This is Frank Coker, who was related to me on my mother’s side and also by marriage – double kinfolks. On Good Friday in 1906, on the main square in Springfield, MO, just before midnight, he was hung from a light tower, along with two other young Black men. 5,000 White people watched as the bodies were burned and shot at. All of this because of a rape allegation later proven to be false.
Terror reigned after the lynchings throughout the African American community in Springfield and Greene County. An angry mob set out to wreak havoc. Wallace White, my great grandfather, lived in Cave Springs, MO, which is along present day Hwy 160 and Rte. 123, 9.5 miles from my home. Wallace had been with the Missouri 5th cavalry, which fought at Vicksburg, The unit was made up of men and boys (Wallace was 15) from Ash Grove , Walnut Grove and the surrounding areas. When the mob neared Wallace White’s cabin, it was met by a line of his fellow men in arms from the Civil War, rifles fully loaded. The threat was real enough to turn the mob away.
Top: Wallace White’s cabin. Bottom: Wallace and Daisy White outside their canebrake, Cave Springs
Although both sides were willing to defend their position with force, I would never say that both sides had equal responsibility for the potential violence. Sometimes, we stand up for the right, and there is a difference between right and wrong. These Civil War veterans’ methods were somewhat flawed, but their intention was to be their brother’s keeper.