Friday, May 6, 2016

June 1, 1932: Walter Merrick

Today we learn about a lynching in Kentucky through the pages of The Daily Capital News (Jefferson City, Missouri) dated June 2, 1932:

Prisoner in Kentucky Jail Awaiting Trial Is Lynched by Mob

Walter Merrick, 48, Charged With Dynamiting Princeton Store, the Victim.

PRINCETON, Ky., June 1.—(AP)—The startled eyes of a farm boy discovered the body of Walter Merrick, 48, swinging from the limb of a hackberry tree in the dawn today, and Kentucky's first lynching since Christmas Day of 1929 went into the records.

After a coroner's knife had cut the taut rope, county officials revealed the story of a swift, surprise raid on the county jail here at midnight, the binding of jailer Curt Jones, and removal of the prisoner without a sound to arouse sleeping citizens.

Merrick, they said, made not a sound when the masked lynchers removed him from the jail where he awaited trial June 13 on a charge of dynamiting the store of M. P'Pool at Hudson, near here, last February. He was clad only in his undergarments. The six automobiles which carried the lynchers then speeded in procession to the scene of the hanging, about 2 miles from here, and later dispersed in the darkness.

P'Pool, the only person in his store, was injured seriously when the blast demolished his store building last February. A boy standing near the structure suffered a broken arm.

Tense feeling over the dynamiting caused fear of mob violence soon after the arrest of Merrick, and he was removed to Louisville for safekeeping. Later, however, he was returned here.

The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) dated June 11, 1932 paints the picture in a different light:


PRINCETON, Ky., June 9.—(ANP)—On the same day that Governor Ruby Lafoon of this State pardones the infamous Honolulu lyncher, Lieut. Thomas Massie of the United States navy, Massie's fellow Kentuckians celebrated the notable event by marching to the county jail here at midnight and forcing the jailer to turn over to them a white man, whom they lynched in the spirit of the Massie pardon.

The murdered white man is Walter Merrick. he had been arrested on a charge of dynamiting a store at Hopson and was awaiting trial. The Massie celebrants raided the jail and bound the jailer, Curt Jones, before taking Merrick a short distance away, where they hung him to a tree.The dangling body was discovered by a farm boy.

The lynching of Merrick marks the third in the lynching league for this year. This year is so far unique in the fact that the number of whites leads the number of Negroes, two of the three 1932 lynchings being white men.

One of the white men was lynched for kidnaping and raping a child. [You can learn about this lynching here.] The Negro was lynched in Texas, because, it was charged, he looked in the bedroom window of a white woman. [You can learn about this lynching here.]

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

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