Monday, May 31, 2021

Tulsa Race Massacre 100 -- Day One -- May 31, 2021


Guthrie Daily Leader, 01-June-1921

100 years ago today, on 31-May-1921, a white mob in Tulsa, Oklahoma attacked the black-owned Greenwood District, destroying businesses, burning houses and killing people of color. The Tulsa Race Massacre may have been the worst single instance of racial violence in US history. 

It all started when shoe shiner Dick Rowland, who was African-American, stepped on the foot of a young white woman who was operating an elevator. When she screamed and he ran out of the building, people assumed that she had been assaulted. Rowland survived the massacre and was acquitted of assault, but then he disappeared. "Frisco" refers to the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway. 

75 Persons Killed in Tulsa Race War


Oklahoma City. June 1. - Seventy five persons, whites and negroes, have been killed in the race outbreak in Tulsa, according to a telephone message to Governor Robertson here today from the chief of police at Tulsa.

"Little Africa," the negro section of the city, is in flames; 500 armed white men are guarding the fire department to prevent any aid reaching the burning section of the city. The militia and police are powerless.

Practically Entire Negro
District of Oil
Metropolis in Ruins
Following a Night of
Terror; Whites and
Blacks Battle During
Long Night; City is
Placed Under Martial
Law; Many Are Wounded


Tulsa. June 1. -- Ten white men are known to have been killed in the race war that raged here from Tuesday night until noon. Chief of Police estimated that sixty-five negroes have been killed. Scores of whites and negroes have been wounded.

Practically the entire negro district is a mass of ruins. The loss will reach into thousands of dollars. It is believed that the white resident districts which were menaced will be saved from the flames which are still raging in the negro section.

The city and county are under martial law. Adjutant Barrett, of the Oklahoma National Guard, is in control.

With these precautions taken, it is believed that the situation is temporarily under control, although new outbreaks are feared.

Governor Robertson is enroute here from Oklahoma City to aid Adjutant General Barrett in restoring order and supervising the direction of fortes now in command in the city.

A military commission, composed of the officials and business men to pass upon the status of six thousand negroes now held in construction camps was formed shortly before noon by Mayor Evans and chief of police with the approval of Adjutant General Barrett. This committee will pass upon the guilt of those held under guard in the various camps.

The list of the white dead show ten have been killed. They are:
Homer Cline, 17 years old, a white boy.
Cleo Shumate, Tulsa. 24, shot early last night, died this morning. He was a tool dresser.
M. Baker, 27. Haviland. Kan.
Clyde Greaves, 30, Tulsa.
Three other white men. all unidentified, are lying in the morgues.


Tulsa. June 1. -- The race rioting that broke out here late Tuesday night grew out of the arrest Tuesday afternoon of Dick Rowland, a negro bootblack, on a charge of assaulting a white elevator girl in the Drexel building on Monday.

There was a movement afoot, it was reported, among white people to go to the county courthouse Tuesday night and lynch the bootblack. This report spread over "Little Africa" and early in the evening crowds of negros began forming.

Rowland was taken from the city to the county jail Tuesday afternoon and his preliminary trial set for June 7 In municipal court.

Rowland was arrested on South Greenwood avenue early Tuesday morning by officers Henry Carmichael and C. Pach. He was identified by the girl after his capture.


Bartlesville, June 1 -- A train crew from Tulsa that passed through here this morning told the operator at the Union depot he had passed three thousand negroes near Owasso this morning and they were headed in the direction of Bartlesville. The operator said that he was told by the crew most of the negroes were walking.


Tulsa. June 1. -- "We can't use the equipment we have and for that reason have not asked for more apparatus from other cities," R.C. Alder, fire chief, said at 10 o'clock this morning.

"It would mean a fireman's life to turn a stream of water on one of those negro buildings. They shot at us all morning when we were trying to do something but none of my men were hit. There is not a chance in the world to get through that mob into the negro district.

"We have five lines protecting the warehouses on the Katy railroad and I think we hare them saved. If the wind should change the white residence section east of the negro district would be menaced.

"The fire has swept Greenwood street, where the negro business section was located and is sweeping around the hill to the north. So far the white residence section on the north has not been touched."

Chief Adler indicated that he was prepared to call for outside assistance in case it became necessary.


Muskogee, June 1 -- The city was thrown into a high pitch of excitement when the fire department's siren was sounded at 10:40 calling out the national guards for duty at Tulsa. It wad some moments before quiet could be restored through announcement that the call was for the militia.


A white girl was reported killed on North Peoria in the vicinity of a refinery. The report could not be verified at 10 o'clock.

The firing came from a lot where throughout the early morning hours five hundred white men and a thousand negroes faced each other across railroad tracks. First reports to police headquarters said that the bodies of six to ten negroes could be seen lying in a space described as "No Man's Land." The police also had a report that three St. Louis & San Francisco railway switchmen and a brakeman had been shot to death.

At 10 o'clock it was reported two ' carloads of negroes from Muskogee had passed Kendal College, located in the eastern part of the city.


At 9 o'clock 3,000 negroes had been gathered at convention hall, under guard. It was filled as was also the police station. The remainder of those gathered up are being taken to the baseball park. All are under armed guard.

Casualty List

Up to 1 o'clock today the following white dead had been identified: Carl D. Lotspeisch, 28, Mendall, Kansas; John Palmer, 28; F. M. Baker, 27; Normand Gilliland, Norfolk, Va.; L. S. Slickard, 25, Tulsa F. L. Curry, 26, son of Judge F. Z. Curry; G. T. Prunkard, 34, Sapulpa; Lee Fischer 21, Tulsa. Many other unidentified dead. 

A re-check of the injured revealed the following at the various hospitals:
Earl Hileman, city, shot through thigh, not serious.
G. B. Steck, Sapulpa, shot in back, serious.
J. E. Wissinger, city, shot in knee.
G. F. Joiner, city, shot in leg, not serious.
Ross G. Owens, city, shot with bird shot, several wounds but not serious.
E. D. Hartshorne, city, shot in thigh.
Edward Austin, city, shot in toe, not serious.
Grocer Slinkhard, West Tulsa, fractured rib.
Robert Elmer, West Tulsa.
A. W. Dow, city, shot in upper thigh and compound fracture of arm, serious.
C. N. Thomas, city, shot in leg, not serious.
E. R. Hileam, Fern Hotel, compound fracture of thigh, serious.
Garland Crouch, city, shot in upper abdomen and right arm, thought to be serious.
A. T. Sterling, city, minor injuries.
E. Beichner, West Tulsa, shot in hand and leg, not serious.
Leo Fisher, city, shot in left leg and thigh, thought to be serious.
G. L. Prunkart, Frisco conductor, shot with bird shot in shoulder, chin and forehead. He was shot while sitting in caboose of train, just pulling into city.
There are two wounded patients unidentified. Fifteen or twenty patients having only slight wounds called at hospital and had them dressed, left hospital without giving name or address.
George Switzgood, city, not seriously.
K. G. Logsdon, city, shot in arm, not serious.
Sergeant W. R. Hastings, city, not serious.
H. L. Curry, city, shot through neck, serious.
E. F. Vickers, city, shot in arm.
V. W. Gamble, city, thought serious.
Jess Collins, city, serious.
R. N. Seltzer, city, leg, not serious.
Otto Sherry, city, face powder burned.
Thirty-five or forty who were only slightly wounded were attended at another hospital after the wounds were dressed they walked out, leaving no name or address.
H. C. Bankson, Jenks, Okla., tool dresser, shot through right wrist, bullet travelling through abdomen into the left arm.

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