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A historical Ellisville lynching remembered

Thousands of people attended the lynching of John Hartfield in 1919
Today, June 17, the historical 1919 lynching of an Ellisville man was acknowledged and remembered by the state of Mississippi.
Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 6:35 PM CDT
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ELLISVILLE, Miss. (WDAM) - The good, the bad and the ugly parts of history all have a place in this world.

Today, June 17, the historical 1919 lynching of an Ellisville man was acknowledged and remembered by the state of Mississippi.

People gathered on the side of highway 11 in Ellisville to remember John Hartfield. Marian Allen said she organized the memorial after doing extensive research into the historical event.

“John Hartfield was about 26 years old… an African American man,” said Allen. “It was alleged in June of 1919 that John raped a white lady by the name of Ruth Meeks.”

According to the Equal Justice Incentive, there was a multi-state manhunt for Hartfield. His picture was put in newspapers in Hattiesburg, Jackson, and New Orleans.

“So, it was well known across everywhere that this would take place,” said Allen. “It said in one newspaper that more than ten thousand people came to this lynching.”

There are several pictures from that day of the crowd with Hartfield’s body hanging from the noose.

“So, John was lynched; he was shot,” said Allen. “After he landed to the ground, his body parts were cut off, and we can imagine which one they really needed. Then he was burned, and then pictures, or postcards, of this lynching were made.”

Now, his lynching will be remembered in other ways. Thanks to Allen, there will be a historical landmark placed on highway eleven.

“It’s been overwhelming, I’ve been a little sick,” she said. “You know sometimes you engross yourself in a subject and when you really come out of it, it’s like, ‘oh I can breathe.’”

The actual landmark did not make it in time for today’s ceremony. WDAM will follow up on the story when it’s been placed.

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