image taken from photo of 1930s Oregon lynching.  No image is known of a Maryland lynching.  See:
Judge Lynch's Court
Mob Justice in Maryland During the Age of Jim Crow, 1860s - 1930s


Biographical Information of Lynching Victims
Lynching Selected Bibliography
Tables and Statistics on Maryland Lynchings

"He died at the hands of persons unknown."  This was a common conclusion publicly expressed by law enforcement and court personal following preliminary investigations of a social phenomena known as "lynching."  Lynching has likely evolved from its original meaning to one that may uncomfortably, and often inaccurately serve as an umbrella for many types of mob activity resulting in the death of individuals.  The term "lynch" likely has its origins in eighteenth century Virginia.  Charles Lynch, a Revolution Era Virginia Planter and Justice of the Peace, became infamous among loyalists for his willingness to circumvent legal convention and due process in efforts to frustrate Toryism.  In its earliest manifestations, "lynching" was a form of vigilantism perpetrated for a number of reasons.  During the time period under consideration, lynchings often took place after court trials, and in lieu of sentencing and/or capital punishment scheduled to be carried out by the state.  Though the act represented a usurpation of the due process system (if only the last stages of it), lynchings often received the support and approval of the general citizenry across lines of race, ethnicity, and gender.  Lynchings of this type -- presumably the most common type -- appeared to benefit from a presumption of moral defensibility.  In many cases the guilt of the person lynched was beyond question.  Only in a few instances were lynch mob members pursued with any vigor or zeal, even when authorities knew their identities. 

During the time period under consideration, lynchings were also perpetuated as a form of social control, especially it seems, the maintenance of white supremacy.  In such cases, "lynching" not only connotated death by execution, but often execution with guilt of the executed in doubt, or at least guilt for the crime for which he/she was being punished.  Often the lynched represented some threat to the established order of white supremacy, or a potential threat thereto.  In these cases where the act of lynching seemed intended to serve as an example to other possible social transgressors, the execution (or murder) was accompanied by mutilation, dismemberment, and display.  Historically, one question has presented itself: at what point did lynching evolve from its earlier, moralistic, vigilantism to its latter expression of criminalistic social control?  We hope to uncover the resources for entertaining such a question.

Newspaper Search and Stripping for
Lynchings in Maryland, 1860s – 1930s

From a list of lynchings known to have taken place in various Maryland counties between the 1860s and the 1930s, this project will seek to document the events as recorded in the press.  When at all available, the local press will be used, moving out to the more regional presses only as fallback options.  The dates listed for each lynching incident are fairly accurate (+/- 10 to 12 weeks).  Most of the newspapers to be used are weeklies, so where date inaccuracy exists it should not pose a major problem.

Starting with the first report of the alleged trigger crime and following the developments through to the lynching and any fall-out from the lynching, this project will produce a bibliographical reference sheet for each lynching which includes the name of the press and information on each individual article published pertaining to the crime and the subsequent lynching.  Bibliographic references will include the page number for each article appearing in the press.  Once any given lynching’s coverage in a press has been fully stripped, a "Lynching Profile Questionnaire" will be completed, and characteristics compiled in table formats. 

Biographical Information of Lynching Victims: 

Prior to 1870
David Thomas
Caroline County
MSA SC 3520-13796
Jim" Wilson
near Oakland
Caroline County
MSA SC 3520-13797

October 1869
Prince George's County
MSA SC 3520-13729

Page Williams
February 17, 1870
Point of Rocks
Frederick County
MSA SC 3520-13948

(Unknown) Simms
Anne Arundel County
MSA SC 3520-13795

John Henry Scott
March 23, 1875
Upper Marlboro
Prince George's County
MSA SC 3520-13730

Michael Green
September 1, 1878
Near Upper Marlboro
Prince George's County
MSA SC 3520-13788

John Diggs
July 24, 1880
Montgomery County
MSA SC 3520-13949

(Unknown) Simms
c. 1884
Anne Arundel County
MSA SC 3520-13781

George Briscoe
November 26, 1884
Anne Arundel County
MSA SC 3520-13731
Hesekiah Brown
December 12, 1884
Ellicott City
Howard County
MSA SC 3520-13950
Townshend Cooper
June 2, 1885
Carroll County
MSA SC 3520-13732
July 1885
MSA SC 3520-13734

Howard Cooper
July 12, 1885
Baltimore County
MSA SC 3520-13733
Nicholas Snowden
September 18, 1885
Ellicott City
Howard County
MSA SC 3520-13735
Charles Whitley
June 6, 1886
Prince Frederick
Calvert County
MSA SC 3520-13736
David Johnson
September 14, 1886
Allegany County
MSA SC 3520-13790
Benjamin Hance
June 17, 1887
St. Mary's County
MSA SC 3520-13737
John H. Biggus
November 23, 1887
Frederick County
MSA SC 3520-13791
Joe Vermillion
December 3, 1889
Upper Marlboro
Prince George's County
MSA SC 3520-13738

Asbury Green
May 11, 1891
Queen Anne's County
MSA SC 3520-13739

James Taylor
May 17, 1892
Kent County
MSA SC 3520-13740

Isaac Kemp
June 8, 1894
Princess Anne
Somerset County
MSA SC 3520-13741

Stephen Williams
October 20, 1894
Upper Marlboro
Prince George's County
MSA SC 3520-13742

Jacob Henson
May 28, 1895
Ellicott City
Howard County
MSA SC 3520-13743

Marshall Price
July 1895
Caroline County
MSA SC 3520-13744

James Bowens
November 16, 1895
Frederick County
MSA SC 3520-13745

William Andrews
June 9, 1897
Princess Anne
Somerest County
MSA SC 3520-13746

Garfield King
May 25, 1898
Wicomico County
MSA SC 3520-13747

Wright Smith
October 5, 1898
Anne Arundel County
MSA SC 3520-13748

Lewis Harris
March 26, 1899
Bel Air
Harford County
MSA SC 3520-13952

Henry Darley
May 4, 1899
MSA SC 3520-13953

(unknown) Lezer
c. 1905
Anne Arundel County
MSA SC 3520-13792

Edd Watson
June 14, 1906
Worcester County
MSA SC 3520-13954

William Lee
July 26, 1906
Somerset County
MSA SC 3520-13955

Henry Davis
December 21, 1906
Anne Arundel County
MSA SC 3520-13635

James Reed
July 28, 1907
Somerset County
MSA SC 3520-13758

William Burns
October 6, 1907
Allegany County
MSA SC 3520-13759

William Ramsey
March 8, 1909
Baltimore County
MSA SC 3520-13956

King Johnson
December 25, 1911
Anne Arundel County
MSA SC 3520-13760

Matt Williams
December 4, 1931
Wicomico County
MSA SC 3520-13749

George Armwood
October 18, 1933
Princess Anne
Somerset County
MSA SC 3520-13750

Date Unknown/Possible Lynching
James Allen
Prince George's County
MSA SC 3520-13787

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