Monday, July 1, 2013

Amanuensis Monday
Eli Hilson Assassinated by Whitecaps

The Leader Newspaper
Brookhaven, MS
Dec 23, 1903

Eli Hilson, a negro living about eight miles from Brookhaven was assassinated within about a quarter of a mile of his home Saturday evening, while on his way home from town alone in his buggy. The bullet which killed him entered the side of his head near the ear and came out at the mouth. Death seems to have been instantaneous. The horse went on home, and his owner was found dead in the buggy on his arrival.

Coroner Geo. Lambright, Jr., visited the scene of the murder Monday, impaneled a jury and held an inquest, the verdict being that the deceased came to his death by a gunshot wound at the hands of parties unknown.

Last Winter Hilson, who lived on a farm of his own and was prosperous, was warned by the whitecaps to leave, which warning he disregarded. About three or four weeks ago his home was visited in the night by whitecaps and several volleys fired into it. His wife was sick in bed at the time, with an infant only a few hours old. He still disregarded the warning, and remained on his place. Saturday, he brought a young daughter to town in his buggy to spend Christmas holidays with his brother G. N. W. Hilson, of this city, and as he was returning home between sunset and dark was assassinated. Hilson is the second negro murdered by whitecaps in that portion of Lincoln county within the last month.

From all The Leader can gather of the facts and circumstances, it is a disgraceful state of affairs and calls loudly for determined action and corrective measures by law abiding citizens and all law officers of the county. An old farmer who lives several miles below where this murder occurred stated while in The Leader office Monday, that about all the negroes had been frightened out of his neighborhood, and that all white farmers who had more lands than they could work themselves were left without labor and that these lands will have to lie out, uncultivated.

The Leader is informed that it is the intentions of the British and American Mortgage Company which has been an extensive loaner of money on farm lands in this county, to stop all further loans and instruct its agents and trustees to foreclose all mortgages that are not promptly satisfied before the situation grows worse and the lands become less valuable.

Our local banks share this same feeling of distrust and uneasiness and will either be forced to refuse loans in localities where this disturbance of negro labor prevails, or else demand greater security and a higher rate of interest on such loans as are advanced.

The situation is indeed a serious one to the farmers and the financial interests of the entire county, to say nothing of considerations of humanity and our boasted Christian civilization; and these dastardly whitecaps outrages ought to be suppressed and those who commit them hunted down and brought to justice.

Eli Hilson, Jr., was born about 1863 in Mississippi to Eli and Elizabeth Weathersby Hilson, died 19 Dec 1903 in Brookhaven, MS. He married Hannah. The couple's children were: Abe, Luna, Luella, Julia, Willie, Harvey, Lewis, Arbella, Letha, Manerva, and baby. After Eli's death, his widow lost the land.

Eli's grandson, Stanhope Harris, married my mother's cousin Luella Markham.

Photograph Courtesy of Library of Congress

Whitecapping - Losing the Land
Were there convictions in Eli Hilson Case?


  1. Do you have any information on Martha Hilson born about 1835 in Mississippi? I am trying to find information on her and her family and to confirm if she was a slave. I'm not sure if Hilson was her married or maiden name but I know that she had 8 children (that I have record of). I do not know what town or county she was born in. I have only been able to find records showing that she was born in Mississippi. You seem like you have a lot of knowledge about this type of research so I wanted to reach out to see if you may have information.

    Thank you for your time :-)

    1. No, I don't have any information on a Martha Hilson. I wish I could have been of help.

  2. No problem. Thanks for responding!

  3. I know this story! I am a Hilson by birth. My grandfather, Theodore, was born in Mississippi. I look forward to reading your blog. You seem to have done a lot of research. Four years ago I went to a Hilson reunion in Mississippi, then two years ago in Dallas. This year, it will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana. If you aren't aware of it and want information, I will gladly share it with you.

    Thank you for sharing what you've found.

    1. Hi same I as well am an original hilson please email me