About the Case
Date: June 21, 1923
Victim(s): Duffie Walker
Case Status: attempted
On June 21, 1923, a 25-year-old black man named Duffie Walker was taken from his home in Bromley, Alabama by four white men. The four men dragged Walker from his home before beating him and shooting him in the back. After hearing pained cries and a gunshot, Walker’s father went to investigate the commotion. He found his son dying on the side of the road. Walker survived the night and was able to give the names of the assailants, Ernest McMillan, Morton Taylor, George Fuller, and Fulner Stewart, but he died as a result of the bullet wound on June 22, 1923. In the months leading up to his death, Walker had reportedly given the police information regarding the production of moonshine in Baldwin County, which resulted in the destruction of a local still. Allegedly, this is why the men lynched Walker. After the lynching, the four men were arrested and held on $1000 bond. It is unknown how long the men were in jail, but at least one man, McMillan, was released by 1930.
Duffie Walker was born in Alabama on February 8, 1898 to parents Lillie and Dock Walker. At the age of two, he lived with his parents and two older brothers, Amiel and James, in Sibleys Mill, Alabama. His father made a living as a block setter. His mother would pass on Christmas in 1909 when Duffie was only 11 years old. By the age of 12, Duffie had moved in with his maternal grandparents, James and Susie Watson, in the region of Stapleton and Ducks. According to the census, Duffie was already able to read and write at this age and he worked as a laborer at a home farm. At some point between 1910 and 1918, Duffie would move to Pensacola, Florida where he was employed by the Pensacola Shipbuilding Company heating rivets. Duffie probably moved to Bromley in Baldwin County before he was ultimately lynched there. Duffie would be buried in Westview Cemetery, just outside of Bromley, in a grave near his mother.
It was difficult to learn more about Duffie Walker and what happened to the men who lynched him because the Baldwin County Department of Archives and History closed during the research process. The narrative that Walker was killed because he reported illegal moonshine activity comes from white newspapers, but through research I have found it to be a probable motive. Around the time of Walker’s death, State Law Enforcement Officer Rufus Cannon was sent to Mobile to participate, “in the most sensational campaign against dry law violators in the history of Mobile.” When Walker was killed, newspapers reported that Cannon was sent from Mobile to Baldwin County to investigate the lynching. Additionally, it is clear one of the men who lynched Walker, Ernest McMillan, drank alcohol despite Prohibition. In December of 1922 McMillan’s wife filed for divorce because he has become, “addicted to habitual drunkenness.” If a local still was destroyed and eliminated McMillan’s access to alcohol, it probably factored into the decision to lynch Walker. I was unable to find information on any of the other three men who lynched Walker, but they were probably associated with McMillan or the still in some way.
The lynching of Duffie Walker was previously unrecorded and only recently uncovered. His death demonstrates the lengths people went to erase lynchings from history. During the process of researching Walker, I only found four newspaper articles covering his death. Of the four newspapers, the only local newspaper to cover it, The Times based in Foley, gave the briefest account. The three-sentence long account of the events demonstrates how the South tried to hide the brutality of lynchings from the rest of the world. It is truly outrageous that four men were able to lynch a man, and the victim would remain forgotten for decades.