Thursday, April 28, 2016

January 24, 1934: Rex Scott

Today we learn about a lynching in Kentucky through the pages of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph (Bluefield, W. V.) dated January 25, 1934:


Rex Scott, Accused Of Slugging Miner, Is Removed From Perry County Jail And Hanged To Tree In Graveyard

Hazard, Ky., Jan. 24. (AP) — Rex Scott, 20, Negro, was hanged to a beech tree in the Cornett Hill graveyard in Knott county tonight about an hour after he was forcibly removed from the Perry county jail by 30 or 40 masked leaders of an armed mob of approximately 300 men.

The body was found by members of a posse led by Sheriff Filmore McIntosh, who reached the scene in time to see the members of the mob scatter and run to nearby mining camps. There were approximately 40 bullet wounds in the body.

Scott was accused of slugging Alex Johnson, a miner, on a street here Saturday night. Johnson is in a critical condition in a hospital, never having regained consciousness, and attendants said he had slight chance to survive.

Deputy Jailer W. C. Knuckles, was standing across the street from the jail tonight about 7:45 o'clock, when he said armed and masked men began swarming around the jail. The leaders of the mob forced themselves inside and demanded the key to Scott's cell. They cornered Knuckles in a corridor of the jail unlocked Scott's cell, dragged him and found the keys on him. They outside, and placed him in an automobile. [sic]

The shouting mob entered automobiles and trucks parked around the jail, and with the car bearing the Negro and several leaders of the mob in the van, the motorcade started for the city limits.

As the machines passed the spot where Johnson was slugged Saturday night, members of the mob began firing into the air, approximately 100 shots were heard as the procession left town.

Sheriff McIntosh hastily summoned all city and county authorities and organized a posse of approximately 50 to pursue the mob. Circuit Judge Sam Ward and Commonwealth's Attorney J. A. Smith accompanied the officers.

The motorcade had taken the Whitesburg road, but was reported to have turned off when it passed through Vicco, 13 miles south of here. The officers continued the pursuit, and as they crossed the line into the adjoining county of Knott, noticed a crowd of several hundred men shouting and firing pistols, shotguns and other weapons.

Noticing the machines bearing the officers approaching, the crowd scattered. three stragglers were arrested and ordered brought to Hazard for questioning.

More information is found in the January 25, 1934 edition of the Corsicana Daily Sun (Corsicana, Texas):


HAZARD, Ky., Jan. 25.—(AP)—Three men were arrested on murder warrants and another held for questioning here today as Perry county officials pressed their investigation of the lynching of Rex Scott, a negro.

The men arrested on murder warrants were Petie Carroll, 38; Lee Gibson, 37, and Andy Workman, 30, and the man held on orders of County Judge A. M. Gross was James Collins, 32. All came from the Harlowe Coal company camp at Scuddy near here.

All four denied they participated in the lynching, although Troy P. Combs, jailer, said he recognized some of them as well as some of the others questioned as among the group that came to the jail and inquired the name of the negro charged with beating Johnson.

Circuit Judge Sam Ward called a special grand jury to convene Monday to inquire into the lynching.

HAZARD, Ky., [J]an. 25.—(AP)—An intensive investigation of the lynching of Rex Scott, 20-year-old negro, was launched by Perry county authorities today. Scott was forcibly removed from the county jail here last night by a mob of armed men, and hanged to a beech tree in a graveyard in Knott county adjoining.

Jailer Troy P. Combs, when informed the negro had been lynched an hour after his removal from the jail, telegraphed the details to Gov. Ruby Laffoon at Frankfort. Kentucky law requires that the governor remove any jailer surrendering a prisoner to a mob and grant him a hearing to determine if he shall be reinstated.

Thirty or forty masked leaders of a mob of approximately 300 men who swarmed around the jail forced their way inside and threatened Jailer Combs with death if he did not surrender the key to Scott's cell. The jailer was roughly handled until the men were convinced he was not in possession of the keys.

Deputy Jailer W. C. Knuckles was cornered in a jail corridor, and the keys were found on him. Scott's cell was unlocked, and he was dragged out of the jail, and hustled into an automobile, which led a motorcade which bore other members of the mob out of the city.

Scott was charged with slugging Alex Johnson, a miner, on a side street here Saturday night. As the machines passed the scene of the slugging, approximately 100 shots were fired into the air. Johnson died at a hospital here two hours after the negro was found lynched. He had never regained consciousness.

Sheriff Filmore McIntosh hastily organized a posse of approximately 50 city, county and special officers and pursued the mob. The trail led past Vicco, 13 miles south of here, into Knott county. There the officers found Scott's body hanging in the Cornett Hill cemetery. Approximately 40 shots had been fired into the body.

To Back Governor.

FRANKFORT, Ky., Jan. 25.—(AP)—A resolution pledging support of Governor Ruby Laffoon in "any steps he may take" to prevent lynchings was unanimously adopted today by the Kentucky house of representatives.

The resolution referred to the lynching last night near Hazard of Alex [sic] Scott, 20-year-old negro, held in jail for fatally beating Alex Johnson, a coal miner.

Four men were held this morning in connection with the mob attack and the governor said he contemplated no immediate steps. he said he had not been advised of the lynching except by what he had read in the newspapers.

We continue with The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) dated February 8, 1934:


Alleged Members of Mob In Hazard Raid Have Special Guard.  

Hazard, Ky., Feb. 7 (AP)—A seven-day session of the grand jury, involving the appearance of 200 witnesses, resulted today in the indictment of seven men on charges of participating in the lynching of Rex Scott, Negro, who was dragged from jail by a mob and hanged on the night of January 24.

The seven indicted, and for whose arrest warrants were issued immediately, were Petie Carroll, Lee Gibson, Ed Bentley, Bill "Wooden" Kinser, Ordley Fugate, George Watkins and John Watts.

Lee Gibson was the first man placed under arrest. All were in jail by 4 o'clock this afternoon.

Scott, who had been held in the Perry County jail on a charge of beating Alexander Johnson, a miner, was taken from the jail by about 150 men, carried fifteen miles south of Hazard into Knott County, and hanged, after which a score or more bullets were fired into his body.

Johnson died of his injuries shortly after Scott was lynched.

A special guard was placed on duty at the Perry county Jail tonight where the seven men charged with taking part in the lynching are being held. None of the defendants has made application for bond.

The regular term of Circuit Court convenes Monday.

Called State Function.

Frankfort, Ky., Feb. 7 (AP)—The House of Representatives adopted a resolution today requesting Congress to leave to the States the question of enacting legislation to prevent and punish lynching.

W. B. Belknap, Democrat, Goshen, who offered the resolution, stated there are now before Congress at Washington about six bills "to make punishment of lynching a duty of the Federal Government." The resolution stated "much pressure" is being brought on Congress "to pass a bill putting upon the county where a lynching occurs heavy damages to be paid to the family of anyone lynched."

Belknap introduced two bills to control and punish lynching in Kentucky.

The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) dated March 10, 1934:




HAZARD, Ky., Mar. 8—Dr. D. C. Combs qualified Thursday as jailer of Perry County, succeeding his brother, Troy Combs, who was removed by Governor Ruby Laffoon as a result of the lynching of Rex Scott, taken from jail by a mob here January 24. The order naming Dr. Combs was entered by County Judge A. M. Gross.

The former jailer has employed counsel to prepare for a hearing in an effort to show he should be reinstated.


HAZARD, Ky., Mar. 8—Governor Ruby Laffoon, in an executive order, this week declared the office of jailer at Hazard, Perry County, to be vacant. The removal of Troy Combs, white, as jailer was the result of the investigation into the lynching of Rex Scott on the night of January 24th.

The removal of Combs came shortly after Mrs. Lydia Scott, mother of the victim and Talbert Holliday submitted affidavits to the Governor "tending to establish alleged neglect and failure" to perform his duty in using every possible means to prevent the mob from taking the prisoner out of the county jail. investigation revealed that the jailer made no effort to protect the prisoner regardless of the fact the mob descended on the jail around 7 o'clock in the evening, and that earlier in the day several strange men had been to the jail inquiring about Scott.

The trial of the seven men indicted by a Special Grand Jury is due March 12th; the present grand Jury is expected several more will be indicted. The office of the Commonwealth Attorney and counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People investigating the lynching intimated that a continuance might be asked to allow more time for a thorough probe.

Our final article is found in The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) dated May 24, 1934:


Jury Acquits First of Six To Face Court in Hanging.

Hazard, Ky., May 23—(AP)—Lee Gibson, one of the six men charged with having taken part in the lynching of Rex Scott, and the first to go on trial in the Perry Circuit Court, was acquitted tonight.

The defendant did not testify.

Rex Scott, twenty-year-old Negro, was taken from the Perry County Jail the night of January 24 and hanged near Sassafras, 13 miles south of Hazard. A special grand jury made an investigation and returned indictments against Lee Gibson, Petie Carroll, Will Kinser, E. Bentley, John Watts and George Watkins.

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

1 comment:

  1. I'm from Hazard and have never heard this story. I just wonder if anyone was ever punished for this crime.