They Lynched Him

July 16, 1898


An African American man guilty of sexual assault dies at the hands of a white mob who stole him from the prison transport train.


A colored man dealt with—taken from the train.

Died protesting innocence.

A brutal murder—mob makes no efforts at disguise.

The law defied—anarchy in Virginia.

Charlottesville, July 12—John Henry James, the colored man who assaulted Miss Hotopp near here, was lynched here by the infuriated citizens of Charlottesville and the country. Yesterday afternoon, James was taken by the officers to Pen Park, where he was identified by the young woman as her assailant. They also carried him to the scene of the outrage, and ascertained by trying his shoes in the tracks found there that they could have been made by no other. HE was then brought back and lodged in jail, a large crowd following the entire way. The officers were chary of admitting that he had been identified, but the crowd could not be deceived, and angry mutterings and threats of lynching we heard on every side.

Carried to Staunton.

In consequence of this was thought best to remove the prisoner to Staunton for safety. This was accomplished in this way: About 8:30 o’clock in charge of Messrs. Nat. Martin, D.C. Grady, and chief of Police Farish, the colored man was taken over the north wall of the jail yard, through some private premises, and out by the wine cellar, up the Southern railway to the Union Station. There he was put abroad the west-bound freight on the Chesapeake and Ohio, which left at 9 o’clock, and was away on the road before the people knew anything about it. People were gathered in knots on the street as late as 11 o’clock, discussing the subject, and it became necessary to take some of them through the jail to satisfy them that the man had really been taken away.

In the meantime, Judge John M> White, of the County Court, realizing that prompt and efficient means would have to be resorted to calm the excited populace, issued summons for a grand jury to meet 10 o’clock this morning...
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Upper Left Quadrant


Contributed By

Cali Hughes


“They Lynched Him,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed September 29, 2023,