Elijah Drake, Henry Smith, and James Stewart were three young men who resided in Madrid Bend, Fulton County, Kentucky.  Fulton County is located in western Kentucky, next to the Mississippi River and on the borders of Mississippi and Tennessee.  James Stewart was born in February 1875 in Tennessee and was 27 years old at the time of his death.  Both of his parents were born in Tennessee as well.  James Stewart was the head of his household.  As a widower, he lived with his daughter Cora Stewart, who was 10 years old at the time of his death.  James Stewart was a farm laborer, he was unable to read or write, and lived in a predominantly white neighborhood.  Henry Smith was born in January 1884 in Kentucky.  He resided in Hickman, Fulton County, Kentucky.  He was the son of Fannie Russell who was born in Tennessee in 1865.  Smith’s family was daily large. He lived with his mother, his step-father John Russell, his siblings Lucy, John, Robert, Sarah, and Fannie, and his half siblings Pearl and Alice.  Henry Smith was a farm laborer who could not read or write, and his family resided in a predominantly white neighborhood.  Information on Elijah Drake is unable to be located.

On March 19, 1902, Elijah Drake was accused of stealing chickens.  In response to the accusations, Morgan Ball, a white man, joined several other white men who made Elijah Drake walk along the Mississippi River until Ball eventually shot him dead.  After killing Drake, the mob descended on the closest black neighborhood, which also bordered the river. Once Elijah Drake’s body washed ashore, the mob encountered James Stewart and forced him to drag the body from the water with a rope. The residents of the neighborhood fought back, but in the chaos, James Stewart was shot and injured. Stewart died of his injuries.

Similarly, during the fighting, Henry Smith was beaten with clubs and whips by some of the white men involved, leading to mortal wounds.  After the killings, people in the community called for the governor to provide a reward for the capture of the murderers.  No one was arrested or prosecuted for the murder of the three men.


Location of the Lynching

Location of the lynching of Elijah Drake, James Stewart, and Henry Smith. Map created and developed by Hayden Hancock (2023)


Henderson, Gracie. “Elijah Drake, Henry Smith, and James Stewart.” Documented Biographies. Documenting Racial Violence in Kentucky. July 22, 2022. https://drvk.createuky.net/biographies/elijah-drake-henry-smith-and-james-stewart/