Lynching of Ballie Crutchfield

On March 15, 1901, an African American woman named Ballie Crutchfield was lynched by a white mob in Rome, Tennessee. The mob had tried to murder her brother, earlier that night, but was unsuccessful and took vengeance on his sister, whom they bound, shot, and threw in a creek.[1]

Lynching of Ballie Crutchfield
Part of racism against African Americans
LocationRome, Tennessee, U.S.
DateMarch 15, 1901; 123 years ago (1901-03-15)
Attack type
VictimBallie Crutchfield
PerpetratorWhite mob
MotiveRevenge for an alleged theft committed by the victim's brother

Background and events


The week before the murder, rumors spread that a wallet containing $120, which a white man in Rome had lost, had been found by a Black child who had given it to a Black man, William Crutchfield. Being accused of theft, Crutchfield was quickly arrested and thrown in jail. A white mob sprang him from jail but he escaped as they tried to lynch him. When they couldn't find him, the mob took vengeance on Crutchfield's sister. She was taken out of town, and with her hands tied behind her back she was shot and thrown into a creek.[2]

Her body was removed from the creek the next morning. Nobody was prosecuted for the murder;[2] the New-York Tribune wrote on March 16, 1901, "The Coroner's jury found the usual verdict that the woman came to her death at the hands of parties unknown."[3]



The Catholic Sacred Heart Review reported and commented on the lynching on March 23, 1901, in a brief but scathing report:

It is a very dull week indeed that does not now bring in the news that a negro has been lynched in some corner of our great, freedom-loving country, where all men are created free and equal, and where education and enlightenment is so far advanced that there is never the least difference made in dealing out justice to white man or negro. The excuse offered by those addicted to the lynching habit is that it is the only form of justice that is swift, sure and appropriate punishment for the crimes against white women which negroes are said to be most prone to commit. But sometimes lynching is visited upon negroes who are accused of other crimes. For instance, last week a negro woman named Ballie Crutchfield was shot to death near Rome, Term., by a mob, on suspicion that she was concerned in the theft of a pocketbook containing $120, lost by Walter Sampson a week ago. The pocketbook had been found by a brother of the woman. He was arrested, but escaped from the lynching mob, who became enraged and killed the woman instead.[4]

Crutchfield's murder is one of the many lynchings remembered at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.[5]

See also



  1. ^ Segrave, Kerry (2014). Lynchings of Women in the United States: The Recorded Cases, 1851-1946. McFarland. p. 101. ISBN 9780786460083.
  2. ^ a b "On this day, Mar 15, 1901: Black Woman Lynched By White Mob in Tennessee After They Couldn't Find Her Brother". Equal Justice Initiative. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  3. ^ Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, 1889-1918. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. 1919. p. 14.
  4. ^ "Negro Woman Lynched for Stealing". The Sacred Heart Review. Vol. 25, no. 12. March 23, 1901. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  5. ^ Bey, Lee (June 11, 2018). "Memorializing an American Atrocity". Architect. Retrieved June 13, 2021.

36°15′43″N 86°04′18″W / 36.26194°N 86.07167°W / 36.26194; -86.07167