Tag Archives: Jim Crow

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 – Jackson Whig and Tribune August 23, 1873 edition

5 Mar

Below is a newspaper clipping from the Whig and Tribune (Jackson, TN) August 23, 1873 edition.

Whig and Tribune (Jackson, TN) August 23, 1873 edition

Whig and Tribune (Jackson, TN) August 23, 1873 edition

 

In looking at this article I began to wonder what exact place was within three miles of Ripley and honestly that could have been so many places. This event occurred towards the end of the Reconstruction period, so it’s not surprising that it happened. What is inspiring is that African Americans were busy building institutions in the area and that education was a priority, even though there were those who sought to ruin it.

1873 also happens to be the year that Sampson Keeble was the first African American elected to the Tennessee state legislature.

 

 

– Tiffany

– Source: Whig and Tribune (Jackson, TN) August 23, 1873 edition

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

From the Bottom Documentary

10 Mar

I recently discovered a documentary titled “From the Bottom” discussing the life of Ulysses “Rip” Gooch, a Lauderdale County native. A trailer for the documentary can be found on Youtube.com and I have included it below.

If you would like to purchase the documentary it is available through Amazon.com using the following link -> http://amzn.com/B001RMLVOY

 

 

 

– Tiffany

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.

West Tennessee and the Great Migration

2 Sep

The Great Migration is commonly known as the time period of 1915 – 1970 when an estimated 6 million African Americans fled the South to the North, the West, and the Mid West. These African Americans were in search of a better life, free from the poor jobs, poor education, and Jim Crow that was standard in the South. Often we see African Americans leaving the south due to potential retaliation and threats on their life from Whites on some action they might have taken. What this migration did was allow the children who made this journey to flourish in ways that might not have been possible had they stayed in the South.

The African Americans of Ripley and West Tennessee also followed the trails of The Great Migration. Many of these African American families moved to Detroit, Chicago, and other northern and midwestern cities. In my own family I can count 6 of 8 siblings leaving Ripley behind for Detroit.

So what do these patterns of migration tell us?

During this period of time little pockets of West Tennessee could be found in several different cities. The small towns of Ripley, Brownsville and others spread their culture and way of life to several places.

A quick search on Ancestry.com turned up records of thousands upon thousands of African Americans who left West Tennessee for the North. Here are a few of them.

1. Elias Norvell born 1871 in Ripley, TN son of Alex and Polly Norvell. On the 1930 US Census Elias can be found in Willoughby, Ohio with his wife Elsie and their four children.

2. Rawlings Bond was born about 1888 in Haywood County, TN son of Haywood and Mary Bond. His WWI Draft Registration Card completed in 1917 indicated that he was a self-employed farmer. Rawlings and his wife Bessie Southall Bond make an appearance on the 1920 US Census in Haywood County, but by the 1930 US Census they had relocated to Detroit, Michigan where Rawlings was now employed as an Expressman in the Cartage (transporting goods) industry.

3. Love Campbell was born about 1893 in Brownsville, TN. His 1917 WWI Draft Registration Card indicates that he was married and employed in a workhouse in Jackson, TN. On the 1930 US Census Love makes an appearance as a lodger living in Detroit, Michigan working as a laborer in an auto plant. On the 1940 US Census Love is still in Detroit and is now working as a cement mixer at a construction company.

As you can see the job opportunities that existed in the North were far better than any jobs to be found in West Tennessee. Can you imagine barely scraping together a living as a sharecropper on someone else’s land and then going to Detroit and securing a job in an auto plant? The good fortunes of these individuals more than likely influenced close family and friends to join them. Interestingly, many of those who migrated first made their homes in boarding houses and can be found on the US Censuses as lodgers.

The stories of these 3 individuals barely scratches the surface of the stories of those who left West Tennessee for other areas. In the future I plan to do a more in depth study on the West Tennessee participants of the Great Migration.

What about your own family? Do you have relatives who left West Tennessee for the better conditions in other parts of the US?

 

 

– Tiffany

– Sources: US Census Records 1880 – 1940, Tennessee State Marriage Records, WWI Draft Registration Cards

– Image Source: http://www.centerstage.org/portals/23/images/Great-Migration.jpg

TWB – Traveling While Black – Follow Up

3 Jan

In my last post title Traveling While Black a reader left a comment asking if any of the businesses featured in the Negro Motorists Green Book were still around. Being a lifelong Memphian the only business listed there that I still knew of was the Lorraine Motel which is now the National Civil Rights Museum. From this point I started putting the addresses of these businesses in Google Maps to see if any of the buildings were still around. I did discover that the Mrs. E.M. Wright’s Tourist Home located at 896 Polk Avenue in Memphis in the 1956 Green Book is still standing. I decided against posting a picture of it, but you can easily find a picture of it through Google Maps. According to property records the home at that address was built in 1913 and it has 4 bedrooms, so Mrs. E. M. Wright had plenty of space to rent out. While it is no longer Mrs. E.M. Wright’s Tourist Home it is home to another Memphis family. I wonder if this family has any idea what their home used to be.

Negro Motorist Green Book 1956

Negro Motorist Green Book 1956

– Tiffany