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American/Brazilian Slaver "Kentucky" (ship)
Start Year : 1844
In 1844, the slave ship Kentucky, which had been sold by Americans to Brazilians, sailed to Inhambane and Quelimane, Mozambique, under the American flag. The crew was made up of both Americans and Brazilians. Inhambane and Quelimane, located on the southeast coast of Africa, were off limits to the slave ship by treaty. Nonetheless, once the cargo of 530 adult Africans was shackled aboard the Kentucky, the ship was turned over to the Brazilians, and all or some of the American crew returned to Brazil on another ship. The next day, the Africans attempted an unsuccessful revolt. Those thought to be guilty were tried by the ship captain, and 46 African men and one woman were hanged, then shot in the chest and thrown overboard. In addition, 20 men and six women were severely flogged. When the ship reached Brazil, the entire incident was recounted and recorded at the U.S. Consul in Rio de Janeiro and forwarded to the U.S. Congress [House Ex. Doc. 61 & Senate Ex. Doc. 28, both in 30th Congress]. In 1845, Consul Henry A. Wise (Virginia) appealed to President James K. Polk to take a stand against pirate slave ships sailing under the American flag as license for the types of barbarity exhibited on the Kentucky and the slave trade in general. No stand was taken. The Kentucky was eventually found by a British armed vessel, it was tucked away on the Angozha [Angoche] River in Mozambique. With no way to escape by sea, the crew of the Kentucky set the ship on fire and escaped by land. For more see The American Slave Trade: an account of its origin, growth and suppression, by J. R. Spears (published in 1900); and An Exposition of the African Slave Trade: from the year 1840, to 1850 inclusive, by U.S. Department of State, Representative Meeting (1851) [both titles available in full-text via Google Book Search].
Subjects: Freedom, Lynchings, Riots and Protests Outside Kentucky, Slave Trade (U.S.)
Geographic Region: Inhambane and Quelimane, Mozambique, Africa / Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, South America / United States

Ballew, Joseph S.
Birth Year : 1857
Joseph S. Ballew was one of the first African American police officers in Omaha, Nebraska. He was a South Omaha patrolman, having joined the Omaha Police Department on June 21, 1915 [source: Omaha Memories, by E. R. Morearty]. Joseph Ballew was born in Pulaski County, KY. The family name is spelled a number of ways in the U.S. Census, and Joseph's last name is spelled "Blew" in the U.S. Army Register of Enlistments and in the book, On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldier II, by I. Schubert and F. N. Schubert. The Ballew family was living in Mt. Gilead, KY, in 1870, according to the U.S. Census, and three years later, Joseph Ballew enlisted in the U.S. Army. He served with the 9th Cavalry until his discharge at Camp Bettens, WY, in 1892. He settled in Omaha, NE, and worked as a laborer prior to becoming a patrolman. Ballew was the husband of Dora Ballew, whom he married in 1896. Joseph Ballew's race is listed inconsistently in the census: Black, White, and/or Mulatto. He is listed in the Omaha City Directory as Colored. On September 28, 1919, the Omaha Race Riot occurred. Will Brown, who was Black, was accused of attacking Agnes Loebeck, who was white. Brown was taken from jail by a mob and brutally killed: his body was burned. There were other deaths unrelated to Brown and Loebeck. When calm was restored to the city, the Omaha Police Department was criticized for what was perceived as a lack of effort to prevent the deaths and rioting. Two of the police officers on duty during the rioting were Black [source: see "Omaha" in Race Riots and Resistance, by J. Voogd]. More about the riot can be found online at NebraskaStudies.org.
Subjects: Lynchings, Migration West, Military & Veterans, Corrections and Police, Riots and Protests Outside Kentucky
Geographic Region: Mt. Gilead, Pulaski County, Kentucky / Omaha, Nebraska

Burdett, Samuel "Sam" and Carol
Samuel (b. 1849) and his wife Carol (b. 1848) were both Kentucky natives, according to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. They married in 1872, then left Kentucky and settled in Seattle, WA. Samuel, a Civil War veteran, made his living as a veterinarian surgeon. In 1900, he was elected the King County wreckmaster. He co-founded the Cornerstone Grand Lodge of the York Masons, and helped organize the International Council of the World, an anti-lynching organization. He was author of A Test of Lynch Law, a 100-page book published in 1901 that fictionalized the lynching of Henry Smith in Paris, Texas. Sam Burdett died June 28, 1905 in Kilckitat, WA [source: Register of Deaths in Klickitat County, Washington]. For more see Samuel Burnett at the BlackPast.org website; Seattle's Black Victorians, 1852-1901, by E. H. Mumford; and A Spectacular Secret, by J. D. Goldsby.
Subjects: Authors, Lynchings, Medical Field, Health Care, Migration West, Military & Veterans, Fraternal Organizations
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Seattle, Washington

Election Day Riot (Frankfort, KY)
Start Year : 1871
On the evening of August 7, 1871, the election polls had just closed when a race riot developed between African American and white voters in Frankfort, KY, at the market-house precinct. It was the second year of voting for African American men in Kentucky, and tension was high. After a scuffle, whites and African Americans took cover on separate sides of Broadway and began shooting and throwing rocks and boulders at each other across the railroad tracks that ran down the center of the street. Police Captain William Gillmore and Officers Jerry Lee and Dick Leonard rushed to the scene; Gillmore was killed and Lee and Leonard were injured. Other police arrived, but they were driven back. A Mr. Bishop, who was also white, was killed, and several others on both sides were injured. State Troops were ordered into downtown Frankfort to bring the rioting under control. An African American, Henry Washington, who supposedly fired the first shot, was apprehended for the murder of Captain Gillmore. Frankfort Mayor E. H. Taylor, Jr. had appointed the state militia to guard the jailhouse. After the State Troops had gone, the militia dispersed when about 250 armed and masked white men stormed the jailhouse at mid-morning and removed Washington and another African American man, Harry Johnson, who was accused of the rape of a Mrs. Pfeifer. Both men were hanged. For more see "Kentucky Elections. Rioting reported in various places - Two whites killed in Frankfort - Negro prisoners lynched," New York Times, 08/09/1871, p. 1; and "A Democratic riot," printed in the New York Times, 08/15/1871, p.6, from the Louisville Commercial, August 10, 1871.
Subjects: Voting Rights, Lynchings, Corrections and Police, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky

Frankfort, KY, Klan Violence
Start Year : 1871
On March 25, 1871, a letter was sent to the U.S. Congress asking for protection from the Ku Klux Klan for the newly-freed African Americans in Kentucky. The letter was from Colored citizens of Frankfort & vicinity, signed by Henry Marrs, a teacher; Henry Lynn, a livery stable keeper; N. N. Trumbo, a grocer; Samuel Damsey; B. Smith, a blacksmith; and B. T. Crampton, a barber. The letter contained a list of 116 incidents of beatings, shootings, hangings, tarring and feathering, and other violence that had taken place around the state. For more see Documentary History of the Negro People in the United States, vol. 2, ed. by H. Aptheker.
Subjects: Barbers, Businesses, Freedom, Lynchings, Blacksmiths
Geographic Region: Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky

Jennings, Sam
Birth Year : 1893
Death Year : 1932
Jennings was born in Breckinridge County, KY. In 1930, he was accused of attacking Mabel Downs, the accusation quickly turning into a story that a black man had raped a white woman. Jennings was arrested, and the grand jury indicted him on a charge of rape. He was transferred to Jefferson County Jail for safekeeping: there was fear that a riot might occur and that Jennings might be lynched in Breckinridge County. He was returned to Breckinridge County for his trial, which resulted in his being found guilty. After exhausting his appeals, Sam Jennings was hanged in 1932. Over 6,000 people gathered to watch the event. Author Perry T. Ryan tells the entire story in his book, Legal Lynching: the plight of Sam Jennings.
Subjects: Lynchings
Geographic Region: Breckinridge County, Kentucky / Jefferson County, Kentucky

Lockett Lynch Mob (Lexington, KY)
Start Year : 1920
The first resistance to a lynch mob by local officials and troops in the South took place in Lexington, KY. In 1920, 10-year old Geneva Hardman, a little white girl, was killed. Will Lockett, an African American World War I veteran, was the suspect. While he was in police custody and without council, Lockett confessed to the murder and other crimes. His trial was set in Lexington for February 9, which was also Court Day, when a large number of people would be in the city. Governor Morrow ordered out all law enforcement officers and state troopers. Several hundred people showed up for the trial. Lockett was sentenced to die in the electric chair. The crowd outside got rowdy, and there was an exchange of gunfire between the crowd and the troopers. Six people were killed and 50 injured. U.S. troops were sent to Lexington. A second surge was building and Brigadier General Francis C. Marshall declared martial law, which remained in force for two weeks. Four hundred troops escorted Lockett to Eddyville Penitentiary, and state guards were detached to nearby Leitchfield, KY, to guard against violence. Lockett died in the electric chair on March 11. Kentucky later became the first state to pass an anti-lynching law. For more see J. D. Wright, Jr., "Lexington's Suppression of the 1920 Will Lockett Lynch Mob," Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, 1986, vol. 84, issue 3, pp. 163-279.
Subjects: Lynchings, Military & Veterans, Court Cases
Geographic Region: Leitchfield, Grayson County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Lynching in Wickliffe, KY
Start Year : 1903
Friday, October 16, 1903, Tom Hall's partially nude body was found hung in a tree in Wickliffe, KY. Hall was thought to be a man from Mississippi who had come first to Mayfield, KY, then on to Paducah, to work on the new Cairo division of the Illinois Central Railroad. A disagreement had occurred between two young white men and a group of African Americans at the Paducah-Cairo train depot platform, Sunday night, October 11. There was an exchange of gunfire. One of the white men, Crockett Childress, was shot in the chest, but survived, though rumors circulated that Childress was dead. Tom Hall was shot in the arm. [It was assumed he was a.k.a. Bob Douglas, who was wanted for a shooting in Mississippi.] Hall claimed he was innocent; he said that he was only a bystander who had gotten shot at the train depot. It was decided that there would be less disturbance if Hall were jailed in Wickliffe. On Tuesday, October 12, in response to the shooting, all African Americans were forced to leave Kevil, KY. Friday morning, about 1:15 a.m., a group of about 35 masked white men took Hall from jail and hanged him. For more see "Quickest of lynchings occurs at Wickliffe," Daily News Democrat (Paducah, KY), 10/16/1903, vol. 35, issue 12, front page; and "Kentucky Negroes forced to flee," Washington Post, 10/14/1903, p. 8.
Subjects: Lynchings, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky, Railroad, Railway, Trains
Geographic Region: Mississippi / Mayfield, Graves County, Kentucky / Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky / Cairo, Illinois / Wickliffe and Kevil, Ballard County, Kentucky

Race War in Mayfield, KY
Start Year : 1896
A couple of days before Christmas 1896, white citizens of Mayfield, KY, were preparing for an attack in response to a report that up to 250 armed African Americans were seeking revenge for the lynching of Jim Stone and the "whitecapping" of African American families. The reports had come from Water Valley and Wingo, KY, and other nearby towns. White women and children in Mayfield were ordered off the street by 6:00 p.m. Homes were barricaded. A dispatch was sent to Fulton, KY, asking for a reinforcement of white men, and guards were posted at the railroad station. When a report arrived stating that African Americans were also arming themselves in Paducah, KY, the fire bell was rung in Mayfield and a defense was positioned in the public square to await the attack. The reinforcements from Fulton arrived by train a little after midnight. Will Suett, an 18-year-old African American, was also at the train station and was gunned down. Shots were fired at three other African Americans. Hundreds of shots were fired into buildings and into the trees. Four homes were burnt down. By Christmas Eve, the threat was over. The reinforcements were sent home. A mass meeting was called, and a petition signed by more than 100 African Americans asked for peace between the races. Three people had been killed, one being Will Suett, who had arrived by train from St. Louis; he was returning home to spend Christmas with his family in Mayfield. For more see "All Mayfield under arms: excitement over the Kentucky race war," New York Times, 12/24/1896, p. 1; and "Peace reigns at Mayfield: Colored people petition for harmony and the race war is over," New York Times, 12/25/1896, p. 5.
Subjects: Lynchings, Migration West, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky, Railroad, Railway, Trains
Geographic Region: Mayfield, Water Valley, and Wingo, Graves County, Kentucky / Fulton, Fulton County, Kentucky / Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky / Saint Louis, Missouri

Thompson, Marie
Death Year : 1904
Thompson lived in Shepherdsville, KY. In 1904, she killed her landlord, John Irvin, after he berated and kicked her son and attacked her with a knife. Thompson was a large woman who got the best of Irvin and cut his throat with his knife. She was arrested and jailed. A lynch mob of a dozen white men made a first attempt to take her from the jail cell. Their efforts were thwarted by a group of armed African American men; a shootout occurred and both parties retreated from the scene. Hours later, a much larger mob of white men succeeded in taking Thompson from the jailhouse; they then attempted to hang her, but while Thompson was swinging in the air, she grabbed a man by the collar and took a knife from him. She cut the length of rope that led to the noose around her neck and landed on the ground. Thompson was fighting her way through the mob when she was gunned down - June 14, 1904. More than 100 shots were fired at her. Marie Thompson died the next day in the Shepherdsville jail. For more see From Slavery to Freedom: a history of African Americans, 8th ed., by J. H. Franklin and A. A. Moss; and Ladies and Lynching: the gendered discourse of mob violence in the new South, 1880-1930, by C. E. Feimster (dissertation).
Subjects: Lynchings, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Shepherdsville, Bullitt County, Kentucky

Turner, Samuel
Death Year : 1901
Dr. Turner's death in 1901 was the first suicide on record for an African American in Kentucky. It was thought that he hanged himself due to the shame of being indited for vending lottery tickets. His half nude body was found in the early morning, in the highest tree, 50 feet above ground, in Flora Park in Louisville, KY. The park was located at South and Ormsby Streets. Turner's death was also reported as a lynching. For more see "Suicide: of Dr. Samuel Turner this morning," Newark Daily Advocate, 06/29/1901, p. 1; "He hanged himself high," The Atlanta Constitution, 06/30/1901, p.2.
Subjects: Lynchings, Medical Field, Health Care, Parks, Undertakers, Cemeteries, Coroners, & Obituaries, Gambling, Lottery, Suicide
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Wright, George C.
Dr. George C. Wright was born in Lexington, KY. He received the Governors Award from the Kentucky Historical Society for his book, Racial violence in Kentucky, 1865-1940. According to his research, at least 353 lynchings took place in Kentucky up to 1940. Though Wright states that it is impossible to accurately count the number of African Americans lynched, his research shows that the majority of the lynching victims were African American men. More than one-third of the lynchings occurred between 1865 and 1874. Wright is the seventh president of Prairie View A & M University in Texas. He is a graduate of the University of Kentucky (B.A & M.A.) and Duke University (Ph.D.). For more see Racial violence in Kentucky, 1865-1940; lynchings, mob rule, and "legal lynchings," by G. C. Wright; and Dr. George C. Wright a Prairie View website. 

Access Interview Read about the George C. Wright interviews available at the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item records in SPOKE Database.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Historians, Lynchings
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

 

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