Scott County Lynching of 1843

In the spring of 1843, authorities in Scott County jailed a Native American man and an African-American boy for murdering a local family. The former was hanged, while the latter was burned alive. Only one published account was given regarding the incident and, as a result, limited information is available.

The incident was reported in the June 2, 1843, edition of the Rochester Republican, but only in brief, with the whole report reading as follows: “The family of a Mr. Cox was recently murdered in Scott county, Arkansas, near the Choctaw lines, by an Indian and a negro, who were put in jail, and confessed the crime. The population afterwards took the negro out and burned him!” Norman Goodner’s 1941 book A History of Scott County, Arkansas contains a little more information, but not much. According to Goodner, the Indian man who was convicted was referred to only as Joe, with no last name. The Black youth was never mentioned by name. Nothing is known to have been reported in any official capacity. The incident has been mentioned in several local histories but with no citation about the original source.

On January 5, 1843, the county seat of Scott County was moved nearer the center of the county. The seat was established in the community of Winfield, about two miles northeast of Waldron. (This area is not to be confused with the community of Winfield located west of Waldron.) According to the Republican, it was here the two deaths occurred. Reportedly, this was the only hanging by civil authorities in Scott County. After being questioned by authorities, the pair confessed to murdering a family named Cox who lived along the Poteau River near Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). Joe was hanged from a cedar tree near the courthouse and is reportedly buried nearby. The child was chained up in an old house and burned to death.

As very few lynchings and public hangings were reported in any official capacity at this time, the early days of Scott County’s history will never be fully understood regarding the violence of lynchings.

For additional information:
“A Family Murdered and a Negro Murderer.” Rochester Republican, June 2, 1843.

Goodner, Norman. A History of Scott County, Arkansas. Siloam Springs, AR: Bar D Press, 1941.

Ty Richardson
Richardson Preservation Consulting


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