Originally published in Journal-News by Bob Ratterman, Contributing Writer
A history marker recalling two dark days in Oxford’s history has been approved by City Council to be placed in the Uptown parks area reminding people of the lynching of two Black men accused, but never proven guilty, of crimes.
The resolution supporting placement of the history marker in the area of the Uptown parks came to Council on a recommendation of the Historic and Architectural Preservation Commission, which voted Dec. 9 to recommend approval.
Dana Miller, vice chair of the HAPC, spoke to Council at a work session prior to the March 16 meeting about the project. Also speaking at the work session was Dr. Anthony James, of Miami University, who was part of a 2019 graduate class which initiated the idea here.
The proposed wording of the history marker planned for the Uptown parks has been reviewed. The statement as presented to City Council reads:
“During the 19th century, white mobs in Oxford lynched at least two Black men after kidnapping them from the old Town Hall Jail that stood near this site. In September 1877, a white mob stormed the jail to lynch a Black man named Simon Garnett. Without serious investigation, Mr. Garnett had been presumed guilty of assaulting a white woman.
“A mob led by the woman’s husband broke into the jail on September 2 and shot Mr. Garnett, who managed to survive. Upon learning that Mr. Garnett was alive, the mob attacked the jail again on September 3, shot Mr. Garnett at close range, and dragged him outside the jail, where he was left to die. On January 14, 1892, a white mob abducted Henry Corbin, a young Black man, from the jail to lynch him.
“Mr. Corbin’s employer, a white woman, had been found dead in her home on January 5. A mob quickly formed when the woman’s daughter accused Mr. Corbin of the killing. Mr. Corbin’s family maintained the accusation was false and that the daughter had implicated him to hide her own involvement in the crime. Mr. Corbin was captured after being wounded and was brought to the jail, but the mob seized Mr. Corbin from his cell, hanged him from a tree, and shot him over 400 times. “Local officers failed to prevent either lynching, which terrorized Oxford’s Black community. In the end, no mob participants were held accountable for the lynchings of Simon Garrett and Henry Corbin.”
Community Development Director Sam Perry introduced the topic both at the work session and at the Council meeting when the resolution came up on the agenda.