Jeff Gardner (Lynching of)

On April 18, 1896, a twenty-one-year-old African-American man named Jeff (sometimes called Jefferson) Gardner was hanged in Cleveland County, ten miles north of Warren (Bradley County), for allegedly assaulting the daughter of a white man named Jeff Burrows (sometimes identified as Barrow).

News of the lynching first appeared in the Arkansas Gazette on April 21. According to this and other reports, Gardner went to the home of Burrows, described by the Hopkinsville Kentuckian as “a respectable white man living near Warren,” and found only the children at home. One sister was sick, and Gardner allegedly drove other children from the house. The Gazette reported that one little boy attacked Gardner with a hoe in an attempt to protect his older sister. Nevertheless, Gardner abducted the oldest daughter; after they left, the sick daughter went to find her father to report the crime. Joe Burrows followed Gardner’s trail from the house, and about a half a mile away in the Saline Bottoms he heard his daughter scream. He found his daughter tied to a tree, and according to the Southern Standard, she was discovered in time to save her “from a fate more horrible than death itself.” The Gazette, however, reported that it took four hours for Burrows to find his daughter, and the Hopkinsville Kentuckian reported that Gardner “ravished” the girl, “repeating his criminal assaults for several hours.”

When he was discovered, Gardner fled the scene, and Burrows fired at him. A posse continued to search for Gardner and found him in a field about three miles away. He had been wounded by Burrows and was unable to run any farther. According to the Fisherman and Farmer of Edenton, North Carolina, Gardner did not deny the charges. The group took him back to Burrows’s house, where his alleged victim identified him, and his “foul carcass” was then hanged from a limb in the nearby woods. The Burrows girl was reported to be in critical condition. According to the Gazette, Gardner’s death was met with “general approbation, and the public verdict is that it served him right.”

For additional information:
“An Arkansas Lynching.” Hopkinsville Kentuckian, April 24, 1896, p. 1.

“Arkansas News: A Negro Lynched in Cleveland County for an Assault on a White Girl.” Arkansas Gazette, April 21, 1896, p. 1.

“Judge Lynch’s Party.” Southern Standard (Arkadelphia, Arkansas), April 24, 1896, p. 3.

“A Negro Fiend Lynched.” Fisherman and Farmer (Edenton, North Carolina), April. 24, 1896, p. 1.

Nancy Snell Griffith
Davidson, North Carolina

Last Updated: 07/14/2021