Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

George Peck
MSA SC 3520-18233
Lynched in Poolesville, January 10, 1880


George Peck, a 22 year old formerly enslaved African American laborer, was lynched in Montgomery County, Maryland, late in the evening of January 10, 1880. Peck was accused of assaulting a young white girl by the name of Ada Hayes. Reverend Calvin Amy informed local storekeeper Lemuel Beall, Peck's employer, that he had seen his hired hand accost Hayes in a barn near the reverend's home. Alerted by screams, Amy had entered the enclosure and stopped the attack before serious violence was inflicted. Peck, apparently, went back to his chores. Meanwhile, Beall and Amy went to engage the local constable James Uriah "Hugh" Mills, who was a nephew of Beall. After briefly running and then being apprehended by the three men, Peck was taken before Justice of the Peace, Stephen G. Donohoe, before whom he allegedly confessed his crime and added that his ultimate intention was to rape Hayes.

As word spread that the Black worker had tried to force himself on the girl, tension in the town rose rapidly. Due to the time of night and distance it would have taken Miles to transport Peck to the county jail in Rockville, he chose, instead, to temporarily hold Peck in the local Odd Fellows Hall, where he, alone, would be guarding the accused man. Soon, a knowing crowd began to form around the Hall and Miles then decided to move Peck to the lawman's own home for safety's sake. At approximately 11:00pm, Miles left the building with Peck in tow, however, both men were soon overpowered by somewhere between 35 to 100 men, several, but not all of whom were masked. Newspaper accounts suggest that many in the crowd were recognizable and that shouts to kill the accused man were raised. Having taken the handcuffed Peck from the overcome Miles, members of the mob lynched the accused by dragging him by the neck with a noose across the road, passing the nearby Poolesville Presbyterian Church, and hanging him from a branch of a tree until he was deceased.

Two juries were, subsequently, called to review the criminal act, however, no one was identified or found guilty. As was common in most final judgments of such acts, the perpetrators were deemed "unknown" to the local community.

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