Wayne County, NC

Alleged offense: Murder
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Age: 25
Legal intervention (in alleged offense): Yes
Legal intervention (following lynching): Yes
Mob size: 200
Mob members: Unrecorded
Alleged victim: Anderson T. Gurley
Household Status: Unmarried
Occupation: None

Accused of killing Anderson T. Gurley, a prominent Wayne County planter, John Richards was abducted from the jail in Goldsboro around midnight on January 12, 1916. Imprisoned with him were two other men also accused of participating in the murder of Gurley. The abduction started when “the jail was completely surrounded by automobiles stripped of their license numbers.” From these cars came a mob of masked men, numbering around 200, who entered the jail. Finding that the jailer did not have the keys to the prisoners’ cells, the mob then went and took a deputy sheriff captive. Back at the jail, the deputy sheriff apparently pled with them to only take Richards as the guilt of the other two men accused of Gurley’s murder was not as certain. The mob then took John Richards and drove him “on the river road to Hooks bridge.” There they extracted a confession from Richards and got him to implicate the two other men held prisoner in the crime as well. The mob then hanged John Richards from the bridge and riddled his body with bullets before leaving the scene.


Death certificate: Death Certificate John Richards
Census: None found

News coverage:

Mob at Goldsboro Lynches Richards


Town: Goldsboro, North Carolina
Latitude/Longitude: 35.412781 -78.003003
Rationale: Lynching site is estimated: of the two probable “river roads” that the lynch mob could have taken, present day Business 70 makes the most sense as a direct route to the Little River. However, the site here is estimated based on references to Hook’s Bridge and the continued existence of Hooks River Rd. which ends in the vicinity of the Little River, though presently without crossing it.

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Researcher’s Note: