“The two were forcibly removed from the Greenbrier County Jail and taken about 2 miles west of Lewisburg, where they were hanged from the cross arm of a telephone pole. The mob then unloaded their rifles, shotguns, and pistols into the men's bodies.” December 10, 1931 mob lynching of Tom Jackson and George Banks
According to Wikipedia, “a lynching is an extrajudicial execution carried out by a mob, often by hanging, but also by burning at the stake or shooting, in order to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate, control, or otherwise manipulate a population of people, however large or small.”
In a dark part of our history, lynchings in West Virginia date back as far as 1882 and as recent as July of 2000. When the conversation comes up, most people think of blacks being the victims at the hands of white Klansmen or just a group of angry citizens taking it upon themselves to deal out justice swift and final without a trial. According to statistics we found, there were a total of 49 people lynched in those years. Out of those figures, 20 were white and 29 black.
All but one recorded lynching was carried out by angry mobs of men cloaked in hoods and or in the dead of night. They targeted men who were merely accused of a crime, not convicted. Some were taken by force from within jail cells while in custody awaiting trial.
On the other hand, there was also the court ordered public hangings of people convicted and sentenced to die for their crimes. People would travel from hundreds of miles to watch an execution while enjoying carnival rides and the sales of tinkered trades and memorabilia. The last legal public execution in West Virginia was that of John Morgan at Ripley on December 16, 1897 at a spot just south of the present football stadium at the new high school campus. Thousands were on hand (men,women & children) who showed up to watch the execution. Some came days ahead to enjoy the pre-hanging festivities.
Recorded Lynching’s In WV
BLUEFIELD - Alexander Jones lynched January 28 1896; Robert Johnson lynched September 4 1912
BRAMWELL - 1 unidentified black man lynched February 1 1896
ELKHORN - Anderson Holliday lynched August 2 1894
ELKINS - Peter Jenkins lynched July 25 1902; William Brooks lynched July 22 1901
FAYETTEVILLE - John Turner lynched Fayetteville West Virginia August 30 1889
GLENJEAN -N/A Williams lynched February 7 1902
GRANT TOWN – Arthur Warren lynched July 3, 2000
HINTON - William Lee lynched May 11 1900
HUNTINGTON - 1 unidentified black man lynched October 14 1910
KEYSTONE - Cornelius Coffee lynched December 5 1892
LEWISBURG - Tom Jackson and George Banks lynched Virginia December 10 1931,
LOGAN COUNTY - James Smith lynched May 27 1892
MADISON - Frank Brown lynched February 4 1903
MERCER COUNTY - Luther Mills lynched May 13 1892
NAUGATUCK - "Red" Smith lynched May 15 1892
PRINCETON - Alexander Foote lynched April 13 1891
SUTTON - Charles Lewis lynched November 3 1909
WANELSDORF - 4 unidentified black men lynched July 25 1902
WELCH - 1 unidentified black man lynched November 22 1918
WESTON - Edgar Jones lynched July 6 1892
WHITMER – Joe Brown lynched March 25th, 1909
PLACE NOT IDENTIFIED
N/A Whitney lynched N/A West Virginia December 15 1919
The 1931 Lynching Of Tom Jackson & George Banks
According to WV records and media accounts. On the night of December 10, 1931, about 50 armed and masked men drove to Lewisburg to avenge 2 murders. To protect their identity, they traveled in cars from which the license plates had been removed.
Two white men, Constable Joseph Miles and Jack Brown, both of Quinwood, were killed after Miles had been called to quiet the revelry at a dance near Rainelle. Nearly 3 weeks later, Tom Jackson and George Banks, the African-American men charged with the crime, found themselves the target of a lynch mob. The two were forcibly removed from the Greenbrier County Jail and taken about 2 miles west of Lewisburg, where they were hanged from the cross arm of a telephone pole. The mob then unloaded their rifles, shotguns, and pistols into the men's bodies. Empty shells gathered at the scene filled a half-gallon bucket.
A few hours after the lynching, 3 brothers, R. E., Jack, and Pete Legg were ordered held for investigation. The prosecuting attorney promised, in his words, "the fullest investigation" of the lynching. Governor William Conley called the murders "a horrible thing" and asked the state police to look into them. The 3 brothers were later convicted in Kanawha County of the lynching. Significantly, the West Virginia Supreme Court used the case to uphold an anti-lynching law passed by the legislature in 1921.
The 1909 Lynching Of Joe Brown
The story goes on to state that..."Waiting until the dead of night when the streets of the town were deserted, between fifty and a hundred masked men, without creating a disturbance or disturbing the slumbers of the town surrounded the jail, forced the two guards at the point of revolvers to vacate their posts and entered the jail. Brown was hustled from its protecting walls for a distance of about half a square, a noose adjusted around his neck, and hanged by block and tackle to a flag pole from which his inanimate body still dangled the next morning when the town awoke. After making sure that life was extinct, the lynchers quietly dispersed."
The body was cut down about nine o’clock that morning and an inquest over which Squire Andrew Hedrick presided held to determine just how Brown came to his death. Examined by the coroner’s jury the two guards, Bordeck and Croy testified that they had not been able to identify any of those engaged in the lynching. With no other evidence on which to base a decision the jury reached the conclusion that Brown had come to his death at the hands of a mob of unknown masked men. According to numerous accounts, Joe Brown was considered a man of desperate character, not brave but who took delight in shooting a man and then running. He never was without a revolver on his person.
He had but few sympathizers, and those were people about of the same character. Brown had been in the West Virginia Penitentiary two times, in the Virginia State prison one term. He had committed several murders, among them it is claimed he held his first wife in one corner of his dwelling house and cut her throat from ear to ear. Brown is supposed to have also killed two United States Marshalls for which, it is understood large rewards had been offered.
The 2000 Lynching Of Arthur Warren
What started out as a pre 4th of July fireworks display in Grant Town on July 3, 2000, turned into a lynching at the hands of 3 acquaintances who “JR” thought had befriended him. According to media reports and other records, Warren left his parents' home around 11:30 p.m. on July 3, 2000, to watch the Fourth of July fireworks in Grant Town. His mother said she reminded him of his 12:30 a.m. curfew, and when he had not returned home by 2:30 a.m. she assumed he was spending the night at a friend's.
Afterwards, the three boys put a bloodied Warren in Parker's car. Parker drove and Shoemaker sat in the front seat while Jared sat in back with Warren. Warren was still conscious enough to repeatedly ask to be taken home. Near the edge of town, Parker and Wilson removed Warren's body from the car and placed it in the road while Shoemaker remained in the car. Parker then ran over Warren with his car a total of four times, to disguise the death as a hit-and-run. The three boys then returned to the house where the assault had taken place, cleaned up the blood and disposed of their bloodied clothes by burning them with gasoline.
End Of Story
Jack Swint - Publisher
West Virginia News
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