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Circa 1907, Cairo,Illinois
Will James likely sat for this portrait at a local postcard photographer's studio, a popular and inexpensive fashion of the time. This is the first image of the James lynching in a series of fifteen real photo postcards. Other images include the home of his alleged victim, Miss Anne Pelley; the home of the seventeen-year-old daughter of Mr. Boren, who found the murdered Miss Pelley in an alley she was crossing on the way to her grandmother's house; the "course teh hounds took"; the trains the mob took over to reach Belknap, Illinois, where James was apprehended, and to return him to Cairo for a public execution. The rope from which James was hung broke before he died. His body was teh "riddled with bullets," dragged by rope for a mile to the alleged scene of the crime, and burned in the presence of 10,000 spectators.
|"Half Burned Head of James"
November 11, 1090, Cairo, Illinois
|Law enforcement agents and bloodhounds.
In oral histories and correspondence referring to the use of tracking dogs, the term "nigger dogs" is often used. "Dog boys" gained firsthand experience of lynchings and other forms of extra-legal violence in their capacity as runners, trailing the dogs and communicating their progress to the older men, who lagged behind.
|View of Commercial Avenue "where they hung the coon"
Images of America's main streets were a favorite subject at hte peak of postcard popularity and the height of lynching frequency. In this example, these phenomena are accurately and historically linked. Without fear of judicial reprisals, United States citizens committed repeated acts of extra-legal violence on their busiest streets.
An anonymous sender indicated the site of the lunching of Will James, or "Froggie," by inking an X and a spiderlike stick figure over Hustler's Arch. Hustler's ARch was a prominent and well-lit landmark in Cairo, where banners were customarily hung for Fourth of July clelbrations, fairs, and circus parades.
After the lynching of Will James, the mob turned its attention to the county jail, broke the white Henry Salzner out of his cell by demolishing its solid-metal door, and lynched him from a telephone pole. They did not mutilate or parade his corpse or set it on fire.
Reverend George H. Babcock of the Church of the Redeemer in Cairo declared that the failure of the civil authorities to maintain "law and order made the lynchings necessary for the infliction of justice."
|Spot where Will James, body was riddled with bullets, after being lynched Nov 11th 09 at Cairo Ill|