Felix Gilmore (Lynching of)

On May 26, 1916, Felix Gilmore (sometimes referred to as Felix/Phelix Gilman or Gillmore) was hanged by a mob near Prescott (Nevada County) for allegedly attempting to assault a seventeen-year-old girl.

At the time of the federal census in 1910 (six years before the incident), Gilmore was listed as a ten-year-old African American living in Prescott with his parents, Frank and Pearl Gilmore. His father was working in a sawmill, and his mother was a washerwoman. They were renting their home, and they could all read and write. If the census record is correct, Gilmore was only sixteen at the time of his death, although newspapers reported him to be older. He had apparently been in trouble before. According to the Southwestern Reporter, he stole a bicycle from L. N. Westmoreland in January 1915 and was sentenced to one year in jail.

Gilmore, described as twenty-one years of age in newspaper articles, was arrested on May 26 for trying to assault the daughter of one of the county’s most respected citizens while she was at home alone. After the alleged assault, a posse assembled but was unable to find Gilmore in the nearby woods. He was arrested and jailed after having been found in a barn loft not far from Prescott. Following the arrest, Nevada County sheriff Sam Munn feared for Gilmore’s safety, and he and deputies Lee Griffith and Theo Elgin started traveling to Arkadelphia (Clark County) with Gilmore to protect him from local citizens. An armed mob of about fifty men stopped the sheriff’s car near Rose Hill Dairy just outside of Prescott and made him surrender his prisoner, who was then hanged from a tree. Shortly afterward, a large crowd arrived to view the body. The following morning, undertaker J. D. Cornish removed Gilmore’s body, and a coroner’s jury was called. Although the jury interviewed several witnesses, no member of the mob was ever identified.

For additional information:
“Felix Gillmore Hanged by Mob.” Nevada County Picayune, June 1, 1916, p. 1.

“Gilmore v. State.” In Southwestern Reporter, Vols. 175–176. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Company, 1915.

“Mob Seizes and Lynches Negro.” El Paso Herald, May 27–28, 1916, p. 12.

“Negro Is Lynched Near Prescott.” Arkansas Gazette, May 27, 1916, p. 1.

Nancy Snell Griffith
Davidson, North Carolina


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