Saturday, November 21, 2015

October 5, 1901: Five Negroes

Today we learn about a Texas lynching from an unusual article found in The Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, Montana) dated October 13, 1901:

Spreading the Gospel of Lynching

When a city of the dignity, polish and smug respectability of Helena goes a-lynching, it sets an example which communities of inferior culture are quick to imitate with such variations, revisions and extensions as local exigencies may suggest. No sooner was the news of Helena's recent fantasia on a telegraph pole carried to the four quarters of the United States than the lynching spirit instantly revived wherever it happened to be lying dormant, and clamored furiously for exercise. It was another illustration of the involuntary hypotism of the lower intelligence by the higher.

Especially peculiar were the effects of Helena's lullaby on the inhabitants of Harrison County, Texas. Lynching has always flourished in Harrison county, and this year had already witnessed an average crop of hanged negroes. But the moment Harrison county read of the Helena masterpiece its thirst for lynching became an uncontrollable passion and the entire white population began walking up and down the earth, seeking raw material. It so happened that the negroes were on their good behavior. They hadn't committed a heinous crime in days. Whether or not the Helena lynching had exercised upon them a powerful deterrent influence, or whether  their streak of morality was a mere coincidence, certain it is that they were conducting themselves with exasperating exemplariness; and the white men's committee on supplies reluctantly reported that there were none in sight.

The report of the committee was rejected as a self-evident absurdity. Supplies? The land was flowing with them. Casus lynchi? There was an abundance of it on every hand. The negroes, many of them, had not harvested the cotton crop. They had taken up land on shares, and the planters being unable to get their part of the yield through the laziness of the renters were justified in lynching at least a portion of them without further ado.

Five of the laziest blacks in the county having been selected for the purpose, the exercises passed off pleasantly and without a single hitch except the few necessary to the ropes.

The extension of lynching as a punishment for every crime, misdemeanor and conceivable moral transgression that a negro may commit offers a ready solution to the race problem. It also, from a lyncher's reasoning, possesses the merit of being eminently and incontrovertibly logical.

The Helena lynching referred to was the October 2, 1901 lynching of James Edward Brady for the assault of 5 year old Ida Pugsley.  

The Suburban Citizen (Washington, D. C.) dated October 5, 1901 features an article with more information on the lynching:


Revenge for the Murder of Texas Planter—Race War On.

Dallas, Tex. (Special).—The details are just beginning to reach Dallas of a race war in Harrison county, starting near Hallville, and spreading in all directions, in which five negroes have been lynched since Saturday.

The trouble is said to have started because negroes who had rented cotton lands from rich planters refused to harvest their crops or permit the planters to get their share of the yield.

A posse of white men, it is said, went to the house of a negro, Thomas Walker, on the plantation of Julian Atwood. Walker fired on the white men, killing Atwood.

During the early part of the chase that followed one negro was caught and hanged and two more were hanged on Sunday in the timber near the Gregg county line, George Muckleroy was taken out at night, near Marshall, and whipped to death.

Taking it for granted that Thomas Walker has been lynched, the number of negroes killed is five, and Julian Atwood, the white man, makes the sixth victim of the tragedy.

All that has happened has taken place in a district not covered by telegraph or telephone, and such details as have come to hand are from responsible parties at Long View and Marshall. The people of the counties of Harrison and Gregg, both whites and blacks, are reported to be in a frenzy of excitement, and more lynchings are likely to occur.

The white men declare the black renters have not only refused to gather their crops on shares, but have swindled them out of money loaned during the season with which to purchase supplies.

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

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