Devoe and Huntley (Lynching of)

aka: Huntley and Devoe (Lynching of)

In early January 1898, two African Americans named Devoe and Huntley (no first names were given in the reports) were allegedly lynched near Bearden (Ouachita County) for an attempted assault on an elderly woman there a year earlier. They were apparently lynched in two different incidents, and as the authorities maintained they had escaped, few details are available.

According to the Arkansas Gazette, Devoe and Huntley had attempted to assault an elderly woman named Mrs. Paine near Bearden approximately a year before the alleged lynchings. They fled the scene, but in early January 1898, Devoe returned to the Bearden area and was arrested by J. D. Best and Frank Butler. They asked him where Huntley was, and when he refused to tell them, they put a rope around his neck and began to raise him off the ground. At this point, he was willing to admit to their attempted crime and tell them where his accomplice was. Huntley was apparently working on the Cotton Belt Railway at Anderson’s Mill, twenty-five miles from Fordyce (Dallas County). A posse went in pursuit of him but returned saying that he could not be found. According to the New York Times, the posse actually did find him and lynched him on its way back to Bearden.

Devoe was put into a wagon and taken to Harlow Mill ranch so his alleged victim could identify him. According to the Gazette, the “rape fiend” was most likely lynched in a “necktie party” somewhere between Harlow Mill Ranch and Bearden. The exact time of the lynching is not known, but it most likely was sometime between the morning of January 5 and the morning of January 7. Devoe’s body was never found, but according to the report, “the general supposition here is that Devoe will never be seen alive again.” The Sacramento Daily Union included additional details in its report. It seems that Devoe could not have escaped, as some said, because he was escorted by a heavy guard and was in fact chained to the wagon. When they arrived at Mrs. Paine’s house, she positively identified Devoe. The Daily Union speculated that after the posse members left Mrs. Paine’s house, they stopped, put a rope around Devoe’s neck, made him stand up in the wagon, and drove the wagon out from under him. They then fired several bullets into the body and returned to town, saying he had escaped.

The bodies were never recovered, thus indicating the possibility that there was no lynching. As late as January 15 the Arkansas Gazette was reporting that the “lynchings are merely matters of conjecture.”

For additional information:
“Bearden Lynching.” Arkansas Gazette, January 15, 1898, p. 4.

“Five Western Lynchings.” New York Times, January 9, 1898, p. 10.

“Lynchings in Arkansas.” Sacramento Daily Union, January 9, 1898, p. 1.

“Mob’s Work.” Arkansas Gazette, January 8, 1898, p. 1.

Nancy Snell Griffith
Clinton, South Carolina


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