Tom Redmond, June 17, 1890, Brookside Mines

Tom Redmond was murdered in June 1890 in the aftermath of an altercation between a group of white men and a group of black men that left five others wounded, according to newspaper accounts. For Mr. Redmond’s age, his family, his occupation or his life until this point, no records have been found. 

Only one side of the story of Mr. Redmond’s death has been deemed ‘official.’ It is from the perspective of the white men involved in the incident through the white run Montgomery and Birmingham newspapers. 

At Brookside mines, a mine 12 miles north of Birmingham and owned by the Sloss-Sheffield Steel and Iron Company, a group of white men were said to be drinking from a keg of beer, which they then rolled down a hill. The men then proceeded to throw rocks at the keg and the black men at the bottom of the hill. Tensions heightened and both parties armed themselves. The next day, a white man, Tom Acres, attempted to arrest one the black leaders, Jim McDowell. Mr. Redmond heroically stepped in to stop Acres from firing on McDowell, but the encounter sparked a shoot-out in front of the Sloss & Company’s store. Mr. Redmond was killed, and at least five other men were wounded. The black party eventually fled. Two of the men were caught by the white party, who pursued them with bloodhounds. Although law enforcement prevented another lynching of these two men, no one was held accountable for Mr. Redmond’s death. 

Newspaper accounts say nothing about what happened to the body of Mr. Redmond or about whether anyone was ever held responsible for the deaths. One newspaper clearly takes the side of the white men involved, the other makes the whole ordeal seem like it was blown out of proportion. The articles cater to the views of the local white communities. No official account of the events of June 17, 1890, from the perspective of the black men involved or possible black witnesses seems to exist.

Nisha Maxwell 

University of Alabama at Birmingham


Selected Sources 

“Bullets and Blood at Brookside,” The Montgomery Advertiser, June 17, 1890, page 1. 

“Negroes Threatening to Kill the White and Burn the Town,” The Montgomery Advertiser, June 17, 1890, page 1. 

“Untitled,” Birmingham Chronicle, June 1890.