Burke County, NC

Alleged offense: None
Race: Native American
Gender: Male
Age: Unrecorded
Legal intervention (in alleged offense): No
Legal intervention (following lynching): No
Mob size: “only a few persons”
Mob members: Unrecorded
Alleged victim: N/A
Household Status: Unmarried
Occupation: Doctor

While fighting a forest fire on Shortoff mountain, Morganton citizens found the bodies of James Lafette, reportedly an “Indian Doctor” and his daughter in March 1898. According to newspaper accounts, James Lafette had recently moved near Upper Creek township and was told to leave the area by moonshiners, who reportedly were afraid Lafette would “expose their illicit business.” Little information could be found beyond newspaper suppositions that linked the lynching to moonshiners. Some newspapers report that the Lafette’s had been missing since the last October, and others newspaper accounts declare that in fact no bodies were found on Shortoff.


Death certificate: None found
Census: None found

News coverage:

State News

Sensational Rumors


Lynchings in 1898

Morganton Herald


Town: Upper Creek Township, North Carolina
Latitude/Longitude: 35.827668, -81.906500
Rationale:  While an exact location could not be determined, a marker was placed near Shortoff Mountain where newspaper accounts report the Lafettes’s bodies were found.

Additional Resources:

Researcher’s Note: Newspaper accounts cite the Lafettes as disappearing around October 1897 and we selected the date October 1 to meet the demands of our software. The precise date remains Unrecorded.