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1931 Maryville, Missouri lynching...



Item # 569801

January 13, 1931

THE NEW YORK TIMES, New York, January 13, 1931 

* Raymond Gunn, Maryville MO lynching 
* Negros 

This 56 page newspaper has one column headlines on page 3 that include: "BURNS NEGRO KILLER ON VICTIM'S SCHOOL" "maryville (Mo.) Mob Chains Teacher's Slayer on Roof and Fire Razes the Building" and more. (see)

Tells of the lynching of negro Raymond Gunn in Maryville, Missouri.

Other news of the day throughout. Light browning, otherwise in  nice condition.

wikipedia notes: Raymond Gunn (January 11, 1904-January 12, 1931) was a black man killed by a mob in Maryville, Missouri, United States, after he confessed to killing and attempting to rape a white school teacher there.

The case received massive national publicity because it occurred outside the Southern lynch belt and because of its brazen and planned nature; and because the sheriff did not activate National Guard troops which had been specifically deployed to prevent the lynching.

The case was frequently invoked in the unsuccessful attempt to pass a law called the Wagner-Costigan Act during the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt. This would have made it a federal crime for law enforcement officials to refuse to take steps to prevent a lynching.

Gunn's court date was set for January 12. The Nodaway County prosecuting attorney said Gunn would get a fair trial and appealed (along with many Maryville business leaders) to Missouri Governor Henry S. Caulfield to deploy the National Guard to prevent an anticipated lynching attempt. Caulfield complied and 60 troops were ordered at 7:30 a.m. to stand by at the National Guard a block north of the courthouse (at what today is the Maryville Public Library). By law, the National Guard could only be deployed at the written request of the sheriff, which was never made. Sheriff Havre English later told the press that he did not call up the guard because he did not want them to get hurt.

A large crowd occupied the Maryville square between the jail block to the northeast and the Nodaway County, Missouri courthouse. The sheriff was transporting Gunn by car, and drove directly into the mob. When he opened the door, a man pulled the sheriff aside and another took Gunn out of the car. Men who were there had said year's later that the leader bluntly said to the sheriff "either you move out of the way or die with this man, either way he's going to die today."

Gunn was chained and marched south down Main Street through the Maryville streets (avoiding the National Guardsmen). After an hour and a half, Gunn and the crowd arrived at the Garrett schoolhouse. His ears and nose were bleeding. The contents of the schoolhouse had been removed and placed on the lawn. A crowd estimated at between 2,000 and 4,000 had gathered. He was taken by 12 men inside the schoolhouse, where he is reported to have confessed again, as well as claiming he had an accomplice named "Shike" Smith.

Gunn was taken to the roof of the building where he was tied to a ridge pole. Gunn and the building were doused with gasoline. The leader of the group, only identified as a "man in a red coat", threw a lighted piece of paper into the building. Gunn screamed once and appeared lifeless in 11 minutes.

A reporter for the St. Joseph Gazette gave this description:

    He twisted and revealed a huge blister ballooning on his left upper arm. Pieces of his skin blew away to the wind as the blistering heat became more intense and soon his torso was splotched with white patches of exposed flesh. His hair burned like a torch for moment then his head sagged. His body writhed. It took the appearance of a mummy.

The building's roof collapsed within 16 minutes. Remnants of the school were taken away by the crowd as souvenirs.

Category: The 20th Century

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