Johnston County, NC

Alleged offense: Burglary
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Age: Unrecorded
Legal intervention (in alleged offense): Yes
Legal intervention (following lynching): 
Mob size: 15-50
Mob members:
Alleged victim: N/A
Household Status: Unrecorded
Occupation: Unrecorded

In December 1884, law enforcement arrested Charles Smith and Thomas or Henry Davis for the alleged burglary of two Clayton stores: those of Barnes & Hinton and R N. Wynne. They were each jailed in the Clayton station house with orders to be taken to the county jail at Smithfield. A mob — whose size was reported as few as 15 and “at least 50″ — took the men from the Clayton station house on December 24th.The mob put Smith and Davis on horses and brought them out three miles away from Clayton. They handcuffed at least one of the men, wrapped him with trace chains, and threw him off a bridge railing into the Neuse River. Newspapers reported the bodies found several days later amidst widespread disapproval. According to at least one report, one of the bodies was found in the Neuse wrapped in chains and handcuffed, while the other was found handcuffed and riddled in bullets beside the river. Despite the condemnation and calls for prosecution, none of the members of the lynch mob were revealed.


Death certificate:

News coverage:

More News in Regard to the Lynching of Smith and Davis

Lynch Law in Johnson


Town: Clayton, North Carolina
Latitude/Longitude: 35.647570, -78.406225
Rationale: Placed in probable spot of historic crossing with Neuse River approximately 3 miles from Clayton (as suggested by all accounts of lynching).

Additional Resources:

Researcher’s Note: