The Forest City Lynching of 1900

Populism, Racism, and White Supremacy in Rutherford County, North Carolina


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About the Book

Politics in Rutherford County were heated a century ago: the developing textile industry, the growing population, an agricultural crisis and race relations inflamed everyone. Mills Higgins Flack, a leader of the Farmers’ Alliance and the county’s first Populist in the state House, was allegedly murdered on August 28, 1900, by Avery Mills, an African American. This book documents the murder and the lynching of Avery Mills. The author (Flack’s great-great-grandson) considers the phenomena of racial lynching, the Populist movement in the county, the white supremacy movement of the state’s Democratic party and the county’s KKK activities.

About the Author(s)

J. Timothy Cole is a librarian at Greensboro Public Library and an archivist at Guilford College. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

J. Timothy Cole

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 203
Bibliographic Info: photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2003
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1623-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8040-1
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Contributions to Southern Appalachian Studies

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v
Preface      1
Introduction      5

1 Mills Higgins Flack and the Agrarian Revolt in Rutherford      23
2 The Fusion Era and White Supremacy in Rutherford      42
3 The Forest City Lynching and Its Aftermath      62
4 Epilog: The Silence of Dishonor      82

Appendix I. A Partial List of Members (Chiefly Officers) of the Farmers’ Alliance in Rutherford      89
Appendix II. Populist Candidates in Rutherford (1892–1898)      93
Appendix III. The Charlotte Daily Observer Article of 29 August 1900      95
Appendix IV. The Charlotte Daily Observer Article of 31 August 1900      98
Appendix V. Affidavit Submitted by Raney Mills to Rutherford County Superior Court, Fall 1900, and the Order of Judge Shaw, Etc.      100
Appendix VI. Research on the Origins and Revolutionary Services of the Flacks of Guilford and Rutherford Counties      103
Appendix VII. Plato Durham, John Baxter Eaves and the Ku Klux Conspiracy in Rutherford      118

Notes      145
Bibliography      179
Index      189

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “stud[ies] the events against the political backdrop of the day…considers the legacy of what [the author] calls the sins of his ancestors”—North Carolina Libraries
  • “well written, well researched”—Journal of Appalachian Studies
  • “readers interested in Populism, race relations, and lynching will profit from Cole’s work”—North Carolina Historical Review
  • “there are lessons to be learned…[the author] cuts his flesh-and-blood no slack”—News & Record, (Greensboro, NC)