Franklin County, NC

Alleged offense: Murder
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Age: 25
Legal intervention (in alleged offense): Yes
Legal intervention (following lynching): Yes
Mob size: 25
Mob members: None named
Alleged victim: Charles G. Stokes; Spurgeon Aske; Rowena Kearney
Household Status: Unreported
Occupation: Unknown

Govan Ward, an African American man, was accused of decapitating a white man, Charles G. Stokes, in addition to assaulting another white man, Spurgeon Aske, and his sister, Rowena Kearney. According to newspaper accounts, Ward was arrested soon after the murders by local authorities who were transporting Ward to either the Nashville or Rocky Mount jail when a mob of twenty-five men abducted Ward from custody. The mob took Ward near Henderson, where he was shot and hanged. While a later NAACP investigation found at least nine people responsible for the lynching, no arrests were made in connection with Ward’s death.


Death certificate: <a href=”http://redrecord.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Ward-Death-Certificate.jpg”>Ward Death Certificate</a>

Census: None available

News coverage:
Mob Members Not Recognized

Negro Killer is Lynched by Mob in Franklin Co.

Judicial Probe into Lynching of Negro Begun

Carolina Negro Lynched By Mob After Axe Attack; Members of Own Race Aid

Nine Alleged Lynchers Reported to Governor

Nine Alleged Lynchers Reported to Governor cont.

North Carolina Officials Are Given Names of Ward Lynchers By NAACP


Town: Henderson, North Carolina
Latitude/Longitude: 36.221851, -78.301121
Rationale: While an exact location could not be determined, a marker was placed at Henderson, at the site most commonly referred to in newspaper accounts as the site of lynching. The abduction site is less certain, though reportedly Ward had been abducted on the way to Rocky Mount or Nashville from Louisburg.

Additional Resources:

Researcher’s Note: