Joe Parrent (Lynching of)

On June 3, 1890, a white man named Joe Parrent was lynched in Yell County for having returned to the county after previously being whipped and driven away. Parrent was one of eight men reported lynched in Yell County from 1881 to 1897, all of them white.

According to the June 12, 1890, report in the Arkansas Gazette, Joe Parrent’s brother, Grant, had, with some other men, “shot from the brush a farmer and good citizen by the name of Gates, while he was plowing in his field,” six years prior. An Arkansas Democrat report from 1884 names this “good citizen” as J. A. Yeats of Gravelly Hill Township in Yell County and says that Parrent broke into the man’s house on October 24, shooting him three times. Governor James Henderson Berry offered a $200 reward for the capture of Grant Parrent, a reward increased by the victim’s relatives. Later, at the house of Joe Parrent, Grant was killed by “citizens and officers…while attempting to make the arrest.”

In August 1889, “Joe Parrent was taken out by citizens and whipped while he still lived in the same neighborhood and notified to leave,” being told that “if he did not leave that day that he would be hung that night.” He moved down into neighboring Scott County and started farming there, but “he was again notified by his neighbors to move,” and so returned to his home in Yell County, but only after passing through Waldron (Scott County), where he “bought cartridges for three weapons and also bought a large butcher knife” in preparation to “stand the racket.”

The initial June 11, 1890, report on the lynching in the Arkansas Gazette notes that three weeks prior, Parrent had been shot from ambush near Gravelly Hill, but that the wounds did not prove fatal. Consequently, a mob decided to hang him. The exact location is not specified. The correspondent to the Gazette noted that Parrent “was shot while in Scott County” and so was likely “also hung in that county.” However, a follow-up report places the hanging in Yell County and notes that the mob was composed of “unknown parties, about twenty-five in number.”

The 1880 census records a Joseph Parent, age thirty-two, living in Gravelly Hill Township with his wife and two children, and working as a farmer. According to the Gazette, “Parrent at one time stood fair in the estimation of good people, but since the first trouble he showed to be growing indolent and troublesome.” He reportedly “neglected and abused his family of late years, and more than once his wife tried to get away from him.” Indeed, the Gazette noted that Parrent “at time showed not to be properly balanced” and was suspected of intending to kill “some one that assisted in killing his brother.”

For additional information:
“$200 Reward.” Arkansas Democrat, October 31, 1884, p. 2.

“The Hanging of Parrent.” Arkansas Gazette, June 12, 1890, p. 1.

“Joe Parrent’s Fate.” Arkansas Gazette, June 11, 1890, p. 1.

Staff of the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas

Last Updated: 04/18/2022