Madison – Events

Lynchings of Madison County

(1886-1965) There were seven reported lynchings in Madison County, over the span of 1886-1965.

This list was comprised from A Partial List of Mississippi Lynchings compiled by the Tuskegee Institute. The list appears in Susan Orr- Klopfer’s Where Rebels Roost.

Name, Town, Date, Alleged Crime
Ben Chambers, Madison, May 7, 1886, Attempted Rape
Spencer Costello, Flora, Jan. 7, 1895, Murder & Robbery
Red Bilbro, Madison, Jan. 29, 1921, Murderous Assault
Claude Brooks, Canton, July 29, 1938, Assault
Joe Rogers, Canton, May 8, 1939,
Sylvester Maxwell, Canton, Jan, 17, 1963,
Allen W. Shelby, Flora, Jan. 22, 1965,

Sources:

Brown-Wright, Flonzie. Looking Back to Move Ahead Germantown, OH: FBW, 1994.

Cheeks-Collins, Jennifer E. Black America Series: Madison County, Mississippi Charleston: Arcadia, 2002.

Townsend Davis, Weary Feet, Rested Souls: A Guided History of the Civil Rights Movement New York: W.W. Norton, 1998.

Dittmer, John. Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.

Mead, Carol Lynn. The Land Between Two Rivers: Madison County, Mississippi. Canton, MS: Friends of the Madison County—Canton Public Library, 1987.

Orr-Klopfer, M. Susan. Where Rebels Roost : Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited. (self-published) 2005.

Payne, Charles M. I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

First Case Tried in Madison Co. Court

(June 1832) The rights of slaves in early Madison County were stringently limited by law. A slave named Pegg was the central figure in the first case tried in Madison County court. Pegg was charged with assault and battery with intent to kill Phillip Jackson Briscoe, a white man. Pegg was sentenced to hang on August 3, 1832, but that sentence was postponed because the case was ordered to be transmitted to circuit court in September. Circuit court sent the case back to county court, where it was retired in December of 1832 with the same result. The defense motioned for a change of venue, but that motion was denied. Pegg was again sentenced to hang, with her execution scheduled for the first Friday in January 1833.

Sources:

Brown-Wright, Flonzie. Looking Back to Move Ahead Germantown, OH: FBW, 1994.

Cheeks-Collins, Jennifer E. Black America Series: Madison County, Mississippi Charleston: Arcadia, 2002.

Townsend Davis, Weary Feet, Rested Souls: A Guided History of the Civil Rights Movement New York: W.W. Norton, 1998.

Dittmer, John. Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.

Mead, Carol Lynn. The Land Between Two Rivers: Madison County, Mississippi. Canton, MS: Friends of the Madison County—Canton Public Library, 1987.

Orr-Klopfer, M. Susan. Where Rebels Roost : Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited. (self-published) 2005.

Payne, Charles M. I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Slave Insurrection of Madison

(1835) Rumors of a slave insurrection led to the lynching of numerous slaves. “Investigations”revealed that the plan was to rob and kill all whites at their homes. A “Committee of Safety”, which was comprised of thirteen men, was organized to protect the people by punishing those guilty of aiding and inciting the slaves to insurrection. Upon completion of the interrogations Ruel Blake, Sam, Weaver, Russell, Jim, Bacchus, Joshua Cotton (all white men), and many others were executed by hanging.

Sources:

Brown-Wright, Flonzie. Looking Back to Move Ahead Germantown, OH: FBW, 1994.

Cheeks-Collins, Jennifer E. Black America Series: Madison County, Mississippi Charleston: Arcadia, 2002.

Townsend Davis, Weary Feet, Rested Souls: A Guided History of the Civil Rights Movement New York: W.W. Norton, 1998.

Dittmer, John. Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.

Mead, Carol Lynn. The Land Between Two Rivers: Madison County, Mississippi. Canton, MS: Friends of the Madison County—Canton Public Library, 1987.

Orr-Klopfer, M. Susan. Where Rebels Roost : Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited. (self-published) 2005.

Payne, Charles M. I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Freedom Vote-Madison Co.

(1963) The Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) organized mock elections in 1963. The unofficial elections helped determine voting strength and showed that blacks would vote if given the opportunity. The mock election, called the “Freedom Vote”, was an overwhelming success. Canton’s candidates were Aaron Henry, candidate for Governor and the State President of the NAACP, and Edwin King, a white civil rights worker and long time supporter of humanitarian causes. Ed King still wears scars from a severe beating he received for being supporter of and advocate for civil rights.

Sources:

Brown-Wright, Flonzie. Looking Back to Move Ahead Germantown, OH: FBW, 1994.

Cheeks-Collins, Jennifer E. Black America Series: Madison County, Mississippi Charleston: Arcadia, 2002.

Townsend Davis, Weary Feet, Rested Souls: A Guided History of the Civil Rights Movement New York: W.W. Norton, 1998.

Dittmer, John. Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.

Mead, Carol Lynn. The Land Between Two Rivers: Madison County, Mississippi. Canton, MS: Friends of the Madison County—Canton Public Library, 1987.

Orr-Klopfer, M. Susan. Where Rebels Roost : Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited. (self-published) 2005.

Payne, Charles M. I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Canton’s First Freedom Day

(Feb. 28, 1963) More than 350 African-American residents arrived at the Madison County Courthouse demanding their voting rights.

Sources:

Brown-Wright, Flonzie. Looking Back to Move Ahead Germantown, OH: FBW, 1994.

Cheeks-Collins, Jennifer E. Black America Series: Madison County, Mississippi Charleston: Arcadia, 2002.

Townsend Davis, Weary Feet, Rested Souls: A Guided History of the Civil Rights Movement New York: W.W. Norton, 1998.

Dittmer, John. Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.

Mead, Carol Lynn. The Land Between Two Rivers: Madison County, Mississippi. Canton, MS: Friends of the Madison County—Canton Public Library, 1987.

Orr-Klopfer, M. Susan. Where Rebels Roost : Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited. (self-published) 2005.

Payne, Charles M. I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Freedom Summer and the Meredith March in Madison Co.

(6/23/1966) Freedom marchers tried to pitch tents to lodge women and children on the grounds of McNeal Elementary School during James Meredith’s March Against Fear. The marchers were not permitted to pitch the tents on the grounds, but they proceeded to do so anyway. State troopers fired tear gas from the roof of the school into the crowd, and many were injured by the tear gas cannons. Wielding truncheons and gun butts, they cleared the area in fifteen minutes. Unlike the similar charge of troopers in Selman the previous year, the Canton incident provoked little national outrage. Marchers retreated to Ashbury Methodist Church to recover.

Sources:

Brown-Wright, Flonzie. Looking Back to Move Ahead Germantown, OH: FBW, 1994.

Cheeks-Collins, Jennifer E. Black America Series: Madison County, Mississippi Charleston: Arcadia, 2002.

Townsend Davis, Weary Feet, Rested Souls: A Guided History of the Civil Rights Movement New York: W.W. Norton, 1998.

Dittmer, John. Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.

Mead, Carol Lynn. The Land Between Two Rivers: Madison County, Mississippi. Canton, MS: Friends of the Madison County—Canton Public Library, 1987.

Orr-Klopfer, M. Susan. Where Rebels Roost : Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited. (self-published) 2005.

Payne, Charles M. I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Fire Destroys Freedom School

(9/17/1964) “A Negro church used recently as a voter registration school was destroyed by fire early today. Authorities confirmed that the St. John’s Baptist church near the rural community of Valley View went up in flames shortly after midnight. The FBI in Jackson said it was investigating.

Negro leaders said two white men were seen at the church, located in a rural area, about five minutes before the fire broke out. They said they had identities of the two men and would turn the information over to federal authorities.
The St. John’s church was used as a freedom school by integration workers during the summer months and had been a headquarters for voter registration work among Madison County’s Negro population.

Madison County Sheriff Jack Cauthen said he was investigating the incident. He said this was the second Negro church in the county to be burned this summer. It makes the twenty-third Negro house of worship in Mississippi to be either damaged or destroyed by fires of mysterious origin since Negro leaders stepped up desegregation activities in the state at the beginning of the summer.”

Sources:

St. Paul Dispatch. September 17, 1964.

Blasts Rock Negro Church Home in Canton

(1965) “Explosions rocked a Negro church and a Negro home early Friday in this central Mississippi town which has been the target of increased civil rights activity in recent months. There were no injuries.

Windows were shattered in both Pleasant Green Church of Christ, used by civil rights workers for rallies, and the nearby home of Alberta Robertson. Wilbur Robinson of the NAACP and George Raymond of CORE said the explosions were apparently caused by “chemical bombs.” Holes 12 inches in diameter and 5 inches deep were left on the lawns of both the church and the Robertson woman’s home, he said.

CORE initiated the voter campaign here and is cooperating now in the project with the NAACP and other civil rights groups, as well as the National Council of Churches. Canton, 40 miles north of Jackson, is in Madison County, where Negroes outnumber whites nearly 7-3.”

Sources:

Associated Press, 1965.

Voter Education Project in Madison

(1969) “Workshop Disruption in Madison Is Charged”

“The Voter Education Project Thursday charged that a voter workshop in Canton, Miss. was disrupted by a Madison County, Miss. deputy sheriff.

The Atlanta-based organization, which said the incidence occurred Wednesday, called on the U.S. Justice Department to launch an investigation and “put an immediate end to voting rights violations.”

A statement issued by the VEP charged that a deputy sheriff confiscated a voting machine which was being demonstrated to newly-registered black voters. It said the voter education workshop was being conducted by VEP field representatives using audio-visual techniques and that the session was coordinated by a local black elected official Mrs. Flonzie Goodloe, a member of the local election commission.

The statement said that Mrs. Goodloe had received approval and permission from the election board on Sept. 24 to use the election machine in the workshop and that a notice of the public meeting was printed in a local newspaper.

Madison County has been the scene of continued harassment, intimidation, and disruption as local whites and even public officials have sought to deny the vote to black citizens, charged VEP Executive Director John Lewis.

Madison County officials were not immediately available for comment on the charge.”

Sources:

Unknown Atlanta paper, 1965.

Canton Ordered to Allow Negroes Use or Park

(1960s) “A federal judge Monday ordered officials at Canton, Miss. to permit Negroes the same use of a city park as that extended to white residents of the area.

U.S. District Judge Harold Cox granted a temporary injunction sought by a group of civil rights workers. The order enjoined officials from arresting or otherwise seeking to block Negroes from using the park and its facilities. Cox said the plaintiffs would suffer “immediate and irreparable injuries by being prevented from engaging in activities protected by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution”unless order was issued.

Negroes and whites who filed the suit claimed a group of authorities tried to run them down with a pickup truck when they marched to the park June 17. They marched to the park last Friday after the court action was filed, and 11 were arrested by city police on charges of trespassing. They were trying to use swings and park benches when arrested.

Cox’s injunction named as defendants Canton’s city officials, Sheriff Jack S. Cauthen, the Canton Department of Parks and Recreation, park director Lonus Hucks, and their agents. The order was also directed at “John”(first name not known) Peterson, charged in the suit with leading the intimidation on June 17. He was enjoined from “attempting to or threatening, harassing, intimidating or injuring the Negroes.”

Canton and county officials were prohibited from any action to stop Negroes from using the park “under the same conditions as such facilities are available to white members of the general public.”

Cox specified that the order would expire on July 9 “unless prior to that time it is, for good cause shown, extended by order of this court, or unless the defendants consent to an extension.”

Canton is the county seat of Madison County and is located about 25 miles north of Jackson. The town has a history of racial conflict.”