Sheriff, Posses Hunting 3 Negroes, Race Riot Reports Are Repudiated-MA

Source Type: Newspaper
Publisher: Tuscaloosa News
Place of publication: Tuscaloosa, AL

Short bits of three-quarter inch rope, souvenirs of a lynching, tonight were the sole evidence of tragedy and violence which swept this community Friday afternoon and night. Four deaths, three by bullets and one by the noose, two white men and two negroes, resulted. All four corpses were buried this afternoon.

Grover T. Boyd and Charlie Marrs, prominent white farm-ers, were shot to death by negroes. John Robertson, negro, was killed by a posse’s bullets and Esau Robertson, son of John, was hanged to a tree near Emel’e.

Tonight at midnight possemen and Sheriff W. D. Scales were still hunting in the swamps for Ollie, King, and Tom Robertson, all sons of the elder John who was killed. Tom, who is said to have shot Grover Boyd, is wounded and either Ollie or King is also believed to have been hit.

Sheriff W.D. Scales of Sumter county, directing the hunt, ex-pressed belief that the fugitives would be captured sometime Sun-day. Many negroes in the com-munity were disarmed Friday night but otherwise unmolested. They appear frightened and are keeping close to their homes.

Livingston, 17 miles from here reported high feeling and hun-dreds of armed men from that re-gion came to Emelle and joined the hunters. Emille is near the Mississippi line and about 67 miles from Tuscaloosa.

Four state law enforcement of-ficers arrived this afternoon but they were told unofficially that their presence was unnecessary. The attitude of local officials and citizens appears that outside aid is not asked or needed.

The trouble was caused “by putting off killing a couple of negroes too damn long,” one offi-cial declared.

Funeral services for G. T. Boyd and Charlie Marrs were held this afternoon with a huge crowd at-tending. Internment was at Central Presbyterian church yard.

Jim Ayres, white, was suffering from a cheek wound received in a battle with the negroes last night and Clarence Boyd, nephew of Grover, was injured severely about the head with a bottle in the hands of one of the negroes.

Grover Boyd was shot down from behind by one of the negroes and Charlie Marrs was killed while possemen and enraged citizens stormed John Robertson’s house, where the negroes had taken refuge. John Robertson was killed as he stood on the porch and Esau Robertson was hanged to a tree by the enraged band.

Reports exaggerated

First reports of the trouble were greatly exaggerated, the death list being given as high as eight and wounded numbering many more, but during the fore-noon the excitement died down and the search settled into a grim, determined man hunt.

Check of reports that two ne-groes had been burned to death also proved unfounded. A search of the ruins of John Robertson’s home showed no evidence of any-one having burned to death.

The trouble was precipitated yesterday afternoon when Clar-ence Boyd found Esau Robertson at a barbecue and demanded pay-ment for a storage battery he had sold to him.

The negro said he didn’t have the money, so Boyd seized the bat-tery. Later the negro appeared at a store where Boyd was and asked to talk to him. Boyd step-ped outside and found in addi-tion the negro’s brother, Oliver, and his father, there. The three were said to have jumped on Boyd and began beating him.

Grover Boyd, uncle of Clarence and Carl Scales, hearing Clarence’s cries, went to his assistance and one of the negroes fired four bul-lets into Grover’s back. Boyd drop-ped dead. Scales and others who came up seized Esau but the other two negroes disappeared.

Esau Held By Crowd

Esau was held by the crowd which grew steadily until last night, when he was taken to the woods and hanged. In the mean-time, sheriff Scales and his depu-ties arrived and search for the other two negroes was instituted. When the posse called at the home of John Robertson, brother of Tom, he met them with gunfire and in turn was slain. Later it was discovered that Marrs had been shot and Ayres wounded. Determined to drive out the negroes, sheriff Scales fired the house.

While the flames roared in John Robertson’s home, posses formed and began a search of the section for the other two negroes. The mob that numbered between 200 and 300 during last night dwind-led to between 25 and 50 grimly determined men who continued the hunt.

Others Not Molested

No negroes not implicated in the shooting were molested by members of the mob that ranged the section sheriff Scales said, and many offered what aid they could.

Sheriff Scales said reports that a race riot was in progress was un-true.

Wild rumors and reports of the negroes being surrounded and others that they had been captur-ed flew thick and fast throughout the day, one such report causing two carloads of men from York to come here to aid in the captur-ing the negroes.