Sherman, TX Grayson County Courthouse Burned by Mob, May 1930

Negro, Locked in Vault, Cremated by Sherman Mob, Courthouse Burned, Troops Pushed Back by Lynchers.

Victim, Charged With Assaulting White Woman, Locked in Vault, Roasted to Death.

Rangers Helpless

Forced to Leave Him to His Fate When Building Is Set Ablaze.

By Walter C. Hornaday, Staff Correspondent of The News.

Sherman, Texas, May 9.-Mob violence wrought its vengeance against George Hughes, negro, charged with criminal assault on a white woman, by burning the negro alive in a vault in the Grayson County courthouse and leaving the courthouse in smoking ruins here Friday afternoon.

State rangers and city and county peace officers attempted to save the negro from the crowd that gathered about the courthouse in an angry, sullen moos when the black’s trial started, but were forced to leave him to his fate when the building was set a blaze about 2:30 p.m. after the mob had been driven away three times.

A detachment of Texas National Guardsmen from Dallas, commanded by Col. L.F. McGee, 112th Cavalry, arrived by interurban at 8 o’clock. The troops were ordered out by Gov. Dan Moody at the request of Sheriff Arthur Vaughan.

Put Negro In Vault.

As the crowd threatened to invade the courtroom, rangers carried the negro the steel vault in the District Clerk’s office on the second floor, and threw a cordon about the vault. Flames leaping through the roof and walls forced the officers to abandon the building, leaving the negro locked in the vault.

Thousands of persons gathered as close to the burning structure as the heat would permit, straining to listen for cries from the doomed black man. After the flames had died down sufficiently, efforts were made to break into the vault from the outside, until warning was given that the vault might explode or the walls give way.

Spectators said that the fire was started by two lads who pitched a can of gasoline into the County Tax Collector’s office.

Away from the courthouse square, few signs of the mob violence were discernable. Even about the square, women and children strolled with outward unconcern, gazing at times at the smoking courthouse ruins. For hours after the fire had started, flames licked about the windows. The building was a total loss, with only the walls standing and the vault apparently intact.

Five young men were slightly injured during the day’s disturbances.

List of Injured.

The injured were:
J.R. Melton, 18, high school youth of Sherman, hit over the head with a pistol butt.

Walter Bailey, hit over the head and in the back of the neck with a rifle.

Dan Shero, Sherman, shot with birdshot while in the courthouse.

Lynn Scott, 17, high school student, hit over the eye with a bottle and seriously cut.

Weldon O’Neal, 18, Van Alstyne, hit in the back of the head with a bottle.

When the detachment of National Guard from Denison marched around the square with fixed bayonets nearly a thousand people crowded the edges of the streets. They left a pathway, barely wide enough for the soldiers to march. Bottles, rocks and other missiles were hurled at the guardsmen and one of the bottles struck O’Neal.