Confronting a dark history; lynchings in Montgomery County

Maryland

Corrections have been made to the following article: credit for photographs and research has been added, and the wording of a sentence has been adjusted.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — America has a rich history that is filled with some dark turns. Acts of lynching throughout the years are a part of that darker side.

According to Sarah Hedlund, archivist and librarian for Montgomery History, there were at least three lynchings in Montgomery County in the 19th century. George Washington Peck was the first recorded lynching. In January 1880, Peck was accused of attempted assault on a white girl, but before he could be transported to Rockville for trial, a group of men seized him and hung him from a tree in Poolesville.

The second lynching happened 6 short months later. John Diggs-Dorsey was accused of raping and physically assaulting his employer’s wife. After a 2 day manhunt, Diggs-Dorsey was marched in leg-irons to Route 28 and hanged from the limb of a tree until he died.

The last lynching on record was of Sidney Randolph. Randolph was lynched on July 4, 1896, by an unidentified group of white men from the county. Randolph was accused at the time of being involved in the axe-wielding attack on the Buxton family of Gaithersburg, based on circumstantial evidence only.

Although it’s a period of time some would love to forget, many historians believe it’s important to remember.

“It’s a legacy of injustice that has remained with us to this day and has shaped some of the ugliest facets of our country’s societal structure,” said Hedlund. “Telling these stories, saying their names, and continuing to confront our uncomfortable history is the task before us and to that end, our work is never done.”

According to historians, the state of Maryland played host to at least 44 lynchings.

All photographs provided by Montgomery History and research content by Sarah Hedlund, Archivist/Librarian for Montgomery History.

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