Ed Brock (Lynching of)

On August 10, 1923, a young African-American teamster named Ed Brock was lynched at Murphyville in Union County for allegedly insulting a white woman. In 1922, oil was discovered in what is known as the Smackover field in Union and Ouachita counties, and by 1923, J. T. Murphy was operating a number of wells there. Murphyville, which the Arkansas Gazette described as being located six miles northeast of Norphlet (Union County), was probably an oil camp.

According to the Gazette, Brock had allegedly insulted Mrs. W. C. Ranoff, the wife of an oil field worker. She reported the incident to her husband, who got a gun and captured Brock on the afternoon of August 10. According to reports, Ranoff intended to take “the youth” to El Dorado (Union County) to put him in “the hands of the law.” Before he could do this, however, a mob of oil workers took Brock and whipped him. Dissatisfied with this punishment, however, the mob then hanged Brock from a tree limb and “riddled his body with bullets.” His body remained hanging from the tree until 10:00 the next morning.

By August 12, five men had been arrested for the crime: W. C. Ranoff, J. A. Sasrer, I. J. McNeil, J. S. Wright, and Thomas Clark—all of them oil field workers. They were being held without bond pending a hearing. There is no information available as to whether the five were ever tried or convicted.

For additional information:
“Negro Is Lynched in Union County.” Arkansas Gazette, August 12, 1923, p. 1.

Nancy Snell Griffith
Davidson, North Carolina

Last Updated: 03/27/2021