Jeff Curry, an African-American cobbler, was lynched by a mob on March 18, 1888, at the Blue Creek Mines just outside Birmingham. It was a Sunday evening when Curry met with a Mr. Powell and his son, apparently discussing a job he had done for them. It was reported that a dispute broke out and pistols were drawn by both sides, but no bullets were fired.
Curry was the only one arrested on the charge of carrying a concealed weapon and was taken before a magistrate. There it was ordered that Curry be brought to the Birmingham City Jail. Curry was taken into the custody of two white officers, Dave Rainey and Sam Reddon, who started to carry out the court order and transport Curry to Birmingham. It is unknown exactly how Curry was abducted from two armed guards, but their story was that a disguised mob overpowered them and murdered him. Interestingly, one of the guards was seen speaking to one of the Powells right before they left with the prisoner, which would suggest that the guards knew about the mob and their plans to murder Curry. It was not uncommon for mobs to demand African Americans “by force” while they were in police custody, and even more common that law officials would look the other way, assist with murders, and refuse to identify mob members after these incidents. Considering how quickly the mob caught up with the guards, it is likely that the murder of Curry was planned.
University of Alabama at Birmingham
“A Prisoner’s Fate,” The Courier-Journal, March 20, 1888.
“Murdered by Unknown Parties,” The Troy Messenger, March 18, 1888.