If Lillie Bailey, a rather pretty white girl, seventeen years of age, who is now at the city hospital, would be somewhat less reserved about her disgrace there would be some very nauseating details in the story of her life. She is the mother of a little coon. The truth might reveal fearful depravity or the evidence of a rank outrage. She will not divulge the name of the man who has left such black evidence of her disgrace, and in fact says it is a matter in which there can be no interest to the outside world. She came to Memphis nearly three months ago, and was taken in at the Woman’s Refuge in the southern part of the city. She remained there until a few weeks ago when the child was born. The ladies in charge of the Refuge were horrified. The girl was at once sent to the city hospital, where she has been since May 30. She is a country girl. She came to Memphis from her father’s farm, a short distance from Hernando, Miss. Just when she left there she would not say. In fact she says she came to Memphis from Arkansas, and says her home is in that state. She is rather good looking, has blue eyes, a low forehead and dark red hair. The ladies at the Woman’s Refuge do not know anything about the girl further than what they learned when she was an inmate of the institution; and she would not tell much. When the child was born an attempt was made to get the girl to reveal the name of the Negro who had disgraced her, she obstinately refused and it was impossible to elicit any information from her on the subject.
Note the wording: “The truth might reveal fearful depravity or rank outrage.” If it had been a white child or if Lillie Bailey had told a pitiful story of Negro outrage, it would have been a case of woman’s weakness or assault and she could have remained at the Woman’s Refuge. But a Negro child and to withhold its father’s name and thus prevent the killing of another Negro “rapist” was a case of “fearful depravity.” Had she revealed the father’s name, he would have been lynched and his taking off charged to an assault upon a white woman.
In Texarkana, Arkansas, Edward Coy was accused of assaulting a white woman. The press dispatches of February 18, 1892, told in detail how he was tied to a tree, the flesh cut from his body by men and boys, and after coal oil was poured over him, the woman he had assaulted gladly set fire to him, and 15,000 persons saw him burn to death. October 1, the Chicago Inter Ocean contained the following account of that horror from the pen of the “Bystander” Judge Albion W. Tourgee—as the result of his investigations:
1. The woman who was paraded as victim
of violence was of bad character;
her husband was a drunkard and a gambler.
2. She was publicly reported and
generally known to have been criminally
intimate with Coy for more than a year previous.