Item #7994 [Two manuscript documents relating to an inquest regarding the lynching of one “Henry Perril—Rapist.”]
[Two manuscript documents relating to an inquest regarding the lynching of one “Henry Perril—Rapist.”]

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[Two manuscript documents relating to an inquest regarding the lynching of one “Henry Perril—Rapist.”]

Greenwood, Mississippi, 22 January 1907. Two manuscript documents, 5.375” x 8.375” and 7” x 8.5”, 2 pp. total. CONDITION: Very good.

Rare documentation of the systematic hate crimes that mostly went unrecorded.

The first of these documents, written in pencil on Elks Lodge letterhead, bears a statement signed by six jurors that: “We the Jury summoned to inquire [in]to the death of Henry Perrill find that deceased came to his death at the hands of unknown parties by hanging this 22nd day of 1907.” The second document, a court bill, is headed: “Inquest Held by D P Montgomery on the death of Henry Perril—Rapist.” This page again bears the names of the jurors, along with the amounts paid to them, as well as a signed statement by the Justice of the Peace, D. P. Montgomery, echoing the jury’s story: “I here by certify this to be a true account of the claim for holding inquest on the dead body of one Henry Perrill who came to his death by hanging at the hands of unknown parties on the evening of Jan 22 1907.” Montgomery, who was admitted to the bar in 1887, and enjoyed a flourishing practice before serving as Justice of the Peace, ran for Police Justice two years after Perrill’s death. Of Perrill (or Perril) himself we find no trace, although lynching records locate a “Henry Bell” who was accused of “Criminal assault on a married white woman” and hung on January 23rd, 1907 in Greenwood. Perril’s real circumstances—and the validity of the claims against him—remain a mystery, though of course false accusations often led to lynchings. It is likely that he was African American, and either a tobacco farmer or cotton plantation sharecropper, as much of Leflore County’s population was at that time.

Mississippi saw the highest number of documented lynchings among southern states during the Jim Crow period, and Leflore County recorded the highest number within Mississippi. The city of Greenwood alone has a storied history of racial violence: it is just ten miles from where Emmett Till was lynched (and is the site of the newly-dedicated Till memorial), and is the site of Medgar Evers’s murder on June 12th, 1963.

REFERENCES: Power, J. W. Biennial Report of the Secretary of State to the Legislature of Mississippi from October 1, 1905, to October 1, 1907 (Nashville: Brandon Printing Company, 1908), p. 72; “Say Their Names : Remembering Lynching Victims 1860 - 1950” at First Parish of Sudbury online.

Item #7994

Price: $950.00

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