Monday, September 12, 2016

July 22, 1899: Frank Embree

Today we learn about a Missouri lynching through the pages of The Hays Free Press (Hays, Kansas) dated July 29, 1899:


Missouri Negro Meets Death at the Hands of a Mob Near Higbee.

MEXICO, Mo., July 24.—Frank Embree, charged with an assault on the 14-year-old daughter of W. W. Daugherty, June 17, near Burton, Howard county, was lynched Saturday morning while on his way with the officers to Fayette to be tried for the crime.

He had expected his fate, and a few days ago wrote to his brother in Garnett, Kan., and said good-by. He said if the court cleared him he expected to be mobbed after his relase [sic]. He occupied a cell next to that of Alexander Jester, the alleged murderer of Gilbert Gates.

He had feared lynching on his way to Fayette and begged to be taken to Kansas City for safety. The lynching occurred near Higbee, a little place in Howard county. The prisoner was on board a Chicago & Alton train. Embree was taken off and and [sic] whipped for half an hour and then hanged to a tree.

It seems that the little girl was riding along the road on horseback. Embree came upon her unexpectedly. He grabbed the horse by the bridle, dragged the victim to a lonely spot in the woods, where he choked and beat her severely in an effort to subdue her and stop her cries. After accomplishing his purpose he made his escape and got as far as Garnett, Kan., where his parents reside. He was arrested there and brought to Huntsville, Mo., and then to this city.

A more detailed accounting is found in the Garnett Journal (Garnett, Kansas) dated July 28, 1899:


Pleadings of Hid Victim Save Him From a Worse Fate.

Special to the Kansas City Times.

Fayette, Mo., July 22.—Frqank Embree, who ravished Miss Willie Dougherty on Saturday, June 17, has paid the penalty for his crime.

The crime was such that the citizens felt that even the speediest kind of law would not be swift enough, hence decided to take the law into their own hands as soon as they could lay hands on him.

Deputy Sheriff Winn went to Mexico for Embree, where he had been in jail since his capture and return to Missouri. Judge Hockaday had made every preparation and precaution for giving the negro a fair trial. He had summoned about 100 citizens to act as guards at the court house during the trial. But it was all for naught. Hundreds of men in the county were determined to get Embree, and every appraosch to the city was guarded.

Deputy Sheriff Winn was to take the negro to Steinmetz, where a conveyance was in waiting to bring them to Fayette. the train arrived at Steinmetz at 5:15 a. m., and the deputy and the prisoner alighted, hustled into a carriage, where two more deputies were seated, and struck out at a lively gait toward Fayette. When they reached the foot of the Walcott hill, two miles Southeast of Steinmetz, a large crowd of men was seen, and Deputy Sheriff Winn gave the driver the order to dash through the crowd. The horses were whipped to a run, but the mob closed in on them, and stopping the horses, demanded the negro.

A stubborn resistance brought a crowd sufficient to handle the deputies, while the shackled and handcuffed negro was hustled into a spring wagon and the journey to the spot where the crime was committed was begun. A better organized or more orderly mob was never seen. Not a shout, nor any boisterous conduct whatever.

The roadside swarmed with men on horseback and in vehicles and the mob grew larger and larger as it neared the scene of the crime. A funeral procession could not have been more quiet. But there was a look of determination depicted on each countenance that told terriblĒ [sic] earnestness of each and every man. New recruits were added as each mile of the long journey of ten miles was made. By the time the end of the journey was reached fully 1,000 persons were assembled. The crowd had driven past the home where the negro was born and reared and lived until nine years ago. He was taken to the scene of his hellish deed, one and one-half miles eaast of Burton, where the first halt was made, and the negro was requested to make a statement.

He told dozens of conflicting stories as to his movements, who aided him to escape, etc. He stolidly refused to tell the straight story. The negro was then driven into the middle of Thomas Patterson's wheat field, and again he was piled with questions concerning the case. He stubbornly refused to tell a straight story. He was then stripped of his clothing and half a dozen stalwart, well-muscled citizens of the community laid on the lash, buggy whips being used.

Each lash laid open the hide and the blood trickled down his body. The negro never once winced. He gazed abstractedly into the faces of the crowd, never uttering a word. Twice he fell, either from exhaustion or with the view of falling back and breaking his neck. He was given 105 fearful lashes, then allowed to sit down, and was again questioned, but he refused to modify his statements. He was made to stand up again and the lash was laid on once more. His sense of felling [sic] had returned and he screamed for mercy, stating that he would tell all.

He then told the crowd that if they would not torture him any more, would not burn him, but would either shoot or hang him, he would confess all.

Embree then confessed that he committed the crime; that he was drunk. He said that he had no assistance in escaping Fayette or out of the county. He did not implicate anyone, but it is believed that he told the truth.

A rope was then thrown around his neck and he was led to a black oak tree, about 150 yards east of where the crime was committed. He was then permitted to say his last say. He stated that he was sorry that he had committed the crime and hoped that all woud forgive him. He requested that they write to his parents and tell them to forgive him, and for them to so live that they would go to heaven. He also requested that his revolver be sent to his mother and a dime he had be sent to his father. He was then told to pray if he wanted to. He prayed to God for forgiveness for his sins and said he hoped to go to heaven. He prayed that his parents and all mankind would forgive him. His petition to heaven was almost incoherent. At last his amen was said. The rope was thrown over a limb and his body was pulled into mid-air. A few violent jerks and convulsions and his soul was ushered into eternity.

Mr. Dougherty, the father of the girl who was so brutally treated, gave orders that not a shot was to be fired into the negro's body before or after death and his order was strictly observed.

There was at first serious thought of burning the negro, but Mr. Dougherty requested that nothing of the sort be done and his every wish was respected. These requests were made at the instance [sic] of the outraged girl.

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


  1. Hi- I'm making a film about Frank. Something I've been wanting to do for over 10 years now. Thanks for sharing his story.

    1. That is awesome! Thank you for reading it.

    2. I wonder if my g grandfather was lynched bc I can't find absolutely no record of his grandfather was born in 1887&he had g grandfather signed for the undertaker when his daughter died in the 1920's,so I know he was alive then,but after that, absolutely nothing...

    3. It drives me crazy not knowing.Along with that,I am also related to Thomas Jefferson through his great grandmother&my 9th great grandmother Katherine Banks Isham Royall...Kinda funny hu?yea,I thought so too.To know that much history about my white side of my family &not be able to find my great grandmother's place of rest is quite nerve racking

    4. There's no way to edit my last post.i meant *Katherine Banks Royall Isham.and also my *great grandfather's place of rest,smh

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks! It's just about done. Email me at and I'll share a private link. Until then here is our teaser trailer:

  3. Thank you all! Hideous the tortures this noble man received for such a minor offense.

    1. RAPE is not "such a minor offense" it's a felony that ruins women's lives.

      Granted, I believe that Frank did not rape that girl.

  4. Wow... To paint a man convicted of nothing and being MURDERED by a "quiet" mob of people, who simply enjoy stripping a black man of his humanity. Disgusting

    1. So many articles describe the mobs as being quiet. It's an oxymoron. I think it is to try to minimize the horror of the lynching by either claiming that the townspeople were unaware or that the guilty people were only people doing what they thought was right. I find it hard to believe a lynching can happen in any town, especially before the noise and distractions we now have, and the people be unaware. Also, lynching is nothing less than murder, no matter what anyone thought.

  5. Reading the article especially that end paragraph where the young woman and the father stops the crowd from burning or shooting Frank you do wonder if in fact they were willing lovers and the whole rape thing was a face saver ...?