Maggie Howze and Alma Howze -Both Pregnant
Accused of the murder of Dr. E.L. Johnston in December 1918. Whites lynched Andrew Clark, age 15, Major Clark, age 20, Maggie Howze, age 20, and Alma Howze, age 16 from a bridge near ***, a town in Mississippi. The local press described Johnston as being a wealthy dentist, but he did not have an established business in the true sense of the word. He sought patients by riding his buggy throughout the community offering his services to the public at large in Alabama. Unable to make money âpeddlingâ dentistry, the dentist returned to Mississippi to work on his fatherâs land near ***. During his travels he had developed an intimate relationship with Maggie Howze. a Black woman who he had asked to move and lived with him. He also asked that she bring her sister Alma Howze along. While using the Black young women as sexual objects Johnson impregnated both of them though he was married and had a child. Three Black laborers worked on Johnstonâs plantation, two of whom were brothers, Major and Andrew Clark. Major tried to court Maggie, but Johnson was violently opposed to her trying to create a world of her own that did not include him. To block a threat to his sexual fiefdom, Johnston threaten Clarkâs life. *** after Johnston turned up dead and the finger was pointed at Major Clark and the Howze sisters. The whites picked up Major, his brother, Maggie and her sister and threw them in jail. To extract a confession from Major Clark, the authorities placed his testicles between the jaws of a vise and slowly closed it until Clark admitted that he killed Johnston. White community members took the four Blacks out of jail, placed them in an automobile, turned the head lights out and headed to the lynching site. Eighteen other cars, carrying members of the mob, followed close behind. Someone *** the power plant down and the town fell into darkness. Ropes were placed around the necks of the four Blacks and the other ends tied to the girder of the bridge. Maggie Howze cried, I ainât guilty of killing the doctor and you oughtnât to kill me. Someone took a monkey wrench and struck her In the mouth with It, knocking her teeth out. She was also hit across the head with the same instrument, cutting a long gash In which the side of a personâs hand could be placed. While the three other Blacks were killed instantly, Maggie Howze, four months pregnant, managed to grab the side of the bridge to break her fall. She did this twice before she died and the mob joked about how difficult it was to kill that big Jersey woman No one stepped forward to claim the bodies. No one held funeral services for the victims. The Black community demanded that the whites cut them down and bury them because they lynched them. The whites placed them in unmarked graves.
Alma Howze was on the verge of giving birth when the whites killed her. One witness claimed that at her âburial on the second day following, the movements of her unborn child could be detected.â Keep in mind, Johnstonâs parents felt that the Blacks had nothing to do with their sonâs death and that some irate white man killed him, knowing that the blame would fall on the Blackâs shoulders. The indefatigable Walter White, NAACP secretary, visited the scene of the execution and crafted the report. He pressed Governor Bilbo of Mississippi to look into the lynching and Bilbo told the NAACP to go to hell. (NAACP: Thirty Years of Lynching in the U.S.. 1889-1918 ) (Papers of the NAACP)