Early Twentieth Century

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Entries - Entry Category: Early Twentieth Century - Starting with H

Haley, Loy (Lynching of)

Loy Haley, an African-American man, was lynched on June 15, 1915, likely near Lewisville (Lafayette County), for allegedly murdering Roy Lester, owner of a plantation in Lafayette County located in the Red River bottoms. Probably the earliest report on the violent chain of events was a June 13, 1915, article in the Arkansas Gazette. Though titled, “Lynching Near Lafayette County,” the article does not, in fact, describe a lynching but rather reports on the intended lynching of Loy Haley. According to the report, Roy Lester had remained on his plantation despite flooding on the Red River that had left his farm entirely surrounded by water, and made him “the only white man on the place.” No details of Lester’s murder …

Harris, Gilbert (Lynching of)

On August 1, 1922, a mob of as many as 500 people broke into the Hot Springs (Garland County) jail and, brandishing guns, forcibly took a man and lynched him at the triangle in front of the Como Hotel located at the intersection of Central and Ouachita avenues. In his memoirs, Roswell Rigsby (1910–2001), an eyewitness to the lynching, stated, “I believe this was the last lynching in Hot Springs, at least in public.” There are some conflicting reports as to the first name of the man lynched. There are references to his first name being Punk, Bunk, and Gilbert; however, all accounts list his last name as Harris. Accounts of the hanging appeared in newspapers as far away as …

Harris, John (Lynching of)

On February 2, 1922, an African-American man was lynched in Malvern (Hot Spring County) for allegedly harassing white women and girls. While a number of newspaper accounts, as well as a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) annual report, identify him by the name of Harry Harrison, the Arkansas Gazette identifies him as John Harris, and there is no record of a Harry Harrison ever living in the Malvern area. John Harris was living in Malvern at the time of the 1920 census; he was thirty-eight years old, married, and worked as a laborer in a lumber mill. He was a native of North Carolina and could both read and write. According to the Arkansas Gazette, he …

Harrison Race Riots of 1905 and 1909

Though nowhere near as murderous as other race riots across the state, the Harrison Race Riots of 1905 and 1909 drove all but one African American from Harrison (Boone County), creating by violence an all-white community similar to other such “sundown towns” in northern and western Arkansas. With the headquarters of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) located nearby, Harrison has retained the legacy of its ethnic cleansing, in terms of demographics and reputation, through the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. The U.S. Census of 1900 revealed a black community in Harrison of 115 people out of 1,501 residents. This constituted a vibrant community that, despite its poverty, had a cohesive culture and deep roots. By all accounts, …

Harrison Railroad Riot

aka: Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad Strike
The Harrison Railroad Riot was an outbreak of anti-union violence in the town of Harrison (Boone County), supported in part by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), as well as the city government and local business interests. The riot was in response to a two-year strike along the Missouri and North Arkansas (M&NA) railroad and ended in the lynching of a man accused of harboring militant strikers, along with the forced exodus of most strikers north into Missouri. The St. Louis and North Arkansas Railroad was chartered on May 17, 1899, and extended into Harrison in 1901; tracks were soon laid connecting other Ozark towns such as Leslie (Searcy County) and Heber Springs (Cleburne County) and went farther southeast to Helena …

Haynes, George Edmund

George Edmund Haynes, the first African American to earn a PhD from Columbia University, was a pioneering sociologist, a social worker, a policy expert, and cofounder of the National Urban League. George Haynes was born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on May 11, 1880, to Louis and Mattie Haynes. His father was a laborer and his mother a domestic worker. He graduated from the Richard Allen Institute and, in 1903, earned a BA in sociology at Fisk University. He earned an MA in the same field at Yale University a year later and continued his studies at the University of Chicago, the New York School of Philanthropy, and Columbia University. Meanwhile, he was employed by the Colored Men’s Department of the …

Hellom (Lynching of)

In late September 1903, an African-American man named Hellom was hanged by a black mob in Mississippi County for allegedly assaulting two young girls. Census records for the year 1900 reveal that there were three black men in Mississippi County who might have been the victim of the mob. All lived in nearby households in Fletcher Township, and all had a similar surname. The first was Oscar Hullum, age twenty-five, who was working as a farm hand and boarding with Brady and Mary Randolph. The second was Will Hellum, age twenty-three, a farm worker who was living nearby with his wife, Lucy, and their son, Jonathan. Living with them was a brother-in law, Arthur Hullum, age twenty-two, and three other …

Hicks, Ed

Ed Hicks was one of twelve African-American men accused of murder following the Elaine Massacre of 1919. After brief trials, the so-called Elaine Twelve—six who became known as the Moore defendants (including Ed Hicks and his brother Frank) and six who became known as the Ware defendants—were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. The appeal of his and others’ sentences led to the U.S. Supreme Court case of Moore v. Dempsey. Ultimately, the Ware defendants were freed by the Arkansas Supreme Court in 1923; after numerous legal efforts, the Moore defendants were released in 1925. Ed Hicks was born on December 23, 1873, in Dublin County, North Carolina, to Lucy Hicks. Hicks and his wife, Mattie Hicks, married …

Hicks, Robert (Lynching of)

In late November 1921, a young African-American man named Robert Hicks was lynched near Lake Village (Chicot County) for writing a letter to an eighteen-year-old white woman. While the identity of the woman remains a mystery, Hicks was probably the same Robert Hicks who was living with his mother, Minnie, in the household of his stepfather, Henry Singleton, in South Charlton Township of Chicot County in 1910. At that time, he was eight years old. In 1920, at eighteen, he was still in South Charlton Township working on a cotton farm owned by his uncle, Jessie E. Cooper. While newspaper reports put his age at twenty-three or twenty-five, the census information shows that he was only nineteen at the time …

Hill, Robert Lee

Robert Lee Hill was an African-American leader who was forced to flee Arkansas during the bloody Elaine Massacre of 1919. He spent the rest of his life in Topeka, Kansas, repairing freight cars for the Santa Fe Railway. Robert Hill was born in Dermott (Chicot County), the son of Robert L. Hill Jr. and Elizabeth Griffin Hill. He was born on June 8, but the exact year of his birth is inconsistently reported in official records, ranging from 1892 on his World War I draft registration card to 1898 on his Kansas death certificate. Hill married Hattie Alexander in 1916. In 1917, Hill was working at the Valley Planting Company in Winchester (Drew County). Hill was a grand counsellor, with …

Hodges v. United States

  Hodges v. United States, 203 U.S. 1 (1906) is a U.S. Supreme Court case resulting in the overturning of the convictions of three white men convicted in 1903 of conspiring to prevent a group of African-American workers from holding jobs in a lumber mill in Whitehall (Poinsett County), a small town in northeastern Arkansas. It was overruled by another Supreme Court decision in 1968, but the decision in Hodges represented an important step in the evolving judicial interpretation of the constitutional amendments passed in the aftermath of the Civil War. The Court’s decision imposed a strict limitation on the application of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime), as …

Hunter, William (Lynching of)

On July 11, 1910, an African-American man named William Hunter (often referred to as Will) was lynched near Star City (Lincoln County) for allegedly entering the bedroom of Rosa Johnson (sometimes referred to as Roel, Rhoa, or Roca), the daughter of prominent local farmer Thomas W. Johnson. Both the alleged perpetrator and the alleged victim appear in public records. In 1880, there was a seven-month-old African-American child named Willie Hunter living in Lone Pine Township with his parents, laborers Louis and Susan Hunter. In 1900, William Hunter, nineteen years old, was still living in the township with his mother, Susan. In 1910, Hunter remained in Lone Pine Township, where he was living alone and working as a farm laborer. Rosa’s …