2 Whites and 2 Negroes Killed in Racial Clash

Source Type: Newspaper
Publisher: Chicago Daily Tribune
Place of publication: Chicago,IL
Date of publication: 1930

A band of armed men estimated to number from 25 to 50 tonight vainly searched a swamp near the Mississippi line for four Negroes, Tom Robertson and three of his sons, participants in an argument with a white man yesterday that caused the deaths of two whites and two Negroes. Two other white men were hurt.

The dead are Grover Boyd and Charlie Marrs, white, and the following Negroes: John Robertson, brother of Tom Robertson; Esau Robertson, son of Tom.

Jim Ayres, white, was suffering from a cheek wound received in a battle with the Negroes last night and Clar-ence Boyd, nephew of Grover, was in-jured severely about the head with a bottle held by a Negro.

White Man First Slain

Grover Boyd was shot down by one of the Negroes and Charlie Marrs was killed while possemen and citizens stormed John Robertson’s house last night, where the Negroes had taken refuge. John Robertson was killed as he fled the house and Esau Robert-son was hanged to a tree by the mob.

First reports of the trouble were exaggerated, the death list being given as high as eight.

Sheriff W. D. Scales, who took charge of the search last night and attempted to control the unruly mob of 200 to 300 men, today denied re-ports that two Negroes had been burned to death in John Robertson’s home.

How Trouble Started

The trouble started late yesterday when Clarence Boyd met Esau Rob-ertson and demanded payment for a storage battery he had sold him.

The Negro said he did not have the money, and Boyd seized the battery. Later the Negro called Boyd outside the store in which they were standing, after which the Negro’s brother, Oliver, and his father, Tom, helped Esau beat Boyd.

Grover Boyd, uncle of Clarence, and Carl Scales went to Clarence’s assist-ance and one of the Negroes fired four bullets into Grover Boyd’s back, killing him. Scales and others seized Esau, but the other two Negroes dis-appeared.

Esau was held by the crowd which formed, and last night was taken to the woods and hanged. In the mean-time, Sheriff Scales and his deputies arrived and search for the other two Negroes was started.

Second White Killed

When the posse called at the home of John Robertson, brother of Tom, he met them with gun fire and in turn was slain. Later, it was discovered that Marrs had been shot and Ayres wounded. Enraged, the mob fired the house.

While the flames roared in John Robertson’s home, possemen formed and began a search of the section for the other Negroes, but this evening it was believed they had escaped across the Mississippi line.

The mob that numbered between 200 and 300 last night dwindled today.

Sheriff Scales said reports that a race riot was in progress were untrue and that Negroes not implicated in the shooting had been molested.

A squad of state law enforcement officers from Montgomery and another squad from Birmingham, dispatched by Gov. Bibb Graves, was en route here..