Charles Winslow

Charles Winslow

April 16, 1897-
Henderson, Pike County, Alabama

At approximately 9 pm on April 16, 1897, a mob with blackened faces and wearing women’s dresses and bonnets, presumably to disguise their identities, broke into the elderly black farmer Charles Winslow’s home near Henderson, in Pike County, Alabama, dragged him into the yard “hog fashion,” and “riddled [him] with bullets.” Unlike most lynch mobs, some of these men later faced trial and imprisonment for this lynching, described as a case of racial whitecapping, most likely because of the political and federal nature of the crime.  Prior to his lynching, Winslow had been a witness against several of the men in the lynch mob in an illicit distilling case in United States courts.  Obviously, his lynching was an attempt to prevent his testimony, and this interference with a federal case sparked the unusual arrest of mob members by US deputy marshals, and their even rarer convictions. 

Newspapers made it clear, however, that the white community’s sympathies lay with the white mob members, and not their victim.  The Troy Messenger wrote that “citizens… are becoming greatly embarrassed and annoyed by the large number of arrests… of quiet, law abiding citizens” for murdering Winslow, “especially at this season when men are needed at home to harvest their crops,” demonstrating no similar concern for Winslow’s family’s need for his presence and labor.  Later articles also cited the “large number of Pike County citizens” who believed the men were innocent of Winslow’s murder, despite clear testimony proving their guilt.  Given the local community’s opposition to trying and convicting the mob members, federal involvement was necessary for the four men’s convictions, an extraordinarily rare occurrence which probably would not have happened had the local government remained in charge of the investigation like most lynchings.

Ten years after Winslow’s murder, the Troy Messenger provided an update on his case, as the US President had recently pardoned one of the mob leaders, who served only half of his twenty year sentence.  The article noted that “the case is well remembered here,” describing Winslow as “an arrogant negro” often “at outs” with his white neighbors, and failing to mention that Winslow was killed over his federal testimony, rather than, as the article seems to imply, a bad attitude.  Even this rare case of a lynching receiving some justice, then, demonstrates the ongoing attitudes that permitted and supported lynching in the nation, at both the local and national levels.

“Shot in the Dark,” Troy Messenger, 21 Apr 1897, p. 5.

“Charles Winslow Shot,” Citizens’ Journal (Troy, AL), 24 Apr 1897, p. 3.

“Safe in Jail,” Denver Post, 26 May 1897, p. 1.

“Seven Anxious for a Trial,” Atlanta Constitution, 27 May 1897, p. 4.

“A Grave Charge,” Troy Messenger, 2 Jun 1897, p. 3.

“They Were Released: Pike County Men Charged with Conspiracy,” Troy Messenger, 9 Jun 1897, p. 3.

“Moonshiners Murder an Informer,” Denver Post, 14 Aug 1897, p. 5.

Troy Messenger, 18 Aug 1897, p. 2.

“The Unlucky Seven,” Troy Messenger, 18 Aug 1897, p. 5.

Troy Messenger, 18 Aug 1898, p. 7.

“Only Two Got Bail,” Montgomery Advertiser, 21 Aug 1897, p. 2.

“Pike Conspiracy,” Troy Messenger, 8 Sep 1897, p. 3.

“The Winslow Killing,” Citizens’ Journal (Troy, AL), 11 Sep 1897, p. 2.

“Eugene Whittle Free,” Troy Messenger, 15 Sep 1897, p. 3.

“Pike County Whitecappers,” Times and News (Eufaula, AL), 16 Sep 1897, p. 2.

“Pike County Whitecappers,” Montgomery Advertiser, 17 Sep 1897, p. 5.

“Pike County Whitecappers,” Weekly Advertiser (Montgomery, AL), 17 Sep 1897, p. 7.

“Tom Walden Goes Back to Jail,” Troy Messenger, 29 Sep 1897, p. 3.

Troy Messenger, 12 Jan 1898, p. 3.

“United States Court,” Troy Messenger, 12 Jan 1898, p. 5.

“Convictions of Moonshiners,” Times (Washington, DC), 16 Jan 1898, p. 9.

“Whitecap Murderers Convicted,” Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY), 16 Jan 1898, p. 13.

“Brief News Notes,” Semi-Weekly Interior Journal (Stanford, KY), 18 Jan 1898, p. 3.

“In US Court,” Troy Messenger, 19 Jan 1898, p. 5.

Troy Messenger, 23 Mar 1898, p. 4.

“Preliminary Trial,” Troy Messenger, 30 Mar 1898, p. 3.

“Winslow Case,” Troy Messenger, 22 Jun 1898, p. 3.

Troy Messenger, 29 Jun 1898, p. 3.

“Eugene Whittle to be Tried,” Troy Messenger, 16 Nov 1898, p. 3.

“Pike Man is Pardoned,” Troy Messenger, 6 Apr 1904, p. 2.

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close