Bumcombe County, NC

Alleged offense: Rape
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Age: 19
Legal intervention (in alleged offense): Yes
Legal intervention (following lynching): No
Mob size: 25-40
Mob members: None named
Alleged victim: Sallie Kate Parker
Household Status: Unmarried
Occupation: Unrecorded

Authorities arrested John Humphreys, a 19-year-old African American man, for the rape of Sallie Kate Parker, a 13-year-old white girl. Officers moved him to a steel cage in county jail after rumors of a lynching surfaced. Twenty-five to forty masked mob members arrived at the jail at 3:15 a.m. Sheriff James Worely opened fire but the mob overpowered him. The mob abducted Humphrey and hanged him a quarter of a mile away. The sheriff attempted to follow and recover Humphreys. A jury determined that Humphreys had been killed by strangulation. Many targeted a man named Thomerson as an accessory to the crime. Witnesses testified that they saw Thomerson unmasked during the abduction and lynching. Authorities did not charge Thomerson. Humphreys’s father claimed his son’s body and brought him to South Carolina for burial.


Death certificate: None found
Census: None found

News coverage:

A Determined Mob

An Attempted Outrage


Town: Asheville, North Carolina
Latitude/Longitude: 35.5960188, -82.549261
Rationale: Determined based on probable location of historic Asheville prison (judged by 1888 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map and 1887 city directory)

Additional Resources:

Researcher’s Note: Humphreys spelled Humphries in some reports