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Hayneville in Lowndes County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)
 

Lynching in America / The Courthouse Lynching of Theo Calloway

Community Remembrance Project

 
 
Lynching in America Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, November 28, 2020
1. Lynching in America Marker
Inscription.  
Lynching in America
Between the end of the Civil War and the close of World War II, white mobs killed thousands of Black Americans in racial terror lynchings, and committed widespread violence that traumatized millions more. The Lowndes County Courthouse was built in 1856, when thousands of Black people remained enslaved in this community. For generations afterward, here and throughout the South, law enforcement offered Black residents little or no protection from racial violence. In addition to the 1888 lynching of Theo Calloway on these courthouse grounds, at least six more of Lowndes County's 16 documented African American lynching victims were seized from jail or police custody when killed: William Westmoreland (1896), John Jackson (1900), William Jones (1914), Samuel and William Powell (1917), and G. Smith Watkins (1935). During this era, white lynch mobs were also emboldened by legal systems that refused to arrest, prosecute, or punish mob members after lynchings took place. As late as 1948, in this courthouse, a grand jury refused to indict white men who admitted to shooting and killing Elmore
The Courthouse Lynching of Theo Calloway Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, November 28, 2020
2. The Courthouse Lynching of Theo Calloway Marker
Bolling, a prosperous Black businessman. Most documented Lowndes County lynchings never even resulted in a lyncher's arrest, and none ever led to a conviction for murder.

The Courthouse Lynching of Theo Calloway
On March 29. 1888, a mob of at least 200 white men lynched Theo Calloway, a 24-year-old Black man, near this courthouse in Lowndes County, Alabama. Mr. Calloway was accused of killing a white man and insisted that he had acted in self defense, but he never had the chance to stand trial. During this era, Black people were regularly denied fair trials and due process, and seized from jails and police custody while armed officers made no effort to protect them. Aided by the local sheriff, the white mob abducted Mr. Calloway from jail just hours before he was scheduled to appear in court, hanged him from a chinaberry tree on the courthouse lawn, and riddled his body with bullets. Theo Calloway, one of at least eleven children, was from nearby Sandy Ridge. His parents, Johnson and Fanny Calloway, learned of their son's lynching when they arrived to attend his hearing and instead had to retrieve his mangled corpse. For months afterward, Lowndes County Black residents protested Mr. Calloway's lynching, but local newspaper headlines applauded the mob's act: "Taken from Jail in the Approved Style, and Judicial Expenses Saved."
Looking west from Courthouse towards the town square. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, November 28, 2020
3. Looking west from Courthouse towards the town square.
With support from the governor, the same local law enforcement and state officials who had failed to prevent the illegal mob murder violently confronted and arrested dozens of Black people for demanding justice for Mr. Calloway. No one was ever punished for his lynching.
 
Erected 2020 by Equal Justice Initiative, Lowndes Community Remembrance Coalition.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansCivil Rights. In addition, it is included in the Lynching in America series list.
 
Location. 32° 11.012′ N, 86° 34.785′ W. Marker is in Hayneville, Alabama, in Lowndes County. Marker is at the intersection of East Lafayette Street and South Washington Street, on the left when traveling east on East Lafayette Street. Located on south side of Courthouse. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1 S Washington St, Hayneville AL 36040, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Soldier Dead of Lowndes (within shouting distance of this marker); Town of Hayneville (within shouting distance of this marker); Hayneville (within shouting distance of this marker); In Memory of Jonathan Myrick Daniels (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Varner's Cash Store
The view east towards Courthouse with marker in bottom right corner. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, November 28, 2020
4. The view east towards Courthouse with marker in bottom right corner.
(approx. 0.2 miles away); Elmore Bolling (approx. 5.9 miles away); Campsite 3 (approx. 6.4 miles away); Viola Liuzzo (approx. 6.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hayneville.
 
People lynched in Lowndes County with Theo Calloway's name at top. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, May 31, 2018
5. People lynched in Lowndes County with Theo Calloway's name at top.
Part of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, in Montgomery, Alabama, the memorial is dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence. One of the over 800 corten steel monuments, one for each county in the United States where a racial terror lynching took place.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 28, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 25, 2020, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 63 times since then and 18 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on November 28, 2020, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.
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Mar. 7, 2021