Samuel McIntyre (Lynching of)
On April 23, 1919, an African-American man named Sam McIntyre was hanged near Forrest City (St. Francis County) for allegedly murdering another black man, John Johnson, the previous February. According to the February 10, 1919, edition of the Arkansas Gazette, on February 6, Johnson was shot through the window while playing checkers with a friend at his home on the Graham farm. McIntyre was arrested after the killing, along with U. L. “Hub” Lancaster (a white man) and Rube McGee (a black man). According to the report, “Johnson was a witness against Lancaster and McIntyre in several liquor cases, one case of assault to kill and another case charging burglary and grand larceny.” He was to testify when the case came before the March term of the St. Francis County Circuit Court. The accused were said to have threatened to kill Johnson if he did not leave the area.
There is some information available on those involved in this case. According to an online family tree of the John F. Peck family, Hub Lancaster’s full name was Ulman L. Lancaster. He was born in Alabama in 1880, and in 1901 he married Mary Ann Parish in St. Francis County. He must have escaped the lynching in 1919, as he died in St. Francis County in 1921 and is buried in Hughes Cemetery there. In 1900, Sam McIntyre, then age nine, was living in Wheatley Township in St. Francis County with his parents Lee and Jane McIntyre and five siblings. The McIntyres had been in Arkansas at least since the birth of their oldest daughter in 1886. A man named Sam McIntyre, whose race was not given, married Rosa Jagers in St. Francis County in 1913. Rube McGee was born in Mississippi in 1894, and when he registered for the World War I draft in 1917, he was farming for U. L. Lancaster in Madison Township. There were two black men named John Johnson (or some variant) living in St. Francis County in 1910. One was a thirty-year-old tenant farmer who was living in Telico Township; the other, John Johanson, was living in Madison Township with his wife, Jinnie, and four children. It is uncertain if either of these is the John Johnson who was killed.
According to a report published in the Arkansas Democrat on April 23, “McIntyre bore the reputation of being a notorious bootlegger in the vicinity of Widener and Madison, east of this city (Forrest City).” While he was in jail, McIntyre allegedly threatened “to kill three white men and he did not care what became of him afterwards.” He and the other two men were supposed to be brought before the circuit court in late March, but their cases were continued. When news of the continuance spread, public sentiment was aroused. The Arkansas Gazette reported on April 24 that the authorities had no reason to anticipate a lynching, because “no one in Forrest City was sufficiently interested in the fate of McIntyre,” but late at night on April 22 or very early on the morning of April 23, two men reportedly approached the jail and called up to jailor Walter Lacefield, saying they were delivering a prisoner. Lacefield, thinking it was Madison Township constable Will Brown, went down and opened the door, whereupon more men emerged from hiding and overpowered him. The masked mob, some twenty-five or thirty in number, was composed of local African Americans. Some of them took the keys from Lacefield and removed McIntyre from his cell. At 2:30 on the morning of April 23 the mob took McIntyre to a telephone pole situated on the Rock Island Railroad a short distance from Forrest City, where they hanged him. His body was discovered the following morning. On April 24, the Gazette reported that after the lynching, Charles Fleming and Lon Pippin, who were Hub Lancaster’s bondsmen, surrendered him to the jail, saying that they refused to “stand as sureties for Lancaster’s appearance any longer.”
On May 9, the Forrest City Times Herald published a follow-up story on these events. The report stated: “Street rumor has it that the life of McIntyre was taken not for the crime he was accused of having committed, but that he might be silenced as a witness against others under indictment for the same, and other crimes. Other reports state that he would, the following day, have been released on bond, and that the lives of witnesses against him have been threatened.” The Times Herald went on to condemn the lynching: “No matter the motive, the lynching of McIntyre was without justification, and lowers the standard of the county as law abiding citizens. Those who believe in organized government, in the protection of its courts for their lives and property, should assist the district attorney in apprehending the guilty parties, and they, the district attorney and other court officials should discharge a duty they owe the state by diligently searching for evidence in the case.” There is no indication that anyone was charged, and nothing is known of the fate of Rube McGee.
For additional information:
“Danger Ahead.” Forrest City Times Herald, May 9, 1919, p. 4.
“Forrest City Mob Lynches a Negro.” Arkansas Gazette, April 24, 1919, p. 1.
“Negro Is Lynched by Mob of Masked Forrest City Men.” Arkansas Democrat, April 23, 1919, p. 1.
“Three Men are Held.” Arkansas Gazette, February 10, 1919, p. 3.
Nancy Snell Griffith
Davidson, North Carolina
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