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Historical marker in the works to commemorate Jesse Washington

Posted at 8:17 PM, Jun 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-15 21:20:38-04

WACO, TX — It has been almost four years, but the Community Race Relations Coalition now has an end date in sight for the placement of a historical marker to remember Jesse Washington.

May 15, 1916 is known as one of the darkest days in Waco’s history.

“He was hung from a chain and tied up to a tree on the courthouse lawn and a fire was set underneath him. He was lowered in and out of the fire repeatedly,” said Sam Perry.

Jesse Washington, a 17-year-old farmhand, was hanged and burned alive in front of Waco City Hall after being accused of murdering his employer’s wife in Robinson, Texas.

“It was fairly clear that people knew this was going to happen because there were somewhere people estimate around 10,000 people in attendance and the local town photographer Fred Gildersleeve had made an arrangement with the mayor to use the mayor’s office to take pictures,” said Sam Perry.

Photographs of the event were taken and then sold as postcards which spread the news across the nation - earning the name, “Waco Horror.”

“In the end, what was left of his body was put in a burlap sack and it was dragged behind a man on horseback through the streets of downtown Waco. Eventually, that sack ended up suspended from a lamp post in Robinson,” said Jo Welter.

Now 104 years later, a state historical marker will be dedicated on May 15, 2021 on the anniversary of Jesse Washington’s death.

“It is a timely thing with what is going on now. When people talk about modern-day lynching, we see that happening in front of our eyes,” said Jo Welter.

There are still several more steps that need to be made until the dedication. Right now, the Community Race Relations Coalition is working with the Texas Historical Commission on the wording of the text for the marker.