Jefferson County Lynching of December 1897
In late December 1897, an unidentified African American man was found dead and reportedly lynched in a field between Altheimer (Jefferson County) and Sherrill (Jefferson County). Although some sources indicate that the supposed lynching happened in early January, the Pine Bluff Daily Graphic reported on December 30 that he had been killed on Wednesday, December 29. According to their account, the man had formerly been tried for hog stealing, “but each time, by some means, he was acquitted.” Speculation was that the man was found with another stolen hog and “parties…exasperated at the repeated defeats of justice…shot him.”
On January 3, 1898, the Moline Dispatch, which erroneously noted that Sherrill was in Cleveland County, published more details on the killing. Describing the victim as “an aged negro,” the Dispatch reported that the man had been “lynched by a mob of white citizens” near Sherrill. When his body was discovered, it was lying atop the carcass of a hog that he had allegedly stolen. Pinned to his clothing was a note reading, “You will never tell who told you to steal this hog.” The stolen hog was reportedly an Arkansas razorback and was worth two dollars. That same day, the Wilmington Sun published a similar article but added that the dead man lived in a cabin near Sherrill and “was strung up to his cabin door and shot” when he was caught in the act of stealing. Several other newspapers across the United States published similar accounts.
For additional information:
“Arkansas is in With First.” The Dispatch (Moline, Illinois), January 3, 1898, p. 1.
“The Chicago Tribune’s Statement.” Arkansas Democrat, January. 27, 1898, p. 2.
“Lynched for Hog Stealing.” The Sun (Wilmington, Delaware), January 3, 1898, p. 1.
“Was He Murdered?” Pine Bluff Daily Graphic, December 30, 1897, p. 1.
Nancy Snell Griffith
Davidson, North Carolina
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