Horror in Henderson Co. 1899

The Dallas Morning News
May 29, 1899
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 from them.

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 against him.

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 attendance.

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 unhappiness.

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 crops."

"Are you afraid to go back there after what has happened."

"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 ones."


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