Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Two Blacks Lynched By Burning at Carthage

Last time I promised to give a brief account of the burning of two black men at Carthage that occurred in 1853, as the event was chronicled in the Springfield Advertiser (and later reprinted in the Liberty Tribune). The newspaper account largely agrees with the account written years later that appears in Livingston's History of Jasper County. Indeed, Livingston, who no doubt was privvy to details not available to the newspaper, gives a more thorough account than the Advertiser. The county history, though, was wrong in at least one important detail. Livingston says the event occurred in August of 1853 when the actual date was July 30, 1853. A slave named Colley, who belonged to a man named Dale, apparently decided to rob a Dr. Fisk after Dale paid Fisk a fairly large sum of money in a business transaction, and he recruited a slave who belonged to a neighboring farmer named Scott to help in the scheme. A few nights after the business transaction, Colley went to the Fisk house and said that his master, Mr. Dale, needed the doctor's services. Dr. Fisk grabbed his doctor's bag and headed toward the Dale farm. He had gone but a little distance when he was accosted by the Scott slave, who was lying in wait. Trailing behind Dr. Fisk, Colley came up and joined his partner in crime, and together the two killed the doctor by knocking him in the head with an ax. Not finding any money on the doctor, they returned to Fisk's house, where they killed his wife and child. (They reportedly also outraged the wife, but this report probably needs to be taken with a grain of salt, as it may have been an embellishment that was added to the tale simply to inflame opinion against the murderous pair.) Colley was quickly apprehended and made a confession, but the other slave made a run for it and was caught a couple of days later several miles north of Carthage. He was brought back to town, where the townspeople held an impromptu "trial" and convicted the pair of killing the Fisk family. A vote was taken on whether to hang the men or burn them, and burning won on an almost-two-to-one vote. On Saturday, July 30, the two were chained to stakes and burned to death in downtown Carthage with a large gathering of spectators in attendance.

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