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Who was Lation (Ligon) Scott? – Dyersburg, TN

1 Nov

While looking through the search terms that lead people to this site I noticed recently that there have been quite a few searches for “Ligon Scott Dyersburg”

Lation (or Ligon) Scott was murdered in Dyersburg, Tennessee December 2, 1917 after ten days on the run. He was tortured and then burned at the stake. His charge was that he had attacked the white woman that he worked for.

When I read of Mr. Scott’s torture and subsequent death it gave me chills. What I also think about is how people participated in the acts as if there was nothing wrong with what they were doing. According to the NAACP’s investigation of his death he was poked and prodded with fire pokers. He had his eyes burned with a fire poker, he was castrated, his flesh was branded and burned. Next, they lit a fire and watched him burn to death. Mr. Scott’s lynching was turned into a spectacle with many of Dyersburg citizens attending. There were descriptions of children leaving Sunday School to attend the lynching. One of the citizens was quoted as saying “The best part about it was the burning. This hanging kills too quick”.

You can read the NAACP Report in The Crisis here : http://books.google.com/books?id=Y4ETAAAAYAAJ&lpg=PA179&ots=ziyk_UG9ei&dq=ligon%20scott%20dyersburg&pg=PA183#v=onepage&q=ligon%20scott%20dyersburg&f=false

I wanted to find out who Lation (or Ligon) Scott was. I searched through US Census Records for Dyer County for 1900 and 1910 and found no record of him. I also searched for a death certificate and found no record of him there either. The article in The Crisis mentioned that Ligon was a preacher with the Holy Roller Church. It also mentions that he was included in the selective draft, so I searched for his World War I draft card and finally found him.

Lation Scott was born December 25, 1893 in Holly Springs, Mississippi. He had a 3 year old child and was living apart from his wife. He listed himself as a self employed farmer. He was living on what appears to say RFD #2 in Dyersburg. His draft registration card was completed June 5, 1917.

Using details in The Crisis article I decided to see if I could locate the area where the lynching took place. The article in The Crisis states the location as “a near by vacant lot, the corner of which adjoins the public square, and which is within a stone’s throw of two churches and the residences of several ministers as well as of the Mayor of the town. It is the property, jointly, of several sisters, prominent women of Dyersburg. The court house and the post office, attractive new buildings, are in sight of the spot” (p. 181)

I then turned to the Sanborn Maps for Dyer County and discovered that maps were available for 1914. Sanborn Maps were not published again until 1929, so I decided to stick with the 1914 maps. As you know, Sanborn Maps show structures so it would be easy to identify a vacant lot. Do I know that the lot was still vacant in December of 1917? I do not, but at least I can find a starting point for further research using the 1914 maps.

Here is Court Square in 1914 with all lots adjoining Court Square outlined in red. (Sanborn Maps 1914 Index Key Sheet 1)

Court Square 1914

Court Square 1914

Using different sheets of the Sanborn Maps gives us a closer view of Court Square. The image below is Sanborn Maps 2 and 3 combined to give us a better view of Court Square including the buildings and vacant lots.

Court Square SB 2 and 3

Court Square SB 2 and 3

Combining the two maps lets me see that the only vacant lot near Court Square was at the corner of Mill Avenue and West Court indicated by the red dot on the map. Using the description in The Crisis we can see that (1) the corner of this lot does adjoin the public square, (2) it is near two churches (one of them shown) and (3) the court house and post office are in sight.

So if this in indeed the lot where this horrible crime took place then the address of that lot is 107 N. Mill Avenue.

So what is left?

Using the information on the WWI draft card a search for Mr. Scott on the US census should be tried again in an effort to locate his family members. I did a preliminary search for an African American male born in 1893 living in Holly Springs, MS with the surname Scott and there were a few hits, however none had the first name  Lation or Ligon. Perhaps he also had another name that he went by as a child. Also, newspaper accounts of this incident should be viewed to locate any clues such as the name of the family he worked for and those he associated with in Dyersburg.

Hopefully more can be done to discover Mr. Scott’s background, the family he belonged to, the identity of his wife and child, and where he might be buried.

– Tiffany

– Sources: The Crisis by NAACP Volumes 15 – 18, Sanborn Maps Dyersburg, TN 1914 (Index Key Map 1, Map 2, and Map 3), US Census Records for Dyersburg, TN 1900 and 1910, Tennessee State Deaths and Burials Index 1874-1955, US World War I Draft Registration Cards, Google Maps for 107 North Mill Avenue.

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Newspaper Clippings – St. Petersburg Times May 26, 1962

17 Oct
StPetersburgTimes05-26-1962

StPetersburgTimes05-26-1962

StPetersburgTimes05-26-1962-2

StPetersburgTimes05-26-1962-3

– Tiffany

– Source: St. Petersburg Times May 26, 1962 via Google News Archive

Lynching of Albert Gooden – Follow Up

17 Sep

I hesistated to share the rest of the information I had found on Mr. Gooden’s lynching because I found it on a website with a very strong message that I could not vouch for due to lack of knowledge on the subjects being discussed. Just to be clear there is a lot of other race related information on this site and I do not know whether it is true or not. My interest in this site is strictly on the story of the aftermath of the Albert Gooden lynching.

This site states,

“After the Lynching and murder of Albert Gooden, Sheriff Vaughn and the Lynch  mob had rounded up two of Gooden’s brothers, Edd Gooden and Braxton Gooden to Lynch them. But sometime happen on that night when the lynch mob was fixing to carry out the lynching. With the help of someone shooting into the crowd of the lynch mob from a distance, Edd and Braxton Gooden manage to escape the lynch mob. Meantime the  two brother left Tipton county and moved up North to keep from being Lynched. Braxton Gooden changed his name somehow after he left tipton county and never came back to visit family, until the year of 1997, when one of his other brothers passed, Spillmon Doc Gooden. But was only there for a day and a half, still being in fear of his life. Out of the two brothers that was almost lynched by the Tipton County Sheriff lynch mob, Braxton is still living up North, Edd Gooden passed in 1993 in Cleveland Ohio.”

If this is true it adds an interesting element to the Gooden story, because very much like the Gingery story I covered on this blog the lynch mob in that instance as well went after the brothers of the suspected killer who may or may not have had anything to do with the crime involved.

Stories like these always catch my attention because they involve individuals fleeing the area due to racial intimidation. Can you imagine living with this type of fear? Not being able to return to your home and family because people are looking to murder you? Ed Gooden, the father of Albert, died in 1941, so these two brothers were not even able to return home to bury their father.

 

– Tiffany

– Source: http://tiptoncounty-racism.com/albert_gooden.html (disclaimer – I make no claims towards the accuracy of other information on this site. My interest in this site is purely on the Albert Gooden story)

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Black Life in Ripley, TN

17 Sep

#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.

“Early in 1944, a disgruntled Tennessean, WT Straub of Memphis, charged that Eleanor Roosevelt was indirectly responsible for a shoot-out between black soldiers and two white law enforcement officers in Ripley, Tennessee, in which one soldier was killed and an officer wounded.” – page 161, Days of Hope by Patricia Sullivan

Why Eleanor Roosevelt? WT Straub had mailed her newspaper clippings of the story involving the incident with the African American soliders and the White police officers that had taken place in Ripley, TN. Because Mrs. Roosevelt had taken a firm stand against segregation she had become an easy target for White supremacists.

Mrs. Roosvelt’s response:

“These articles are sad reading for you – not me.”

This stunned the City of Memphis and the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper demanded an explanation. Mrs. Roosevelt’s secretary responded with:

“Mrs. Roosevelt meant that not she, but the South is responsible for things like that because of the condition there caused by discrimination against the Negro. Certainly she was not responsible for them. If she’d died in her cradle, conditions there would still be the same as they are.”

So just who was the African American soldier that died in Ripley whose story made it to the White House?

I haven’t been able to find him. My guess is that he might have been a soldier visiting home or he was a soldier at the base in Dyersburg, TN who happened to be in Ripley at the wrong time. I have found records of soldiers based in Dyersburg, TN dying in Ripley mainly through things such as plane crashes or other Army related incidents. At this time there was a lot of hostility towards African American soldiers because these soldiers were asserting their natural rights to freedom. These soldiers even had their right to vote protected when civilian African Americans did not! My next step here is to search through the Commercial Appeal archives at the University of Memphis library.

I did find an entry for a W.T. Straub in the 1940 Memphis City Directory. The directory indicates that he was employed as a conductor.

So just who was this soldier? I hope to have more information for you soon. So far my searches have turned up empty.

– Tiffany

Sources: page 161, Days of Hope by Patricia Sullivan, Memphis Commercial Appeal, 27 January, 29 January 1944.

Lynching of Albert Gooden – Follow Up

10 Sep

I covered the kidnapping and lynching of Albert Gooden of Tipton County about a year ago. That article can be found here.

https://blackripley.com/2012/05/18/newspaper-clippings-spartanburg-herald-august-18-1937/

While on the internet I did discover more information about Mr. Gooden’s death along with a photo. Interesting tidbits from the article,

  • Mr. Gooden owned an illegal gambling house
  • Two shootings took place that night, one victim was Jack Bolton age 24 African American male and the other was  Night Marshall Chester Doyle, a Deputy Sheriff in Tipton County
  • Quotes from the Covington Leader Newspaper and The Atlanta Daily World
  • The Tennessee Governor offered $5000 for information on Mr. Gooden’s killer

Please check out the article and photograph here: http://panafricannews.blogspot.com/2006/10/two-case-studies-in-race-terror-during.html

Interesting to note I couldn’t locate a death certificate on Mr. Gooden.

There is also an article on Elbert Williams of Haywood County on the Pan African News site. I’ve been writing a piece on him to be published on this site in the future.

Thanks,

Tiffany

Source: PanAfrican News – http://panafricannews.blogspot.com/2006/10/two-case-studies-in-race-terror-during.html,

The Unusual Death of Tom Rice

11 Aug

The book Lauderdale County from its Earliest Times has a lot of little tidbits about life in Lauderdale County. While reading the  book I came across a tidbit about a man named Tom Rice. What stood out about Mr. Rice’s tidbit is the way he died.

 

“Tom Rice (Negro). Tom swallowed a table fork in a fight, killing him”

 

Excuse me, he swallowed a fork? That sounds especially painful. I then searched for his death certificate. Because Mr. Rice died in 1910 he has one of the earliest versions of death certificates for Lauderdale County. The early death certificates list little to no information compared to later versions. His cause of death is listed simply as “choked”. According to his death certificate Mr. Rice was 70 years old at the time of his death having been born in 1840. At the time of his death he was married and he worked as a laborer. Further researched turned up a marriage certificate and census records for Mr. Rice. He was married to Rebecca Turner Rice and by 1900 they had four children, Kate, Annie, William and Mary. What is missing from the story is exactly what happened to Mr. Rice the day he died. Was he indeed in a fight? If so, who was he fighting with and where were they fighting? Since he died by swallowing and choking on a fork I wonder if they were at an African American eating establishment? If so, what was the name of that establishment? I sure hope he did not meet his death at home at his own dinner table.

 

– Tiffany

– Source: Lauderdale County from its Earliest Times pg 117. State of Tennessee Marriage and Death Records, US Census Records for Lauderdale County, TN

 

More Tragedy for the Gingery Family

8 Aug

I have featured stories about two of the Gingery brothers, Roger and Henry, on the blog before related to the mob action taken against the family following the deaths of W.D. Turner and Marvin Durham who were taking Reuben Gingery to be vaccinated. I’ve since discovered a new story related to the Gingery family based on search terms used in search engines that lead readers to this website.

Dupuy Gingery was born about 1888 to Tom and Julia Gingery. At the time of the mob action he would have been around 11 years old. At this age he would have seen two of his brothers, Reuben and Frank, hung and his other two brothers Roger and Henry vanish. Later in this year his other brothers (more research is needed to fully confirm that they belonged to the same household), Thomas (14) and Jessie (13), were both in jail in Lauderdale County, Tennessee. Using available records it appears that Dupuy might have had a bit of a rough childhood. The 1900 US Census lists him as being a day laborer while his neighbors his age are listed as school students. This is easy to understand given the fact that all the men in his family with the exception of his younger brother John were gone.

On January 15, 1911 Dupuy married Linnie Taylor. Linnie Taylor was the daughter of William Taylor. On Dupuy’s WWI draft card he indicated that he was working as a farmer on William Taylor’s land and that he and Linnie had 2 children under the age of 12. Using the records I can see that after this things took a turn for the worse.

On July 4, 1917 according to the cause of death on his death certificate Dupuy shot and killed his wife Linnie and then shot and killed himself. He was 29 years old. She was only 22.

On the 1920 census his children, Roger and Marvin, are listed under the household of his father in law William Taylor. Their names are listed as Roger Gingery Taylor and Marvin Gingery Taylor. It appears as if maybe Dupuy named his son Roger after his older brother who had vanished following the mob incident.

When I heard of this incident I was saddened. Dupuy and Linnie were both so young and they left behind 2 young boys. In addition this family had already experienced so much tragedy.

– Tiffany

– Sources: Tennessee Marriage Records, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920 US Census Records, Tennessee Death and Burial records