On October 9, 1896, James Anderson was lynched by a mob following his arrest by police as a suspect in the death of Randolph Falls, a white farmer from the small town of Toadvine, Alabama. Mr. Anderson and another black man, Henry Cyat, were accused of attacking and robbing Mr. Falls. Mr. Anderson did not live to return to Toadvine for questioning and trial, but was lynched after he pleaded for his life.
Mr. Falls had given a ride to two black men as he returned from selling cotton in Birmingham. They were still about 10 miles from Toadvine when it started getting dark, so they stopped near Taylor’s Ferry to sleep for the night. The following morning Falls was found fatally wounded and unconscious. He died shortly after.
Quickly following Mr. Falls’ death, a few black men were accused of being connected to the murder, but they were found innocent and let go. On Friday, the police settled on James Anderson, arresting him as one of the two possible suspects. The officers who found Mr. Anderson were attempting to bring him back to Toadvine when a mob met them near Rocky Creek Bridge late Friday evening. Mr. Anderson offered to confess to the crime if the mob would take him to jail. He pleaded again with the mob to show mercy. However, no mercy was shown. The mob gave him a moment to pray; then a man came forward and shot Mr. Anderson in the head with a pistol. After the initial shot, approximately 20 more men took aim to Mr. Anderson, continuing to shoot him until his body was “riddled with holes.”
Before he was lynched, Mr. Anderson named Henry Cyat as his partner in this crime, and soon thereafter Mr. Cyat was captured and lynched. Mr. Anderson and Mr. Cyat were believed to have been lynched by different mobs. Their bodies were found about a mile apart.
“The Lynching Bee,” The Montgomery Advertiser, October 13, 1896, page 3.
“Their Bodies Bullet Ridden,” The Times: Philadelphia, October 11, 1896, page 1.
“Two Negroes Shot to Death,” The New York Times, October 11, 1896, page 3.