The Dallas Morning News
May 29, 1899
HORROR IN HENDERSON
A SCENE AS ABOUNDING IN PATHOS AS MOISTENED EYES EVER
FATHER AND SONS LYNCHED
AWAKENED SNATCHED FROM WIVES AND CHILDREN AND HURRIED TO
BLACKEST SPOT IN TEXAS HISTORY
Mrs. Humphries' Statement -- Details of the Brutality
Four Arrests Made.
The Feeling in Henderson.
Athens, Henderson Co., Tex., May 28 --
(Staff Special) -- Early this morning Sheriff Richardson
announced that he had make another arrest in the matter
of the Humphries lynching. A young man named Steve Daley
was arrested at 2 o'clock last night and put in jail. He
lives in Trans-Cedar and was in Athens yesterday. This is
the fourth arrest that has been made in connection with
this matter. The officers are working very quietly and
keeping their own counsel. Nothing new has leaked out
The people of Athens and Henderson ocunty have not yet
recovered from the shock caused by the perpetration of
this lynching and are asking each other what will be the
end of it. All with whom the News commissioner has talked
?nite in saying that it is the most diabolically
conceived and brutally executed lynching that ever
blackened the history of Texas. They regret that it
happened as deeply as good citizens can regret
lawlessness run mad. Most of all, they are sorry that it
happened in Henderson county.
There is a sentiment to get up a petition and have it
signed by all the citizens that will sign it, asking the
governor to offer a great reward for the capture and
conviction of the lynchers. The belief expressed is that
the reputation of the state and that of Henderson county
particularly as places where life is safe and civil
rights are respected are at stake. This crime hasbrought
it down to test whether law and order will prevail or
lynch-law will rule and no one's life be safe.
Every one here is now well acquainted with the details of
how the lynchers went about their work. The reputations
of the victims and of their families wree good. It is now
known to every one that each of the men lynched left a
wife and little children and that the oldest living
malemember of the immediate famileis is a boy 16 years
old, and that counting him as the eldest, the lynching
left thirteen orphan children. It is also known that the
worst crime chargeable against any of the victims was
that of the theft of hogs, for which the two younger men
wre indicted two years ago. They gave bond for their
appearance at court and have been at every term of the
district court since to meet their trials. Jim Humphries,
the father, was a man of near 60 years of age and an
ex-confederate soldier. He had lived in that community
for thirty-five or forty years and no one remembers of
any charge of a serious nature ever having been made
The widows and their children have left their homes and
gone to stay with relatives distant from the scene of the
horror. Mrs. John Humphries, with her four children, have
gone to the home of her father near Tolosa. Her children
are Fern Evalina, James Willis, Carrie and the
5-months-old baby, Willie. Mrs. George Humphries went to
her father's home, eight miles north of Trinidad. She has
with her two children, Susie and 7-months-old Addie Vera.
Mrs. Jim Humphries has gone to the home of J. W. Holland,
six miles west of Athens. Holland married a daughter of
Humphries by his first marriage. Mrs. Holland is an own
sister to the two boys that were lynched. Mrs. Humphries
has with her seven children, James William, Mattie,
Jesse, Clyde, Odie, Beulah Alonzo and her baby,
17-months-old Waneta. Mrs. Humphries told the News
commissioner last night that the baby was very ill.
Sheriff Richardson left this afternoon for the
Trans-Cedar, and though no one knows what his plans or
intentions are, it is expected that he will make more
arrest. As the distance there is great, it is not thought
that he will return before to-morrow evening.
Interest is now centering in the examining trial, which
has not been set. It will take place in the next few
days, and when it comes, it is expected that one of the
largest crowds that ever visited Athens will be in
MRS. HUMPHRIES STATEMENT.
How Her Husband Was Taken from Bed to His Horrible Death.
Mrs. James Humphries, wife of the eldest Humphries, was
seen by the News commissioner this morning. She is a
slight built, frail woman apparently 34 or 40 years old.
Her eyes were swollen and discolored with weeping and she
was in the lowest depths of woe, misery and despair. She
was dressed in plaid cloth and wore a large white
sunbonnet, which was drawn far over her face. Her
handkerchief was almost constantly to her eyes and was
wet with tears.
She spoke with an effort when The News commissioner made
himself known. Her voice was the dry andfaltering tone of
an enexpressible grief that knows no confort nor solace.
She was a picture of broken hopes and wretched
She began the story of the horrors of that Wednesday
morning, pausing continually to control her voice and
wipe away the tears that came whenever the names of her
husband or stepsons were mentioned. She said: "The
mob came to our house a few minutes before 1 o'clock in
the morning. We were sleeping, never dreaming of any
danger. All the sourth doors in the house were open. The
north door was closed but not locked. Mr. Humphries had
been sick all the week, but had kept going and had plowed
all the day before he was murdered. He told me that he
lacked half a day's work of having his corn laid by.
"The mob came in the yard. I don't know how many
there were out there. Four of them came in the house and
told Mr. Humphries that they were looking for Patison.
The first one that came in had a pistol in his hand and
they were all cursing and talking loud like they were
drinking. They said taht they did not want to hurt any
one. When they were cursing Mr. Humphries told them not
to be so -- sassy.
"They said they wanted Patison or wanted to know
where he was. They took Mr. Humphries out with them and
told me not to be scared, that they were not going to
hurt any one. They said that I must not leave the house
or send any word to any body. They said that was to keep
us from getting any word to Patison and that they would
have spies to see that none of us left the house.
"They went through our house looking for Patison,
and not finding him, they made Mr. Humphries go with
them. They said they had a deputy sheriff with them who
had papers for Mr. Humphries and that they were going to
make him tell where Patison was.
"Mr. Humphries told them that he had been at work
all day and was tired and did not want to go, but they
made him go anyhow.
"after they had gone I sat out on the porch until
2:30 o'clock, when I heard them again. I heard them
talking and thought Mr. Humphries was coming home. I did
not hear anything more. I thought they had gone to
Flatfoot (Aley) and that Mr. Humphries would be home
directly. I felt that something was wrong and was very
uneasy and scared.
"Early in the morning I sent one of my little boys
to Flatfoot, five miles away, to see if anything had been
heard of them. The neighbors came in and said it might be
possible that they had taken them to Athens, as they said
they had a deputy sheriff with them. Ben and Charlie
Woods started to Athens to see if they were there.
"They had not been gone but a little while when the
neighbors found the bodies of Mr. Humphries and my two
step-sons not far from our house. They were brought to
the house. Oh! It was a horrid sight."
Mrs. Humphries broke down an dsobbed as if her heart was
broken, the tears streaming down her thin and sorrowful
face, her hands opening and closing nerviously on the wet
handkerchief. Her grief was so poiguant and so pitiful
that every one who heard her recital of the frightful
details shed tears in sympathy. Between the sobs that
shook her frail form, she continued:
"They were all three laid out side by side on the
same bed and were buried together in the same grave. It
was awlful." And she gave way to her sorrow again.
"I want the News to publish every betof it and let
the world know how it happened.
"My husband had lived here ever since the war and I
never heard of any charge against him. He was as good a
man as ever lived. He and his boys were as hardworking
men as there are in the county. They owned their farms
and made good crops. I want the men that did this
punished under the law and I don't want any innocent man
to suffer. Oh! It is awfull. I have not been able to
sleep hardly any since it happened."
The News commissioner would not tax her strength further,
as she was visibly weak and worn.
"No," she said, "you need not go on that
account. I cannot sleep nor rest."
When asked what her plans were, she said:
"I am going back home and look after the
"Are you afraid to go back there after what has
"Yes, I am afraid, but I must go. I never was afraid
before. I've stayed there many a time at night with no
one but my little children and never thought of being
afraid. But now I am afraid, but I've got to go back. I
never once thought of a mob. Mr. Humphries would lie down
at night without so much as a pocket-knife. There was a
gun in the house, but half the time there was on
ammunition for it, and then nothing but something like
squirrel shot. The day before he was murdered Mr.
Humphries was talking to me about what a fine crop of
corn he had and said that we had enough to keep us for
another year unless something happened to ruin the crop.
Oh! it is horrible! He was a man that minded his own
business and worked for his living. I hope and pray to
the Lord that the officers will catch the right