Tuesday, May 22, 1917 (all day)

Negro Burned to Death by a Mob in Tennessee

Self-Confessed Murderer of Fifteen-Year-Old Girl Is Summarily Executed

By the Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn., May 22 – Ell persons, negro, confessed murderer of Antoinette Rappal several weeks ago, was burned to death near the scene of the crime, on the outskirts of Memphis, at 9 o'clock today. A mob estimated at from 2,000 to 3,000 witnessed the death of the negro.

In preparation for burning the body was soaked in oil and afterward suspended in midair from the limb of a nearby tree. A torch was then applied, and the body burned fiercely until the scorched flesh of the negro fell to the ground.

Persons, it is said, was taken from the officials at Potts Camp, Miss., and was rushed through the country by automobile to the place where the crime was committed. The officers were bringing Persons to Memphis for trial when intercepted by the mob.

Persons is said to have repeated his confession that he killed the child and implicated two other negroes. Members of the mob immediately set out in pursuit of these.

When all was in readiness, Mrs. Minnie Woods, mother of the dead girl, was taken to the bridge, where the prisoner was held, and identified him. In a short talk to the mob she declared she wished Persons to suffer the tortures he dealt to his victim.

Persons was taken to the penitentiary at Nashville two weeks ago for safe keeping before details of his alleged confession were made public. According to a statement made by Sheriff Tate, Persons, a wood chopper, admitted that he attacked the girl, a fifteen-year-old child, when she passed the thicket in which he was at work, dragged her into the underbrush after knocking her unconscious with his ax, and, fearing that she would recover consciousness and accuse him of the attack, chopped off her head, which he concealed with the mutilated body in the thicket.

Mob Captures Another Negro

Telephone messages at 10:30 o'clock stated that the mob had captured Dewitt Ford, a mute, one of the negroes implicated by Persons in the murder of the Rappal girl, and was on the way to the scene of the first lynching.


Evening star. (Washington, D.C.), 22 May 1917. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>


Evening Star, 5/22/1917
Evening Star, 5/22/1917