Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Thin Black Line

Charles Whitley
MSA SC 3520-13736
Lynched in Prince Frederick, June 6, 1886

Biography:

Charles Whitley was lynched Sunday, June 6, 1886. He was eighteen or nineteen years old and worked as a cook for the Lyle family, accompanying them from Stafford, Virginia to Calvert County. Reverend L. M. Lyle of the M. E. Church South reportedly said that Whitley was an excellent servant. Whitley was murdered for the alleged attempted assault of Lyle's five year old daughter.

Whitley was arrested by Sheriff Anderson on Wednesday, June 2, the same day as the alleged crime. Reverend Lyle described the events to The Sun on June 10th. According to Lyle's wife, Whitley asked their eldest daughter, Daisy, who was eleven years old, to accompany him while he picked a salad for dinner.  When she refused, he took a basket and went into the yard where Annie and Sammy, five and three years old respectively, were playing. Then, according to three year old Sammy, Whitley carried Annie into the woods.  Mrs. Lyle panicked after trying to calm Sammy and sent Daisy to find Annie. When Daisy returned with Annie she claimed she had found Whitley assaulting her, and he had threatened them both not to tell. Whitley returned to the house after the girls with the salad. Reverend Lyle learned of the event from his wife after he returned from the store and blacksmith's shop. 

 Reverend Lyle apprehended Whitley with a pistol and handed him over to Sheriff Anderson.  It was reported that around 10:00 p.m. Sunday night, 40 masked men rode to the jail and overpowered the guards on duty.  Several shots were fired at the jail but no one
was hurt.  The men found Whitley chained to the floor and cut him loose with an ax.  A noose was fastened around Whitley's neck.  The men took him about a mile from the jail and hung him from a persimmon tree.1  His body was cut down the next morning and buried near the jail.  Even though the guards were placed at the jail to prevent the lynching, they were greatly outnumbered.  Therefore, the guards were charged with no wrongdoing.
    A jury of inquest was summoned by Sheriff Anderson.  The State's Attorney John B. Biscoe examined the witnesses and the jury rendered a verdict stating that Charles J. Whitley came to his death on Sunday, June 6, 1886.  He was hung by persons unknown to the jury.  The jury also charged James W. Lyons with aiding and abetting a lynching.  He was identified by the Sheriff and one of the guards. There were no found reports on the penalty of Lyon's charges.2
 


1. "The Calvert Lynching," The Baltimore Sun, June 12, 1886.

2. "Charged with Abetting the Lynching," The Baltimore Sun, June 14, 1886.

Link to Lynching Profile Questionnaire

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