“Emma Hartsell”


Emma Hartsell is found with her throat cut. Two blacks, Tom [Johnson] and Joe [Kiser], are accused of the crime and hanged from a dogwood tree. Even Joe's last request for a drink of water is refused


Based on the notes in Brown, it appears that the facts in this particular case can never be known. The notes comment that racial hatred was at a high pitch due to attempts to give Blacks the vote in North Carolina.

The known facts are that Hartsell was raped, then killed by having her throat cut. Kiser came to town to report finding the body, and was arrested. Johnson was arrested soon after, on what basis it is not clear.

That night, a mob attacked the jail, seized the prisoners, and lynched them. The cynic in me suspects that the actual murderer was probably a leader of the lynch mob. - RBW

Historical references

  • May 30, 1898 - Rape and murder of Emma Hartsell. Joe Kiser and Tom Johnson are arrested, but -- despite protestations of innocence -- are lynched before they can be tried


  1. Laws F34, "Emma Hartsell"
  2. BrownII 296, "Emma Hartsell" (1 text plus 1 excerpt and mention of 3 more)
  3. DT 728, HARTSELL
  4. Roud #2272
  5. BI, LF34


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1952 (Brown)
Keywords: homicide execution
Found in: US(SE)