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Is This the Murder of Richard Thurmond?

9 Sep

Below is a photo of a lynching on the Ripley courthouse square. The photo’s caption lists a date of 1897. I searched through newspapers and have not yet located a mention of a hanging in Ripley, TN in 1897.

Lynching in Ripley, TN 1897

Lynching in Ripley, TN 1897

 

However, I found a mention of the lynching of Richard Thurmond in The Daily Capital Journal of Salem, Oregon reported August 9, 1898. Is this year of this photo mislabeled? Could this be Richard Thurmond?

 

Daily Capital Journal Salem, Oregon August 9, 1868

Daily Capital Journal Salem, Oregon August 9, 1868

 

Adding more pieces to this puzzle is the fact that The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch reported this murder as occurring in Ripley, Mississippi, which also happens to be only a 30 minute drive to Middleton, TN where Richard Thurmond was captured. A quick search through census did not return any favorable leads connecting Richard Thurmond and LD Hines to Ripley, TN or Ripley, MS.

 

-Tiffany

-Image Source: “We Shall Overcome”: Tennessee and the Civil Rights Movement by Cynthia Griggs Fleming featured in Tennessee Historical Quarterly Vol 54, No. 3 (Fall 1995) page 234, Looking Back at Tennessee Collection Tennessee State Library and Archives

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Newspaper Clippings – Jet Magazine June 9, 1955 Edition

1 Feb

Below is a clipping from Jet Magazine’s June 9, 1955 Edition.

JetMagazineJune91955

 

 

 

– Tiffany

-Source: Jet Magazine June 9, 1955 edition via Google Books

Newspaper Clippings – The Pittsburgh Courier July 9, 1932 Edition

29 Jul

Below is a letter to the editor of the Pittsburgh Courier from Pastor SHM Lee of the St. Paul AME Church in Youngstown, Ohio.

The Pittsburgh Courier 9 July 1932 page 10

I found Wallace McClish/McCleish in the 1940 US Census living in Brownsville on Church Street with his wife Inez. His occupation is listed as “traffic police”. By 1960 McClish had relocated and was living in Memphis, Tennessee as an employee at an apartment complex. I wonder what compelled him to leave his field of law enforcement. A quick search for Tom Devine in the Haywood County and Lauderdale County areas yielded no results.

 

– Tiffany

Source: The Pittsburgh Courier July 9, 1932 edition page 10, 1940 US Census for Haywood County, Tennessee, 1960 Memphis City Directory

The Death of Louis Rice

7 Aug

From the Washington Progress (Washington, North Carolina) January 17, 1901 edition.

Washington Press Jan 17 1901

Washington Press Jan 17 1901

Louis Rice’s crime was that of testifying in favor of his friend, Henderson House, in House’s murder trial. House had been accused in the murder of Duncan Goodrich, a white man, after a fight that occurred during gambling. House was lynched for the crime and his friend Rice was lynched March 23, 1900. What makes this interesting is that House was not lynched until September 18, 1900. The accused lived longer than his friend who testified for him.

You can read more about Henderson House here -> The Story of Henderson House – A Hanging in Ripley

When looking at the dates of the lynchings of Rice and House it occurred to me that this all took place in 1900. January 1900 was the date of what could be called Lauderdale County’s most infamous lynching, that of the Gingery Brothers. It is safe to say that after an incident like that that the people of the county would be on edge. It amazes me that Rice was brave enough to even testify in the trial given what the atmosphere of the county would have been like at this time.

My attempt to find out more about Louis Rice was unfruitful. Rice was a very common surname for Lauderdale County during this time. Unfortunately for my search I found more than a few Louis/Lewis Rices between Lauderdale and Haywood counties. Because he died in 1900 it is unlikely that he would have a death certificate.

So what do we know about Louis Rice?

Margaret Vandiver in her book, Lethal Punishment, points out some interesting things to note in both the cases of Louis Rice and Henderson House.

Louis Rice

– Had been described by various newspapers as a physician. Had also been described as having committed a murder himself prior to this.

– His only offense was taking too much of an interest in the case. Apparently, he had taken it upon himself to interview witnesses and submit affidavits through an attorney with more evidence that would have possibly proved House innocent.

– Some in Lauderdale County “greatly regretted” and “deeply deplored” his lynching.

Henderson House

– A petition was started by white citizens of Lauderdale County and Shelby County, TN to spare him the death penalty. Hundreds of signatures were sent to the governor. Whites of Lauderdale County and Shelby County, TN (where House’s family lived) believed another man, Alf Halliburton, to have truly been the shooter. Alf Halliburton had been acquitted of any wrong doing.

– Tennessee’s Governor, Benton McMillin, refused to commute the sentence despite the efforts of locals and House was ultimately lynched.

Rice was lynched for trying to free House and that cause was ultimately picked up by whites in Lauderdale County who later tried to do the same thing after Rice’s death.

 

Atlanta Journal Constitution March 24, 1900

Atlanta Journal Constitution March 24, 1900

 

– Tiffany

– Source: Washington Press (Washington, North Carolina) January 17, 1901 edition, Lethal Punishment by Margaret Vandiver p.46 – 48, The Atlanta Journal Constitution March 24, 1900 edition, US Census Records

Fourth of July at the Lauderdale County Jail

2 Jul

In the spirit of the upcoming Fourth of July holiday I decided to see if I could find any information on past Fourth of July holidays in Ripley. Reading through the Lauderdale County Enterprise I found the article below discussing events at the Lauderdale County Jail on July 4, 1917.

Lauderdale County Enterprise July 6, 1917

Lauderdale County Enterprise July 6, 1917

Using the US Census I found two Horace Walkers living in neighboring Haywood County, Tennessee. They happened to be father and son. Horace Walker Sr. was born in 1846 in North Carolina and was married to Mary Walker. Horace Walker Jr. was born in 1880 in Tennessee. In addition to these two Horace Walkers I also found another Horace Walker born in 1876 in Haywood County son of Thomas Walker.  Thomas Walker (B. 1850 North Carolina) could possibly be brother of Horace Walker Sr. (Horace Walker Sr. also had a son named Thomas), but more information and research is needed to make that connection. To make this easier I found Horace Walker Sr. (father), Horace Walker Jr. (son), and Horace Walker (possible nephew/cousin). An interesting note is that Horace Walker (possible cousin/nephew – B. 1876) and his wife Nervie were living in Lauderdale County in 1920. With that being said its unclear which Horace Walker found himself imprisoned in the Lauderdale County Jail on the Fourth of July. It could have very well been another Horace Walker who did not appear on my search of the US Census.

I did not find an African American Charles Ed Moore on the US Census. I found a few white Charles Moores in Haywood County and one in Lauderdale County. This made me wonder if there was any separation based on race at the county jail. I would think that there was given the time period.

So on the Fourth of July 1917 at the Lauderdale County Jail shenanigans broke out amongst the prisoners. Looks like Charles Ed Moore might have gotten what was coming to him.

 

 

 

 

– Tiffany

– Source: The Lauderdale County Enterprise July 6, 1917 edition, US Census 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920

More Tragedy for the Gingery Family – A Follow Up

11 Mar

A few months ago I wrote an article for the website titled “More Tragedy for the Gingery Family”. The original article can be seen at this link – > https://blackripley.com/2013/08/08/more-tragedy-for-the-gingery-family/

As you know the Gingery Family story is one of the most popular stories on my blog. Whenever I mention the Gingery family to someone I am interviewing they always pause for a moment and get very serious when telling me what they know. Margarette was kind enough to share her family’s memories about her Aunt Lennie in the comments section of the original article.

Below is a write up from The Lauderdale County Enterprise describing the murder suicide involving Dupuy Gingery and Linnie Taylor Gingery.

Gingery Murder Lauderdale County Enterprise

Gingery Murder
Lauderdale County Enterprise

“A double murder or rather a murder and suicide was committed Wednesday morning at the home of Cush Gingery, colored, between Orysa and Henning. Gingery killed his wife and then himself. He is a brother of the two famous Gingery negroes who killed two officers near Durhamville several years ago and have never been apprehended.”

– Tiffany

– Source: The Lauderdale County Enterprise July 6, 1917 edition

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Black Life in Ripley – Follow Up to #4

5 Nov

The 4th entry in the 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Black Life in Ripley series told the story of Eleanor Roosevelt being thrown into the conversation regarding African American soldiers being killed in Ripley.

Let me refresh your memory…

#4 Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of Franklin Roosevelt 32nd President of the United States, spoke out against the killing of an African American soldier in Ripley, TN.

You can read the original posting here: https://blackripley.com/2013/09/17/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-black-life-in-ripley-tn-2/

If you recall the missing information such as the soldier’s identity lay in old issues of The Commercial Appeal, the daily newspaper of Memphis, TN, particularly the January 27, 1944 and January 29, 1944 issues. Further research also revealed that the January 1, 2013 issue held clues as well.

Here are the missing pieces.

The soldier was killed December 29, 1943 in Ripley, TN. He had come into Ripley from the Dyersburg Air Force Base. According to reports, he was drunk when he was fatally wounded by the Lauderdale County Sheriff, only after he had shot the sheriff. His name was Private Joseph L. Burrell of Co A of the 449th Signal Construction Battalion. Apparently a group of African American soldiers, estimated to be about 50 or 60 left Dyersburg and in the words of the sheriff “descended upon Ripley with the apparent intention of taking the town apart” (Jan 27, 1944 issue). This incident occured in what was described as the “negro quarters” in Ripley. The result of this skirmish is that soldiers from the Dyersburg Air Force Base were banned temporarily from entering Ripley.

Commercial Appeal January 1, 1944

Commercial Appeal January 1, 1944

Commercial Appeal Jan 28, 1944

Commercial Appeal Jan 28, 1944

Private Joseph L. Burrell was born July 11, 1913 in Denbigh, Warrick County, Virginia. He enlisted in the military in Richmond, VA on August 12, 1942. At the time of his death he was 30 years old and was married, but seperated, to Lucille Burrell. According to his death certificate he died due to gunshot wounds of the liver, stomach, pancreas, intestines, lungs, and heart. His death was listed as an accident. Prior to his death and army enlistment he had been employed as a laborer at the Navy Yard in Yorktown. Virginia.

He was buried at the Colossian Baptist Church Cemetery in Denbigh, VA in an unmarked grave. His mother, Florence Burrell, was granted a military headstone for his grave on July 14, 1944.

Joseph L. Burrell

Joseph L. Burrell

On US Census records  for 1920 and 1940 Joseph is listed as Lawrence. He is living with his mother Florence (b. 1896 Virginia), his father Joseph (b. 1890 VIrginia) and his siblings Claris (b. 1916), Noretha (b. 1918), James (b. 1920), and Mary (b. 1922).

At this point I am not sure that the true story behind his murder will ever be revealed. What troubles me is the reason why the Sheriff was called to what was described as the “Negro” side of town in the first place. Were the soldiers being drunk and disorderly? At this point of time in America soldiers were returning from overseas. Overseas African American soldiers had been treated considerably better than they were treated in the US. When they returned to the US they were basically told to go back to their subserviant roles. Historical accounts from across the United States discuss the murder of African American soldiers, some even lynched in their uniforms. White supremacists did not like the fact that African Americans returned to the US in uniform believing that they were equals and this spawned a surge of racial violence. Could this be what happened to Joseph Burrell? What caused him to pull his gun and shoot the Sheriff? Whatever the case may be Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt was right in her assessment that the South was responsible for instances such as this due to its treatment of African Americans.

Commercial Appeal January 27, 1944

Commercial Appeal January 27, 1944

Commercial Appeal January 29, 1944

Commercial Appeal January 29, 1944

– Tiffany

– Image Source: Joseph L. Burrell headstone (FindAGrave.com)

– Sources: Tennessee Deaths and Burial Index 1874 – 1955, Tennessee Death Records 1908 – 1958, US Headstone Applications for Military Veterans 1925 – 1963, FindAGrave.com Newport News, VA Colossian Baptist Church Cemetery Listing, US WW2 Army Enlistment Records, 1938 – 1946, The Commercial Appeal January 1, 1944 issue, The Commercial Appeal January 27, 1944 issue, The Commercial Appeal January 29, 1944 issue, US Census Records 1920 and 1940 for Denbigh, VA,