Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Thin Black Line

Edd Watson (d. 1906)
MSA SC 3520-13954
Lynched on June 14, 1906 in Pocomoke, Maryland

Biography:

Ed Watson, a laborer from South Carolina, was working for Samuel S. Barnes on his farm in Somerset County, Maryland in 1905.  Watson had worked for Mr. Barnes about a year when he was accused of assaulting his employer, and was nearly lynched by a mob in retaliation.  According to several reports, on Tuesday, June 12, 1906, Watson, (who is referred to as Ned Watson in several newspapers), approached Barnes and told him that he desired to leave and give up his employment as a farmhand.  In was reported that Watson also asked Barnes for money, and when receiving his wages asked for more, but was denied.  According to a separate report, Barnes was not satisfied with Watson's performance and fired him, after which the two men debated about the wages that should be paid, Watson argued for a full month's pay.  Watson then went into the barn and got an iron bar, which he used to attack Samuel S. Barnes.  Ed Watson fled from the farm near Kings Creek to Pocomoke City through the woods and was believed to be headed for Virginia, with a "posse of White men, armed" chasing after him.1  He was apprehended around 8:00 p.m. in Pocomoke City by Edward Ford and Edward Gray, who escorted him to the station of the New York, Philadelphia and Norfolk Railroad and held him until the authorities arrived.
    The police arrived before a mob could reach them, and Mayor Tull and Deputy Sheriff Charles G. Dale and Officers Stroud and McCready questioned Watson about the event.  Mayor Tull intended to send Watson to Princess Anne for safekeeping, but the mob arrived and blocked the tracks so the train couldn't depart.  Police officers tried to put Watson on the 8:30 p.m. train, but were thwarted by thrown bricks and beatings.  While Watson was being removed from the train, someone reached from behind the officers and shot Watson in the back.  Watson was escorted to the local jail, which was surrounded by a mob of hundreds, and was later quietly snuck by Deputy Sheriff Dale and Special Officer John S. Melvio to Princess Anne and jailed there.  Meanwhile, Barnes was admitted to Peninsula General Hospital in Salisbury with a fractured skull, where he was believed to have only hours to live; he eventually recovered and returned home to his farm a few days later.2 The Sun reported on June 20, 1906 that Ed Watson was taken to Somerset County and put in the jail there because "the large number of persons assembling in Princess Anne for the hearing of the Negro [William] Lee, accused of assault might do harm to Watson."3

Footnotes

1. "Negro Had Close Call."  The Sun, 13 June 1906. Democratic Messenger writes on 16 June 1906 that Watson was fired by Mr. Barnes before receiving his wages. It also notes that Samuel Barnes was "fatally injured" a result of the attack "Negro Tried to Kill Him." Democratic Messenger, 16 June 1906. However, an editorial in the same issue states that "both Mr. Barnes and his assailant were better than at first reported." "Negro Nearly Lynched."  Democratic Messenger, 16 June 1906.

2. Article on Samuel S. Barnes. Worcester Democrat, 13 June 1906.

3. "Watson Taken to Salisbury."  The Sun, 20 June 1906.

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