Beaufort County, NC

Alleged offense: Murder
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Age: 17
Legal intervention (in alleged offense): Yes
Legal intervention (following lynching): Unrecorded
Mob size: Unrecorded
Mob members: Unrecorded
Alleged victim: Family of David Taylor
Household Status: Unmarried
Occupation: Driver

James Walker, a nineteen-year old African American man, was accused of poisoning the white Taylor family, who were sickened but not killed when they consumed arsenic-laced coffee and “hash gravy.” Arrested for this alleged crime, Walker was taken by local authorities to Williamston for safekeeping. According to newspaper accounts, a mob of unknown size battered down the jail door where Walker was being held, overpowered authorities and abducted Walker. The mob took Walker down the road, which may have been what is now US 17 towards Washington. Just outside Washington, the mob hanged Walker from a gum tree on the road at some point between midnight and dawn.


Death certificate: None found
Census: 1900 Census Walker

News coverage:

Negro Walker Found Dangling On Tree Near Washington

Found Walker’s Ghastly Corpse Swinging in the Air

A Heavy Criminal Docket

Governor Orders Out Troops


Town: Washington, North Carolina
Latitude/Longitude: 35.567891, -77.063882
Rationale: While an exact location could not be deteremined, a marker was placed on US 17 based on newspaper accounts that cited the “Greenville Road” as being the place where Walker’s body was found. Greenville road is not shown on 1896 Sanborn maps of Washington, which were also consulted to determine location.

Additional Resources:

Researcher’s Note: 1900 Census lists birth year at 1885, but newspaper accounts say that Walker was born at least two years earlier in 1883.