Duluth Lynchings Online Resource
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William Maupins Text Transcript

A circus came to town, and in those days when a circus came to town it was sort of a holiday to go out and watch the — what do you call them — the roustabouts put up the big tent [Note: The circus was closing down, not setting up]. It was quite a knack. . . It was quite a thrill, and concessionaires would be open, and these fellows that they called roustabouts generally were blacks from the deep South. And what happened was that that night a woman claimed that she was raped. Now the interesting part about that was she never reported the rape until the following afternoon. And her boyfriend reported it. And they were having lynchings around the country. If you read the papers of that day, you’ll find that every week there was a lynching someplace in the country. So it got fanned up here in Duluth and they estimated as many as 9,000 people actually witnessed these lynchings. We’re speaking about a city that at that time probably was about 85,000, 80,000.

. . . They took them out of the [inaudible]. The circus moved to Virginia. And they went up there and arrested a number of them and brought them back to Duluth. And when the lynching fever came along the people did ask the police at that time, were they going to move them to Carlton County so there wouldn’t be a lynching? And they apparently were ignored by the police department. And then when the drive came on the police department, they just took the men out. They held some kind of kangaroo court. They didn’t take them all out; they only took three for some reason. Something took place inside the jail. And they hung them right in front of the Shrine Auditorium.

. . . Well the editorials in both the News Tribune and the Herald, which were different papers in those days, were very much appalled by the lynching and so were many of the better class people were really shook up that this took place here because it’s not the best thing to take place in your city of this size. Most lynchings that were happening were not happening in cities as large as Duluth. I mean police departments are usually adequate to take care of it, except possibly in the Deep South.

 

 
  1. Statement of Purpose
  2. Timeline
  3. Oral Histories
  4. People
  5. Glossary
  6. Additional Resources

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