Shortly after midnight on this date in 1913, Joe Richardson was hauled out of jail in Leitchfield, Kentucky, and lynched on the town square for attempting to assault an 11-year-old girl (white, of course).
“The little girl was on her way to school about 8 o’clock in the morning,” reported the Crittenden Record-Press (Oct. 9, 1913) “when, it is said, she was attacked by the negro who was frightened away by approach of the neighbors.”
photographs rendered the violence of a lynching visible and accessible to a wider audience. Although, as will be shown, the public for these images was imagined as relatively narrow or contained, they nevertheless seemed to punctuate the lynching as a public spectacle. Small posses that quickly lynched their victims outside town but paused long enough to take pictures intended their actions to be witnessed … ‘the [Richardson] mob worked quietly and most of the citizens of Leitchfield knew nothing of it until the body was found hanging from a tree early this morning … A large crowd congregated … after the hanging was reported.’ A photograph of Richardson’s hanging body was mounted on a card and peddled door-to-door by an unknown photographer.
This lynching site claims that it was only after the work was done that townspeople realized the hanged man was the local drunk, and had “merely stumbled into the child, and not even torn her dress.”