Springfield: April 14, 1906

"Third Negro Lynched; Troops in Springfield"

The public lynching in Springfield, Mo made national news, as seen in this headline from the New York Times.

By 1906, Springfield Missouri was seen as a safe-haven for African Americans who felt scared to live in smaller Ozarks towns after events like those in Pierce City and Joplin. Sadly, any illusions of safety were shattered Easter Sunday of that year when three men were lynched in the town square.

Young Whites Mina Edwards and Charles Cooper claimed they had been assualted, and Edwards raped, by two masked Black assailants. Masks aside, police picked up freight laborers Horace Duncan and Fred Coker and arrested them for the crime. When their White employer came to the station and vouched for their location, Duncan and Coker were released, only to be arrested hours later, this time "for their own protection" against the rumored growing vigilante mob. A crowd estimated between 400 and 4000 people broke into the jail and kidnapped then lynched Duncan and Coker, later returning to kidnap and lynch a third imprisoned Black man with no connection to the Edwards-Cooper incident.

 

 

"Where you see the cross..."; postcard

An Ozarkian named Marie wrote this postcard, stating "Where you see that cross, 3 negroes were lynched the night before Easter."

“And not only were they hanged but they were also set on fire. They were burned after they were hanged and then their body parts were actually distributed among those who were more sadistic as sorts of mementos of the lynching that took place. In my opinion it was an act of domestic terrorism.”

- Father Moses Berry in an interview with Emma Wilson.