Amos Neely (Lynching of)

In mid-August 1898, a twenty-three-year-old African-American man named Amos Neely was lynched near Sheridan (Grant County) for an alleged assault on a white woman. The victim of the assault was a “Mrs. Reinhart,” sometimes referred to in newspapers as Rhinehart, Reinhardt, or even Kinehart. Records indicate that there were several Reinharts living in Grant County at the time, and it is impossible to identify her. The lynching victim’s name was reported as Amos Neely, but no trace of him can be found in Grant County records.

Neely allegedly committed the assault in April 1898. On April 13, the Arkansas Democrat reported that he had been jailed in Sheridan the previous Saturday (April 9) and that he confessed the following day. Local citizens were so outraged that, on Sunday evening, the county sheriff and a deputy took him to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) for safekeeping. On April 22, the Southern Standard of Arkadelphia (Clark County) reported more details of the alleged assault. According to their reporting, Neely encountered Mrs. Reinhart near her home and, “drawing a huge knife, threatened to cut her throat if she resisted.” She struggled with him and was wounded three times in the hand. The Standard asserted that there would have been a lynching had not the sheriff “spirited Neely out of the county.”

On August 18, the Arkansas Gazette reported that in April a mob from Grant County had attempted to remove him from the jail in Pine Bluff, but “when it was discovered that they would have to go through a brick wall to get their man they gave up the idea.” On August 4, authorities quietly brought Neely back to Sheridan to await trial. The fact that Neely was back in Sheridan remained a secret for more than ten days. The timeline here becomes a bit blurry, because the Gazette article, while published on August 18, is datelined the previous day in Pine Bluff. Neely was brought to stand trial before Judge Duffie “yesterday” (either August 16 or August 17), and the judge granted a change of venue to Saline County. Although enraged Sheridan residents felt that Neely might receive a lighter sentence in Saline County, they apparently did not demonstrate in the courtroom. Officers took Neely to the railroad station, intending to take him back to prison on the train. They were met a mile from the station by an armed mob of about a dozen men and were forced to surrender him. Members of the mob then chained Neely to a tree, stepped away, and “fairly perforated his body with shot, both pistols and shotguns playing an important part in the engagement.” No inquest was held.

For additional information:
“One More.” Arkansas Gazette, August 18, 1898, p. 1.

“Rape Fiend Confessed.” Southern Standard (Arkadelphia, Arkansas), April 22, 1898, p. 1

“Threatened Lynching.” Arkansas Democrat, April 13, 1898, p. 8.

Nancy Snell Griffith
Davidson, North Carolina

Last Updated: 02/05/2019