Criminal Activities

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Fairchild, Barry Lee (Trial and Execution of)

On August 31, 1995, Barry Lee Fairchild became the eleventh Arkansan put to death under the state’s modern capital punishment statute, despite controversy over the methods used to extract a confession that was later repudiated by Fairchild. On February 26, 1983, Arkansas state troopers pursued a car driven by two black males who managed to abandon their car and run away. The car was later identified as belonging to Marjorie “Greta” Mason, whose body was found the next day near an abandoned farmhouse in Lonoke County. Mason, a twenty-two-year-old U.S. Air Force nurse, had been raped and shot twice in the head. Six days later, acting on information provided by a confidential source, police arrested brothers Robert and Barry Lee …

Farmer, John (Lynching of)

On July 19, 1891, an African-American man named John Farmer was lynched in Chicot County for allegedly murdering a prominent local planter named C. C. Buckner. John Farmer may be the same person who was living with his grandmother, Lou Gibson, in the household of another African American, Jack Gillis, in Mason Township of Chicot County in 1880; his grandmother was a servant, and fifteen-year-old Farmer was a farm laborer. This would mean that he was twenty-six at the time he was lynched. According to Paul R. Hollrah’s History of St. Charles County, Missouri (1765–1885), C. C. Buckner was Charles Creel Buckner, born in Kentucky in 1850 to George Roberts Buckner and Harriet Creel Buckner. C. C. Buckner graduated from …

Feuds

A feud (sometimes referred to as a vendetta or private war) is a long-running argument or period of animosity, especially between families or clans. Feuds usually begin over a perceived injustice or insult. The feud cycle is fueled by a long-running cycle of retaliatory violence that often escalates into a “blood feud,” in which the cycle of violence involves the relatives of someone who has been killed or dishonored seeking vengeance by killing the culprits or their relatives. In theory, the cycle of killing continues until one entire family has been killed. Arkansas has had its share of feuds, particularly in the Ozark Mountains region of the state. Pioneers who came west from the southern Appalachian Mountains at the beginning …

Fleming, Sam (Lynching of)

On May 6, 1907, an African-American man named Sam Fleming—who was reportedly from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County)—was hanged at McGehee (Desha County) for winning a fight with a white bartender named Henry Vaughan. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Fleming was a “former Pine Bluff negro” who had lived in McGehee for several years. He was working in a saloon for black patrons owned by a man named Hellworth. Fleming had supposedly been in frequent trouble in Pine Bluff, once throwing a glass at a liquor dealer named Edward Wertheimer and wounding him in the head. Next door to Fleming’s workplace was a saloon for whites, also owned by Hellworth, where Henry Vaughan worked. Fleming and Vaughan had a fight, and …

Flemming, Owen (Lynching of)

On June 8, 1927, a mob murdered Owen Flemming, an African-American man, near Mellwood (Phillips County). At the time of the lynching, Arkansas was experiencing unprecedented flooding. The Flood of 1927 remains the most destructive in Arkansas history, covering about 6,600 square miles and inundating thirty-six of the state’s seventy-five counties. Many black citizens who lived along the Mississippi River and other flooding waterways were forced to work on the levees, often at gunpoint. One of these forced workers was Owen Flemming (or Fleming, according to some accounts). There is little information available about Flemming, but he is described in several articles as a “prominent black man.” According to the Arkansas Gazette, however, Flemming had a bad reputation. Officials at …

Fox, Warren (Lynching of)

On July 9, 1915, an African-American man named Warren Fox was lynched in Crittenden County for allegedly murdering a white man named John Millett. There is almost no information available on the principals in this incident. The Arkansas Gazette identified Millett as a “Frenchman and gardener” who worked for G. W. Sims on his plantation at the Crittenden county community of Kanema. Although the Gazette noted that Millett had previously been in Caruthersville, Missouri, and Johnson City, Illinois, he is not listed in census records for Arkansas, Missouri, or Illinois. Similarly, there is no record of an appropriate Warren Fox in Arkansas census records. George W. Sims, however, is well known. He owned extensive property in Crittenden County and worked …

Franklin, Connie (Alleged Murder of)

The alleged murder of Connie Franklin in 1929 scandalized the state and served to reinforce negative stereotypes about Arkansas in the national mass media. The uproar surrounding the apparent murder only increased with the reappearance of the “victim,” alive and well, shortly before the trial of his accused murderers. In January 1929, Connie Franklin wandered into the community of St. James (Stone County), where he found work cutting timber and as a farm hand. He claimed to be twenty-two years old, rather than his actual age of thirty-two. He reportedly courted the town’s girls, particularly sixteen-year-old Tillar (or Tiller) Ruminer. According to later testimony by Ruminer, on March 9, 1929, she and Franklin were going to Justice of the Peace …

Franklin, Monroe (Lynching of)

On August 19, 1912, an African-American man named Monroe Franklin was hanged in Russellville (Pope County) for an alleged attack on an unidentified white woman. Officials believed that a second black man, Pet (sometimes referred to as Pete or Pit) Grey, was also involved. Although the Arkansas Democrat described the lynching as the first in Pope County, research indicates that it was at least the third. John Hogan was lynched there in 1875, followed by Presley Oats in 1897. There is some possible information available on Franklin and Grey. Newspapers reported that Franklin had recently come into the area from Oklahoma. In 1910, there was a twenty-nine-year-old African American named M. F. Franklin living in Bearden Township, Okfuskee County, Oklahoma, …

Frederick, Bart (Lynchings Related to the Murder of)

On January 7, 1898, in Little Bay (Calhoun County), African-American men Charley Wheelright (or Wheelwright) and A. A. Martin were lynched for the alleged murder of Bart Frederick, a white man. Jim Cone, another suspect in the case, was probably lynched around the same time. Six months later, Goode Gray (a.k.a. Tobe Gray) was lynched at Rison (Cleveland County) for the same crime. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Bart Frederick was murdered in the first week of January while he was operating a handcart on the Cotton Belt Railroad near Kingsland (Cleveland County), where he was a waterman (a worker who supplied water to the railroad tanks). A letter written by Dr. William Buerhive to Bart Frederick’s brother in Michigan, …