The Lynching of Ell Persons

The Lynching of Ell Persons (HM1YGR)

Location: Memphis, TN 38134 Shelby County
Buy Tennessee State flags at!
Country: United States of America
Buy United States of America flags at!

N 35° 9.616', W 89° 52.852'

  • 0 check ins
  • 0 favorites
Side One

Near this spot on May 22, 1917, a lynching party chained Ell Persons to a log, doused him in gasoline, and burned him alive. An estimated 5,000 spectators witnessed his death or viewed his remains soon afterward. Persons, a black woodcutter who lived nearby, was facing charges of raping and decapitating Antoinette Rappel, 15, a white school girl last seen on her bicycle crossing the Wolf River over the Macon Road bridge. In building a case against Persons, authorities relied primarily on a coerced confession made "after a long siege of beating" and "third degree tactics" from law officers, as the Memphis press reported. Once authorities charged Persons with the slaying, they sent him to Nashville for safekeeping.

Side Two

Meanwhile, groups of white men referred to as "the avengers" monitored all rail lines into Memphis as Person's trial date approached. On May 21, 1917, one of these groups overpowered two Shelby County deputies, seized Persons, and removed him from a rail passenger car outside Potts Camp, Mississippi. News reports in Memphis the next morning stated the time and place where Persons would be lynched. A carnival atmosphere prevailed here as automobiles jammed Macon Road and vendors sold drinks and snacks. After the lynching, onlookers dismembered Person's charred body.
Later that day, his head and foot were dumped on Beale Street for black pedestrians to see. No one was brought to trial in either the Rappel or Persons slayings.
Year Placed2017
Placed ByFacing History and Ourselves and Students Uniting Memphis of Overton High School and the Shelby County Historical Commission
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, May 26th, 2017 at 6:09pm PDT -07:00
Sorry, but we don't have a picture of this historical marker yet. If you have a picture, please share it with us. It's simple to do. 1) Become a member. 2) Adopt this historical marker listing. 3) Upload the picture.
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 237592 N 3894617
Decimal Degrees35.16026667, -89.88086667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 35° 9.616', W 89° 52.852'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds35° 9' 36.96" N, 89° 52' 51.12" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)731, 901
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling West
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 5404 Summer Ave, Memphis TN 38134, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

Is this marker missing? Are the coordinates wrong? Do you have additional information that you would like to share with us? If so, check in.

Check Ins  check in   |    all

Have you seen this marker? If so, check in and tell us about it.

Comments 0 comments

Maintenance Issues
  1. Is this marker part of a series?
  2. What historical period does the marker represent?
  3. What historical place does the marker represent?
  4. What type of marker is it?
  5. What class is the marker?
  6. What style is the marker?
  7. Does the marker have a number?
  8. This marker needs at least one picture.
  9. Can this marker be seen from the road?
  10. Is the marker in the median?