Monday, March 14, 2016

May 21, 1911: Mark Norris (Morris),Jr., Jerry Gusto and Four Negroes

Today we learn about the lynching of six men in Florida through the pages of the Altoona Tribune (Altoona, Pennsylvania) dated May 22, 1911:


This by a Party of Men at Lake City, Fla., Who Masqueraded as Officers.

Lake City, Fla., May 21.—Six negroes were lynched here early this morning after a party of more than a dozen men, masquerading as officers, appeared at the county jail and secured possession of the men by presenting a bogus telegram to the 16-year-old son of the sheriff, ordering the release of the blacks to the alleged posse of officers. The negroes were being held here for safe keeping on the charge of murdering B. B. Smith, a saw mill man of Dadesborough, Leon county, and wounding another man named Reamstor [sic] on May 12.

The men, who had come from Tallahassee to Lake City in automobiles, took the negroes about a mile outside of Lake City. They compelled the negroes to stand abreast and about ten men commenced firing with rifles and pistols until everyone of the six had been riddled with bullets. The firing lasted about half an hour, and a few straggling citizens at daybreak, found the negroes shot up beyond recognition, just after the automobiles left the scene of the lynching.

The plans of the lynchers were most daring, though but for a curious combination of circumstances they would never had been successful. the sheriff of Columbia county was out of the city and left the jail in charge of the boy, who, aroused in the early hours of the morning allowed the six negroes to be taken from the jail without knowing the sinister purpose of the mob.

The telegram which the leaders of the mob showed the boy was supposedly from the sheriff of Leon county and stated that the sheriff had received intimations that a mob was being formed in Tallahassee to take the negroes from the Lake City jail. The message ordered that the men be carried further south to frustrate the suspected mob. The telegram appeared authentic as the six negroes have been moved frequently.

Residents of Lake City knew nothing of the lynching until a fusilade [sic] of distant shots was heard. A few citizens went in the direction of the firing and found the bodies, but the lynchers had disappeared.

The wounded man's name appears to have been Register according to several other articles. Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.

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