Three Horrible Lynchings

December 22, 1900


An African American community in Indiana warns that “a race was in imminent” after three black men are lynched for the murder of a white man.


Three Horrible Lynchings
Charged with Murder
Thousands witness the mob’s bloody work.
Gov. Mount Active, Will Hunt Down the Guilty Parties
Booneville, Ind., Dec. 17—John Rolla, the third of the colored men implicated in the murder of Hollie Simons, was hanged to a tree in the courthouse yard by a mob of about 100 men from Rockport this evening. Two of his companions were lynched at Rockport last night for the same crime. Not a shot was fired and everything was conducted as quietly as if the execution had been one under the sanction of the law.
Rolla was brought to this place this afternoon about 3 o’clock in charge of Sheriff Anderson, of Rockport. Upon his arrival he was placed in a cell on the second floor of the jail, and his presence was known only to a few citizens.
An Apparent Refusal.
A few minutes after 6 o’clock a body of 100 men marched through the principal street to the jail and demanded that the prisoner be turned over to it. Deputy Sheriff Raymond Cherry was in charge of the jail. He declined to give up the keys, and the mob began at once to batter in the wall of the jail with a telegraph pole. Six members of the mob crawled through the hole, and with sledges broke down the door of Rolla’s cell and soon the thoroughly terrified colored man was in the hands of the men, who passed a rope around his neck. All left, crawling again through the hole by which they had entered, dragging the colored man after them.
Body in the Air.
A few minutes were consumed in the march to the courthouse yard, the rope was thrown over a limb of a tree and a hundred hands sent his body flying into the air. The loose end of the rope was tied to a tree, and as soon as the mob was sure that its work had been completed it left in as orderly a manner as it had entered the town.
None of the mob wore masks, and men apparently from every station in like took part in the lynching. Except for the excited group of men standing on the street corners, a stranger would have known nothing of the tragedy that had just been enacted.
Claimed He Confessed.
John Rolls was implicated by Rowland, one of the colored men lynched last night at Rockport, but denied his guilt. He told conflicting stories, and it was learned that he was away from the Verandah Hotel where he worked about the time Simmons was murdered. Confronted with this evidence, Rolla weakened and confessed his share in the crime, admitting that he struck the first blow and that the other two colored men helped him to kill Simmons.
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Contributed By

Elizabeth Lopez-Lopez


“Three Horrible Lynchings ,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed December 9, 2022,