Saturday, January 23, 2016

June 21, 1908: Eleven Negroes

Today we learn about a mass lynching in Texas through the pages of The Washington Bee (Washington, D. C.) dated July 4, 1908:



Troops Are Called Out.

Trouble Started by Slaying of White Farmer at Dance in Colored Church.

Hemphill, Texas, June 22.—Eleven Negroes have been lynched and three white men killed in a race war in Sabine county, the State Rangers ordered out to restore peace, armed bands of whites and blacks are facing each other in several places, and several encounters have been reported tonight.

A mob stormed the jail here last night, seized six Negroes accused of the murder of a white farmer, hanged five to one limb and shot the sixth when the noose broke and he was running away. The bodies of three other Negroes were found riddled with bullets this morning. Two others were shot to death last night. Three were hanged tonight near San  Augustine.

Another, arrested with a white man whom he accused of hiring him to slay Robert Wright, is in jail in Center, having been rushed there under extra guard to save them from the mob.

It is reported tonight that the mob has captured a train and is forcing the engineer to run to Center so the prisoners can be captured and lynched.

Rangers Pushed Aside.

State Rangers Lattie and Hamer, stationed at Center, went to Hemphill when the first news of the trouble reached them. They attempted to take a hand. The county officers found aside. The county officers found themselves similarly served when they tried to uphold the law and, unable to dominate the situation, they wired for reinforcements.

The sheriff at Hemphill made an effort to swear in special officers, but none would serve. The few he sought to swear in fled at his approach, fearing that they would be cheated of their revenge.

The frenzied hatred against the Negroes came as the result of the shooting of a white man by Negroes a week ago. At a Negro dance on June 13 William Stimson, a white man, became involved in a row with the Negroes and was killed with a razor. Two Negroes were arrested for the crime.

Last Saturday night Hugh Dean, one of the best-known white farmers, was also killed at a Negro dance. It was proved that he was merely riding by when drunken Negroes set upon him and stabbed him to death.

Six Negroes were arrested and imprisoned in the Hemphill jail. A seventh is still at large and a reward of $550 is out for him.

Negroes and Whites Arm.

The passion stirred up b y the killing of Stimson and Dean within a week was increased by the fact that Negroes grew bold and began to flourish weapons. Six shooters were prominent and open threats made of what would be done in the event that the white men showed any open animosity toward the Negro.

The farmers of the vicinity armed themselves with rifles and shotguns and pistols and started on a systematic hunt after every Negro of known bad tendencies.

The county peace officers found that they were powerless to cope with the situation.

Hurried appeals were made to the Governor, and a squad of Rangers was ordered immediately to the scene.

The Houston Light Guards of Houston were in[s]tructed to hold themselves in readiness to take a special train and will leave tonight.

This was the situation when the news went broadcast that Aaron Johnson, another white farmer, had been shot down while sitting on his gallery with his wife and boy and baby.

His wife, crazed at the desperate act of the Negroes, gave chase, screaming with all her might. White men, raiding the countryside for Negroes, heard her. When they reached her she was sitting beside the body of her husband, insane.

It was then that the white avengers went forth, and soon the crack of their pistols portended that death had been visited on someone. Later the bodies of three Negroes—Singleton, Evans and Thomas—were found.

Already charged with having a hand in the death of Dean, the three Negroes had met, swearing vengeance when they encountered the white men.

Johnson's death increased the tensity of the situation. The three dead Negroes were known to be partners of a fourth. The latter, Perry Price, would surely have met the same fate of his fellows had not officers captured and spirited him to San Augustine after making a confession that he had been given five dollars by Robert Wright, Johnson's brother-in-law, to kill Johnson. wright was then arrested and is now in jail at Center, Tex.

The jail is guarded heavily, as the rumor has gone abroad that a mob of white men has captured a Houston east and west train and is forcing the engineer to run to center [sic] in order that they may take Wright and Price and hang them.

Break Into Jail.

Last night the white men marched to the Hemphill jail.

"We want those Negroes," said the spokesman.

"You can't have them," replied the guard.

"Well by G—, we will take them," was the answer.

With a savage cry the mob attacked the doors. Other guards rushed out, but were overpowered after making futile resistance.

Into the jail the mob broke, and, rushing to the cell in which the six Negroes were confined, they smashed the door and seized the blacks.

One hundred yards from the jail grows a clump of huge live-oaks. As they reached these the leader spoke again,

"Niggers, say your prayers."

Seven minutes were allowed, and seven ropes descended over the Negroes' heads, one after another. One broke and ran. Immediately a fusillade of lead followed him, and he dropped in his tracks. Meantime the noose had been placed on the heads of the others and Judge Lynch was satisfied.

The article can be a little confusing at times. Surely, it should have been six instead of seven at the end. The big thing is that there were a lot of men lynched who were denied the right of law and had no real evidence given against them. 

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

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