The University of Southern Mississippi -- McCain Library and Archives
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Overview of the Collection
Repository: McCain Library and Archives, The University of Southern
Collection Number: M436
Title: Mack (Will) Hanging Photographs
Dates: 1909 July 23
Quantity: Two items
Abstract: This collection consists of images portraying the public hanging
On the morning of November 20, 1908, as she was returning from an errand at her grandfather’s store, Mamie Myers (Caucasian) was criminally assaulted. The 15-year-old Myers named Will Mack as her attacker. Myers lived on a small farm near Lodebar, Mississippi with her parents and six brothers and sisters. Her grandfather, J.W. Moore owned the local grocery store.
Will Mack was a sharecropper living near the town of Pelahatchie located in Rankin County. At the time of the assault, Mack lived on Dennis Purvis’s place. Mack, his wife Eliza and their five children lived and worked on Purvis’s place, which was located a mile and a half from the Myers farm.
Will Mack (African American) was arrested April 19, 1909 for assault and battery by W. R. Johnson, constable of the Fifth District of Tate County, near the town of Marianna, located in Marshall County. The assault and battery charge was filed by Eliza Mack.
During Mack’s April 21, 1909 assault and battery trial, Constable Johnson informed H.W. McKinnon, Justice of the Peace, that the prisoner was wanted in Rankin County for assaulting Mamie Myers. On May 19, 1909, Rankin County Sheriff Walter White received a letter from Johnson informing him of Will Mack’s arrest, and Mack was transferred to Rankin County, where he stood trial for the assault of Mamie Myers.
At approximately 3:30 p.m. on June 21, 1909 Will Mack’s trial began in Brandon, Mississippi. At 6:32 p.m., Judge J. R. Byrd dismissed the jurors to deliberate and at 6:45 p.m. the jurors returned to read their decision. They found Mack guilty as charged, and he was sentenced to hang by the neck until dead at the appointed time on July 23, 1909. He spent the next 31 days at the Warren County jail in Vicksburg awaiting his inevitable moment on the gallows. On July 22, 1909, Sheriff White removed Mack from the Warren County jail and transported him back to Brandon, arriving at the depot around midnight. Shortly after noon on July 23, he was escorted to the gallows.
Reverend Adam Lewis, an African American Baptist preacher from Brandon joined Mack on the platform to offer a short prayer and a final farewell, and then left the scaffold. At 12:42 p.m., with hands tied behind his back, shoes removed, black hood over his head, and noose around his neck, Rankin County Sheriff Walter White pulled the lever releasing the trap door beneath Will Mack. At 12:58 p.m. local physician A. G. McLaurin pronounced Mack dead.
Contents of the Collection.
Kight, Lawrence Edward. 1997. “Mississippi Justice: The Trial and Execution of Will Mack.” Masters Thesis, University of Southern Mississippi.
The collection consists of two 8x10 black & white photographs of the public hanging of Will Mack, which took place July 23, 1909 in Brandon, Mississippi. The photographer is not known.
The first photograph (M436-1) portrays the gallows and crowd prior to the execution of Will Mack. Records indicate that the brick building in the background, surrounded by the fence was the Rankin County jail.
The second photograph (M436-2) portrays the gallows and crowd immediately following the execution of Will Mack. The photo depicts Will Mack’s lifeless form with the hangman’s noose around his neck, hands bound behind his back, shoeless, with a black hood over his head. Records indicate that the brick building in the background was the Rankin County jail.
Immediate Source of Acquisition:
Donated to McCain Library and Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi by Lawrence Edward Kight on September 30, 1996.
Restrictions Governing Access:
No restrictions. Open for research.
This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).
Preferred Citation Method:
Item, Title of Collection, McCain Library and Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi.
Language of Materials:
Processed by Jill Kochom