Halifax County, NC

Alleged offense: No alleged offense
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Age: Unspecified
Legal intervention (in alleged offense): No
Legal intervention (following lynching): No
Mob size: Unreported
Mob members: None named
Alleged victim: N/A
Household Status: Unreported
Occupation: laborer

Joe Williams was an itinerant African American laborer in Scotland Neck who became involved in a dispute with one of his employers. It was alleged that he sent threatening letters to the son of one of his employers, and apparently in response, he was dragged from his home at night and beaten. After the beating he consulted an attorney, presumably to investigate legal charges against his assailants. Instead, the attorney advised him to leave town, which he did. One paper reported that the white men of the community gave him some money to help his transition, but any generosity was tempered by the fact that they sent him away with the threat that if he returned, he would be lynched. He spent some time away but soon returned amid rumors that he had shot someone in Warren County. He looked for work but could find no one to employ him. He was ultimately taken from his home, tied to a tree, and shot in the head. Newspaper coverage emphasized that the coroner’s jury included African Americans. That jury, inevitably, concluded that Williams had been killed by unknown parties. Newspaper coverage said “only one such occurrence” had happened before in the area: the death of John Odum in 1891.


Death certificate: None available
Census: None available

News coverage:

Joe Williams Lynched

The Duplin County Negro Murder Case


Town: Scotland Neck, North Carolina
Latitude/Longitude: 36.118895, -77.43279
Rationale: Newspaper reports state that the abduction and hanging locations were both about a mile from town, on the other side of the creek, near a bridge. Also reported as W.A. Dortch’s tobacco farm

Additional Resources:

Researcher’s Note: