Saturday, October 10, 2015

October 31, 1901: Silas Esters

Today we learn about a Kentucky lynching through the pages of The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) dated November 1, 1901:


Silas Esters Was Charged with Forcing a Boy To Commit Crime.


Broke for Liberty but Was Riddled. Noose Was Then Placed About Neck and Body Swung to Topmost Steps.

Hodgenville, Ky., October 31.—A mob of fifty or seventy-five citizens came down upon this little town about 2 o'clock this morning and took from the jail Silas Esters, a negro charged with forcing Granville Ward, a 15-year-old boy of Near Upton, to commit a crime, and strung him to the court house steps.

So quietly and systematically did the mob go about its work that the citizens of the town were in ignorance of the existence of the mob until the negro was in its clutches.

The keys of the jail were surrendered to the lynching party on demand of the leaders. The cell in which the negro was confined was entered and the noose was adjusted about his neck.

He was dragged down the jail stairs and out into the street. He managed to slip the noose from his neck and made a break for liberty. the mob made for the negro, howling and firing at him with guns and pistols, and he fell when about 100 yards from the jail house, riddled with bullets.

The noose was again placed about the negro's neck and he was dragged to the court house and swung to the topmost steps.

The mob was formed in the neighborhood of the crime. When the work of lynching the negro had been accomplished, the members of the mob quietly dispersed and went to their homes.

The following article with information prior to the lynching can be found in The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) dated October 29, 1901:


In Pursuit of Negro in Larue County.



Hodgenville, Ky., Oct. 28.—[Special.]—An armed posse of citizens of the southwestern portion of Larue county is in pursuit of Silas Estees, [sic] a negro section hand on the Louisville and Nashville railroad, who is accused of committing a nameless crime this afternoon near Upton, a little town on the Hardin county line, a few miles from the Hart county boundary.

The negro's victim was Granville Ward, the twelve-year-old son of Thomas Ward, one of the most prominent farmers in the county, and the crime was committed in the woods near Upton while the child was returning from school.

When the boy escaped from the negro he hurried home and told his parents what had occurred, and in a short time the news had spread to the citizens of the neighborhood and the surrounding country. it was the work of but a few moments to organize an armed posse and a band of determined men was soon in pursuit of Esters, who fled the moment he permitted the boy to go. The people of the vicinity are thoroughly aroused.

The October 30, 1901 edition of the same paper covers the capture of Esters:


Larue County Negro Taken to Hodgenville Jail.



Hodgenville, Ky., Oct. 29.—[Special.]Silas Esters, the negro who is charged with an unnamable [sic] crime, committed near Upton yesterday, was brought to this city this afternoon under a heavy guard and lodged in jail. The negro was captured early this morning near Upton after a search lasting all night. Threats of lynching the negro, when he was caught, compelled a large body of citizens to keep guard over him this evening, and he was hurriedly brought here for safe keeping.

Feeling is high against the negro in this neighborhood. esters claims his innocence. He is very much frightened and does not expect to live till morning.

In the same paper dated November 1, 1901 is a  small article about after the lynching:


Negro Who Was Lynched Will be Buried In Bonnieville.

Hodgenville, Ky., Oct. 31.—[Special.]—The body of Silas Esters, the negro who was lynched by a mob in this city early this morning, was cut down to-day after it had been viewed by a large number of citizens, and was taken to Bonnieville, where it will be buried. There was no excitement in the city to-day.

The officers of the court are attempting to ascertain the identity of the guilty persons.

One article gives Esters age as nineteen and another claims he committed an ugly deed. The actual crime is never stated, but I can't help but think that the crime was rape. Even though I am not featuring lynched for rape this year, I still chose to include this lynching. First, the reason given for lynchings were to protect women and girls from rape, and second, rape is only conjecture. Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.

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