Historic Markers Across Tennessee

The Lynching of Lee Walker

Marker ID:  
Location: intersection of North Front St and A.W. Willis, Memphis, TN
County: Shelby
Coordinates: N 35° 9.484    W 090° 2.955
  35.15806666    -90.04925
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: None


The Lynching of Lee Walker

A mob estimated at 3,000 people gathered near this spot on the night of July 22, 1893, with the intent of breaking into the Shelby County Jail and seizing Lee Walker, a black prisoner accused of attempting to rape a young white woman. Four days earlier, Mollie McCadden had reported that while horseback riding with her sister at Bond Station in northeast Shelby County, a young black man attempted to drag her off her horse and assault her. A search for the assailant began immediately. Newspapers described him as "the monster" and "the negro fiend." On July 21 Walker, who fit the assailant's description, was found and arrested at his parents home south of New Albany, Mississippi. Sheriff A. J. McLendon took Walker to the Shelby County Jail on the morning of July 22. After nightfall the mob began gathering and growing outside the jail, threatening to lynch Walker.

Resistance by law enforcement to these threats was minimal as the mob used a section of railroad rail to batter in the jail door and the iron cellblock gates confining the prisoners. Members of the mob dragged Walker from his cell, stripped him of his clothing, then beat and stabbed him as they took him outside. Two blocks north they hanged him from a telegraph pole. After Walker was dead, the mob burned his body, mutilated it for souvenirs, and dragged the corpse to the courthouse. What remained of Walker's body was buried in a potter's field. A grand jury indicted Sheriff McLendon, two police captains, a deputy sheriff, and several mob leaders in the lynching. However, prosecutors dropped the charges after they were unable to seat a jury. Neither Mollie McCadden nor her sister had an opportunity to identify Walker as the assailant.

Erected in 2018 by The Lynching Sites Project of Memphis,
the National Park Service, and the Shelby County Historical Commission.