May 15, 1916
Teenager Jesse Washington is lynched in front of a crowd of 10,000
Lucy Fryer, a white woman, was murdered by blunt force trauma on May 8, 1916. Blame almost immediately fell upon 17-year-old Jesse Washington, a black teen who worked on the Fryer farm. When sheriff’s deputies questioned Washington, they noticed blood on his overalls which Washington initially claimed was from a nosebleed. During questioning, Washington admitted he killed Fryer with a hammer following an argument over mules, and gave instructions as to where to find the murder weapon.
A trial, fueled by racial tension, was put together hastily. The trial filled the courtroom to capacity, Washington was given several inexperienced attorneys, and Washington admitted his guilt saying “that’s what I done” when Washington’s lawyer asked if he had murdered Fryer. The entire trial lasted around an hour. The jurors took 4 minutes to deliberate.
Immediately after receiving a guilty verdict, the crowd seized Washington. A chain was placed around his neck, he was dragged in front of city hall, where he was beaten, stripped, and stabbed. He was doused with oil and hung from a tree. His fingers, toes, and genitals were cut off. He was then raised and lowered over a bonfire while still alive and conscious until he cooked to death. Afterwards, spectators took souvenirs from his body including bits of the chain, his bones, and a piece of his genitals. Children participated in picking Washington’s body apart as well, including a group of children who pulled teeth from his skull to sell. His body was dragged by a horse through town then put on public display for most of the day before it was buried.
WARNING: some images below are graphic.
The back of the postcard reads “This is the Barbecue we had last night My picture is to the left with a cross over it your sone Joe.”