Civil War to Gilded Age

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

Ramsey, Dave (Lynching of)

A young Black man named Dave Ramsey was lynched in Marianna (Lee County) on January 9, 1881, for allegedly having attempted to rape a white girl. This was the first recorded lynching in Lee County, where the death toll by lynching would eventually reach seventeen documented cases by 1919. At the time Ramsey was killed, the Black population of Lee County was more than double the white population, a disparity that would only increase in the coming years.   The first report of this event appeared in the Arkansas Gazette on January 13, 1881, under the headline, “A Raper Roped,” with the subtitle, “The Pine Bluff Code Works to Perfection.” This report consists of reprinting a letter, dated January 10 and …

Randolph, John (Lynching of)

On July 22, 1875, an African American man named John Randolph was shot by unknown men at Cowell’s Landing (Mississippi County). Randolph and another man were accused of the robbery and murder of Frank Williams, a German man who worked on a plantation named Dickenson’s Mills, which was owned by A. K. Hancock and located on Frenchman’s Bayou forty miles above Memphis, Tennessee. While the Arkansas Gazette published a story datelined Memphis on July 26, a July 31 story in the Osceola Times contained more complete and presumably more accurate information. According to the Times, on Monday, July 19, Williams was paid and then started out for the Shawnee Village landing, located on a plantation of that name owned by …

Reported Smallpox Lynching of 1894

Early in May 1894, newspapers across the country began to publish sensational articles, based on a report to Little Rock (Pulaski County) from Ouachita County, on the lynching of a man with smallpox near Miles Switch. As is often the case with false lynching reports, the news continued to circulate even after the Arkansas Gazette published a clarification on May 7. Smallpox was common in the United States during the spring of 1894, with cases appearing in most states. Arkansas was one of the states affected; even though a vaccine had been developed in the late eighteenth century, the state did not require vaccination until 1897. According to an article published by the Gazette on May 2, 1894, twenty-nine smallpox …

Reynolds, Dan (Lynching of)

In late December 1888, Dan Reynolds, an African American, was beaten and left for dead near Coffee Creek (Phillips County) by nine other African-American men who apparently disapproved of his relationship with a local black woman. The Arkansas Gazette referred to this incident as “one of the most atrocious crimes ever committed in this or any other country.” Coffee Creek is located in Big Creek Township, and Dan Reynolds had been living there for almost twenty years. He is listed in the 1870 census as a farm laborer, living with his wife, Vester (or Vesta) who was thirty-nine. By 1880, they had a ten-year-old daughter named Eliza. According to a report published in the Arkansas Gazette on January 15, 1889, …

Rice, William (Lynching of)

On November 7, 1891, an African American named William Rice was murdered in Conway County for unknown reasons. News of the event appeared in the Indianapolis Journal on November 9. Citing a report received from Little Rock (Pulaski County) on November 8, the Journal stated that Rice’s body was found hanging from a tree near Plumerville (Conway County) on the morning of November 7. Appearances indicated that Rice had been killed first, and then his body was suspended from the tree. The November 18 edition of the Pilot of Morrilton (Conway County) reported that Rice’s body had been found suspended on a bridle rein on the Springfield and Dover Road near Solgohachia (Conway County) “last Thursday morning.” This would have …

Ricks, G. W. and Moses (Lynching of)

In June 1898, prosperous African-American farmer G. W. Ricks and his son, Rev. Moses Ricks, were lynched in southern Monroe County for the alleged assault of a white farmer’s wife. According to historian Terence Finegan, whose A Deed so Accursed is a study of lynching in South Carolina and Mississippi, prosperous African Americans were occasionally lynched because their success threatened the notion of white superiority. Census information both illuminates and confuses the story. In 1870, there was a black farmer named Jim Ricks living in Monroe County’s Duncan Township. He was twenty-seven years old, and living with him were his wife, Miriam, and several other family members, all of them too old to be the Rickses’ children. Ricks was a …

Ruffin, Isaac (Lynching of)

On November 30, 1874, an African American man named Isaac Ruffin was lynched near Marion (Crittenden County) for allegedly assaulting and murdering fourteen-year-old Melissa Adams and raping her thirteen-year-old sister Margaret (Maggie); both sisters were African American. Public records reveal nothing about Ruffin, but the 1870 census lists Melissa and Margaret living in Jasper Township with their parents, Jubilee and Cynthia. On December 3, 1874, the New Orleans Bulletin published one of the earliest accounts of the crime. On November 28, Ruffin allegedly met Melissa in the woods near Marion. He assaulted her and then tried to kill her with a knife. She fought back, and in the struggle, Ruffin lost the knife. Unable to find it in the dark, …