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George Shivery (Lynching of)

George Shivery (or Shiverey), a white man, was lynched in Pocahontas (Randolph County) on March 23, 1901, at 1:30 a.m. for the alleged crime of killing a city marshal. He was one of only two men, both of them white, ever to be lynched in Randolph County; George Cole had been lynched in 1872.

According to the Arkansas Gazette, Shivery resided in a houseboat along the Black River with his wife and four children. On the evening of March 20, Shivery allegedly shot and killed John Norris, a city marshal. Initial reports in both the Gazette and the Arkansas Democrat reported that Shivery (whose name was initially given as James Chavari) had confronted Norris regarding the latter’s attempt to cut loose a raft on the river. The murder was later described in the Gazette as “cold-blooded and atrocious, without provocation.” News reports noted that Norris was held in esteem by the local community, being a member of the Knights of Pythias and the father of four children. Shivery was quickly arrested, and a coroner’s jury indicted him on the charge of first-degree murder but, with emotions running high in the community, the jury postponed the examining trial until the following week.

On the night of March 22–23, a mob of 400–500 “enraged citizens” assembled at the jail. Sheriff W. R. Russell appealed to the mob to let justice run its course, but the mob forced him and the other guards aside and battered down the doors of the jail. As the Gazette reported it, “After getting in they found the murderer crouched in a corner of his cell. Taking him out, they marched him to the place selected for his execution,” being a county bridge located in the southern part of Pocahontas, “and, after giving him an opportunity to make peace with God, swung him from the bridge.” His body remained hanging until 9:30 a.m. and was “visited by hundreds of people.”

The Arkansas Democrat commented upon the murder thusly in an untitled editorial: “No doubt the men who composed this mob will go unpunished, and no matter how much Shivery may have deserved death his execution at the hands of a mob was improper.”

For additional information:
Arkansas Democrat, March 25, 1901, p. 4.

“State News.” Arkansas Democrat, March 23, 1901, p. 8.

“To a Bridge.” Arkansas Gazette, March 24, 1901, p. 1.

“Town Marshal Shot.” Arkansas Gazette, March 22, 1901, p. 1.

Guy Lancaster
Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture

Last Updated 3/2/2018

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