Wednesday, December 23, 2015

April 17, 1878: Ben Evans, Eph Hall and Mike White

Today we learn about an Alabama lynching through the pages of The Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois) dated April 18, 1878:


Two Negroes and a White Man Lynched at Huntsville, Ala., in Presence of an Immense Crowd.


NASHVILLE, Tenn., April 17.—A special to the American says Ben Evans and Eph Hall (colored), who assassinated George Shoenberger at Huntsville, Ala., last Friday, at the instigation of Mike White, a white man, and White himself, were publicly lynched at that place to-day before an immense assemblage, the jail having been forced. Both negroes confessed the crime, and told White before the execution to see what he had brought them to. White proclaimed his innocence.

A more in depth article comes to us through the pages of the Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, Tennessee) dated April 25, 1978:

The People's Law!

HUNTSVILLE, ALA, April 18.—Lynch law has been rampant in Huntsville. Scarcely anything has been talked of on our streets since Friday last but the dastardly and villainous assassination of George Shoenberger, one of our best citizens, by two negroes, Ben Evans and Eph Hall, instigated by Mike White, a white man of bad and dangerous character, who has been quite a bulldozer in Huntsville for many years. He was a butcher, and the cattle and hogs slaughtered by him for a long time have been furnished to a great extent by the two negroes mentioned. They


and many of the facts connected with the thieving were known to Mr. Shoenberger, who was upon the eve of having them arrested. Hence the murder. White hired the negroes to do the fiendish deed, which was committed at 3 o'clock on Friday morning, by waylaying and shooting Mr. S. as he was starting from his home to market, he also being engaged in the butchering business.

Circumstances immediately led to the detection and arrest of the negroes, who


and told all about it, giving White as the instigator and planner of the dastardly act. White was arrested, and in his confession told so many tales that he at once convicted himself.

The parties were all lodged in jail, and the feeling among the the [sic] citizens has been growing more intense ever since, until to-day, when it culminated in


of them to the same limb.

It was rumored on the street, early this morning, that Judge Lynch had held his court in the country—the northern part of the county, and over across the border in Tennessee, a portion of the country where Mr. Shoenberger had many friends and connections—and that the decision was to hang them.

The people came in from every direction in droves, and by 12 o'clock the streets of Huntsville, especially in the neighborhood of the jail, were literally packed. All was expectation and anxiety and thousands of eyes were turned down the Meridianville road, in momentary expectation of the army known to be coming to


of Judge Lynch. There was much excitement. The sheriff was busy summoning guards to protect the jail, but none could be found willing to take the position. There being some twenty or thirty United States prisoners in the jail, the United States marshal was also busy summoning guards to keep them safe.

At half-past 1 o'clock the cry was raised,


and sure enough they were coming. It reminded one of the days of the late civil war. The cavalry, armed with double-barrel shot guns, came in with perfect order and formed around the jailer. The[re] were hundreds of them. The citizens and the non participating country people, thousands of whom were crowding the streets, fell back and gave place to the armed horseman. A demand was made for the keys, but they could not be found; neither could the sheriff. Being armed with sledge-hammers, crowbars, etc., they


and it was the work of a few minutes to make an entrance into the jailyard, and then into the cells occupied by the trembling murderers. They were at once bound, and carried down the spring branch about half a mile from the jail, the thousands of curious spectators following, and there the three were hung to the same tree and to the same limb.

They were mounted on a wagon, the ropes adjusted, and wagon driven from under them. At the hour of 2:50 p. m. the bodies of the three men were


and their spirits had gone to stand a trial at the second bar where nothing is hid from the eye of the great Judge who presides there.

The negroes reiterated, under the gallows, the same tale they had first told, but Mike White maintained his innocence. There is not the shadow of a doubt of his guilt among the people. The men were pronounced dead at fifteen minutes after three, and the bodies were cut down.

While under the gallows the prisoners were asked if they wished to say anything.

White said he had nothing to say, except that he was innocent and ready to meet his God.

Ben said:  "I know I have to die. We were all in it. Eph shot the gun and I shot the pistol." Turning to White he said:  "See, Mr. White, what you have brought me to."

Eph said he had nothing to say further than he had before stated.

Before swinging off White said:  "God be with my wife."

They were asked if they would like to be prayed for. White said no, but the negroes requested Rev. Mr. Gordon to pray for them, which he did in a feeling manner.

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

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