Museum researchers uncover more lynching victims

Published 08-26-2018

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ANGLETON, Texas (AP) - When Brazoria County Historical Museum staff heard an Alabama monument had set the names of the county's lynching victims in stone, they began what has turned into months of research.

So far, they've added five names to the four seemingly accurate names listed on the National Memorial for Peace and Justice monument through Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. The additions bring to nine the number of people lynched in Brazoria County from 1888 to 1920 by the NAACP's definition. Steve Hayes might not be included in the museum's number because it's not clear whether he was killed by law enforcement, according to museum staff research.

Staff members have approached this extremely sensitive topic carefully to ensure they get accurate information to present to the public, Archives Manager Cindy Yell said.

"It's important because it happened," Yell told The Facts of Brazoria County .

The museum endeavors to present history in an honest, respectful fashion, she said. Once the research is compiled, plans are to share it with the Equal Justice Initiative and Lynching in Texas and open an exhibit panel at the museum, Yell said.

It's really important to consolidate the knowledge of a highly sensitive subject, Interpretive Manager Bruce Taylor-Hille said. Anyone in the community who wants to know about the topic should have the opportunity to learn, he said.

It often takes months to open an exhibit panel, Yell said, and this one could take longer because of the depth and breadth of the topic. She estimates she's already spent three solid weeks on research.

If anyone has information about Brazoria County lynchings, they're invited to share it with the museum. It can be done anonymously, Yell said.

Yell has identified lynchings by the NAACP's four-point system, she said. This includes someone is killed, three or more people did the killing, it was done on the pretext of justice, race or tradition, and it was extrajudicial.

The Facts previously reported the stories of Charles Tunstall, Ransom O'Neal, Hayes, Jim Durfee and Oscar Beasley, as they were included on the Alabama monument.

An additional victim Yell researched is named Mat or Nat Nathaniel, as he is called both in different newspaper accounts. He was hanged 5 miles west of Brazoria after he was accused of mu

It often takes months to open an exhibit panel, Yell said, and this one could take longer because of the depth and breadth of the topic. She estimates she's already spent three solid weeks on research.

If anyone has information about Brazoria County lynchings, they're invited to share it with the museum. It can be done anonymously, Yell said.

Yell has identified lynchings by the NAACP's four-point system, she said. This includes someone is killed, three or more people did the killing, it was done on the pretext of justice, race or tradition, and it was extrajudicial.

The Facts previously reported the stories of Charles Tunstall, Ransom O'Neal, Hayes, Jim Durfee and Oscar Beasley, as they were included on the Alabama monument.

An additional victim Yell researched is named Mat or Nat Nathaniel, as he is called both in different newspaper accounts. He was hanged 5 miles west of Brazoria after he was accused of murdering Isaac Vandorn, according to the Phillipsburg Herald from Nov. 18, 1888.

Two of the five additional victims Yell has researched are Washington and Osborne Giles. Though only named as Washington's brother in newspaper articles, Osborne was accused of killing Deputy Sheriff S.C. McCormick when he came to arrest Washington for a minor offense.

A headline in The Houston Post from July 1, 1920, states "four negroes dead as consequence of Wharton Killing." It states Washington and his brother were surrounded by a posse, refused to surrender and were shot. This happened near Damon Mound, according to the article.

The same article reported the lynchings of Jodie Gordon and Elijah Anderson, who were hanged from trees after they admitted to aiding the Giles brothers in their escape from law enforcement.

"Some of th

Yell has identified lynchings by the NAACP's four-point system, she said. This includes someone is killed, three or more people did the killing, it was done on the pretext of justice, race or tradition, and it was extrajudicial.

The Facts previously reported the stories of Charles Tunstall, Ransom O'Neal, Hayes, Jim Durfee and Oscar Beasley, as they were included on the Alabama monument.

An additional victim Yell researched is named Mat or Nat Nathaniel, as he is called both in different newspaper accounts. He was hanged 5 miles west of Brazoria after he was accused of murdering Isaac Vandorn, according to the Phillipsburg Herald from Nov. 18, 1888.

Two of the five additional victims Yell has researched are Washington and Osborne Giles. Though only named as Washington's brother in newspaper articles, Osborne was accused of killing Deputy Sheriff S.C. McCormick when he came to arrest Washington for a minor offense.

A headline in The Houston Post from July 1, 1920, states "four negroes dead as consequence of Wharton Killing." It states Washington and his brother were surrounded by a posse, refused to surrender and were shot. This happened near Damon Mound, according to the article.

The same article reported the lynchings of Jodie Gordon and Elijah Anderson, who were hanged from trees after they admitted to aiding the Giles brothers in their escape from law enforcement.

"Some of the language in the local paper at the time is really telling" of the culture, Yell said.

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Information from: The Facts, http://www.thefacts.com

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