The First Act of Mob Violence in Lamar County
Taken from Loose Leaves of the History of Lamar County
In the year 1860 or 61 there lived with Mr. Emil Harris seven miles west of Paris, a young Indian called John, who in every respect had won the confidence of the Harris family and of other people in the neighborhood who knew him, as they thought. In fact, my father thought a great deal of him. Early in the fall of 1860 or 61 Mr. Harris had occasion to be away from home one day and left John and a negro named Jim at home with his wife.
John always helped Mrs. Harris with the morning chores. The negro, Jim, had gone to dig some sweet potatoes and Mrs. Harris had told him that she and John would bring his dinner to him, but noon came and no dinner, and 2 o'clock came and still no dinner for Jim.
So Jim proceeded to the Harris home and on entering the kitchen door he found the table just as it had been left from the morning. On entering the room he found Mrs. Harris lying on the floor in a pool of blood with her throat cut as well as stabbed in several places.
The alarm was given and the suspicion, of course, rested upon John, who was missing. Searching parties were formed, my father being in one. John was caught at a ferry on Red River just as he was about to cross to the other side. He was hurried back to the place of the crime where he admitted of committing the deed and claimed that Mrs. Harris had told him early in the morning to drive some geese out of a wheat patch near the house. He left as though he was going to obey her but soon returned and was asked by her if he had driven the geese out of the wheat; he replied that he had not or could not. She caught him by the ear, gave it a pull and told him that he had not tried to get them out. He decided to seek revenge and approached while she was churning, caught her by the hair and pulled her back in the floor and cut her throat.
He was hanged by the people of the community although he begged to be shot, claiming that white people hung dogs, but his wish was not carried out.
He was buried in a shallow grave near where he was hung. I am told that his remains were soon dug up by the wolves.
Mrs. Harris was the mother of Newt Harris, who was jailer of this county some years ago. Also the mother of Buck Harris.
This is probably the first mob violence that ever occurred in this county. As it was prior to the one mentioned some days ago. This incident has been given to me by my mother.
By R. E. L. Jackson
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