1870-1879 Rockingham

Charlotte Harris in Rockingham

Victim ID: VA1878030601
Victim Name: Charlotte Harris
Race: Black
Sex: Female
Age: Unknown
Job: Unknown
Method of Death: Hanged
Accusation: Instigating the burning of a barn
Date: 1878-03-06
City: Harrisonburg
Mob Composition: Disguised


Summary: About a dozen persons with blackened faces hanged Charlotte Harris, a black woman, on March 6th, 1878 near Harrisonburg, in Rockingham County, Virginia. Harris was accused of instigating the burning of a barn.

On Thursday, February 28th, 1878, the barn of Henry Sipe in Rockingham County burned down, and a young black boy, Jim Ergenbright (or Arbegast), was arrested with the accusation of having set the barn on fire (Evening Star). Charlotte Harris was later accused of being the instigator of the burning of the barn, and, on March 6th, she was arrested and taken into the custody of the Rockingham County Jail in Harrisonburg (Alexandria Gazette). At about 11 PM, two men appeared in front of the building with cocked revolvers, demanding Harris from her jail cell. According to The Daily Dispatch, the two armed men “informed the guard that if they surrendered her peaceably it would be well for them; if not, they must take the consequences. But at this moment a rush of armed men (in appearance black) made an entrance and seized Charlotte”. The disguised party took Charlotte Harris about 400 yards from the jail and hanged her to a tree.

On March 16th, 1878, the Governor of Virginia offered a $100 reward for the capture of the lynchers of Charlotte Harris; about ten days later, a grand jury in Rockingham County was unable to identify any parties responsible for the lynching (Alexandria Gazette). Jim Ergenbright, the young boy accused of having burned Mr. Sipe’s barn, was acquitted from all charges on April 16th, 1878 (Alexandria Gazette).


News Coverage: Alexandria Gazette; Evening Star; Staunton Spectator; The Daily Dispatch
Article Link (from Evening Star published on 1878-03-11)
Article Link (from Evening Star published on 1878-03-19)
Article Link (from Evening Star published on 1878-04-17)
Article Link (from Staunton Spectator published on 1878-03-12)
Article Link (from Staunton Spectator published on 1878-04-23)
Article Link (from The Daily Dispatch published on 1878-03-11)
Article Link (from The Daily Dispatch published on 1878-03-16)
Article Link (from The Daily Dispatch published on 1878-03-18)
Article Link (from The Daily Dispatch published on 1878-03-18)
Article Link (from The Daily Dispatch published on 1878-04-17)
Article Link (from Alexandria Gazette published on 1878-03-11)
Article Link (from Alexandria Gazette published on 1878-03-16)
Article Link (from Alexandria Gazette published on 1878-03-27)
Article Link (from Alexandria Gazette published on 1878-04-17)
 

2 Comments
  • Gianluca
    June 29, 2018 at 3:48 pm
    Reply

    Andrew Jenner just published a very interesting article on the collective memories of racial violence, in particular the lynching of Charlotte Harris in Harrisonburg. I highly recommend it: https://www.scalawagmagazine.org/2018/06/blind-spots-selective-memory-in-brazilian-and-u-s-histories/

  • April 7, 2018 at 2:30 pm
    Reply

    The Northeast Neighborhood Association of Harrisonburg, VA would like to thank the filmmakers of “An Outrage” and Dr. Gianluca De Fazio of JMU for welcoming our participation in the screening and discussion on lynching in the American South at Madison Hall on 3/13/18. We were proud to announce that we will be working with Dr. De Fazio, local officials and community partners in properly memorializing our ancestor, Charlotte Harris, an African-American woman lynched in the Harrisonburg area in 1878.

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