First Hand Account Of A Lynching In Texas, 1916

February 19, 2020 | No Comments » | Topics: Morbid

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lynching of jesse washington

In Waco Texas, 1916, 10,000 people watched the lynching of Jesse Washington (castrated, burned, and mutilated for 2+ hours) A photographer sold postcards of the event. Prominent citizens eventually persuaded photographer to stop selling them fearing the images would come to characterize the town. Here is a first hand account of that lynching:

“A big fellow in the back of the court room yelled, ‘Get the Nigger!’ Barney Goldberg, one of the deputy sheriffs, told me that he did not know that Fleming had dropped orders to let them get the Negro, and pulled his revolver. Afterwards he got his friends to swear to an affidavit that he was not present. Fleming said he had sworn in fifty deputies. I asked him where they were. He asked, ‘Would you want to protect the nigger?’ The judge made no effort to stop the mob, although he had firearms in his desk.”

“They dragged the boy down the stairs, put a chain around his body and hitched it to an automobile. The chain broke. The big fellow took the chain off the Negro under the cover of the crowd and wound it around his own wrist, so that the crowd jerking at the chain was jerking at the man’s wrist and he was holding the boy. The boy shrieked and struggled. The mob ripped the boy’s clothes off, cut them in bits and even cut the boy. Someone cut his ear off; someone else unsexed him. A little working for the firm of Goldstein and Mingle told me that she saw this done.”

“On the way to the scene of the burning people on every hand took a hand in showing their feelings in the matter by striking the Negro with anything obtainable, some struck him with shovels, bricks, clubs, and others stabbed him and cut him until when he was strung up his body was a solid color of red, the blood of the many wounds inflicted covered him from head to foot.”

“Dry goods boxes and all kinds of inflammable material were gathered, and it required but an instant to convert this into seething flames. When the Negro was first hoisted into the air his tongue protruded from his mouth and his face was besmeared with blood.”

“While a fire was being prepared of boxes, the naked boy was stabbed and the chain put over the tree. He tried to get away, but could not. He reached up to grab the chain and they cut off his fingers. The big man struck the boy on the back of the neck with a knife just as they were pulling him up on the tree. Mr. Lester thought that was practically the death blow. He was lowered into the fire several times by means of the chain around his neck. Someone said they would estimate the boy had about twenty-five stab wounds, none of them death-dealing.”

“Life was not extinct within the Negro’s body, although nearly so, when another chain was placed around his neck and thrown over the limb of a tree on the lawn, everybody trying to get to the Negro and have some part in his death. The infuriated mob then leaned the Negro, who was half alive and half dead, against the tree, he having just strength enough within his limbs to support him. As rapidly as possible the Negro was then jerked into the air at which a shout from thousands of throats went up on the morning air and dry goods boxes, excelsior, wood and every other article that would burn was then in evidence, appearing as if by magic. A huge dry goods box was then produced and filled to the top with all of the material that had been secured. The Negro’s body was swaying in the air, and all of the time a noise as of thousands was heard and the Negro’s body was lowered into the box.”

“No sooner had his body touched the box than people pressed forward, each eager to be the first to light the fire, matches were touched to the inflammable material and as smoke rapidly rose in the air, such a demonstration as of people gone mad was never heard before. Everybody pressed closer to get souvenirs of the affair. When they had finished with the Negro his body was mutilated. Fingers, ears, pieces of clothing, toes and other parts of the Negro’s body were cut off by members of the mob that had crowded to the scene as if by magic when the word that the Negro had been taken in charge by the mob was heralded over the city.

“The tree where the lynching occurred was right under the Mayor’s window. Mayor Dollins was standing in the window, not concerned about what they were doing to the boy, but that the tree would be destroyed.”

“Women and children saw the lynching. One man held up his little boy above the heads of the crowd so that he could see, and a little boy was in the very tree to which the colored boy was hung, where he stayed until the fire became too hot.”

“Onlookers were hanging from the windows of the City Hall and every other building that commanded a sight of the burning, and as the Negro’s body commenced to burn, shouts of delight went up from the thousands of throats and apparently everybody demonstrated in some way their satisfaction at the retribution that was being visited upon the perpetrator of such a horrible crime, the worst in the annals of McLennan county’s history.”

“The body of the Negro was burned to a crisp, and was left for some time in the smoldering remains of the fire. Women and children who desired to view the scene were allowed to do so, the crowds parting to let them look on the scene: After some time the body of the Negro was jerked into the air where everybody could view the remains, and a mighty shout rose on the air. Photographer Gildersleeve made several pictures of the body as well as the large crowd which surrounded the scene as spectators.”

“While the torso of the boy was being dragged through the streets behind the horse, the limbs dropped off and the head was put on the stoop of a disreputable woman in the reservation district. Some little boys pulled out the teeth and sold them to some men for five dollars apiece. The chain was sold for twenty-five cents a link.”



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