NO CREDENCE PUT IN REPORT ABOUT NEGROES IN MOB
RALEIGH, N. C., Aug. 8—(ANP)—A reward of $400 has been offered by Governor Ehringhaus for the arrest and conviction of parties responsible for the lynching of Govan Ward, who ran amuck at Louisburg, N. C., and killed a 67-year-old white farmer. In the meantime, the chief executive of the State is trying to ascertain just why the officers of Franklin county were so dilatory in requesting help to prevent mob violence and why it was impossible to recognize any of the members of the mob, although they were unmasked.
The governor learned of the lynching through Associated Press reports and immediately dispatched tro[o]ps to the scene but they arrived too late to deter the lynchers. They found the body of the lynched man suspended from an oak tree and a crowd of men and women milling about the body, expressing approval of the action of the mob and some cutting off toes and other parts of the body for souvenirs. In the crowd were many young women who apparently found much pleasure in viewing the gruesome spectacle and in praising the "heroism" of the lynchers.
When the lynching was first reported it was said that Negroes were numbered among the mob, but little credence is being put in the story and Negro leaders themselves are looking askance at the reports, pointing to the fact that Negroes are law-abiding and are willing at all times to let the law take its course and to the fact that it was due to the act of a Negro that the man, who had been declared insane, was placed under arrest.
Some of the facts relative to the lynching that are causing much comment include:
1. That although it was common knowledge that mob violence was in the making, one sheriff and two deputies attempted to take the prisoner to another county for safekeeping.
2. That the prisoner was beaten over the head with a blackjack by one of the officers who attempted to kill him by placing a gun to his head and pulling the trigger. his gun had been unbreached when dislodged from the holster during a struggle with the manacled prisoner and the bullets emptied on the floor of the car, hence it did not fire, and this officer then declared: "I wanted to kill him then and there but the others would not let me."
3. That the officers did not observe or attempt to get the numbers of licenses on any of the cars carrying the lynchers.
4. That the governor was not notified by the officers but instead a band of 30 special deputies were assigned the task of rounding up the lynchers.
Governor Issues Statement
In discussing the outrage, Governor Ehringhaus issued the following statement: "Two horrible crimes have been committed in Franklin county today. The first by an apparently crazed and degenerate individual, the second by a mob of supposedly responsible citizens. The first intimation of either occurrence came to the Governor's office, not through officers of the law, but through the Associated Press and this was to that effect that the wretched defendant had already been taken from the officers by the mob.
"Immediately the Highway Patrol and the National Guard received orders to do all possible to avert a lynching. Both acted with the utmost promptness and dispatch and both were on the scene within a remarkably brief period of time, but too late to prevent the last crime. This office also immediately sought to get in touch with the Sheriff of Franklin county by long distance but could not do so. The Governor also called upon the Sheriff of Vance county and urged that they offer every possible assistance to prevent lynching or disorder. No report of the first crime or any danger or threat of trouble was made to this office by any officer of the law for Franklin county and no request came for assistance. Had we received an intimation that the transfer of the prisoner for safekeeping was contemplated and there was any danger of disorder we could have rendered prompt and constructive assistance, but no such information or request was forthcoming.
"Offense Against Decency"
" I deplore, of course, the original crime, horrible in its details, but I deplore also the second offense against the laws of North Carolina and public decency and feel keenly the shame and reflection which it has cast upon our good name and reputation for orderly administration of justice."
The crime for which Ward was lynched was the decapitating of an aged white man who attempted to stop him from beating his (Ward's) sister with a bottle. Ward was insane at the time and had attacked two others before he killed Charles G. Stokes, the 67-year-old white farmer. An ax was the weapon used by the killer.