That Alabama Lynching.

July 28, 1900


A white police officer “defends his prisoner,” a black man guilty of assault from “a crowd of 150 men.”


That Alabama Lynching.
Made Effort to Save Him
Troops too Late—A Sheriff’s Bravery.
Faithful to the Last
A Disgrace to the State.

Huntsville, Ala., July 23. – Elijah Clark, the colored man who yesterday assaulted Miss Susan Priest, a thirteen-year-old girl, was taken from the jail in this city this evening and lynched near the spot where his crime was committed. His body was riddled with bullets. Sheriff Fulgham defended his prisoner to the last, but a dense smoke, from a combination of tar, feathers and oil, fired by the crazy mob, was too much for him, and he was dragged from the jail and placed under a physician’s care. William Vining, an employee of the street railway company, who attempted to rush through the crowd and up the jail steps was shot and dangerously wounded.
A crowd of 150 men, principally employees of the big cotton mills at Dallas, a suburb of this city, searched the woods all night for Clark, who was identified at the time he assaulted Miss Priest by her little sister. No success attended their efforts, and early this morning Sheriff Fulgham started out wth a posse, and before 9 o/clock had captured Clark on Beaver Dam Creek, ten miles from Huntsville. He was soon landed in jail, and by 1 o’clock the news of the prisoner’s capture was heralded to all parts of the city. A mob composed of mill operatives and men of all callings was soon formed and marched to the jail, where they stood for a time apparently waiting for a leader.
Appealed to Governor
Sheriff Fulgham, seeing that he had a desperate crowd to combat, wired Gov. Johnston the facts in the case. The Governor responded to the effect that he had ordered the militia at Birmingham, Montgomery, and Decatur to proceed with all haste to the scene. The Sheriff then telephoned Judge S. M. Stewart and asked for an immediate trial of the colored man and the judge replied soon after that he had arranged for a special session of court at 8 o’clock before Judge H.C. Speake.
The mob by this time had assumed alarming proportions, and the sheriff, thinking to quiet the storm, appeared at a window and announced that a special train had been arranged for the prisoner, and that he would be brought before the court at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. This was greeted with jeers by the crowd of citizens and cry “Revenge” went up.
The outer door to the jail, a wooden barrier, was soon battered down, and the mob gained entrance to the first floor. Here they encountered the sheriff’s wife, who pleaded with them to refrain from violence and let the law take its course. Sheriff Fulgham, however, on hearing the door being forced, retreated with his prisoner to the third floor, where he locked himself with Clark. The mob then stopped to devise ways and means of securing the prisoner without doing harm to the sheriff, who is a great favorite here. A dozen times the sheriff, as he appeared at the window waving his hands to the mob to go away, could have been shot, but the lynchers chose strategy as the most effective way out of the difficulty.
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Upper Right Quadrant


Contributed By

Elizabeth Lopez-Lopez


“That Alabama Lynching.,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed February 20, 2024,