Spiritually-conscious women and men of African descent will gather 3:00PM sharp, Sunday, March 29, rain or shine, at Congo (Washington) Square, 7th & Walnut Streets in Philadelphia for the Second Annual Sacred Libation Ceremony in remembrance of the 150 documented Black women who were lynched between 1870 and 1957.
Flyer for the 2015 Sacred Libation Ceremony to be conducted at 7th & Walnut Streets in Congo (Washington) Square Philadelphia, Pa.
In March 2014, the first annual Sacred Libation Ceremony for the women was conducted by Iya Marilyn Kai Jewett and a group of priests of Philadelphia’s African American Yoruba/Orisha community. Although it rained that day, approximately 30 people came to witness the ritual – some from as far as New York and Washington DC. The ceremony has now been instituted as an annual ritual on the last Sunday in March as part of Women’s History Month.
In addition to libation being poured by Jewett in the Yoruba tradition, women from other traditions also will participate. The Queen Mothers of the Philadelphia Asante Nation – Nana Afua Afriyie Kyeiwaa, Philadelphiahemaa and Nana Akua Oforiwaa Amanfo, Philadelphia Asonahemaa, will pour libation in the Akan tradition from Ghana. They will be accompanied by the women of the Philadelphia Asante Abusuafoo. Other holy women participating includes well-known healer/education activist Mama Gail Clouden and her godchildren.
How did this all come about? Last year, while perusing stories on Dr. Boyce Watkins’ “Your Black World” news website, Jewett came across a story entitled, “Black women were lynched too!” written by blogger Yolanda Spivey. Although she was a student of history and knew about the list of 5,000 documented lynchings of people of African descent in the U.S., Jewett wasn’t aware of the number of women who were included. Neither was Spivey.
“I can’t begin to tell how shocked I was to learn the depths of what happened to lynched Black men and women in this country,” said Spivey. “I wasn’t naïve about the lynchings, but I was definitely naïve to learn the circumstances surrounding their murders. The Black women in some cases were pregnant — and that didn’t matter to the white people who murdered them. They were, in all circumstances, murdered for the silliest infractions or implicated in crimes that they did not commit.”
Amy Jacques Garvey, Henrietta Vinton Davis and Marcus Garvey
“They needed libation poured for them to uplift and bring light their souls,” Jewett explained. They wanted to be remembered and have their stories told. They wouldn’t let me rest. It was physically and spiritually painful. I couldn’t sleep for the two weeks leading up to the ritual. I kept asking them why me? They replied that it was part of my destiny and that I had to do it.”
The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth on them. This is an advertisement taken from the Washington Bee newspaper dated Saturday October 22, 1892. It is an advertisement for Ida B. Wells’ lecture held at Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, D.C. Her subject that night was “Southern Mob Rule.” She was introduced by Timothy Thomas Fortune, editor of the New York Age and later an editor of the Negro World Newspaper. Presiding at the event was Mary Church Terrell.
JULY 20, 2013 is HENRIETTA VINTON DAVIS GRAVE MARKER UNVEILING
-Events to recognize cultural icon-
Washington, DC –Today the Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation (HVDMF) announced plans to unveil a marker at the grave of its namesake in National Harmony Memorial Park. The Foundation has as its mission to raise awareness of the life and legacy of Shakespearean actor, elocutionist, dramatic reader and activist Henrietta Vinton Davis.
Miss Davis remained relatively unrecognized until July 1983 when an article entitled “Henrietta Vinton Davis and the Garvey Movement” by Professor William Seraile was published in the journal ‘Afro-Americans in New York Life and History’. Nearly a year later, acknowledgment of her contributions increased with the publication of the book ‘Shakespeare in Sable’ written by Professor Errol Hill of Dartmouth University. Her home in Northeast Washington, DC has been listed on Cultural Tourism DC’s African American Heritage Trail since 1999.
On Saturday July 20, 2013 the HVDMF starts the day off with an award presentation and celebration at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, culminating with the unveiling of a marker at Miss Davis’ grave site at National Harmony Memorial Park. Guest speakers and celebrants include:
Dr. William Seraile (Bruce Grit), Barbara Eklof (For Every Season), Kevin Grace (Friends of Joe Gans), Nnamdi Azikiwe (Vinton Davis Weblog) and Mwariama Kamau (UNIA). Producing partners for the occasion are Vaunita Goodman (MTPC) and Michon Boston (Iola’s Letter). Clayton LeBouef (Something The Lord Made, The Wire, Homicide) will serve as Master of Ceremonies.
In 2008, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty issued a proclamation designating August 25 ‘Henrietta Vinton Davis Day.’ The decree acknowledged Davis as the first African American to work at the DC Recorder of Deeds office beginning in 1878, before Frederick Douglass was appointed Recorder. She made her career debut as a Shakespearean actor, elocutionist and dramatic reader in Washington, DC on April 25, 1883 where she was introduced by Douglass, a family friend. The proclamation acknowledges the success of Miss Davis as a public speaker and cultural icon.
Celebration / Award Presentation recognizing Vera J. Katz, (Professor Emerita Howard University Theatre Arts) and others will be conducted in the A-5 Auditorium 11am-1:30-pm at the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial Library 901 G Street, NW, Washington, D.C. (202) 727-0321
Livication / Henrietta Vinton Davis Marker Unveiling will be conducted 3pm-5pm at her grave site in National Harmony Memorial Park 7101 Sheriff Road Largo, MD (301) 772-0900
Events are free and open to the public.
About Henrietta Vinton Davis
For thirty-five years after her debut performing “Shakespearean delineations”, original plays and dramatic readings with her own performing company, and local troupes throughout the United States, South America and the Caribbean, Henrietta Vinton Davis broke new ground as a successful theatrical artisan. Her commitment to her craft gained her recognition as the first African American “woman of the stage.”
During 1919, a year notable for its “Red Summer,” she joined the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League headed by Marcus Garvey.
As a leader of the African Redemption Movement, Davis made use of her acting skills to promote the aims and objectives of the UNIA. Her ability to “transport her listeners” to another place with her oratorical skills played a key role in both attracting members to the organization and promoting the Black Star Line Shipping Company. As such, she was elected to numerous positions including International Organizer, and Third Assistant President General of the UNIA. Additionally, as Vice President and a Director of the Black Star Line, Davis was the de facto authority aboard the Black Star Line’s flagship vessel, the S.S. Yarmouth, on its maiden voyage. The ship was laden with a cargo worth upwards of $5.000.000 destined for the Caribbean. On the ship’s return Marcus Garvey proclaimed Miss Davis “the greatest woman of the [African] race today” in a meeting at the UNIA’s Liberty Hall.
About The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation
Initially organized to raise funds for a marker at the grave of Lady Henrietta Vinton Davis
in 2005, the mission of The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation has evolved to include publishing books, producing plays, films/videos and conducting symposiums educating the general public about her life and the times in which she lived.
A scene from the play Christophe by William Edgar Easton
Cultural Tourism DC announced that it will unveil a plaque at the former residence of the Honorable Lady Henrietta Vinton Davis on May 8, 2010 at 2pm.
Miss Davis’ residence has been a part of Cultural Tourism DC’s African American Heritage Trail for nearly a decade. The recognition comes on the heels of a “Livication” program honoring Miss Davis at Washington, DC’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library held on Sunday March 14, 2010. The program was a collaborative effort between the Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation and the Martin Luther King, Jr, Memorial Library. The event was the kickoff for an exhibit recognizing Miss Davis’ significance as an elocutionist, dramatic reader and Shakespearean actor.
Her career marked a turning point in the history of Africans in America. She earned a living as a performing artist at a time when there were few with the training and skills to perform with her.
After seeing the connection between Henrietta Vinton Davis and Black Women who were lynched (they lacked markers on their graves) we posted Dr. Daniel Meaders’ pamphlet on Black Women Who Were Lynched in America. Reading that aroused wonder. Were more women lynched than Dr. Meaders found? Further inquiry led us to the revelation of “STRANGER FRUIT”: THE LYNCHING OF BLACK WOMEN THE CASES OF ROSA RICHARDSON AND MARIE SCOTT” by MARIA DELONGORIA. The information below is extracted from Appendix A: Recorded Cases of Black Female Lynching Victims 1886-1957. This list indicates approximately one hundred and fifty women who were lynched. Four of them were known to have been pregnant at the time. m= mother d=daughter s=son f=father c=cousin w=wife h=husband #=age of victim b=brother s1=sister * some sexually related aspect (evidence of rape, sexual assault and/or ‘relationship’) ** approximate date
Mrs. John Simes
Henry Co KY
Mrs. Hawkins (m)
Fayette Co KY
—– Hawkins (d)
Fayette Co KY
Mrs. Ben French
Julia Brandt (15)
Joe Barnes, Vance Brandt
Ann (Eliza) Cowan (35)
Jerry Finch, John Pattishal, Lee Tyson
Chatham Co NC
Stephen Cummins (f)
W. Carroll LA
son accused of murder
Sumner Co TN
son accused of arson
father accused of murder
Paul Hill, Paul Archer, William Archer
Louisa Carter (Lou)(m)
poisoning a well
Mahala Jackson (d)
poisoning a well
Mrs. Phil Evens (m)
Mary (Eliza) Motlow
unknown Negro woman
Simpson Co MS
Trigg County KY
Mrs. Abe Phillips (m)
unnamed child (1)Hannah Phillips (d)
Mrs. James Mason
James Mason (h)
New Orleans LA
Baton Rouge LA
(Walker,m),Isom K. (s)
stealing a bible
miscegenation/living with white “husband”
Silver City MS
Mrs. Jim Cross (m)
Hickory Plains AR
New Orleans LA
Forrest City NC
theft of peaches
Betsey McCray (m)
knowledge of murder
Ida McCray (d)
knowledge of murder
murder of Mrs. Frank Matthews
Negro men (4)
Smith County MS
Beard Plantation, Shreveport LA
murder by poison
Lebanon Junction KY
Bates Union AR
husband accused of murder
Mrs. Padgett (m)
son accused of rape
brother accused of rape
Mrs. D. Walker (m)
Grand Prairie LA
Ben Pettigrew (f)
John Moore,Eugene Hamming,Dusty Cruthfield or Crutchfield
*Crystal Nicole Femister has a similar chart in the Appendix of her dissertation “Ladies and Lynching”: The Gendered Discourse of Mob Violence in the New South, 1880-1930. Having used overlapping sources accounts for similarities although there are differences in categories, variations of names, locations and some of the other content.
Washington, DC –Today the Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation announced plans to host Livication Day 2009. The Foundation has as its mission to raise awareness of the life and legacy of Shakespearean actor, elocutionist, dramatic reader and activist Henrietta Vinton Davis.
Miss Davis remained relatively unrecognized until July 1983 when an article entitled “Henrietta Vinton Davis and the Garvey Movement” by Professor William Seraille was published in the journal ‘Afro-Americans in New York Life and History’. Nearly a year later, acknowledgment of her contributions increased with the publication of the book ‘Shakespeare in Sable’ written by Professor Errol Hill of Dartmouth University. In 1994, actor Clayton LeBouef received a commission to write a play on her life entitled ‘Shero: The Livication of Henrietta Vinton Davis.’ Her home in Northeast Washington, DC has been listed on Cultural Tourism DC’s African American Heritage Trail since 1999.
In 2008, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty issued a proclamation designating August 25 ‘Henrietta Vinton Davis Day.’ The designation furthers the Foundation’s efforts to raise awareness of Miss Davis’ life and garner funds to place a marker at her grave. The decree issued in 2008 acknowledges Davis as the first African American to work at the DC Recorder of Deeds office beginning in 1878, before Frederick Douglas was appointed Recorder. The proclamation also recognizes Miss Davis’ significance as a cultural icon. She made her career debut as a Shakespearean actor, elocutionist, dramatic reader and impressionist in Washington, DC on April 25, 1883 where she was introduced by Douglas, a family friend.
The proclamation also acknowledges the success of Miss Davis as a public speaker. During 1919, a year remembered for its “Red Summer,” she joined the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League headed by Marcus Garvey.
The Livication Service will be conducted at her grave site located in National Harmony Memorial Park 7101 Sheriff Road Largo, MD (phone:301-772-0900). on Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 10:00 A.M. Other activities are also in the planning stages.
About Henrietta Vinton Davis
For thirty-five years after her debut performing “Shakespearean delineations”, original plays and dramatic readings with her own performing company, and local troupes throughout the United States, South America and the Caribbean, Henrietta Vinton Davis broke new ground as a successful theatrical artisan in the United States. Her dedication to her craft gained her recognition as the first African American “woman of the stage.”
As a leader of the African Redemption Movement beginning in 1919, Davis made use of her acting skills to promote the aims and objectives of the UNIA. Her ability to “transport her listeners” to another place with her oratorical skills played a key role in both attracting members to the organization and promoting the Black Star Line Shipping Company. As such, she was elected to numerous positions including International Organizer, and Third Assistant President General of the UNIA. Additionally, as Vice President and a Director of the Black Star Line. Davis was the de facto authority aboard the Black Star Line’s flagship vessel, the S.S. Yarmouth, on its maiden voyage. The ship was laden with a cargo worth upwards of $5.000.000 destined for the Caribbean. On the ship’s return Marcus Garvey proclaimed Miss Davis “the greatest woman of the [African] race today” in a meeting at the UNIA’s Liberty Hall.
About The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation
Initially organized to raise funds solely to place a marker at the grave of Lady Henrietta Vinton Davis in 2005, the mission of The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation has evolved to include educating the general public on her life by producing plays, publishing books, producing documentary videos and conducting symposiums educating the general public about her life and the times in which she lived.
A scene from the play Christophe by William Edgar Easton
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Printed as a community service by Dr. Daniel Meaders, Professor of History at William Patterson University, and author of several books and articles, including Dead or Alive, Fugitive Slaves and White Indentured Servants Before 1800 (Garland Press, 1993)
Jennie Steers On July 25, 1903 a mob lynched Jennie Steers on the Beard Plantation in Louisiana for supposedly giving a white teenager, 16 year-old Elizabeth Dolan, a glass of poisoned lemonade. Before they killed her, the mob tried to force her to confess but she refused and was hanged. (100 Years at Lynching. Ralph Ginzburg)
Laura Nelson Laura Nelson was lynched on May 23, 1911 In Okemah, Okluskee, Oklahoma. Her fifteen year old son was also lynched at the same time but I could not find a photo of her son. The photograph of Nelson was drawn from a postcard. Authorities accused her of killing a deputy sheriff who supposedly stumbled on some stolen goods in her house. Why they lynched her child is a mystery. The mob raped and dragged Nelson six miles to the Canadian River and hanged her from a bridge.(NAACP: One Hundred Years of Lynching in the US 1889-1918 )
Ann Barksdale or Ann Bostwick The lynchers maintained that Ann Barksdale or Ann Bostwlck killed her female employer in Pinehurst, Georgia on June 24, 1912. Nobody knows if or why Barksdale or Bostick killed her employer because there was no trial and no one thought to take a statement from this Black woman who authorities claimed had ”violent fits of insanity” and should have been placed in a hospital. Nobody was arrested and the crowd was In a festive mood. Placed in a car with a rope around her neck, and the other end tied to a tree limb, the lynchers drove at high speed and she was strangled to death. For good measure the mob shot her eyes out and shot enough bullets Into her body that she was “cut in two.”
Marie Scott March 31, 1914, a white mob of at least a dozen males, yanked seventeen year-old Marie Scott from jail, threw a rope over her head as she screamed and hanged her from a telephone pole in Wagoner County, Oklahoma. What happened? Two drunken white men barged Into her house as she was dressing. They locked themselves in her room and criminally “assaulted” her. Her brother apparently heard her screams for help, kicked down the door, killed one assailant and fled. Some accounts state that the assailant was stabbed. Frustrated by their inability to lynch Marie Scott’s brother the mob lynched Marie Scott. (Crisis 1914 and 100 Years of Lynching)
Mary Turner 1918 Eight Months Pregnant Mobs lynched Mary Turner on May 17, 1918 in Lowndes County. Georgia because she vowed to have those responsible for killing her husband arrested. Her husband was arrested in connection with the shooting and killing Hampton Smith, a white farmer for whom the couple had worked, and wounding his wife. Sidney Johnson. a Black, apparently killed Smith because he was tired of the farmer’s abuse. Unable to find Johnson. the killers lynched eight other Blacks Including Hayes Turner and his wife Mary. The mob hanged Mary by her feet, poured gasoline and oil on her and set fire to her body. One white man sliced her open and Mrs. Turner’s baby tumbled to the ground with a “little cry” and the mob stomped the baby to death and sprayed bullets into Mary Turner. (NAACP: Thirty Years of Lynching in the U.S. 1889-1918 )
Maggie Howze and Alma Howze -Both Pregnant Accused of the murder of Dr. E.L. Johnston in December 1918. Whites lynched Andrew Clark, age 15, Major Clark, age 20, Maggie Howze, age 20, and Alma Howze, age 16 from a bridge near Shutaba, a town in Mississippi. The local press described Johnston as being a wealthy dentist, but he did not have an established business in the true sense of the word. He sought patients by riding his buggy throughout the community offering his services to the public at large in Alabama. Unable to make money “peddling” dentistry, the dentist returned to Mississippi to work on his father’s land near Shabuta. During his travels he had developed an intimate relationship with Maggie Howze. a Black woman who he had asked to move and lived with him. He also asked that she bring her sister Alma Howze along. While using the Black young women as sexual objects Johnson impregnated both of them though he was married and had a child. Three Black laborers worked on Johnston’s plantation, two of whom were brothers, Major and Andrew Clark. Major tried to court Maggie, but Johnson was violently opposed to her trying to create a world of her own that did not include him. To block a threat to his sexual fiefdom, Johnston threaten Clark’s life. Shortly after Johnston turned up dead and the finger was pointed at Major Clark and the Howze sisters. The whites picked up Major, his brother, Maggie and her sister and threw them in jail. To extract a confession from Major Clark, the authorities placed his testicles between the “jaws of a vise” and slowly closed it until Clark admitted that he killed Johnston. White community members took the four Blacks out of jail, placed them in an automobile, turned the head lights out and headed to the lynching site. Eighteen other cars, carrying members of the mob, followed close behind. Someone shut the power plant down and the town fell into darkness. Ropes were placed around the necks of the four Blacks and the other ends tied to the girder of the bridge. Maggie Howze cried, “I ain’t guilty of killing the doctor and you oughtn’t to kill me.” Someone took a monkey wrench and “struck her In the mouth with It, knocking her teeth out. She was also hit across the head with the same instrument, cutting a long gash In which the side of a person’s hand could be placed.” While the three other Blacks were killed instantly, Maggie Howze, four months pregnant, managed to grab the side of the bridge to break her fall. She did this twice before she died and the mob joked about how difficult it was to kill that “big Jersey woman.” No one stepped forward to claim the bodies. No one held funeral services for the victims. The Black community demanded that the whites cut them down and bury them because they ‘lynched them.” The whites placed them in unmarked graves. Alma Howze was on the verge of giving birth when the whites killed her. One witness claimed that at her “burial on the second day following, the movements of her unborn child could be detected.” Keep in mind, Johnston’s parents felt that the Blacks had nothing to do with their son’s death and that some irate white man killed him, knowing that the blame would fall on the Black’s shoulders. The indefatigable Walter White, NAACP secretary, visited the scene of the execution and crafted the report. He pressed Governor Bilbo of Mississippi to look into the lynching and Bilbo told the NAACP to go to hell. (NAACP: Thirty Years of Lynching in the U.S.. 1889-1918 ) (Papers of the NAACP)
Holbert Burnt at the Stake Luther Holbert, a Black, supposedly killed James Eastland, a wealthy planter and John Carr, a negro, who lived near Doddsville Mississippi. After a hundred mile chase over four days, the mob of more than 1,000 persons caught Luther and his wife and tied them both to trees. They were forced to hold out their hands while one finger at a time was chopped off and their ears were cut off. Pieces of raw quivering flesh was pulled out of their arms, legs and body with a bore screw and kept for souvenirs. Holbert was beaten and his skull fractured. An eye was knocked out with a stick and hung from the socket. (100 Years of Lynching by Ralph Ginzburg)
WHO ARE OUR REAL HEROES? American mobs lynched some 5.000 Blacks since 1859, scores of whom were women, several of them pregnant. Rarely did the killers spend time in jail because the white mobs and the government officials who protected them believed justice meant (just us) white folks. Lynching denied Blacks the right to a trial or the right to due process. No need for a lawyer and a jury of your peers: the white community decided what happened and what ought to be done. After the whites accused Laura Nelson of killing a white deputy In Oklahoma, they raped this Black woman, tied her to a bridge trestle and for good measure, They lynched her son from a telephone pole. Had the white community reacted in horror after viewing the dangling corpses of Laura Nelson and her son? No, they came by the hundreds, making their way by cars, horse driven wagons, and by foot to view the lynching. Dressed in their Sunday best, holding their children’s hands and hugging their babies the white on-lookers looked forward to witnessing the spectacle of a modern day crucifixion. They snapped pictures of Laura Nelson, placed them on postcards and mailed them to their friends boasting about the execution. They chopped of f the fingers, sliced off the ears of Ms. Holbert, placed the parts In jars of alcohol and displayed them in their windows. White America today know little or nothing about lynching because it contradicts every value America purports to stand for. Blacks, too, know far too little about the lynchings because the subject is rarely taught in school. Had they known more about these lynchings, I am almost certain that Blacks would have taken anyone to task, including gangster rappers, for calling themselves niggers or calling Black women “hoes” and “bitches.” How could anybody in their right mind call these Black women who were sexually abused, mutilated, tortured and mocked the same degrading Please do not throw this away. Give it to a friend or a names that the psychopathic lynchers called them? relative. Peace. What Black woman in her right state of mind would snap her fingers or tap her feet toihe beat of a song that contained the same degrading remarks that the whites uttered when they raped and lynched them The lynchers and the thousands of gleeful spectators called these Black women niggers when they captured them, niggers when they placed the rope around their necks and niggers when their necks snapped. Whites viewed Black women as hated black things, for, how else can one explain the treatment of Mary Turner? The lynch mob ignored her cries for mercy, ripped off her clothes, tied her ankles together, turned her upside down, doused her naked body with gas and oil, set her naked body on fire, ripped her baby out of her, stomped the child to death and laughed about it. Blacks purchased Winchesters to protect themselves, staged demonstrations, created anti-lynching organizations, pushed for anti-lynching legislation and published articles and books attacking the extralegal violence. Many pocked up. left the community never to return again. Others went through bouts of sadness, despair, and grief. Some broke down, a few went insane. Others probably fell on their knees, put their hands together, closed their eyes and begged Jesus for help. Jesus help us. Do not forsake us. But Jesus. the same white man the lyncher’s ancestors taught us to love, never flew out of the bush in a flame of fire armed with frogs and files and locusts to save Mary Turner. No thunder, no rain, no hail and no fire blocked the lynchers from hanging Laura Nelson. He did not see the “affliction” of the Holberts; he did not hear the screams of Marie Scott or the cry of Jennifer Steers. So who are our real heroes?. Little Kim Is not a hero. Oprah is not a hero.. Whoople Goldberg is not a hero. Michael Jordan is not a hero. Dennis Rodman Is not a hero. They are entertainers, sport figures. creations of the media, media icons and they are about making huge sums of money and we wish these enterprising stars well. . Mary Turner, Laura Nelson, Marie Scott and Jennie Steers are your true historical heroes. Niggers they were not. Bitches they were not. Hoes they were not. They will not go down in history for plastering their bodies with tattoos, inventing exotic diets, endorsing Gator Ade, embracing studIo gangsterism, They were strong beautiful Black women who suffered excruciating pain, died horrible deaths. Their legacy of -strength lives on. These are my heroes. Make them yours as well.
Addendum=== Below are women who were lynched in addition to the initial findings of Dr. Daniel Meaders. They can be found in the pages of the book 100 Years of Lynching by Ralph Ginzburg.
Mae Murray Dorsey and Dorothy Malcolm On July 25, 1946, four young African Americans—George & Mae Murray Dorsey and Roger & Dorothy Malcom—were shot hundreds of times by 12 to 15 unmasked white men in broad daylight at the Moore’s Ford bridge spanning the Apalachee River, 60 miles east of Atlanta, Georgia. These killings, for which no one was ever prosecuted, enraged President Harry Truman and led to historic changes, but were quickly forgotten in Oconee and Walton Counties where they occurred. No one was ever brought to justice for the crime.
Ballie Crutchfield Around midnight on March 15, 1901 Ballie Crutchfield was taken from her home in Rome to a bridge over Round Lick Creek by a mob. There her hands were tied behind her, and she was shot through the head and then thrown in the creek. Her body was recovered the next day and an inquest found that she met her death at the hands of persons unknown (euphemism for lynching). After Walter Sampson lost a pocketbook containing $120, it was found by a little boy. As he went to return it to its owner, William Crutchfield, Ballie’s brother, met the boy. Apparently, the boy gave him the pocketbook after being convinced it had no value. Sampson had Crutchfield arrested and taken to the house of one Squire Bains. A mob came to take Crutchfield for execution. On the way he broke lose and escaped in the dark. The mob was so blind with rage they lay blame on Ballie as a co-conspirator in her brother’s alleged crime and proceeded to enact upon their beliefs culminating in the aforementioned orgy of inhumanity.
Belle Hathaway At 9 o’clock the night of January 23, 1912 100 men congregated in front of the Hamilton, Georgia courthouse. They then broke into the Harris County Jail. After overpowering Jailor E.M. Robinson they took three men and a woman one mile from town. Belle Hathaway, John Moore, Eugene Hamming, and “Dusty” Cruthfield were in jail after being charged with the shooting death a farmer named Norman Hadley. Writhing bodies silhouetted against the sky as revolvers and rifles blazed forth a cacophony of 300 shots at the victims before the mob dispersed.
Sullivan Couple Hung as Deputy Sheriff and Posse Watch Fred Sullivan and his wife were hanged after being accused of burning a barn on a plantation near Byhalia, Mississippi November 25, 1914. The deputy sheriff and his posse were forced to watch the proceedings.
Cordella Stevenson Raped and Lynched Wednesday, December 8, 1915 Cordella Stevenson was hung from the limb of a tree without any clothing about fifty yards north of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad outside Columbus, Mississippi. The gruesomely horrific scene was witnessed by thousands and thousands of passengers who traveled in and out of the city the next morning. She was hung there by a bloodthirsty mob who had taken her from slumber, husband and home to the spot where she was raped and lynched. All this was done after she had been brought to the police station for questioning in connection with the arson of Gabe Frank’s barn. Her son had been suspected of the fire. The police released her after she convinced them her son had left home several months prior and she did not know his whereabouts. After going to bed early, a knock was heard at the door. Her husband, Arch Stevenson went to answer, but the door was broken down first and his wife was seized. He was threatened with rifle barrels to his head should he move. The body was left hanging until Friday morning. An inquest returned a verdict of “death at the hands of persons unknown.”
5 Hanged on One Oak Tree Three men and two women were taken from the jail in Newberry, Florida on August 19, 1916 and hanged by a mob. Another man was shot by deputy sheriffs near Jonesville, Florida. All this was the result of the killing the day prior of Constable S.G. Wynne and the shooting of Dr. L.G. Harris by Boisey Long. Those who were lynched had been accused of aiding Long in his escape.
Mary Conley After Sam Conley had been reprimanded by E.M. Melvin near Arlington, Georgia, his mother Mary intervened to express her resentment. After Melvin slapped and grappled with her, Sam Conley struck Melvin on the head with an iron scale weight, resulting in his death shortly afterward. Although Sam escaped, his mother was captured and jailed. She was taken from the jail at Leary and her body was riddled with bullets. Her remains were found along the roadside by parties entering into Arlington the next morning.
Bertha Lowman Demon Lowman, Bertha Lowman, and their cousin Clarence Lowman were in the Aiken, South Carolina jail when it was raided by a mob early on October 8, 1926. The three had been in jail for a year and a half while they were tried for the murder of Sheriff and Klansman Henry H.H. Howard. Howard was shot in the back while raiding the house of Sam Lowman, father to Bertha and Demon. Klansmen filed by Howard’s body two-by-two when it laid in state. A year after his funeral a cross was burned in the cemetery at his grave. Although the Lowman’s were tried and sentenced to death, a State Supreme Court reversed the findings and ordered a new trial. Demon had just been found not guilty when the raid on the jail occurred. Taken to a pine thicket just beyond the city limits their bodies were riddled with bullets. The events which resulted in this lynching are surreal to say the least. Samuel Lowman was away from home at a mill having meal ground on April 25, 1925. Sheriff Howard and three deputies appeared at the Lowman Cabin three miles from Aiken. Annie Lowman, Samuel’s wife and their daughter Bertha were out back of the house working. Their family had never been in any kind of trouble. They did not know the sheriff and he did not know them. Furthermore, they were not wearing any uniform or regalia depicting them as law enforcers. Hence the alarming state of mind they had when four white men entered their yard unannounced, even if it was on a routine whiskey check. It was even more distressing because a group of white men had come to the house a few weeks earlier and whipped Demon for no reason at all. After speaking softly to each other the women decided to go in the house. When the men saw the women move towards the house they drew their revolvers and rushed forward. Sheriff Howard reached the back step at the same time as Bertha. He struck her in the mouth with his pistol butt. Mrs. Lowman picked up an axe and rushed to her daughter’s aid. A deputy emptied his revolver into the old woman killing her. Demon and Clarence were working in a nearby field when they heard Bertha’s scream. Demon retrieved a pistol from a shed while Clarence armed himself with a shotgun. The deputies shot at Demon, who returned fire. Clarence’s actions are not clear. When it was all over a few seconds later the Sheriff was dead. Bertha had received two gunshots to the chest just above her heart. Clarence and Demon were wounded also. In total five members of the Lowman family were in put jail. Samuel Lowman returned to find in his absence he had become a widower with four of his children in jail along with his nephew. In three days he would be charged with harboring illegal liquor when a quarter of a bottle of the substance is found in his backyard. For that the elderly farmer was sentenced to two years on the chain gang. 18 year old Bertha, 22 year old Demon and 15 year old Clarence were tried for the Sheriff’s murder and swiftly found guilty. The men were sentenced to death with Bertha given a life sentence. Demon’s acquittal made it appear that Clarence and Bertha would been freed as well. The day they were murdered they were taken from the jail, driven to a tourist a few miles from town and set loose. As they ran they were shot down. Mr. Lowman contended one of the deputies who coveted the Sheriff’s job was his real killer. The same man later led the mob which slew Lowman’s children and nephew. Apparently, he knew they could identify him as the culprit. More on documented cases of Black Women who were Lynched in America.
The Honorable Lady Henrietta Vinton Davis was a Shakespearean actor, elocutionist, dramatic reader, and public speaker. She was proclaimed by Marcus Garvey to be “the greatest woman of the [African] race”. She is currently lying in an unmarked grave in National Harmony Memorial Park in Largo, Maryland. The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation is committed to increasing the general public’s awareness and erecting a memorial to the life and legacy of the Honorable Henrietta Vinton Davis, Lady Commander Order of the Nile. In addition to raising funds for a fitting memorial to her life, we also intend to sponsor performances of a play entitled “Shero: The Livication of Henrietta Vinton Davis” written by Actor Clayton Lebouef, produce a biopic on her life and publish her biography. Hopefully, after reading this brief synopsis of her life you too will be inspired to add your name to the list of those who consolidated their resources in order to bestow a fitting memorial upon her. Nothing less is due a woman of her stature.
On August 15, 1860, Henrietta Vinton Davis was freeborn in Baltimore, Maryland to Mansfield Vinton and Mary Ann (Johnson) Davis. Her father, who was a pianist, died shortly thereafter. Six months later in 1861, her mother married George A. Hackett. A coal yard operator and former livery stable owner, Hackett is one of the most prominent Africans in Baltimore at that time. His lobbying efforts are credited with swaying public opinion among the citizens of Maryland to defeat the 1859 Jacobs Bill. The intention of that bill was to deport from Maryland all adults of African ancestry and enslave all free African children. It was considered a response to the raid on Harper’s Ferry by John Brown. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of The Chesapeake Marine Railway and Dry DockCompany of Baltimore City, the only African American Shipbuilding company in the United States which was co founded by Hackett’s friend Isaac Myers. Captain Hackett died in April of 1870 after voting despite warnings to the African community in Baltimore against doing so. He was given an elaborate funeral at Bethel AME Church with Senator Hiram Revels of Mississippi among the distinguished list of attendees and an eulogy conducted by Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne. The ceremony was followed by a mile long procession of carriages and marchers across the city of Baltimore from west to east. Hackett was interred in what was then Laurel Cemetery (bulldozed in the 1950s for a shopping mall, some graves including Hackett’s were moved to Johnsville, Maryland).