23 January 2019

Charles Gibson had Been Hunted All Day by a Mob (in 1897)

According to MonroeWorkToday, the lynching of Charles Gibson is referenced in A Festival of Violence: An Analysis of Southern Lynchings, 1882-1930 and Fitzhugh Brundage's Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia, 1880-1930.

Columbus Daily Enquirer (Georgia)
Tuesday, 14 September 1897 - pg. 4 [via GenealogyBank]

Her Assailant Shot and Hung Near Macon.

Macon, Ga., Sept. 13. – The assault committed on Miss Sallie Chapman in her bed room has been avenged.

Charles Gibson, a negro about 28 years of age, made a dying confession of the crime last night and was immediately afterwards hanged to a nearby tree.

Gibson was shot down by the deputy sheriffs in the swamp about two miles from the city. He had been hunted all day by a mob, and, though wounded in the shoulder, would probably have escaped under cover of darkness had he not been discovered by the posse just as night was setting in.

Yesterday morning Gibson shot and killed another negro, Jim Smith, as the result of an altercation which rumor said arose over the shoes that were stolen from Miss Chapman's room on the morning of the horrible assault. The cause of the quarrel that led up to the killing of Smith has not, however, been positively confirmed. Smith was instantly killed.

The report of the pistol aroused the neighborhood on Elm street and Gibson, who at once ran, was shot at several times. Mr. George Hyster shot his hat off with a Winchester rifle ball, but at this point the negro escaped.

He was followed in his flight to the swamp by a crowd that gathered in numbers as it went. Deputy Hines Millnors was in the lead. He kept doggedly on Gibson's trail and alone followed him into the swamp. Once he got a good shot at him and hit him in the shoulder. This was at about 10 o'clock.

A negro living close by was questioned and he directed them to the place close to which he said Gibson was lying hid.

A line was formed and the posse swept through the swamp. Young Henley Napier, on horseback, was ahead. He rode along a ditch and as he did so Police Officer Pierce saw Gibson lying there. He called to Napier to look out, and as he did so Gibson arose and fired at Napier, missing him. He then turned and opened fire on Deputy Sheriff Jobson and the firing became general. Gibson fired four shots and was brought down by a bullet from Jobson's pistol, which struck him in the side.

It was a fatal shot. The man, gasping for breath, was surrounded and one of the crowd said:

"You are going to h—l anyhow, and you don't want to go with a lie on your lips. Did you got into Miss Sallie Chapman's bedroom and assault her?"

It was a chance question, though suspicion pointed to the negro on account of the finding of the shoes which were taken from the house, and which had been traced to the house of a woman named Lou Daniels, with whom Gibson has been living. The negro hesitated when asked the question, and then said:

"Yes, boss, I done it."

Sheriff Westcott had gone to a nearby house to get a wagon in which to take the wounded man to town. The mob of 30 or 40 men, hearing of the confession, and hearing it repeated again and again, kuickly [sic] secured a plow line and the dying man was strung up to a tree. He hung there about three minutes and Sheriff Westcott returning, cut him down. He lived for about five minutes afterwards.

From NY Public LibraryA simple search on Google will give you the statistics. The Tuskegee Institute kept track of lynchings in America from 1882 - 1968. There were 581 in Mississippi, 531 in Georgia, 493 in Texas, 391 in Louisiana, 347 in Alabama, and so on. Total from all states: 4,743. That's more than one lynching and victim a week.

I feel a little like I should try to explain why I would give the horrible acts – those committed by the criminal, as well as those committed on the criminal – voice on this blog. There are no (at least to my knowledge) statistics showing the accuracy of the lynchers. How many times was an innocent person hung, riddled with bullets, and mutilated in the name of "justice?" I mean, we probably agree there are innocent people sitting in jail right now – with supposed checks and balances in place. Imagine when there were none. Shouldn't those innocent people be remembered?

Now, make no mistake, sometimes the lynching party "punished" the right person. As in, sometimes the true perpetrator was indeed apprehended – and then disposed of, often in a barbaric fashion. Even if you take the literal "eye for an eye" death penalty approach, I would not be surprised if that would have been an applicable punishment in only an infinitesimal number of cases. People were lynched for stealing, people were lynched for "insubordination," people were lynched for literally being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And let us not be cowards and leave out the racism debacle that lingers to this day. So another reason for giving voice to these past atrocities is in the same vein of "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

As a family historian, I am saddened to think (1) these revolting deeds took place, and (2) while statistics are easy to find, the names and stories of the individual victims are much harder to locate. A list of lynching victims will unfortunately never be complete. I hope that in a small way, posts such as these will serve as a memorial to those who were victims of Judge Lynch and his frightful law.

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