found in the Pampa Daily News (Pampa, Texas) dated October 21, 1942, gives a very unusual explanation for the lynching:


Quiz Called For Negro Lynchings

JACKSON, Miss., Oct. 21 (AP)—Governor Paul B. Johnson declared in a statement that "distributing elements . . . aiding the Axis powers" were at work in Mississippi, where three negroes were lynched last week and a fourth is being hunted for shooting a deputy sheriff.

The governor, who has demanded an investigation of the hangings, urged in his statement last night that all citizens co-operate to "Blast from our borders the disturbing influences and elements," and called on Mississippians of both races for "unity, sober thinking, sound judgement and patriotism."

He added that "there is talk of a negro problem, but the only problem of the negro is to earn a living for himself and family."

A grand jury at Laurel, Miss., called into special session to investigate the lynching of Howard Wash, negro, was discharged by the judge yesterday after making a final report which did not mention the lynching. Wash had been convicted of killing his employer, Clint Welborn, a farmer, last May 8 and was facing a life sentence.

Two 14-year-old Negroes were lynched near Meridian, Miss., last week after they pleaded guilty of attempted rape of a 13-year-old white girl.


The best I could find about the "Axis powers" was a call for the poll taxes to be removed in some southern states. I am not sure what quiz they are alluding to in the headline. If you are interested in the lynching of the two boys, you can read about it here. Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder. 

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