Recovered History: Installment 2
A news account of one of hundreds of lynchings that occurred in the first half of the 20th century.
“Negro Burned by Texas Mob
Tyler, Texas, May 25 –
Dan Davis, a negro, was burned to death at a stake in the streets of Tyler early today after he had confessed to assaulting Miss Carrie Johnson of this city a week ago. Two thousand persons participated in the lynching. “While the girl herself did not identify her assailant, he was identified by a man who is said to have seen him in the neighborhood a short time before the crime was committed.”
Davis had signed a statement confessing to the assault, but before the match was touched to the pile of wood on which the negro had been bound by the mob he was asked again if he were guilty.
‘I am guilty,’ he cried, and a moment later the flames were leaping high about his head. Davis was brought here early today from Athens, Texas. When members of the sheriff’s posse arrived at the jail with the negro, they were confronted by several citizens, who waited until the black had written his confession, then demanded that he turn himself over to them.
Officers and many citizens protested but finally surrendered the negro to the mob, whose numbers made protest useless, the officers say. From the jail the prisoner was lead [sic.] to the public square, where several wagon loads of wood had been piled. He was tied to a rail and after he reiterated his confession, a match was applied and the flames enveloped him. The mob stood around the fire until it had died down and little was left but charred bones and ashes.
The work of the lynchers was done quickly and quietly. The determination of the men who had the execution in charge appeared to have a sobering effect upon them.
In his written statement, Davis told how he another negro attacked Miss Johnson, who is the daughter of a farmer, as she was walking along a railroad track to Tyler, the afternoon of May 21.
The pair left her with her throat gashed, believing her dead. She was later found after an all night search. While the girl herself did not identify her assailant, he was identified by a man who is said to have seen him in the neighborhood a short time before the crime was committed. The girl’s condition is critical. Davis said his partner had been arrested at Waco.”
Source: “Negro Burned by Texas Mob.” May 25, 1912, special wire report.