A Red Record

Revealing lynching sites in North Carolina and South Carolina

About

A Red Record documents lynchings in the American South, starting with North Carolina. The title, A Red Record, is drawn from Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s work by the same name and is intended, in a small way, to recognize Wells-Barnett’s remarkable courage and commitment to justice. Our research also corroborates Wells-Barnett’s core argument–that lynching was much more than just a response to crime. It was part of a narrative of white supremacy that sought to write out Black success, Black families, and Black personhood.

Started in February of 2015, A Red Record aims to

  • identify and mark the locations of lynchings in the former Confederacy, and over time,  all the states in the former Confederacy
  • provide access to relevant manuscript material about lynching events
  • remember the targets of lynching as whole persons with families, jobs, and identities beyond that of victims
  • offer users both broad and specific information about lynching for research, teaching, and other uses
  • create a space for one facet of an important conversation about race, violence, and power in the United States

This project seeks to address the irony that despite the fact that members of lynch mobs documented their activities deliberately and prolifically, the physical spaces where lynchings took place by and large remain unmarked. This project visualizes lynchings in new ways, to the extent possible privileging images of modern sites of historic lynchings over the mob-produced images of bodies that were intended to terrorize African Americans.

Future iterations of the project will seek to engage community partners in diverse styles of documentation; integrate lynching and death penalty data; address the politics of press coverage; and include attempted lynchings, not just those that resulted in a death.

Sources

This site used a variety of sources to identify recorded lynchings, including historic sources such as contemporaneous counts by NAACP, Tuskegee Institute, and Chicago Defender. Those sources contributed to more recent counts, including Stuart Tolnay and E.M. Beck’s database and Stuart Tolnay’s database, available here. We reconciled these data sets to produce the most comprehensive and accurate database possible. Additional lynchings were added based on newspaper reports or other archival discoveries.

Authors

Elijah Gaddis and Seth Kotch direct this project.

Recent contributors include Gray Van Dyke, Ellie Little, and Morgan Vickers.

Undergraduate student historians include Jennifer Davidowitz, Sarah Dwyer, Dallas Ellis, Jared Feeny, Ava Gruchacz, Robert Haisfield, Jennifer Hausler, Harry Heyworth, Kara Kochek, Daniel Lee, Landon Mays, George Pancio, Ellis Pearson, Sara Pyo, Austin Seamster, Holden Shearin, Courtland Stout, Nik Stylianou, Zachary Sukkasem, Alondra Vargas, Patrick Vickers, Lauren Wagaman, Marianna Baggett, Gabrielle Brown, Anna Conway, Connor Davies, Dylan Farrow, Katelin Franklin, Patrick Hargrove, Georgina Ho, Courtenay James, Joel Janssen, Michael Johnston, Sami Kerker, Christina Kochanski, Mackenzie Kwok, Anna L’hommedieu, Taylor McCarn, Shuler Mehaffey, David Mossman, Kirsten Paulus, Marshall Ranson, John Ronan, Maher Shukr, Anji Sivakumar, Ward Snyder, Alex Taub, Kate Terentieva, Emily West, Basil Williams, Hannah Williams, Maggie Bauer, Laura Blinson, Flare Brown, Elissa Dawson, Ian Dewars, Hattie Ferguson, Lauren Fitzgibbons, Myranda Harris, Chrisana Hughes, Iqra Javed, Eimi Ledford, Molly McConnell, Blake Morgan, Rob Murphy, Namiko Nagata, Jack Palagruto, Jackson Parrish, Corbin Phifer, Nick Polino, Hudson Spangler, Jason Strowbridge, Maddy Sweitzer-Lamme, Morgan Vickers, and Joanna Williams.

Graduate student historians include Kawan Allen, Ina Dixon, Gale Greenlee, Josh Parshall, Susie Penman, and Matt Swiatlowski.

Community historians include Sarah Carrier, Jan Davidson, Dr. Rhonda Jones, Peter Newport, Crystal Regan, Jane Sellars, and Victor Yang.

This project is generously supported by a Humanities for the Public Good Critical Issues Award.

53 Comments

  1. This is very interesting and horrifying. Perhaps companion maps of police shootings and judicial executions will follow. Come on, geographers and sociologists.

    Keep up the great and useful work.

  2. There is a lynching in the 1930’s, I think, that is referenced in the book, Zeb’s Black Baby, about the history of Vance County, NC that is not on this map.

  3. As an unofficial town historian for Dobson, the Surry County seat, I keep reference information about the Tom Allison lynching. I would be happy to donate scans of local press coverage of the lynching. It appears that almost everyone involved in the lynching was white – except the major witnesses, who were black. Allison was taken out of the Surry County jail and hauled through the town’s African American section to what became known at the “Allison Tree.”

    • Is that store called the “Allison Tree” because of that event?
      I’ve read two different newspaper articles about that lynching, but unfortunately they are very short and not much detail is found about it at all. I’m curious to know more about the history around these places.

    • Mr. Badgett, I am very interested in obtaining additional information about the Thomas Allison lynching, as he was my Great Uncle. From my Grandfathers’s memoirs:

      “…Thomas Hampton Allison, was lynched by the friends of a man he had shot and killed in a fit of anger. This brought such shame and degradation upon the family that the incident was thereafter kept a dark and closely guarded secret. I never heard the matter discussed by anyone and learned of it long after Mother and Dad were both gone, through a cousin who claimed to have heard of it in some mysterious way.”

    • Do you know if a song was written about Allison?

  4. Here is a blog post I did on Henry Swaim, who was lynched in Forsyth County in 1884…the only known lynching in county history…

    https://northcarolinaroom.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/swinging-into-eternity-part-3/

  5. I knew there were alot more than just 150 in the state. These people made lynching a hobbie. They posed in pictures with lifeless bodies. This was fun to them. I’m pretty sure that there are alot more undocumented lynchings in NC. Caswell county has its own chapter of the kkk, so might wanna start with checking the history there.

  6. Judith Elaine Bush

    July 29, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    I was looking at the map for Chatham county. Mack Best’s location of death is depicted near Jordan Lake, but Garland, NC is in Sampson County.

  7. Will there be any work to create physical memorials or monuments at the sites where lynchings occurred? Anything in conjunction with EJI?

  8. I am interested in lynchings in Martin County North Carolina–Williamston or nearby Darden. last name Rodgers around 1935-1940’s. This was my gra ndfather and the body was never recoverd according to relatives. gblackwell2@verizon.net

  9. Is there anything in the works to get monuments, memorials, or plaques to honor the victims of lynching in NC? If so, how do I contact the people involved?

    • Seth Kotch

      September 15, 2017 at 5:26 pm

      There have been some small but significant movements in this direction. We hope this conversation is coming.

    • 60 Minutes is on NOW, Oprah interviewing Bryan Stephenson of EJI, Equal Justice Initiative of Montgomery, AL
      The lynching memorial opens there on 4/26/2018!
      I’ll see you there. There will be metal monuments available, one for each county—to TAKE HOME and display them within the county in which lynvhings occurred. Each victim’s name is inscribed upon the metal sculpture—but one post for each county where this occurred. America will catch up with its history. We will be stronger together, now, after starting this conversation.

  10. Clifford K. Stephens, Ph.D.

    October 2, 2017 at 6:08 am

    Dear Elijah Gaddis and Seth Kotch,
    I discovered news on the Red Record when I was at the Library of Congress this summer looking for information germane to a non-fiction novel that I am start ing to write about a cousin that was lynched before I was born. Although I know little about North Carolina lynchings, my cousin’s lynching may have been unlike any other there because of what he did that got him lynched. I grew up with an account from multiple family members about why he did what he did. Thus far, in none of the newspaper articles that I have seen was there any reference to this account I know … but it’s possible in archives somewhere, this sensitive information may have been recorded … or not. Whatever the case, my mother, who passed away this past December at the age of 89, commented to me in 2016, “He never had his day in court.” I am hopeful I might open a dialogue with you. I myself am a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill’s Clinical Psychology graduate school (on campus 1979-1983, degree conferred 1990. My grandfather’s nephew, Govan “Sweat”Ward was in the Louisburg, NC area when he was taken to be lynched on July 30, 1935 (as best I can discern). Any assistance provided will be greatly appreciated.
    Sincerely,
    Cliff Stephens

    • Hi, Cliff:
      Thanks for your comment, and glad you discovered the site. Seth and I would be glad to give you any information we have (which is probably less than you’ve already found) and certainly glad to talk with you. I do recall that we’ve got some information on Govan Ward but I’m sure you’ve already seen that. If you’d like, you can send either of us an email and we can either communicate that way or set up a time to talk via phone if that’s more convenient. Looking forward to hearing from you.

      -Elijah

      • Clifford K. Stephens, Ph.D.

        October 4, 2017 at 3:36 am

        Thanks, I wrote both of you at UNC and Auburn … provided my contact info … shared one article from 1935.

  11. Hey Folks,

    I am a high school history teacher in Alamance County and use this resource quite often in my American History course. I just want to thank you for all of the work and research you have put into this project, it is quite overwhelming the amount of detail that can be found within. This project has also driven me to do some more research into the lynching of Wyatt Outlaw, the then sheriff of Graham, N.C., in front of the Courthouse in Graham by the KKK as well as the greater Kirk – Holden War in N.C. It just pains me to drive to work each day as the town decided to place a Statue in honor of the former Confederate Soldiers of the town. Who also happen to be named as the members of the mob that killed Wyatt Outlaw as can be found in your research here. It just feels like it is a statue for a bunch of murderers, on the exact spot where they murdered the first African – American Sheriff of the Town.

    Thanks,

    Sean

    • Seth Kotch

      November 3, 2017 at 3:17 pm

      Hi Sean,
      It is hugely gratifying to receive notes like this. Thanks so much for taking the time to write. The detail about the former CSA soldiers who names appear both on the statue and in accounts of the mob is … remarkable. Not unexpected but among the first concrete instances I’ve learned of of the bright line connecting those who fought for the Confederacy and those who kept fighting that battle after the CSA lost. Here in Chapel Hill we have a much more generic monument to the innocent sacrifice of our duty-bound students–your research reminds us that the dark net of violent white supremacy catches up the minnows as well as the sharks.

      If you have a photo of those names we can add it to our map. Thanks again!

      Seth

    • To anyone interested, Being hesitant in visiting the Senior Citizen Center on Homestead Road five miles outside of Chapel Hill, North Carolina; as a school bus driver my route included Old Greensboro Hwy and Hatchet Road; a location of family farms and plantations. Ted Parrish, an Africa American founder of KNOT development low income houses in Chapel Hill mentioned to me about the last lynching in 1890 of a black man named Brewer McCauley. Whom shall I speak with Ted? He give me a name of a white man, Gordon Nevilles. Surprisely, i crossed Gordon path introducing myself and this is what he said hurriedly. Brewer McCauley and his wife was headed to Pittsboro, North Carolina. A mob intercepted their travel; four white men took Brewer into the woods at the intersection outside of Carrboro, North Carolina and lyched him. All four men in later years committed suicide. It’s ironic that their guilt determine their faith. Gordon Nevilles works with the Chapel Hill Historical Society

      • Seth Kotch

        August 23, 2018 at 10:19 pm

        Thank you for sharing this. From this and another local historian, we have learned of the story of Manley McCauley, who was lynched in Calvander in 1898. McCauley was accused of eloping with the wife of a Republican operator, Milton Brewer. When the mob tracked them down, they were able to both lynch a Black man and embarrass their political enemy. A few days later, there was the coup in Wilmington that installed Democratic leadership in that city. We are updating our map and a new version will be out soonish.

  12. B. Ronald Scales

    April 19, 2018 at 6:46 am

    I am a direct descendant of at least one man on this list of those murdered extra judicially in North Carolina. George Ritter of Carthage NC was my great grandmother Laura Ritter Harrington’s older brother. My grandmother, Ruth Jane Harrington Monroe was born in 1909, but remembered the story from when she was growing up. I discovered the lynching in a book titled “100 years of lynchings” in 1968. I was surprised to see a family name from my ancestral area. I asked my grandmother about it and she told me the story. The legend that she told had a mysterious and ominous twist to it. She said that the man who shot Uncle George after they hung him was married and his wife was pregnant. My grandmother said that there were stories told that the man’s wife had a child with a hole through it’s body in the same place Uncle George got shot. I know that it sounds unbelievable now, but to a young Black girl in the early 1900s in rural Moore County it might as well been fact. Thanks for making these sadistic actions out there for the public to see the hidden and distorted history of post Civil War America. My goal is to never allow the memory of these hangings be forgotten.
    Ron Scales

    • Seth Kotch

      April 26, 2018 at 6:47 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing this. Comments such as yours are why we continue to work on this site. We are honored to play a small role in helping everyone remember these incidents and their victims.

  13. Dear Mssrs. Gaddis and Kotch,
    I am a first time visitor and am looking forward to a deeper and more serious investigation of these most shameful incidents of true American history.

    For now, and perhaps to create an even larger appreciation for what lynching means, I wanted to share a personal memory from a place not often associated with a history of lynching. That is, the south side of Chicago in the early 1960s.

    I am a sixty-seven year-old white male son of Irish immigrants. I was raised in a Catholic parish (Visitation) in the Chicago neighborhood commonly known as Englewood. For the first dozen or so years of my life, our collection of neighborhood blocks which sat conspicuously west of a wide set of elevated freight train tracks, was completely white. Immediately east of those tracks, yet still part of Englewood, that neighborhood, as far as I knew, was 100% black. That was the world we lived in and it was fine and normal.

    Everyone knew their place, where they ‘belonged’.

    Sometime in the early sixties, my memory fails the exact year, a black family took the unforgivable step of moving into a house a few blocks from my own- WEST of the tracks! This was a dangerous insult to the status quo of my neighbors. The remedy, undertaken by anonymous people in the neighborhood, was to firebomb the new neighbor’s front porch.

    The neighborhood I’m describing was predominately filled with wood-frame, two story houses and two-flats, most with painted wood front porches. The black family I’m writing you about was not physically harmed by this despicable and cowardly act, but my modern imagination is haunted by how horribly this all could have gone.

    Subsequent to the fire bombing, the home survived-the family stayed, the Chicago Polce Dept. placed a 24 hour squad car in front of the building to avert any further incidents.

    I tell you this story to emphasize the prevalence and tenacity of racial hatred. The fire bombers’ intent was to kill. Because the inhabitants were black. It was that simple and that horrifyingly, potentially, a homicide. Although the specific date escapes me, I swear to you it’s a true story and one I will never forget. In fact, I refer to it frequently as an example, from a working-class, white, perspective of how virulent and contemporary racial hatred still is.

    Thank you for reminding us that the America that is being made great again by our current president was never that great to begin with. The lessons will need to be taught again and again. Your efforts are a valuable part of that on-going education. Thank you.

    Dennis Allen
    Wilmette, IL

    • Seth Kotch

      April 26, 2018 at 6:48 pm

      Dear Mr. Allen,
      Thank you so much for sharing this recollection and for the important work you to do keep this dialog alive. We hope at some point to broaden this map to include other such incidents of terrorism–as your experience teachers, their commonness and regularly would probably blot out the cartesian map and leave us with a sea of dots.

  14. Dear Mr. Gaddis and Mr. Kotch,
    I’ve just now discovered the Red Record site, and I’m both horrified and intrigued to find that it documents a story my grandfather told me when I was a boy. A Black man in Jones County, N.C., where my grandfather grew up, was accused of rape by a white woman, and he hid out in the woods, where he was captured by a large posse of white vigilantes. My grandfather was one of them. The man was placed in a car, at the head of a caravan of cars, and taken to the woman’s home. The vigilantes asked her what she wanted done with her alleged attacker, and she answered “Kill him.” So they drove on to the nearby place of execution, and along the way the man asked to be allowed to stop at his house, to say goodbye to his wife and kids. The killers refused; my grandfather was in that car, and heard this with his own ears. Then the victim was hoisted to a tree by his hands and riddled with bullets. (Though my grandfather didn’t mention pulling a trigger himself.) The body was left dangling.
    My grandfather told the story matter-of-factly, without remorse. And now on your site I find the awful facts themselves: the man was Jerome Whitfield, age 25; the date was August 13, 1921. He did indeed ask to see his family one last time, and was refused. The mob numbered at least a thousand men, and they left the body hanging in the August heat, as a terror warning to other Black people . I doubt that my grandfather ever read the contemporary newspaper accounts displayed on your site–he was barely literate. He simply remembered his crime, not as a crime but as a noteworthy event in his life. And now that I know his victim’s name, it seems appropriate to publish my perpetrator-grandfather’s name as well: Archie Fordham (1887-1974). If by some chance any descendants of Jerome Whitfield are reading these words, I hope they can take some small satisfaction in this tiny bit of retrospective justice.
    Thank you for the important work you’re doing. European-Americans have a lot more work to do, if we’re ever to come to terms with the blood-drenched history of this country, and change its future course.

    Ed Dupree
    Cambridge MA

    • Seth Kotch

      May 4, 2018 at 12:26 pm

      Thank you for sharing this remarkable story and the name of your grandfather. Your phrasing about how your grandfather remembered what he did–“a noteworthy event”–is so striking and really illustrates lynching’s disparate power across different communities.

  15. Charles Fieselman

    May 30, 2018 at 11:09 pm

    Every statue to the Confederacy or Confederate soldiers should have next to them statues as memorials to those who were lynched. This would help rectify the wrongs and put a fuller more comprehensive perspective of life in the Antebellum South as well as post-Civil War through the mid-1930s era of lynchings.

  16. Thank you so much for the work you are doing. My great great Aunt, a 59 year old grandmother, was one of the few women lynched in NC and the only woman lynched in Rowan County. Members of the Communist Party tried to investigate her murder but were literally chased out of town. several months later they held a protest porch in front of the White House and were beaten and firebombed by the metro police. There is a lot to her story and I am still struggling to come to terms with it all but thank you so much for shining a light on one of the darkest periods in American history.

    • Tara. are you referring to the death of Laura Weed (possibly ‘Wood’) in 1930? This is an apparent lynching that I’ve been interested in for many years. Do you know her correct name? Do you know if she was white or African-American? Accounts I’ve heard about the incident indicate it was a result of an employer/employee and/or tenant/landlord dispute…

    • Lynette Hartsell

      July 19, 2018 at 5:35 pm

      Tara,
      I would love to hear more about your story. I’m just completing a book, soon to be published about the lynching of my great-grandfather Alexander Whitley in Stanly County in 1892. I’ve spent several years untangling the myths and stories about him, my family and his murder.
      I know the difficulties families face when a family member is murdered by a mob of men.

  17. Thank you for this important work. I, along with 45 of my fellow church members from United Church of Chapel Hill, am embarking on a pilgrimage to the National Memorial for Justice and Peace in Montgomery, AL in two weeks, and we have been trying to research the locations of lynchings in Orange County, NC to potentially collect soil to take with us to the Memorial. I heard your story on WUNC and wanted to connect with you to see if there’s anything our group can do to assist your efforts to get markers placed in Orange County. Please contact me.

  18. Thank you Mssrs. Gattis & Kotch for your endeavors to shed light on an important and awful time in American history. I am reading this in light of the recent destruction of “Silent Sam” and good riddance to him.

    I live in Avery County and heard a story from Todd Lecka of a lynching here and do not see a “dot” in Avery County so I’ll mention it to you. It was told to me that 2 black men accused of sleeping with a white woman. One was carried out of the speak easy and hanged from a tree just outside the establishment which was adjacent to Mr. Lecka’s family farm. This is where Mountain Glen Golf Course is now between Newland & Cranberry. The other was chased and caught and thrown into an ore fire pit at the Cranberry Mine.

    Have you heard this story?

    • Seth Kotch

      August 23, 2018 at 10:27 pm

      That is a horrific story. We do not at present have any information about this Avery County lynching. However, there was a lynching that took place in Mitchell County in 1896. That was in the town of Cranberry. That location is now in Avery County but then it was in Mitchell. The victim’s name was Robert Chambers, and our records indicate he was a preacher accused of sleeping with a white woman. It sounds similar enough to be the same event. But–we have a record of just one killing.

  19. I am interested in locating Lynching sites in Wake County and the possibility of adding a jar of soil to the museum in Montgomery. Do you have any information about how to do this?

  20. Can you consider including the sites of historic plantations that used slave labor, since much of that land is now cities or subdivisions?

  21. Seth,

    Not surprised to se your name here. I’m trying to get information on a lynching in Warrenton of two men accused of firing on white men after a dispute over ten cents worth of apples in Norlina. This is in January of 1921. Percy Adams, a black teacher of a private Episcopal school tried to organize African Americans in the area in self-defense which annoyed several white lawyers of course. I found that the grandfather of Reynolds Price tried to stop the lynching and was beaten. Bill Price, Reynolds’ brother told me.

  22. SANDRA MARIE HAGLER

    February 2, 2019 at 10:20 pm

    I have searched your list of names and have not found Ralph and Norwood Horton. They were first cousins to my father. This incident happened in Watauga County, NC. The Horton brothers were killed by a posse of white citizens in 1932.
    Not sure if you would be interested in their killings or not. Ralph is included in the EJI project, but Norwood was not. If you would be interested in their story I’d be glad to share it.

    • Seth Kotch

      February 2, 2019 at 11:32 pm

      Thank you–we rely on people such as yourself as we create as complete a list as possible. We will try to fill in this omission at our end and welcome any information you can share. Thank you again!

  23. Is this available somewhere..like thru a book or website? I am interested in your statistics for western North Carolina.
    Thanks for the great work you do!

  24. Jackson County NV NAACP Branch has heard that there was a lynching in one of its footprint counties—Macon County NC. Do you have any information for us.

  25. There is some incorrect information with the lynching of John Osborne (Union County, NC, July 1903). It happened in the Vance Township of Union County (not Jackson Township). The location was on today’s Mill Grove Church Road (at the time of the lynching, it was called Stewart’s Mill Road). One local said it happened in front of an African-American School house and there is a school marked as such on the Miller’s 1907 map for Union County. This was very near today’s Hemby Bridge area and possibly near a street named “Red Lantern Way”. The lynching is acknowledged in the County Commissioner Minutes (Union County, NC, Vol. 4, p 446 of the Board of County Commissioners Minutes) because of the persons paid to view the body as “jurors” as well as monies paid to D. T. Morris “for making coffin and burying John Osborne, Col., lynched by mob.” Also with the summary at this site is a reference to “Mitchell’s abduction site” (see at Rationale) – I think this must belong to another lynching and not Osborne’s. I am the Genealogy & Local History Librarian at the Union County Public Library and we have a file on the three lynchings that you have listed on the map, with much research done on Osborne’s.

  26. I was told by a local resident that when she grew up she went to bar-b-ques where the ladies were cooking and the men went off to do men stuff. As a child she wandered over there and saw a black man hanging in the tree. She’s only in her mid-30’s so this would mean about twenty to twenty-five years ago. She said that field is full of the bones of people hung. I don’t know where the field is, but the woman is from a prominent family in Carthage NC.

  27. I am from Jones County. A Captain of the Jones County Sheriff’s Office and was researching information on the only line of duty death of Orson Rodolphus Colgrove. When I came upon his name on this site, apparently the site has no option to read further into his story which led to his death. How can I get a complete copy of what was mentioned?

    Thank You

  28. When will South Carolina data be added? I grew up in Allendale County, which in 1919 was created from a southern portion of Barnwell County. Some sources indicate two lynchings took place in what is now Allendale County: Walter Best 2/23/1918 & Edward Kirkland 10/24/1921. Curious to know if there were others.

    • Seth Kotch

      May 17, 2019 at 2:53 pm

      ASAP! We’ve got all our data gathered and are working to check it for accuracy before publication. Should be a lot of changes and additions over the next year.

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