|Place of publication:||New Orleans, LA|
|Date of publication:||4/6/1908|
Special to The Times-Democrat.
Mobile, Ala., April 5. – Walker Clayton, a negro sentenced to fifteen years in the penitentiary for the murder of John McKenzie, a plumber in this city whom he stabbed to death Christmas morning, 1906, was lynched by a mob of sixty men near Bay Minette last night for criminally assaulting Mrs. Joseph White, wife of respectable citizen of Rosington, Ala. Clayton confessed to the mob the criminal assault and also to the murder of McKenzie, the later crime he having stoutly denied up to the time he was convicted. News of the lynching was brought here this afternoon by persons arriving from Bay Minette.
The assault upon Mrs. White was committed at her home early Saturday afternoon, and reported to the county authorities. A description of the assailant was obtained and the deputies went out in search. The negro was serving sentence at the lumber camp of the Hand Lumber Company at Dolive, Ala., and through good behavior had worked himself into the good graces of those in charge. Several months ago Clayton was made a trusty at the camp and was allowed some liberties. Saturday he took his departure from the stockade when the opportunity presented itself and making his way across country arrived at the home of the Whites.
Male members of the family were absent byt Clayton found Mrs. White alone. Seizing her he dealt the woman a blow over the head with a heavy revolver and then criminally assaulted her. While the woman was begging piteously to be spared Clayton threatened to repeat the assault and then kill her. The desperate brute was about to put his threat into execution when a brother-in-law of Mrs. White suddenly appeared upon the scene. Clayton escaped and made his way back to the prison stockade.
In the meantime the news of the assault spread over the community and excitement was intense. Lynching was heard on every side, but those who were to execute the sentence of Judge Lynch laid their plans carefully.
When the news of the assault was brought to the stockade at Dolive and Clayton placed under arrest fears were entertained that he would be taken and to guard against this it was decided to send the negro to the county jail at Bay Minette. In charge of two guards the start for the county jail was made. One of the guards was handcuffed to the negro to prevent his escape.
The journey was made in safety until they were within sight of the jail. Enclosing the jail is a high fence and as the guards with their prisoner appeared more than a half hundred men sprang from the enclosure and surrounding the guards dragged Clayton and the man handcuffed to him into the woods. The guard was then released.
A rope was placed around Clayton’s neck in a jiffy and the other end made fast to a wagon. For more than a hundred feet the negro was dragged along the road in this manner. Finally he was permitted to regain his feet and then conveyed some distance further and the end of the rope thrown over a limb of a tree. Willing hands grabbed the rope prepared to swing the negro into eternity. Others shouted that he be given an opportunity to confess. Clayton was then told that his time on earth was short and that if he had anything to say, then was the time.
The negro told of his brutal outrage upon Mrs. White and linked with this confession was also the admission of the murder of John McKenzie in this city. He said he was drunk when he assaulted Mrs. White.
Within less time than the story is told the rope pulled taut and Clayton’s body dangled into space. Their work accomplished the members of the mob hastened from the scene. To-day the body was taken in charge by the county authorities.
Mrs. White, the victim of the negro, is a bride of about a year and twenty-seven years of age. Her condition is critical.
Clayton was convicted in this city at the February term of the city court and sentenced to imprisonment for the murder of John McKenzie. It was one of the most dastardly crimes ever committed in this city. McKenzie and the negro had been together during Christmas eve night, 1906. The next morning with his throat cut, a jagged wound extending from ear to ear, the body of McKenzie was found in a ditch in the northwestern part of the city. Learning that McKenzie had been in the company of Walter Clayton, who had already served time in the penitentiary and was known as a desperate negro, the police arrested him and charged him with the crime. Clayton admitted that he had been with McKenzie but denied all knowledge of the killing and endevored to shift the suspiction upon another person who he claimed he left with the man. Knowing the negro’s criminal record the police wove around him evidence that resulted in his conviction and sentence to thirteen years imprisonment.
“Lynching in Alabama; Negro Convict Who Assaulted White Woman Strung Up.” The Times-Democrat (New Orleans, LA), April 6, 1908.