Chick Davis (Lynching of)

On July 24, 1899, an African-American man named Chick Davis was shot by a posse near Wilmot (Ashley County). While the incident was covered briefly in numerous national newspapers, coverage in Arkansas was no more detailed. As is often the case, given that the enumeration sheets for the 1890 census were lost to fire, there was no information in public records on Chick Davis or his victim.

Newspaper reports indicate that a respected area farmer named Will Grin (sometimes spelled Grinn) suspected Davis of stealing and riding his horse at night. Grin went to Davis to “expostulate” with him, and Davis shot him in the forehead, killing him instantly. Davis then fled and was pursued by a posse composed of Grin’s friends. When the posse caught up with Davis in a field, he fired both barrels of his shotgun into the crowd, members of which then fired and killed him. The Helena Weekly World’s article closed with an attempt at humor almost unheard of in reports of this kind: “Not to treat a serious matter too lightly, we may be permitted to remark that Chick’s chicks came home to roost and that poor Will will Grin no more.”

For additional information:
“All Over the State.” Arkansas Democrat, July 26, 1899, p. 3.

“Arkansas News.” Nashville News, July 26, 1899, p. 1.

“Negro Killed.” Evening Bulletin (Maysville, Kentucky), July 25, 1899, p. 1.

Untitled. Helena Weekly World, July 26, 1899, p. 2.

Nancy Snell Griffith
Davidson, North Carolina

Last Updated: 07/30/2021