Laura Wilkerson

Laura Wilkerson
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Salon.com
JUNE 12, 2012 4:38PM

Some Lynchings of 1878

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            While going through copies if the Owen County Journal newspaper for 1878 I found the following lynchings reported:
            January 17, 1878 – A negro named Rice was taken from the St. Francisville (La.) jail by a mob and hanged. He was charged with killing the Democratic candidate for Sheriff a few days before the election in 1876.
            January 24, 1878 – Two negro men, named Ed Claxton and John Davis, living not far from Lexington, Ky., accused of being accessories to the murder of Jacob Shoolman some weeks since, were taken from the officers having them in charge the other night, and hung on the roadside. The party committing the outrage were disguised. They also went to a cabin of another negro man living in the same neighborhood, named Tom Turner, and, having forced an entrance, killed him in the presence of his wife by shooting him three or four time.
            March 21, 1878 – A negro who assaulted a child aged 5 years, causing its death, was lynched by a mob the other night, at Pensacola, Fla. The Sheriff’s posse resisted the lynchers, killing one and wounding five dangerously.
            April 25, 2012 – Three men (one white and two colored) were taken from the jail at Huntsville, Ala., the other day, and hanged to the same tree. The negroes were murderers at the instigation of the white man.
            June 6, 1878 – A. Compagirott was taken from bed at Owensville, Gibson county, Ind., the other night, and shot to death by a mob. He was said to be a bad character.
            June 13, 1878 – A wholesale lynching occurred the other day at Point Coupee, La., five negroes being hung for the attempted murder of a white man.
            June 27, 1878 – Two me who were in custody on the charge of having assaulted Mrs. Graves, living near Mitchell, Tenn., on the 16th of May last, were recently taken from jail and lynched by a large body of armed men.
            August 8, 1878 – A party of masked men, variously estimated from 40 to 500, rode into Monroe, La., forcibly took from the parish jail four colored men who were confined there charged with murder, took them to the Court House square, and hung them on the limb of an oak tree.
            September 19, 1878 – A mob of about 7,000 persons took a negro from the Sheriff of Sandusky, Ohio, the other night, and hung him. The negro had confessed to killing a servant girl.
            October 3, 1878 – Another malefactor was taken from the Mufreesboro (Tenn.) jail the other night and hanged. That makes three within a month.
            December 19, 1878 – Lynch law was applied, the other night, at Nebraska City, Neb. Two men unmistakably guilty of murder were by a petit jury brought in guilty of murder in the second degree, and the court had no alternative but to impose a sentence in accordance with the verdict, which was imprisonment for life. The verdict was returned into court at 10 o’clock at night, and at 2 o’clock next morning the prisoners were taken from the jail and hanged from a tree until dead.
            December 19, 1878 – Two men named Ketchum and Mitchell, accused of stealing stock, and who recently killed a herder named Stevens, who was trying to arrest them, were taken from the Sheriff of Custer County and his posse the other day, by a mob of armed men, who tied them to a tree and burned both to death. The mob was composed of twenty-five men, nearly all herders and masked.
            December 26, 1878 – On last Sunday night, while nearly all of the citizens of Meridian, Texas, were at church, fifty masked men compelled the jaier to open the prison, entered the cell of Mark and Tom Harrels, and riddled them with buckshot, making another prisoner hold the light.
            December 26, 1878 – The burning at the stake of two men by a mob in Nebraska, some days ago, on the accusation of being horse-thieves, turns out to have been a most fiendish outrage; the mob is alleged to have been thieves and desperadoes, and their victims were innocent men who had incurred the displeasure of the villains. The Governor of Nebraska has offered a reward of $10,000 for the arrest of the guilty ones.
            Two men, Print Olive and Fred Fisher, were eventually arrested and convicted for the murders of Luther M. Mitchell and Ami W. Ketchum in Custer County, Nebraska. At a trial where the State Militia called in to stand notice, both men were found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. However, after only 19 months the verdicts were overturned on a technicality and both men went free.

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