Boge Jackson (Execution of)

Boge Jackson was an African American man hanged at Hamburg (Ashley County) on November 18, 1881, for the shotgun slaying of an elderly Black man the previous year.

Boge Jackson and Reuben Jordan initially argued over the placement of a boundary fence sometime in 1880; Jackson threatened Jordan, who apparently ignored him. Jackson and his friend Henry Hill went to a dance on Bayou Bartholomew near Jordan’s house sometime later, and the older man accused Jackson of stealing whiskey from him. They would quarrel again a few days later.

“Soon after this old Jordan was found dead in the road,” the Arkansas Democrat reported. “Suspicion pointed unerringly to Jackson and Hill as the authors of the foul crime.” Authorities soon learned that Jackson had done time in Mississippi for manslaughter, and “it is believed there that he was the author of three murders.”

Investigators “soon developed” that Jackson had gone to Jordan’s house with a shotgun, and “by imitating the cries of someone in distress” enticed Jordan to come outside, where Jackson fired the gun, hitting Jordan, who “fell at once, his body pierced by a dozen leaden buck shot.” Jackson and Hill were convicted of murder in August 1881 and sentenced to hang on October 22, 1881.

Some 1,500 to 2,000 Black people gathered at Hamburg to see the double execution “and were terribly disappointed because the hanging didn’t come off.” Governor Thomas Churchill stayed Jackson’s hanging until November 18 and commuted Hill’s sentence to twenty-one years in the state penitentiary.

When an appeal to Churchill for executive clemency for Jackson failed, he was hanged at Hamburg on November 18, 1881, with the Arkansas Gazette reporting that “the red-handed murderer was suspended.”

For additional information:
“Arkansas State News.” Arkansas Democrat, August 16, 1881, p. 3.

“Executed.” Arkansas Democrat, November 18, 1881, p. 4.

“Hanged.” Arkansas Gazette, November 19, 1881, p. 4.

“Local Brevities.” Arkansas Democrat, October 19, 1881, p. 4.

“State News.” Arkansas Gazette, November 4, 1881, p. 2.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System


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