Riverside Tombstones

Submitted by:  Susan Reedy & Charlie Blakley

This was my question to Charles “I have a question maybe you can shed some light on:  While we were at Riverside the pastor of the church there, Robbie Ballew, mentioned the three graves of the black men that were hung for horse stealing in 1875.  Is there any info on the event or were they just lynched?  They are buried north to south instead of east to west.  And someone put stones down though they are rather gruesome reminders of the event.  I was just curious if there was a story behind this?’

This was Charles’s response…
Oh yes, that’s a very long story. Robbie is a very nice guy and he’s really an asset to the community, and I say that as a Methodist! But he didn’t grow up here, he only married the daughter of my classmates from earlier years.
Here’s the short version of the story. Amos Smith married a local girl after the war. While he was away from home, one version tells that his wife was “exceedingly intimate” (according to a contemporary story in the Austin paper) with one or both of his gambling buddies. When they learned he was returning home, they hired a local black man to assassinate Amos, which he did. Afterwards, the man confessed, identified his employers, and the three men were hung from the same limb at the same time by a lynch mob. The black man was buried with his body oriented north and south, his two white companions were buried conventionally east and west. For over 100 years there were only stones marking the burial places, but a native purchased the markers you saw a few years ago. The story goes on and on, but that’s the essence of the burials you saw…

In July, 1875, Amos Smith was assassinated in Iredell by “Alf”, a Negro reportedly hired by two white men, (Marcus?) Wood and John Ledwell.  Following an interrogation of Alf, he reportedly named his co-conspirators. Following an “examination” of Wood and Ledwell, a mob of some 30 men reportedly then hung the Negro who shot Smith, and at the same time from the same limb, also hung the two white men accused of hiring the Negro to do the killing. The story appears in contemporary Galveston newspapers.

See Riverside Cemetery