Norfolk Landmark, March 15, 1889


African-Americans -- Racial violenceMoral -- Other violent crimeMoral -- Murder

A Party of Masked Men Take him from Prison -- His Body Shockingly Mutilated -- Great Indignation Against Jeff Adair.

BALTIMORE, March 14. A Tasley, Va., special says: The negro Magruder Fletcher, who criminally assaulted Mrs. Obadiah Maccready several days ago, was lynched about 3 o'clock a.m. today by a party of about seventy-five men. Jailer Samuel Melson was aroused about 1 o'clock by a party of masked men who demanded the keys of the jail. Melson refused to give them up. He was told that if he did not his house would be burned, but he still refused. Deputy Sheriff Benjamin L. Melson, who had been aroused by the commotion, came to the scene and told the jailer he had better hand over the keys which he did. The lynchers went to the cell of Fletcher and told him he was wanted. He was at once released and was carried out. He made no demurrer whatever. The doors of the jail were fastened by the lynchers and the keys turned over to he jailer. The negro was then hurried off and hung to a limb of a pine tree on the edge of the road about one and a half miles from here. He was cut down at about nine o'clock by Magistrate Higgins and a coroner's inquest was held. The verdict was rendered that Fletcher came to his death by being strangled and shot by persons unknown to the jury. His neck was not broken. He was also shockingly mutilated. It is supposed that this was done prior to the hanging. Fletcher was a stout man of about twenty-five years of age and was very black. The public approves the lynching. Mrs. Maccready's husband came home yesterday. The lady is in a very precarious condition and is about crazed.

It is reported here that great indignation is felt against G. Jeff Adair, who shot P. B. Smith, in Northampton county, and that lynching is feared. Adair refuses to talk. It is thought that he will be removed from Eastville to Accomac Courthouse and that he will be tried in Accomac County Court.

Norfolk Landmark
Norfolk, Virginia
March 15, 1889