Lynching of Allen Brooks

Accused of attempted rape, African-American Allen Brooks was seized by a Dallas mob from the Dallas County courthouse. A crowd of around 5,000 watched as the mob killed Allen Brooks

   Arrested and accused of attempted rape of his employer’s two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Allen Brooks was hidden in area jails by Sheriff Arthur L. Ledbetter to protect Brooks from vigilante violence. On the morning of his arraignment a large crowd gathered at the Dallas County courthouse. A mob entered the court, pushing aside the sheriff and his deputies, and seized Brooks. The mob threw Brooks out of a second-story window, and beat and stabbed him. The mob took Brooks and hanged him from a telephone pole.

    On February 27, 1910[1], Mary Ethel Buvens, the two-and-a-half-year-old daughter of Allen Brooks’ employer, was found in the loft of a barn with Brooks, after being missing for several hours. The Buvens family and others along Ross Street employed sixty-five-year-old[2] Brooks, who worked as a furnace-tender and handyman. Dr. W.W. Brandau, the Buvens’ family physician, examined Buvens and declared that he found “evidence of brutal treatment, though the perpetrator had not been entirely successful.” At the city jail Brandau examined Brooks and found evidence which confirmed the opinion he formed after he examined Buvens.[3]

    To prevent mob violence the authorities hid Brooks in the Fort Worth county jail and then moved him to Denton, Sherman and later to McKinney.[4] On Thursday March 3, 1910, the morning of Brooks’ arraignment, the authorities took Brooks from McKinney to the Dallas County courthouse, where he was concealed in the jury room next to the Criminal District Court on the second floor.[5]

    A large crowd gathered outside the courthouse. A mob attacked the double cordon of officers in the courthouse. The “mob overpowered Sheriff A.L. Ledbetter, his deputies, and fifteen or twenty policemen to seize the Negro and throw him headfirst from a second story window of the Criminal Courts Building. He then had a rope placed around his neck and was dragged up Main Street to the ornate Elks’ Arch at the intersection of Main and Akard Streets, where he was hanged from a telephone pole. The arch was dismantled soon afterward because of its association with this lynching incident.”[6]

   As the mob entered and pushed aside fifty armed deputies and twenty policemen, the judge pleaded for the court to do its job, however, the mob seized Brooks from the jury room. The mob on the street below threw a rope through the window on the second floor, where the men tied the rope around Brooks’ neck and through the second-story window, and threw the other end to the mob below. On the street six or seven men grabbed the rope and pulled while around six men picked up Brooks and shoved him out the window. Brooks landed on the pavement below head first. The fall may have killed him or, at least, rendered him unconscious. On the street the mob beat and stabbed Brooks. To the cry, “take him to the Arch,” the mob dragged Brooks’ body half a mile to the Elks’ Arch, a more than thirty-foot steel arch erected by the Dallas Chapter of the Fraternal Order of the Elks in 1908, at the intersection of Main and Akard. With the large crowd of Dallas citizens watching, the mob hung Brooks from a telephone pole on the southwest corner of the intersection. Members of the crowd cut pieces of Brooks’ clothing to keep as souvenirs. Photographs of the mob with Brooks’ body hanging from the telephone pole were used as lynching postcards.[7]

    Brooks’ body remained hanging from the telephone pole for ten minutes before being cut down. Chief of Police John Ryan took control of Brooks’ body, removing it to the Emergency Hospital in the City Hall. Meanwhile, a mob moved to the county jail to “get Barrell Oates and Bubber Robinson,” two African-American men convicted of murder. Under pressure of the estimated 10,000 people, according to the Dallas Morning News, the officers allowed twenty men to search the jail for both men. However, earlier the authorities removed both men from the jail to avoid mob violence.[8]

      The court documented the lynching: “While the attorneys were preparing the motion, a mob entered the courtroom and killed the defendant. Cause dismissed.” A grand jury did not indict a single individual for the lynching after law enforcement officials insisted that they did not recognize any of the men who stormed the courthouse.[9]

    By the end of 1911 the Elk’s Arch was dismantled and re-erected in Fair Park. However, its removal from Main and Akard was planned long before the lynching.[10]

   On April 25, 2018 the Dallas City Council approved a resolution to create a memorial of the lynching to acknowledge the public act of violence committed by Dallas residents. The council gave preliminary approval for spending up to $100,000.[11]

   Allen Brooks was one of five African-American men lynched in Texas in 1910 and an estimated fifteen victims of race riots in July of that year.[12]


Footnotes

[1] Different sources provide different dates for the incident: February 23, 24, and 27.

[2] Brooks’ age is given as 57, 58, 64, 65, and 68 depending on sources.

[3] Tom Peeler, “History Civil Wrongs: A 20th-century lynching on Main Street,” D Magazine, March 1984. “Dallas mob hangs negro from pole at Elks’ Arch,” Dallas Morning News, March 4, 1910.

[4] Terry Anne Scott, “Brooks, Allen (1853?-1910)” BlackPast.org. Peeler.

[5] Peeler.

[6] Peeler. Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration in the City of Dallas, The WPA Dallas Guide and History, (Dallas Public Library: Dallas, Texas, 1992), 86. UNT Digital Library.

[7] Scott, Michael Phillips, White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity, and Religion in Dallas, 1841-2001, (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2006), 77. Christopher J. Dowdy, (2015).  “The lynching of Allen Brooks and the Disappearance of the Elks Arch,” Dallas Untold. “Dallas mob hangs negro from pole at Elks’ Arch,” Dallas Morning News, March 4, 1910.

[8] “Dallas mob hangs negro from pole at Elks’ Arch,” Dallas Morning News, March 4, 1910. Postcard, Call number: Ag2014.0011. Archival File Name: ag2014_0011_3_3_2_0009_r_lynching.tif. DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University. Phillips, 77. On May 13,1910, just two months later, Texas hanged Julius “Bubber” Robinson for the 1908 murder of Frank Wolford. Clifford R. Caldwell and Ron DeLord, Eternity at the end of a Rope: Executions, Lynchings and Vigilante Justice in Texas 1819-1923, (Santa Fe, New Mexico: Sunstone Press, 2015), 495-6. Texas executed Burrell Oates in Waxahachie on November 29, 1912. “Burrell Oates Hanged; Claimed Innocent,” Dallas Morning News, November 30, 1912.

[9] Phillips, 77-78. Coshandra Dillard, “In downtown Dallas, a crowd of 5,000 watched this black man get lynched – and they took souvenirs: Allen Brooks was dragged from the courtroom by an angry mob,” Timeline, October 15, 2017.

[10] Dowdy.

[11] Steve Pickett, “Dallas To Build Memorial To Lynching Of Allen Brooks,” 11-21 CBS DFW, April 26, 2018.

[12] David L. Chapman, Lynching in Texas, A Master of Arts thesis in history, Texas Tech University, August 1973.

Bibliography

“Dallas mob hangs negro from pole at Elks’ Arch,” Dallas Morning News, March 4, 1910. https://www.scribd.com/document/377809959/Dallas-Morning-News-March-4-1910

Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration in the City of Dallas, The WPA Dallas Guide and History, (Dallas Public Library: Dallas, Texas, 1992). UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28336/ 

Postcard, Call number: Ag2014.0011. Archival File Name: ag2014_0011_3_3_2_0009_r_lynching.tif. DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University.

Caldwell, Clifford R. and Ron DeLord. Eternity at the end of a Rope: Executions, Lynchings and Vigilante Justice in Texas 1819-1923, (Santa Fe, New Mexico: Sunstone Press, 2015).

Chapman, David L., Lynching in Texas, A Master of Arts thesis in history, Texas Tech University, August 1973.

Dillard, Coshandra. “In downtown Dallas, a crowd of 5,000 watched this black man get lynched – and they took souvenirs: Allen Brooks was dragged from the courtroom by an angry mob,” Timeline, October 15, 2017. https://timeline.com/allen-brooks-dallas-lynching-4fc9132ee422

Dowdy, Christopher J., (2015).  “The lynching of Allen Brooks and the Disappearance of the Elks Arch” Dallas Untold, http://blog.smu.edu/untolddallas/dallas1910/

 Peeler, Tom. “History Civil Wrongs: A 20th-century lynching on Main Street” D Magazine, March 1984. https://www.dmagazine.com/publications/d-magazine/1984/march/hlstory-civil-wrongs/

 Phillips, Michael. White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity, and Religion in Dallas, 1841-2001 (Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 2006).

 Pickett, Steve. “Dallas To Build Memorial To Lynching Of Allen Brooks.” 11-21 CBS DFW, April 26, 2018. https://dfw.cbslocal.com/2018/04/26/dallas-memorial-lynching/

 Scott, Terry Anne. “Brooks, Allen (1853?-1910)” BlackPast.org http://www.blackpast.org/aaw/brooks-allen-1853-1910

 

Images

Lynching scene two hours after the incident

Lynching scene two hours after the incident

Allen Brooks, a 65-year old African-American laborer who had been accused of rape, was dragged through the street from the Dallas County Courthouse and lynched near the Elk Arch in downtown Dallas on March 3, 1910. View File Details Page

Two hours after the incident

Two hours after the incident

Verso: [handwritten] Taken March 3, 1910 two hours after the lynching of the negro rapist 'Brown'. He was drug through the street from the court house and hanged to the south west corner of the arch. The crowd seen in the picture is nothing to be compared with the mob, at the time this picture was taken the mob had allready [sic] left scene and was on their way to the jail after Oats another negro victim. View File Details Page

Lynching memorial

Lynching memorial

Memorial to lynching victims, Dallas County. Holland "Allen" Brooks. National Memorial for Peace and Justice (Lynching Memorial); in Montgomery, Alabama created by: the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) | Creator: Lamisa Mustafa View File Details Page

Lynching memorial

Lynching memorial

Memorial to lynching victims, Dallas County. Holland "Allen" Brooks. National Memorial for Peace and Justice (Lynching Memorial); in Montgomery, Alabama | Creator: Lamisa Mustafa View File Details Page

Street Address:

Main and Akard Streets, Dallas, TX. [map]

Cite this Page:

Fergal Purcell, “Lynching of Allen Brooks,” Human Rights Dallas Maps, accessed November 18, 2018, http://humanrightsdallasmaps.com/items/show/15.

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