Iredell County, NC

Alleged offense: Murder
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Age: Unrecorded
Legal intervention (in alleged offense): Yes
Legal intervention (following lynching): Yes
Mob size: 30
Mob members: Unrecorded
Alleged victim: John Redman
Household Status: Unrecorded
Occupation: Unrecorded

On Monday, October 15, 1883, the Sells Brothers Circus drew an estimated attendance of 8,000 people from the Statesville area. As many people in the crowd had been drinking alcohol, tempers flared and they quickly grew violent. According to later reports, John Redman began beating Charles Campbell sometime around noon. In renewing an old conflict among themselves, the two men eventually began firing. The duel ended with Campbell allegedly killing Redman, as well as two other bystanders being severely injured. Campbell was arrested and taken to the Iredell County Jail in Statesville. After midnight, Redman’s friends, a mob of about 30, surrounded the jail and abducted Campbell from his cell. They took him to a tree in the western suburbs of Statesville and hanged him. His body was found and taken down that morning. Amid the violence, the circus packed up and left town before a second show. In addition to an earlier, near fatal fight, and the deaths of Redman and Campbell, the body of an African American man was found hidden under a pile of straw left behind by the circus. The man had supposedly been killed by one of the circus workers. All of the violence prompted a public meeting, held in the courthouse, to address the lynching and rumors that African American members of the town wanted to retaliate to the lynching. The meeting, called by African American leaders of the town, passed a resolution that the murderers of Campbell must be charged, especially as Campbell never had the opportunity for a fair trial.


Death certificate: None found
Census: None found

News coverage:

Public Meeting of the Colored People

Gleanings Here and Elsewhere

A Lively Circus Day at Statesville


Town: Statesville, North Carolina
Latitude/Longitude: 35.465534, -80.535096
Rationale: “Western suburbs of Statesville.”

Additional Resources: Statesville, N.C., Feb, 1885

Researcher’s Note: