California Lynchings, 1875-1947
 
 

                                        Map is Courtesy of The General Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin. This list has been prepared by Professor Michael J. Pfeifer, Faculty Member, American Social History, The Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington 98505, tel: (360) 867-6009, e-mail: pfeiferm@evergreen.edu, home page: http://academic.evergreen.edu/p/pfeiferm/home.htm

This  list is approximately complete within the dates given.  Please cite this website if you use information from it.

In this list of verified victims of lynching (referred to in at least one reliable primary source that I have identified, and if possible two or more independent primary sources; citations for sources are available on request), I use the definition of lynching that experts on mob violence devised at Tuskegee, Alabama in 1940: "there must be legal evidence that a person has been killed, and that he met his death illegally at the hands of a group acting under the pretext of service to justice, race, or tradition," with a group defined as "three" or more persons.  For an insightful discussion of the historical problem of definition, see Christopher Waldrep, “Word and Deed: The Language of Lynching, 1820-1953,” in Michael Bellesiles, Lethal Imagination: Violence and Brutality in American History (New York: New York University Press, 1999).  I believe that the Tuskegee definition, while historically contingent and imperfect, remains useful to historians of the phenomenon.  Its emphasis on the collective, purposeful, ideological, lethal, and unlawful nature of lynching is in fact consistent with the popular usage of the term as well as the actual praxis of violence from the mid nineteenth century through the present day.  If more than one victim was lynched in the incident, they are listed separately, although much of the rest of the information will be identical. 

Incidents are listed by date, name given for victim, county, alleged offense, race or ethnicity, and type of mob (from W. Fitzhugh Brundage's classification scheme in Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia, 1880-1930 (Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 1993), 17-48, 291-292.  I adapt Brundage's taxonomy* with these general guidelines:  mass mobs evoked broad participation and approval, were spontaneous and possessed little if any formal organization, and were highly ritualized in practice. Posses were groups of men, sometimes authorized by the sheriff, who searched for fleeing suspects.  But these often large crowds occasionally killed the persons they were seeking to apprehend.  Posses could legally kill if suspects were armed or resisted arrest.  I have categorized collective killings perpetrated by search parties as lynchings only if victims were unarmed or did not attempt to avoid arrest after being located.  

Two additional categories of mobs drew far less popular support.  Private lynchings constituted secretive, small-scale but collective enactments of vengeance, often by relatives and friends of someone allegedly harmed by the mob's victim. Terrorist mobs were long-lasting, well-organized groups that perpetrated extralegal violence, often for economic goals. A valuable source for California lynchings is Warren Franklin Webb, “A History of Lynching in California Since 1875,” (M.A. thesis, University of California, Berkeley, 1934).

DATE OF INCIDENT

VICTIM

LOCATION

COUNTY

PURPORTED CRIME

VICTIM'S RACE/ ETHNICITY

*ORGANIZERS

December 22, 1875

Jose Antonio Ygarra

Senel and Hopland

Mendocino

Murder

Latino

Private

June 10, 1876

Charles W. Henley

Santa Rosa

Sonoma

Murder

White

Private

May 3, 1877

Francisco Arias

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz

Murder

Latino

Private

May 3, 1877

Jose Chamalis

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz

Murder

Latino

Private

July 13, 1877

Justin Arayo

San Juan South

Monterey 

Murderous Assault and Murder

Latino

Private

December 22, 1877

Anthony Maron

Bakersfield

Kern 

Horse Theft

Latino 

Private

December 22, 1877

Francisco Ensinas

Bakersfield

Kern 

Horse Theft

Latino 

Private

December 22, 1877

Miguel Elias

Bakersfield

Kern 

Horse Theft

Latino 

Private

December 22, 1877

Fermin Eldeo

Bakersfield

Kern 

Horse Theft

Latino 

Private

December 22, 1877

Bessena Ruiz

Bakersfield

Kern 

Horse Theft

Latino 

Private

May 2, 1878

Christian Mutchler

Germantown

Colusa 

Arson

White

Private

May 7, 1878

Modoc Charlie

Walker Valley

Mendocino 

Rape

Indian

Mass

July 3 or  6, 1878

Rufugio Boca

Riverside

San Bernardino

Murder

Latino

Unknown

May 28, 1879

Thomas Yoakum

Bakersfield

Kern 

Murder

White

Private

May 28, 1879

William Yoakum

Bakersfield

Kern 

Murder

White

Private

September 4, 1879

Elijah Frost

Willits

Mendocino 

Theft

White

Private

September 4, 1879

Bige Gibson

Willits

Mendocino 

Theft

White

Private

September 4, 1879

Tom McCracken

Willits

Mendocino 

Theft

White

Private

January 17, 1881

Joseph Da Roche

Bodie

Mono

Murder

White

Private

April 5, 1881

Francisco Jimeno

Lompoc

Santa Barbara

Rape and Murder

Indian and Latino

Mass

August 7, 1881

T. J. Noakes

Oroville

Butte

Murder

White

Unknown

June 17, 1883

Incarnacion Garcia

Los Gatos

Santa Clara

Murder or Murderous Assault

Latino

Private

December 30, 1883

William Richardson

Eel River Island

Humboldt 

Rape

White

Private

December 4, 1884

William Pitts

Daggett

San Bernardino 

Murder

White

Unknown

June 10, 1885

James Delaney

 

Plumas 

Murder

White

Private

August 12, 1885

Henry D. Benner

Eureka

Humboldt

Murder

White

Mass

January 23, 1886

Holden Dick

Susanville

Lassen 

Murder

Indian

Unknown

January 23, 1886

Vicente Olivas

Susanville

Lassen

Murder

Latino

Unknown

April 1, 1886

Peter Hemmi

Arroyo Grande

San Luis Obispo

Murder and Murderous Assault

White

Private

April 1, 1886

James Hemmi

Arroyo Grande

San Luis Obispo

Murder and Murderous Assault

White

Private

May 5, 1886

George Vuga 

Drytown

Amador 

Murder

White

Private

July 11, 1887

Hong Di

Colusa

Colusa 

Murder and Murderous Assault

Chinese

Mass

November 26, 1887

Frank McCutcheon

Oakdale

Stanislaus

Arson

White

Unknown

May 5, 1888

John Wright

St. Helena

Napa

Murder

White

Private

April 30, 1890

Tacho

Banning

San Diego

Horse Stealing

Indian

Private

May 12, 1890

E. L. Chriswell

Santa Marie

Santa Barbara

Murder

White

Private

June 10, 1891

Ah Quong Tis/Tia/Tai

Bridgeport

Mono

Murder

Chinese

Mass (by Indians)

July 24, 1892

Charles Ruggles

Redding

Shasta

Murder and Robbery

White

Private

July 24, 1892

John Ruggles

Redding

Shasta

Murder and Robbery

White

Private

August 21, 1892

Francisco Torres

Santa Ana

Orange

Murder

Latino

Private

September 30, 1892

J. W. Smith

Castella

Shasta

Murder

White

Private

April 7, 1893

Jesus Fuen/Quien

San Bernardino

San Bernardino

Murder

Latino

Mass

December 12, 1894

William Dean

Fort Jones

Siskiyou

Murder

Indian

Private

July 26, 1895

Victor Adams

North Fork

Madera

Murder

White

Private

August 26, 1895

L. H. Johnson

Yreka

Siskiyou

Murder

White

Private

August 26, 1895

William Null

Yreka

Siskiyou

Murder

White

Private

August 26, 1895

Luis Moreno

Yreka

Siskiyou

Murder

Latino

Private

August 26, 1895

Garland Stemler

Yreka

Siskiyou

Murder

White

Private

September 23, 1895

William Archer

Kernville

Kern

Murder

Indian

Private

DATE OF INCIDENT

VICTIM

LOCATION

COUNTY

PURPORTED CRIME

VICTIM'S RACE/ ETHNICITY

*ORGANIZERS

May 31, 1901

Calvin Hall

Lookout

Modoc

Theft and Burglary

White

Private

May 31, 1901

James Hall

Lookout

Modoc

Theft and Burglary

"half-breed Indian"

Private

May 31, 1901

Frank Hall

Lookout

Modoc

Theft and Burglary

"half-breed Indian"

Private

May 31, 1901

Martin Wilson

Lookout

Modoc

Theft and Burglary

Indian

Private

May 31, 1901

Daniel Yantis

Lookout

Modoc

Theft and Burglary

Indian

Private

July 9, 1901

Yung Fook (Ah Sing)

Mt. Breckenridge

Kern

Murderous Assault

Chinese

Mass

March 11, 1904

James Cummings

Mojave

Kern

Rape of boy

Black

Private

April 15, 1904

B. H. Harrigan

Dunsmuir

Siskiyou

Rape

White

Mass

April 22, 1908

Joseph Simpson

Skidoo

Inyo

Murder

White

Private

December 10, 1920

George Boyd

Santa Rosa

Sonoma

Murder

White

Private

December 10, 1920

Terrence Fitts

Santa Rosa

Sonoma

Murder

White

Private

December 10, 1920

Charles Valento

Santa Rosa

Sonoma

Murder

White

Private

November 26, 1933

John M. Holmes

San Jose

Santa Clara

Kidnapping and Murder

White

Mass

November 26, 1933

Thomas H. Thurmond

San Jose

Santa Clara

Kidnapping and Murder

White

Mass

August 3, 1935

Clyde Johnson*

Yreka

Siskiyou

Murder

White

Private

* The corpse of Clyde Johnson. August 3, 1935 . Yreka, California.  Gelatin silver print. Real photo postcard. 3.1/2 x 5 3/8 in.  Etched in the negative, "Killer of Jack Daw Aug 3, 1935 vengence in Siskiyou County."  

At the funeral in Dunsmuir of Oregon's Chief of Police, F. R. Daw, a number of mourners planned the lynching of his alleged murderer, Clyde Johnson. Early on the morning of August 3, 1935, the masked mob, estimated as large as fifty, forcibly removed Johnson from his jail cell and dragged him three miles south of town where they hung him from a pine tree. Local and state officials expressed mixed reaction to news of the lynching. 

District Attorney James Davis declared that he would open an investigation and "do everything the law requires to apprehend members of the mob." On the other hand, the California Attorney General, referring to the recently delayed execution of an accused murderer, stated that the "uncontrollable unrest" was a natural result of the "apathy of the Supreme Court of the United States."

January 6, 1947

Unknown

Callahan

Siskiyou

Cattle Rustling

Black

Private

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
 


 
 

Source: http://academic.evergreen.edu/p/pfeiferm/California.html

photo source:  http://www.journale.com/withoutsanctuary/main.html