Harriet Finch
Jerry Finch
Lee Tyson
John Pattishall

Chatham County, NC

Alleged offense: Murder
Race: Black
Gender: Male and Female
Age: 46 (Jerry Finch), 30 (Harriet Finch), Unrecorded
Legal intervention (in alleged offense): Yes
Legal intervention (following lynching): Yes
Mob size: 26
Mob members: Unrecorded
Alleged victim: Edwin Finch; Sallie Finch; Ephraim Ellington
Household Status: Married
Occupation: Farmer (John), Farm Hand (Tyson and Pattishall), Unrecorded (Harriet)

In 1883, Unrecorded assailants used an axe to murder Mr. Gunter, an elderly white farmer, as well as his wife and his wife’s sister in their home near Pittsboro in Chatham County, North Carolina. No one could identify the killers at the time of the crime, but in 1885, a similar murder was committed in the same area. In the second case, Mr. Finch, a seventy-nine-year-old white farmer, his eighty-one-year-old sister, and a sixteen-year-old male black servant were found dead on July 5,1885 with their throats cut and signs of injuries from an axe. Law enforcement arrested a series of African American suspects, beginning with Jerry Finch and his wife, Harriet Finch, followed by Lee Tyson, and finally, John Pattishall. During the time that the men were held in custody, members of local law enforcement worked to protect the prisoners from lynching attempts. The coroner’s jury issued a report condemning the men and the majority of the community is reported to have believed the men were guilty of both sets of murders. Newspapers speculated for months that a lynching was imminent, and in late August, a mob briefly abducted Harriet Lynch and her sister-in-law and tortured them by hanging with the intention of obtaining more information, only to release them shortly thereafter. On September 28, Jerry Finch, his wife, Lee Tyson, and John Pattishall were taken from the jail and lynched a mile from Pittsboro. Their bodies were found the next morning hanging from the trees near the public road. Newspapers did not condemn the lynching of the Finches, Tyson, and Pattishall, as their guilt was believed to have been established through the coroner’s jury.


Death certificate: None found
Census: 1880 Census – Harriet and Jerry Finch

News coverage:  

A Quartet Lynching

Four Lynched


Town: Pittsboro, North Carolina
Latitude/Longitude: 35.719917, -79.177031
Rationale: Abduction site placed in vicinity of former jail; lynching site placed approximately 1 mile south of Pittsboro on the Pittsboro-Moncure road.

Additional Resources:

Researcher’s Note: