Monday, July 11, 2016

June 29, 1940: Prevents Lynching of Member

Today we learn about a lynching that did not happen through the pages of The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) dated June 29, 1940:


LITCHFIELD, Ill., June 27—(ANP)—Of the sixty-five members of "Jehovah's Witnesses," who arrived here last Sunday to spread their teachings, at least one was prevented from being lynched when infuriated townspeople attacked them, by a Negro, resident of Litchfield, who pleaded for them with mercy. This was revealed by Frank Colombos, a St. Louis barber and member of the cult for fifteen years. Colombos, who arrived in Litchfield with representatives of the cult, said:

"The mob had beaten some of the men and pushed the women when suddenly there were cries of 'Lynch them!' I thought if it was God's will that we would be lynched, we couldn't do anything about it. But there was a Negro standing near me who called out to the mob, 'We're all human. They're human. Let's think this matter over.' And that statement stayed the mob's hands until deputies could get there." Colombos, 50, said it was the "scariest day of my life."

State police, called from Springfield, arrived and removed the Witnesses to Hillsboro, county seat of Montgomery County, where they were fingerprinted and permitted to return to St. Louis. The affray in Litchfield began when cult members began to distribute leaflets, containing the statement:  "We don't salute the American flag or any other flag." Charges that schools were under the influence of the "Roman Catholic hierarchy" also were contained in the pamphlets.

The following pictures were found in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) dated June 17, 1940:

[WRECKED automobiles of Jehovah's Witnesses, at town storage lot in Litchfield, Ill., after their occupants had been rounded up by townspeople and put in jail.]

[THREE members of Jehovah's Witnesses being taken from Litchfield jail by state police, who drove them to Hillsboro, preparatory to their return to St. Louis. Sheriff Lee Gilliland is at right, outside jail door.

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

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