He was arrested on Friday about ten o’clock,
by Constable Bob Cash, who
carried him before Mrs. White. She said: “I think he is the man. I am
almost certain of it. If he isn’t the man he is exactly like him.”
The Negro’s coat was torn also,
and there were other circumstances
against him. The committee returned and made its report, and the
chairman put the question of guilt or innocence to a vote.
All who thought the proof strong enough
to warrant execution were
invited to cross over to the other side of the road. Everybody but four
or five negroes crossed over.
The committee then placed Neal on a mule with his arms tied behind him, and proceeded to the scene of the crime, followed by the mob. The rope, with a noose already prepared, was tied to the limb nearest the spot where the unpardonable sin was committed, and the doomed man’s mule was brought to a standstill beneath it.
Then Neal confessed. He said he was the right man, but denied that he used force or threats to accomplish his purpose. It was a matter of purchase, he claimed, and said the price paid was twenty-five cents. He warned the colored men present to beware of white women and resist temptation, for to yield to their blandishments or to the passions of men, meant death.
While he was speaking, Mrs. White came
from her home and calling
Constable Cash to one side, asked if he could not save the Negro’s life.
The reply was, “No,” and Mrs. White returned to the house.
When all was in readiness, the husband of Neal’s victim leaped upon the mule’s back and adjusted the rope around the Negro’s neck. No cap was used, and Neal showed no fear, nor did he beg for mercy. The mule was struck with a whip and bounded out from under Neal, leaving him suspended in the air with his feet about three feet from the ground.
John Peterson, near Denmark, S.C., was suspected of rape, but escaped, went to Columbia, and placed himself under Gov. Tillman’s protection, declaring he too could prove an alibi by white witnesses. A white reporter hearing his declaration volunteered to find these witnesses, and telegraphed the governor that he would be in Columbia with them on Monday. In the meantime the mob at Denmark, learning Peterson’s whereabouts, went to the governor and demanded the prisoner. Gov. Tillman, who had during his canvass for reelection the year before, declared that he would lead a mob to lynch a Negro that assaulted a white woman, gave Peterson up to the mob. He was taken back to Denmark, and the white girl in the case as positively declared that he was not the man. But the verdict of the mob was that “the crime had been committed and somebody had to hang for it, and if he, Peterson, was not guilty of that he was of some other crime,” and he was hung, and his body riddled with 1,000 bullets.