This paper is a local study of a lynching in Port Jervis, New York in 1892. The victim was a black man, Bob Lewis. This study intends to situate Lewis’ lynching in both its historical and cultural contexts. Larger than that, this paper argues that even though southern and northern lynchings, particularly when the victims were African American, resembled one another in several important ways—including higher incidences of mutilation and torture; often becoming a form of white communal entertainment in which white participants often collected and/or sold relics in order to commemorate the event; and the bodies often being left in public view for symbolic purposes to warn other blacks or even sympathetic whites of what could happen if legal or customary boundaries of race relations were transgressed in that town or community—northern lynchings cannot be analyzed using the same frameworks as southern lynchings.
The significant disparity in the number of lynchings that occurred in the North as opposed to the South highlights significant social, cultural and economic differences that existed between the two regions in the late-nineteenth century. Two of the most important regional differences were the northern notion of “civility” and the industrial northern economy.
Kristopher Burrell. “Bob Lewis’ Encounter with the ‘Great Death:’ Port Jervis’ Entrance into the ‘United States of Lyncherdom.” Minisink Valley Historical Society, 2003.