Near at Hand

March 7, 1896


The Lunenburg Trial approaches, and hundreds of black men have gathered before the courthouse to alert the police of any unlawful mobs gathering to lynch the innocent women.


Mary Abernathy and Pokey Barnes now confined in the jail at Farmville, Va., will be tried Wednesday, March 18,1896.
To go into the details of the case at present would be too tedious. Suffice it to say that a conviction of these people is out of the question unless the most improved sort of manufactured evidence is adduced and we have been advised that the production of this kind of material is well under way.
It will be torn into threads by the able attorneys who will represent the accused.
Solomon Marable, who says he was present at the murder of Mrs. Pollard, declares the women to be innocent.
Certain it is that none who have conversed with them upon the subject have doubted that in this particular at least he told the truth.
The prisoners are now in imminent danger of being lynched.
The law-abiding citizens of Farmville, Va., would hardly be a party to such a murderous transaction, but is the citizens of Lunenburg and adjoining counties who would engage in such an uncivilized undertaking.
The colored people of Farmville are thoroughly aroused. They are determined to notify the authorities in advance of the entrance into the town of any lawless parties.
From three to four hundred colored men stand ready to offer their services to the sheriff of Prince Edward County and die to uphold the laws of the commonwealth.
An important part indeed has Rev H. H. Mitchell, D. D., played in this celebrated case, and in this he been backed by his brother ministers regardless of denomination.
It will be a trying time at the trial. All parties are unanimous in declaring that His Honor Judge Crute is an upright and conscientious official.
We have been all along confident of the innocence of the women.
Victims of circumstances, illiterate, penniless, it has been only the intervention of the divine power which has caused them to be in the land of the living.
We are ready to continue the contest in their behalf, believing, yes, knowing that to execute them would be judicial murder, to incarcerate them in the penitentiary high treason against the rights of a citizen. Lynch law must go!
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Liam Eynan


“Near at Hand,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed September 25, 2022,