Bryson City, NC Courthouse Burned by Rioters, Jan 1908

Rioters Burn Court House.

Race Conflict Leads to Reprisals and Curfew for Negroes.

Special to The New York Times.

Bryson City, N.C., Jan. 7.-As the result of riots which have been in progress here, followed by an open revolt a few nights ago between white men and negroes, in which five white men were injured, the county court house has been burned, with all the town and county records. No public documents of any kind were saved, the property destroyed including all the marriage license, Mayors’, County Commissioner’s, claim, and Treasurer’s records.

The County Commissioners and Town Council held special meetings to-day, and a curfew ordinance was passed which is applicable to negroes only. It requires that all negroes must be off the street by 9 o’clock at night, otherwise they will be arrested and locked up.

A number of negroes have been arrested in connection with the rioting and are being held without bail to await the action of the Superior Court.

A party of fifty white men were attacked by a squad of negroes a few nights ago. Guns and pistols were freely used. The shooting took place in the street and large numbers of persons, including women and children, had narrow escapes. Many of the negroes have been caught and disarmed. The burning of the Court House followed the arrest and killing of a number of negroes.

The New York Times, New York, NY 8 Jan 1908


As a native of this county

As a native of this county who does genealogy research for the past 40 years, I can honestly tell you that the records were not burned. I have seen wills, marriage records, death certificates, all original documents in the Administration Building of Swain County. Only about 1% of the population is black. Since the facts are wrong, it seems the source got it wrong. We would like to see the article it was transcribed from and the reporter's name.

Bryson City, NC Courthouse Burned by Rioters, Jan 1908

Would love to see the original New York Times article regarding this incident.

Marriage records were not burned nor were many other records as indicated in your transcription. In 1908 the entire Negro population in Swain County was roughly 185 persons. I have never heard of this incident described in the history of Bryson City. I would love to review the source.