January 12th, 1896
Interracial Couple Lynched in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana
On the night of January 12, 1896, a mob of twenty men gathered around the home of Patrick and Charlotte “Lottie” Morris in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, and set it ablaze. Mr. Morris, a white railroad hand, and his wife, a black woman, had garnered the ill will of the community “on account of their difference in color” as well as their operation of a gathering place and hotel for black people.
The mob first attempted to burn down the Morris’ home at 11:00 that night, but Mr. Morris discovered the fire and extinguished it. By midnight, the mob set a fire that could not be controlled. When the couple attempted to escape the flames through the front door of their home they were met with a barrage of gunfire. Mrs. Morris was shot and killed at the doorstep while Mr. Morris was maimed by a shot to his leg.
The Morris’ twelve-year-old son witnessed the events and escaped through the back door of the home. As the boy ran for safety, the mob shot into the darkness after him but missed. Patrick Morris Jr. spent the night hiding underneath a nearby home in the neighborhood.
The next morning, community members found that much of the Morris’s home had been destroyed by the fire. Mr. and Mrs. Morris’s charred remains were found on their bed inside the home. A coroner’s examination revealed that one of the bodies had been decapitated, though it was unclear whether this act was carried out before or after death. Charlotte Morris was sixty-eight years old and Patrick Morris was fifty-eight years old.
January 12th, 1931
Black Residents Flee Maryville, Missouri, After Lynching
On January 12, 1931, an African American man named Raymond Gunn was burned to death by a mob in Maryville, Missouri, as local officials escorted him to court to stand trial for the murder of Velma Colter, a white schoolteacher.
Arrested two days after Ms. Colter’s body was discovered, Raymond Gunn allegedly confessed to the murder. Based upon fears that “lynch law” would be invoked after news of Mr. Gunn’s confession spread, he was taken to jail in a neighboring county for protection. Because of attempted mob attacks, Mr. Gunn was transported to another prison with reinforcement from firemen and a tank company of the Missouri National Guard.
On the morning of Mr. Gunn’s arraignment, a mob of about two thousand white men, women, and children gathered outside the courthouse. Despite the previous attacks, Sheriff Harve England did not request assistance from the National Guard. With little resistance from local law enforcement, and sixty members of the National Guard at ease in an armory one block from the courthouse, Mr. Gunn was seized by the mob and burned on the roof of the schoolhouse where Ms. Colter was murdered. In an attempt to defend the gross inaction, a National Guard general argued that he was under the sheriff’s orders and insisted that state law prevented him from intervening without prior approval.
In the days following Mr. Gunn’s murder, twenty-two of the one hundred recorded African American residents of Maryville fled the town. Despite investigations initiated by state officials, no one was ever arrested or convicted of any crime related to the lynching of Raymond Gunn.