Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Thin Black Line

William Andrews
MSA SC 3520-13746
Lynched in Princess Anne, June 9, 1897

Biography:

William Andrews, aka "Cuba", a local African American laborer, was lynched immediately after we was tried and convicted of an assault on Mrs. Benjamin T. Kelley on the afternoon of May 5 in Marion, Somerset County. Andrews, after being arrested for the attack and pleading guilty to the charges, was taken to Baltimore City jail for safe keeping.1 This move was necessary to avoid any attacks against the prisoner prior to the trial date. On June 9, at 11:00 a.m., Andrews was in court on Main Street in Princess Anne, Somerset County. Within an hour, he had listened to Mrs. Kelley's tearful testimony, confessed to the crime without any defense (although he did mention that Mrs. Kelley was wrong in that he did not have a pistol), and received a guilty verdict for the assault.2 Judge Henry Page ordered that William Andrews be executed by hanging at the state's request. The crowd cheered as the sentence was read.3
    As court adjourned, the local police force noticed that a large group of people had gathered in the back lawn of the court house. Fearful of what their intentions were, Judge Page addressed the mob in an attempt to avoid any violence towards the prisoner.  He pleaded with the crowd that Andrews had faced a speedy trial, and the verdict was decisive and satisfactory, essentially avoiding all of the circumstances that surround mob justifications for lynching.4 Judge Page requested that the people go to their homes as law abiding citizens of Somerset County. People screamed that they would only leave if the judge promised not to allow Andrews to be taken and held in Baltimore, and if the judge could grant that request, they would disperse: Judge Page concurred.5 As the judge told the officers that the crowd would allow them to transfer the prisoner to the jail house on Church Street just across a ravine, Sheriff Nelson and his deputies took the handcuffed Andrews out of the court, and were met by the boisterous crowd.6
    Immediately, the officers were attacked and attempted to get Andrews to the jail. The crowd simply overpowered the officers as they tried to protect their prisoner, and Andrews was literally ripped from the Sheriff's hands the instant they entered the courtyard. While handcuffed, Andrews was punched, kicked, beaten with bats and clubs, and cut with razors until he was scarcely alive. Many of the punches found the face and body of the deputies trying to protect Andrews. Once the crowd was satisfied they had beaten William Andrews to death, Sheriff Nelson went over to the body, and realized he was still alive. The mob then grabbed Andrews once more, and dragged him over to a walnut tree on the property of Z. James Doughtery, where in an instant he was hanged until his death was confirmed. William "Cuba" Andrews remained in the tree until around 2:30 p.m. when his body was placed in a plain coffin and buried in the almshouse burial grounds. Immediately, a jury of inquest was composed, and within an hour, it determined that he was strangled by a mob of unknown strangers not from Somerset County.7

Footnotes

1. "Andrews Lynched!"  The Cambridge Democrat and News, 12 June 1897.

2. ibid.

3. "Lynched in Haste."  The Salisbury Advertiser, 12 June 1897.

4. "Mob Violence."  The Cambridge Democrat and News, 19 June 1897.

5. "Lynched in Haste."

6. ibid.

7. "Andrews Lynched!"


 

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