Thomas Juricks (d. 1869)
MSA SC 3520-18090
Lynched in Piscataway, Maryland, on October 12, 1869
Thomas Juricks worked as a laborer in Prince George's County Maryland.1 In 1869 Juricks was living on Thomas Adams's property and worked on the nearby Schoaff farm, supporting his wife and six children. Juricks' family had recently moved from Buckeystown near Frederick to the Washington D.C. area.2 While working on the Schoaff farm, he injured his hand while using a scythe. There were no bandages available so he tore a piece off the leg of his trousers and fashioned a make-shift wrap for his wound. Three days later, this innocuous event proved to be Thomas Juricks' condemnation.3
A woman named Miss Dooly, a well-known Prince George's County teacher from Fort Washington, was on her way to teach class on the morning of October 12th. Dooly allegedly arrived to a bend in the road after receiving a ride from the docks, by buggy, from a young unidentified male acquaintance of hers. Electing to travel the rest of the way on foot, she was at some point assaulted, and was beaten unconscious. Her initial screams alerted a pair of nearby hunters, and a fellow teacher, Mr. Eckert. They transported the incapacitated Dooly to the neighboring Rennoe household and then organized a posse of roughly fifty men to hunt down the assailant.4
The posse, made up of local residents, first apprehended an African American man named James Jackson. Soon after, they captured Thomas Juricks, who was transporting goods further down the road on an ox-drawn cart. Juricks was chained to Jackson, despite the only evidence pointing towards either man being that they were in the area at the time of the attack. Both men were taken to Justice Brooke in Piscataway District, but without a witness or any evidence condemning them, Brooke decided to hold the two men in custody overnight in the hope that Dooly would recover enough to be able to identify her attacker. Around midnight, a group of men attempted to lynch both Juricks and Jackson, but the guards convinced the mob to disperse and allow Brooke to find evidence to identify the perpetrator.5
The following morning, Dooly had still not recovered and doctors were unsure if she would survive. It was at this time that members of the community claimed to have discovered a piece of fabric near the scene of the assault that matched Juricks' make-shift bandage from his scythe injury a few days prior. This was all that was needed to condemn Juricks and the decision was made to transport him to Marlboro, Maryland. Juricks was placed under the protection of Constables John Underwood and Anthony Anderson. As they set out for Marlboro, Juricks requested they pass by the house where his family lived so he could bid his wife farewell.6
When the wagon came to a stop at the Juricks' household, the group was approached by around twenty men clad only in shirts and underwear with the exception of one man who only wore a shirt. The entire mob wore handkerchiefs over their faces with eyeholes cut out before attacking the wagon. Constable Underwood attempted to thwart the attack by firing several gunshots but he was subdued, tied, and left on the side of the road. Anderson was forced to drive the wagon out into the woods before he was subsequently tied and left at the woods' edge.7
Pushing further into the forest, the mob stopped at an oak tree, where a noose was located. Juricks was forced into the noose and made to stand atop the wagon. When the wagon was moved, Juricks jumped and caused the rope to slip from its higher perch. His feet were now able to touch the ground saving him for a brief moment before one of the lynch mob jumped on Juricks' shoulders while the rest of the mob swung his body back-and-forth to strangle him. Following this, the mob arranged themselves in a firing line and shot a volley of bullets into Juricks' body.8
Thomas Juricks was left to hang from the tree for two hours before a coroner's jury was sent to cut him down and simultaneously declare him dead "from hanging by unknown persons."9 His body was moved a short distance to Hatton's Hill near a public road leading from Broad Creek to Piscataway, where he was buried to serve as a warning to nearby communities. A grand jury was called to investigate the lynching, and despite condemnation from local judges, no one was brought to trial for Juricks' murder and the Prince Georgian went as far as to declare "whilst it is always desirable that the law should be allowed to take its course, the circumstances of this case justify, as fully as any could, the action of the community."10
1. THOMAS JURICKS FREEDOM PAPERS, C761-1, Entry 1.
2. Ibid.; 1860 Federal Census, Buckeystown, July 25, 1860, Page no. 189.
3. "Terrible Outrage - A Young Lady of Washington the Victim," Baltimore Sun (Baltimore), October 14, 1869, Page 1.; "Terrible Outrage," National Republican (Washington), October 13, 1869, Page 2.
4. "The Late Outrage," Evening Star (Washington), October 14, 1869, Page 4.; "Terrible Outrage," Evening Star (Washington), October 13, 1869, Page 4.
5. "The Late Outrage."; "The Perpetrator Hung," Baltimore Sun (Baltimore), October 14, 1869, Page 1.
6. Ibid.; "The Horrible Outrage Near Fort Washington," Evening Star (Washington), October 13, 1869, Page 1.
7. "The Late Outrage."
9. PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY (Coroner Inquests), October 12, 1869.
10. The details as published in the Prince Georgian were reported by other newspapers in the region. No known issues of the paper survive for October 1869. "The Late Outrage in Prince George's County, Md.," National Republican (Washington), October 16, 1869, Page 1.; "The Recent Outrage in Prince George's County," Evening Star (Washington), October 16, 1869, Page 1.
Written and researched by Zach Tucker
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