Lynching of Laura and L. D. Nelson
|Lynching of Laura and L. D. Nelson|
Photograph no. 2899, one of four extant photographs of the lynching
|Date||May 25, 1911|
|Photographer||George Henry Farnum|
|Location||Six miles west and one mile south of Okemah, Oklahoma, on a railroad bridge, now demolished, across the North Canadian River. (The replacement bridge became part of Oklahoma State Highway 56.)|
L. D. had shot and killed Okemah's deputy sheriff, George Loney, on May 2, while Loney and a posse were searching the Nelsons' farm for a stolen cow. L. D. and Laura were both charged with murder, in Laura's case because she had been the first to grab the gun. Her husband, Austin, pleaded guilty to larceny and was sent to the relative safety of the state prison in McAlester. Laura and L. D. were held in the Okemah county jail, possibly along with Laura's baby, to await trial.
During the night of May 24–25, Laura and L. D. were kidnapped from their cells by between a dozen and 40 white men, allegedly including Charley Guthrie, father of the folk singer Woody Guthrie. The Associated Press reported that Laura was raped.[b] She and L. D. were then hanged from a railroad bridge over the North Canadian River. According to one source, Laura's baby was with her but survived the attack.
Sightseers gathered on the bridge in the morning. George Henry Farnum, the owner of Okemah's only photography studio, took photographs, which were distributed as postcards, a common practice at the time. The district judge convened a grand jury, but the killers were never identified. Four of Farnum's photographs are known to have survived—two spectator scenes and one close-up view each of Laura and L. D. Three of the images were re-published in 2000 and exhibited at the Roth Horowitz Gallery in New York by James Allen, an antique collector. The images of Laura Nelson are the only known surviving photographs of a female lynching victim.
- 1 Background
- 2 People
- 3 Death of Loney
- 4 May 25, 1911
- 5 Aftermath
- 6 Publication of the photographs
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
Lynching in the United States
Although other forms of racial violence were more common, lynchings were particularly horrifying.[c] Could involve victims being hanged furtively by a mob at night or during the day in front of hundreds or even thousands of witnesses. An audience of 10,000, including the mayor and chief of police, was said to have attended the lynching of Jesse Washington in Waco, Texas, in 1916. As well as being hanged, victims were sometimes burned alive and tortured, and body parts were removed and kept as souvenirs.
Most perpetrators were white and the victims black. The political message—the promotion of white supremacy and black powerlessness—was an important element of the ritual, so that even the quieter lynchings might be photographed and the images published as postcards.
According to the Tuskegee Institute, 4,745 people are recorded as having been lynched in the United States between 1882 and 1964, 3,446 (72.7 percent) of them black. Lynching came to be associated, in particular, with the Deep South; 73 percent of lynchings took place in the Southern United States. Between 1882 and 1903, 125 black-on-black lynchings were recorded in 10 southern states, as were four cases of whites being killed by black mobs.
Lynching of women
At least 150 black women were lynched between 1880 and 1965 in the American South. Historian Kerry Segrave highlights 115 recorded cases between 1851 and 1946. Ninety of the 115 were black, 19 white, and six Hispanic or uncertain. Women were usually not lynched alone, but tended to be treated as accomplices of men who were being lynched. Of 97 incidents examined by Segrave, 36 were of women lynched alone.
Lynching in Oklahoma
Oklahoma Territory was reported in 1892 to be around 85 percent white, 10 percent colored and 5 percent Indian. Oklahoma was awarded statehood in 1907, with a constitution that enshrined racial segregation (Jim Crow laws). In 1911 the local school had 555 white students and one black.
There were 147 recorded lynchings in Oklahoma between 1885 and 1930. Until segregation in 1907, most victims were white cattle rustlers or highwaymen. In all, 77 victims were white, 50 black, 14 American-Indian, five unknown and one Chinese. Five women – two black, two white and one other – were lynched in Oklahoma in four incidents between 1851 and 1946.
The Nelsons lived on a farm six miles north of Paden, Oklahoma, a largely African-American town.[d] Austin was born in Waco, Texas, in 1873. Historian Frances Jones-Sneed writes that his parents, Dave and Rhoda Nelson, had been born into slavery in Georgia; Dave Nelson worked as a molder in Waco.
Austin and Laura married in 1896; L. D. was born around the next year. (L. D. was regularly referred to after the lynching as L. W. or Lawrence.)[e] In 1900 the extended family moved to Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma. According to Jones-Sneed, Laura and Austin were listed in the 1910 census as having two children, L. D., aged 13, and Carrie, aged two. It is not known what became of Carrie. She may have been the baby one witness said survived the lynching.
Deputy Sheriff George H. Loney was about 35 years old when he died, had lived in Paden for several years, and was held in the highest respect, according to The Okemah Ledger. Described by the newspaper as a fearless man, he was known for having helped to stop the practice of bootlegging in Paden, on behalf of supporters of the local temperance movement. He became a state enforcement officer after that, then deputy sheriff. He was buried in Lincoln County near Paden on May 4, 1911. The Ledger wrote that every office in the courthouse was closed for an hour during his funeral.
Death of Loney
Littrell obtained a search warrant from A. W. Jenkins, a Justice of the Peace, which allowed the men to search the Nelson's farm. They arrived there on May 2 at around 9 pm, and read the warrant to Austin Nelson before entering the house. The steer's remains were found either in the barn or the house.
When the men entered the Nelson's home, Loney asked Constable Martin to take the cap off a muzzle-loading shotgun that was hanging on the wall. The Independent reported that, as Martin reached for the gun, Laura Nelson said: "Look here, boss, that gun belongs to me!" Martin said he told her that he wanted only to unload the gun.
The Independent and the Ledger offered different versions of events, the former more sympathetic to the Nelsons. According to the Independent, Laura grabbed another gun, a Winchester rifle, that was hidden behind a trunk. L. D. grabbed the Winchester at the same time, and during the struggle for the weapon it went off. A shell passed through Constable Martin's pant legs, grazing him in the thigh, then hit Loney in the hip and entered his abdomen. He walked outside and died a few minutes later.
According to the Ledger, L. D. had grabbed the Winchester, pumped a shell into it and fired. Austin then took hold of the rifle and tried to shoot Littrell, and during the ensuing gunfight Loney took shelter behind a wagon. No one realized Loney had been hit until he asked for water; according to the newspaper, Laura responded: "Let the white ____ [sic] die." Loney reportedly bled to death within minutes. The Ledger described his death as "one of the most cold blooded murders that has occurred in Okfuskee county."
Arrests and charges
Austin was arrested by Constable Martin on the evening of the shooting, and arrived with Martin in Okemah at 4 am on Wednesday, May 3. The Okfuskee county jail was in Okemah, a predominantly white town. Laura and L. D., described by the Ledger as "about sixteen years old, rather yellow, ignorant and ragged," were arrested later that day. Sheriff Dunnegan found them at the home of the boy's uncle. The Independent reported that they made no effort to escape and were brought to the county jail on the night train.
Austin admitted the theft of the cow, saying he had had no food for his children. According to his undated charge sheet, witnesses for the state were Littrell, Martin, Lane, and Lawrence Payne.[f] Austin's account of what happened tallied with that of the posse, except that he said he was the one, not Laura, who had objected to the shotgun being removed from the wall. He said Laura had been trying to take the rifle away from her son when it was fired.
During a hearing on May 6 before Justice Lawrence, Austin was held on a bond of $1,500, which he was unable to pay. After pleading guilty to larceny, he was sentenced on May 12 to three years' imprisonment. On May 16 he was sent to the state prison in McAlester 59 miles (95 km) away, which according to the Ledger probably saved his life.
On May 10, before the same judge, Laura and L. D. (named by the Ledger as Mary and L. W. Nelson) were charged with murder and held without bail. The Nelsons hired a law firm in Shawnee, Blakley, Maxy & Miley, to represent them. The Ledger reported on May 18, under the headline "Negro Female Prisoner Gets Unruly," that on May 13 Laura had been "bad" when the jailer, Lawrence Payne, brought her dinner. She reportedly tried to grab his gun when he opened the cell door, and when that failed tried to throw herself out of a window. Payne "choked the woman loose," according to the newspaper, and after a struggle returned her to her cell. The Ledger wrote on May 25 that during the incident she had "begged to be killed."
May 25, 1911
Laura and L. D. were due to be arraigned on May 25. Between 11:30 and midnight on May 24, a group of between a dozen and 40 men arrived at the jail. They entered it through the front door of the sheriff's office. Payne, the jailer, said he had left it unlocked to let in a detective from McAlester, who was looking for an escaped prisoner. He said the men bound, gagged and blindfolded him at gunpoint, took his keys, and cut the telephone line. He was unable to identify them.
The boy was "stifled and gagged," according to the Ledger, and went quietly; prisoners in adjoining cells reportedly heard nothing. The men went to the women's cells and removed Laura, described by the newspaper as "very small of stature, very black, about thirty-five years old, and vicious." According to a July 1911 report in The Crisis (the magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), and a woman who said she saw the lynching or its aftermath, the men also took the baby.
The jailer said that he escaped, after struggling for two hours, and raised the alarm at Moon's restaurant across the road from the jail, after which Sheriff Dunnegan sent out a search party, to no avail. The Ledger reported that a fence post suspended on two chairs across a window was found in the jury room just after the lynching, near the cell where Laura had been held. It was thought that the men had intended to hang Laura out of the window, but were deterred by an electric light burning nearby.
Laura and L. D. were taken to a bridge over the North Canadian River, six miles west and one mile south of Okemah. The bridge was variously described as on the old Schoolton road and at Yarbrough's crossing. According to the Associated Press and The Crisis, Laura was raped. The Ledger reported that they gagged her and L. D. with tow sacks and, using rope made of half-inch hemp tied in a hangman's knot, hanged them from the bridge. They were found in the morning hanging 20 ft below the middle span. A local resident, John Earnest, reported the discovery to the sheriff's office.
The front page of The Okemah Ledger on May 25 said the lynching was "executed with silent precision that makes it appear as a masterpiece of planning ...":
The woman's arms were swinging by her side, untied, while about twenty feet away swung the boy with his clothes partly torn off and his hands tided with a saddle string. The only marks on either body were that made by the ropes upon the necks. Gently swaying in the wind, the ghastly spectacle was discovered this morning by a negro boy taking his cow to water. Hundreds of people from Okemah and the western part of the county went to view the scene.
The bodies were cut down from the bridge at 11:00 on May 25 by order of the county commissioner, then taken to Okemah. The Nelsons' relatives did not claim the bodies, and they were buried by the county in the Greenleaf cemetery near Okemah.
Quoting the Muskogee Scimitar, The Crisis suggested that Laura had had a baby with her at some point; it referred to "[a] woman taken from her suckling babe."[g]
It is not clear whether the baby was Carrie or another baby of Laura's, or what became of the child. William Bittle and Gilbert Geis wrote in 1964 that Laura had been caring for a baby while in jail, and had the child with her when she was taken from her cell. They quoted a woman who had seen either the lynching or its aftermath, and who said that Laura had placed the baby on the ground: "After they had hung them up, those men just walked off and left that baby lying there. One of my neighbors was there, and she picked the baby up and brought it to town, and we took care of it. It's all grown up now and lives here."[h]
The scene after the lynching was recorded in a series of photographs by George Henry Farnum, the owner of Okemah's only photography studio. There are four known extant images taken from a boat. Photographs nos. 2894 and 2898 are close-up shots of L. D. and Laura; nos. 2897 and 2899 show the bridge and spectators. In no. 2899, 35 men and six women are lining up for a photograph or looking at the bodies, with 17 children, from toddlers to mid-teens.
It was common practice to turn lynching photographs into postcards. In 1908 the federal government banned "matter of a character tending to incite arson, murder or assassination" from being sent through the mail, but the postcards continued to sell. Woody Guthrie (1912–1967) said he recalled seeing the cards of the Nelsons for sale in Okemah.[i] James Allen bought the photo postcard of Laura Nelson, a 3 1/2 x 5 1/2 inch gelatin silver print, for $75 in a flea market. The photograph is stamped "copyright-1911-g.h.farnum, okemah. okla 2898"; the back of the card says "unmailable."
Seth Archer wrote in the Southwest Review that lynching photographs were partly intended as a warning, in the Nelson's case to the neighboring all-black Boley – "look what we did here, Negroes beware" – but the practice of sending cards to family and friends outside the area underlined the ritualistic nature of the lynchings.
Spectators appearing in lynching photographs showed no obvious shame at being connected to the events, even when they were clearly identifiable. Someone wrote on the back of one card, of the 1916 lynching of Jesse Washington in Waco, Texas: "This is the Barbecue we had last night My picture is to the left with a cross over it your son Joe."
Legal and political response
The Independent wrote on May 25, 1911, that "[t]here is not a shadow of an excuse for the crime," and later called it a "terrible blot on Okfuskee County, a reproach that it will take years to remove." The Okemah Ledger took the view that "while the general sentiment is adverse to the method, it is generally thought that the negroes got what would have been due them under due process of law."
One newspaper, the Morning Phoenix, apparently tried to blame the black community, writing that the Nelsons had been "mobbed by Negroes." African-Americans expressed outrage. One black journal lamented:
"Oh! where is that christian spirit we hear so much about– Wait, we shall see – Comment is unnecessary. Such a crime is simply Hell on Earth. No excuse can be set forth to justify the act.
– What will the good citizens do to apprehend these mobs
There were rumors that the nearby black town of Boley was organizing an attack on Okemah. Okemah's women and children were sent to spend the night in a nearby field, with the men standing guard on Main Street. Oswald Garrison Villard of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), wrote in protest to Lee Cruce, governor of Oklahoma. Cruce assured Villard he would do everything he could to bring the killers to justice. He defended the laws of Oklahoma as "adequate" and its "juries competent," and said the administration of justice in the state proceeded with little cause for criticism, "except in cases of extreme passion, which no law and no civilization can control." He added:
There is a race prejudice that exists between the white and Negro races wherever the Negroes are found in large numbers. ... Just this week the announcement comes as a shock to the people of Oklahoma that the Secretary of the Interior ... has appointed a Negro from Kansas to come to Oklahoma and take charge of the supervision of the Indian schools of this State. There is no race of people on earth that has more antipathy for the Negro race than the Indian race, and yet these people, numbering many of the best citizens of this State and nation, are to be humbled and their prejudices and passions are to be increased by having this outrage imposed upon them ... If your organization would interest itself to the extent of seeing that such outrages as this are not perpetrated against our people, there would be fewer lynchings in the South than at this time ...
The NAACP argued that nothing would change while governors like Cruce sought to excuse lynching as the product of the "uncontrollable passion" of white people. District Judge John Caruthers convened a grand jury in June 1911 to investigate, telling them it was the duty of people "of a superior race and of greater intelligence to protect this weaker race from unjustifiable and lawless attacks," but no one would identify the lynchers.[j]
One of the lynchers may have been Charley Guthrie (died 1956), father of the folk singer Woody Guthrie, who was born in Okemah 14 months after the lynching. Charley was an Okemah real-estate agent, district court clerk, conservative Democratic politician, Freemason and owner of the town's first automobile. According to Woody Guthrie and Joe Klein, Charles was also a member of the revived Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. There is no documentary evidence that Charley was a Klansman.
The allegation that Charley was involved in the Nelson's lynching stems from his brother, Claude, whom Klein interviewed on tape in 1977 for his book Woody Guthrie: A Life (1980). Klein published that Charley had been part of the lynching mob, but without referring to the interview. Seth Archer found the tape in 2005 in the Woody Guthrie Archives in New York, and reported Claude's statement in the Southwest Review in 2006. Claude told Klein, "It was pretty bad back there in them days ... The niggers was pretty bad over there in Boley, you know ... Charley and them, they throwed this nigger and his mother in jail, both of them, the boy and the woman. And that night, why they stuck out and hung [laughter], they hung them niggers that killed that sheriff ... I just kind of laughed [laughter]. I knew darn well that rascal [Charley] was – I knew he was in on it."
Woody Guthrie wrote two songs, unrecorded, about the Nelson's lynching, "Don't Kill My Baby and My Son" and "High Balladree." The songs refer to a woman and two sons hanging.[k] His work was not always historically accurate; for example, he wrote elsewhere that he had witnessed some of the Nelson's troubles, although he was not born until 14 months after their death. Guthrie recorded one song about lynching in Okemah in general, not about the Nelsons; called "Slipknot," it is "[d]edicated to the many negro mothers, fathers, and sons alike, that was lynched and hanged under the bridge of the Canadian River, seven miles south of Okemah, Okla., and to the day when such will be no more" (signed February 29, 1940). He also sketched a bridge in 1946 from which a row of lynched bodies hang; the sketch is held by the Ralph Rinzler archives in the Smithsonian.
Publication of the photographs
Atlanta antiques collector James Allen spent years looking for postcards of lynchings for his Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America (2000). "Hundreds of flea markets later," he wrote, "a trader pulled me aside and in conspiratorial tones offered to sell me a real photo postcard. It was Laura Nelson hanging from a bridge, caught so pitiful and tattered and beyond retrieving – like a paper kite sagged on a utility wire."
The book accompanied an exhibition of 60 lynching postcards from 1880 to 1960, Witness: Photographs of Lynchings from the Collection of James Allen, which opened at the Roth Horowitz Gallery in New York in January 2000. Allen argued that lynching photographers were more than passive spectators. They positioned and lit the corpses as if they were game birds, he wrote, and the postcards became an important part of the act, emphasizing its political nature.
Allen's publication of the images encountered a mixed reception. Julia Hotton, a black museum curator in New York, said that, with older blacks especially: "If they hear a white man with a Southern accent is collecting these photos, they get a little skittish."
Jennie Lightweis-Gof was critical of the "profoundly aestheticized readings" of Laura's body. She argued that writers tried to garner empathy for the Nelsons by focusing on Laura's appearance, producing empathy qua eroticism. Allen, for example, referred to Laura's "indissoluble femininity." Leightweis-Gof called this "the Gaze": "the sense that every function of the female body is sexualized and aestheticized." Wendy Wolters argued that whenever Laura Nelson is viewed as a "fetishized and feminized object," she is violated again.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Laura and L. D. Nelson.|
- Sources agree that Laura Nelson was around 35 and her son 14–16 when they died. According to historian Frances Jones-Sneed, the 1900 census records L. D. as three years old. William Barritt on Find a Grave, a crowd-sourced site, gives Laura's birthdate as April 1878 and L. D.'s as April 1897.
- Associated Press, 1911: "At Okemah, Oklahoma, Laura Nelson, a colored woman accused of murdering a deputy sheriff who had discovered stolen goods at her house, was lynched together with her son, a boy about fifteen. The woman and her son were taken from the jail, dragged about six miles to the Canadian River and hanged from a bridge. The woman was raped by members of the mob before she was hanged."
- Amy Louise Wood, Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890–1940, 2009: "Compared to other forms of terror and intimidation that African-Americans were subject to under Jim Crow, lynching was an infrequent and extraordinary occurrence. Black men and women were much more likely to become victims of personal assault, murder, or rape than lynching ... Despite, or even because of, its relative rarity, lynching held a singular psychological force, generating a level of fear and horror that overwhelmed all other forms of violence."
- According to The Okemah Ledger, the Nelsons were "a portion of the Lincoln County Nelsons that were terrors in their colony, and have lived north of Paden but a short time."
- The Okemah Ledger called him L. W. Nelson, as did James Allen in his Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America (2000). Several secondary sources called him Lawrence, without citing their sources.
- Lawrence Payne was also the name of the jailer on duty the night the Nelsons were kidnapped from the jail.
- The Crisis, July 1911: "Just think of it. A woman taken from her suckling babe, and a boy – a child only fourteen years old – dragged through the streets by a howling mob of fiendish devils, the most unnameable crime committed on the helpless woman and then she and her son executed by hanging."
- "Mrs. Nelson had cared for an infant while in jail with her older son, and had taken the child with her when the mob came. She had put the baby on the ground when she was forced onto the bridge by the crowd. "A woman who witnessed the scene painfully described it: 'After they had hung them up, those men just walked off and left that baby lying there. One of my neighbors was there, and she picked the baby up and brought it to town, and we took care of it. It's all grown up now and lives here. ...'" Bittle and Geis did not cite their source.
- Woody Guthrie: "It reminded me of the postcard picture they sold in my home town for several years, a showing you a negro mother, and her two young sons, a hanging by the neck stretched tight by the weight of their bodies and – the rope stretched tight like a big fiddle string."
Klein wrote in 1999 that the Okemah Ledger published one of the images, but he did not give a date.
Frances Jones-Sneed, 2011: "Unlike other lynching photographs, the one of Laura Nelson and her son was not published in any newspapers or made into postcards. The photographer, G. H. Farnam, kept the negative and may have provided copies for those who wished to have a memento of the mother and son."
- District Judge John Caruthers, June 1911: "The people of the state have said by recently adopted constitutional provision that the race to which the unfortunate victims belonged should in large measure be divorced from participation in our political contests, because of their known racial inferiority and their dependent credulity, which very characteristic made them the mere tool of the designing and cunning. It is well known that I heartily concur in this constitutional provision of the people's will. The more then does the duty devolve upon us of a superior race and of greater intelligence to protect this weaker race from unjustifiable and lawless attacks."
- For example, Woody Guthrie, "Don't Kill My Baby and My Son," 1966: "Then I saw a picture on a postcard / It showed the Canadian River Bridge, / Three bodies hanging to swing in the wind, / A mother and two sons they'd lynched."
Guthrie, "High Balladree": "A nickel postcard I buy off your rack / To show you what happens if / You're black and fight back / A lady and two boys hanging / down by their necks / From the rusty iron rigs / of my Canadian Bridge."
- Jeffrey L. Kirchmeier, Imprisoned by the Past: Warren McCleskey and the American Death Penalty, New York: Oxford University Press, 2015, 121.
- "Woman and boy lynched", The Independent, May 25, 1911.
- Frances Jones-Sneed, "Gender, Race and the Antilynching Crusade in the United States", The Mind's Eye, 2011 (59–73), 63.
- William Barritt, "Laura Nelson", and "L. D. Nelson", findagrave.com.
- "Lynchers Avenge the Murder of Geo. Loney", The Okemah Ledger, May 25, 1911.
- James West Davidson, "They say": Ida B. Wells and the Reconstruction of Race, New York: Oxford University Press, 2007, 5–8.
- The Crisis (NAACP), July 1911, 99–100.
- Jones-Sneed 2011, 64–65.
- Seth Archer, "Reading the Riot Acts", Southwest Review, 91(4), September 22, 2006, 500–516, 611. (pdf). JSTOR 43472750
- S. Mintz, Sara McNeil, "The Anti-Lynching Crusaders", Digital History, 2016.
- William E. Bittle, Gilbert Geis, The Longest Way Home, Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1964, 56.
- Allen 2000, 179–180 (extract about the Nelsons).
- Davidson 2007, 8.
- J. R. Moehringer, "An Obsessive Quest to Make People See", The Los Angeles Times, August 27, 2000.
- Jones-Sneed 2011, 64, writes that it is the only known extant photograph of a black female victim of a lynching, but it appears to be the only photograph of a female victim of any race.
- Rob Collins, "Picture of horror", Oklahoma Gazette, May 24, 2011.
- Amy Louise Wood, Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890–1940, Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2009, 1.
- Wood 2009, 1–3.
- Elisabeth Freeman, "The Waco Horror", The Crisis (NAACP), July 1916, 5.
- Moehringer (Los Angeles Times) 2000, 2.
- James Allen, Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America, Santa Fe: Twin Palms Publishers, 2000.
- "Lynching, Whites and Negroes, 1882–1968", Tuskegee University.
- Robert L. Zangrando, The NAACP Crusade Against Lynching, 1909–1950, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1980, 5.
- Wood 2009, 4.
- Randall Kennedy, Race, Crime, and the Law, New York: Vintage Books, 1998, 42.
- Robert W. Thurston, Lynching: American Mob Murder in Global Perspective, Ashgate Publishing, 2013, 35–36.
- Crystal Feimster, Southern Horrors: Women and the Politics of Rape and Lynching, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009, 158–159.
- Kerry Segrave, Lynchings of Women in the United States: The Recorded Cases, 1851–1946. Jefferson: McFarland, 2010, 18.
- Segrave 2010, 19.
- Harry Menig, "Woody Guthrie: The Oklahoma Years, 1912–1929," in David D. Joyce (ed.), "An Oklahoma I Had Never Seen Before", Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998, 176.
- Dianna Everett, "Lynching", Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society.
- Segrave 2010, 20.
- "A Deputy Sheriff Killed", The Independent (Okemah), May 4, 1911 (published weekly 1907–1914).
- "Deputy Sheriff Loney Murdered", The Okemah Ledger, May 4, 1911 (published weekly 1907–1933).
- For example, Joe Klein, Woody Guthrie: A Life, New York: Bantam Dell, 1999, 10 [1980, 13].
- For example, "Woman Lynched by Side of Son", The Daily Oklahoman, May 26, 1911.
- Jones-Sneed 2005, 63, 65. Jones-Sneed writes that some sources say Carrie was found floating in the river.
- "The State of Oklahoma, Plaintiff, vs Austin Nelson, Defendant", undated, lauranelsonlynching.weebly.com (archived at webcite). The charge sheet was obtained by historian Frances Jones-Sneed of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, who shared the document with lauranelsonlynching.weebly.com.
- "The Nelsons Have Examination", The Independent, May 11, 1911.
- "Appearance Docket", May 11 and 12, 1911 (archived at webcite).
- "Negro Female Prisoner Gets Unruly", The Okemah Ledger, May 18, 1911.
- For Yarbrough's crossing, and "six miles west and one mile south of Omekah," see The Independent, May 25, 1911.
- Kennedy 1998, p. 44.
- The Crisis (NAACP), July 1911, p. 100.
- Archer 2006, 505.
- Archer 2006, 504, 509.
- Will Kaufman, Woody Guthrie, American Radical, Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2011, 147.
- Klein 1999, p. 10.
- "The barefoot corpse of Laura Nelson. May 25, 1911, Okemah, Oklahoma", withoutsanctuary.org.
- Allen 2000, 204.
- Postcard of the lynched Jesse Washington, front and back.jpg; Allen 2000, 174.
- Bruce R. Shepard, "Diplomatic Racism: Canadian Government and Black Migration from Oklahoma, 1905–1912," in Bruce A. Glasrud and Charles A. Braithwaite (eds.), African Americans on the Great Plains: An Anthology, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009, 167.
- The Crisis (NAACP), August 1911, 153–154.
- Kidada Williams, They Left Great Marks on Me: African American Testimonies of Racial Violence from Emancipation to World War I, New York: New York University Press, 2012, 193–194.
- Ed Cray, The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie, W. W. Norton, 2006, 5.
- Klein 1999, 23.
- Kaufman 2011, 145.
- Archer 2006, 509.
- "Don't Kill My Baby and My Son", woodyguthrie.org.
- Kaufman 2011, 146.
- Mark Allan Jackson, Prophet Singer: The Voice and Vision of Woody Guthrie, Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2008, 158–160.
- Dora Apel, Imagery of Lynching: Black Men, White Women, and the Mob, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2004, 8.
- Moehringer (Los Angeles Times) 2000, 3.
- Jennie Leightweis-Gof, "The Lynched Woman: Kara Walker, Laura Nelson, and the Question of Agency," Blood at the Root: Lynching as American Cultural Nucleus, Albany: State University of New York Press, 2011, 126.
- Wendy Wolters, "Without Sanctuary: Bearing Witness, Bearing Whiteness", A Journal of Composition Theory, 24(2), 2004 (399–425), 414–415. JSTOR 20866631
- Historical American Lynching Data Collection Project (Project HAL).
- Guthrie, Woody. "Don't Kill My Baby and My Son" (lyrics), 1966 (on YouTube).
- Allen, James. Musarium: Without Sanctuary ("Without Sanctuary", a brief film about the collection).
- Apel, Dora; Smith, Shawn Michelle. Lynching Photographs, University of California Press, 2007.
- The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States: 1889–1918, 1919.
- The New York Times. "Hang Negro Woman and Son", May 26, 1911.
- The Okemah Ledger. "News from around the court house", May 11, 1911.
- The Okemah Ledger. "Held for murder in first degree", May 11, 1911.
- The Okemah Ledger. "Lynchers Avenge the Murder of Geo. Loney", May 25, 1911.
- Clinton Mirror. "Mother and son lynched", May 27, 1911.
- The Dispatch. "News from everywhere", May 31, 1911.
- The Crisis. Report of the lynching, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 2(3), July 1911.
- The Crisis. "The Oklahoma Lynching", 2(4), August 1911.
- Elisabeth Freeman, "The Waco Horror", The Crisis, July 1916.