Tuesday, September 13, 2016

June 2, 1892: Bob Lewis (Jackson)

Today we learn about a lynching in New York through the pages of The Indianapolis news (Indianapolis, Indiana) dated June 3, 1892:


The Victim a Negro Who Committed a Brutal Crime—Sickening-Scene.

PORT JERVIS, N. Y., June 3.—Miss Lena McMahon, was most brutally assaulted by a negro named Bob Jackson yesterday. She will probably die. Several people witnessed the assault, but Jackson kept them off with a revolver. A posse was organized, and he was captured about nine miles from Port Jervis. On the way back Jackson confessed the crime, and implicated William Foley, a white man, who he claimed was in the conspiracy to ruin Miss McMahon. On his arrival at the lock-up he was taken in hand by a mob. A noose was adjusted about his neck and he was strung up to a neighboring tree in the presence of a howling mob. The mob is looking for Foley, who had been paying attentions to Miss McMahon against her parent's wishes.

The incidents of the journey from the jail to the place of lynching were of a most exciting character. At every electric light a halt was made by the mob and the subject of immediate lynching discussed. Jackson was dragged along the streets at the end of a rope, and was kicked and pounded by the mob without mercy.

When the place of lynching was reached, his clothing had been torn from his body, and he was in an almost insensible condition. The scene was appalling beyond description. The yells of the doomed man could be heard for blocks, and his distorted and agonized features could be plainly seen under the ghastly glare of a neighboring electric light. After having hung for more than an hour in plain view of thousands of people, the body was taken down and sent to an undertaker's establishment. The work of the lynchers seems to be approved by the public sentiment of the town as a needed warning and deterrent.

Foley Arrested and in Danger.

PORT JERVIS, N. Y., June 3.—P. J. Foley, whom Bob Lewis, the negro lynched last night for criminal assault on a girl, implicated in the crime, was captured this morning when he attempted to get out of town at 4 o'clock on an Erie express. He was taken to the lockup. Great crowds surrounded the jail where he is confined, and so great is the excitement that officers do not care to open the gates to arraign him before the magistrate for fear popular indignation will lead to similar treatment to that which the negro received.

Our next article comes from The Evening World (New York, N. Y.) dated June 4, 1892:


Port Jervis Will Not Duplicate Thursday Night's Crime.

Negro Lewis's Alleged Accomplice Repudiated by his Only Brother.


PORT JERVIS, N. Y., June 4.—Miss Lena McMahon, for an assault upon whom Negro bob Lewis was lynched Thursday night, is still in a critical condition to-day, but will probably recover. Her physicians say that absolute quiet is required for her.

With the removal of Foley to Goshen Jail, all danger that he might also be lynched has passed.

Respectable citizens now deprecate the lynching and say that the mob was composed mainly of the rough element of the population. It is not believed, however, that any of the rioters will ever be tried or punished for the part they took in the affair.


Peter J. Foley, who was implicated by Bob Lewis before his death in the assault upon Lena McMahon, has a brother in this city, J. P. Foley, a clerk in the office of the Worthington Steam Pump Company, 86 Liberty street. He is an industrious, reputable man, occupying a responsible position and is highly esteemed by his employers. He says that his brother has forfeited the right to brotherly sympathy, and, that if it is true that he was in collusion with Lewis, it is a pity he was not strung up with the negro.

To an EVENING WORLD reporter Mr. J. P. Foley this morning said:  "My brother is twenty-six years old. He was born in Warren, Mass., where our mother and sister now live. Mother is seventy-five years old and this trouble may prove fatal. Peter is the youngest of her three children, and naturally was always petted. He learned the trade of a machinist in Warren, and afterwards worked at his trade there and in Holyoke and in Boston.

"He came to New York, and for a time was engaged as pump salesman by the Gordon Steam Pump Company in Liberty street. He took to drinking and idling, and I was several times called upon to pay his bills and money that he borrowed. I finally refused to have anything more to do with him.

"I had not heard from him for about a year, although I understood he was in the neighborhood of Port Jervis, and I thought he was in the insurance business. i never knew he gambled.

"I was not sure that it was he until I saw his picture in THE WORLD this morning. i shall not do anything for him. If he was guilty of conniving at the outrage upon miss McMahon he merited the same punishment as was inflicted upon Lewis.

"I cannot understand why he has turned out so badly. There appears to be a mean streak in him which cannot be traced on either his mother or father's side. He has never married, to my knowledge.

"Recently I read an account of the arrest of a man giving Peter's initials, in Chicago, for falsely representing himself as an agent of the Harpers. Whether it was really he I do not now. but if it is true, as published, that blackmailing letters from him to Miss McMahon have been found, I am ready to believe almost anything about him."

E. G. Fowler, one of the editors of the Rural New Yorker, opposite whose house in Port Jervis the lynching occurred, said to-day that he was not home at the time. Mr. Fowler recalls the lynching of a negro for a similar crime in Newburg in the Summer of 1863.

The negro in question was locked up in the Court-House, but Sheriff Hanmore was unable to resist the mob, who hanged the prisoner to a tree in front of the Court-House. It was a Sunday night, and Mr. Fowler saw the body hanging when he came out of church.

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


  1. They first give Foley’s name as William. It’s interesting that the lynching was dismissed as the act of an unsavory element when thousands were said to involved, at least to the extent that their presence implied complicity.

    I don’t know if you’re interested in me or my blog, but I hope you are. I have a few Southern friends—through blogging—and two sisters with whom I keep in touch, so I was excited to find you and another interesting Southern (Mississippi) blogger during my study of lynchings. I also like you and respect what you’re doing, but if we’re to keep in touch, I need to feel that the interest goes both ways. I’m already stretched to keep up with as many people as I do—I have penpals whose blogs I follow; then there are people with whom I correspond who have little interest in my blog; and then there’s the fact that I’m not the kind of person to be content with leaving a single short sentence in the comment section to posts and letting it go at that—but you interest me enough that I would be honored to make make the effort to keep up with your blog and, to the extent you care to share it—your life. You really have an extraordinary blog, and I like to think I do too, although I’m all over the place as to what I post about—for example, going from posting about lynchings right into a post about cats. Unlike you, I can’t focus heavily on these murders month in an month out, but, more to the point, my interest is in Mississippi history in the 20th century, and lynchings are one part of that history. So much of what happened in Mississippi was tragic, cruel, unthinkable, outrageous, heart-rending, and so on, but I see lynchings simply being the climactic events of the evil that reigned for so very long.

    1. I do find your blog interesting. However, I am usually the person who sits in the corner and listens to the conversation. I am not the person who lends their voice to the conversation. I find I learn more about people by watching and listening.

      Today is the beginning of my hiatus. I need to spend time with more enjoyable things and replenish myself. Thank you for reading my blog and for your praise.

    2. "I am not the person who lends their voice to the conversation. I find I learn more about people by watching and listening."

      Are you saying that you can't imagine that anyone would want to learn about you, or that you wouldn't anyone to learn about you?

    3. Quite honestly, I always assume people are not interested in me. If someone wants to know something, I assume they'll ask me and I always answer as honestly as I can. I am used to being ignored and, for the most part, I am okay with that. I speak up when I feel I have something that adds to the conversation. As an agoraphobic, I don't spend a lot of time talking to people I am not related to and they already know about me.

  2. I didn’t know until yesterday where the name of your blog came from.

    “I always assume people are not interested in me. If someone wants to know something, I assume they'll ask me and I always answer as honestly as I can.”

    Anne, I've told you that I'm very much interested in you. You're like a stranger from a strange land to me, and what you might find boring about yourself, I find anything but boring.

    I think you’re telling me that you give nothing of yourself other than to respond when people try to draw you out with specific questions, but that you take no interest in knowing them or drawing them out. I’m sad for it and wish things were different, but I don’t want a one way friendship, a friendship in which I can appreciate what you to offer but can expect no reciprocity.

    I’ve had no experience of agoraphobia, but I guess all phobias feel the same. I’m afraid of high places, although I used to fly an airplane; but my worse phobia is of being hemmed with a crowd of people and not being able to readily escape as in an auditorium or, worse still, on an airliner. I can understand why, as people are packed into planes in ever smaller spaces, they would freak out. I don’t blame them for this but the greed of the airlines.

    Anyway, I wish you well, and if you should ever change your mind, I’m here for blog visiting and corresponding. I don’t ask for much, but I do need a little.

    1. Yes, they are things that hang from southern trees.

      I am sorry you feel that way, but I can be no more than I am.

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you, Roz. I think you are pretty amazing, too!