Victim Name: Charles Brown
Method of Death: Hanged
Accusation: Outraging a 15 year-old unmarried white girl
City: Front Royal
Mob Composition: Disguised
Summary: Charles Brown, an African American man, was lynched on August 19th, 1869 together with Jacob Berryman, in Warren County. Both men were accused of assaulting Alice Thompson, a 15-year-old white girl.
On Monday, August 16th, 1869, Alice Thompson, a 15-year-old white girl, was sent by her parents to Front Royal to purchase goods for her family. At about 10 AM, when Thompson began the route home, she was noticed by Charles Brown and Jacob Berryman (sometimes referred to as Jacob Merryman/Merriman). Brown and Berryman allegedly pursued Thompson for more than a mile into a path in the woods. Brown then caught Thompson from behind, and proceeded to choke her and throw her onto the ground. Brown threatened to shoot Thompson if she did not follow his directions. Brown ordered Thompson to walk farther into the woods, where Berryman stepped out from behind a tree to chase her. Thompson ran away from Brown and Berryman and was able to escape a further attack. That same day, Brown and Berryman were arrested and accused of committing an assault against Thompson. On Tuesday, August 17th, Brown and Berryman were brought before the court for their preliminary examination, during which Thompson identified Brown as the assailant, but failed to identify Berryman. However, the evidence presented against Berryman “established beyond a doubt, that [he] was the companion of Brown in this outrage upon Miss Thompson” (Staunton Spectator). The court set the date of trial for August 25th, and placed the two men in jail. According to the New York Times, the crowd present during this preliminary examination were “so exasperated” that “threats of lynching were freely made.” Around 2AM on August 19th, “a party of disguised men surrounded the jail” (New York Times) and pointing a gun to the jailor’s head demanded the keys for the prisoners’ cells. The jailor was then locked in a room by the mob. The New York Times reported that Brown and Berryman’s cells “were empty the next morning,” while the Richmond Dispatch recounted that Berryman and Brown, the two men “implicated in the outrage of Miss Thompson, near Front Royal, were taken by the citizens and hung.”
You can find additional court record documents about this lynching here.
News Coverage: New York Times; Richmond Dispatch; Staunton SpectatorArticle Link (from The New York Times published on 1869-08-22)
Article Link (from Staunton Spectator published on 1869-08-31)
Article Link (from Richmond Dispatch published on 1869-08-23)