Sharpe McNeil (Lynching of)

According to the Arkansas Gazette’s coverage of the affair, on the night of January 18, 1881, a mob of about 100 men assembled at the jail in Star City (Lincoln County) for the purposes of lynching a white man named Sharpe McNeil, who had been charged with the murder of Dr. E. U. G. Anderson. The mob “surprised the jailor, put him under arrest, and proceeded to the jail, where they forced open the doors and took out the man.” The mob took McNeil “to the outskirts of the town, where he was found riddled with bullets.” The brief report in the January 20, 1881, Gazette ends by noting: “The people of Star City are much excited over the affair.”

A brief editorial on the lynching appears on the following page of the same issue in which the event was reported. It reads in full: “The Pine Bluff code appears to be the favorite rule of practice in eastern and southeastern Arkansas. Our special dispatch from Star City gives the particulars of a case wherein Judge Lynch rendered rather summary judgment. It may be well to inquire, however, if it is not about time this lawlessness ceased. It is a very efficacious mode of dealing with criminals, but hardly in keeping with advanced civilization.”

The Gazette’s appellation of “the Pine Bluff code” to describe lynching is rather strange, given that the only previous documented lynching in that city was the 1880 lynching of James Anderson; other lynchings in Jefferson County occurred outside the city of Pine Bluff. McNeil’s race is not specified in this later article on the murder, as was usually the case when white men were lynched. However, the only likely match for someone living in the same area on the 1880 federal census is an African American man whose name is given as “Sharp Mcneal,” living in Wells Bayou in Lincoln County. He was listed as born in 1852 in South Carolina and was working as a farmer and living with wife Mary Ann and twelve-year-old daughter Mattie.

For additional information:
“Mobbed.” Arkansas Gazette, January 20, 1881, p. 1.

Untitled editorial. Arkansas Gazette, January 20, 1881, p. 2.

Staff of the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas


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