Frank King (Lynching of)

On June 17, 1895, an African-American minister named Frank King was hanged in Portland (Ashley County) for allegedly shooting and seriously wounding one of his deacons, William Toney.

Frank King may be the twenty-two-year-old man who the federal census shows married eighteen-year-old Sophia George in Ashley County in September 1887. According to one report, King, a Baptist pastor, was “on intimate terms” with William Toney’s wife. On Monday, July 16, when the two men met on the street, King allegedly pulled a pistol and shot Toney twice in the abdomen. King tried to escape but was captured and placed in jail in Portland. That same night, a mob of African Americans took King from the jail and “stealthily and quietly” hanged him from a tree. Apparently, there were rumors that King had actually committed suicide, but they were not deemed credible. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Toney was very popular in Portland, which resulted in King’s quick punishment.

The Gazette indicated that Toney was not expected to live, and several other newspapers, including the Forrest City Times, reported that he had died. He may have survived, however, since in 1900 a thirty-seven-year-old African-American widower named William Tony [sic] was living with his three children and working as a farm laborer in De Bastrop Township.

For additional information:
“By the Rope Route.” Arkansas Gazette, June 21, 1895, p. 6.

“Lynched the Preacher.” Forrest City Times, June 28, 1895, p. 5.

Nancy Snell Griffith
Davidson, North Carolina


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