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The Lynching Project: Carroll County

The Lynching of Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson, or John Johnson as he was sometimes known, was a black man killed on August 20th, 1884 in Villa Rica, Georgia. As the newspaper stated, Johnson left town to travel to the rural area, where Charles (a.k.a Ote) Morris lived. Johnson waited for Morris's 14-year-old daughter to walk past him. He then grabbed her, choked her, and beat her until she was on the verge of death, and supposedly raped her. After she escaped from Johnson, she told her father what had happened, and Morris gathered his neighbors to hunt Johnson down. The police caught him before the mob, and he was placed in their custody. He escaped however, and as he ran away, someone shot and killed him. 

Enraged over his death, black people in Villa Rica and surrounding areas of Carroll County rioted in the streets, swearing vengeance on the people that murdered Johnson. Despite these riots, no one was hurt and no damage was done. 

The Lynching of Will McClure

Will McClure (or M'Clure, as written in the Atlanta Constitution) was a black man lynched in Clem, Georgia on August 11th, 1899. He was accussed of trying to rape one Mrs. Moore. He snuck into her home after her husband had left for work and grabbed her from behind. She grabbed pistol and held him at bay until her screams got the attention of her neighbors. The Sheriff of Clem was sent for, but before he could arrive, Mrs. Moore's neighbors had already taken Will McClure out and hung him for his crimes against Mrs. Moore.

Public Reaction

As sad as it may seem, in the late 1800s, there was very little sympathy or acknowledgment of black men's death, especially not from white people. Even in newspapers, the events were glossed over, always victimizing the accuser and never giving the dead man the benefit of the doubt. Without trial, chance to defend themselves, provide witnesses, an alibi, or even have the claims adequately investigateed, black men were often lynched without the truth ever being proved or exposed. Even after their deaths, these men are assumed to be rapists and attackers, but there was never anything but one person's word against theirs to prove it, and most people seemed to forget the tragedies pretty easily, aside from the small riot after Johnson's murder. 

Lynching Database, www.maryturner.org/database.htm.

LYNCHING OF WILL M'CLURE. (1899, Aug 12). The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945)Retrieved from http://proxy-remote.galib.uga.edu:80/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.proxy-remote.galib.uga.edu/docview/495559425?accountid=14537

“Killed! A Negro Charged with a Horrible Crime Shot Down By Unknown Parties in Villa Rica.” Carroll Free Press, 22 Aug. 1884.

“Villa Rica Foils a Riot.” The Savannah Morning News, 22 Aug. 1884.