By Dolores Flamiano
On Saturday, October 17, 1891, a group of young black miners traveled by train to Clifton Forge, a booming railroad town in western Virginia. Three of the men (Charles Miller, John Scott, and Robert Burton) visited S.S. Griffith photography studio and posed for Wild West-style portraits, displaying pistols and tough-guy stances. In high spirits and looking for a good time, they soon attracted the attention of a white man who tried to arrest them. (Newspaper accounts were vague about their alleged crime.) The miners resisted arrest and quickly left town, but a group of white men formed a posse and pursued them. The groups met in a firefight that killed two men (one white and one black) and injured two others. Four black men were taken to jail, but some white men (now an excited mob) kidnapped them. The mob decided to release a teenage boy, but proceeded to hang Miller, Scott, and Burton in a tree and shoot their bodies full of bullets.