“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Shelbyville in Shelby County, Kentucky — The American South (East South Central)

Lynching in Shelbyville

Community Remembrance Project

Lynching in Shelbyville Marker (Side A) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, May 31, 2021
1. Lynching in Shelbyville Marker (Side A)
Inscription.  In the early morning of January 15, 1911, a White mob abducted three Black men named Eugene Marshall, Wade Patterson, and Jim West from the Shelby County Jail. Although reports indicate that police were aware of the threat of mob violence, law enforcement failed to intervene to prevent the lynching. During this era, police almost never used force to resist White lynch mobs intent on killing Black people, and it was common for mobs to seize their victims from police custody. The mob dragged the three men to a bridge over Clear Creek and hanged both Mr. Marshall and Mr. Patterson. When the rope broke as they were hanging Mr. Patterson, they severely beat and shot him to death. Mr. West was injured by the mob, but he was able to escape and reportedly fled the county. Later that morning, Mr. Marshall's body was found hanging from the bridge, and Mr. Patterson's body was nearby in the creek. All three men had been accused of separate offenses. Mr. Patterson and Mr. West had been accused of offenses against White women at a time when the mere accusation of violence against White women aroused violent mobs. Although Mr. Marshall was accused of killing
Lynching in Shelbyville Marker (Side B) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, May 31, 2021
2. Lynching in Shelbyville Marker (Side B)
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a Black woman, local accounts indicate he was lynched likely as the result of the mob mistaking his identity. Soon after the lynchings, local authorities initiated a grand jury investigation. Despite the uncommon calls for accountability, no one was held responsible for the lynchings.

On October 2, 1901, a mob of armed White men hanged nineteen-year-old Clarence Garnett and fifteen-year-old Jimbo Fields, two African American teenagers, from the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad trestle over Clear Creek. The two young men had been accused of murdering a White man who drunkenly tried to enter Jimbo's home. Police arrested the young men and held them at the Shelby County Jail. A White mob intent on lynching both of them entered the unguarded jail, broke down the door, and abducted them. During this era, African Americans faced hostile suspicion and were burdened by a presumption of guilt, that often resulted in fatal violence before an investigation or trial. After kidnapping Jimbo and Clarence, the mob marched them 500 yards to the site of their deaths. Later, a Black man incarcerated at the jail reported that he knew some of the mob participants but had been threatened into silence. Jimbo's mother was threatened by the mob to leave town. These types of threats of violent retaliation were meant to intimidate people to ensure the mob would not be held accountable. Like nearly
Lynching in Shelbyville Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, May 31, 2021
3. Lynching in Shelbyville Marker
all victims of racial terror lynching, Clarence and Jimbo were killed by a White mob that never faced prosecution. Memorializing these victims of racial terror lynchings is critical in addressing our nation's history of racial injustice and in advancing the continuing struggle for equality and the elimination of bias and bigotry.
Erected 2020 by Equal Justice Initiative and Shelbyville Community Remembrance Project Coalition.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansCivil RightsLaw Enforcement. In addition, it is included in the Lynching in America series list.
Location. 38° 12.706′ N, 85° 12.949′ W. Marker is in Shelbyville, Kentucky, in Shelby County. Marker is at the intersection of Washington Street (U.S. 60) and Jail Hill Road, on the right when traveling west on Washington Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 501 Washington Street, Shelbyville KY 40065, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Lynching in America / Lynching of Sam Pulliam (a few steps from this marker); Reconstruction in America / Lynching of Reuben Dennis (a few steps from this marker); Lewis and Clark in Kentucky 1806 Return of Expedition / Death of Meriwether Lewis (within shouting distance of
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this marker); Shelby County, 1792 (within shouting distance of this marker); Squire Boone's Station, 1779 (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Blockhouse / Martin's Raid (about 300 feet away); Shelbyville Fountain (about 300 feet away); Founder Capt. William Shannon (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Shelbyville.
More about this marker. Located across the street from the jail building where all five boys and men were held before they were lynched.
Credits. This page was last revised on July 1, 2021. It was originally submitted on June 12, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 322 times since then and 107 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on June 12, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

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Mar. 23, 2023