Civil War to Gilded Age

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Entries - Entry Category: Civil War to Gilded Age - Starting with J

Jackson, Henry (Lynching of)

On October 4, 1877, an African-American man named Henry Jackson was shot by a masked mob near Watson (Desha County) for allegedly murdering a justice of the peace referred to only as Mr. O’Neil. However, the circumstances of the event speak to the broader efforts in post-Reconstruction Arkansas to remove black elected officials from office. While it is impossible to identify O’Neil, there were two African Americans named Henry Jackson living in Desha County in 1870. The first was a twenty-nine-year-old farmer living in Red Fork Township who had personal property worth $500 and real estate valued at $250. The second was a twenty-seven-year-old farmer who was living in Jefferson Township and had personal property worth $125 and real estate …

James, Henry (Lynching of)

On May 14, 1892, Henry James was lynched in Little Rock (Pulaski County) for an alleged assault on five-year-old Maggie Doxey. According to the Arkansas Gazette, it was the first time in twenty years that “Little Rock [had] witnessed a mob or an attempt at enforcing mob law in this city.” James, described in some newspapers as a twenty-two-year-old “mulatto,” was originally from Augusta, Maine, but had moved south three years earlier. He worked for a time as a waiter in Hot Springs (Garland County), but for the two weeks prior to his murder, he had been working for the family of Charles Johnson in Little Rock. According to the Arkansas Gazette, the family found him to be “a faithful …

Jefferies, Oscar (Lynching of)

In 1887, a black teacher named Oscar Jefferies from Brownstown (Sevier County) was shot to death by a group of men because he eloped with Ina W. Jones, the daughter of a wealthy white farmer. According to newspaper accounts, Oscar Jefferies, “a fine looking colored man,” arrived in Brownstown from Oswego, New York, in June 1887 to take over the “colored academy.” After his arrival, he paid considerable attention to Ina Jones, who was described as the daughter of “one of the largest plantation owners in the counties.” She welcomed his attentions, and despite her parents’ threats, in late September, she told her friends that she was going to marry Jefferies the following Sunday, October 2. When her parents heard …

Jefferson County Lynching of August 1897

Even when they appear in newspapers across the United States, some accounts of lynchings are so brief that it is difficult to uncover details or even confirm the events. Such is the case of an African American man whose body was supposedly found hanging from a trot line in the Arkansas River near Rob Roy (Jefferson County) in 1897. While the Arkansas Gazette, in an article datelined September 1, reported that the body was discovered on August 31, other sources give the date as September 1 or September 2. Due to the fact that there was a rope around the man’s neck and he had several gashes in his head, reports speculated that he had been lynched and then thrown …

Jefferson County Lynching of December 1897

In late December 1897, an unidentified African American man was found dead and reportedly lynched in a field between Altheimer (Jefferson County) and Sherrill (Jefferson County). Although some sources indicate that the supposed lynching happened in early January, the Pine Bluff Daily Graphic reported on December 30 that he had been killed on Wednesday, December 29. According to their account, the man had formerly been tried for hog stealing, “but each time, by some means, he was acquitted.” Speculation was that the man was found with another stolen hog and “parties…exasperated at the repeated defeats of justice…shot him.” On January 3, 1898, the Moline Dispatch, which erroneously noted that Sherrill was in Cleveland County, published more details on the killing. …

Jenkins, S. A. (Lynching of)

In the White County town of West Point in May 1900, whitecappers (also called nightriders) murdered a black schoolteacher named S. A. Jenkins. While this event was described in state newspaper accounts most often as an example of whitecapping, Jenkins’s murder is also typically included in tabulations of lynching victims in America. According to news reports, two different businesses had been robbed in West Point on the night of Saturday, May 19, 1900. Apparently, Jenkins was suspected, as was another man named only Durham in reports. The name S. A. Jenkins does not match any local census data for the year 1900, and so determining his exact identity is difficult. On the night of May 20, 1900, as the Arkansas …

Jim Crow Laws

Jim Crow laws were statutes passed in most of the Southern states between the 1880s and 1960s that separated the races and created a segregated society. Exactly why these laws were implemented at this time is unclear, although scholars believe that they may have been a response to the breakdown of traditional barriers between black and white people in the post-Reconstruction era. This breakdown was made possible by expansion of the South’s railroads, development of urban areas and industrial workplaces, and the progress African Americans made economically during this period. Whatever the reason for the timing of their passage, these laws reflected prevalent anti-black racism and the views of contemporary whites, who asserted that African Americans represented an inferior and …

Johnson, Jeff (Lynching of)

On September 15, 1869, an African-American man named Jeff Johnson was lynched near Des Arc (Prairie County) for allegedly attacking Jennie Conly, the niece of Colonel John H. Bulls. Bulls, a wealthy planter, had been in Prairie County since at least 1860, when he was living near Walnut Plains with his wife, Amanda. He served as a captain in the Twenty-First Arkansas Infantry during the Civil War and was to die of a brain disease only two months after the alleged attack on Conly. According to reports, before the Civil War, Jeff Johnson had been a slave belonging to John C. Johnson in St. Francis County. After the war, Johnson was convicted of theft in Madison (St. Francis County), but …

Jones, Henry (Lynching of)

On June 23, 1891, an African-American man named Henry Jones, accused of murdering his wife, was hanged by a mob near Hamburg (Ashley County). The victim may have been a thirty-seven-year-old African American named Henry Jones, who in 1880 was twenty-six and living in Ashley County’s De Bastrop Township with his wife, Eliza, age eighteen, and children Jane (age five) and William (age one). Although newspaper accounts indicate that Jones’s wife’s name was Lucy, this may be an error in reporting. On June 18, the Arkansas Democrat published a report on Jones’s alleged crime. According to the Democrat, Jones told authorities that after cooking breakfast on the morning of June 11, his wife went out to get one of their …

Jones, James (Lynching of)

James Jones (some sources refer to him as W. A. Jones) was an African-American choir director lynched near the historic Hinemon University campus on August 22, 1895, in Monticello (Drew County) after being forcibly removed from the Drew County jail by a mob. Jones was accused of murdering Harry Beltshoover of Tillar (Drew and Desha counties) in 1894 but avoided capture by law enforcement for roughly a year while traveling through Arkansas and surrounding states. He was later allegedly involved with the injury of J. R. Bennett of Dermott (Chicot County) during an escape attempt from the Drew County jail on August 17, 1895. Jones was arrested in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on June 20, 1895, by Sheriff M. A. …

Jonesboro Lynching of 1881

aka: Greensboro Lynching of 1881
In March 1881, Martha (Mattie) Ishmael, the teenage daughter of planter Benjamin Russell Ishmael, was brutally murdered in the family’s home near Jonesboro (Craighead County). Four African Americans were accused of the murder and were bound over to the grand jury, but before they could be tried, they were lynched by a mob of masked men. Benjamin Ishmael was born in Tennessee, but by the middle of the 1830s, he and his parents had settled in Arkansas in Greensboro (Craighead County), eleven miles east of Jonesboro. Greensboro, then located in Greene County, was settled around 1835, and was mostly occupied by small farmers. It was not until the late nineteenth century that the lush forests of the area would give rise …

Jordan, Bob (Lynching of)

In August 1892, an African-American man named Bob Jordan was shot by members of a mob near Camden (Ouachita County) for allegedly insulting a white woman. According to the Arkansas Gazette, a Constable Wright had arrested Jordan and was en route to Camden with his prisoner on the night of August 8. Along the way, six miles from town, a group of masked men intercepted them. The men told the constable to leave and then shot Jordan. The incident was reported in a number of newspapers across the country, with the Postville, Iowa, Graphic reporting that Jordan had attempted to assault a woman. Historian Kenneth C. Barnes, in his book Journey of Hope, noted that the incident was indicative of …