Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Lynching at Port Tobacco

The crew has been working in the front yards of the Chimney House and Stagg Hall for the past two days and we are making exciting finds. I'll leave the details of this effort to Jim and April to blog about. While having lunch yesterday in the court house (it was cold!), Jim and I discussed the fact that many of the notables from Port Tobacco were not the most savory type. Being a port town, by nature, it attracted not only wealthy merchants and land owners, but also a large array of scaliwags as well. George Atzerodt is perhaps the most notorious along with those responsible for the beatings of Josiah Henson and his father as well as other slaves. Today I reference you to a mob lynching that took place in 1896. Joseph Cocking was held in the Port Tobacco jail awaiting trial for the murder of his wife and sister-in-law. A mob of about 30 people, masked and some dressed in women's clothing, removed Cocking from the jail and hung him from a nearby bridge. There are several speculations about the reason for this. Some say it was because the mob wanted to save the tax payer the expense of a trial. Maybe it was because they just didn't like him anyway. We'll never know.

We are looking forward to two more days in the field and can hopefully finish the yards of Stagg Hall and Chimney House. I just found out today that Atzerodt's carriage shop was located directly behind the Chimney House. I'll let you know if we find any supporting evidence.

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