Louis Allwhite (Lynching of)
Louis Allwhite, a white man, was lynched just outside of Newport (Jackson County) on December 31, 1904, for having allegedly participated, with his son, in the rape and murder of two women on Christmas Day. The incident is particularly indicative of the brazenness of lynch mobs and how their violence was abetted by local law enforcement officials, who typically ruled that the victim of a lynching died at the hands of people “unknown” even when the act was carried out in broad daylight.
At the time of the murder, Louis Allwhite was forty-three years old and Newton Allwhite nineteen. In the 1900 census, the Allwhite family is recorded as living in Big Bottom Township of neighboring Independence County, the family consisting of Louis and his wife, along with three daughters and two sons. Louis Allwhite was reportedly a suspect in the December 23, 1896, murder of prosperous farmer Pike Bateman but denied any involvement.
According to news reports, on December 25, 1904, Louis and Newton Allwhite encountered Rachel Kinkannon and her married daughter, Amelia Mauldin, on the Jacksonport Road as the women were undertaking “a mission of charity to the bedside of the latter’s husband.” The Allwhites reportedly dragged the women to a nearby ravine, where they raped and murdered them. They threw the body of Kinkannon into the White River and had intended to dispose of Mauldin’s corpse likewise but were interrupted by a group of people coming along the road and hid before escaping. The passersby saw the body of the younger woman and reported the murder to authorities. According to an initial report in the Arkansas Gazette, the violence must have been accomplished with rapidity, given that the women were ferried across the river at 8:00 a.m. and their bodies were found an hour later. Initial suspects included a “camp of movers” who had been within 300 yards of the site, as well as “a negro and a white man” who “had followed the two women after they were set across the river,” but these leads proved false. Several witnesses came forward, having reportedly seen the perpetrators, and the Allwhites were soon arrested. Blood was reportedly found upon the elder man’s coat, and Newton Allwhite provided a confession that was “corroborated by many circumstances.” Louis Allwhite, however, denied all charges levied against him. Specifically, he implicated Arthur Bunch and Walter Burgess, both white farmers, but newspapers reported that both men had provided alibis to the authorities.
As the coroner’s inquest began to gather evidence, mob spirit was building in the county, as locals were angered by reports that, following the inquest’s verdict against the men, authorities were transferring the Allwhites from Newport to another town. At 2:00 p.m. on December 31, a mob estimated at 700 overpowered Sheriff H. S. Simmons and the guards at the county jail. (Simmons was reportedly dressing the Allwhites in the guise of women when the mob interrupted them.) According to the Gazette, “Many prominent citizens reasoned with the mob to delay until the body of the other woman was found and the boy’s story further strengthened, but all to no avail.” The mob kidnapped only Louis Allwhite, leaving behind his son, and took him to the same spot where the murder had occurred. Unlike his son, the elder Allwhite maintained his innocence, telling the mob, “You will later hang another man for the crime you are now killing me for.” James Kinkannon (Rachel Kinkannon’s husband and father of Amelia Mauldin) was present when Allwhite was hanged from a railroad trestle. Allwhite’s body was cut down soon after he was dead and delivered to an undertaker.
A January 3, 1905, editorial in the Arkansas Gazette exemplified the ambiguity in the approach to lynching. The Gazette praised Simmons for having “zealously worked up the case against the Allwhites” but then ridiculed him for his lack of foresight in the face of potential mob violence. The unsigned editorial countered claims that lynching constitutes “a salutary institution because of the power of an example as a deterrent influence” by asserting that “the best and most effective deterrent from crime is competent and remorseless courts.” However, the editorial closed by noting that the text of Newton Allwhite’s confession “is enough to make the lynching spirit burn hot in the blood of even a law-abiding people.”
Despite the fact that the mob marched without disguise in the light of the afternoon through town and down a public highway, and that its members were “generally known,” the coroner’s jury investigating the lynching concluded that Allwhite’s death was carried out by people unknown. A January 5, 1905, editorial in the Gazette remarked upon this news thusly: “Why should there be talk about the decline of humor? It isn’t on decline at Newport!”
The following month, Newton Allwhite pleaded guilty to second-degree murder (after being originally indicted for first-degree murder) in Jackson County Circuit Court and was sentenced to twenty-one years in the state penitentiary. At the end of February 1905, Rachel Kinkannon’s body was discovered in the White River five miles below Newport, having been preserved by the cold waters. The newspaper also reported that the Newport Relief Society had sent James Kinkannon to his “old home in Indiana.”
For additional information:
“An Awful Deed Committed.” Arkansas Democrat, December 28, 1904, p. 7.
“Body of Woman Found in River.” Arkansas Gazette, March 1, 1905, p. 1.
“Boy Confesses.” Fort Smith Times, January 1, 1905, p. 1.
“Death at Hands of Unknown Mob.” Arkansas Gazette, January 4, 1905, p. 1.
“Efforts to Solve Murder Mystery.” Arkansas Gazette, December 30, 1904, p. 1.
“Fate of Son Whose Father Was Lynched.” Arkansas Democrat, February 5, 1905, p. 1.
“Father and Son Held for Murder.” Arkansas Gazette, December 31, 1904, p. 1.
“Mob at Newport Lynch White Man.” Arkansas Gazette, January 1, 1905, p. 1.
“Mother and Child Shot to Death.” Arkansas Gazette, December 28, 1904, p. 1.
“Murdered Woman Found in River.” Arkansas Democrat, March 2, 1905, p. 1.
“The Newport Lynching.” Arkansas Gazette, January 3, 1905, p. 4.
“Young Allwhite in for 21 Years.” Arkansas Gazette, February 4, 1905, p. 1.
Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture
Last Updated: 03/01/2018