This Day in History: 1906-04-14

A white mob breaks into the Springfield, Missouri  county jail, and lynches two black men, Horace Duncan and Fred Coker, for allegedly sexually assaulting Mina Edwards, a white woman. Later the mob returns to the jail, where other African-American prisoners are being held, and pull out Will Allen, who had been accused of murdering a white man. All three suspects were hanged from the Gottfried Tower, which held a replica of the Statue of Liberty, and burned in the courthouse square by the white mob of more than 2,000. No one was convicted of the lynchings. The proceedings were covered by national newspapers, the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. Duncan’s and Coker’s employer testified that they were at his business at the time of the crime against Edwards, Edwards gave a public statement saying they were not her attackers, and other evidence suggested that they and Allen were all innocent. Extrajudicial murders were part of a pattern of discrimination, repeated violence and intimidation of African Americans in Springfield and southwest Missouri from 1894 to 1909, in an attempt to expel them from the region. Whites in Lawrence County also lynched three African-American men in this period. After the mass lynching in Springfield, many African Americans left the area in a large exodus. There are at least 60 recorded African American victims of racial terror lynching in Missouri between 1877 and 1950. Learn more.