Jim Holland (Lynching of)

On Saturday, November 26, 1881, Jim Holland, a white man, was lynched in Dardanelle (Yell County) for the crime of murder.

Jim Holland, along with William Casey and Charles G. Helphrey, were accused of having murdered a cotton buyer, Burgess James, near Dardanelle in the fall of 1878. They were eventually captured and placed in the jail at Ozark (Franklin County) to protect them from a lynch mob. However, on July 18, 1881, Holland and his accomplices were able to escape from the jail; either their guard, Jim Hill, was careless or they may have drugged him. Holland and Casey were later recaptured in Polk County, Tennessee, having been trailed there by a Yell County lawman named Captain Poole.

Holland was taken back to Arkansas by an armed escort. On November 26, 1881, the group got off the train at Russellville (Pope County), so they were not there when members of the mob boarded the train at the Mill Creek (Pope County) station that evening seeking Holland. (The Arkansas Democrat published a lengthy letter from a passenger, J. H. Van, describing this occurrence in its November 30, 1881, issue.) Learning that Holland had already been carried to the jail at Dardanelle, the mob crossed the river and proceeded there.

Reports vary on when the lynching took place, with some putting it between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m., while others placed it closer to 1:00 a.m. on November 27. An armed mob of 200 men broke down the doors of the local jail and “quieted the guards with cold steel, v z: a leveled pistol held dangerously near their craniums.” A detachment of six men had previously gone out to force George Cole, the deputy sheriff, to remain at his residence. The mob secured the keys and hanged Jim Holland there “inside the stockade,” rather than taking him outside, as was more often the case with such lynchings. One report specifies that he was hanged from “the same beam the mob hung Taylor on last summer,” referencing an earlier Dardanelle lynching.

In keeping with many of the tropes of lynching reports, the mob in this case was described as completing its task “so quietly and with such dispatch that those living hard by the calaboose were not disturbed in their slumber. There were some seven or eight prisoners inside the cage at the time that were not interrupted in the least.”

Holland’s name is variously rendered James P. Holland or J. T. Holland. The 1880 census does record one James P. Holland, age twenty-nine, residing in Dardanelle; his occupation is given as “prisoner.”

For additional information:
“Caught at Last.” Arkansas Democrat, November 22, 1881, p. 4.

“The Grand Scare.” Arkansas Democrat, November 30, 1881, p. 4.

“The Greatest Good to the Greatest Number.” Arkansas Democrat, November 29, 1881, p. 4.

“A Human Fiend.” Arkansas Democrat, June 12, 1881, p. 1.

“Mobbed by the People.” Arkansas Democrat, November 28, 1881, p. 1.

“Unlocked the Doors.” Arkansas Democrat, July 19, 1881, p. 1.

Staff of the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas

Last Updated: 03/10/2022