Documented by Cameron Smith
In early September 1905, Moses Lovern of Williamson, West Virginia was arrested for assaulting James Butcher, a well-off businessman. Convicted of the crime, he began serving a 60 day sentence later in the month. On September 24th, in the middle of the night a group calling themselves the “White Ribboners” broke into the jail and kidnapped Lovern and his white cellmate Thomas Blackburn. The usual guard for the jail had taken a day off and the mob of around 20 men took full advantage of this situation. The White Ribboners broke into the jail, found Lovern and Blackburn’s cell, and threatened the two with a Winchester rifle. After they were bound and gagged, Lovern and Blackburn were thrown into a boat and rowed outside of West Virginia and into Pike County, Kentucky. After arriving in a secluded location, the mob grabbed Lovern, stripped him naked, and tied him to a tree. The mob then whipped and stoned Lovern to death. Blackburn went unharmed. The White Ribboners then rowed the men back to the Williamson jail where they hauled both Lovern and Blackburn back into the cell. Lovern’s body was not found until the next morning when the morning guard returned to the jail. Blackburn told police that he recognized eight of the men that had kidnapped him and Lovern the night before. Though a few newspapers warned that warrants were pending, none of the mob members were arrested or tried in court.
Personal information about Moses Lovern, including birth records or census data, has not been found to date.