Beaufort County, NC

Alleged offense: Murder
Race: White
Gender: Male
Age: Unrecorded
Legal intervention (in alleged offense): Yes
Legal intervention (following lynching): No
Mob size: 10-15
Mob members: None named
Alleged victim: Bryan Grimes
Household Status: Unmarried
Occupation: Unrecorded

A small mob lynched William A. Parker, an African American man, following his acquittal for the murder of Bryan Grimes. Someone murdered Grimes 1880 near Bear Creek while coming home from a political convention. Grimes, a former Confederate major general (the highest-ranking North Carolinian to serve), was part of a sprawling conflict in eastern North Carolina about political and economic power in post-war North Carolina. Grimes was a Democrat and was among the founders of the Ku Klux Klan in Pitt County. It is believed that one of Grimes’s rivals, perhaps someone opposed to the Klan, the Democratic Party, or just someone embroiled in this conflict, hired Parker to kill Grimes. Parker’s shoes filled the footprints left in the marsh near Bear Creek. Two witnesses swore they saw Parker carrying a shotgun on the afternoon of August 14. Parker’s first trial ended in a mistrial. His second trial, in 1881, led to his acquittal. In 1888, Parker reportedly drunkenly bragged about killing Grimes in Washington, North Carolina. Authorities placed him in jail for protection, but a mob abducted him at 2:00 a.m. About an hour later, a broken drawbridge in Washington stopped a steamboat. The keeper discovered Parker’s body hanging from the bridge.


Death certificate: None found
Census: None found

News coverage:

Vengeance of Masked Men

Lynching In Washington


Town: Washington, North Carolina
Latitude/Longitude: 35.543848, -77.061303
Rationale: Used historic maps to find historic location of drawbridge and jail.

Additional Resources:

Researcher’s Note: