The Lynching of Ell Persons

The Lynching of Ell Persons (HM1YGR)

Location: Memphis, TN 38134 Shelby County
Country: United States of America

N 35° 9.616', W 89° 52.852'

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Inscription
Side One

Near this spot on May 22, 1917, a lynching party chained Ell Persons to a log, doused him in gasoline, and burned him alive. An estimated 5,000 spectators witnessed his death or viewed his remains soon afterward. Persons, a black woodcutter who lived nearby, was facing charges of raping and decapitating Antoinette Rappel, 15, a white school girl last seen on her bicycle crossing the Wolf River over the Macon Road bridge. In building a case against Persons, authorities relied primarily on a coerced confession made "after a long siege of beating" and "third degree tactics" from law officers, as the Memphis press reported. Once authorities charged Persons with the slaying, they sent him to Nashville for safekeeping.

Side Two

Meanwhile, groups of white men referred to as "the avengers" monitored all rail lines into Memphis as Person's trial date approached. On May 21, 1917, one of these groups overpowered two Shelby County deputies, seized Persons, and removed him from a rail passenger car outside Potts Camp, Mississippi. News reports in Memphis the next morning stated the time and place where Persons would be lynched. A carnival atmosphere prevailed here as automobiles jammed Macon Road and vendors sold drinks and snacks. After the lynching, onlookers dismembered Person's charred body.
Later that day, his head and foot were dumped on Beale Street for black pedestrians to see. No one was brought to trial in either the Rappel or Persons slayings.
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Details
HM NumberHM1YGR
Tags
Year Placed2017
Placed ByFacing History and Ourselves and Students Uniting Memphis of Overton High School and the Shelby County Historical Commission
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, May 26th, 2017 at 6:09pm PDT -07:00
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 237592 N 3894617
Decimal Degrees35.16026667, -89.88086667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 35° 9.616', W 89° 52.852'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds35° 9' 36.96" N, 89° 52' 51.12" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)731, 901
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling West
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 5404 Summer Ave, Memphis TN 38134, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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