The Lynching of Willis Jones, Tyler, Texas, May 23, 1897

Streaming Media

Document Type


Publication Date



Willis Jones, a white man, was accused of hiring a black man to murder his cousin near Lindale to receive an insurance payoff. The supposed actual murderer was soon arrested, and after some level of torture, confessed to the crime. Jones was arrested and brought to the Smith County jail, but on Saturday night, May 23, 1897, a mob from Lindale rode into town, broke down two steel doors, and shot Jones to death in his cell. The Tyler community was outraged, as were state authorities, but legal finagling kept the mob from being convicted.

Persistent identifier