Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Swift Justice
Negroes Lynched in Mississippi

Rape is a horrible crime. All perpetrators should be fully prosecuted under the law. Justice in this case was swift, without a trial, and no jury of peers, which is what I wish they had.

Negroes Lynched in Mississippi
Brookhaven, Miss, Aug 22 - The three negroes, Dick Cooper, Anthony Grant and Silas Johnson, who, at 3 o'clock on Sunday morning last, forcibly entered the residence of Mrs. Burnley and violated her person, were taken from the jail at 4 o'clock this evening and hung by the citizens, about 1,000 of who were present. Johnson was captured on Sunday. The other two were captured at Trenton, brought here this morning and lodged in jail. They confessed their guilt on the gallows.

Alton Telegraph, 27 August 1874, Page 2

Maria Burnley was the wife of Edwin Burnley, who owned Somerset Plantation. Edwin's daughters, Edwina Burnley and Bertha Burnley Ricketts, wrote the memoir describing their family and their childhood at Somerset plantation, near Hazlehurst, Copiah County, MS. Their father, Edwin Burnley (b. 1798), moved to Mississippi from Virginia in 1832 and married Maria Louisa Baxter (1820-1907) of Persippany, N.J., in 1852. The couple married in 1852, together they had five daughters: Jean, Hardenia, Fannie, Bertha, and Edwina.

Newspaper Article Detailing the Crime

How is Somerset connected to my family?
Virgina Williams/Taylor was a slave of Somerset. She married John T Demyers, my 2nd great grandmother Alice Demyers Overton Usher's brother. The Burnley family also owned an Overton family whose connection to my 2nd great grandfather, Dave Brown Overton, is unclear.


  1. Especially since they may not have been guilty. A lynch mob probably isn't the best bunch to talk about confessions.

  2. Guilty or not, they knew once they were identified as the perps, it was over.

  3. And agonizingly, it still is. The Mississippi Innocence Project has done some good work in getting wrongly convicted released, but it is a drop in a very big bucket.

    1. A bias justice system produces innocent convicts and they are need of the good work of The Mississippi Innocence Project.

    2. Needed all over this country.