Category Archives: Recovered History

Something They Don’t Talk About in Tyler

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 [1912]–

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.

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Horrible Murder in Dexter, 1878

Recovered History: Installment 1

A lost and questionably reported account of a murder in Dexter, Washtenaw County, Michigan, bringing to focus post-Civil War racial relations in the “North.”

Horrible Murder

On Sunday, at about 11 a. m., Jan. 20, 1878, the little village of Dexter [Michigan] was thrown into terrible excitement, through a rumor that one Thomas O’Grady had been brutally murdered and mutilated by a colored man named W. H. Morand, in the timber about one mile below that place.

The rumor proved to be a sad truth, and not long after the body of the unfortunate man was brought to the village a coroner’s inquest was held, and the principal facts given are as follows: The man Morand had leased a little piece of land in Cullinane’s timber near Dexter, and had been living there for about two months. His hut was near the Michigan Central railroad track, and was made of saplings bent down and covered over with earth and brush.

The boys in Dexter had found out he lived there, and on Sundays used to go up and chat awhile with him. On the day in question, Thomas O’Grady, Steve Cavanaugh [app. age 8], Thomas McLaughlin, Dan Cunningham [app. age 10] and others–in all eight in number–had gone down from the village to see the man, and have a little fun with him. They arrived there, and commenced to fool around his humble abode, when he cautioned them to desist, but they still continued their sport, and one was so bold as to lay a large log against the door.

This made Morand mad and he came out of the hut and picking up an ax struck a blow at Cavanaugh, who was the one nearest. Cavanaugh warded off the blow, and at the same time O’Grady said, “Don’t be afraid, I’ll fix him,” or words to that effect, and pulling a revolver, fired in the air close to Morand’s head, simply to make him desist his murderous intentions.

This enraged Morand still more, and he struck again, this time at O’Grady, and felled him to the earth. The other boys were so paralyzed with horror, that they ran in all directions. O’Grady–though stunned by the blow–heard them and said, “For God’s sake, boys, don’t leave
me.”

O’Grady was then on his knees in a stooping position, and as soon as he had said this, the Negro struck him a second blow, which killed him instantly. With fiendish glee, he raised the bloody ax and dealt him two more blows, entirely mashing his skull, and mutilating his head in a fearful manner. He then took the dead body and carried it 10 or 15 feet and threw it over a fence into a ditch on the other side.

The alarm was given immediately by O’Grady’s companions, and his wife, being one of the first to hear of it, was soon on the spot, and found the Negro trying to bury the fatal weapon that had performed the bloody work.

Morand then walked toward the village, and meeting a couple of officers on the way, gave himself up. The officer, thinking that violence might be done him, took him to Ann Arbor the same evening.

On the Wednesday following the prosecuting attorney questioned him in the presence of witnesses, drawing out the fact that he believed himself to be the Savior, possessing unlimited knowledge of past, present, and future, and therefore declined to prosecute the case. Morand was afterward taken before a jury, judged insane, and sent to Kalamazoo [Michigan Asylum for the Insane].

The murdered man left a wife and a babe seven months old to mourn his sad and premature loss.”

Source: History of Washtenaw County. Chicago: Chas. C. Chapman & Co., 1881: 241-242.

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One Small Depletion of the Plains-Ogallala Aquifer

Found Document: Field Observation, October 21, 1957

STATE OF NEW MEXICO
STATE OF ENGINEER

SCHEDULE

Date 21 Oct [italics handwritten in red ink] 1957 Record by D.R. Mecca
Source of data Field Obs
1. Location: County Roosevelt Map [left blank]
SW ¼ SW ¼ NW ¼ Sec. 18 T. 2S R. 35E
2. Owner T.L. Lancaster
3. Driller [left blank]
4. Topography Flat Elev. [left blank]
5. Type DRiLLED 19 [left blank] Use IRR
6. Log [left blank] Filed [left blank]
7. Depth. [left blank] Report: 104 ft. Meas. Ft. [left blank]
8. Casing [left blank]
9. Equipment: Pump, type TuRBINE make COOK
ser. no. model 11331 size of dischg. 8 ins.
Power, kind ELEC make GE H.P. 80
10. Distribution System EARTH DiTcHES
11. Water Level: [left blank] ft. rept/meas [left blank] 19 [left blank] above/below [left blank] Which is [left blank]ft. [left blank] above/below
12. Discharge Measurement [left blank]
G.P.M. [left blank] Temp. [left blank] F. [left blank]
13. Remarks could not Replace access plug for measurement
Well No. 8 on Photograph RCA-7-44
File No. P-213 Location No. 2S-35E-18-133

[end of document]

Depleted Springs, Belcher, Roosevelt County, New Mexico

[“By 1907, the U.S. Land Office at Roswell had granted 200,000 acres (representing 20,000 entries) of public domain in the Pecos Valley, an area of approximately 4,200 square miles and more than three times the size of Rhode Island…. To avoid the appearance of sheer speculation, the real estate agents marketed to “the man who is in good faith looking for a home where, at a nominal or moderate cost, he may enjoy the comforts of life and maintain the independence of himself and family.” But when they arrived, all the puffery fell flat when they found only “prairie, no trees, no houses or anything as far as one could see; nothing but prairie, and soapweeds and mesquite.”]

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Something They Don’t Talk About in Pawhuska

In downtown Pawhuska, Oklahoma, county seat of Osage County and the capital of the Osage Nation, is a small plaque that reads “ON THIS SITE IN 1897 NOTHING HAPPENED HERE.”

Well something did happen here 24 years later, when the Klu Klux Klan attempted to roust all the “idle negroes” out of town.

December 8, 1921:

“Thirty negroes boarded a Midland Valley passenger train here yesterday after Ku Klux Klan warnings had been posted in all sections of the city instructing idle negroes to leave town and order all other negroes in the white section to immediately moved into the colored district.

[…]

The warnings painted in red ink read: ‘Warning–All idle negroes art to leave Pawhuska at once. All negroes residing in servants quarters in the white district must immediately move south of the railroad tracks.

These notices posted throughout the white residential section, the business district and in ‘negro town,’ bore the signature ‘The Ku Klux Klan.’

A letter received by a local newspaper asked for fullest publicity in the matter and said ‘The Klu Klux Klan’ meant business. The paper was instructed to inform the negroes that severe punishment would be dealt to negroes who failed to abide by the warnings.

It was the contention of the letter that negroes are becoming too numerous in the white section of the city and that negroes employed by white people and housed in servant quarters have been harboring idle negroes.

Raids this week by police officers on servant quarters in the rear of prominent citizens homes have resulted in the seizure of considerable booze and goods stolen from Pawhuska stores have been found in the possession of these negroes, this letter declared.”

Source: “Negroes Warned by the Klan.” Oklahoma Weekly Leader, Guthrie, Oklahoma, December 8, 1921: 1.

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