Thursday, January 21, 2016

July 31, 1902: Charles Craven

Today we learn about a lynching near the nation's capital through the pages of the Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) dated August 1, 1902:


Mob Takes Alleged Murderer from the Sheriff's Men at Leesburg, Va., and Hangs Him by the Roadside.

Washington, D. C., July 31.—[Special.]—Charles Craven, a negro accused of murder was lynched this afternoon, within thirty miles of the Capitol building.

Craven, who was the supposed murderer of William H. Wilson, a farmer living near Herndon, Va., was lynched one mile east of Leesburg, Va. He was taken from the jail at Leesburg by a mob of 150 men, who overpowered the guard, broke in the outer door, and then entered the cage, using hammers and crowbars. Little difficulty was encountered in this work.

A noose was thrown around the prisoner's neck and he was led down the road in the direction of the scene of the murder. The party had proceeded scarcely a mile when the rope was thrown around a limb of a tree and Craven was pulled from the ground. As soon as the body was raised in the air the mob fired fully 500 shots into the dying man.

The man was given the opportunity to make a statement. He protested that he was innocent of killing Wilson, and also, that he was innocent of burning Smith's barn, for which offense he had been sentenced to jail two years before.

Men, women, and children, who lined the road from the jail to the scene of the execution, cheered the mob.

Gov. Montague was appealed to by the officer of the commonwealth, and he ordered the Alexandria Light Infantry to the scene, but the mob accomplished its work before the arrival of the soldiers.

Craven, who had been pursued by over 100 men with bloodhounds, was captured this morning on a farm, near Ashburn, Va. He was asleep in a hayrack and was seized by three of his pursuers, Ernest Norman, john Higgins, and Henry Bryant, before he had time to offer resistance.

A large crowd quickly gathered and threatened to lynch the negro, but Sheriff Russell succeeded in getting his prisoner on a train and lodged him in jail at Leesburg. He was surrounded by a heavy guard, but the mob soon rushed the jail, overpowered the sheriff's men, and took the prisoner.

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

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