Civil War to Gilded Age

Subcategories:
  • No categories
Clear

Entries - Entry Category: Civil War to Gilded Age

Gardner, Jeff (Lynching of)

On April 18, 1896, a twenty-one-year-old African-American man named Jeff (sometimes called Jefferson) Gardner was hanged in Cleveland County, ten miles north of Warren (Bradley County), for allegedly assaulting the daughter of a white man named Jeff Burrows (sometimes identified as Barrow). News of the lynching first appeared in the Arkansas Gazette on April 21. According to this and other reports, Gardner went to the home of Burrows, described by the Hopkinsville Kentuckian as “a respectable white man living near Warren,” and found only the children at home. One sister was sick, and Gardner allegedly drove other children from the house. The Gazette reported that one little boy attacked Gardner with a hoe in an attempt to protect his older …

Gould, Godfrey (Lynching of)

On July 30, 1896, an African American man named Godfrey Gould was lynched by a mob of more than 100 people in Brinkley (Monroe County) for having allegedly attempted to rape a woman. One early report of Gould’s alleged crime can be found in the July 22, 1896, issue of the Helena Weekly World, which reported that, on Monday, July 13, Gould “attempted to assault one of the gay damsels of his color, when she forcibly and effectively resisted by sending a ball [bullet] through his left cheek, passing out of his right eye.” He was soon arrested by Deputy Sheriffs Sell Johnson and J. A. Rogers, assisted by Deputy Sheriff W. B. Daizell, who “were mindful of his comfort” …

Graves, Levi (Lynching of)

A sixteen-year-old African-American boy named Levi Graves was lynched on August 24, 1888, in Sevier County for having allegedly molested and injured, the previous day, a five-year-old white girl. The girl was the daughter of Joseph A. Tally (whose name is also rendered J. F. Talley in some reports), a “highly respected farmer of the community.” According to the Arkansas Gazette, Graves was the “son of Peter Graves, a well-known and utterly worthless old negro living near Brownstown.” Census records show that, in 1880, Levi Graves, then eight years old, was living with his parents, Peter and Patsey Graves, in Mineral Springs (Howard County). He was one of ten children in the household. His parents were listed as farm laborers, …

Green (Lynching of)

On June 24, 1877, an African-American man identified only as Green was shot to death in Lonoke County after being arrested for his alleged participation in the murders of several members of the Eagle family in 1874. According to reports, a constable out searching for a suspect in an assault on a local woman came across Green and took him to the office of the justice of the peace, T. A. Beard. During the night, he was housed there under guard while authorities waited for a train to take him to Little Rock (Pulaski County). At 11:00 p.m. on the night of June 24, Green was sleeping on the floor of the office while Beard slept in a nearby room …

Greenwood, Bob (Lynching of)

On December 2, 1893, an African-American man named Bob Greenwood was shot by so-called whitecappers who went to his home near Cherry Valley (Cross County) to whip his wife after an altercation. (The terms “whitecapping,” “night riding,” and “bald knobbing” denote extralegal acts of violence targeting select groups and carried out by vigilantes under cover of night or disguise such as masks.) While most newspapers were unsure of what precipitated the lynching, the December 17 edition of the Arkansas Gazette reported that the children of a white man (William Wilson) and the children of an African-American man (Bob Greenwood) had an argument, and their mothers joined in the quarrel. When Wilson’s wife reported this to her husband, he became incensed. …

Grey, William Henry

William Henry Grey emerged as a leader of African Americans in Arkansas after he settled in Helena (Phillips County) in 1865. Never a slave himself, he was a tireless fighter for the rights of freedmen. His involvement in politics included being a Republican member of the 1868 state constitutional convention and a member of the Arkansas General Assembly, as well as serving as the Commissioner of Immigration and State Lands. In 1872, he became the first African American to address a national nominating convention, seconding the nomination of Republican presidential candidate Ulysses S. Grant in 1872. He was also the first Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge (Colored) of Free and Accepted Masons of Arkansas, established in 1873 from the merger …

Hadley, Nat (Reported Lynching of)

Beginning in the 1880s, and increasingly as Jim Crow laws were instituted across the South, newspapers across the United States began to increase their coverage of Southern lynchings. In addition, publications like the Chicago Tribune and organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Tuskegee Institute in Alabama began to keep annual lists of lynchings. Further examination of some newspaper accounts, however, shows that subsequent articles later corrected some lynching accounts to indicate that no lynching had indeed happened. False or questionable reports of this kind are often repeated on lynching lists published on the internet. This is the case with the supposed lynching of Nat Hadley (identified in one article as Newt Bradley). According …

Hampton Lynching of 1872

On March 12 or 13, 1872, a jailed African-American man alleged to have assaulted a white man named Tom Tatum was killed by a mob that stormed the Hampton (Calhoun County) jail and set it on fire. As is often the case, reports are conflicting, and it is hard to sort out the facts. On April 6, an account in the Memphis Daily Appeal, which references the March 28 edition of the Magnolia Flower, reported that “several weeks ago” an unidentified Black man attempted to kill Tatum. The alleged assailant fled, and a group of African Americans captured him near Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). He was put in jail in Hampton pending trial. According to the Appeal, “an enraged set …

Hampton Race War of 1892

aka: Calhoun County Race War of 1892
The Hampton Race War (also referred to as the Calhoun County Race War in many sources) occurred in September 1892 and entailed incidents of racial violence all across the southern part of the county. While many sources have attributed the events in Calhoun County to Arkansas’s passage of the Election Law of 1891, with provisions that vastly complicated the voting process for illiterate citizens of all races and effectively kept them from voting, it seems that the trouble in the county started prior to the early September election. Racial unrest was widespread in Arkansas in the 1890s, especially across the southern counties. Incidents increased after the state began passing Jim Crow legislation that limited the rights of its black citizens. (According …

Harris, Frank (Lynching of)

On August 18, 1871, an African-American man named Frank Harris was lynched at Wittsburg (Cross County) for allegedly murdering a twelve-year-old white girl named Isy Sanders, the daughter of Isaiah Sanders. According to the 1870 census, farmer I. Sanders was living near Wittsburg with his wife K. Sanders, their daughter S. J. (age twelve), and two sons, I. L. G. (age eleven) and M. C. (age five). That same year, a twenty-five-year-old African-American farm laborer identified as F. Harris was also living with his wife near Wittsburg, only two households away from the Sanders family. In addition, there was another African American named Frank Hare living not far away near Wittsburg with his wife M. Hare and four children between …

Hayden, Bud (Lynching of)

On June 3, 1898, Bud Hayden was lynched in Texarkana (Miller County) for allegedly assaulting twelve-year-old Jessie Scott, the daughter of the late James V. Scott, former circuit clerk. Although Hayden claimed to be twelve years old at the time, the authorities estimated his age to be at least eighteen. The Arkansas Gazette’s reports of the lynching were carried in newspapers across the country, including the Atlanta Constitution, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Herald. At the time of the 1880 census, J. V. Scott was living in Cut Off Township in Miller County. He was a twenty-four-year-old farmer living with his wife, Talitha, who was twenty. There was only one African-American family named Hayden in the county. …

Hogan, John (Lynching of)

On June 28, 1875, an African American named John Hogan was lynched near Russellville (Pope County) for allegedly attempting to assault one of Russ Tucker’s daughters. Public records provide some information about the lynching victim. The 1870 census (five years before the incident) lists a twelve-year-old African American named John Hogan, who was living on the farm of a twenty-two-year-old white man named Reece B. Hogans. Hogans had a wife, Josephine, and a two-year-old daughter. Also living on the farm was another black laborer, fifteen-year-old Rose Hogan, who may have been John Hogan’s sister. If this is the correct John Hogan, he would have been only seventeen when he was lynched. Russ Tucker was probably David Russell Tucker, who in …

Howard County Race Riot of 1883

aka: Hempstead County Race Riot of 1883
The Howard County Race Riot occurred along the Howard and Hempstead county line in late July and early August 1883. Two events spurred the outbreak of violence. First, a disagreement over the surveying of a property line led to the beating of Prince Marshall and his brother James Marshall, both African-American farmers, by Thomas Wyatt, a white sharecropper living on land owned by Joseph Reed, a white farmer. Second, a few days later, Wyatt is alleged to have approached a young black woman, a member of Prince and James Marshall’s family, as she was plowing alone in a field and “solicited” her. When she began to cry out, he hit her over the head with a fence rail. The latter …

Howard County Reported Lynching of 1894

Brief accounts of lynchings sometimes appeared in newspapers across the country but were later corrected or contradicted by local newspapers. Such was the case with an unidentified African-American man who was supposedly lynched in Howard County in December 1894. In mid-December, several out-of-state newspapers—including Memphis’s Commercial Appeal, the Indianapolis Journal, the New York Sun, the New York Times, and the Raleigh News and Observer—reported that on Monday, December 10, a Black man had “outraged” a small white child (some reports say that she was only two years old) near Center Point (Howard County). He was allegedly chased away by two women but was caught and jailed. On the night of December 11 (some sources say December 12), a mob removed …

Howard, Jesse (Lynching of)

On May 26, 1883, an African-American man named Jesse Howard was fatally shot in Marianna (Lee County) for allegedly setting fire to a livery stable. The Arkansas Gazette, in a brief report published on May 27, does not name Howard, but newspapers across the country reported on the incident, giving not only Howard’s name but additional details. Interestingly, a few of these additional reports mistakenly identified the lynching victim as Henry B. Derrick, who was, in fact, the owner of the livery stable. Jesse Howard had lived in Arkansas since at least 1870, when the census listed him as a farmer and a native of Virginia living in Phillips County with his wife, Susan. By 1880, he and Susan were …

Hunley, Dan (Lynching of)

On October 6, 1885, an African-American man named Hunley (or Hunly) was murdered for an alleged attack on a young white girl near Tuckerman (Jackson County). Although most reports identify the girl as Priscilla Bundy, census records reveal that her name was probably Drucilla Bandy. One account identifies Bandy’s attacker by the last name Hunly, but it is probable that Dan Hunley was the alleged perpetrator, as, in 1880, a widow named Nelly Hunley was living in Breckenridge Township of Jackson County with her two sons, Anderson (thirteen) and Dan (nineteen), and a daughter, Judy (ten). At the time of the 1880 census, nine-year-old Drucilla was living in Bird Township of Jackson County with her parents, farmer George W. Bandy …

Hunter, Buck (Lynching of)

On December 1, 1886, an African-American man named Buck Hunter was lynched in Monticello (Drew County) for allegedly threatening to kill “two respected citizens of that county.” While the identities of his intended victims are unknown, Buck Hunter does appear in Drew County records. In August 1884, a man named Buck Hunter married Julia Carr there; they were both listed as residents of Saline Township. According to the St. Paul Evening Globe, Hunter (referred to as “Brick” Hunter) was being held in the Monticello jail when group of masked men surrounded the jail and demanded the prisoner. The jailer, being outnumbered, surrendered the key. According to the Arkansas Gazette, the mob then “placed a rope around his neck, led him …

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 …

King, Frank (Lynching of)

On June 17, 1895, an African-American minister named Frank King was hanged in Portland (Ashley County) for allegedly shooting and seriously wounding one of his deacons, William Toney. Frank King may be the twenty-two-year-old man who the federal census shows married eighteen-year-old Sophia George in Ashley County in September 1887. According to one report, King, a Baptist pastor, was “on intimate terms” with William Toney’s wife. On Monday, July 16, when the two men met on the street, King allegedly pulled a pistol and shot Toney twice in the abdomen. King tried to escape but was captured and placed in jail in Portland. That same night, a mob of African Americans took King from the jail and “stealthily and quietly” …

Kirkendall, Mose (Lynching of)

On July 20, 1878, an African American named Mose Kirkendall was hanged in Boone County for allegedly attempting to rape a “Miss Walters,” a young white woman. This was reportedly the first lynching in Boone County. Although there was no Mose Kirkendall recorded as living in Boone County at the time of the 1870 census, there was a thirteen-year-old named Moses Kirkendale living in the household of farmer J. M. Moore and his wife, America, near Searcy (White County). There were other unrelated people living with the family, including fifteen-year-old A. Kirkendale, who may have been Moses’s brother. The alleged victim may have been Martha Walters, who was thirteen years old by the 1870 census and one of six children …

Larkin, Hill (Lynching of)

On February 14, 1890, an African-American man named Hill Larkin (sometimes referred to as Hill Larker) was hanged in Camden (Ouachita County) for allegedly murdering a deputy sheriff named Ross and wounding or killing a deputy sheriff named Snead from Calhoun County. In 1880, forty-two-year-old Hill Larkin, a native of Mississippi, was living in Carroll Township, Ouachita County, with his wife, Parille. He was a farmer and could neither read nor write. Ross, sometimes identified as Tom Ross, was probably John Thomas Ross. In 1870, he was eleven years old and living with his parents, John J. and M. E. Ross, in Lafayette Township. John Thomas Ross died in Ouachita County on February 4, 1890, and is buried in Oakland …

Lightfoot, G. P. F. (Lynching of)

In December 1892, African-American Baptist minister G. P. F. Lightfoot, referred to in most accounts as “Preacher Lightfoot,” was murdered by a group of African Americans in Jackson County in retaliation for taking their money and promising them nonexistent passage to Liberia. Interest in immigrating to Africa started early in the United States. The Back-to-Africa movement dates back to 1816, when the American Colonization Society (ACS) was established to help free blacks resettle in Africa. The Republic of Liberia was established in 1847 and was recognized by the U.S. government in 1864. Following the Civil War, many newly freed Arkansas slaves became interested in the movement, especially those in majority-black counties in the Arkansas Delta. The Liberian Exodus Arkansas Colony …

Little River County Race War of 1899

The Little River County Race War occurred in March 1899 in southwestern Arkansas and entailed the murder of at least seven African Americans throughout Little River County. The reported impetus for this race war was the murder of a white planter by a black man, but white fear of “insurrection” on the part of black residents quickly manifested itself into a campaign of violence and terror against African Americans. During the last half of the nineteenth century, lynchings were widespread in Arkansas, especially in the southern part of the state. A number of factors contributed to this racial animus. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the black population of Arkansas increased greatly, mostly due to recruiters who canvassed the …

Livingston, Abe (Lynching of)

Although apparently only one Arkansas newspaper covered it, in late August 1884 an African-American man named Abe Livingston was hanged in Desha County for allegedly robbing and threatening a white man named William Kite. A search of public records revealed no information on either Kite or Livingston. According to an August 26 article in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Daily Independent, which was reprinted a week later in the Batesville Guard, Livingston was a “dangerous negro” who, sometime earlier in 1884, had robbed Kite. He was arrested at the time and put in jail in Arkansas City (Desha County). At some point in July, he escaped from jail. While he was free, he allegedly made several attempts to kill Kite and also …

Lonoke County Race War of 1897–1898

The situation in Lonoke County was dire for African Americans during the latter half of 1897 and early 1898. In June 1897, a black normal (teacher-training) school was ransacked and one of the teachers severely whipped. In September, that same teacher was found dead. In December, Oscar Simonton, an African-American merchant, was attacked and his store ransacked. In February the following year, notices were placed on the doors of black residents warning them to leave the county on pain of death. This was closely followed by the burning of black homes and schoolhouses. Trouble had flared up several times in the county dating all the way back to Reconstruction. Many of the reports on the 1898 events refer to a …

Lucas, John Gray

John Gray Lucas’s life was representative of the broad changes that occurred in the patterns of race relations in Arkansas and the South during the latter half of the nineteenth century. From the end of the Civil War until the early 1890s, African Americans could obtain an education and then enter politics as independent, forthright champions of their race’s interests. After that point, as historian J. Morgan Kousser observed, “most blacks would have to emigrate to the North, choose other professions, or settle for the role of white-appointed race leader, with all constraints that role imposed on their statements and actions.” Lucas served in the Arkansas General Assembly and advocated for the rights of African Americans during his tenure in …

McConico, J. H.

aka: John Hamilton McConico
John Hamilton McConico was an African-American educator, newspaper editor and publisher, businessman, national grand auditor for the Mosaic Templars of America, and a civil rights pioneer. His business and civil rights leadership included membership in the National Negro Business League, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Arkansas Negro Democratic Association. J. H. McConico was born on December 25, 1877, in Livingston, Alabama, to Jessie McConico, a preacher, and Mattie McConico. His sister, Fannie, was four years his senior. After McConico completed the available public school courses, his family sent him to Agricultural and Mechanical College in Normal, Alabama. In 1898, McConico graduated from the department of printing with a literary emphasis. After graduation, he worked …

McGehee Lynching of 1894

On September 22, 1894, Luke Washington, Richard Washington, and Henry C. Robinson were lynched in McGehee (Desha County) for allegedly murdering local merchant H. C. Patton and robbing his store. One of the interesting aspects of this case is that the African-American population of McGehee (then known as McGehee Junction) reportedly took an active part in the three men’s lynching. On September 20, 1894, Patton locked his store, which was located on the edge of a cotton field some distance from the depot in McGehee, and proceeded along the walkway to his bedroom. There, Robinson and the two Washingtons allegedly killed him with a club. Although Patton was armed with a pistol, he was unable to use it in time. His attackers then …

McLendon, Will (Reported Lynching of)

In many cases, newspapers across the country published reports on lynchings, which were then listed in books and other resources. In some cases, even though subsequent reports indicated that the lynching had not happened, initial accounts were not corrected. Such was the case with an African American man, Will McLendon of Woodruff County, who was reportedly lynched in August 1893. In his 1993 dissertation, citing an August 6 report in the Memphis Appeal Avalanche, historian Richard Buckelew commented on this presumed lynching, which he dated at August 5. In her 1894 book A Red Record, Ida Wells Barnett gave the date of the lynching as August 9. It seems, however, that McLendon actually died in jail in Newport (Jackson County) …

McNeil, Sharpe (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.” …

Mitchell, Charles (Lynching of)

On November 2, 1884, Charles Mitchell was murdered near Richmond (Little River County) for the alleged murder of a prominent farmer’s wife, Kate Waddell. The incident made news not only in Arkansas, but also in Texas, the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), and Michigan. At the time of the 1880 census, forty-year-old Charley Mitchell—an African-American or biracial man—was living in Johnson Township of Little River County with his wife, Isabella, and their two sons, William (thirteen) and Mitchel (eleven). The census lists no occupation for Mitchell, but his two sons were working as servants. According to an October 31 article in the Arkansas Gazette, Mrs. Waddell, “an estimable woman,” was murdered on October 29 “by a notorious negro by the name …

Monroe County Lynching of 1893

In January 1893, five men were lynched in Monroe County near Cotton Plant (Woodruff County) for allegedly murdering Reuben Atkinson, his housekeeper, and her child, and then torching Atkinson’s house to cover up the crimes. Census and other public records yield no information on either Atkinson or his alleged murderers. According to the Arkansas Gazette, on January 7 a “prosperous farmer” named Rube Atkinson went to sell his cotton. He returned to his farm on January 8, and the following morning neighbors awoke to find that Atkinson’s house had burned down. When they went to inspect, they found three bodies in the ruins, which were later identified as those of Atkinson, his housekeeper, and her child. Authorities arrested several African …

Morrison, Lee (Lynching of)

On September 27, 1868, an African-American man named Lee Morrison (sometimes referred to as Morsen or Morson) was lynched near Helena (Phillips County) in retaliation for a number of murders he was presumed to have committed, including that of deputy sheriff Joseph W. Maxey, and the wounding of Sheriff Bart Y. Turner the previous March. There is no information on Lee Morrison or anyone of a similar name available in public records. Sheriff Turner, born around 1840 in Tennessee, had been in Phillips County since at least 1860, when he was living in Big Creek Township. Joseph W. Maxey had been in the county since at least 1850, when he was working as a druggist and living in the household …

Mosely, Julius (Lynching of)

On July 13, 1892, Julius Mosely, an African-American man accused of raping his stepdaughter, was lynched near Halley (Desha County) by a mob of fellow black residents. While the majority of lynchings in the South were perpetrated by white mobs against blacks, in a very small number of cases, lynchings were carried out either by mixed-race mobs or by mobs of African Americans. William Fitzhugh Brundage speculates that perhaps African Americans doubted that the all-white legal system would deal properly with crimes occurring within the black community. In addition, such lynchings often took place in cases of family-oriented crimes like incest. Interestingly, Brundage finds that such black-on-black violence was most prevalent in the Mississippi Delta regions in Mississippi, Arkansas, and …

Mullens, Nat (Lynching of)

On June 23, 1900, an African American named Nat Mullens was shot and killed by a posse in Crittenden County after he allegedly killed Deputy Sheriff P. A. Mahon. Statewide newspapers reported that on June 13, Mahon went to arrest Mullens near Earle (Crittenden County) for attempting to murder his own mother. Mullens shot at him, and before dying, Mahon returned fire. Mullens escaped, but a posse was assembled and trailed him through the river bottoms. By June 22, the posse had discovered Mullens hiding in a plantation house not far from Earle. He again attempted to escape but was shot and killed by members of the posse. For additional information: “All Over the State: An Officer Wounded.” Arkansas Democrat, …

Neal, Hemp (Lynching of)

An African-American man named Hemp Neal was lynched on November 5, 1878, outside of Clarksville (Johnson County) for allegedly raping a young white woman. This was the first recorded lynching in Johnson County. The identity of Neal is difficult to determine. His name is also given as Hamp Neal, or simply as Neely, in various reports. The Clarksville Herald, in an article reprinted in the Arkansas Gazette, described Neely (the name it gave him) as a “burly negro…who is a newcomer to our neighborhood.” The Arkansas Democrat reported his name as Hemp Neal, specifying that he was about twenty-five years old and “came here last March from Louisiana.” He apparently worked on the farm of one Dr. Adams, two miles …

Neely, Amos (Lynching of)

In mid-August 1898, a twenty-three-year-old African-American man named Amos Neely was lynched near Sheridan (Grant County) for an alleged assault on a white woman. The victim of the assault was a “Mrs. Reinhart,” sometimes referred to in newspapers as Rhinehart, Reinhardt, or even Kinehart. Records indicate that there were several Reinharts living in Grant County at the time, and it is impossible to identify her. The lynching victim’s name was reported as Amos Neely, but no trace of him can be found in Grant County records. Neely allegedly committed the assault in April 1898. On April 13, the Arkansas Democrat reported that he had been jailed in Sheridan the previous Saturday (April 9) and that he confessed the following day. …

Nelson, Dan T. (Lynching of)

Dan T. Nelson was lynched by a mob of African Americans in Lincoln County on November 13, 1893, for allegedly murdering Ben Betts. Unlike most lynchings in Arkansas (and the United States), several of the perpetrators of this crime were actually tried and sent to jail, perhaps because the mob was composed entirely of African Americans. According to an account published in the Arkansas Gazette, on November 7, Ben Betts, an African American, accompanied a relative to Dan Nelson’s home near Varner (Lincoln County) to help that relative collect a rent bill from Nelson. Betts and Nelson got into an argument, and Betts ordered Nelson out of the house. Nelson emerged from the dwelling, armed with a hatchet and carrying …

Nevada County Race War of 1897

On May 29, 1897, white employees of the Sayre Lumber Company near Prescott (Nevada County) set fire to a cabin where ten of the company’s African-American workers were sleeping. When the black laborers attempted to flee, the mob fired shots at them. No one was killed, and, due to the diligence of a private detective, indictments were actually brought down in the case (although the accused were eventually acquitted). According to the New York Times, “bad blood had existed among the white and colored laborers of the lumbering district of that section for some time past, and frequently efforts have been made by the employees of the Nevada County camps to run the negroes off, but always without avail.” On …