Thursday, September 24, 2015

Two Photographs Taken Before and During the Burning Death of an African American Man Named Robert Henson Hilliard by a Lynch Mob in Tyler, Texas (1897)

"In the hands of the mob." Source.

"First fire withdrawn." Source.

Two photographs taken before and during the burning death of an African American man named Robert Henson Hilliard by a lynch mob in Tyler, Texas, 1897. Hilliard had been accused of of raping and murdering a white woman. Both photographs taken by C.A. Davis.

The following is a description of the event published in Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, 1889-1918:

"Robert Henson Hilliard, a Negro, for a murder to which he confessed and for alleged rape, was burned to death by a mob in Tyler, Texas, Hilliard confessed the murder but stated that he killed his victim because he had unwittingly frightened her and feared that he would be killed.

A report of the crime and its punishment was written by an eye-witness and printed by a local publishing house. It ended as follows:

'Note: Hilliard's power of endurance was the most wonderful thing on record. His lower limbs burned off before he became unconscious and his body looked to be burned to a hollow. Was it decreed by an avenging God as well as an avenging people that his sufferings should be prolonged beyond the ordinary endurance of mortals?'

'We have sixteen large views under powerful magnifying lenses now on exhibition. These views are true to life and show the Negro's attack, the scuffle, the murder, the body as found, etc. With eight views of the trial and burning. For place of exhibit see street bills. Don't fail to see this. Breckinridge-Scruggs Co.'

No indictments were found against any of the mob's members."

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