Scotland County, NC

Alleged offense: Murder
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Age: 19
Legal intervention (in alleged offense): Yes
Legal intervention (following lynching): No
Mob size: 200
Mob members: None named
Alleged victim: Melvin Livingston
Household Status: Unmarried
Occupation: Unrecorded

On November 18th, Deputy Sheriff Melvin Livingston and a Mr. McGrit sought to arrest two African American men, Duncan and Arch McPhatter, for “raising a disturbance and fighting at the polls on election day.” According to reports, as Livingston read the arrest warrant Duncan McPhatter struck him with the butt of a gun and Arch McPhatter shot him dead. McGrit fired at the McPhatter brothers and fled the scene. Once news spread, a mob of fifteen men arrived to capture the McPhatters. Both brothers escaped and went into hiding. Posses continued to search the surrounding area and after a few days found Duncan. A group of forty men were set outside the jail at Laurinburg to keep watch on Duncan McPhatter after his capture. They apparently provided little symbolic or actual protection for McPhatter who was seized by a mob of around 200 and put on a train toward Rockingham. Before reaching the jail at Rockingham, the mob disembarked at Laurel Hill station in Scotland County. The mob walked a short way from the train, tied a noose around McPhatter’s neck, and mounted him on a horse. After he allegedly confessed to the crime, the men whipped the horse, causing it to run and break Duncan McPhatter’s neck. The mob then lined up, loaded their guns, and at an order from their leader, shot approximately 200 bullets into McPhatter’s body. Reports afterward declared that Duncan McPhatter’s body was “completely riddled, with several portions of the body being severed.”


Death certificate: None found
Census: 1880 Census McPhatter

News coverage:

Horse and Halter

Horse and Halter

Horse and Halter


Town: Laurel Hill, North Carolina
Latitude/Longitude: 34.811283, -79.544619
Rationale: Laurel Hill Train Station

Additional Resources:

Researcher’s Note: 1880 Census is of a Duncan McPhatter in Robeson County, which is adjacent to Scotland County and most likely the same Duncan McPhatter in this lynching case.