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1908 Springfield IL Race Riot

Last month I took a weekend trip to Springfield IL to retrace and learn about the sites of the two-day 1908 Race Riot that killed an estimated 11 people.


(Springfield Race Riot Sculpture - Artist Preston Jackson)


On August 13, 1908, Mabel Hallam, a white woman, and wife of a streetcar conductor, accused George Richardson, a black man, of rape in their home. This incident heightened the White mob's anger due to Joe James, a black man, who was accused of killing a white railroad engineer, Clergy Ballard, in July 1908.


(George Richardson - Photo: Sangamon Link)


(Joe James - Photo: Sangamon Link)


While Richardson and James were sitting in jail, a white mob demanded the two black men's release to have them lynched. The mob did not know that Richardson and James were secretly released and transported to Bloomington, IL, in a car owned by a white downtown restaurant owner, Harry Loper, hoping that the mob would leave and go home.


When the mob found out they were deceived, anger ensued. An estimated 5,000 rioters destroyed Loper's restaurant and his car he used to help Richardson and James to escape.


(Loper Restaurant and car destroyed - Photo: Sangamon Link)


Several black residents were attacked, beaten, homes destroyed in their neighborhood, the Badlands, and eventually had to leave Springfield. The mob had to lynch someone.


(Badland neighborhood were poor African American lived was destroyed by a White mob because Mable Hallam lied that she was raped by Geroge Richardson)







A black entrepreneur decided to stay home to protect his home at 322 N. 12th Street and sent his family away. Scott Burton, a barber in his late 50s, was dragged from his home, beaten, stabbed and shot to death. The White mob then hung his body from a tree at 12th & Madison Street and continued to riddle his dead body with bullets.


Scott Burton is buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery.


(Businessman Scott Burton is buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, IL.)