The Springfield race riot of 1908 consisted of events of mass racial violence committed against African Americans by a mob of about 5,000 white Americans and European immigrants in Springfield, Illinois, between August 14 and 16, 1908. Two black men had been arrested as suspects in a rape, and attempted rape and murder. The alleged victims were two young white women and the father of one of them. When a mob seeking to lynch the men discovered the sheriff had transferred them out of the city, the whites furiously spread out to attack black neighborhoods, murdered black citizens on the streets, and destroyed black businesses and homes. The state militia was called out to quell the rioting.

The Springfield race riot of 1908 consisted of events of mass racial violence committed against African Americans by a mob of about 5,000 white Americans and European immigrants in Springfield, Illinois, between August 14 and 16, 1908. Two black men had been arrested as suspects in a rape, and attempted rape and murder. The alleged victims were two young white women and the father of one of them. When a mob seeking to lynch the men discovered the sheriff had transferred them out of the city, the whites furiously spread out to attack black neighborhoods, murdered black citizens on the streets, and destroyed black businesses and homes. The state militia was called out to quell the rioting.

1908 Springfield Race Massacre
Part of the Nadir of American race relations
Burned black residences in "The Badlands"
LocationSpringfield, Illinois, US
DateAugust 14–16, 1908
TargetBlack residents
Attack type
  • Brickbats
  • Clothesline
  • Clubs
  • Guns
  • Razor
  • Torches
Deaths17 (at least)
  • 8 black men
  • 1 black infant (died from exposure)
  • 6 white mob participants
  • 1 white mob participant (suicide)
  • 1 white witness (suicide)
Victims2,000 black refugees
AssailantsWhite mob
No. of participants
est. 5,000 whites
  • 117 indictments (total reported)
  • 150+ indictments (total accounted)

The riot, trials and aftermath are said to be one of the most well-documented examples of the complex intersection of race, class, and criminal justice in the United States.[1][2] In 2008 an NPR report on the centenary of the race riot said that the fact of its taking place in a Northern state, specifically in "The Land of Lincoln", demonstrated that black people were mistreated across the country, not just in the South, and described the event as a proxy for the story of race in America.[3]

At least 17 people died as a result of the riot: nine black residents, and eight white residents who were associated with the mob, six of whom were killed by crossfire or state militias and two who died by suicide. It was misreported for decades that only militia were responsible for white deaths and that more whites than black people had died. Personal and property damages, suffered overwhelmingly by black people, amounted to more than $150,000 (approximately $4 million in 2018), as dozens of black homes and businesses were destroyed, as well as three white-owned businesses of suspected black sympathizers.[4][5][6]

As a result of the rioting, numerous black people left Springfield, but it is unclear how many moved away permanently. Although in the following months over 100 riot-related indictments were issued and some pleaded guilty to minor violations, only one alleged rioter went to trial and conviction for lesser offenses. Of the two accused black men, who were the initial focus of the lynch mob, one was eventually tried, convicted and hanged, the other was set free. Near the 100th anniversary in 2008, the City of Springfield erected historical markers and a memorial statue. The riot was a catalyst for the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), organized to work on civil rights for African Americans.[7]


In 1908, Springfield was a transportation hub, connected by railroad to other major cities such as Indianapolis, Louisville, and Kansas City, etc.[8] Illinois is often considered a microcosm of the U.S. and Springfield, with about 45,000 people at the time, most of whom were working class, was described as an "average American community".[9][10][11][12]


Wall Street during bank panic, Oct. 1907
Edwardsville Intelligencer. Mar 1908.
The Inter Ocean. April 1908

In July 1908, the US was pulling itself out of the Panic of 1907, which occurred during a lengthy economic contraction between May 1907 and June 1908.[13][14] This contraction led to suspension of cash payments by banks, a halt in lending, and a fall in the stock market, all resulting in significant economic disruption. Industrial production dropped, and the period saw the second-highest volume of bankruptcies to that date, with the dollar volume increasing nearly 50 percent.[15] Production fell over 10 percent, commodity prices dropped by more than 20 percent, imports fell by over 25 percent, and unemployment, which had been less than 3 percent prior to the panic, increased to 8 percent, resulting in fierce job competition.[15] As of April 1908, there were 200,000 unemployed men in Illinois, with 55 percent of those residing outside of Chicago.[16] Comparatively, neighboring Iowa and Missouri, which had populations that were 40 percent and 60 percent of Illinois' (5.5 million), had 2,000 and 43,000 unemployed men, respectively.[16][17][18][19]

Prior to the Panic, over one million immigrants had arrived in the U.S. during each of the previous two years. However, after the Panic, the rate of arrival began declining by nearly 40 percent.[20]

Due to its dependence on mines, railroad, and vice industries, such as saloons, Springfield was largely insulated from much of the contraction. However, the city still could not escape the economic downturn of the region, including new alcohol policies passed in 1908 that would suddenly put the employees at nearly 2,000 bars across the state out of work, including 20 percent of the saloons across Sangamon County.[21][22]

There was growing unrest among railroad workers after the Illinois Central Railroad began a "retrenchment" (cost-cutting) policy in December 1907.[23] For example, men in nearby Clinton saw their work week drop from seven to four days a week by March 1908. That same month, the railroad also began streamlining positions to further cut expenses, which caused many to be "bumped down" to lower jobs, affecting younger workers.[24]

There was also uncertainty amongst Springfield's miners at the local and national level. In November 1907, 4,000 miners in Danville went on strike when coal operators stopped paying workers in cash and began issuing checks.[25] Five months later, on April 1, 1908, Springfield's miners were nearly part of the 250,000 miners across the country who went on strike after their contracts expired and coal operators showed "no inclination" to make new contracts with the union.[26] Illinois' 60,000 miners subsequently "declared war" against coal operators.[27][28] The unrest led to the shut down of Illinois' mines for a month, which had a significant negative impact on the freight business for the railroads as coal cars sat idle during that time.[29] The lack of coal movement also impacted road workers, who could not pave the roads without the coal.[29] In early May, while over 35,000 of Illinois' miners voted to return to work, miners in two districts voted to move forward with the strike – Peoria and Springfield.[30] Around the same time, miners in neighboring Decatur voted to go on strike and, on June 8, 1908, roughly 500 miners called off two separate strikes, at the Pawnee and Pana mines, over work conditions.[31]

Ultimately, these events created a Springfield workforce where workers by and large had jobs, but the earning power of those jobs was being diminished, the security of those jobs was laced with uncertainty, and the respect paid to those who held those jobs was seemingly being diminished. In surrounding counties the job prospects were similar or worse and the workforce was less diverse.[citation needed]

Immigrants and race

Chicago Tribune. 1903.
Chicago Tribune. 1907.
Belvidere Daily Republican. Apr 1908.
Springfield Immigrant & Black Population. 1850–1910.

As Reconstruction came to an end, between 1870 and 1890, the United States was undergoing a massive population increase. Between 1890 and 1908, rapid industrialization and urbanization brought millions of European immigrants to the country.

Arrivals usually came to Ellis Island, then trekked to cities where relatives had already been establishing themselves, expanding ethnic communities throughout the country. Springfield, a rapidly growing industrial center, was one of those cities.

At the turn of the century, Springfield's population was about 35,000 people and growing.[32][33] In 1900, the immigrant population, which prior to 1890 had only grown at a rate of 0.15 percent per year and remained stagnant at roughly 4,500, began to grow at a rate of 4 percent per year – a 300,000 percent increase.[32][33]

According to the United States Census Bureau, in 1908, nearly 35 percent of these immigrants were unable to speak English, and nearly 15 percent were illiterate. This created tension between white immigrants and white Americans, who feared their growing political presence.[34][35] White Americans were increasingly more negative, fearful, and xenophobic toward the immigrants, who they deemed to be biologically inferior, culturally and religiously odd, and generally substandard with a proclivity to filth, laziness and violence. Within the country's racial hierarchy, European immigrants were perched below whites, but above black people, fending off degrading ethnic slurs such as "Hunky" (Hungarians), "Guinea" (Italians), and "Polack" (Polish):[36][37]

Alien in thought, grotesque in manner of life, the thrifty and laborious Pole is a conspicuous figure...Slow to learn even simple English, unable to express in our tongue any abstract ideas, one can only conjecture his inner life and mental attitude. His part in the drama of conflicting races has thus a silent, pantomimic effect.[38]

Such attitudes presented new immigrants with a choice — fight to become socially "white" or align with politically and economically disadvantaged black people. In an atmosphere where immigrants heard statements like "One white man is as good as two or three Italians",[39] and where whites were bringing lawsuits against their own family members who they suspected of having "tainted" black blood,[40] immigrants opted to strive to become "white":

In a country where the distinction between white man and black is intended as a distinction of value as well as ethnography it is no compliment to the Italian to deny him his whiteness...[41]

— Robert F. Foerster, Economist, 1919

America is not a melting pot. It is a sizzling cauldron for the ethnic American who feels that he has been politically courted and legally extorted by both government and private enterprise...The ethnic American also feels unappreciated for the contribution he makes to society. He resents the way the working class is looked down upon...Unfortunately, because of old prejudices and new fears, anger is generated against other minority groups rather than those who have power.[42]

— Barbara Mikulski, Former Senator, 1970

As white races proliferated alongside the science and ideology that imparted legitimacy to their existence, color and race became detached in the case of whiteness. Instead 'white' came to be populated by a hierarchy of peoples, at the top of which was America's charter white race, the Anglo-Saxons, and a number of rank-ordered lesser white races...We sometimes lose sight [of] the lengths of which white Americans, especially of the working and lower classes, went to patrol the boundaries of 'white,' however, it was always understood.[43]

— David A. Gerber, Historian 1999

The pressure to become "white" led to many immigrants seeking ways to "prove" their whiteness. Protecting and expanding the notion of white supremacy was deemed convincing evidence.[37]

At the time, black people were expected to be subservient, agreeable and deferential to whites or be subject to verbal abuse, threats or physical violence.[44] Whites who viewed black people as being "uppity" would often impose quick and harsh retribution against them.[44] As immigrants observed how white Americans treated black people, they began not only mimicking such treatment, but also distancing themselves from black people geographically and socially.[37][45] For example, in the particularly distressed economy of 1908, many European immigrants opted for unemployment over taking jobs that perpetuated stereotypes of them, or taking "nigger jobs" that would associate them with black people.[46]

In Springfield, such attitudes were inflamed by white Americans who had immigrated from Kentucky (across the Ohio River), from the border area of southern Illinois, and also from other areas across the south, seeking work in the mines and railroads.[47][48][49] These southern immigrants brought the heightened racial animus with them that was associated with the segregated racial culture of the region.[50][51]

Springfield racial dynamics

Sangamon County Road pavement crew. c. 1905
Illinois miners. 1903
Black & white miners. 1908

Following the Civil War, black people began migrating north for work and also in search of areas less socially oppressive than the south. In the post-Reconstruction years of the late 19th century, Springfield, as a rapidly growing industrial center, was one of those places black people sought refuge and prosperity, with the city's black population growing by 4 percent per year. By the turn of the century, there were nearly 2,500 black people in the city, representing about 7 percent of the population, which was about 35,000.[32][33]

The same level of growth had not been true for Springfield's European immigrant population in this period. The annual growth rate of the immigrant population was 0.15 percent, not growing beyond roughly 4,500 people.[32][33] But after the turn of the century, immigrant settlement in Springfield increased rapidly.

Around 1890, the migration of black people to Springfield began to slow.[32] In the early 20th century, black people from the rural South began the Great Migration, and many began moving to larger cities, such as New York and Chicago. Between 1900 and 1908, the annual black migration rate in Springfield decreased from 4 percent to 3 percent.[32] Meanwhile, for European immigrants, the trend was the reverse.[32][33]

By July 1908, Springfield's population was over 45,000 (of which about 40 percent were under the age of 21). Of those 45,000, nearly 6,500 were European immigrants,[52] who together with their first generation American offspring accounted for 40 percent of Springfield's population,[32][33] while native white Americans made up just under 55 percent[47] and black people about 6 percent.[32][33]

These population shifts had economic, political and social implications, particularly as the unemployment rate increased from under 3 percent to 8 percent between May 1907 and June 1908, during the Panic.[20]

In 1908, there were slightly more than 1,000 black men in Springfield's workforce.[53] About 50 percent were porters and laborers; only 150 were employed as miners. Most of the rest were restricted to lower-class and unskilled jobs (for example, there were no white janitors in the city), but some worked for the city as firemen and policemen.[54]) Black people generally lived in the racially segregated neighborhoods of "The Levee" and "The Badlands". Realtors used restrictive covenants that prevented black people from purchasing property elsewhere.

Social tensions rose due to the swelling immigrant population, the decrease in job stability, and the movement of a few upper middle class black people into white neighborhoods.[55][56] Resentment among white immigrants ran high against black people. Whites resented upward mobility among black people as a threat to a social order in which they should always be superior,[55] and white business owners often exploited this resentment for their own economic benefit. For example, some industries used black workers as strikebreakers during labor strikes, pitting black people and immigrants against each other in an effort to prevent unionization:

[Black workers'] contribution was of another order; that of keeping the workers divided and adding conflict to a situation in which it was already rife. Further, by this move, the packers profited on two accounts; first, they tapped into an almost inexhaustible supply of cheap labor; second, they secured thereby a labor force offering even greater resistance to unionization, through racial antagonism, than supplied to the immigrant through language handicap and nationality hatreds.[57]

Stories of black strikebreakers were carried by numerous newspapers in Illinois. The disproportionate coverage of these instances fueled white antagonism against the black workers.[58] In 1898, labor violence broke out in what was called the Battle of Virden, resulting in 11 deaths.

Springfield's immigrants were anxious about competing with the city's black minority, and the city's native whites worried about growing political power among the city's black people.[57] Black people had no allies among the whites, and were caught between the suspicions of native-born and immigrants.

Black men as "menaces"

"Negro Rule."
News & Observer. 1898
News & Observer. 1898
"The Negro a Beast,"
by Charles Carroll.[59] 1900.
The Marion Star. 1907
Nebraska State Journal 1908

Prior to the Civil War there had been some degree of tolerance for sexual relationships between black men and white women.[60][61][62] However, after the war, keeping the races separate became essential in maintaining the racial hierarchy of white supremacy, because black men gained suffrage after the War, granting them political power to be social and economic competitors with white men.[63] During Reconstruction, black male sexuality became a battle cry of Southern politicians decrying "negro domination", warning of the perils of racial equality.[64][63][65][66][67][68]

The idea of manhood was synonymous with the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship. Whites began framing black manhood with sexual connotations, conflating the political and economic agency of black men with sexual agency (framed as "aggressive" and "transgressive"), from which whites, particularly white women, needed to be protected.[63] Politics and black manhood became increasingly intertwined, even being debated on the floor of the United States Congress.[69][70] In the lead up to the passage of the Ku Klux Klan Act in 1872, whites who testified before Congress exhibited "extreme anxiety" about sexual relations between black men and white women, with testimony linking to fears of black men's political and economic independence.[63] Rape of white women, it was argued, was the natural proclivity of black men without slavery to restrain them; free black men were commonly equated to unchained animals ("black brutes") who lacked human intelligence and could, therefore, not be entrusted with the right to vote.[59][71] Conversely, black women, who were routinely raped by white men, resulting in a population of over 1 million mulattos, were deemed as lacking sexual morals, casting the entire race as void of morality and intelligence, so that they should not be allowed to vote.[72] Frederick Douglass noted the political link of black men being accused of rape: "It is only since the Negro has become a citizen and a voter that this charge has been made."[73] "[This] charge was made to blast and ruin the Negro's character as a man and as a citizen."[74] Vigilantism and lynching were deemed necessary evils to protect whites – politically, socially and economically – from the "lawlessness" of black people.[63] During such attacks, black men were ritually castrated as an act of further emasculation, making them "examples" of the fate of black man who dared to "step out of their place".[63] Simply being accused of any offense against whites, regardless of evidence or the motives of the accuser, would result in the conviction, or lynching, of black people.[63][75]

White women, as social and economic beneficiaries of a white-dominant racial hierarchy, were not only purveyors of this treatment of black people, but in many cases, actively sought such treatment against black people.[76][77][78] Such notions commenced an era of terrorism and lynching of black men.[79]

In the 43 years from the end of the Civil War until the attacks in Springfield, instances of labeling black men as some variation of "brute", "menace", "beast", "nigger", "rapist", "fiend", or otherwise "inferior" had been printed in newspapers across the country over 200,000 times, approximately 13 instances per day.[80][81][82][83][84] In the 12 months before the events began in Springfield, such labeling appeared in newspapers across Illinois over 500 times, more than once per day.[85][86][87] The frequency of black men being labeled in such negative terms accentuated the perception among whites of their very presence as a threat, a perception in which blackness, vice, and crime were conflated.[88][89][90]

In 1907, the year before the attacks in Springfield, this perceived threat was addressed on the floor of the U.S. Senate when Senator Ben Tillman delivered a rousing speech advocating the economic and political protection of white men from black men by nullifying the 14th Amendment, and the social protection of white women from black men by means of lynching:[91]

I never have called them baboons; I believe they are men, but some of them are so near akin to the monkey that scientists are yet looking for the missing link. We saw the evil of giving the ballot to creatures of this kind, and saying that one vote shall count regardless of the man behind the vote and whether that vote would kill mine...

As far as lynching for rape is concerned, the word is a misnomer. When stern and sad-faced white men put to death a creature in human form who has deflowered a white woman, there is...the feeling of participating as mourner at a funeral. They have avenged the greatest wrong, the blackest crime in all the category of crimes, and they have done it, not so much as an act of retribution in behalf of the victim as a duty and as a warning as to what any man may expect who shall repeat the offense. They are looking to the protection of their own loved ones...the white women of the South are in a state of siege...Some lurking demon who has watched for the opportunity seizes her: she is choked or beaten into insensibility and ravished, her body prostituted, her purity destroyed, her chastity taken from her, and a memory branded on her brain as with a red-hot iron to haunt her night and day as long as she lives...

...Is it any wonder that the whole countryside rises as one man and with set, stern faces seek the brute who has wrought this infamy? 'Brute,' did I say? Why, Mr. President, this crime is a slander on the brutes. No beast of the field forces his female. He waits invitation. It has been left for something in the shape of a man to do this terrible thing. And shall such a creature, because he has the semblance of a man, appeal to the law? Shall men coldbloodedly stand up and demand for him the right to have a fair trial and be punished in the regular course of justice? So far as I am concerned he has put himself outside the pale of the law, human and divine...

I have three daughters, but, so help me God, I had rather find either one of them killed by a tiger or a bear and gather up her bones and bury them, conscious that she had died in the purity of her maidenhood, than have her crawl to me and tell me the horrid story that she had been robbed of the jewel of her womanhood by a black fiend. The wild beast would only obey the instinct of nature, and we would hunt him down and kill him just as soon as possible. What shall we do with a man who has outbruted the brute and committed an act which is more cruel than death? Try him? Drag the victim into court, for she alone can furnish legal evidence, and make her testify to the fearful ordeal through which she has passed, undergoing a second crucifixion? Our rule is to make the woman witness, prosecutor, judge, and jury...I am satisfied to get out of the world such creatures.

In the period after the end of Reconstruction, approximately 1897–1917, lynchings coincided with mass disenfranchisement efforts throughout the country. During this time, wealthy white men sought to keep political power from black people and poor white men sought to keep economic power from black people, while European immigrants sought to obtain political and economic power for themselves.

Intraracial racism among black people

Such views of black people led some within the black community – particularly light-skinned black people – to try to escape the associations of being black in white society.[92][93] Many consciously or unconsciously accepted a white-dominated racial hierarchy and a bias against other black people.[94] This meant that black people were not only victims of anti-black racism, but in some instances, also perpetrators of it.[95]

Black people who held such bias maintained that assimilating with whites could bolster their appeals for equal treatment. Therefore, they geographically and socially removed themselves from other black people, trying to gain the social acceptance of whites, supposing that if black people were "more respectable,", "well behaved", "more well-to-do", and so on, they would incur less resentment and racism.[95] However, this strategy for obtaining equal treatment usually backfired, as such black people found themselves ostracized by both whites, who labeled them "uppity", and black people, who labeled them "Uncle Toms".[95][96] They received marginally better treatment from whites in exchange for helping to keep other black people "in their place", and also for being "tokens" whose limited presence allowed whites to mute accusations of racism thrown against them.[95][96] Such black people were often in positions of authority and stature including police officers, businessmen and politicians;[97][96] however, when whites felt threatened that they might have to compete politically or economically with black men, such as elections or during periods of unemployment, wage instability, or high crime such as what occurred in the Springfield region throughout 1907–1908, during the mine strikes and Panic of 1907, white men became increasingly hostile to black people, especially those who wielded positions of stature and authority:[98]

We have but little interest in the value of slaves, but there is one matter in this connection about which we feel a deep interest. We are opposed to Negro equality. To prevent this we are willing to spare the last man, down to the point where women and children begin to suffer for food and clothing; when these begin to suffer and die, rather than see them equalized with an inferior race we will die with them. Everything, even life itself, stands pledged to the cause...[99]

— Mountaineer David W. Siler, letter to Governor Zebulon Vance about poor whites in Appalachia fighting for the Confederacy, November 3, 1862

The "menace" in Springfield

1908 was an election year in Springfield. The city had been plagued with rampant political corruption, for 20 years, when Indiana's "Blocks of Five" voting system was introduced to the community, enabling a vice ring to dominate local affairs.[2] White politicians, looking to secure votes, began "buying" votes from black men in exchange for legal immunity, allowing vice in the black saloon district to thrive.[2] The politicians also "bought" votes in the white saloon districts, but negative labeling of black men had framed their corruption as being "more" harmful, "more" dangerous, and "more" lawless than the same corruption from whites, despite black people owning less than 3 percent of the city's saloons.[100] Any offense, committed by black people, was deemed "the fault" of black corruption, black saloons, black suffrage, and black upward mobility.[2] In Springfield, much like across the country, "problems" arose when black people were not "kept in their place."

It was noted that "the Negro of Springfield is not the Negro of the South," in that a black man in Springfield had an "aggressive attitude," which he would use to readily argue that he was "just as good as a white man."[2] Corrupt white politicians were said to have contributed to this "arrogant attitude" by giving them city jobs, despite "the majority being lazy, dishonest, vicious, worthless, and genuinely bad."[2] It was reportedly this "attitude" that created a strong dislike against them in among Springfield's white citizens, on par with the dislike of black people in the South.[2]

"Wet" city

Wet-Dry Map. 8 Apr 1908
Decatur Herald. 8 Jun 1908.
Decatur Herald. 6 Jul 1908.

Much of Springfield's atmosphere, at the time, was a result of its relationship with prohibition.

Prohibition represented a conflict between urban and rural values emerging in the United States. With the rising population of immigrants in urban centers, more immigrants began frequenting saloons. This spawned the notion that saloons were breeding grounds for moral and political corruption, due to the perception that immigrants traded their votes for favors i.e. jobs, housing, food, etc.[101]

In a backlash to the changing demographics, many prohibitionists embraced nativism, fostering further resentment toward immigrants who, typically due to cultural differences about drinking, were against prohibition.[102]

After a highly contentious debate on prohibition, in 1907, the Illinois General Assembly approved the "local option" law, which allowed local residents to decide whether their towns would be "wet" (allowing liquor sales within the boundaries of individual counties and townships), or to otherwise be "dry."[103]

In April 1908, after a Sangamon County vote, only two of the county's 27 townships opted to be "wet" – New Berlin, which was the home of four saloons, and Capital Township, which included Springfield and accounted for over 80 percent of the county's nearly 250 saloons.[103] At the time of the vote, approximately $2.2 million (over $55 million in 2018) was spent on alcohol in Springfield's more than 200 saloons, six of which were black-owned, generating tax revenue that accounted for one-third of the city's $300,000 (about $7.5 million in 2018) annual budget.[21]

While there were nearly 18,000 [all male] ballots cast in that county vote, the overall sentiment of the county becoming "dry" was favored by just two fewer votes than those who favored it remaining "wet."[103] This caused the Springfield mayor, Roy Reece, a politician known to curry political favors through vice, to implement a minimal regulation to keep voters, on either side of the issue, happy, by prohibiting any saloon to operate between 12:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.[103]

Despite this, Springfield remained a hotbed for drinking, as the saloons serviced both local residents, and also became a destination for visitors – including many who were unemployed or underemployed – from neighboring "dry" townships and counties. For example, between May–June 1907, neighboring Decatur had nearly 70 arrests for drunkenness.[104] However, one year later, after Decatur had become "dry," it had 80 percent fewer drinking arrests, and every man who had been arrested for drunkenness had obtained his liquor in Springfield.[104]

The drinking culture of Springfield fed into the pending attacks in two ways. First, though Springfield was somewhat sheltered from the sluggish economy, the Panic did leave more men unemployed or underemployed. Second, many of these men would frequent the saloons, where they would drink daily, binge drink, and abuse alcohol due to mental strain, financial pressure, shame and a feeling of helplessness that they were unable to protect, and provide, for their families.[105] Socially, unemployed white men felt aggrieved against black men who either had jobs or owned property and, otherwise, lived well.[106]

"Drunkenness" arrests were particularly high on the Fourth of July, a fact that would later play into the ensuing attacks. For example, in 1907, in Decatur, there were over 200 arrests for drunkenness on Fourth of July.[107] The holiday resulted in so many issues that The Inter Ocean newspaper, of Chicago, published an "Annual List of Injured, Arrest and Fires Resulting From Celebration of Fourth of July."[108] In 1907, there were over 70 recorded injuries and nearly 20 arrests on the list.

Inciting crimes

Murder of Clergy Ballard

On Saturday, July 5, 1908, at approximately 12:45 a.m., shortly after the saloons closed for the night, an intruder allegedly entered the home of a 45-year-old white hoisting engineer at a mine, Clergy "Posey" Ballard, located at 1135 North Ninth Street.[103] Ballard was a long-time resident, and one of the "best beloved men" of the North End – a primarily white, mixed-income neighborhood.[109] He had worked on the Chicago, Peoria and St. Louis railroad for 16 years, has been employed at the Jones & Allen mine for the last two years, and was well-liked among the mining community.[110]

Home invasion

Clergy Ballard. c. 1900.
Illinois State Register

That evening, Ballard's 16-year-old daughter, Blanche, spent the Fourth of July celebrating at the White City Amusement Park, along the eastern suburbs of Springfield, with some friends and neighbors. The event had attracted 5,000 people during the day, and the night attendance was "more than double that number."[111]

Blanche returned home shortly after midnight.[110] Blanche alleged to have just fallen asleep (though it would also be reported that she awoke from "a heavy sleep"[112]), in her east-facing front bedroom, when she was awakened by the presence of "a strange form" lying at the foot of her bed, a bed that she also shared with her 10-year-old sister, Marie.[113][114][115][116] Blanche alleged that she stretched her hand out and touched the "form" in bed with her, thinking it was her 22-year-old brother, Charles, arriving home after her and seeking "repose" in her bed rather than his own.[110][113][117] She asked, "Is that you, Charlie?"[113] When she received no answer, she asked if it was Charles again, then grabbed the "form's" hand and felt "hard substances" in it.[110] Allegedly frightened, she recoiled, and "the form jumped away, mumbled something and ran into the parlor," on the north side of the house, where he proceeded to go from room to room.[113][110][118][117]

Blanche allegedly called out to her 43-year-old mother, Gertrude (who went by her middle name, "Emma"), which was said to have awakened her father.[115]

Ballard went to Blanche's room and, "perceiving a negro in the house," tried to approach the man.[118] However, "before Ballard could close in on the man," the man fled.[113] Ballard had seen nothing "but a fleeing glimpse" of the intruder, who reportedly ran, back through the girl's bedroom, and out the front door, "going around the south side of the house, toward the rear."[115][110][119]

In his undergarments, and "not knowing exactly which way the intruder had gone," Ballard reportedly went outside to his front porch (it would later be reported he exited to his back porch, where he allegedly "encountered a negro who was coming around the house."[115][120][117] As the men neared the rear of the home, Ballard was then, reportedly, "attacked without hesitation," by the assailant with either a "knife or a razor."[110][117]

Fight with intruder

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Ballard reportedly fought with the attacker around the house, up onto the porch, out into his yard, and "across those [yards] of his neighbors for a distance of fully 100 feet."[110] It was unknown how the fight transpired, but Ballard was reportedly "cut to ribbons" with a sharp weapon, presumed to have been a razor:[121][113][122][123]

[They] kept fighting until they got to the fourth house from our house. Then the man let go of my father and ran away.[121][124]

— Blanche Ballard

Exactly what happened in the yard, no one knows save Ballard and the negro.[118]

— Illinois State Journal

Eleven different wounds were found on the body of the murdered man. The one which appeared to be fatal was in the chest and looked like a knife thrust. It punctured the lung. Below and leading from it, to the left was a long, curved slash which was not very deep. Across both arms, just below the elbows were deep cuts severing muscles to bones. A slash across six inches long extended across the neck. There was a gash across the top of the head, one across the neck, one in front, and one behind the right ear, and a number of smaller cuts on the face, chest and arms.[123]

— Illinois State Register

After he was cut, Ballard allegedly "staggered back to the porch."[113] Reportedly, Emma had been "a terror-stricken witness from the porch, and did not realize the severity of Ballard's wounds until he, weak from loss of blood, fell to the ground."[110][115]

Ballard would be labeled a hero who "undoubtedly prevented an outrage [rape]" against his daughter.[118]

Search for intruder

The commotion failed to catch the attention of Ballard's firemen sons, Charles and, 24-year-old, Homer, who were also in the unlocked house, until Emma and Blanche allegedly called out to them.[110][125][117] Homer and Charles ran outside, reportedly in their undergarments, and "gave chase" to the intruder, who had allegedly crossed the street and turned north, "toward the watch factory."[117]

Rather than continue to chase the assailant, Charles and Homer retreated back home, reportedly to help with their father.[118] As they were helping Ballard off the ground, Ballard allegedly raised his head and pointed to a man standing in the "space between the two houses on the east side of Ninth Street."[117] Ballard reportedly told his sons, "There's the negro now. For God's sakes, get him boys, for he's killed me."[117]

Charles and Homer left their father again, and the two "young athletes" chased the man who ran "northward."[117] Some of Ballard's neighbors, who'd been alerted by Emma's calls, reportedly joined in the pursuit.[110][126][117]

The assailant, who had allegedly entered the Ballard home through the unlocked front door, reportedly outran those chasing him, with his speed noted as being "fleet of foot."[110][118] Though some newspapers would report that the assailant outran the posse because he had "too much of a [head] start."[117]

The assailant reportedly ran north on Ninth Street (Homer Ballard would later state that he chased the assailant "north on Grand Street") and "disappeared in the grounds of the Illinois watch factory."[110][118] However, other reports claimed that the assailant was seen "crashing into a tree" on the watch factory premises, but "staggered and continued on" until he disappeared among factory park trees.[110][117]

Ballard's family then brought him inside their home and tried to help him, but could not "stanch the gust of blood."[113] Ballard could not talk much, as he had lost a lot of blood.[113]

Police Chief, Wilbur F. Morris was awakened, at 2:00 a.m. and alerted. He placed every officer in town on alert, assigning patrols along the east and northeast sections of the city.[118][127] The police took Ballard to Springfield Hospital.

Another stabbing nearby

Illinois State Register

Around twenty minutes later, close to 1:00 a.m., a 30-year-old mulatto, Ed Jamison, was robbed and stabbed near his residence, on Reynolds and Ninth streets, about six blocks south of the Ballard home.[128][129][130] The only thing the robber reportedly took from Jamison was his coat.[129][130]

Jamison was "severely stabbed" in the right shoulder, over the collar bone, and also across his left breast, splitting down his right arm from his shoulder to his wrist.[129] He was taken to St. John's hospital, where he was interviewed about his attacker.[129] He claimed that he was walking along on Reynolds street, having just crossed Ninth, when he was suddenly attacked by a black man that "rapidly" approached him, grabbed him by the coat, and demanded to Jamison, "Give me your coat." When Jamison refused and tried to step away, the attacker allegedly began "slashing him with some sharp instrument."[129][130]

Jamison reportedly fell, and his attacker, whom he described as "a light colored negro with a slight mustache," ran away.[130]

Jamison sustained one cut along "his head, another across his back, and still another down his left forearm."[130] He ran home, where he fainted, and was then taken to St. John's Hospital, where he was interviewed by police about the attack.[130]

The police believed Jamison knew his attacker, but refused to name him.[129] It was never confirmed whether Jamison knew his attacker.

Early July 5, after the police learned of Jamison's attack, they made a "strenuous effort" to find Jamison's attacker, "believing that he might be the same negro that cut Ballard."[130] However, the following day, July 6, the police dismissed Jamison's attack, stating that it had "positively no connection" with Ballard's attack, concluding that Jamison was stabbed with a "razor or long bladed knife," and maintaining that Ballard was stabbed with a "penknife."[129][131]

Descriptions of assailant

The next morning, only two newspapers reported on the events that took place at the Ballard home – the Illinois State Register and the Illinois State Journal – both local Springfield newspapers. They both ran descriptions of the assailant; however the accounts differed:

The Illinois State Register described the assailant as being "about five feet eight inches tall, wearing a blue shirt and light colored trousers. The newspaper reported that the police found "a light colored hat," and that the hat was "the only clue" to the assailant's identity.[112]

The Illinois State Journal, on the other hand, described the assailant as being "not very dark in color, medium sized, and dressed in rough garments."[118] The newspaper also reported that a piece of "overall material" (though it would later be reported as a piece of "shirting" that Ballard has in the "grasp" of his hand after the struggle[120]) was found in Ballard's yard, which his son, Homer, would later claim to be the assailant's.[113][129]

Ballard's son, Homer, also gave a description of the assailant:

The negro was dressed in light trousers, wore a new pair of shoes, blue shirt, brown winter cap and a black coat. He was a yellow negro.[118]

Neighbors of the Ballard's reportedly saw "a negro walking up and down, in front of the Ballard residence," during the early evening of the 4th of July.[112]

Drunken man found

Illinois State Journal

Around 5:30 a.m., on Sunday July 5, four young white women – Clara Noll, Sadie Van Dyke, and Anna and Henrietta Ford – coming from a wake, discovered Joe James sleeping off a hangover, in the North End, about a half-mile away from the Ballard home. Some reports said he was found in the grass in Reservoir park, others reported he was found in the "weeds of a vacant lot" a half-block north of the park, and others reported he was found "in the rear of the watch factory" on the west side of Reservoir park.[120][132][119][133][113][134]

While two of the girls watched James, the other two went to a park phone and called "in the vicinity" of the Ballard home, asking for men to come there to investigate.[135] When the news reached Ballard's two sons, Charles and Homer, along with two neighbors, Pledge Sears and Joseph Edwards, who claimed that James had also invaded his home before allegedly invading the Ballard's, went to the area where James was sleeping.[119] The men allegedly found James with blood on his clothes, his shoes not on his feet, and a coat "thrown over his head."[115][136] They woke him and, armed with a piece of 2x4 scantling, beat "the black wretch" while a crowd gathered around to watch.[119][132] The Ballard brothers, Sears, and Edwards dragged and beat James for half a block while the crowd chanted "Kill!".[137] It was reported that "only the arrival of officers" prevented the mob from killing James.[137]

James was reportedly not lucid during the beating, and made no effort to resist or defend himself, even as he was dragged for half-a-block toward a nearby telephone with the intent of lynching him.[119] Three deputies, who noticed the gathering crowd as it began chanting, "Kill," then stepped in, stopped the men from beating James, and arrested James.[138][113] He was booked into the jail at 6:20 a.m.[119]

Five hours later, around 11:45 a.m., Clergy Ballard succumbed to his wounds and died."[139][115]

Statements of attack

Great Falls Tribune

The day after the attack, Emma Ballard gave the following statement:

The girls, my daughters, were sleeping in the dining room, and my husband and myself in an adjoins room with open double folding doors between. I was awakened by my daughter, Blanche, calling and awakened my husband, telling him that someone was in the house. He arose and went into the room where the girls were sleeping, but the burglar heard him approach and escaped through the front door, which was open when my husband went to look for the man. Mr. Ballard then went to the front door, then out onto the porch. The man, who was a negro, came around the side of the house and my husband attempted to catch him. The negro jerked loose and attacked my husband with a knife. I was standing in the door at the time, but could do nothing. My husband struggled with the negro, but the negro had the advantage and cut him four or five places. Severely cutting him in the neck, on both arms and in the chest. The negro broke loose and ran, leaving my husband badly bleeding on the porch with his night clothes nearly torn off.[112]

Journal Gazette

Several days after the attack, Blanche Ballard, provided the following statement to authorities:

It was at 12:30 o'clock when I came in. It must have been about 10 minutes to 1 o'clock a.m. when I got up to move a bird in a cage from the window. Then I went back to bed, but did not go sound to sleep. I woke up suddenly and grabbed hold of a man's hand. I thought that he was my brother, and I said to him, 'Is that you, Charlie?' He made a growing noise. Then I asked him again if he were Charlie, and asked him why he did not go to bed and what he was doing. When I said that, I still had hold of his hand, and tried to pull something out of it, something rough. Then the second time I grabbed, he spring to the right side of the bed. He was there no time and jumped right over the foot of the bed again and stood at the foot of the bed. Then he went into the from through a door that was leading from my bedroom and stood in the doorway leading to the front porch. Then when he heard us talking he came back in again and tried to hide behind the door. Then he came back into the dining room where he met mamma. By that time, he heard papa, and papa asked him what he was doing there? Then he ran back through the front room door onto the porch. Papa said, "I wonder where he went to quickly?" With that, they heard the squeaking of shoes around the south side of the house, which cause father to got to the end of the porch and see what it was. As papa got to the end of the porch, the man stabbed him, and papa went back to the door and hollered to my mother to give him something to hit the negro with. The man followed up to the porch and stabbed papa again there on the porch. They began to fight, while there, and they kept fighting until they got to the fourth house from our house.[109]

Joe James accused
(l) Joe James; (r) Joe James, on Jul 6, 1908, after being beaten in street

Joe James was a young man from Birmingham, Alabama. He had two brothers, Benjamin and Daniel, and two sisters, Lizzie [Lockhart] and Bertha [McCoy].[140] His father died when he was two.[141] He was then raised by his uncle, Rev. Van B. James, and had a boyhood "but little different from that of the typical negro youth."[142]

His uncle raised him in the church, in Avondale, where he learned to read, write and play piano, until he was 13-years-old.[140] He then went to live with his mother, Katherine, back in Birmingham, until she moved to Hattiesburg, Mississippi for work. In 1903, she briefly returned and married Walter Roberts, but left back to Hattiesburg in 1904, taking James with her. In May 1907, James moved back to Birmingham, where he worked in a brush factory, as a "bristle-puller," and drove a coal wagon, before opting to leave.[141][143][142]

Over about four months, James moved to several places including Memphis, Kansas City, East St. Louis, and Alton, doing a series of odd jobs, before coming to Springfield.[143][142]

He arrived on June 1, 1908, by hitching a ride on freight train going from St. Louis to Chicago.[144]

James wandered around Springfield, attempting to obtain work in a brickyard, or as a moulder. However, no such work was available, and he found work at one of the six black saloons (presumably, Bud Brandon's saloon), on Sixth Street.[145] He worked there that evening where he played a game of pool with some "negroes who became sore on him" because he won.[142] He worked past closing, and into the morning of June 2.[145] It was reported that, at some point that day, James got into an altercation at Bud Brandon's saloon, on East Washington street, though this altercation was not verified.[119]

When James left work, he encountered William Burton and James Loomis, two of the city's four black police officers.[53] Burton and Loomis were in plainclothes when they saw James walking and, assuming he was loitering, ordered him to leave town.[142][146] Rather, James "offended the officers" when he reportedly told them:

...A nigger has as much right to be here as a white man. A white man is no better than a nigger.[140]

James told the officers that he had a job, but could not recall the name of the saloon, so they did not believe him.[142] When they threatened to arrest him, James, told them he would leave.[142] However James did not.

The next day, Burton and Loomis "found him on the streets" and arrested him for vagrancy. On June 3, he was fined $25 (about $650 in 2018), which he had no means to pay; therefore he was given a jail sentence.[129] His release was set for July 7.[140]

James, who had been arrested once in Birmingham for trespassing, but never convicted of any crime, was reportedly a model prisoner, permitted to leave and run jailhouse errands as a "trusty".[147][140][146] However, on July 4, about 6:00 p.m., after completing his prison duty for the day – loading a lot of "condemned dogs" – James was given about $0.40 ($10.00 in 2018) and allowed to go get molasses, bread and pie for other prisoners.[119] The police claimed that James left the jail "barefooted."[109] James did not return.

It was Independence Day and most of the retail establishments closed at noon.[148] People were celebrating, drinking early and preparing to see fireworks in the evening. James, a teen who had not been exposed to this level of excitement in Alabama, was enticed to the atmosphere. He wandered into "The Levee" – the city's black vice district, on Washington Street between 7th and 10th Streets – which was filled with an assortment of six saloons, prostitutes, gambling, opiates, etc.[119] The area, along with its adjoining "black" areas (i.e. "The Badlands"), was disdained by many whites, which they called a "den of sin," but also for the normalcy at which black people and whites intermingled, socially and sexually:[149]

...the black belt in Springfield, one of the most vicious districts in the north. The houses of this black belt are hovels. Whites and black people lived together. Children ran through the street of this miserable settlement who know not their parents. Their hair indicates one race and their fair skin the other...[and there are] white resorts where the lowest form of depravity exists.[149]

After purchasing the food for the prisoners, James went to Lee's saloon, on Washington Street, between Eighth and Ninth, where he purchased two beers.[140] From that point, and for six hours, James drank and gambled, primarily at "Dandy Jim's Saloon," where he played the piano "all night" while patrons bought him drinks, and where he "drank himself into insensibility."[119] He was awakened the next morning, around 6:00 a.m., near Reservoir park (where Lanphier High School now sits), when a group of young white men, led by Charles and Homer Ballard, grabbed him and proceeded to beat him until he bled "profusely" from his nose and ears:[150][151]

I don't remember. The last thing I recollect, someone gave me a nickel when I was shooting craps, and I don't know whether I shot it, spent it, or put it in my pocket...I don't remember anything that happened after that until someone spoke to me when I woke up in the morning.

— Joe James, Illinois State Register, September 17, 1908
Illinois State Register

James' face was so badly beaten that he was rendered "incapable of speech," and did not "look much like a human being."[152][109] The police decided to wait until the swelling around his mouth had gone down before "sweating him," noting that the "interior of his head still seem[ed] to be very badly muddled as the result of the beating.[152][109] Police Chief Morris, expressed confidence that he would get a confession from James who, as best he could at that point, expressed ignorance about the entire affair, but was notably "very much frightened" about the murder charge against him.[152][140] The arresting officer, J.T. Headrick, added that James had nothing in his pockets when he was arrested.[109]

Upon James' arrest, the Illinois State Register described him as being "about 21 or 22 years old, about five feet six inches in height and [weighing] about 140 pounds."[119] However, two months later, during his trial, the same newspaper would describe him as being " heavily built."[153] The newspaper went on to call him a "copper-hued mulatto," arrested wearing a black coat, blue denim shirt, light trousers and new patent leather shoes.[119] His cap, found at Ballard's home, was said to be a winter hat made of brown wool.[119] Conversely, the Illinois State Journal described James as a "typical southern darkey of medium size and of color not real dark."[147]

James was said to be positively identified by Sheriff Deputy, Harry Taylor, who identified the cap, and the piece of torn shirt, as belonging to James.[154] He was also identified by Bob Oakley, a 38-year-old mulatto, and said to have been a former police officer, who was now a bartender at one of the black saloons.[53] Oakley voluntarily called into the police station when he heard about what happened.[155] Oakley stated that he had seen a "strange negro," possibly James, ordered out of Bill Johnson's saloon on East Washington street the night before.[119] Oakley was shown the cap and piece of shirt allegedly found at Ballard's home and, "at once furnished a correct description of the little negro [James][146]..." Oakley added that the "strange negro" was wearing new shoes.[155] Three weeks later, Oakley's nephew, Lee Oakley, who lived with Oakley the year prior, was arrested for stabbing someone, during an altercation, with a knife.[156] Lee was a shoe shiner at a saloon near Sixth and Monroe streets.

James was also said to have been "positively identified by those who had chased him," "by every member of the Ballard family who had an opportunity of catching a glimpse of the murderer," and by the bloody "penknife" that Officer Jack Golden, accompanied by Ballard's sons, found after James' arrest.[152][157][158][159][109] The penknife was reportedly located three feet from where James was sleeping on the grass.[109] The penknife, also reportedly stained with blood, had a blade that was fewer than two inches long.[147] The police verified that James had no weapon on him when he left the prison on the afternoon of July 4.[147]

It was reported that James had been kicked out of "Johnson's" saloon for "mooching" money for liquor, with the same report stating: " he [James] got back on Ninth street is unknown."[110]

James was immediately labeled "the murderer." However, newspapers questioned the logic of the reported event, and admitted finding his motives to be "difficult to understand."[113] Robbery had been ruled out because "nothing in the house was molested and Ballard's modest home is not one to attract a burglar."[113] But with the alleged intrusion occurring in the bedroom of Ballard's daughters, and with James being black while the girls were white, it was surmised that James must have been attempting to rape the girl(s), and newspapers began defining him in sexualized terms, i.e. "a brute of the lowest form."[113]

Decatur Herald. 7 Jul 1908.

One conclusion that finds most supporters is that James was a degenerate negro, inflamed by strong opiates with a crazed brain that sought satisfaction only in human blood.[113]

— The Decatur Herald, July 6, 1908

Prior to James' arrest, the police thought the assailant, who had robbed the victim of a coat the night before, was probably "the same negro who cut Ballard."[129] Though the victim's description of the assailant did not match the description of James, James became the only suspect after Ballard's son Homer claimed to have found materials of the assailant's at their home.[113][129] No mention of the other stabbing would ever be reported in newspapers again.[160]

On July 15, James was taken before the special grand jury – the first special grand jury that Sangamon County had ever had.[144] The grand jury was composed of 23 men. They discussed James' case all morning, with county and state officials stating they were prepared to convict James "beyond a shadow of doubt."[144][152][161]

James' attorneys entered a "guilty" plea; a strategy to avoid the death penalty that they believed would result in life imprisonment instead. However, it was reported a life sentence would not be well received in Sangamon County as "feelings run high against the negro" amongst whites who wanted him hanged.[157]

The police department noted that, if it were up to them, they would have hanged James "right away."[162] However, it was determined that "the civil docket is so full that it will be impossible to have the case against James docketed before Aug. 4."[163]

James made no comment about his predicament, only referring reporters back to his initial statements:

Stubborn to the last ditch, and refusing to say a word that will either better or aggravate his defense, the negro wards off all queries propounded on him. Not only does he grumble his evasive answers to those who seek to pinion him down to the facts of the tragedy, but he never entered into conversation with any of the employees at the jail and takes all of his meals without saying a word to anyone. The police and sheriff force have been baffled and they have decided not to question him further...[164]

Alleged rape of Mabel Hallam

Mabel Hallam

On August 14, the Illinois State Journal reported that a "respectable" young married woman had been attacked in the same working-class neighborhood as Clergy Ballard's – the North End. Mabel V. Hallam (née Trees), the 21-year-old white wife of well-known streetcar conductor, William "Earl" Hallam, claimed that on the night of August 12, at her home, at 1153 Fifth Street, shortly before midnight, a black man cut the screen door to the back door of her home, threatened to kill her, then dragged her, naked, from bed out into her garden, where he raped her and beat her unconscious.[165][166] She alleged that after the violent assault, she leapt over a back fence and sought help from her mother-in-law.[165][167][168]

I was lying in my bed in the front room, with the rear door open, having the screen door latched, and was awaiting the return of my husband, who is employed on the car lines. It was just 11:20 o'clock when that negro came into our home and came directly to my bed. He laid on the bed and grabbed hold of me. This, of course, awakened me. My husband does not possess such habits, and I asked him the question, 'Why Earl, what is wrong with you?' to which the negro replied, 'I am drunk.' Then he commenced gagging me, telling me all the time that if I made any outcry he would kill me. I was so frightened, I could not think of any move to make, although I did manage to make a couple of light screams, one of which was heard by Mrs. Hallam, my mother-in-law, residing next door to us, and whose bedroom is only a few feet from mine. The fellow dragged me into the back yard, carrying and pulling me through the kitchen of our home. He pulled and jerked and yanked at me until we were in one of the outbuildings. All the time his fingers were buried into my neck and the pain was intense. Finally, he released me, going out through the front yard. I claimed the fence into the yard of my mother-in-law, and there met her coming to help me. It was then 11:45 o'clock, just twenty-five minutes after he pounced upon me in my room.[169]

Police Chief Morris was awakened in the middle of the night with the news. He assigned the entire police force to the case.[166]

George Richardson accused

George Richardson
Illinois State Journal

George Richardson was a 36-year-old black, lifetime resident of Springfield. He was from a prominent black family in Springfield; his grandfather had been Abraham Lincoln's barber, and white newspapers cited him having "above the ordinary intelligence."[170] At the time, he was a hod carrier, working on a home with other black builders, on North Fifth Street, near Hallam's home.

The police, assigned to look for Hallam's attacker the night before, saw the men working and surmised that the perpetrator was "probably" among the group.[171] The police took the men, changed their clothes and, one by one, delivered them to Hallam's home, where she pointed out Richardson as her attacker:[171]

Mrs. Mabel Hallam...suffered from the nervous shock today, but was otherwise unhurt from her terrible experience. She was able to put up with the ordeal of facing strange negroes during the day and inspecting a number, none of whom she recognized, save Richardson.[172]

Richardson professed his innocence, maintaining that he was at home, all night, with his wife, Maud, at 1305 East Capitol Avenue. His wife, who was said to have an "excellent reputation among her acquaintances, regardless of color," validated Richardson's alibi and was committed to testifying in his defense:[173][174]

As God is my judge, I am innocent of the crime I am charged with at Springfield. I have tried to conduct myself so as to win respect of my white neighbors, and believe that I have done so. I was born in Springfield, educated in the public schools there, and have always lived there. I am 36 years of age, have a wife, but no children. My wife believes in me and we are proud of our little home. I have worked for Mr. Rhinehart, contractor, for some time, and always work when I can find work to do.

I worked all day Thursday, and went home at 6 o'clock awfully tired. I ate my supper, sat on the porch and smoked until 8 or half-past 8 o'clock and went to bed. I never left my room that night, but went to work Friday morning as usual. I was arrested while at work and was much surprised to be taken for this crime.

I believe that my neighbors will support my alibi and vouch for my good character. I never saw Mrs. Hallam before until she identified me as the man who assaulted her. She is mistaken. I am ready to go back whenever the authorities think safe to do so and stand trial.[170][175] – George Richardson, August 15, 1908

However, the police claimed that his coat was "torn" and that they found "a trace of blood" on his coat. This was in line with Hallam's statement that she "tore her assailant's coat."[176] Richardson also remained a suspect because it was erroneously reported that he had served time in St. Charles prison for being involved in a fight, resulting in someone's death, and that he had only been out of jail for the last two years.[176] However, after the incident was investigated, it turned out that he had a clean record, had never had any issue with the law, and unlike many black people in Springfield, was a property owner.[177]

Despite multiple eyewitness account placing Richardson on his porch with his wife at the time of the attack, police arrested Richardson and took him to the county jail, where Hallam hesitantly picked him out of a lineup of potential suspects.[176][178] She cautioned that she could not be certain if Richardson was her alleged attacker because "all colored men looked alike" to her, telling Richardson:[165]

I believe that you are the man, and you will have to prove that you are not.

Richardson was charged with rape and put in a cell with Joe James.[179] Hallam had even produced a witness, 17-year-old [William] Rolla Keys, to testify against Richardson.[180] Keys lived at 1149 N. Fifth Street, at the time, which was two homes away from Hallam's home, at 1153 N. Fifth St.[125]

Illinois State Journal

While in jail, it was reported that people in Springfield speculated that Hallam's husband, unable to cope with her allegedly being raped by a black man, would leave her.[181] False rumors also began to circulate that Hallam had "positively identified" Richardson, and that he had confessed to committing the crime.[165] It was reported that because three other young women lived nearby, that the black man was "waiting to catch the first one of the three" that stepped outside.[166]

After he was arrested, Richardson's brothers were also persecuted. His younger brother, Tom, a produce clerk, was chased out of town when he was attacked in the wagon, that he drove for a packing firm, in the street. He escaped, left his wagon behind, jumped on a train at Illinois Central Station, and fled to Mississippi.[182] Richardson's older brothers, James and William, were arrested and thrown in jail for "public safety."[182]

Conversely, Mabel Hallam had contracted to have her likeness sold by a postcard vendor for money, while her husband was appointed a "special deputy sheriff" to their neighborhood.[165][183][184]


The Ruse

Eau Claire Leader
Sheriff Werner
Harry T. Loper

Early in the afternoon of August 14, once Mabel Hallam "positively identified" her attacker, a crowd of about 3,000 white men gathered in downtown Springfield, looking to lynch James and Richardson.[185] The crowd, numbering about 5,000, went to the Sangamon County Jail, surrounded the scaffolding that was being built there for Joe James, and demanded the prisoners be given to them so they could "lynch the niggers!"[176][186][177]

Around 4:30 p.m., the commander of the Third Division of the Illinois National Guard, Colonel Richings J. Shand, was alerted to the conditions around the jail by Captain H. H. Tuttle, an Assistant Surgeon, with the Fourth Infantry.[185] Shand claimed to have alerted Governor Charles Deneen, who directed him to consult with the sheriff of the area, Sheriff Charles Werner. When Shand arrived to the jail, Werner allegedly told Shand that "he did not consider the situation serious at all," and that troops were not necessary.[185] Shand stated that he told Werner that, given Werner was responsible for keeping the peace in the area, if he rejected Deneen's offer of troops, and a riot broke out, that Werner, alone, would be responsible.[185] Werner then requested one pre-cautionary Company – Troop D of the 1st Calvary (1st)– be placed at the State Arsenal building.[185] Shand convinced Werner to place two additional companies there – Troop D, Company C of the 5th Infantry (5th), and the four men of the Gatling Gun Platoon of the same company.[185]

Werner ordered the 5th and the Gatling Platoon to remain at the Arsenal building, and for the 1st to assemble at 8:00 p.m. Shand, however, argued that 8:00 p.m. would be too late, as mobs get more unwieldy at night. He pressed Werner for a 7:00 p.m. assembly, but Werner refused.[185]

Werner believed he had the situation under control as he had pre-arranged for firemen to respond to an orchestrated false fire alarm at 5:08 p.m. While people were distracted, watching the firemen, Werner enlisted 49-year-old Harry T. Loper, a wealthy restaurateur, a commissary of the Second Brigade of the Illinois National Guard, and owner of one of the few automobiles in Springfield, to drive James and Richardson to McLean County Jail, about 65 miles away, in Bloomington, for their safety.[176]

Loper was escorted by Sheriff Deputies Kramer, Hanrahan and Rhodes, and Sergeant of Police, Fred Yanzell. Once they reached Bloomington, James and Richardson were put on a train to Peoria, as Werner feared the mob might go to Bloomington and try to retrieve them.[176]

After the crowd learned that Loper had arranged the suspects' transfer, the trickery upset them more. Werner ordered the crowd to disperse; however, many went to go watch a 5-Cent Picture Show while others, still angry, walked the streets or went to saloons to go drink.


Remains of Loper's restaurant. 14 Aug 1908.
Remains of Loper's Automobile. 14 Aug 1908.
Loper's after the attacks

Soon after Loper returned from Bloomington, around 8:00 p.m., he was confronted with a mob, armed with brickbats, clubs and revolvers, who showed up to Loper's restaurant for revenge.

The mob was led by Kate Howard, a 42-year-old white divorcee who had a reputation for being "loose with the boys."[48] Howard, whose ex-husband was highly respected and owned a wallpaper store on Eighth and Adams, had lived in Springfield nearly 20 years, where she ran the Howard Hotel (a boarding house rumored to be one of the city's roughly 30 white brothels[165][187][188]) with her brother, William E. Connor, at 115 1/2 North Fifth Street.[53][48][4][189] Howard shouted on the mob to destroy Loper's property:

What is the matter with you fellows, are you afraid to go in?[190]

Loper, who had served black people at his establishment, was prepared to defend his property.[191] He fired a warning shot, with his shotgun, over the crowd when they began throwing bricks into his restaurant.[192] But as the crowd descended upon the premises, Loper retreated further into the building, where he would escape through a hole in the brick wall. The crowd tore through the restaurant, raiding and hurling his liquor.[192]

At this point, only 26 militiamen of the 1st and 5th had assembled.[185] Shand sent them to the jail and, armed with bayonets, instructed them to clear the mob of over 3,000.[185] As the men tried to do so, Shand received a call from Governor Deneen that there was trouble at Loper's.[185] Shand ordered the men at the Arsenal to go over to Loper's to assist, with the 1st and the 5th, but Werner refused, telling Shand that he did not want to leave the jail for the mob. Werner allowed only 10 militiamen to go to Loper's, and forbade them to fire upon the crowd.[176][185]

At Loper's, the mob destroyed the restaurant's interior – tossing the tables and chairs onto the street while, at least, four uniformed police officers watched.[193] They then distributed the cigarettes and silverware amongst themselves as souvenirs.[176] William F. Lee, a looter at Loper's restaurant, laughed as he recalled:

I seen old Barney Lang, one of the dry goods merchants or clothing merchants, out on the street picking bricks out of the street and throwing them through Loper's restaurant. And of course, I went down into Loper's and, between I and another guy I was raised with and went to school with, Horney Barberry...I ran into him at Loper's. And Horney Barberry and I went down and knocked the cash register over and got the change out of it.[194]

Outside, the mob overturned Loper's car and lit the gas tank, destroying it. They threw the tables and chairs into the fire, making a bonfire with flames that reached as high as they third floor of the building.[176][192] The mob danced around the bonfire in "frenzied delight and fiendish glee."[195]

Mayor Roy Reece arrived at the scene and begged the mob to disperse, but they threatened to "throw him to the fire too!"[176] The mob held the mayor hostage for two hours before friends of his were able to extract him and bring him to safety.[176]

When a wagonload of police finally arrived, the mob dragged them from the wagon, confiscated their clubs and tore their insignia from their uniforms.[192] Firemen also arrived, but the mob cut their fire hose with razors.[192][195] By the time the 10 militiamen arrived, to a crowd now numbering about 5,000, they found "no disposition on the part of civil authorities to assist them."[185] However, the militiamen conceded that they were "helpless" because, prior to leaving the State Arsenal to come to Loper's they only procured one box of rifles there, but found no ammunition in the building.[195] In addition, Governor Deneen forbade the militia from using their Gatling gun and, for reasons never explained, the ammunition wagon that was assigned to come to them, never came. The few soldiers who were armed, were overrun, and their weapons were confiscated, by the mob.[195]

Once the crowd dispersed, a white 19-year-old rubber-necker, Louis Johnston, was found dead in the basement, with a shot in the neck. He was the first casualty of the events.[55] Loper managed to escape the crowd, taking his family to Michigan for safety, where he would learn that the "riot" had voided out any insurance claim he might have sought.[196] Loper would later say, of his decision to help the Sheriff:

I have been through one riot in Cincinnati in '83, the greatest in this country, when 100 men were killed. It was to avoid loss of life that I took those men out of town. I did not favor the man; I have no interest in him whatever, and would go just as far to punish him as anybody, but after going through the Cincinnati riot and knowing this sheriff as I do I know he would be killed first before he would let the jail be taken. I thought I would save lives by removing the colored man.[196]

Around this time, Governor Deneen called for an increase of militiamen; realizing local authorities were overwhelmed.[176]

The "Levee"

The McHenry Plaindealer. Map of attacks. Aug 20 1908.
White clothing marking the home as "white-occupied"

Around 10:00pm, the crowd moved to Washington Street, chanting, "Curse the day that Lincoln freed the niggers," "No niggers in Springfield," and "Kill 'em on sight!"[179][197][198] They went to the Lyric Picture Show, also owned by Loper, on Spring and Edwards, and destroyed it.[6] They also reportedly attempted to burn down the former home of Abraham Lincoln, but were thwarted by a relative of Lincoln's, Ninian Edwards, who was at the property and was a custodian of the home.[199]

The mob bypassed the white-owned "Payne's Gun Store," which owned most of the guns and ammunition in the city, and instead went to "Fishman's" pawnshop, at 719 East Washington, which was owned by Reuben Fishman, a Jewish man.[200] A member of the mob claimed Fishman was selling guns to black people, so they went to his shop and demanded guns and ammunition from him. When he refused, they called him a "nigger lover," ransacked his shop, taking every gun in it, and set the shop on fire.[176][201] The mob also overtook a calvary squadron – Troop B of Taylorsville – usurping their weapons, and making the cavalrymen flee for their lives. By 11:00pm, the sound of gunshots was constant.[185]

Sheriff Werner did not allow police to confront the mob along Washington Street. And, while Shand made the call for about 50 additional troops to 9th and Madison, Werner forbade them from going toward the heavy violence, telling Shand it was "injudicious to leave the jail unguarded."[185] When Shand replied that he could leave the 5th to guard the jail, Werner refused, telling Shand that he wanted to wait for reinforcements; however, reinforcements would not arrive for another four hours, at around 2:20 a.m.[185]

During that time, the mob began attacking black businesses with hatchets and axes, "wrecking vengeance upon the negro population without mercy."[198][176]

Proclaiming that they were going to "clean up" and "fix this street so a white woman can walk along here without being annoyed," they tore through black barbershops, car shops and bicycle shops, and churches, hurling things through windows, looting property, and establishments buildings down.[192][202] There were bricks piled all along the street.[194]

They then went to the black saloons, starting with "Dandy Jim's,' where Joe James had played the piano before being accused of murder. As the mob tore into the building, "Dandy Jim," whose real name was James Smith, tried to protect his business and several black women who lived above his saloon, by firing at the crowd through his second floor window.[55] However, when it was clear his effort was of no use, he fled the premises through a back alley, ran, and hid in a feed yard as the mob ripped out the front of his building and demolished the interior.[55]

The mob went through all six black saloons, confiscating, and drinking the alcohol, before vandalizing the premises.[203] They also went to hotels – such as the Siles Hotel, the Leland, and the St. Nicholas – looking for black guests. They dragged out those that they found and beat them in the streets.[203] White women, and young white girls, were also participants in the mob, and in the beatings.[203] It was reported that the attacks seemed to have been "planned" as they simultaneously occurred in six areas.[199]

The mob destroyed a total of 35 other Black-owned businesses, shattering windows and storefronts, and looting property, all along Washington Street, terrorizing black people (i.e. beating black people with their own furniture).[204] The mob particularly targeted the homes and businesses of "uppity" black people e.g. political insiders, men of wealth, men in relationships with white women, etc. and of any whites known to be in relationships with, or thought to be sympathetic to, black people.[179] Republican businessman, C.C. Lee, saw all of his businesses – a saloon, pool hall, barbershop, restaurant, and movie theatre, "The Star" – demolished. Democratic influencer, William Johnson, also lost his saloon.[55] However, any black person was a target for harm.

Black people sought shelter wherever they could find it.[176] For example, the mob chased a black man to a political speech where Prohibition Party Candidate, Eugene W. Chafin, was speaking. The black man ran onto the stage with Chafin, in fear. Chafin protected him, telling the mob, on stage: "I will shoot the first [white] man who attempts to take this colored man." However, as he made that proclamation, someone in the mob hurled a brickbat at his head, knocking him down, which started a melee between the mob and Chafin's supporters.[176]

Houses and businesses owned by whites were spared damage, so long as white clothing was hung from their windows to signal that the home was "white-occupied." Once seeing that a place was owned, or inhabited, by whites, the mob would shout things like, "Leave it alone; there's no niggers there!" or "That's a white man's place; pass it up!"[198] However, the mob, and the crowd of onlookers, totaling near 10,000, prevented the fire department from making runs to the burning homes of black people.[205]

Despite such things, when 30-year-old William H. Bowe – the high society chief clerk of the country treasure's office, who had come from a nearby town in order to participate in the attack – was allegedly shot by a "gang of negro thugs" as he was allegedly on his way "home," through The Badlands" at 3:00am, near the spot where Burton was lynched 30 minutes prior. Bowe's shooting would later be described as "murderous assault," and reported as "a sign of the feelings with which the black people regarded all whites."[205][206][207][208][209][210]

The "Badlands"

Ruins of "The Badlands"
Pittsburgh Daily Post
Cartoon, Springfield Attacks
The Courier-Journal
Militia in The Badlands

The Badlands was the poorest neighborhood in Springfield.[211] It was a four-square-block area that extended from The Levee, and was bound by East Jefferson on the south, East Reynolds on the north, and from Ninth Street east to Springfield city limits. While most of the area's inhabitants were poor, several upper-middle class black people also resided there.[211] However, due to its proximity to the Levee, the area was vulnerable to pockets of vice. It was described by the press as an area "infested with negroes" living in "huts" and rife with crime:[211]

Practically all of the black belt was disreputable. The houses were hovels, mere make-shifts for coverings.[211]

Around 1:00 a.m., Kate Howard led the torch-carrying mob down Madison Street, and into The Badlands, pointing out which black homes and businesses to destroy, to a mob now vowing to "kill every nigger in town!"[212][203][213]

As they made their way to the first black home, where two black men and a woman sought refuge, a police officer made his way through the mob and stood in front of the home. He proclaimed:

Give me these niggers, and you can burn down the entire row of houses.[203]

The mob torched its way through the Badlands, totally destroying the area, where "a few men would enter a shack, and after tipping over the bed and tearing open the mattress, would pour on a little oil and apply a match. That was all there was to it. They left then feeling sure that the fire would not be interfered with and it wasn't."[192] The mob would not permit even "a stream of water" to save any of the black homes, though, like in The Levee, permitted aid to white homes:

You can save any white people's houses near here, but the nigger houses have got to go![192]

Some mob members also forced black people to burn to death in their homes:

...there was a lot of colored people burnt up in that riot...there was colored people run out and set the houses on fire, anybody run out and they knock him in the head, pick him up and throw him back, throw him back in the house.[194] – William F. Lee, Loper's Restaurant Looter

At 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning, Shand and some troops accompanied Sheriff Werner to Twelfth and Madison streets, where Werner asked the crowd to disperse three times, but was ignored and jeered. Shand advised allowing the troops to take a volley of shots, low, below the knees of the crowd.[185] However, Werner refused, and ordered the troops to shoot a volley over heads of the mob, but agreed to allow Shand to immediately fire low if the high volley did not work.[185]

When the troops laid the high volley, it only further enraged the mob, which still did not disperse.[185] Shand prepared the troops to immediately fire low, but Werner reneged on his agreement on the low fire, protested, and began giving contradictory orders to Shand's troops. With the noise and confusion, this resulted in some of the troops firing high, while others fired low, injuring and killing several mob participants, which dispersed the crowd.[185] After the mob had cleared, the troops cut down the body of a black man, Scott Burton, who had been lynched nearby.[185]

The troops of the 1st then addressed the mob at Mason Street, west of Twelfth, and had begun driving the mob back. The Captain sent for assistance to Sheriff Werner and Shand, pleading that he could not disperse the crowd unless given the authority to fire into it.[185] However, again, Shand refused. The troops, being unable to control the mob, could "do nothing but report back to the main body and practically leave this crowd in possession of Mason Street, west of Twelfth," leaving that area of the Badlands under the rule of the mob:

At no time during the riot did the actual command pass from the sheriff to the military authorities.[185]

— Commander Shand

The following morning, the city was littered with the bodies of drunken mob members who had passed out in the street.[203] Shortly after 12:00 p.m. Sunday morning, Deneen ordered additional militia. By early Monday morning, there were nearly 3,700 officers and militiamen in the city.[185]

Throughout the day, rumors would be reported about black people retaliating. The troops would send a squad to investigate, and the squad would find no truth to the rumors i.e. that a black man was trying to set fire to a home north of Grand Avenue.[185] Though the rumors were found to be untrue, getting the troops to break into small squads, and search home by home, served to segment the militia.[185][202]

In some cases, the militia joined in mob activities. For example, a black family, the Mitchell's, raised their own meat, smoked their own ham, and procured watermelons that they would sell to neighbors. The Mitchells had a large icebox that they used to store this food. Militiamen entered the Mitchell home and raised the icebox of all its food.[202] Also, at least one militiaman was arrested for "disorderly conduct."[214] Such acts, and the lack of a use of force to help protect them, made many black people distrustful of the militia.


The crowd moved on toward the Badlands, the heart of the Black residential area, burning down homes. The mob destroyed a four-block area and caused much damage to neighboring streets.[55] When firefighters arrived, the mob impeded their progress by slashing their hoses. Many black people fled town, found refuge with sympathetic Whites, or hid in the State Arsenal, where the White militia protected them. The militia finally dispersed the crowd late that night after reinforcements arrived after 2:00 a.m.

Scott Burton

Burned remains of Burton's barber shop
Postcard of tree where Scott Burton was hanged
Chopping up the tree Burton was lynched on for souvenirs. Chicago Tribune. 17 Aug 1908.

Scott Burton, a 65-year-old black man, had a small barbershop, located at 12th and Madison, that catered exclusively to white clientele.[215] Around 2:30 a.m., Burton had been at home with his family, and his wife, Kate (née Qualls), when the mob, offering bounties of "twenty-five dollars for a nigger!" approached his home and threatened them.[216] Burton allegedly fired a warning shot out over the crowd, further enraging them. Moments later, the mob rushed into his home:

Father was sitting in the house with us when the mob came around the corner. Some of them came into the house...Several of them struck him with bottles, and one man had an axe, which he hit him with...The men then took him out of the house, and that is the last we saw.[47]

— Burton's daughter

The mob beat Burton (who was falsely identified in some reports as "Charles Hunter") until his head was "a bloody lacerated mass of flesh.[216] While he was unconscious, they then tied a rope around his neck and dragged him one block south, to Madison and Twelfth streets, to a tree near his barbershop, as men and women spat on him.[217] The mob, including Mabel Hallam's husband, William, sought to lynch Burton, with one of the mob participants calling out, "Get the rope." However, the mob did not have any rope on hand. Someone grabbed a nearby clothesline, wrapped it around Burton's neck. They then stripped off his clothes and pulled the clothesline up, over the tree, and hanged him.[218] After he was dead, the mob mutilated his body, riddling it with 30 bullets, slashing it with knives, and attempting to set it on fire.[55] Children played with Burton's body, swinging it back and forth on the tree, while the mob shouted: "We've got one, hurrah! Look at that nigger swing!" They then danced around it.[204][196]

The mob then burned down Burton's barbershop. As it burned, mob members raced to ensure the fire did not spread to the adjoining white businesses.[215]

Burton would later be blamed for his own death, by Governor Deneen, who suggested that Burton incensed the mob when he fired a warning shot, trying to protect his family and property.[47]

William Donnegan

William Donnegan
Two days after lynching.
Donnegan family after William's death.

The next evening, August 15, around 7:00pm, more militiamen arrived to maintain order. Curiosity seekers and tourists, who heard of the attacks, also came arrived in the city. A new mob, of about 1,000 whites, formed and approached the State Arsenal seeking to harm about 300 black residents who had taken refuge there. When confronted by a militiaman, the crowd splintered off and changed direction, with about 200 of them heading to southwest Springfield, an area where few black people lived. One of the black people who did live there was William K. H. Donnegan.[219]

Kentucky-born Donnegan was an 80-year-old black man, and former friend of Abraham Lincoln and General John M. Palmer.[220][221] He had resided in Springfield about 60 years, was a cobbler, prominent in real estate, and well-respected. It is rumored he became wealthy by importing slave labor to Springfield, before The Civil War. After the War, he served as a middle man to whites in Springfield who sought to contract with newly freed labor.[220] Though he would be criticized for procuring a system for these new black people, which greatly resembled slavery, Donnegan was responsible for bringing many of Springfield's initial black residents to the city.[220] Because of this, some whites "blamed" him for the black population existing in Springfield.[55]

Known as "Uncle Bill," Donnegan was the most well-known black man in Springfield.[220] He was reportedly worth about $15,000 (under $400,000 in 2018), and also owned his home, as well other properties, that housed some of his family members.[222] While Donnegan had broken no laws, he was an influential black man, who had also been married to Sarah Rudolph, a 52-year-old Irish-German woman, for over 30 years.[215][223][224][222] He was said to have also angered his all-white neighborhood, as he refused to sell his property and move.[2]

Around 9:00pm, the mob arrived at Donnegan's home, with many in the mob later admitting that they targeted him because he was "married to a white woman."[225][219]

Donnegan's family called the jail, and the militia headquarters, for help long before the mob arrived.

We had been warned that a mob was coming, and we telephoned to the jail and asked for soldiers. We telephoned several times, and though we were promised each time that the soldiers would come, they did not. We were afraid to stay, but didn't know where to go, so had to wait there. When the men came to the door, they asked, 'Are there any niggers there?' William said, 'No, only white people.' 'You're a liar,' a man hollered...[220]

— Donnegan's sister

The mob started making threats to burn his home down, and then six of the mob members ran inside, firing their guns. Donnegan's family fled out the back of his home, but he suffered from severe rheumatism and was nearly blind, so he could not go with them.[225][219] Instead, he fled under a bed, but the mob found him, hit him in the face and dragged him outside, where people threw bricks and stones at him.[215][226]

Donnegan pleaded with them to "have mercy on him," noting that he "hadn't done anything to them" and, at one point saying, "Even I've worked on some of your shoes."[218] The mob ignored his pleas and senselessly beat him. As he staggered around, after the beating, his throat was slashed with a razor.[226] His throat was rumored to have been cut by a 10-year-old boy; however Abraham Raymer, a very short, non-naturalized immigrant, who was childlike in appearance, was later suspected of being the culprit.[215][218][227]

After his throat was cut, someone yelled, "Drown him in the water trough!" while others screamed, "Lynch him!"[220] Donnegan was dragged over to a low tree, across the street from his home, in front the Edwards school yard, two blocks away from the Governor's office. One of the mob members grabbed a nearby clothesline, which was then looped around his neck four times, and once around his face and mouth, before it was tied around the tree, from which he was then hanged.[215][218][222] However, because the tree was short, his feet were only partially suspended off the ground.[215]

Once Donnegan was hanged, some of the mob went back over to his house, and attempted to set his home on fire; however, militiamen arrived to the scene, and the perpetrators ran away.[220]

The militia found Donnegan still alive. His awkward position kept him alive, until the police came. They found him with his "neck severed...breathing through the holes in his windpipe."[228]

When they cut him down, they could not remove a piece of the clothesline from his mouth, as it had gotten locked in his jaw, which had become "firmly set."[222]

Donnegan, who never regained consciousness, had the 8-inch gash across his neck sewn up by Captain H. H. Tuttle.[222] The mob had also broken skin in several places, which the militia physician attended.[222] He was eventually taken to St. John's hospital, where he died the next morning.[215]

Two days after he was lynched, Donnegan's niece, who fled to Chicago after he was lynched, would say of his murder:

They say my uncle was killed because he is married to a white woman, but they have been married twenty years, have children, and own considerable property. And the property was the cause of his murder. He was even told by some of the ringleaders of the mob that he had too much property for a 'nigger.'[229]

— Carrie Hamilton, August 17, 1908


Following the attacks, 10,000 tourists traveled to Springfield to see the aftermath.[230] With the roughly 3,700 militiamen in town, and many black people returning to the city, a food shortage ensued.[231] Business was largely halted for 10 days.[2] News of the attacks spread across the country:

There is a bitter irony in the fact that the largest force of state troops ever assembled in Illinois were summoned by the Governor of Lincoln's state to protect the Negroes whom Lincoln emancipated from citizens of Lincoln's city. It is a sorry comment upon American civilization that no better use has been made of our resources of law, education and religion than to have allowed that population to have become, in large part, so depraved that the new race of white no means of protecting themselves from them except the blood and fire of extermination. The isolation to which the increasing race antipathy consigns the Negro populations in the cities of the North, East and West, as well as the South, may confidently be reckoned upon to produce, everywhere all the elements, for just a crucifixion of its justice, humanity and religion as the nation has suffered in Springfield.[100]

— Graham Taylor, Charities and the Commons, 1908

Injuries and deaths

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Over 100 whites were documented as being injured while participating in the attacks.[2] It is unknown how many black people were injured as many fled, and also due to white city officials and most newspapers, opted not to record the injuries of black people who stayed or returned.[232] For example, in the initial injury list of 62 included 3 black people, and omitted others, such as Charles Duncan, an elderly black man, stricken with rheumatoid arthritis who was shot in the chest by the mob when he tried to flee his home as they surrounded it.[233] Duncan would later sue the city for his injury.[233] Several black people were also pulled from street cars, and places of business where they worked and frequented, such as the Silas hotel and Dreamland Theatre, and beaten in the street.[234][235] At least one black man is on record of having a nervous breakdown, when the police arrested him and sought to have him committed to a mental hospital, after finding him taking lumber from the lumberyards, stating his determination to "rebuild all the burned homes in the east end."[236]

Seven people were on record as being dead: two Black men and five Whites. However, there were several more unreported deaths, such as Louis Hanen, a white man who was struck in his chest, groin and chin, along with John Colwell, by a volley laid down by the militia near Twelfth and Madison. Hanen did not succumb to his injuries until November.[203][237][238]

In addition to Scott Burton and William Donnegan, there were also six unidentified black people killed, four from bullet wounds near Eleventh and Macon Street, one with his throat cut near Chicago and Alton Streets, and one found hanging from a tree on Fifteen and Clay Streets, with his clothes "slashed to shreds" and his body "riddled with bullets."[239][207][240] Such black deaths were corroborated when the families, of four of the black men who were killed, sought to bring lawsuits against the city for their deaths, but were denied the right to file.[241]

All six of the white men who were killed – Frank Delmore (killed by a stray bullet) Louis Johnston (shot by mob), Earl Nelson (stabbed by militia bayonet), James W. Scott (killed by ricochet bullet), John Colwell (shot by militia), Louis Hanen (shot by militia) – died at the hands of other white mob members, or by the hands of the white state militia. Delmore, a miner, was initially thought to have been an innocent bystander, but the city physician said he overheard him bragging about the riots in the hospital.[242]

"I had the satisfaction of seeing one nigger shot and if I live to get out with the bunch I will see some hung."[243]

In addition, at least one black infant died from exposure, after her family was made refugees and no neighboring community would allow them in.[244][245] Some black deaths were unaccounted for because their loved ones buried them at night out of fear that whites might attack them, while the loved ones of other black people transported the bodies of their dead off to the countryside for burial.[48][207][246] It was also said that several black people were burned alive in their homes and that, at one point, black people had to send out of town for more caskets as they had run out.[247][248]

Early after he was shot, William H. Bowe was erroneously reported as being killed by black people.[210] However, he did not die, and continued to live in Springfield until he died 50 years later, in 1958.


State Arsenal.
The Weekly Republican.

Many black people fled Springfield during the attacks. They had to escape on foot and hid in corn fields, sometimes getting onto trains, or pleading for refuge with nearby rural families. Mattie Hale recalled her family took people in:[205]

We sheltered, I guess, above twenty or twenty-five. We had a large barn...and a lot of them went up there and stayed all night in the barn loft. Some slept out underneath of our fruit trees and we'd taken some in the house...And we fed them; we went to the garden and we gathered vegetables and cooked.[249]

Those who returned to Springfield faced increased hostility. For example, when a group of newly homeless and destitute black women returned with their children, at 12:15 p.m., near Pasfield and Cedar streets, the white residents sounded the fire alarm.[250] When the firemen came, the white residents stated they were looking for protection as they were "frightened by the presence" of the women and children.[250] Many black people returning had no personal effects except what they managed to carry with them:[251]

...the next [the prairies] was just full of niggers. Some of them would have a sheet wrapped around them or a blanket, or some them wouldn't have a damn thing on. They wouldn't have a stitch on...they were coming back into town. They had gotten out of town see, waiting away from the riot. Got out in the sticks and hid in the sticks. Come daylight, they was moving back into town."[194]

— William F. Lee, Loper's Restaurant looter

Governor Deneen arranged for the homeless to take refuge in the State Arsenal, and in tents at Camp Lincoln. Several hundred went to the Arsenal; however, many refused to live there and wanted to leave the city, as they felt unsafe:

For God's sake, mister [Deneen], give me enough money to make myself and child to Missouri. These white folks have sent word to me that they will burn my house and murder me.[252]

— Elderly black woman, August 17, 1908

Many refugees who fled were denied any assistance in neighboring towns, and were turned away with no provisions even after long treks. For example, Buffalo, about 15 miles from Springfield, posted a sign at the train station: "All niggers wanted out of town by Monday, 12 am sharp – BUFFALO SHARP SHOOTERS."[253] Refugees who took trains to Jacksonville, Peoria and Sterling, were met by armed police who prevented them from getting off the train.[254] When black people arrived in Greenridge and begged for food, they were "stoned out of town."[198] In Gage Park, white residents threatened over 40 black refugee families with shotguns, ropes, and lynching should they try to attempt to seek shelter there.[244]

Such rejection brought about more deaths. For example, Lawrence Paine fled Springfield with his wife and three-week-old daughter.[255] After the family was "denied refuge from the elements in the white towns along the route of their march, [the baby] died of exposure."[244][217]

It is uncertain how many black people permanently left the city due to the attacks. Many newspapers claimed that more 2,000 fled; which might have been likely during the attack and its immediate aftermath. It appears that most black people did return to Springfield, or were replaced by new migrants. Prior to the attacks, Springfield had about 2,700 black people. Two years later, per the 1910 US Census, the black population had risen to just under 3,000.[32][33]

Those who did return, and found that they were rendered homeless, sought refuge at the state Arsenal building, joining the 300 black people who had not left the Arsenal since the attacks began. Some newspapers labeled the returnees as "fugitives."[256] At least 400 black people would live in the Arsenal building in the aftermath of the attacks, and some officials feared that "their very presence" would incite a riot.[256] To prevent such incitement, the militiamen kept the doors to the armory closed, brought the residents food prepared by militia cooks, and discouraged them from leaving the building.[256]

Personal and property damages

Ruins of "The Badlands"
Block of Building ruins between 10th and 11th streets south side of Madison street in "The Badlands" after riot. Chicago Tribune.
Dandy Jim's after attacks.

The militia quelled the riot on August 15, with nearly 50 homes and 35 businesses left in ruins.[176][192] It was reported that "violent explosions and winds could not have accomplished more destruction.[192] The negro quarters over these places were emptied and every window was shot out":

Can't you give me a ticket to Bloomington? I've got a son up there, and [I'm] sure he will give me a home. I can't see why they treat me as if I was a dog. Here I is, 76-years-old next week. Me and my girl saved up $300 and put it all in a home. Now our home is done burned up, and we're without a place to sleep, let alone enough to wear."[257]

— Black Woman, Resident of "The Badlands," Aug. 22, 1908

Within one week, pictures of the burned ruins were sold as postcards and other memorabilia.[201]

There was over $120,000 in property damage "by fire," and over $35,000 filed in personal damages.[5] Adjusted for inflation, in 2018, the total amount equates to about $4 million. However, not included in those estimates was property damage due to vandalism. With costs to transport and feed the state militia, during the violence, the total cost to the state was $265,000 (about $7 million in 2018).[5]

The family of Scott Barton sued the city for $5,000 (roughly $125,000 in 2018), as did the family of William Donnegan. The families of four other black people who were killed, were denied the right to file suits, as the city attributed the cause of their deaths, not to the attacks, but to an uncontrollable force majeure.[241][258]

As lawsuits began mounting up against the city, it refused to pay anything. The city shifted the blame for the attacks and failure to protect its citizens to the state. Springfield filed a lawsuit against the state claiming that the militia failed to stop the attacks as it lacked ammunition supplies, was forbidden from charging into the mob, and that the damages that happened in Springfield occurred after the state took charge the situation.[259]

The city ended up denying payment to all claimants seeking damages, with exception to the families of Burton and Donnegan, citing Section 5 of the Illinois Criminal Code, "Suppression of Mob Violence":[260]

The surviving spouse, lineal heirs, or adopted children of any such other person or persons who, before the loss of life, were dependent for support upon any other person who shall hereafter suffer death by lynching at the hands of a mob, in any county or city of this State, may recover from such county or city damages for injury sustained by reason of the loss of life of such person, to a sum not exceeding five thousand dollars.[261]

Ballard's wife, and two minor daughters, filed what was described by a local paper as "one of the most peculiar suits ever filed" at the time.[262][263] Under the Dram Shop Act, they filed a $10,000 (about $250,000 in 2018) suit against Edward White and James Smith, the owners of Dandy Jim's saloon, where Joe James had been drinking, and also against Jacob B. Olean, who owned the building where Dandy Jim's operated.[262] As one of the first civil suits of its kind, the case was "watched with great interest by the legal profession." The family alleged that the three men cited were liable for Clergy Ballard's death because they served James alcohol. They said that if the men had not served James alcohol, he would not have become drunk and would not have allegedly killed Ballard.[262][263]

Racial atmosphere

Republican-Northwestern. (Belvidere, Illinois) 8 Oct 1907

Newspapers were filled with reports of hostility and violence against black people. For example, the same day the Springfield riot began, in Pensacola, Florida, "large crowds" were reported waiting outside the jailhouse with "excitement" to lynch a black man accused of assaulting a white woman.[264] That same night, in Media, Pennsylvania, a black man died by suicide rather than let himself be captured by a mob hunting him for, allegedly, threatening a white woman.[265] And, at 1:00 a.m. on August 15, a mob of 300 men showed up at the Norfolk, Virginia county jail, planning to lynch two black men accused of "criminally assaulting" a white woman.[266][267] By December 1908, some 88 lynchings had been recorded that year across the country; black people were 95 percent of the victims.[268]

Springfield, with its thriving vice district, also had a history of violence prior to the attacks. Immediately after Ballard's death, newspapers added his death "to the long list of bloody murders which have stained the history of Springfield.[112] For example, on the day James first appeared before the special grand jury, his case was one of two murder cases brought to them. The other case was one of whites killing a white: Ira Dudley and Michael Lynch, a white livery driver and white miner, were both charged with the July 2 murder of Marcus Neil, when they allegedly hit him over the head with a club and fractured his skull.[144][157]

Such violence continued in the aftermath of the riot, further heightening tensions.[269][270][271] On August 23, one week after the riot, Thomas Brady, a 70-year-old white man, was murdered in his sleep at his store on East Washington Street, where the riot had been intense.[272] Although Grady's 26-year-old white employee, Frank Bryant, was guilty of the crime, prior to his capture, rumors circulated that Grady had been murdered by a black man.[272] The black population feared becoming targets again of whites on no evidence.[272]

The riot violence spread beyond Springfield: whites in surrounding states arbitrarily attacked black people in their towns. For example, on August 16, a black man, George Mondie, was walking in Evansville, Indiana, when he passed two white men discussing the riot in Springfield. When the men saw Mondie, they attacked him and nearly stabbed him to death.[273]

Support for attackers

Chicago Tribune. Aug 1908
Decatur Herald. 19 Aug 1908

The whites of Springfield largely came to support the riot, and eventually showed sympathy for the attackers. Whites talked about how "everybody knows that mob has made our families safe," boasting that the attacks were "the best thing that ever happened to the Capital City," and celebrating that "this was only the beginning of a crusade that shall make Springfield decent and keep it that way":[219][274][275]

..."Springfield had no shame. She stood for the action of the mob. She hoped the rest of the negroes might flee. She threatened that the movement to drive them out would continue. I do not speak of the leading citizens, but of the masses of people, of working men in the shops, the storekeepers in the stores, the drivers, the men on the street, the wounded in the hospitals...

— William English Walling, September 3, 1908[47]

Two weeks after Ballard died, the Illinois State Journal began running a comic strip: "Sambo and His Funny Voices." The comic relegated black people to bumbling stereotypes, allowing whites to ridicule and diminish black citizens.[55] Black people were harassed and assaulted for several weeks after the affair.[185][276]

The Springfield community had primarily blamed black people for the violence, or blamed both sides:

The colored people are themselves partly to blame for rioting themselves, although the blame in and rebellion, all these is shared by the whites.[277]

— Reverend E. E. Frame, Plymouth Congregational Church

Sin is at the bottom of it all. This murder of Ballard, and the assault of last Thursday, are simply outcroppings of an evil nature.[277]The Reverend Billy Sunday

Nevada State Journal.
16 Aug 1908.

The implication is clear that the conditions, not the populace, were to blame and that many good citizens could find no other remedy than that applied by the mob. It was not the fact of the whites' hatred toward the negroes, but of the negroes' own misconduct, general inferiority or unfitness for free institutions that were at fault.

— Illinois State Journal, Editorial

Such sympathy factored into the narrative of the attacks, minimizing the role of whites. For example, following the attacks, newspapers began erroneously reporting that white deaths had outnumbered the deaths of black people.[278] The only deaths of black people reported were the deaths of prominent men of Springfield (e.g. Burton, Donnegan). This false claim, which suggested that black people had killed the whites who died, and that the attacks were mutual in nature, was reported as fact for over 100 years.[279]

Economic effects

Decatur Herald. 2 Sep 1908

Following the attacks, Mayor Reece nullified, without explanation, the saloon licenses of six of Springfield's black-owned saloons, forcing their owners and employees to find new sources of income. This also meant that black people were abruptly deprived of casual neighborhood gathering places.[277] Lee F. Osborne, a black saloon owner, could not acquire a license for four months; the city approved it only after he obtained the backing of a black "law and order" league, led by a pastor, and promised to run "a model saloon."[280]

Black municipal workers – recognized as "faithful, honest men of long service" – lost their jobs. Mayor Reese laid off all black firemen "for the good of the service," and all black policemen, who he said would no longer be "useful" in their jobs.[281][282][283][284] Reese thought that getting rid of black workers would avoid "trouble" with whites and reduce post-riot tensions.[281] In addition, Mayor Reece received "Black Hand" letters telling him to fire them or face more violence.

Black laborers were also threatened with job loss. For example, three coal mines, including Woodside and Tuxhorn, employed approximately 500 men, of which 30 percent were black. Following the attacks, the 350 white miners went to the president of the Springfield United Mine Workers union, refusing to work with black miners, stating that they felt "unsafe" working with black people underground.[178][285] The mines shut down for several days, only re-opening when mine executives threatened to bring in black strikebreakers if the white miners did not resume work. Several other white employers also received letters in the mail, threatening their lives and property, if they did not dismiss their black employees or if they did business with black people.[286]

Because merchants refused to deliver provisions to black people at Camp Lincoln, hesitated to serve black people in town, or overcharged them when they did, the state purchased $10,000 (over $250,000 in 2018) worth of groceries to re-sell to black people so they could have food.[47][232][287][257]

Social and political effects

White men immediately galvanized around the notion of restricting black people from voting. From 1890 to 1908 legislatures of southern states had passed new constitutions and laws that raised barriers to voter registration, effectively disenfranchising most black people and excluding them from politics. This policy was enforced for decades, into the late 1960s.

Local discussions were similarly overt in intent:

The male citizen of the black belt in late years has come to pose as a political factor in Springfield. Do you want niggers to make white mans' laws? If not, get busy. Have all the men who have made our laws for the past thirty years been elected by the intelligent white vote or by the majority of an ignorant, vicious Negro vote?[55]

— Springfield News, August 17, 1908
Illinois State Register

Directed to arrest "all suspicious characters," police quickly began arresting black people known to have lost their jobs, or homes in the riot, for "vagrancy"; in some cases police conducted raids of their homes to do so.[288][289][290] If unable to pay a $100 ($2,500 in 2018) fine, the black people were given "hours" to leave town.[291] Most of those arrested lived, or had businesses in, the politically influential Levee District.[288] For example, seven such arrests were made in one day, one week after the rioting.[288] The following week, police raided the homes of nine more black people, arrested them for "vagrancy," and presented them with the same ultimatum to leave.[289]

Chicago Tribune. Feb 1909.

Six months later, the city held a Centennial Celebration in honor of Lincoln's birthday. It was a "black tie" event held at the State Arsenal Building, featuring prominent American and foreign dignitaries. It was held at the same place used to shelter 300 black people during the riots. More than 700 whites attended the $25 ($650 in 2018) per plate event. No African American was invited, although many black people wanted to celebrate Lincoln and his emancipation of slaves. Edward H. Morris, a prominent Chicago black lawyer, did purchase a ticket to the event. When organizers learned that he was black, his ticket was rescinded.[292]

It was reported that black people were thoroughly "over the fact that they [are] deprived in the big doings" around Springfield, and stipulated that, from this point out, the social order of the city had changed:

The colored population hereabouts will be represented only by the gents who slip the soup [to the white guests].[292]


Evening Star. 4 Sep 1908
Decatur Herald. Aug 1908

By August 17, over 200 people had been arrested in connection with the attacks.[230] The State Attorney General, Frank L. Hatch, said that he had evidence to charge "at least 15 people" with murder.[230] Hatch filed a motion for a special jury.

On the morning of August 17, because the jails were overflowing, Judge James A. Creighton, granted the special jury to move the process along. Creighton asked Sheriff Werner how quickly he could get 23 men together.[293] Werner responded that he could corral men by 2:00 p.m. that afternoon. Creighton set the jury investigations to begin at that time, and ordered that the investigations be conducted in secret.[293] At 2:00 p.m., Werner returned to the courthouse with the same 23 men who constituted the special grand jury that indicted Joe James four weeks prior.[293]

By early September, the grand jury, "seeking to place blame for the deaths and the destruction of property", brought 117 indictments against dozens of individuals.[293][294][295][296] In late October, the grand jury brought an additional 32 indictments against mob participants for "malicious mischief," bringing the total of indictments to 149.[297][298]

Four of the indictments were against police officers – Oscar Dahlcamp, Joseph Fernanmes, George Pohlman and George W. Dawson – for "grossly neglecting any efforts to suppress the riot."[299]

The special grand jury said of the police:

After the most diligent inquiry we condemn, in unmeasured terms the cowardly, contemptuous actions of those members of the police force, who having taken the oath of office, failed to do their duty; men who are paid from money obtained from the pockets of the people of this city to protect life and property; men who were ordered by the heads of departments of the police to go out and disperse the mob and who not only failed to use a club, handle a pistol or raise a voice against the mob on the side of the law and order, but some who are show to have assisted by act and word in doing the work that has brought the blush-shame to every law-abiding citizen of this city.[300]

Approximately 10 percent of the indictments were against black men, who were charged with crimes such as "assault with a deadly weapon," "assault to intent to murder," "or "robbery." Most white men were charged with lesser charges of "mischief," "riot," or "larceny."[301] For example, Andrew J. Gordon, a black former St. Louis detective who then resided in Springfield, and who local whites referred to as "Big Nigger Gordon," was indicted for the attempted murder and robbery of William H. Bowe.[302] Gordon denied the charges. Former detective Gordon ended up working as a janitor the following year, according to the city directory.[303]

Most of the black men arrested for Bowe's shooting were known to be politically influential "among colored voters."[304] They were held in jail on bench warrants, from August 14 until November 3, past voter registration day in the city. Because they were in jail, they were prevented from registering.[304] But on November 2, some of the black men were released, if they could post a $1,000 bond, "with the understanding that they were to boost for [Fred] Mortimer," who was running for "the most important county office," State Attorney, in an election taking place the following day.[304]

Kate Howard


Kate Howard, who had incited the violence on Loper's property, and the lynchings of Burton and Donnegan, was the first attacker to be indicted. A charge was brought against her for the murder of Burton.[4][165] Nicknamed "Springfield Joan," an homage to "Joan of Arc," Howard was seen throwing bricks at, and stealing a substantial amount of silverware and linen, from Loper's restaurant, which she looted for her hotel.[305] It was reported that, at Burton's lynching, she "behaved like a fury of the French Revolution."[306]

In an interview, Howard said her actions were inspired by observations during a trip she'd taken to the South with her brother. While in Texas and Arkansas, she saw how stringently whites enforced segregation (which their legislatures had passed into law), and thought it worked to "teach the negro where he belonged."[47] When she returned to Springfield, she noticed more businesses boycotting black people, but thought they were being cowardly in enforcing it. She thought it was time for the city's whites to "act up" and take action that she was willing to steer.[47] After the attacks, she proudly displayed buckshot wounds in her arms, which were rumored to have been inflicted during Burton's lynching.[47] She said that she believed white citizens would not allow her to be punished.[47]

But when arrested and facing 10 indictments, Howard said that she was not guilty. She said she had gone into Loper's only to collect souvenirs of the attack.[307] One of her souvenirs was a 20-pound bucket of lard.[307]

After Howard was indicted, a white saloonkeeper posted her a $10,000 bond (over $250,000 in 2018).[308][212] When Deputy Sheriff Kramer arrived at her home to arrest her on the murder charge, she excused herself to "change her clothes." When she stepped away, she secretly swallowed arsenic, then allowed Deputy Kramer to place her under arrest, telling him: "I'm ready to go."[212][309] By the time they reached the jail, Howard collapsed and died as she walked through the door.[310][212]

Persons indicted

Name Occupation Indictment(s)


Frank Whitico Bartender Arson
William "Fuzzy" Phillips Former Police Officer Arson; Riot
Roy E. Young Hostler Arson; Burglary; Larceny
Abraham Raymer[322] Peddler Arson; Destruction of Property (2 counts); Larceny; Malicious Mischief (5 counts); Murder (2 counts); Riot
William Farmer (black) Carpet Cleaning Manager Assault with Intent to Murder; Assault with a Deadly Weapon; Assault and Battery; Robbery
Frank C. Mitchell (black) Laborer Assault with Intent to Murder; Assault with a Deadly Weapon; Assault and Battery; Robbery
William Beaverly (black) Unknown Assault with Intent to Murder; Assault with a Deadly Weapon; Assault and Battery
Chas Cade (black) Unknown Assault with Intent to Murder; Assault with a Deadly Weapon; Assault and Battery
Sandy Curry (black) Unknown Assault with Intent to Murder; Assault with a Deadly Weapon; Assault and Battery
Andrew J. Gordon (black) Shoemaker, Former Detective Assault with Intent to Murder; Assault with a Deadly Weapon; Assault and Battery
Haden "Hade" L. Gray (black) Laborer Assault with Intent to Murder; Assault with a Deadly Weapon; Assault and Battery
Thomas Marshall (black) Miner Assault with Intent to Murder; Assault with a Deadly Weapon; Assault and Battery
Frank Meredith (black) Laborer Assault with Intent to Murder; Assault with a Deadly Weapon; Assault and Battery
James Porter (black) Unknown Assault with Intent to Murder; Assault with a Deadly Weapon; Assault and Battery
5 Unknown Men (black) Unknown Assault with Intent to Murder; Assault with a Deadly Weapon; Assault and Battery
Robert McCay Unknown Burglary
Sydney Adwell Unknown Burglary; Larceny
May Beck Unknown Burglary; Larceny
William Bender Unknown Burglary; Larceny
Georgia Benning Unknown Burglary; Larceny
Eugene Bradley Barber Burglary; Larceny
Madge Clark Unknown Burglary; Larceny
William Lotherington Unknown Burglary; Larceny
Alta McNeeley Unknown Burglary; Larceny
Frederick Mehl Miner Burglary; Larceny
Grover C. McCauley Barber Burglary; Larceny
Leo Randolph Unknown Burglary; Larceny
Joseph Rose Peddler Burglary; Larceny
Mabel South Unknown Burglary; Larceny
William Smith Unknown Burglary; Larceny
Mabel Stout Unknown Burglary; Larceny
William Stout Unknown Burglary; Larceny
Eva Thomas Clothing Alterations Burglary; Larceny
Katherine "Kate" Howard Boarding Proprietor Destruction of Property (2 counts); Malicious Mischief (2 counts); Murder; Riot (4 counts)
Oscar Dahlcamp* Police Officer Gross Neglect to Suppress a Riot
Joseph Fernandes* Police Officer Gross Neglect to Suppress a Riot
George Poehlman* Police Officer Gross Neglect to Suppress a Riot
George W. Dawson* Police Officer Gross Neglect to Suppress a Riot
Ernest "Slim" Humphrey Huckster Malicious Mischief (8 counts), Murder, Riot
Rudolph Bredemeyer Mechanic Malicious Mischief (6 counts); Riot
John W. Schienle Electrician Malicious Mischief (6 counts); Riot
Thomas W. Gegan Bartender Malicious Mischief (5 counts); Riot
Herbert B. Carey Blacksmith Malicious Mischief (2 counts), Riot
William E. Sutton Cabman Malicious Mischief, Riot
Ethel Howe Cook Malicious Mischief (4 counts)
Charles Wolff Unknown Malicious Mischief (2 counts), Riot
Alvin D. Irwin Contractor Malicious Mischief (3 counts)
Edward Ferris Unknown Malicious Mischief (3 counts)
Frank Johnson Travel Agent Malicious Mischief (2 counts)
George White Laborer Malicious Mischief (2 counts)
Peter Sappington Laborer Malicious Mischief (3 counts)
Ollie Adams Laborer Riot
James Andrew Bechtel Collections Riot
Henry F. Collins Unemployed Bricklayer Riot
Allen Cox Unemployed Riot
Ed Duffy Unknown Riot
Roy Foster Unemployed Fireman Riot
Benjamin F. Kirlin Peddler Riot
B. Klinow Laborer Riot
Jesse L. McBee Railroad Employee Riot
Fergus O'Toole Bartender Riot
Thomas Reavely Miner Riot
George Rittenbusch Laborer Riot
Sherman A. Stricklett Railroad Employee Riot
Edward Sullivan Miner Riot
Nicholas Trainor Painter Riot
William Sutton Unknown Riot
Fred Wilhite Telephone Company Collector Riot


Abraham Raymer

Ernest "Slim" Humphrey (l) and Abraham "Abe" Raymer (r).
Chicago Tribune.
Illinois State Journal

As the trials began, it was widely reported that "few men of any prominence will be hit in the investigation."[323] However, given the numbers of indictments, the scope of evidence (including confessions), and the Grand Jury's "determination to rid the community of the lawless element," newspapers reported that it was likely that perpetrators would serve time:[324]

We have practically a complete confession from Raymer, and we have also discovered convincing evidence of arson on the part of a former police officer of Springfield. The of such a character that convictions are almost bound to follow its presentation in court. I will stand sponsor for that statement.[325]

— Lt. Colonel Chipperfield, 1st Calvary

Only one conviction was made by the jury.

Abraham Raymer, a 20-year-old Russian-Jewish vegetable peddler, who spoke in broken English was indicted on 10 charges.[222][219][326] Raymer had immigrated in 1903. He had two sisters in Boston, and his mother was in Russia.[327] He came to Springfield, from St. Louis, where he had been employed at a shoe factory, a cleaning store, and an amusement park.[226] He had arrived in Springfield in February. It was rumored, and reported, that Raymer carried the American flag in the middle of the mob and urged them to attack Donnegan, that he personally slit Donnegan's throat, and that he tried to incite the mob to help him beat the detective, Evan T. Jones, who eventually arrested him.[328] Though Raymer was not a legal citizen of the U.S., it was reported that he "loved the flag."[329] He was arrested at the corner of Fourth and Washington streets, about an hour after Donnegan had been lynched. He was with a mob en route to the gashouse, "looking for negroes living there" in order to lynch them.[330] The mob was thwarted by the state militia.[330]

Several witnesses, including at least five militiamen, testified that they saw Raymer throwing bricks into Loper's restaurant.[294][331] Loper testified that Raymer was a leader in the destruction of his restaurant. Loper said that he watched Raymer destroy his restaurant for over an hour, and considered shooting him, but did not want to miss and accidentally shoot an innocent person in the crowd.[331][332]

Raymer was reported as "defiant and boastful" about taking part in the mob; he confessed going to the gashouse, and also confessed to taking part in Donnegan's lynching, admitting that Donnegan was targeted because his wife was white.[219][333][330] Raymer provided the names of four other rioters, including Ernest "Slim" Humphrey, who had a long rap sheet for fighting.[330]

According to Raymer's confession, on August 15, after leaving the State Arsenal building, a smaller mob of about 200 men assembled at Seventh and Washington streets, around 8:00pm.[219] The headquarters of the militia was one block away, at Seventh and Jefferson.[219] Raymer stated that only about six men in the mob knew where the group was heading.[219] One man allegedly had a clothesline, which he showed to Raymer, who admitted that he understood its intended use.[219] As the mob neared Donnegan's home, Donnegan's wife and children were seen fleeing through a rear door. Five or six members of the mob ran into Donnegan's home, firing revolvers.[219] They dragged Donnegan out.[219] While witnesses said they thought Raymer cut Donnegan's throat, police believed Raymer had tied the rope around Donnegan's neck.[219] Raymer denied doing either.

It was reported that Raymer was one of the "foremost" perpetrators in Burton's lynching as well.[219] He was seen by detectives who knew him, and threatened to arrest him if he did not go home.[219] He had given "a lot of conflicting statements", Authorities suspected him of being an anarchist, which he denied:

No, I am not an anarchist...Someone has said that I slashed Donnegan's neck. I do not remember it, if I did.[334]

While in jail, Raymer was caught hiding a letter, in his shoe, that he wrote (in Yiddish) to S. Singer, a "second hand dealer." Raymer had often stayed with and was living with Singer at the time of the attacks.[219] Raymer was asking Singer for help, as he was certain he was going to be found guilty and hanged:[330]

S. Singer, 110 South Seventh Street, Springfield – Dear and Best Friend: As you love your children, please do something for me. I am locked up at the police station and they are going to hang me for being with the crowd that killed the old negro last night. I want you to try to do your best for me. Please come over and see me.[219][335]

— A. Raymer

It was later discovered that there was no "S. Singer". Eli Singer, a Russia-born shoe repairman, and his 22-year-old son, Harry Singer, lived and worked at the 110 South Seventh Street address.[53][336] When police approached Singer about the note, he said he was a "slight acquaintance" of Raymer's.[219]

Illinois State Register

Raymer's indictment was the first to be brought before a jury.[337] His trial was closely watched, as it was expected to establish the likelihood of convictions in the other indictments.[338] The Springfield Jewish community raised a fund for Raymer's defense.[339] His sister, Rosa Albert, came from Boston to be at the trial and serve as a character witness.[340] While she was in Springfield, Albert stayed with Eli Singer.[340]

Raymer's trial for Donnegan's murder had been paused by the judge, who determined that it was "impossible" for any of the attackers to receive a fair trial.[341] The initial jury was purged, and a new jury was assembled of prominent businessmen in the community.

Several people admitted to seeing Raymer bend down over Donnegan in the street, and stand back up with blood on his hand, stating their belief that Raymer had slit Donnegan's throat.[342] Others, did not name Raymer but described someone who looked like him: "a short fellow with sleeves rolled up, who talked in broken English, and a 'Jewish' accent."[343]

When Raymer confessed, he insisted that he was not "first leader" of the mob nor had cut Donnegan's throat, attributing that to a man named "Red" Davenport. However, Davenport was never found, and neither known by anyone in Springfield, nor mentioned beyond Raymer's confession.[330][344][345] It was reported that Raymer likely "imagined the identity of his companions to escape further experience in 'third degrees.'"[346]

Sarah Donnegan, William's wife, was a key witness for the state. She testified that Raymer was one of the men who dragged her husband from the house.[323] She knew Raymer from his broken English and because he had previously sold her vegetables.[347] Raymer's lawyers, John G. Friedmeyer and Stephen H. Cummins, who was threatened with disbarment by Judge Creighton for his treatment of witnesses, attacked Donnegan's credibility, based on her being in an interracial marriage.[348][332] They said:

What do you think of this woman – a white woman – marrying a negro forty years older than herself, when she herself was in the bloom of youth? I tell you she started out wrong and she has been erratic ever since.[349]

Illinois State Register

The court instructed the jury to convict Raymer of murder if the evidence demonstrated that he was even a part of the lynch mob.[350] But the all-male jury found Raymer "not guilty" on the first ballot.[351] He was acquitted because the jury believed the defense claim of police brutality, saying that his confession was "sweated out" of him by police.[352] After the verdict was read, Raymer shook the hand of each juror and made a speech thanking them.[351]

Raymer was then tried on lesser counts. During the new trial, one of the state's chief witnesses against Raymer, Rollin T. Sturgis, was found dead. A former employee of Harry Loper, he was left injured after the attacks and had filed a $5,000 claim against the city for his injuries.[353] He allegedly shot and killed himself the day before he was to receive a subpoena to testify against Raymer.[354] Sturgis was expected to testify that he had seen Raymer cut Donnegan's throat.[343] It was reported that Sturgis took his own life rather than face questioning for reportedly forging a $31 check to get supplies to move his wife and 1-year-old son.[355] The bullet that killed Sturgis had "entered the back portion" of his head.[354]

Eventually, Raymer was convicted of petty larceny for stealing a saber from the home of Major Otis Duncan, a black militiaman, when the home was looted and burned.[356][357] He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a $25 fine (about $650 in 2018).[358] Raymer's acquittal of murder, despite the evidence and instruction by the court, was taken to mean that convictions would not be obtained in the remaining trials.[338][350]

Raymer was able to get his murder charge for the lynching of Burton, along with three malicious mischief indictments, stricken from the circuit docket by posting a $3,000 bond (about $75,000 in 2018). On February 11, 1909, a local junk dealer, Abraham Barker, put the money up on Raymer's behalf.[359]

Assistant State Attorney, William St. John Wines, said of Raymer's murder acquittals:

If there ever was a man in Sangamon County who deserves to hang, it is Abraham Raymer.[360]

Following his acquittals, Raymer moved to Boston to live near his sisters. He married there, had two sons and became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1915.[361][362]

Other confessions

There were other culprits who outright confessed; yet, despite their confessions, there were no convictions. For example, Charles Gadwin confessed to taking part in Donnegan's lynching. He went to the Bartonville Mental Asylum, applied for shelter, and after he was admitted, promptly confessed:

We stamped him in the face; we cut his throat; and then put a rope around his neck. That's what it took to kill him.[363]"

There were also assailants who, not only "proudly" confessed, but who were also found with evidence in their possession to corroborate their confessions. Such was the case with Charlie Wolff, who professed, "I helped to lynch one nigger, anyway.[364].." and 15-year-old Roy E. Young:[196][365][366][367]

When I heard they were shooting niggers I went over. When the niggers commenced shooting on East Washington Street, some of us broke into Fishman's pawnshop to get some guns. I took three or four revolvers and some cartridges and some of the other fellows got some guns too. We went east on Washington Street and the fighting got bad. I commenced shooting at the niggers. I shot every one I had the chance...When we went over to Madison Street someone started setting fires to the houses of niggers and I helped. I guess I poured oil on about fifteen or sixteen houses and set fire to them. I didn't set fire to Burton's bed, nor did I help hang him to the tree. When we got to Ninth and Madison Streets I was just setting fire to a house when a white man ran up to me and told me not to burn the place; that it belonged to him and was rented to niggers. We did not burn this house.

Illinois State Journal

Young was found to have stolen property, from several businesses that were looted or destroyed, at his home. When questioned about them, he openly confessed that he took them during the attacks. Young also confessed a second time, that he set fire to 16 homes, and that he was also present for Scott Burton's lynching.[368] Young, the first of those charged to be sentenced, was not tried as an adult, but sent to reformatory school.[369]

Governor Deneen offered a reward of $200 (about $5,000 in 2018) to anyone with information about the lynchings; however, he stressed that it was payable only upon a conviction.[182][255] The offer went ignored. Beyond a few misdemeanor pleas, no perpetrators were ever convicted of any of the violence.[342]

Realizing no convictions would occur, the state attorney proposed to "lump" the last 35 indictments into a single "conspiracy" charge in order to save the country $10,000 from individual trials.[370]

Fate of Richardson and James

Prior to the trial, Assistant State Attorney, William St. John Wines, expressed confidence in securing convictions against both defendants, stating:

I have known lots of guilty men to go free, but I have never known an innocent man to be convicted.[371]

George Richardson


Decatur Herald. 2 Sep 1908.

When Richardson was in jail, expert doctors examined him and concluded that he had "no connection with her [Mabel Hallam] in any way."[165] This was concluded as Mabel Hallam was afflicted with a sexually transmitted infection (STI), born from her alleged rape, of which Richardson "was not affected."[177][372]

Shortly before this revelation, Rolla Keyes, the witness that Hallam procured to support her accusation against Richardson, was accidentally shot by 14-year-old Harold McLaughlin when a revolver he was playing with accidentally discharged while he, Keyes, and 16-year old [Albert] Chester Brown were out fishing.[180] Keyes was white, along with Harold and Chester, who lived on N. Fifth Street and North Fourth Street, respectively.[125][373][374] Because he was a key Grand Jury witness for Hallam, his shooting upset many whites as rumors spread that he was shot by a black man as vengeance for testifying against Richardson. There was a fear that whites would again attacks black people, with some proclaiming, "It's time to get after those niggers again. We'll have to go out and hang some more of them."[180][375] However, the boys helped quell the pending attacks by providing more details about the accident and stipulating their fear of reporting it, as they, too, thought, it could lead to rumors that could incite more white violence.[375] Following the shooting, no further news stories on Rolla were produced.

After Hallam was made aware of Richardson's medical examination, two weeks after Richardson had been indicted, she recanted her accusation about him and, on September 1, then accused "Ralph Burton," who she alleged to be the 19-year-old son of the lynched, Scott Burton.[376] Hallam stated she was certain young Burton, who was rumored to be in Wichita was her attacker:

Illinois State Journal

The negro who assaulted me was shorter and stouter than my husband, who is five feet six inches, and weighs about 135 pounds. I could not tell whether the fellow was light or dark-skinned, so frightened was I by what was happening. I positively know Richardson did not commit the crime and am not backward in acknowledging the mistake. But if the right negro is brought before me I would be able to identify him beyond a doubt in a short time.[377]

However, Scott Burton's son, Charles, and wife, Kate, told authorities that Burton had no such son.[372][378][379]

With Hallam no longer pressing charges, George Richardson was released from jail without incident.[380] He received no restitution or apology for his time away from work or harm to his name.[165] He went on to work as a janitor, and lived until he was 76, when he died at St. John's Hospital. His obituary did not mention the events of 1908.[381]

Mabel Hallam

Hallam would again recant her accusation – this time of Burton's alleged son – later admitting that she lied in order to cover up an assault suffered at the hands of her husband after he found out about an affair she was having with another white man, when she began exhibiting symptoms of her STI.[382][383][191] To provide an explanation for her battered face, she concocted the story that she was raped by a black man.[384] No charges were filed against her for perjury or for making a false report.[232]

Hallam and her husband moved to Chicago shortly after the events. She died in 1921, purportedly of suicide, at the age of 34.[168][177]

Joe James


Illinois State Register

Shortly after Richardson was released, Joe James, who, within two days of Ballard's death, had been labeled as "the negro who killed Clergy Ballard," was brought to trial.

Many black people in the city feared being attacked again if James was acquitted, packing their personal effects so they could leave town the moment the jury read its verdict.[385] Judge Creighton also ordered a special venire of 100 jurors to be on hand.[386] A total of 123 potential jurors were excused before the final jury was compiled. The defense barred men, born in the south, from serving on the jury.[153] The defense also asked potential jurors to reveal where they were during the riotous attacks, and if they harbored any prejudice toward black people.[387]

During his incarceration, he "repeatedly" refused to enter a guilty plea of murder.[388] He initially entered a plea of "not guilty," but his lawyers changed the plea right before the trial began, and entered one of "self defense."[389]

James was represented, pro-bono, by black attorneys, Octavious V. Royall and A. Morris Williams.[126][390] Royall requested a change of venue, noting his belief that James could not receive a fair trial in the county; however, Judge James A. Creighton denied the request, stating:[391]

In no county in the state does so little prejudice exist against the colored race as in the county of Sangamon.[124]

As the trial began, several "Black Hand" letters were sent to Sheriff Werner, and left in the yard of the courthouse, threatening more violence if James was not hanged. The letters included demands such as: "If Joe James don't hang we are going to kill him and run every nigger out of town."[121][114][392] An effigy of James was also hanged from a telephone pole at Third and Washington streets, with the message: "Nigger don't let the sun go down on you."[392] The police excused the effigy as "a bit of humor."[393]

The Prosecution

During the trial, Wines claimed that Ballard's killer wore "a light pair of trousers, a black coat, and new shoes which squeaked."[394] He also stated that the piece of torn cloth, which Charles Ballard was now claiming to have found, matched James' shirt and that the hat, reportedly found in Ballard's yard, belonged to James.[394]

Royall cross-examined Ballard's family and established that no one in family had really seen the alleged intruder – Blanche conceded that it had been too dark in her room for her to discern the skin color of the "form" that had intruded into her room, but stated that she felt a knife in his hand;[126] Charles and Homer first saw the "guilty man" from at least 100 feet away after their father pointed him out; and Emma Ballard testified that while Ballard was fighting with the assailant that, during the nighttime commotion, she saw James, out on her front lawn, lunge at Ballard and "plunge a knife into his left lung (later reported to be his right lung)."[129][395][396][114][397][398] Emma's account stood with the jury, though it contradicted Blanche's account of Ballard's alleged struggle with the assailant:

My father chased the man, or rather he and the man were fighting, for several hundred feet, and then my brothers rushed downstairs. They were in their nightclothes. While Homer picked up father, who by this time was almost unconscious from the loss of blood, papa said, pointing to the direction of the watch factory, 'There goes the black ––.' I could then see that the negro was dressed in a black coat and had on light trousers, and I got a good look at him.[126]

— Blanche Ballard, testimony

I went out on the porch with my husband and we looked around for the man who was in the house. We didn't know that he was a negro then. We then heard a squeaky noise. I think it was James' shoes, and just then I saw a dark form rush around the house and strike my husband who was on the end of the porch...and then they fought. I think the man must have cut my husband ten times with a knife. Then my sons picked my husband up, I heard him tell them not to chase after the negro. He pointed across the street and said, 'There goes that black –– that killed me.' I saw him when he passed under the light and believe the right man is under arrest. I can identify the clothes.[399]

— Emma Ballard, testimony

I got home about 12 o'clock the night of July 4th and went to bed at once. I was awakened by my sister calling and went downstairs. When I reached the front porch I saw my father about 40 feet away staggering as if he were drunk. I went out and helped him on the front porch. When he reached the porch he fell and, as I turned him over, he pointed across the street and said, 'There's the nigger, boys, that killed me.' I saw the negro coming out from between the two houses and my brother and myself gave chase...While I was chasing him I passed two electric lights. The negro was dressed in a light pair of pants and a black coat and his shoes squeaked while he was running. He had no hat. When I came out of the house, before I chased the negro, I stumbled over a winter hat. the next morning, about 5 o'clock, a telephone call was received at our home that a man who answered to the description of the man that stabbed my father was near Reservoir park. My brother and I went to the park and found a man with his shoes off and his coat over his head. I noticed that a piece was torn out of his shirt and that there was blood on his trousers. When I saw this, I struck him several times. I'm pretty certain this is the man who did the deed. His height, build, clothes and everything about him tells me that this is the man. It couldn't have been anyone else.[400]

— Homer Ballard, testimony

I got home about 10 o'clock the night of July 4th. After I had been to sleep, I heard my sister holler, 'Help! I then went downstairs and saw my brother coming in with my father. Father pointed to the negro across the street and said, 'Boys, there is the man that killed me.' When I came back from chasing the negro, my father said he had torn a piece of the shirt from the negro. I went to look for it and found it in the yard...the right man, right there [who killed my father].[401]

— Charles Ballard, testimony

Another man, Hugh Costigan, testified that when Ballard's sons were chasing the assailant, the assailant ran by, fifty feet away front of him, at the corner of North Grand and Seventh streets.[402] He swore that the clothes James was wearing, were the clothes of the man who ran by him.[403] One of the ladies who found James the morning after Ballard's death, Genevieve Ford, testified that she saw James lying on the ground with a "coat over his head."[404] Officer Jack Golden testified that, two days after James was arrested, he told him that he won $1.75 while playing craps, which he took to buy a new pair of shoes, and admitted that the cap Homer Ballard said to have found, was his cap.[405]

The Defense

James, who, since his arrest, had earned the moniker of "the silent one," took the stand.[146] He was one of the few witness for his defense.[406][407] He maintained that he had no knowledge of how he ended up at Reservoir Park, and maintained that he had no knowledge of the crime throughout the trial:[390][405]

On the afternoon of July 4, I came out of jail to get some things for the prisoners – a can of syrup, a loaf of bread and a piece of pie I stopped at a restaurant on Eighth and Washington streets. I then crossed the street to the grocery store and got [these things]. The sun was still up. I bought two cans of beer there. I left Dandy Jim's place before dark. I went to another [black] saloon and won $4.00 shooting craps. I would stay at Dandy Jim's [playing piano] and then go out for a few minutes. I went to another saloon late and got some whiskey...I don't remember leaving the last saloon. I can't remember getting the half pint of whiskey there. The last I know, someone gave me a nickel to shoot craps, and I don't know whether I spent it or put it in my pocket. I don't recollect where I stayed all night. The next thing I remember was in the station house throwing up. I don't recollect where I stayed all night that night. I don't recollect whether anyone was beating me or not. I heard someone say, 'How do you do?' and then I don't remember anymore until Sunday morning in the station house. When I came to myself the next morning I couldn't see. There is a wound in my knee and a scar on my forehead. I don't know how I got them.[143]

— Joe James, testimony
Illinois State Register

James further identified the evidentiary hat, shirt and "trousers" as belonging to him, but testified that he did not recollect wearing a coat that day, being in a fight, or being in anyone's home.[143] Authorities conceded that James left the only coat he owned – a brown coat – at the jail when he left on July 4, and they did not know where he got the black coat, which was now identified as being blue.[408] Ultimately, the coat, that James did not leave with but was found with "thrown over his head," was dismissed in the media as being an item James stole from the Ballard home, despite it not belonging to anyone in the Ballard family.[136] The ownership of the coat was not mentioned at trial.

James also admitted being acquainted with some people who "loafed around" Charlie Lee's saloon, but denied ever having a knife.[409] When asked if he ever used a razor, he maintained that the only razor he'd seen since arriving in Springfield was used by prisoners and, afterward, taken back by the jailer.[409]

George Wilson, a black man, testified that he saw James at Dandy Jim's around 9:00 p.m., and saw him again, at Ed White's saloon, around 11:00 p.m., carrying a can of syrup and a loaf of bread, while drinking until he did not sound "right."[410][145] He also testified that he had seen James two weeks earlier. Ed White, a black saloon owner, testified that James was at the saloon with a can of molasses and a loaf of bread, when he purchased a half-pint of whiskey.[410] Nina Collins, a woman who had "long since lost all that modesty that is woman's finest quality," testified that she saw James playing the piano and take several drinks at Dandy Jim's before he left around "11:30 or 12 o'clock."[410] She also testified that she had seen him two or three weeks earlier. James Cannon, a black man who drank with James at Dandy Jim's that night, stated that they had gone through several bottles of wine and "six or seven" whiskey shots before James left "about 12 o'clock."[410]

Royall tried to press that, even if James was guilty, he had been drunk and, having been in jail during his entire time in Springfield, except for the day of the killing and the day he arrived, he could not have known Ballard. Therefore, the killing could not have been premeditated, which would make the killing manslaughter, not murder.[395]

James testified that he was "19 or 20" years old, which would make him too young for the death penalty.[411] [412][143] His testimony surprised the prosecution, which called on Sheriff Werner, Officer Golden, along with another deputy and police officer, to testify that James told them he was 22 or 23 years old.[411] James disputed their testimony.[411]

Near the end of the trial, the jury made "one of the most startling discoveries."[413] The jury examined the shirt James was wearing the morning he was arrested. On the shirt, near the torn part, were bloody fingerprints that the jury initially thought to be a "clot." The jury concluded that they must have been Clergy Ballard's, ruling out that they could have come from anyone else.[413]

The stabbing of Ed Jamison, and the robbery of his coat, on the night of Ballard's death, was not mentioned.[128][129][130]

In addition, there were other claims, made by Ballard's family and the police department, that were not questioned, explained or verified (i.e. how, or when, James, who had been in jail for over a month, prior to the night in question, and who had played piano most of that night, had procured the alleged murder weapon). Royall noted these questions in his review of the testimony:

How easy it would have been for someone to snatch a piece of the shirt from James as he lay sleeping on the morning of the 5th of July at Reservoir park. No guilty man in his right senses would go six blocks away from where the fatal blow was struck and lie down to pleasant dreams.[414]

Royall stated that it was "impossible" for James to have committed the crime, and asked for the jury not to be swayed by "passion or prejudice, but upon the law and evidence." He pointed at a picture of Abraham Lincoln that hung in the room, and pleaded with the jury to "give this young colored boy just the same chance as they would a white boy."[414]

Despite such questions and pleas, in a courtroom "crowded to suffocation," the jury convicted James of the premeditated murder of Clergy Ballard.[390][415] The jury reached its decision with greater "rapidity" than other such murder trials.[416] The entire trial took three days. And despite being too young to receive the death penalty in Illinois, he was sentenced to hang.[158] After the verdict was read, James, whose case was reported as being "hopeless from the start," said to the court:[417]

I have told all I know; I have nothing further to say.[418]

In the month leading up to his death, James maintained his silence. He read his Bible and refused to speak to reporters, only referring them to his prior statements.[419]


Cumberland Evening Times.

A week prior to James' hanging, his mother, Katherine "Katie" Roberts, wrote a letter to Sheriff Werner that she wanted to be there for her son's hanging, but was "too poor to make the trip."[420] However, by the day before James' hanging, Katie was able to visit James' before his death, as numerous black women in her community donated money to her so that she could travel to see James before he died.[421]

Roberts was able to see her son twice when she arrived. During her first visit, James reportedly "never once looked into his mother's face, while she gazed with tear-dimmed eyes into his." Reportedly, the mother and son said few words, with James occasionally muttering, "Mother."[421][158] During her last visit, he also reportedly told her that he was innocent of the crime, but not innocent of sin.[422] They then gave each other a long hug, and she stared at him, for about three minutes before leaving. She reportedly half-muttered, "Goodbye," on her way out.[421]

James, described as a "negro boy scarcely of legal age," and who had no money to appeal his sentence, was hanged in the Sangamon County Jail on October 23, 1908, at 10:30 a.m.[121][423] He was hanged on the city's old gallows, unused since 1898, but refurbished specifically for his death.[158] Nearly 150 spectators witnessed the hanging, including eight sheriffs from nearby counties who were invited as guests of Sheriff Werner.[146] Only two black people were present for James' hanging – James' lawyer and his spiritual adviser.[146]

Before he was hanged, Sheriff Werner asked him if he had anything to say. He responded, "No sir." Two minutes later, Sheriff's Deputy, Fred Long, sprung the trap.[424][425] It took 11 minutes for James to die.[426] When his body was taken down, the noose was so tight around his neck that it could not be loosened by hand, and had to be cut.[427]

Thousands waited in line to view the gallows, with many asking for a piece of the hemp, from the rope that hanged James, as a souvenir.[146] Later, seven thousand people waited in line, outside the undertakers' shop, McCabe & Gaa, to see his body on display.[424][426] The next day, his mother claimed his body, and took it on a train back to Birmingham.[158]

Although it was stated by his spiritual advisors – Rev. Doswell, a black minister, and Rev. Brandt, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church – who accompanied him to the scaffold on the morning he was hanged, that James "maintained, to the end, that he had nothing to confess as he knew nothing of what occurred on the night of the crime,"[424] he provided a statement, right before he was hanged, that was taken as a confession.[428] It had been provided at the urging of a white religious inmate volunteer, Mary Hickey, who pressured the young man to confess so his soul would not be damned. He allegedly wrote the following statement:

I am sorry for the crime I committed. Drunkenness was the cause of it. In that I have grossly sinned against Mr. Ballard, his family and each and every citizen. But I ask for each and everyone's forgiveness. When the deed was committed, I was a sinner, and a man of the world. Since then, I have become a Christian and am confident that God has forgiven me my sins. To each and every one, I, Joe James, wish to say – whisky and the evil effects of it, are the cause of my being where I am today. I did not realize the greatness of my crime until I was brought to the city prison the next morning after I committed it.[429]

— Joe James, October 23, 1908

Moments after witnessing the hanging, Homer Ballard stated:

Perhaps James was drunk when he killed my father, but it's hard for me to believe. I ran him to North Grand Avenue and was unable to overtake the fleeing negro. James was able to run, and if he was as drunk as they claimed, it does not appear to me that he would be able to make such fast time.[430]

The day after he was hanged, the Illinois State Journal commented on the importance of James to Springfield:

Springfield will not soon forget Joe James...the youthful Alabama negro has played too important a role on the stage of life in the city to have his name quickly erased from the tablets of memory.[146]

Age and weapon

Illinois State Register

In his last written statement, James wrote that he was 20 years-old.[431] However, a day after he was arrested, the Illinois State Journal reported that James said he was 24-years-old.[110] Before he was hanged, James' mother, Katherine Roberts, wrote a letter to Sheriff Werner, noting that James was born on November 28, 1890, making him 17-years-old.[146] The letter was introduced in James' trial, but the state fixed James' age to 23-year-old.[146]

After James was hanged, Roberts gave an accounting of James' life to Springfield newspapers before she left with his body. She maintained that his birthday was November 28, 1890.[141] However, on his death certificate, the state recorded him as being 23-years-old.[432]

Upon James' arrest, Officer Golden was said to have found a "penknife" near where James was found sleeping (though, it was never stated if there was any blood found on the knife). It would later be reported that the penknife was found near Ballard's home – "near the place where the death struggle between the two men began."[123] However, the small, two-bladed penknife was always determined to be incapable of inflicting the types of wounds that Ballard sustained, in particular the "knife thrust" that punctured his lung and the deep cuts across his arms, below his elbows, that had "severed muscles to the bone."[117] Because of this, authorities conceded that they did not know what type of knife was used to kill Ballard, nor was one that was capable ever found.[123]

When confronted with this discrepancy, the Ballard family dismissed the findings, stating that "the negro used both hands in a manner that seemed to indicate that he had a weapon in each."[123]


St. Louis Post-Dispatch 15Aug1908

Because Springfield was "an average American city," within a state considered to be a "microcosm of the U.S.," and also because the town name, "Springfield," is the most frequently occurring community name in the U.S., with at least one "Springfield" found across 25 of the 50 states, the attacks represented the average white American pathos toward black Americans.[3][9][10][11][12] The attacks in Springfield were the fourth such attacks to occur in an American "Springfield" over a four-year period:[10]

  • In 1904, in Springfield, Ohio, after a police officer ended up dead following a domestic disturbance, a black man was dragged from his jail cell by a mob and hanged from an electric pole.[88] The mob of 1,500 men then procured combustible waste materials at the railroads and took them to the black "Levee" neighborhood along the Mad River, where they drove out occupants and set seven building on fire, leaving 150 black people homeless.[88] The police allowed the attack to happen, though they knew about it for a full day. Firemen watched the buildings burn, only to save one saloon owned by a white man.[88] The state militia was called in to restore order. The city shut down the remaining black saloons, and all six men indicted for the lynching were acquitted.[433]
  • In 1906, again in Springfield, Ohio, after a bar fight left two white men cut, and another white man was killed in the railways yards, a white mob began attacking black saloons in the Levee and, "as if by common agreement," black homes.[88] Firefighters' hoses were cut if they tried to save black homes. The state militia, which sympathized with the mob, and was slow to report for duty. Attacks continued for three days until the militia finally quelled it. Thirteen buildings of black residents were destroyed.[88]
  • In 1906, in Springfield, Missouri, a white woman, and her male companion, claimed that two masked black men knocked him down, dragged her into a field, and raped her.[434] The next morning, two young black residents, with upstanding reputations, were arrested. Despite their white employer corroborating their alibi that they were at work, the woman's male companion reported that the two had stolen his pocket watch.[434] The two black men were arrested. That night, a mob of 1,000 white men stormed the black jail and bludgeoned the black men with sledgehammers.[434] They then dragged their bodies through the streets to city square, hanged them from Gottfried Tower, and built a bonfire out of their bodies in front of a crowd of over 5,000 people.[434] They also killed another black man accused of killing a former Confederate soldier. Local police did not interfere. The next day, Easter Sunday, churchgoers sifted through the ashes for souvenirs of the men.[434] The Governor activated state militia. In the days that followed, drugstores and soda shops sold postcards pictures of the men's corpses, along with medals commemorating the triple lynching.[434] A grand jury later determined the black men were innocent when it was revealed that the white woman, and her companion, made up the entire story up.[434] Eighteen men, including a policeman, were indicted for lynching. One trial ended in a mistrial, the others were all dismissed.[434]

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks in Springfield (Illinois), many people surmised that the violence was brought on by job competition, alcohol, vice, political corruption, etc.[232] However, over time, and with perspective, historians now agree that such things were palatable excuses, and easier to reconcile than the true underlying reasons.[435]

Chicago Tribune. Feb 1903

Today, most historians agree that the attacks were brought about a "strain" poor whites felt about not being able to control their political and economic reality.[435] This lack of perceived power is at odds with the idea of white manhood, which in the U.S., has long been synonymous with dominance of political voting rights, dominance in the economic arena, and dominance as sexual partners, and protectors, of white women, breeding an expectation of entitlement to these things.[63][232] When wages contract, job stability is threatened, cultural norms are pressed (e.g. increase of immigrant culture, an increased presence of black people or black people who are financially more well off than many whites, etc.), and white women give voice to a sexual threat from an "other," white men perceive a threat to the dominance of their manhood. This perception, of any such threat, increases the likelihood for violence; while the convergence of such deemed threats is likely to increase the expression of that violence:[232]

The enslavement of one race by another produces necessarily certain moral effects upon both races, moral deterioration of the masters, moral degradation of the slaves. The deeper the degradation of the one, the greater will be the deterioration of the other, and vice versa. Indeed, slavery is a breeding-bed, a sort of compost heap, where the best qualities of both races decay and become food for the worst. The brute appetites and passions of the two act and react on the moral natures of each race with demoralizing effects. The subjection of the will of one race, under such circumstances, to the will of another begets in the race that rules cruelty and tyranny, and in the one that is ruled, fear, cunning and deceit...And there is no help for this so long as the one race rules and the other race is ruled, so long as there exists between them in the state inequality of rights, of conditions, based solely on the racehood of each.[436]Archibald Grimké, "The Heart of the Race Problem," 1906

Whites who had political and economic power could escape the "torment" of living around those different from themselves, maintaining a social perception of white supremacy.[232] However, those who lacked such economic and political power, were "tormented" by the reality that they were not superior to the black people and immigrants they lived among at all. This created a perception that they were "under siege," and felt compelled to take action to assert and maintain their dominance in the social arena, and punish those who they deemed to have transgressed against them:[89]

[The Levee] has been allowed to exist because of political conditions. No candidates for office have dared to overlook this negro vote...It was the knowledge of this political power and their long immunity which has made the negro unbearable in Springfield. It was this that drove the mob to destroy the entire district. The reign of the negro has ended.[149]

— Chicago Tribune, Editorial, August 18, 1908

Poor immigrants, on the other hand, looking for acceptance as Americans, aligned themselves with the dominant social class through skin color which, in America, superseded nationality, culture and religion.[90][437][438][439]

Black people were easy targets because they were few in number, had no means to fight back and, as an unprotected class of citizens, could be harmed with minimal, if any, repercussions.[440]

Ultimately, Springfield's whites attacked the city's black people simply because they could.[440][90]


NAACP creation

As a direct result of the attacks, concerned black and white citizens met in New York City to discuss and address racism and white supremacy in the U.S. They formed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a civil rights organization.


  • Nine historical markers have been installed across the city that describe key moments of the attacks, and mark a self-guided walk for visitors.
  • In May 2008, the Illinois General Assembly formally acknowledged that the event occurred, and gave a copy of that recognition to the local NAACP:[441]

...we recognize this sad chapter in history and realize that from the aftermath comes insight and education, helping us to better deal with racial issues...

  • In August 2008, for a centennial commemoration of the attacks, the Citizens Club held a re-enactment of the first murder trial of Abraham Raymer, with the audience acting as jurors, and stimulating discussion about what happened.[342]
  • In August 2009, the city of Springfield unveiled two large bronze sculptures, depicting the aftermath of the attacks, which were commissioned by the "Mayor's 1908 Race Riots Commemoration Commission," created by artist, Preston Jackson, and dedicated to the victims and the city.[358] The sculptures intentionally omitted the portrayal of the lynchings as not to "stir emotions."[358]
  • Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin have introduced a bill to designate the site a national monument.[442]

See also


  1. ^ Senechal de la Roche, Roberta (2008). In Lincoln's Shadow: the Springfield, Illinois, Race Riot of 1908. Southern Illinois University. p. 10.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "The So-Called Race Riot at Springfield, Illinois". Charities and the Commons. XX. New York, NY: 709–711. 1908.
  3. ^ a b Cheryl Corley (14 Aug 2008). "Springfield, Ill., Marks Centenary Of Riots". NPR.
  4. ^ a b c "Mob Begins During After Negroes are Taken from Jail by Ruse: Woman Leads Rioters Who Wreck Big Restaurant; Nominee Chafin Protects Negro and Then is Stoned". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. St. Louis, Missouri. 15 Aug 1908.
  5. ^ a b c "Springfield's Riot Bill". The Times-Democrat. New Orleans, Louisiana. 19 Sep 1908.
  6. ^ a b Himmick Becker, Helen (1975). "Becker, Helen - Interview and Memoir" (Interview). Interviewed by Kay MacLean. Oral History Collection, Archives/Special Collections, University of Illinois at Springfield.
  7. ^ "Oldest and Boldest". National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Archived from the original on 2016-11-28. Retrieved 2018-02-28.
  8. ^ Davis, Collum (Historian) (2005). Lincolnland Riots (Part 1) (Documentary). Springfield, Illinois: YouTube. Event occurs at 00:01:25.
  9. ^ a b "ILLINOIS" (PDF). US Embassy to Austria. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-01-25. Retrieved 2018-02-28.
  10. ^ a b c Senechal, Roberta (Historian) (2005). Lincolnland Riots (Part 1) (Documentary). Springfield, Illinois: YouTube. Event occurs at 00:01:52.
  11. ^ a b Robert N. Schoeplein (1975). The Illinois economy ; a microcosm of the United States?. Urbana-Champaign, Illinois: University of Illinois. pp. 55–86.
  12. ^ a b Ohlemacher, Stephen (May 17, 2007). "Analysis ranks Illinois most average state". Carbondale, Illinois: The Southern Illinoisan. Associated Press. Retrieved April 10, 2009.
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  215. ^ a b "Mob Lynched Scott Burton". Illinois State Register. 21 Aug 1908.
  216. ^ a b "Story of the Lynching". Chicago Tribune. 16 Aug 1908.
  217. ^ a b c d Carpenter, Edith; Harris, Albert; Cohn, Nathan L.; Hale, Ma; Carr, Sharlottie (1 Jan 2009). "Oral Histories of the Springfield, Illinois, Riot of 1908". Trotter Review. 18 (1). Boston, MA: University of Massachusetts.
  218. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Troops Check Riot, Sixth Victim Dies". New York Times. 17 Aug 1908.
  219. ^ a b c d e f g "Widow of Old Negro Lynched is White Woman". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. St. Louis, Missouri. 17 Aug 1908.
  220. ^ "W.H. Donnegan Dies Sunday". Illinois State Register. 17 Aug 2008.
  221. ^ a b c d e f g "W. Donnegan Lynched Last Night at Corner Spring and Edwards". Illinois State Register. Vol. 18, no. 1. 16 Aug 1908.
  222. ^ Tamara Browning (3 Jun 2008). "The Victims: William Donnegan". State Journal-Register.
  223. ^ "Two Added to the Death List". Chicago Tribune. 17 Aug 1908.
  224. ^ a b "Mob Will Feel the Weight of the Law". Chicago Tribune. 17 Aug 1908.
  225. ^ a b c "Another Negro Stung Up". Fort Wayne Weekly Journal-Gazette. Fort Wayne, Indiana. 20 Aug 1908.
  226. ^ "Expressed Faith in Winning Cases". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. 27 Aug 1908.
  227. ^ "Donigan, Aged Negro, Dies of Injuries". The Decatur Herald. Decatur, Illinois. 17 Aug 1908.
  228. ^ "Explains Capital Lynching: Niece of William Donnegan Says Uncle's Possession of Property Caused Mob's Attack". The Chicago Tribune. 18 Aug 1908.
  229. ^ a b c "Death Penalty is Sought for All Lynchers". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. St. Louis, Missouri. 17 Aug 1908.
  230. ^ "Ballard Slayer Indicted". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. St. Louis, Missouri. 17 Aug 1908.
  231. ^ a b c d e f g James Krohe Jr. (13 Sep 1990). "Reading: Anatomy of a Race Riot". Chicago Reader.
  232. ^ a b "Another Riot Claim". The Decatur Herald. 19 Sep 1908.
  233. ^ "Hotel Porter Attacked". Illinois State Journal. 15 Aug 1908.
  234. ^ "Car Service in City Abandoned". Illinois State Journal. 15 Aug 1908.
  235. ^ "Aged Negro is Jailed". Illinois State Journal. 28 Aug 1908.
  236. ^ "Victim of Riots Dies". The Des Moines Register. 24 Nov 1908.
  237. ^ "Another Death Due to Springfield Riot". The Decatur Herald. 13 Dec 1908.
  238. ^ "List of the Dead in Springfield Race Riot". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 15 Aug 1908.
  239. ^ "Another Body Found". Palladium-Item. Richmond, Indiana. 16 Aug 1908.
  240. ^ a b "Springfield's Damage Suits". Santa Ana Register. Santa Ana, California. 28 Aug 1908.
  241. ^ "Revised List of Victims of Springfield Riots". Chicago Tribune. 16 Aug 1908.
  242. ^ Roche, Roberta Senechal de la (2008-08-29). In Lincoln's Shadow: The 1908 Race Riot in Springfield, Illinois. SIU Press. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-8093-2909-0.
  243. ^ a b c "The Victims: A look at some of the others". The State-Journal Register. 31 May 2008. Archived from the original on 1 March 2018. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  244. ^ "Lynching Cry in Gage Park". Chicago Tribune. 26 Aug 1908.
  245. ^ Martin, Alice (1974). "Martin, Alice - Interview and Memoir" (Interview). Interviewed by Rev. Negil L. McPherson. Oral History Collection, Archives/Special Collections, University of Illinois at Springfield.
  246. ^ Artis, Orville (1974). "Artis, Orville - Interview and Memoir" (Interview). Interviewed by Rev. Negil L. McPherson. Oral History Collection, Archives/Special Collections, University of Illinois at Springfield.
  247. ^ Haynes, Murray (1972). "Hanes, Murray - Interview and Memoir" (Interview). Interviewed by Barbara Herndon. Oral History Collection, Archives/Special Collections, University of Illinois at Springfield.
  248. ^ Hale, Mattie (1974). "Hale, Mattie - Interview and Memoir" (Interview). Interviewed by Reverend Negil L. McPherson. Oral History Collection, Archives/Special Collections, University of Illinois at Springfield.
  249. ^ a b "Negro Women Cause Alarm". Illinois State Journal. 16 Aug 1908.
  250. ^ "Guarded Negroes Tell of Escapes". Illinois State Journal. 18 Aug 1908.
  251. ^ "Condition of Negroes". The Pantagraph. Bloomington, Illinois. 17 Aug 1908.
  252. ^ "Negroes Ordered Out". Detroit Free Press. Detroit, Michigan. 22 Aug 1908.
  253. ^ "Sterling Closed to Black people". Illinois State Journal. 21 Aug 1908.
  254. ^ a b "Rounding Up Riot Leaders". The Hamilton County Ledger. Noblesville, Indiana. 21 Aug 1908.
  255. ^ a b c "Many Fugitives Return". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. St. Louis, Missouri. 17 Aug 1908.
  256. ^ a b "Indicts Six More on Riots Charges: Ask Fare to Other Towns". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. 28 Aug 1908.
  257. ^ "City Sued for Work of Mobs". Daily Capital Journal. Salem, Oregon. 28 Aug 1908.
  258. ^ "Springfield Blames State for Damage During Riot". Chicago Tribune. 28 Aug 1908.
  259. ^ "Springfield Saved Heavy Penalties". The Decatur Herald. 16 Apr 1909.
  260. ^ Laws of the State of Illinois Enacted by the General Assembly. Illinois General Assembly. 1 Jan 1905.
  261. ^ a b c "Peculiar Suit is Filed by Widow". Mattoon Morning Star. Mattoon, Illinois. 24 Sep 1908.
  262. ^ a b "Sues Saloonists for Husband's Death". Journal Gazette. Mattoon, Illinois. 22 Sep 1908.
  263. ^ "Mob Causes Night of Terror in Springfield: A Mob at Pensacola". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, Kentucky. 15 Aug 1908.
  264. ^ "Mob Causes Night of Terror in Springfield: Killed Himself to Avoid Capture". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, Kentucky. 15 Aug 1908.
  265. ^ "Mob Causes Night of Terror in Springfield: Mob at Norfolk". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, Kentucky. 15 Aug 1908.
  266. ^ "This Mob is Determined". The Ottawa Daily Republic. Ottawa, Kansas. 15 Aug 1908.
  267. ^ "Many Lynchings for This Year". The Vicksburg American. Vicksburg, Mississippi. 19 Dec 1908.
  268. ^ "Abuses Existed: Cruelty Shown by Authorities at Lincoln Institution for Feeble Minded". The Rock Island Argus and Daily Union. Rock Island, Illinois. 18 Jan 1908.
  269. ^ "Acquitted of Murder". Belvidere Daily Republican. Belvidere, Illinois. 14 Mar 1908.
  270. ^ "Springfield Fested with Bold Robbersy". The Decatur Herald. 18 Dec 1907.
  271. ^ a b c "Springfield Has Another Murder: Aged Man Killed with an Ax and His Room Mate Suspected, First Laid to a Negro, Caused Talk of More Riots and Black people Again Became Uneasy". The Decatur Herald. 25 Aug 1908.
  272. ^ "Riot Wave Reaches Indiana". Chicago Tribune. 17 Aug 1908.
  273. ^ "Makes the Bad Lands Safe". The Decatur Herald. 18 Aug 1908.
  274. ^ "Springfield Scum Driven to Winds". The Decatur Herald. 28 Aug 1908.
  275. ^ Senechal de la Roche, Roberta (1990). The Sociogenesis of a Race Riot: Springfield, Illinois in 1908. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. p. 151.
  276. ^ a b c "Negro Saloonkeepers Lose Their Licenses". The Decatur Herald. 2 Sep 1908.
  277. ^ "Terrible Scenes are Enacted at Lincoln's Home Where Mobs Murder Black people He Died to Liberate". Nevada State Journal. Reno, Nevada. 16 Aug 1908.
  278. ^ Railton, Ben (25 Nov 2014). "What We Talk About When We Talk About 'Race Riots'". Talking Points Memo.
  279. ^ "Springfield Negro to Run Model Saloon". The Decatur Herald. 29 Nov 1908.
  280. ^ a b "Negro Firemen Discharged". The Buffalo Enquirer. Buffalo, New York. 19 Aug 1908.
  281. ^ "Negro Firemen Discharged". The Kansas City Kansas Globe. 19 Aug 1908.
  282. ^ "Mob Gets Some Sympathy". The Rock Island Argus and Daily Union. Rock Island, Illinois. 17 Aug 1908.
  283. ^ "Negro Police May Quit". Chicago Tribune. 17 Aug 1908.
  284. ^ "Another Mine Closed". The Pantagraph. Bloomington, Illinois. 20 Aug 1908.
  285. ^ a b "Investigators Still Busy". Adams County Free Press. Corning, Iowa. 26 Aug 1908.
  286. ^ "Ask Far to Other Towns". Chicago Tribune. 22 Aug 1908.
  287. ^ a b c "Undesirable Negroes Leave". Illinois State Register. 23 Aug 1908.
  288. ^ a b "Another Raid Made". Illinois State Register. 30 Aug 1908.
  289. ^ "More Vagrancy Cases". Illinois State Register. 29 Aug 1908.
  290. ^ "Given Hours to Leave City". Illinois State Register. 16 Sep 1908.
  291. ^ a b "Black at Lincoln Banquet". Chicago Tribune. 11 Feb 1909.
  292. ^ a b c d "Jury to Act in Secret". Chicago Tribune. 18 Aug 1908.
  293. ^ a b "Raymer Acquitted Again". Cook County Herald. Arlington Heights, Illinois. 4 Dec 1908.
  294. ^ "Put a Ban on Base Cowards: Report of Springfield Grand Jury Scores Faithless Offices". The Alexandria Times-Tribune. Alexandria, Indiana. 4 Sep 1908.
  295. ^ "Cowards Before Mobs in Street". The Decatur Herald. Decatur, Illinois. 4 Sep 1908.
  296. ^ "New Race Riot True Bills". The Rock Island Argus and Daily Union. Rock Island, Illinois. 24 Oct 1908.
  297. ^ "Alleged Mob Leaders". The Sedalia Democrat. Sedalia, Missouri. 25 Oct 1908.
  298. ^ a b "Police Indicted for Part in Riot". The Garland City Globe. Garland, Utah. 12 Sep 1908.
  299. ^ "Special Grand Jury in Springfield Riot Case Bitterly Scores Police". Greensboro Daily News. Greensboro, North Carolina. 4 Sep 1908.
  300. ^ "Special Grand Jury Returns More Indictments". Alton Evening Telegraph. Alton, Illinois. 24 Aug 1908.
  301. ^ "Negro Detective Charged with Shooting White Man During Springfield Riot". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Cincinnati, Ohio. 27 Aug 1908.
  302. ^ Springfield City Directory for the Year Commencing October 1, 1909. Springfield, Illinois: R.L. Polk & Co. 1909.
  303. ^ a b c "Bowe's Alleged Assailants". Illinois State Register. 3 Nov 1908.
  304. ^ "Kills Herself to Escape Jail". Mattoon Morning Star. Mattoon, Illinois. 28 Aug 1908.
  305. ^ "Mrs. Howard is Dead". The Times-Democrat. New Orleans, Louisiana. 27 Aug 1908.
  306. ^ a b "Got Pail of Lard as Souvenir". The Rock Island Argus and Daily Union. Rock Island, Illinois. 17 Aug 1908.
  307. ^ "Woman Leader of Springfield Mob Commits Suicide After Being Indicted". The Times. Munster, Indiana. 27 Aug 1908.
  308. ^ "Woman Ringleader of Mob Kills Herself". The Butte Daily Post. Butte, Montana. 27 Aug 1908.
  309. ^ "Leader of Springfield Mob Dead". The Sumter County Sun. Livingston, Alabama. 3 Sep 1908.
  310. ^ "Trouble Ahead for the Rioters: Names of Indicted Persons". The Salt Lake Herald. Salt Lake City, Utah. 22 Aug 1908.
  311. ^ "Score of Criminal Writs: Troops to Remain a Week". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Cincinnati, Ohio. 23 Aug 1908.
  312. ^ "Grand Jury Acts". Palladium-Item. Richmond, Indiana. 27 Aug 1908.
  313. ^ "Indictment 17 at Springfield". Chicago Tribune. 29 Aug 1908.
  314. ^ "More Riot Indictments: Those Who are Held". Evening Star. Washington, DC. 4 Sep 1908.
  315. ^ "Sandy Curry Arrested". The McHenry Plaindealer. McHenry, Illinois. 10 Sep 1908.
  316. ^ "James Porter Returned". The McHenry Plaindealer. McHenry, Illinois. 17 Sep 1908.
  317. ^ "Indicts Alleged Mob Leaders: Springfield Illinois Grand Jury Returns Counts Against Thirty-Two". Alton Evening Telegraph. Alton, Illinois. 24 Oct 1908.
  318. ^ "Another Acquitted in Capital Riot Case: Couple Accused of Looting Wrecked Store Freed by Jury". The Decatur Herald. 29 Nov 1908.
  319. ^ "State Loses Riot Cases: Failure to Convict May Lead to Dismissal of Others". Cook County Herald. Arlington Heights, Illinois. 4 Dec 1908.
  320. ^ "Alleged Rioter is Discharged". Illinois State Register. Springfield, IL. 15 Sep 1908.
  321. ^ "Abe Raymer Released". The Inter Ocean. Chicago, Illinois. 12 Feb 1909.
  322. ^ a b "Donnegan Case Set Back". Chicago Tribune. 18 Aug 1908.
  323. ^ "Rounding Up the Rioters". Wilkes-Barre Semi-Weekly Record. Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. 25 Aug 1908.
  324. ^ "The Law Now Has a Delayed Inning". Muncie Evening Press. Muncie, Indiana. 21 Aug 1908.
  325. ^ "Donnegan Dies of Wounds". Illinois State Register. 17 Aug 1908.
  326. ^ "Raymer Would Find Relatives". Illinois State Journal. 21 Aug 1908.
  327. ^ "First Case Lost". The Rock Island Argus and Daily Union. Rock Island, Illinois. 24 Sep 1908.
  328. ^ "Still Protests Innocence". Decatur Herald. Decatur, Illinois. 21 Aug 1908.
  329. ^ a b c d e f "Alleged Leader a Huckster". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. St. Louis, Missouri. 17 Aug 1908.
  330. ^ a b "Strong Evidence Against Raymer". Illinois State Register. 7 Oct 1908.
  331. ^ a b "Threats to Disbar S.H. Cummins; Loper Thought of Shooting Abe Raymer". Illinois State Register. 7 Oct 1908.
  332. ^ "No Provocation for Act". The San Francisco Call. San Francisco, California. 17 Aug 1908.
  333. ^ "Have Picked Raymer as Riot Scapegoat". The Decatur Herald. 20 Aug 1908.
  334. ^ "Mob Begins Burning After Negroes are Taken from Jail by Ruse: Woman Leads Rioters Who Wreck Big Restaurant; Nominee Chafin Protects Negro and Then is Stoned". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. St. Louis, Missouri. 15 Aug 1908.
  335. ^ United States Federal Census, United States census, 1910; Springfield Ward 7, Sangamon, Illinois, USA; roll T624_325, page 1B,, enumeration district 0155, Family History film 1374338.
  336. ^ "Jury Frees Rioter". The Washington Post. Washington D.C. 25 Sep 1908.
  337. ^ a b "Jury Acquits Leader of Mob". Altoona Times. Altoona, Pennsylvania. 9 Oct 1908.
  338. ^ "List of Raymer Indictments". The Chicago Tribune. 21 Aug 1908.
  339. ^ a b "Raymer's Sister Tells His Story". Illinois State Register. 3 Sep 1908.
  340. ^ "Race Riot Cases Resumed". Republican-Northwestern. Belvidere, Illinois. 10 Nov 1908.
  341. ^ a b c John Reynolds (15 Aug 2008). "Race riot murder trial re-enacted". The State Journal-Register.
  342. ^ a b "Donegan's Slayer is Not Named". Illinois State Journal. 5 Sep 1908.
  343. ^ "Abe Raymer Indicted". Chicago Tribune. 20 Aug 1908.
  344. ^ "Police Desire Negro Leaders". Illinois State Journal. 21 Aug 1908.
  345. ^ "Raymer Gives Names". The Rock Island Argus and Daily Union. Rock Island, Illinois. 17 Aug 1908.
  346. ^ "Raymer is Identified: Donnigan's Widow Testifies". Illinois State Register. 25 Sep 1908.
  347. ^ "Raymer Thanks the Jurors". Chicago Tribune. 24 Sep 1908.
  348. ^ James Krohe Jr. (11 Aug 1978). "Not Guilty! The Trial of Abraham Raymer After the Springfield Race Riots of 1908". Illinois Times.
  349. ^ a b "Demand Raymer Should Hang". Chicago Tribune. 24 Sep 2009.
  350. ^ a b "Raymer Acquitted by Jury". Dixon Evening Telegraph. Dixon, Illinois. 24 Sep 1908.
  351. ^ "Evidence in Riot Case Shows Police Brutality". Decatur Herald. Decatur, Illinois. 23 Sep 1908.
  352. ^ "Auditing Board to Cut Down Riot Claims". Decatur Herald and Review. Decatur, IL. 30 Aug 1908.
  353. ^ a b "Victim of Riot Shoots Himself". Illinois State Journal. Springfield, IL. 16 Nov 1908.
  354. ^ "Died Rather than Face a Sentence". The Anaconda Standard. Anaconda, Montana. 17 Nov 1908.
  355. ^ "Jail for Abraham Raymer". Jackson Daily News. Jackson, Mississippi. 30 Dec 1908.
  356. ^ "Raymer Refused New Trial". Eau Claire Leader. Eau Claire, Wisconsin. 29 Dec 1908.
  357. ^ a b c Bill Meyer (6 Aug 2009). "Sculpture marks 1908 race riots, lynchings in Abraham Lincoln's hometown, Springfield, Ill". Associated Press.
  358. ^ "Raymer Released from Springfield Prison". The Decatur Herald. 14 Feb 1909.
  359. ^ "Riot Defendant Held Not Guilty". Chicago Tribune. 24 Sep 1908.
  360. ^ National Archives. "Petitions and Records of Naturalization, 8/1845 - 12/1911" (11 Apr 1912) [Naturalization Declaration]. RG 21, Series: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009, ID: 16597, p. 97. Boston; Waltham, Massachusetts: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
  361. ^ "Index to Naturalization Petitions and Records of the U.S. District Court, 1906–1966, and the U.S. Circuit Court, 1906–1911, for the District of Massachusetts" (8 Mar 1915) [Naturalization Declaration]. Microfilm Roll: 21, ID: Certificate No. 593339. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
  362. ^ "One Lyncher in an Asylum: Man Who Applies at Bartonville Hospital for Shelter Says He Helped Slay Donnegan". Chicago Tribune. 17 Aug 1908.
  363. ^ "Eighty-Five Suspects Held". Chicago Tribune. 18 Aug 1908.
  364. ^ "Mob Leaders to Be Punished: Many Arrests Made". Wilkes-Barre Semi-Weekly Record. Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. 21 Aug 1908.
  365. ^ United States Federal Census, United States census, 1900; Springfield Ward 4, Sangamon, Illinois, USA; roll T623, 1854, page 1,, enumeration district 0093.
  366. ^ "Scores Arrested in Springfield:Roy Young Proudly Confesses that He Helped Burn Negro Homes; Saloons Must Be Kept Closed". The Scranton Republican. Scranton, Pennsylvania. 18 Aug 1908.
  367. ^ "Grand Jury Meets". The Buffalo Enquirer. 19 Aug 1908.
  368. ^ "Prosecution of Riot Cases is Next Step". The Decatur Herald. 5 Sep 1908.
  369. ^ "To Attempt to Lump Remaining Cases". The Decatur Herald. 30 Nov 1908.
  370. ^ "TO Try Negroes at Capital". The Decatur Herald. 25 Aug 1908.
  371. ^ a b "Sensation is Due in Hallam Case: What Reason Had Woman of Accusing a Negro of Assault?". The Decatur Herald. Decatur, Illinois. 3 Sep 1908.
  372. ^ 1910 United States Federal Census, United States census, 1910; Springfield Ward 2, Sangamon, Illinois, USA; roll T624_325, page 4B,, enumeration district 0124, Family History film 1374338.
  373. ^ 1910 United States Federal Census, United States census, 1910; Springfield Ward 2, Sangamon, Illinois, USA; roll T624_325, page 8A,, enumeration district 0124, Family History film 1374338.
  374. ^ a b "Loathe to Accept Accident News". The Chicago Tribune. 21 Aug 1908.
  375. ^ "Mabel Hallam's Mind Changes". The Decatur Herald. Decatur, Illinois. 2 Sep 1908.
  376. ^ "George Richardson is Exonerated of Assault Upon Mrs. Hallam". Illinois State Register. 4 Sep 1908.
  377. ^ "Negro is Innocent: Springfield Woman Names New Assailant". The Daily Free Press. Carbondale, Illinois. 2 Sep 1908.
  378. ^ ""Ralph Burton" A Mystery". Illinois State Journal. 2 Sep 1908.
  379. ^ Kemp, Bill (2014-08-10). "Bloomington inescapably linked to Springfield Race Riot". The Pantagraph.
  380. ^ Pete Sherman (31 May 2008). "The Accused: George Richardson". The State Journal-Register.
  381. ^ Senechal de la Roche, Roberta (1990). The Sociogenesis of a Race Riot: Springfield, Illinois in 1908. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. pp. 19–20.
  382. ^ The Chicago Commission on Race Relations (192). The Negro in Chicago: A Study of Race Relations and a Riot. University of Chicago Press. p. 68.
  383. ^ Rose, Dr. Theodore T. (1985). "Rose, Dr. Theodore T. - Interview and Memoir" (Interview). Interviewed by Reverend Negil L. McPherson. Oral History Collection, Archives/Special Collections, University of Illinois at Springfield.
  384. ^ "Negroes Prepared to Leave". The Decatur Herald. 19 Sep 1908.
  385. ^ "James' Trial Begins". Twice-a-Week Plain Dealer. Cresco, Howard County, Iowa. 18 Sep 1908.
  386. ^ "James to Face the Death Penalty". Illinois State Journal. Springfield, IL. 15 Sep 1908.
  387. ^ "Joe James Will Plead for Life". Illinois State Register. 13 Sep 1908.
  388. ^ "James to Face Trial Monday". Illinois State Journal. 12 Sep 1908.
  389. ^ a b c "Death for Negro". The Rock Island Argus and Daily Union. Rock Island, Illinois. 18 Sep 1908.
  390. ^ "Springfield Trial to Begin Monday". Chicago Tribune. 9 Sep 1908.
  391. ^ a b "Feeling Shown Against Negreos". The Decatur Herald. 16 Sep 1908.
  392. ^ "Dummy of James, The Negro". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Cincinnati, Ohio. 16 Sep 1908.
  393. ^ a b "James Jury Selected; Plea of Self-Defense; Relation Borne By James' Clothing". Illinois State Register. 18 Sep 1908.
  394. ^ a b "Black Hand Letter Follows Hanging of Negro in Effigy: State Presents Case". Illinois State Journal. 16 Sep 1908.
  395. ^ "Negro Murderer Will Get Rope". Belvidere Daily Republican. Belvidere, Illinois. 19 Sep 1908.
  396. ^ "Special Grand Jury Asked in Ballard Case". Illinois State Journal. 7 Jul 1908.
  397. ^ "Proving Murder Charge on Negro". Iowa County Democrat. 17 Sep 1908.
  398. ^ "James Jury Selected; Plea of Self-Defense; Mrs. Ballard Tells Story". Illinois State Register. 18 Sep 1908.
  399. ^ "James Jury Selected; Plea of Self-Defense; Homer Ballard Tells of Chase". Illinois State Register. 18 Sep 1908.
  400. ^ "James Jury Selected; Plea of Self-Defense; Charles Ballard". Illinois State Register. 18 Sep 1908.
  401. ^ "Black Hand Letter Follows Hanging of Negro in Effigy". Illinois State Journal. 16 Sep 1908.
  402. ^ "James Jury Selected; Plea of Self-Defense; Constigan Identifies James". Illinois State Register. 18 Sep 1908.
  403. ^ "James Jury Selected; Plea of Self-Defense; Young Ladies Discover James". Illinois State Register. 18 Sep 1908.
  404. ^ a b "James Jury Selected; Plea of Self-Defense; Jack Golden Testifies". Illinois State Register. 18 Sep 1908.
  405. ^ "Trial of Joe James". The Paducah Sun-Democrat. Paducah, Kentucky. 15 Sep 1908.
  406. ^ "Trial Begins: Joe James Negro Who Started Recent Springfield Riots". The Evening Star. Independence, Kansas. 15 Sep 1908.
  407. ^ "Where Did James Get Blue Coat?". Illinois State Register. Springfield, Illinois. 10 Jul 1908.
  408. ^ a b "Wounds Inflicted by Negro Intruder Result in Death: Forgets Actions During Night". Illinois State Journal. 6 Jul 1908.
  409. ^ a b c d "Joe James Says He Has No Knowledge of Actions After Midnight: Witnesses for Defense". Illinois State Register. Springfield, Illinois. 18 Sep 1908.
  410. ^ a b c "Joe James Says He Has No Knowledge of Actions After Midnight: Claims He is Under Age". Illinois State Register. Springfield, Illinois. 18 Sep 1908.
  411. ^ "Last Plea for James is Made". Illinois State Journal. Springfield, Illinois. 17 Sep 1908.
  412. ^ a b "Joe James Found Guilty of Murder of Clergy A. Ballard and Death Penalty is Fixed". Illinois State Register. 18 Sep 1908.
  413. ^ a b "Joe James Says He Has No Knowledge of Actions After Midnight: Royall Appeals for Justice". Illinois State Register. Springfield, Illinois. 18 Sep 1908.
  414. ^ "Jury Has Joe James Case". Omaha Daily Bee. 18 Sep 1908.
  415. ^ "Illinois Springfield Journal". Illinois Springfield Journal. 24 Oct 1908.
  416. ^ "Gallows for James". Bloomington, Illinois. 18 Sep 1908.
  417. ^ "Gallows to Mark End: Negro Who Caused Race Riot at Springfield to Hang". Benton Harbor, Michigan: The News-Palladium. 18 Sep 1908.
  418. ^ "James Refuses to Talk". The Decatur Herald. 19 Sep 1908.
  419. ^ "Cannot See Son Hanged". The Daily Times. Davenport, Iowa. 15 Oct 1908.
  420. ^ a b c "Mother Visits James". The Pantagraph. Bloomington, Illinois. 23 Oct 1908.
  421. ^ "With a Prayer on His Lips, Joe James is Hung on Gallows". Illinois State Journal. Bloomington, Illinois. 24 Oct 1908.
  422. ^ "James is Hanged". The Daily Times. Davenport, Iowa. 26 Oct 1908.
  423. ^ a b c "Curious Crowds View Hanged Man". The Daily Times. Davenport, Iowa. 23 Oct 1908.
  424. ^ "Joe James Hanged at Springfield". Alton Evening Telegraph. Alton, Illinois. 24 Oct 1908.
  425. ^ a b "James is Confesses Before He is Hanged". The Decatur Herald. 24 Oct 1908.
  426. ^ "With Prayer Upon His Lips and After a Confession of His Guilt Murderer Joe James is Hanged". Illinois State Register. Springfield, Illinois. 24 Oct 1908.
  427. ^ "Joe James Confesses Before He is Hanged". The Decatur Herald. Decatur, Illinois. 24 Oct 1908.
  428. ^ "Confession of Joe James". Illinois State Register. Springfield, Illinois. 24 Oct 1908.
  429. ^ "Ballards Think Justice is Done". Illinois State Journal. Springfield, Illinois. 24 Oct 1908.
  430. ^ "Joe James' Warning to All Evil Doers". Illinois State Journal. Springfield, Illinois. 24 Oct 1908.
  431. ^ "Joe James: Illinois Statewide Death Index, Pre-1916", United States census,. Retrieved on 5 Mar 2018.
  432. ^ "O'Brien is Acquitted: Probably Last of Springfield Lynching". The Akron Beacon Journal. Akron, Ohio. 30 Sep 1905.
  433. ^ a b c d e f g h Walter C. Rucker; James N. Upton (2007). Encyclopedia of American Race Riots. Vol. 2. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 607–608.
  434. ^ a b Senechal de la Roche, Roberta (2008). In Lincoln's Shadow: the Springfield, Illinois, Race Riot of 1908. Southern Illinois University. pp. 55–86.
  435. ^ Archibald H. Grimké A.M. (1906). B.O. Flower (ed.). "The Heart of the Race Problem". The Arena. Arena Publishing Company: 29–30.
  436. ^ Karen Brodkin (12 Nov 2012). Michelle Fine; Lois Weis; Linda Powell Pruitt; April Burns (eds.). How Did Jews Become White Folks?. Routledge. pp. 17–34.
  437. ^ David A. Gerber (1 Sep 1999). "Caucasians Are Made and Not Born: How European Immigrants Became White People". Reviews in American History. 27 (3). The Johns Hopkins University Press: 437–443. doi:10.1353/rah.1999.0051. JSTOR 30031083. S2CID 144110869.
  438. ^ Matthew Frye Jacobson (1 Sep 1999). Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race. Harvard University Press. pp. 39–90.
  439. ^ a b Bryan Stevenson (13 Jul 2017). "A Presumption of Guilt". The New York Review of Books.
  440. ^ "HOUSE RESOLUTION: HR1477". Illinois General Assembly. 31 May 2008.
  441. ^ "1908 Springfield Race Riot National Monument Act reintroduced by Democratic senators | U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois". Retrieved 2022-11-29.

Further reading

  • Carlson, Andrew. "' With Malice Towards None': The Springfield, Illinois Race Riot of 1908." Gettysburg Historical Journal 7.5 (2020): 16-40 online.
  • Crouthamel, James L "The Springfield Race Riot of 1908," Journal of Negro History 45#3 (1960) 164-181 online
  • Krohe, James. Summer of Rage; the Springfield Race Riot of 1908. Springfield, Illinois, Sangamon County Historical Society [1973].
  • Rasenberger, Jim. America 1908: The Dawn of Flight, the Race to the Pole, the Invention of the Model T, and the Making of a Modern Nation, pp. 173–183.
  • Senechal de la Roche, Roberta. (1996) "The Springfield Race Riot of 1908", Illinois History Teacher, 3:2. Illinois Historic Preservation Agency: Springfield, Illinois.
  • Senechal, Roberta. The Sociogenesis of a Race Riot: Springfield, Illinois, in 1908 (University of Illinois Press, 1990)

External links

  • Carole Merritt, Something So Horrible: The Springfield Race Riot of 1908, exhibit catalog, Springfield: Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, 2008


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