Monroe County Lynching of 1915
aka: H. M. Gandy (Lynching of)
aka: Jeff Mansell (Lynching of)
On February 27, 1915, two pearl fishermen—H. M. Gandy (sometimes referred to as Candy) and Jeff Mansell—were lynched near Indian Bay, located on the eastern bank of the White River in Monroe County. Both men were white. Most lynching victims in Arkansas’s history were black, but this incident is reminiscent of pre–Civil War days in Arkansas when vigilante justice was often meted out to white criminals.
Records reveal nothing about either Gandy or Mansell. According to the Arkansas Gazette, they were fishermen and pearl hunters and lived in cabin boats on the river near Indian Bay. Although the killings occurred in Monroe County, the men’s boats were moored across the river near St. Charles (Arkansas County). They and their families were suspects in the thefts of dozens of hogs in the surrounding area. Eventually, an Arkansas County farmer named T. E. Norsworthy—public records indicate that this was probably Thomas Edward Norsworthy—went out looking for his missing hogs, and Mansell and Gandy greeted him with guns. He feared that “the pair would have killed him had not another man intervened” and went to B. P. Jackson, a local justice of the peace, and swore out warrants.
According to the Gazette, Arkansas County sheriff Lloyd LaFargue sent three deputies to arrest the pair. Gandy and Mansell became enraged and “declared they would kill everyone in the town of St. Charles…and would burn the town.” The deputies arrested them, and they were confined in Dan Parker’s store in St. Charles. Two of their sons, armed with rifles, attempted to rescue their fathers, and they were disarmed, arrested, and held for the grand jury. The officers then boarded a boat with Mansell and Gandy and started out for Indian Bay for trial. As they were paddling through a bayou, they were intercepted by a group of armed men and were ordered to stop, land, and abandon their prisoners. Several minutes after they left, they heard shots; when they returned, the deputies found Gandy and Mansell dead.
Monroe County sheriff Frank Milwee was able to discover little information about the mob. There were supposedly six to eight men involved, but no one recognized them, and they were assumed to be from Arkansas County. A coroner’s inquest was unable to determine who was responsible. According to the Gazette, the mob was forced to take these measures because of the “depredations of the two rivermen and by a belief that when they again obtained their freedom, they would carry out their threats of wholesale murder and the burning of the town of St. Charles.”
For additional information:
“Fear Was Cause of Double Killing.” Arkansas Gazette, March 5, 1915, p. 2.
“Mob Kills Two Whites Accused of Hog Thefts.” Arkansas Gazette, March 4, 1915, p. 1.
“Two Pearl Fishers on White River Are Mobbed.” Arkansas Democrat, March 4, 1915, p. 1.
Nancy Snell Griffith
Davidson, North Carolina
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