Lot 7 of 457:
1877 Texas lynching described by New York travelling salesman  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyer's Premium):$1,200
$500 - $800

Travelling New York patent medicine salesman describes the lynching of a Black prisoner in Texas
Bullard, John B.
Jefferson, Texas
Oct. 18, 1877

Autograph Letter Signed (“John”).   4pp. With original mailing envelope to his uncle,  E. S. Hughes, South Trenton, New York.

Traveling salesman describes vigilante justice lynching of a Texas black man accused of killing a mailboy during a robbery.

New York travelling patent medicine salesman recounts his experiences while driving a wagon filled with pills, oils, liniments and powders, through the Texas countryside. At Jefferson, a small town some 300 miles north of Galveston, where the streets were filled with wagons loaded with cotton, half of the 6,000 residents were Blacks, who, to Bullard’s delight, were addicted to patent medicines. The whites, who rarely carried rifles or Bowie knives in the Texas manner, were “friendly and courteous” – “but they avenge their wrongs.” A Black man was in jail, convicted of killing a mailboy during a robbery. “The people, thinking that he would not have justice done him, took it in their own hands. Last night a party of masked men went to the jail and demanded him. Their wish was quickly complied with. And taking their man about 14 miles (the spot where he killed the boy) they dispatched him by shooting and then hanging him to a tree. When he was found this morning and brought to town, they summoned a jury, which gave the following verdict, 'Came to his death by being shot and hanged by unknown parties.' No stir was made whatever…"

The lynching did not, apparently, merit even a small story in newspapers of the time, but other press reports indicate that Jefferson, Texas was no stranger to vigilante mob violence:  In 1883, an African-American prisoner, convicted of “outraging” a white woman was hung, 500 spectators, including “women and negroes” were present as the event had been being publicly announced in advance. In 1900, three Black prisoners convicted of attempted robbery and murder, were "forcibly removed" from jail and hung. Superseded by Georgia and Missisippi, Texas had the third highest numbers of lynchings in the nation.

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