Four Persons Lynched by Alabama Mobs

Source Type: Newspaper
Publisher: The Afro-American
Place of publication: Baltimore, MD

The Dead

Grover Boyd, white, storekeeper

Charlie Marrs, white, farmer

John Robertson, shot to death

Esau Robertson, lynched by hanging

Mrs. Viola Ayer, shot by mob

Unidentified man, shot by mob

The spirit of Independence Day was completely forgotten as this bloodthirsty little town form-ed itself into a mob of aveng-ers to help Clarence Boyd, a white garage owner, collect a $2.50 bill from a poor Negro, that ended in six being killed, while the whole countryside reeked in terror and blood-shed.

Posses armed with guns and using bloodhounds, combed the county, striking terror into the hearts of all Negroes, raiding homes and molest-ing innocent colored citizens who failed to aid them in their search for Tom Robertson and his son, Ollie, who killed two white men.

Governor Gives Reward

The mobs were urged to greater efforts by the announcement of Governor Bibb Gray, of Alabama, who offered $300 each for the return of the slayers of the white victims, but seeks no information concerning the slayers of the colored men who were killed as they resisted an unof-ficial raid of their home by a band of hoodlums bent on lynching.

The Negroes slain were John Rob-ertson, shot down resisting a posse seeking to search his home, and Esau Robertson, his nephew, who was lynched by a mob.

In the meantime Sheriff Scales and his deputies arrived, and search for the other Negroes was started. When the posse called at the home of John Robertson he met them with gun-fire, and in turn was slain. It was discovered that Marrs had been shot and Ayres wounded, and the mob fired the house.

While the flames roared in John Robertson’s home, possemen formed and started a countywide search.

Trouble Starts

The trouble started when Clarence Boyd attempted to collect a debt for a storage battery he had sold Esau Robertson. Robertson did not have the money and Boyd took the battery informing him that he could get it back when he brought the money.

Sometime later Esau, in company with his brothers, called to reclaim the battery. An argument ensued during which Grover Boyd, uncle of Clarence, threatened to shoot the colored men if they did not get off the place. Instead of being intimi-dated, one of the Robertsons pulled a revolver and beat the elder Boyd to the trigger, killing him. The brothers then left the place.

The brothers made their escape but Esau was held by the crowd, which grew steadily until finally, he was taken to the woods and hanged.

A coroner’s jury rendered a verdict that the Negroes came to their deaths at the hands of “parties unknown.”

Woman Slain

Two Negroes, not connected with the crime for which vigilantes sought vengeance, were slain by a posse. One of them was a woman who was shot through the head when her frighten-ed husband failed to obey a com-mand to halt their car.The other victim has not been identified. He was shot to death when he fled from the posse and then, when overtaken, fired upon members of the body.

The name of the woman was given as Mrs. Viola Ayer. Her husband and others in the car were roughly handled by the raiders.

Soldiers Arrive

Order was restored upon the ar-rival of state militia who sought to conduct the search and protect the colored citizens who had been routed from their homes during the three day manhunt.

Going to Bottom (?)

Governor Gray issued a subsequent statement in which he said:

“The official rewards which have been posted for the four Negro fugitives are not merely for Negroes who killed white men, but would be paid for the arrest or conviction of anybody, white or black, responsible for the trouble at Emelle.

“I am going to go to the bottom of this business and anyone impli-cated is going to be prosecuted,” he asserted.