Rowland and Dickerson (Lynching of)
The names of the lynching victims vary depending upon the newspaper. The Arkansas Gazette report refers to them only as Rowland and Dickerson, while the Batesville Guard gives their full names as Gill Roland and John Dickinson, and their ages as about nineteen and eighteen, respectively. According to the Guard, the men were believed to have come from Dent County, Missouri.
The Guard, describing the pair as “heartless wretches” and “two demons,” insists that the pair committed their murder “without the slightest provocation or warning.” On the night of October 2, the men first ate dinner at a restaurant owned by Hamp Lewis in Newport (Jackson County) but refused to pay for their meal, exclaiming “with an oath that there was not men enough in Newport to arrest them.” Then, after walking up and down the streets, “they mounted their horses, drew their revolvers, and at a full gallop, turning the corner into Front street, began firing off their pistols at the citizens who were standing on the sidewalk engaged in conversation.” One of these bullets struck John Nieman (or Neiman) through the heart, killing him instantly, and the two men fled the town with the law in pursuit.
Early the next morning, Rowland and Dickerson were apprehended “at a Mr. Daly’s six miles below Newport, for whom they had been picking cotton for several days before.” The prisoners were taken to Newport and, from there, to the jail at Jacksonport, where they were delivered to Sheriff J. R. Loftin. The next day, at an examining trial in Newport, they were committed to return to jail and await trial during the March term of the circuit court.
However, at about 1:00 a.m. on October 6, some fifty masked men, mounted on horseback, surrounded the county jail at Jacksonport. The jailor, in response, fled with the keys to the jail, and so the mob broke into a local blacksmith shop and stole chisels and hammers with which to break open the doors and jail cells. The bodies of Rowland and Dickerson were later found hanging from a tree “about a mile toward Newport.” One of them was found to have been shot, leading the Guard to speculate that he had “endeavored to escape.”
The Guard’s report ended with this editorial note: “The oft failure to convict criminals, no doubt, led to this lynching.” However, the two men had yet even to be put on trial for their alleged crimes.
For additional information:
“A Cold Blooded Murder at Newport.” Batesville Guard, October 20, 1880, p. 2.
“Linked to a Limb.” Arkansas Gazette, October 7, 1880, p. 1.
Staff of the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas
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