Anthony Crawford was an African American who was murdered in 1916 by a lynch mob in Abbeville, South Carolina. His father was the proprietor of a small plot of cotton fields when he was born during the Reconstruction era. Crawford learned to read and write at a small town school. After his father died, he inherited the land and added to it over time by making additional purchases.
Crawford is claimed to have owned around 400 acres of land by 1916. He was known as one of the wealthiest black men in Abbeville County, and he gave his children land and enabled them to build homes nearby. He was also known for having a zero-tolerance policy toward disrespectful people. When he was accused of meddling in church affairs by a preacher, he jumped to his feet, struck the preacher, and fired him. “The day a white man hits me is the day I die,” he was quoted as saying.
Crawford was working as normal on October 21, 1916. He hauled two loads of cotton to W. D. Barksdale’s business. He had an argument with the owner, a white man, about the price he was offered for his cotton. Following the agreement, Crawford was followed out of the store by one of Barksdale’s employees, who struck him on the head with the handle of an axe. Crawford requested assistance, after which he was arrested, most likely for his own safety, as a mob of enraged whites was gathering.
Crawford was detained momentarily before being released on $15 bail. Following Crawford’s release, a white mob pursued him into a nearby cotton mill. He fought for his life and swung a hammer at one of the white men. Crawford was then repeatedly beaten and stabbed. He was jailed again, and the sheriff informed the guys that he would most certainly die from his injuries.
Crawford’s anxiety that he might die before the mob could get to him coupled with his fear that the sheriff would let him leave town. As a result, between 200 and 400 white men took over the jail, kidnapped Crawford, and captured and disarmed the sheriff.
Crawford was taken through the town’s underbelly with a rope around his neck. The crowd then robbed a lumber wagon from a black driver and used it to transport Crawford to a neighboring fairground. He was strung up in a tree and his body was used for target practice. Despite the governor’s intervention and demand for a thorough investigation, no one was charged with his brutal murder.