Cleveland County, NC

Alleged offense: Murder
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Age: Unrecorded
Legal intervention (in alleged offense): Yes
Legal intervention (following lynching): Yes
Mob size: 300
Mob members: None named
Alleged victim: James Philbeck
Household Status: Married
Occupation: Unrecorded

Authorities jailed two African American men, John Carson and Lee Carson, on suspicion of the murder of James Philbeck, a white man. According to newspaper accounts, John Carson allegedly went to Philbeck’s house and shot him in his doorway. Carson pointed to his brother, Lee Carson, as the instigator of the crime. Authorities apprehended and jailed both brothers. An interracial mob of three hundred abducted Carson from jail on the night of December 2, 1888. After Carson’s abduction, he confessed to the crime. The mob allowed Carson to choose the limb from which he would hang. The coroner took down Carson’s body the following morning.


Death certificate: None found
Census: None found

News coverage:

Judge Lynch Tries, Condemns, and Hangs Van Canady

Canady Lynched

The Philbeck Murder


Town: Shelby, North Carolina
Latitude/Longitude: 35.292633, -81.562518
Rationale: Oak tree twenty feet from the road one mile outside of Shelby. Newspaper accounts place the mob marching “on the King’s Mountain road” and “toward Flat Rock.” King’s Mountain is east of Shelby and Flat Rock is west. The mob may have traveled west along what is now Highway 74.

Additional Resources:

Researcher’s Note: John Carson is also known as Van Canady; newspaper accounts note Philbeck’s wife was shot but do not mention if she lived or died