Victims of Racial Terror
The three known lynching victims in Montgomery County, Maryland
Mr. George Peck
Lynched January 12, 1880
George Washington Peck was born into slavery in 1858 and lived in the Poolesville/Beallsville area his entire life. In early 1880 he was working for the Beall family. On the morning of Saturday, January 10, he was found struggling with Ada Hayes, a young white girl who also worked for the Bealls. The witness, a local minister, accused Mr. Peck of attempted rape. Ada was later examined by the local doctor, who concluded she was somewhat bruised but otherwise unharmed.
Later that day, Mr. Peck was arrested by the local constable, James “Hugh” Miles, who initially brought him to the Odd Fellows Hall in Poolesville. Rather than continue to the Rockville jail, which was then a four-hour journey, the constable reportedly planned to bring Mr. Peck to Miles’s own home for safety. But Miles first stopped at the general store supposedly to get some supplies, although it was by then 11:00 p.m. At the store, an angry white mob soon gathered, seizing Mr. Peck, forcing a noose around his neck and dragging him to the vacant lot across from the Poolesville Presbyterian Church. There he was hanged from a locust tree. The following morning, as parishioners arrived for Sunday services, Mr. Peck’s body was finally cut down and buried unceremoniously in an unmarked grave.
According to the Baltimore Sun, within days he was “exhumed by colored people and buried in their churchyard near the village.” That the local Black community claimed his body for churchyard burial suggests that he was considered one of their own and not a notorious criminal. No one was ever tried for Mr. Peck’s murder.
Read more about Mr. Peck from our partners at Montgomery History.
Mr. John Diggs-Dorsey
Lynched July 27, 1880
The second lynching in Montgomery County took place six months after the first. John Dorsey, also known as John Diggs, lived and worked in Darnestown. He was employed as a laborer by a middle-aged couple, James and Linnie Tschiffely. On July 24, 1880, Mr. Tschiffely went to Beltsville on business, leaving Mr. Diggs-Dorsey to take care of the farm. The next morning, Mrs. Tschiffely, badly injured, appeared at her neighbor’s door. She accused Mr. Diggs-Dorsey of having sexually assaulted her and beating her up, forcing her to stay with him in her bedroom all night. A two-day manhunt in Maryland and Virginia led to his capture. He was delivered to the jail in Rockville on July 26, all the while insisting he had not harmed Mrs. Tschiffely. Several hours later, in the early morning hours of July 27, a lynch mob of 30 to 40 men, including Mr. Tschiffely, forced their way into the jail. They made the prisoner walk in shackles about a mile outside town on Route 28. There, they hung him from the limb of a large cherry tree. In the morning, several hundred white people gathered around the body, cutting the rope into pieces for souvenirs.
Mr. Diggs-Dorsey insisted he was innocent until his death. He was buried in the Potter’s Field in an unmarked grave. The jury of inquest found that he died by “violence committed by parties unknown.”
Read more about Mr. Diggs-Dorsey from our partners at Montgomery History.
Mr. Sidney Randolph
Lynched July 4, 1896
A native of Georgia in his mid-twenties, Sidney Randolph, was an itinerant laborer who was walking on what is now Muddy Branch Road, soon after a brutal attack on a white family. On May 25, 1896, the Buxtons were asleep in their beds in the early morning hours when an intruder attacked them with an axe. The youngest child, Sadie, later died from her injuries. Rumors soon spread that a Black man had been seen in the vicinity. Several Black men were arrested, but Mr. Randolph came to be viewed as the primary suspect. Professional detectives were brought in from Washington and Baltimore to investigate the case, which was reported widely throughout the United States. They could find no motive for Sidney Randolph, a stranger to the area, to have committed the crime and they doubted he was the culprit. But in an inquest (not a trial) “the jury—after 30 minutes’ deliberation—returned a verdict that Randolph alone was to be held for Sadie Buxton’s murder.”
Over a six-week period, he was held in jails in Baltimore and Rockville. During repeated interrogations, he maintained his innocence. On July 4, a masked mob of white men dragged him from his cell in the Rockville jail, brutally beat him, and hanged him from a tree just outside of town along Route 355. His murderers were never identified or brought to justice for this crime.
According to the Washington Bee, a newspaper published by prominent Black journalist W. Calvin Chase, “The unwritten law of Maryland is that if a white person is killed and the murderer cannot be found, some Negro must hang for it.”
Read more about Mr. Randolph from our partners at Montgomery History.