Governor talked, but lynch mob still walked

“Just after one midnight last week 200 masked men drove up to the Edgecombe County jail in Tarboro, N. C., gained admittance by pretending they brought a prisoner. Silently they drew revolvers, covered the deputy sheriff, brought out Negro Oliver Moore, 35, who was being held for trial in September on a charge of attacking Ethel and Lucile Morgan, white sisters aged 7 and 5.

“In a motorcade of 50 cars without licenses the 200 took Oliver Moore 15 mi. to his home in Wilson County, there strung him from a tree. As his body twisted and writhed, all shot at it until he was dead; first lynchee in North Carolina since 1921, twelfth in the U. S. for 1930.

“Said North Carolina’s Governor Oliver Max Gardner: ‘I am horrified. It is a black spot on a fine record … of nearly a decade. … A disgrace to North Carolina! The State will do everything in its power to find the guilty parties and bring them to justice.”

— From Time magazine, Sept. 1, 1930

Despite Gardner’s promise, investigation of the lynching was cursory at best, and no arrests were ever made.

3 thoughts on “Governor talked, but lynch mob still walked”

  1. I had never heard of this before, and I searched online for more information. There was a 1933 report of The Southern Commission on the Study of Lynching that includes more background on this case which I found both horrifying and fascinating, particularly the newspapers accounts of the incident (some of which blame Moore and “Negro leaders” for what happened). You can read more via Google Books at

  2. I was told of Lynchings in Tarboro North Carolina and couldn’t remember the details. My Uncle Christopher C. Knight became Sherriff and told me of Lynchings in Eastern North Carolina.

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