Something About Brutes : How Some Citizens Punished an Alabama Negro’s Crime

Source Type: Newspaper
Publisher: The Rock Island Argus
Place of publication: Rock Island, IL
Date of publication: 2 August 1884

Anniston, ALA., August 2. – Reports have reached here of the punishment of a woman’s assailant which are of a horrible character than the crime with which the victim was charged. On Thursday morning the 13-year-old daughter of a well-known citizen of Tuscaloosa, who lives on the outskirts of the town, went into town for the purpose of taking a music lesson. On her return home in the evening she met Andy Burke, a negro, who asked here [sic] some question, which she was answering when a piece of music fell out of her books. As she stooped to pick it up Burke flung his arm around her waist, and, lifting her up and holding her mouth closed with the other hand, he ran into a copse of woods with her. As he ran the girl lost her hat. A gentleman riding by saw the hat in the road, and seeing tracks leading into the woods, and hearing muffled screams in that direction he followed the steps and sound. As soon as Burke saw that rescue had come to the girl he released her and escaped. All night Tuesday and through Wednesday parties of men prosecuted a search, finding the fugitive yesterday. They took him before the girl, who identified him fully, when he confessed his crime. He was put in a guard-house, from which he was subsequently taken by a mob, shot and hung near the Presbyterian Church, where his body lay till morning, when it was carted off and buried. But by far the worst part of the story remains to be told, which only legal investigation could sufficiently verify. It is charged that when the negro was taken out he was first mutilated, and after letting him suffer awhile [sic], the suggestion was made to scalp him, which was accordingly done. By this time the crowd became fully committed to the policy of torturing him, when he was partially disemboweled. All this time, it is said, the wretched negro begged piteously for the final act which would put him out of pain. When the party had satiated itself with with the criminal’s sufferings he was strung up to a tree, all of the party who had revolvers firing bullets into the swinging body, after which it cut down and left for daylight for discovery. The details which rumor gives of the night’s are most horrible. It is said that the matter will be thoroughly investigated by the Governor to find out the truth these reports, and if possible to reach the guilty parties and visit upon them the punishment for their crime.


Something About Brutes (1884, August 2). The Rock Island Argus.