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The Lynching of Sidney Randolph: Biographies of Named Individuals

This page provides biographical information on more than 60 individuals named in the newspaper accounts during the coverage of the case against Sidney Randolph: May through November, 1896. Those who had some role in the unfolding events that year included local residents of Gaithersburg and Rockville, Montgomery County officials, attorneys, physicians, witnesses, and investigators from both Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. Most of this information was not included in the narrative for the sake of brevity, but may bring additional context to the events related to the lynching of Sidney Randolph on July 4,1896.

The following information was researched and compiled by Sarah Hedlund, Archivist/Librarian for Montgomery History; published September 10, 2020. Content copyright: Montgomery History, 2020, all rights reserved.

Randolph, as depicted in the Washington Evening Times on May 27, 1896.

Sidney Randolph (c.1870-1896) Sidney Randolph gave the following details of his life, which were reported inthe Washington Times (evening edition) on June 11, 1896. He was born in Millidgeville, Georgia but stated at the time of the interview he no longer had parents or siblings living. He said he was “raised by” Porter Boyer on General Sanford’s plantation “near Macon, Georgia”– this likely refers to the plantation of General John W.A. Sanford, Sr. (1798-1870), which was actually located in Millidgeville, in Baldwin County. Randolph had other connections to Millidgeville, where he mentioned his uncle Kit Bryant and wife lived. He also mentioned another aunt and uncle with the last name “Dimen” (possibly mis-heard by the reporter) in the Macon, Georgia area. At some point, Randolph made his way to Pennsylvania, where he worked for the Carnegie Steel Company for a time. He continued working in the Pittsburgh area for Steele & Hall (a pavement and brick-work company) and for Sullivan & Adams in East Pittsburgh. By 1895 or 1896, he arrived in the Washington area, working in Baltimore and in the city of Washington before returning to look for work in Maryland.

Randolph in his jail cell, as depicted by the Evening Star in its report on the lynching, July 4, 1896.

Randolph was apprehended in Montgomery County as he was walking along Hunting Hill Road on the morning of May 25, 1896. A local family had been attacked earlier that morning in their home by a man wielding an axe, whom they described as tall and black. As he fit that vague description, he was accosted on the road by a pair of local young men who, without giving the reason, demanded he accompany them to Gaithersburg for further questioning. Randolph was a stranger to the area, never having set foot in Montgomery County until the previous day when he had walked up from Georgetown. Fearing he would be charged with vagrancy before he could obtain employment, he tried to evade them and continue on his way. The men gave chase, ran him down with their horses, fired shots at him, striking him in the hand and thigh, and tied him up with a rope, turning him over to the custody of Sheriff John Collier.

Sidney Randolph remained in prison for the next six weeks (which amounted to the rest of his life), staunchly maintaining his innocence, and retelling the same story of his movements that fateful weekend over and over again as he was interrogated and possibly tortured for more information. A jury of inquest into the death of Sadie Buxton, the youngest victim of the axe assault, held Randolph responsible for her death on June 12, 1896, based on circumstantial evidence and the testimony of Richard Buxton. He remained in jail awaiting a potential indictment, which would have been decided at the meeting of the grand jury scheduled to take place in November. However, on July 4, 1896 a group of masked men forced their way into the Rockville jail early in the morning, seized and murdered Sidney Randolph, strangling him to death by hanging him from a tree outside of town. His murderers were never identified or charged. His body was buried in an unmarked grave in the potter’s field near the Alms House outside Rockville.

The Buxton Family

Richard Lemuel Buxton was born in Montgomery County in 1858, to William and Elizabeth Buxton, the youngest of their nine children. He lived in Clarksburg as a child, married Mary Ellen Easton in 1879 and their daughter Maud was born in 1880. The couple was living then with Mary Ellen’s parents, Giles and Ann Easton, on Frederick Ave. in Gaithersburg, in a household that also included her younger siblings James Anna and Zadoc Easton. A second child born to Richard and Mary Ellen in 1883 did not survive, and Mary Ellen died shortly after. In 1888, Richard married Mary Ellen’s younger sister Teeny (christened James Anna but called Teeny due to her short stature). Richard and Teeny had two more children: a daughter Sadie born in 1889 and a son Carroll, born in 1893.

By 1896, the Buxtons lived in their own household on Frederick Ave. in Gaithersburg, which was described as standing across the street from Forest Oak Cemetery and the adjoining Methodist Episcopal Church South. Their neighbors were the Englishes, the Phoebuses, and the Arnolds. They likely lived in a house standing on land owned by the investment company of Ward & Fulks. Fulks was part owner of the Gaithersburg Milling and Manufacturing Co., where Buxton, who was a miller, was employed. Buxton had recently been elected as a Town Commissioner and he was a member of the Knights of Pythias fraternal order.

Richard Lemuel Buxton (1858-1923)
James Anna “Teeny” Easton Buxton (1862-1927)
Maud Buxton (1880-1956)
Sadie Buxton (1889-1896)
Carroll Buxton (1893-1952)

Grace Marguerite Buxton (1897-1990), pictured with her Gaithersburg high school class c. 1910, standing in the front row, far left.

The Buxton family was attacked in their home on May 25, 1896 by an unknown intruder wielding an axe: all members of the family except Carroll were hit in the head and seriously wounded. Sadie died of her injuries in June of 1896. Richard Buxton identified suspect Sidney Randolph as his attacker, an accusation that led to Randolph’s murder at the hands of a lynch mob.

Maud Buxton, c. 1923. Photo from The Diary of Ruth Buxton Dowden (comp. Schwartz, 2002).

The rest of the family eventually recovered from the ordeal. Richard and Teeny had another daughter, Grace Marguerite, born in 1897. They continued to live in Gaithersburg until Richard’s death in 1923, after which Teeny and Maud moved to Washington, D.C. Teeny died there in 1927. Grace and Maud then lived together in Washington until Maud’s death in 1956. Like her older sister, Grace never married and she died in 1990. Most of the family are buried in Forest Oak Cemetery.

Gaile Marie Buxton Crump, the last descendant of the RL Buxton family line, in 1940. (photo from the U.S. School Yearbooks collection accessed from McKinley Technical High School, Washington, D.C.)

After serving in the Army engineer corps during WWI, Carroll Buxton also lived in D.C., where he worked for the C&P Telephone Company for more than 40 years. He married Marie Talbert and they had one daughter, Gaile Marie, born in 1923, who later married Melton Crump but had no children. Carroll Buxton died in 1962. There are now no surviving direct descendants of the Richard Buxton family–Gaile Buxton Crump, Richard Buxton’s only grandchild and the last descendant, died in 2014.

Other Relations and Neighbors of the Buxtons

Zadoc “Zed” M. Easton (1869-1945) A brother of Mrs. Buxton, Easton lived with the Richard Buxton family from c. 1890-1900; presumably moving out around the time of his marriage to Laura Reid in 1904. Cortice Baughman’s Justice of the Peace docket states that seven Black people (Sidney Randolph, George Neale, John Johnson, Emma Johnson, James Johnson, John Young, and Haler McAbee) were arrested in connection with the attack on the Buxton family, specifically “on the oath and information of Z.M. Easton.” He was later called for jury duty in November of 1896, but served on the petit jury, not the grand jury that heard evidence in the case of Randolph’s lynching.

After their marriage in 1904, Easton and his wife lived on N. Frederick Ave. near Chestnut St. and had three children: Laura Louise (Diggs), Richard Montgomery Easton, and Elwood H. Easton. He worked as a tinner/metal worker for the Richard Murphy Tinners in Gaithersburg and then worked for the last 30 years of his life with the Viett Company in Rockville. He was a member of the Knights of Pythias and the Knights of Columbus, as well as a volunteer fireman for the Gaithersburg station and an amateur dramatist. He died in 1945 and is buried in Forest Oak cemetery with the rest of his family.

John H. Hilton (1852-1911) Hilton was the half brother of Mrs. Buxton, and members of the Buxton family stayed at his house in Rockville during the summer of 1896. He was the son of Teeny’s and Mary Ellen’s mother Ann and her first husband, William H. T. Hilton (1829-1853?). After William’s death, Ann married Giles N. Easton: the 1860 census lists two more Easton children in addition to her eldest son who is listed under his stepfather’s last name (enumerated that year as “John H. Easton”). John H. Hilton was still  living with the Eastons in the 1870 census; by the 1880 census he was working as a blacksmith and living with his new wife Annie M. Claggett, whom he had married in 1878. The couple had three children before Annie’s death, which occurred sometime after 1882. He then married Magdalene V. Gingell in 1888 (enumerated as “Virginia M.” Hilton in the 1900 census) and had seven more children. In December of 1911, after a few months of illness, he collapsed while attending a funeral, and died of a heart attack en route to the doctor.

The English Family

William George English, the patriarch of this branch of the English family, died ten years before the incident involving the Buxtons in 1896. The son of James C. English and Mary Ellen Bean, William English married Elizabeth Luckett Offutt in 1867, and they had eight children. English worked as a blacksmith in Gaithersburg and was elected constable in 1882; he died from a horse kick in 1884. His wife never remarried, but continued raising her younger children in a house that stood next door to the Buxton family home.

Elizabeth Luckett Offutt English (1845-1932) Mother of James T., William S., Armenia, Harry P., Luvinia, George R., Nettie Mae, and Preston M. English. In the 1900 census, she was widowed and living in the town of Gaithersburg with her younger children, George and Nettie. In 1896, it was likely her older sons Harry P. and Preston M. were also living there, though they are not named in any accounts. According to newspaper accounts in 1896, her son James T. English and his family were living across the street from her house, as was her son William Sylvester. All the English men were millers at this time.

James T. English in 1900, with his wife, Eva, and four children (Roland, Alma, Frances, and Blanche). (photo uploaded to by majangel).

James Thomas English (1868-1956) James English was the eldest son of William George and Elizabeth Luckett Offutt English. He was married in 1890 to Eva J. Collins of Georgetown and they had seven children– one of which (Roland Ellsworth) was born in Gaithersburg in 1896. He worked for the Summit Milling Company, he was a charter member of the Knights of Pythius, and was elected bailiff and assessor of Gaithersburg in 1894. Along with his brothers, he testified at the 1896 inquest into the death of Sadie Buxton. By 1900 the family was living in Rockville where James worked at the Derwood flour mill for more than ten years (they were still living in District 4 when the 1910 census was taken). He may have worked at the Montgomery County Court House during this time. By 1920, the family had returned to Gaithersburg, where James and his wife lived the rest of their lives. In 1940, the couple were living with their daughter Rebecca in a house on Summit Ave. and James was described as an elevator operator, apparently having retired from milling in his later years. He died in 1956 and is buried with the rest of his family in Forest Oak Cemetery, Gaithersburg.

William Sylvester “West” English (1871-1928) West English was the second-eldest son of William George and Elizabeth Luckett Offutt English and may have been living with his older brother James in 1896 when they both testified at the 1896 inquest into the death of Sadie Buxton. Married in 1897 to Cora Trevey, his first child Hazel O. was born in Maryland (1898). By 1900, the family was living in Washington, D.C. where West English was working as a steam engineer; they soon moved to Baltimore where their second child, Hunter Oberlin, was born in 1903. English worked in Baltimore at the American Gas Co. and remained there for the rest of his life. The family are all buried at Forest Oak Cemetery in Gaithersburg.

George Registor English (1877-1907) George English, the youngest son of William George and Elizabeth Luckett Offutt English, also worked as a miller in Gaithersburg and was a member of Knights of Pythius. He was eighteen years old in 1896, living with his mother and sister at the time of the incident at the Buxton house, which was next door to his mother’s house. On the morning the Buxton house was entered, George English claimed to have seen a black man enter his own house and start up the stairs, when he was startled by George calling out to his mother. George only lived to age 30, dying of tuberculosis in 1907, the same year as his older sister Nettie Mae died of the same.

The Phebus/Phoebus Family

(official records of the time, such as marriage certificates and census records, spell this family’s name both with and without the “o,” as did the newspaper accounts. It seems different branches of the family might have used one spelling or the other depending on their preference and/or the time period.)

George Phebus (b. 1849) George was a son of John and Elizabeth Phebus, who had at least eight children. He married Josephine first and had one daughter, Clara. Later he married Martha and had another daughter Mamie Magdeline, who married David Virts in 1896. He was a member of the Lodge of Good Templars.

John Thomas Phebus (1855-1922) John Thomas Phebus was a younger brother of George Phebus, son of John and Elizabeth Phebus of Gaithersburg. He married Agnes English in 1884 and they had six children.

Joseph Phebus and his second wife, Lyde, c. 1929. (Photo shared on by andrewsphebus)

Joseph C. Phebus (1857-1939) Joseph was a younger brother of George and John, sons of John and Elizabeth Phebus. He lived with his parents until he was married to Mary E. in 1881. In 1900, he was living in Gaithersburg with his wife and four children, next door to the English family, and working as a plasterer. He served on the Gaithersburg Board of Commissioners from 1904-1908 and again from 1912-1916. He died in Washington, D.C. in 1939.

David F. Virts (1874-1922) David Virts was born in Virginia and lived there until some point after 1880, when he moved to Montgomery County, MD. He must have been lodging in the Buxtons’ neighborhood in May of 1896, as Virts was one of the first witnesses on the scene the morning of the break-in at the Buxton house. Initial reporting claimed he was walking along the road and heard screams from the Buxton house, but at the inquest he testified he had received a telephone call from the Phoebus house (likely the Joseph Phoebus household, who were closer neighbors of the Englishes), informing him the Buxtons had been attacked, and asking him to go for a doctor. He also stated that while he was headed for the doctor, he saw a man run out of the English’s yard, not far from the Buxtons. Later that year in September, David Virts married Mamie Magdaline Phoebus, daughter of George Phebus and Josephine Burriss of Gaithersburg. Tragically, Mamie Virts died at the age of 20 in 1898; David later married Jenny Waters in 1900 and that couple had two daughters, the older of whom died at age 18. Virts worked as a salesman or clerk in retail stores, and later as a watchman for the B&O Railroad Co. He served on the Gaithersburg Board of Commissioners from 1908-1912, and with the exception of work he did for Prudential Insurance in Washington, D.C. during WWI, he continued to live in Gaithersburg until his death from lung cancer in 1922.

Sarah Arnold (1834-1920) Born Sarah Matilda Smith, she grew up in Rockville and married Andrew Jacob Arnold in 1856. The couple lived in Darnestown and had a total of 13 children, eleven of whom lived to adulthood. By 1900, Sarah Arnold was a widowed dress maker living in Gaithersburg with three of her adult children and a granddaughter. The family presumably lived there several years earlier, when they were mentioned as neighbors of the Buxton family in 1896. Sarah died in 1920 of pneumonia at age 83, and was buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Barnesville. The Arnolds were Catholic, and also relatively close neighbors of the Lawsons, the family of Jennie Gloyd (see below).

George Neale and His Family

Neale, as depicted in the Washington Evening Times on May 27, 1896.

George Neale (1869-?) George Neale (often spelled “Neal”) was arrested along with Sidney Randolph on May 25, 1896, accused of being a co-cospirator of the attack on the Buxton family. In the early hours after the discovery of the Buxtons’ injuries, the Reverend L.L. Lloyd took it upon himself to investigate the surrounding area, and claimed that footprints from the Buxtons’ backyard led to George Neale’s back door. Neale was arrested by Deputy Sheriff Horton Thompson, and along with Randolph, was transported to the Central City jail in Baltimore later that evening and held imprisoned until the inquest into Sadie Buxton’s death on June 11, 1896.

Neale was born on February 9, 1869 in Montgomery County and baptized in St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church at Cloppers, north of Gaithersburg. He is then found in 1870 living with his mother Kate (Mary Catherine) in the household of James B. Gaither and family near Brighton, where she worked as a domestic servant. Their neighbors included Ignatius Fulks, James Phebus, and Samuel Gloyd. In 1880, George and his mother, along with his younger sister Emma, were living with their grandmother Mary Neale in the Clarksburg District, which then included Gaithersburg. The family was still living in the Gaithersburg area by the mid-1880s where George was working as a waiter, possibly in the Summit Hotel, and had his first run-in with the authorities (see below). His sister Emma married John Johnson in 1894, and according to newspaper accounts (often garbled as to relationships) the couple was living with Emma’s grandmother Mary and also at least two of their younger nephews–John Young and James Johnson–at the time of George Neale’s second arrest in May of 1896. Emma and her family were also charged on May 25 as accessories to the crime, for allegedly aiding and abetting George Neale, and were jailed for several weeks in order to secure their testimony. Mary Neale was questioned several times, and a warrant was also issued for her arrest, but it was returned not served. These warrants were all issued by Justice Baughman “on information and oath” of Zadoc M. Easton.

Ten years previously, in May of 1886, Neale, along with a few dozen other Black men, was arrested on suspicion of assaulting 16-year-old Jennie Gloyd. He gave a statement that just before the attack on Gloyd, he had been at the train station in the company of a stranger to town (later identified as Charles Williams) who had been speaking lasciviously of young girls. When Neale was presented to Gloyd, she did not identify him as her attacker. Neale was kept in custody (or perhaps re-arrested) on a separate charge of disorderly conduct/vagrancy and subsequently sentenced to a year at the Maryland House of Corrections in Baltimore within a few days of the attack on Gloyd. Two months later, after Gloyd had been unable to identify her attacker from any number of proffered suspects, a group of men in Gaithersburg decided Neale was the likely culprit after all and brought Gloyd to the Baltimore institution where Neale was serving his sentence. She picked him out of a lineup of other Black men presented to her in their prison clothes (he would have been the only one familiar to her) and accused him of being her rapist.

When his term at the House of Corrections was complete in May of 1887, Neale was returned to Montgomery County and immediately put on trial for the assault on Gloyd. Twenty-three people testified at his trial, but it was Gloyd’s testimony and identification that led to his conviction. He was sentenced by three justices (Vinson, Lynch, and Ritchie) to ten years in the Maryland Penitentiary– the maximum sentence. He was released in December of 1895, early for good behavior, and he returned to Gaithersburg. His prior conviction was used as motive when Neale was accused, along with Sidney Randolph, of attacking the Buxton family in May of 1896. The numerous rumors included: 1) Neale’s supposed “grudge” against Richard Buxton in particular, as some remembered Buxton had been instrumental in Neale’s conviction in 1887 (there is currently no evidence that Buxton was involved in that case, either as prosecutor or witness); 2) an inaccurate conjecture that Neale and Randolph had served together in the penitentiary and hatched the attack in advance (Randolph had never served time in the Maryland Penitentiary); 3) once the previous assumption had been disproved, a theory that Neale and Randolph had met for the first time in Gaithersburg a few days before the incident, and Neale convinced Randolph to assist him in his revenge (never proven beyond wild speculation).

Richard Buxton himself was the one to ultimately exonerate Neale. Buxton and Neale did know of each other prior to the incident, and Buxton had insisted almost from the beginning that Neale was not the Black man who had attacked his family. In his testimony at the inquest into his daughter’s death, Buxton stated on the stand that Neale was not the man, and instead pointed the finger at Randolph. As a result, Neale (along with all of his relatives who had been imprisoned on suspicion of involvement) was released from custody in June of 1896. Neale was told to leave Gaithersburg immediately and never show his face again.

In a bizarre follow-up, the Baltimore Sun reported in October of 1896 that the Rev. Lloyd claimed to have seen George Neale walking on the street in Gaithersburg, dressed as a woman and wearing a heavy crepe veil. There is a George Neale appearing in the 1900 census in Ann Arundel County with members of the Nicholson/Butler family, married to Catherine Nicholson and with a 6-month-old son named Richard. That family cannot be located following the 1900 census, and cannot be verified as a match for George Neale of Montgomery County. Therefore, the exact fate of George Neale is not known.

The Neale-Johnson Family

George Neale’s sister was Emma Neale, who married John Johnson, possibly the couple (Emma Mary Neale and John Henry Johnson) married by license in Montgomery County in 1894. John and Emma–along with three of their young children, two of their nephews: John Young and James Johnson (both around age 11-12), as well as George Neale–were living in Gaithersburg in 1896 in a house with Mary Neale, the grandmother of George and Emma. With the exception of Mary, the entire family was arrested on May 25, 1896 on suspicion of being accessories before or after the fact, and potentially aiding and abetting George Neale’s supposed attack on the Buxton family.

Mary Neale (born c.1825, died after 1900) Born in Maryland and possibly enslaved by Lemuel Clements prior to emancipation, Mary (Cooper) Neale is first found in the 1870 census records in the Second District’s Gaithersburg area. That year, she was living with Augusta Neal (possibly a mis-transcription of her husband, Augustus/Gustavus Neal) and several members of the Cooper family: three of the same Coopers who are still residing with her in 1880, along with a George Cooper who may have become the husband of her daughter, Jane Neal Cooper (by 1880, Jane is widowed and George is not found). Also in the household with Mary that year was a daughter Catherine Neal, and two grandchildren (assumed to be Catherine’s children): Emma and George Neale. On May 25, 1896, there was a warrant issued for Mary’s arrest as an accessory to her grandson George Neale’s alleged attack on the Buxton family, but a few days later it was “returned not served.” Mary was interviewed by the press and by the detectives several times in the first few weeks of the investigation, often erroneously referred to as the mother or aunt of George Neale instead of his grandmother. After George Neale was cleared of charges and released in June of 1896, Mary and her family continued to live in Gaithersburg. In 1900, 78-year-old Mary is in the household with John and Emma (Neale) Johnson and their children (or possibly living next door), but she is absent from the 1910 census and is assumed to have died before then.

John Johnson (1867-?) and Emma Neale Johnson (c.1873-?) Emma was George Neale’s sister, first found in the 1880 census at age seven, living with her grandmother Mary Neale and her older brother. She married John Johnson in 1894; the couple had at least five children, four of whom were still at home in the 1900 census, where John and Emma are still living with or next door to Mary Neale. John and Emma were both arrested, along with their nephews James Johnson and John Young, on May 25, 1896, on suspicion of aiding and abetting George Neale, accused of attacking the Buxton family. Emma had answered the door that morning to Isaiah Frazier, whom she said was inquiring about milk cans; her nephew James either misheard this exchange or knowingly reported false information that the man at the door might have been either George Neale or Sidney Randolph asking for a replacement for a bloody shirt. The exact charges brought against John Johnson are not known, though he was the only person to be arrested that day for being “an accessory before the fact,” suggesting he was suspected of having pre-knowledge of George Neale’s supposed intention to attack the Buxtons. The four Johnson family members remained in the county jail for almost three weeks, finally released along with George Neale at the conclusion of the inquest into Sadie Buxton’s death, for which the jury held only Sidney Randolph responsible. Though they were still living in Gaithersburg as of the 1900 census, no members of this family can be definitively located beyond that time.

James Henry Johnson (c.1885-1899) Identified as a nephew of John and Emma Johnson, James is thought to be the son of Henry Johnson and Catherine Neal, married in 1883. This may be the same Catherine Neal who was mother of George and Emma, potentially making James the half-brother of George Neale. According to newspaper accounts, James told a story on May 25, 1896 that a man came to his family’s house early that morning asking for a replacement for a bloody shirt. He also claimed George Neale had not been in his bed early that morning, as he claimed to authorities. James was interviewed by deputy sheriff Thompson as well as the detectives from Washington, who dismissed his story as a misunderstanding– Emma Johnson, who had answered the door that morning to a man, said it was a neighbor asking for the return of some milk cans, and that James had misunderstood. James was arrested, along with the rest of the Johnson family, and held on suspicion of aiding and abetting George Neale.

The “House of Reformation for Colored Boys” established at Cheltenham, 1873. Photo from the Maryland State Archives.

The Johnson family members were released more than two weeks later, on June 13, following the inquest into Sadie Buxton’s death. However, according to newspaper reports and Cortice Baughmann’s Justice of the Peace records, a few days later James was declared “incorrigible” by his father, Henry Johnson, and subsequently committed to the Maryland House of Reformation until age 16, a sentence of five years. This referred to the “House of Reformation and Instruction for Colored Children,” founded in 1873 by Enoch Pratt and located in Cheltenham, Prince George’s County. The facility, alternately described as a school and a prison, which possibly hired boys to local farms as free labor, was originally intended as a refuge for orphan boys, but evolved as early as the 1890s into a place of detention and punishment for young black boys. It became the Cheltenham Youth Detention Center, which by the mid-20th century had a reputation for abuse and violence. James died in 1899, apparently from tuberculosis, while still serving his sentence at Cheltenham. He was 15 years old.

John Young (c.1884-?) Thought to be the son of one of either Emma or John’s married sisters, John Young was another nephew living with the Johnsons in 1896, when the attack on the Buxtons happened. He was arrested along with the rest of the family and held in jail for nearly three weeks on a charge of “accessory after the fact,” ostensibly aiding and abetting George Neale, who was accused of the attack. He was released along with the rest of the family on June 13, 1896. In 1900, he was still living with the Johnson/Neale family in Gaithersburg, but is not found definitively in the records beyond that year.

Local Citizens and Witnesses Called to Testify at the Inquests

Rev. Lloyd’s church, Forest Oak Chapel, which stood across Frederick Ave. from the Buxton house in Gaithersburg. It was also known as the Methodist Episcopal Church South.

Reverend Louis L. Lloyd (1851-1929) Louis L. Lloyd was born in Ireland to John L. Lloyd (1825-1895) and Helen (Stocksdale) Lloyd (1829-1896). The family emigrated to Towson, Maryland shortly after his birth. In 1860, Lloyd was living with his parents and two siblings in Carroll County, MD; in 1870 he was living alone at age 18 in District 4, Baltimore, working as a miller. He joined the Baltimore Methodist Conference in 1872 as a junior preacher– his mentor was Rev. John Landstreet, who had acted as the company chaplain for Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart during the Civil War. Lloyd married Rebecca Rhodes of Hyattstown on October 2, 1877. By the time of the 1880 census the couple were living in Amsterdam, VA with daughter Leona, assigned to a church in the Roanoke District. Then in 1885 he was appointed to Furnace Mission in the Rockingham District (VA), followed by an appointment to Milnes in the Moorefield District the next year. He held a post at the Calvary M.E. Church South in Baltimore until 1891; he was then assigned to a post at the Rockville Methodist Episcopal Church in Montgomery County, which he held for four years, 1891-1895. He was a frequent preacher at the Wesley Grove camp meeting in the early 1890s, as well as a speaker for prohibition rallies. He spoke at the Montgomery Lodge of Masons in 1893.

From 1895-1899 Lloyd was the pastor of the Forest Oak Methodist church, known as the M.E. Church South, in Gaithersburg. He also ran a congregation and Sunday School in the Quince Orchard neighborhood during this time. He was heavily involved with the case involving the Buxton family in 1896, taking it upon himself to investigate clues and reach his own conclusions, in opposition to the efforts of the police detectives from Washington. He subsequently hosted in his home the detectives that arrived from Baltimore, and potentially influenced the direction of their investigation. He officiated at the funeral of Sadie Buxton and testified at both the inquest into her death and into Randolph’s. After Sidney Randolph was murdered by a lynch mob, Rev. Lloyd published a lengthy missive in multiple newspapers, deploring the lynching, but primarily issuing multiple statements establishing Randolph’s guilt, claiming he had “proof” for each that was never presented. Despite the fact that he had lived in Gaithersburg for less than a year when the incident occurred, he was highlighted by reporters as being a man greatly respected, who wielded significant influence in the town.

By 1900, he was living in Covington, VA with his wife and five children. He remained in Virginia the rest of his life, living with his wife and youngest daughter Elizabeth. He died in 1929 in Rockbridge Baths, buried in the Ebenezer Methodist Church Cemetery there.

John A. Belt, with his son Norman, c.1887. Photo from the City of Gaithersburg.

John A. Belt (1851-1925) Born in Buckeystown (Frederick County, Maryland), John A. Belt worked in Baltimore as a young adult, then came to Montgomery County after he married Clara Anderson in 1878. The young couple spent a year or so running a store in Beallsville, where John’s parents and married sisters had settled, but drawn to the investment opportunities in Gaithersburg, the Belts purchased their first collection of properties there from William R. Hutton in 1879. In the 1880 census, the couple was established in Gaithersburg with their infant daughter Maud, who sadly died later that same year. Belt quickly established himself as a person of importance in Gaithersburg: the town boundaries were extended to include his property in 1888, when he began holding office and influencing town affairs. The Belts’ only son Norman was born in 1886. By 1900, Belt’s nephew Arthur Waesche was living with them and working as a young clerk in their store; his mother Margaret E. Waesche (John Belt’s older sister) had died in 1891. Belt served on the Gaithersburg Board of Commissioners for two consecutive terms, 1890-1894.

John Belt’s store, on a busy day in 1896 (this photo was possibly taken on one of the inquest days in June). The main floor served as general store and post office; the upstairs community space was called Norman Hall. Photo from the City of Gaithersburg.

Belt was the owner of the largest mercantile store in Montgomery County, located on the corner of Diamond and Summit Avenues in the center of Gaithersburg. His building was also the site of the post office during the times when Belt served as postmaster: 1885-1890 and 1893-1897. The upper floor of the building was known as “Norman Hall” (named after his son) and served as a community gathering space, as the Town Hall, and a polling place for elections, as well as the home for the Waverly Literary Society, which stored its 1000-book library upstairs. The coroner’s inquest into Sadie Buxton’s death took place there in June, 1896.

John Belt was featured often in the newspaper coverage of the Buxton/Randolph case– taking an active role in the “investigation” by the locals, frequently expressing his opinion that the suspects in custody (Randolph and Neale) were the perpetrators, serving on the jury of inquest into Sadie Buxton’s death and questioning most of the witnesses, making a public speech to the townspeople following the Buxton inquest saying they should “let the law take its course”, openly threatening Sidney Randolph in prison (accusing him of using a false name and being guilty of another crime out of state), and loudly arguing with reporters about their insinuations in the press that he himself was involved in the lynching. He was also named as the key spokesperson for the town in his assurances to State’s Attorney Kilgour, Sheriff Collier, and Judge Henderson that the Gaithersburg people would not take lynch action against Randolph.

Belt’s original mercantile building burned to the ground in 1903. He replaced it with a two-story brick structure (which is still standing) on the same location; however, he never recovered financially from the loss, and sold the business to pay his creditors in 1904. He continued to live in Gaithersburg until his death in 1925, and is buried in the Hyattstown United Methodist Church Cemetery.

John William Garrett (1871-1963)  In May of 1896 Garrett was one of the men, along with his cousin Frank Ward, who assaulted Sidney Randolph on the road to Hunting Hill, shooting at him and kidnapping him for questioning in the matter of the attack on the Buxtons. Born and raised in Rockville, John William Garrett married Agnes B. Sparo/Sparrow in 1897 and they had two sons. Listed as William Garrett in the 1900 census, he was living in Gaithersburg with his wife and nine-month old daughter (who did not survive), and next door to his widowed mother, Alcinda Ward Garrett (his father John H. Garrett had died in 1886). Garrett was a storeowner and merchant who lived in Gaithersburg for most of his life. His father’s sister Elizabeth Frances Garrett was married to Ignatius Beall Ward of Hunting Hill and the mother of Frank Ward (of whom more, below), making him Ward’s double cousin, as Ignatius was also Alcinda’s brother.

John William Garrett (1871-1963)  In May of 1896 Garrett was one of the men, along with his cousin Frank Ward, who assaulted Sidney Randolph on the road to Hunting Hill, shooting at him and kidnapping him for questioning in the matter of the attack on the Buxtons. Born and raised in Rockville, John William Garrett married Agnes B. Sparo/Sparrow in 1897 and they had two sons. Listed as William Garrett in the 1900 census, he was living in Gaithersburg with his wife and nine-month old daughter (who did not survive), and next door to his widowed mother, Alcinda Ward Garrett (his father John H. Garrett had died in 1886). Garrett was a storeowner and merchant who lived in Gaithersburg for most of his life. His father’s sister Elizabeth Frances Garrett was married to Ignatius Beall Ward of Hunting Hill and the mother of Frank Ward (of whom more, below), making him Ward’s double cousin, as Ignatius was also Alcinda’s brother.

Ladies attending Fairview School, c.1896-99. Dr. Waters is standing at the back, center.

Dr. Charles Waters (1849-1920) Waters graduated from the University of Maryland’s Medical School in 1871, then set up practice in Spencerville, near the family of his wife Ella Yates, whom he married that same year. Waters became deeply involved in his father-in-law’s church, Columbia Primitive Baptist Church in Burtonsville, where Waters was ordained as an elder in 1880 and designated as a pastor in 1882. He preached in the church for the next 40 years. Waters purchased a home in Dawsonville in 1885 and opened the Fairview School for girls, branching into education while his medical practice faded. His school was moved to Gaithersburg in 1894, operating out of the Summit Hotel in 1895, shortly before that hotel burned down. He then moved the school to his friend John A. Belt’s building, before erecting a new school building for Fairview that opened in 1896 and operated until 1899, when it moved again to Washington Grove. Dr. Waters was often seen in the company of John Belt, and expressed his opinion that the investigation of the case had been corrupted by the involvement of too many locals and the secrecy of the detectives. He also blamed the press for the lynching, and was heard to threaten a reporter for implying in print that his friend Belt had provided supplies to the lynchers. After the last iteration of the school burned in 1905, Dr. Waters sold his property and moved to Washington. Charles and Ella had four children, the youngest of whom also practiced medicine.

Opera Warfield (c.1881-1962) A servant of a “Mr. Adams” of Gaithersburg, she was on her way to work early on the morning of the attack on the Buxton family, accompanied by Haler McAbee. She claimed to have seen a black man crossing the railroad tracks in a suspicious manner, and was recruited by John A. Belt to testify at the inquest into Sadie Buxton’s death. Her companion Haler McAbee disagreed with her statement. There is an Opera V. Warfield living in Washington, D.C. in 1900, age 20, working as a servant for the Kimmel family on 22nd St. She was listed as born in Maryland and because of the unusual name, is likely the young woman who was living in Gaithersburg four years previously. Unfortunately, there is no trace of her in the 1880 census (she was likely not born yet), but she appears to be the daughter of James Albert Warfield (1856-1943) and Virginia Gawens of Kentucky, who were still living near Gaithersburg in 1900. While working in Washington, D.C., Opera Warfield met Charles D. White (originally from North Carolina) and married him around 1901. The couple did not have children together, but apparently helped raise a younger sister of Opera’s family named Alzetha Warfield [Quander]. Charles White worked for the Library of Congress and Opera continued in domestic service. Charles died in December of 1941 and was buried in Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Prince George’s County. Opera died in 1962.

Haler McAbee/Moccabee (c.1845-?) McAbee was the walking companion of Opera Warfield the morning of the attacks but claimed not to have seen the black man running across the tracks. He was arrested on May 25, along with the two main suspects and the Johnson family, for being an accessory after the fact. It is unclear from the legal records what the exact charges were, other than refusing to agree with Opera Warfield, who was never arrested. Some newspaper reports suggest he was suspected of helping Randolph dispose of bloody clothing after the latter’s supposed attack on the Buxtons. McAbee lived near to the Phebuses, Englishes, and Buxtons in Gaithersburg as of 1900. His birth date is not known concretely but probably dates between 1840 and 1850. He is first found in the 1870 census, living with another black family (the Sedgwicks) along with his young wife Sophia. Nearby lived an older McAbee couple, William and Harriett, who could possibly be the parents of Haler. His wife Sophia apparently died, and Haler married Matilda J. in 1875. He was living in the Clarksburg District (which then included Gaithersburg) with Matilda and five children in 1880; their youngest was Bessie, born three months earlier. After the events of 1896, McAbee continued living in Gaithersburg and working as a farm laborer. In the 1900 census, he was listed as married (in 1875) as opposed to widowed, but his wife is not in the household. Living with him are two adult children: Elmer (age 24) and Bessie (19), now married (in 1896) to Dorsey Frazier, a carriage driver. Also in the household are two younger McAbee children, Beatrice (10) and Maggie (6), as well as a child Hester (age 3) who was Bessie and Dorsey’s daughter. (The 1900 census record for this family was somewhat garbled as to relationships and names). The Fraziers (Dorsey, Bessie, and Hester) were living in D.C. by 1910 with several more children, and remained there through 1920. Haler (enumerated as “Haley”) was still living in Gaithersburg in 1910 with Maggie and Beatrice, the family completed by his wife Sylvia.

Alexander G. Carlisle (1874-1924) Alexander Gassaway Carlisle was the son of David G. and Margaret “Mag” Carlisle of Gaithersburg, the second-youngest of their six children. He married Mary Williams “Willie” Coombs in 1895 and they had four children, though two of their daughters died in infancy. Their first child Mary Alma was born and died in August, 1896, one month after the murder of Sidney Randolph. Later in her life, Carlisle’s niece Minnie Coombs Farr implicated her uncle as a participant in the lynch mob that killed Randolph on July 4, 1896. His second daughter Minnie Farr was born in 1897 and his son John Franklin was born in 1900. Alexander Carlisle worked for many years as a liveryman in Gaithersburg, then operated an undertaker business on Diamond Street from 1906 until 1920, when he sold it to Ernest Gartner. He was an active member of the Democratic Party, serving several times as a representative to the State Central Commission, and he also belonged to the Forest Oak chapter of the Knights of Pythias. He served as deputy sheriff for the Gaithersburg district, under elected Sheriff Horton G. Thompson from 1897 to 1901. At some point, he and Willie divorced– she was listed as such in the 1920 census (which was taken shortly before her death). Before serving in World War I from 1917-1919, Carlisle listed his mother as next of kin on his WWI draft card instead of his wife, indicating they had split. After returning from the war, Carlisle sold his business in Gaithersburg and moved to Washington, D.C. where he was remarried to Isabel Riordan in June of 1923. He passed away “suddenly,” according to his obituary, only a year and a half later in November of 1924 and is buried in Forest Oak Cemetery in Gaithersburg.

David G. Carlisle (1838-1910) Born in Montgomery County, Carlisle served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War and later belonged to the Ridgely Brown Camp of Confederate Veterans. He married Margaret Connelly in 1863 and they moved in with her family in District 3, Montgomery County before establishing their own homestead in the Clarksburg District. The couple had six children. Carlisle and his wife were living in Gaithersburg in 1890, where he ran a grocery store specializing in fresh meats at the corner of Diamond and Park Avenues. In 1896, Carlisle claimed to have seen a man matching Sidney Randolph’s description come into his store several days before Randolph said he had arrived in town, and testified to that effect at the inquest into Sadie Buxton’s death. He was very involved in social and political functions in the town, as a member of the Democratic party, the International Order of Good Templars, the Gaithersburg Mutual Building Company, the Waverly Club, and the Gaithersburg Volunteer Fire Company. He also served multiple terms on the Gaithersburg Board of Commissioners, two consecutive terms 1898-1902, and two more 1908-1912. He and his wife were members of the Grace Methodist Episcopal Church South, and are both buried at Forest Oak Cemetery in Gaithersburg.

Benjamin and Sarah Watkins, c. 1920s, pictured on their farm near Washington Grove.

Benjamin F. Watkins (1844-1929) Born in Montgomery County, Watkins served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. He married Sarah Jane Benson in 1868 and they eventually had nine children. Watkins was living on the outskirts of Gaithersburg near Washington Grove in 1896, when it was suspected that an axe stolen from his yard was the weapon used to attack the Buxton family. He and his wife both testified at the inquest into Sadie Buxton’s death. His name was often confused in the newspaper reporting– he was sometimes called Vernon (there was a Vernon Watkins who lived in the area: a younger man who taught school) or Bernie. He was also confused with his neighbor, William Gardner, who claimed to have seen a man fitting Randolph’s description hanging around the Watkins property the day before the attack on the Buxtons. The reporting in the Times on June 3, 1896 is the clearest, describing the owner of the axe as “Ben Watkins” and indicating his wife also saw the suspicious stranger near their house. This indicates Benjamin Watkins and his wife were the ones to testify at the inquest, not Mr. and Mrs. “Vernon” Watkins, as reported on the 12th (ironically by the same newspaper, the Times), especially considering that Vernon Watkins was not yet married in 1896. Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Watkins lived in Gaithersburg the rest of their lives, living in their later years with daughter Virgie (Watkins) Thompson and family. They died within two years of each other, in 1929 and 1931 respectively and are buried in Forest Oak Cemetery.

Thomas W. Stonestreet, (1832-1904) A lifetime Montgomery County resident, Thomas Stonestreet was the brother of Dr. Edward E. Stonestreet of Rockville. He married Anna Treadwell in 1856 and the couple eventually had twelve children, nine of whom lived to adulthood. In the 1880 census, Stonestreet was living in the Rockville District, near Hunting Hill and near his father, S.T. Stonestreet, with his wife Anna and ten children. He was always described as a farmer in the census records, but was involved in local politics as well, serving as an election judge and on the school board. Stonestreet was appointed Justice of the Peace for the 9th District and served several terms in that position between 1885 and 1894 (earning him the honorific of “Ex-Justice” often used in the papers). In 1896, he took an interest in the investigation of the Buxton case, expressing his opinion of Randolph’s guilt, attempting to insert himself into the narrative by claiming he had found a coat he thought to be the bloodied one Randolph had lost, and criticizing Sheriff Collier and State’s Attorney Kilgour for removing the suspects to Baltimore, away from a potential lynch mob (which he claimed was not an actual threat). He later served on the jury of inquest into Randolph’s murder. He is inexplicably missing entirely from the 1900 census, but his household (headed by wife Anna) was listed in the 9th District as usual, and his adult daughters Lena, Josephine, and Catherine were living with their mother. Stonestreet died in a Washington hospital in 1904 after a few-months-long illness.

Rockville Baseball Club Several members of the Rockville baseball team played a key role in the inquest into Randolph’s death, and their testimony came the closest to identifying potential members of the group that murdered him. On Friday evening, July 3, 1896 several baseball teammates were boarding a train to Frederick to spend the night in a hotel there, in preparation for a day of multiple games that would begin play early the next morning. Cary Kingdon and James Veirs (not a member of the team, but ostensibly a fan who was headed to Frederick to watch the games) both stated they had heard a rumor that Randolph would be lynched that night, while waiting on the platform for the 6:00 train; both implicated Somerville Bean as the original source of the rumor. Kingdon claimed he wrote a letter to State’s Attorney Kilgour, warning him of the threat, which Kilgour saids never reached him. Veirs claimed he talked to Deputy Sheriff Thompson about what he had heard, but Thompson seemed uninterested in the information.

A few of the players, including Somerville Bean, Cary Kingdon, and Harry Dawson were involved in a bet at the hotel breakfast table the following morning, at the Carlin House in Frederick, in which Dawson first bet Randolph had not been lynched, then retracted his bet to save his money, claiming Bean “knew too much.” This exchange was reported by James Veirs. Despite being mentioned in others’ testimony, Harry Dawson was never called as a witness. Somerville Bean was called more than once–in fact, the final hearing was postponed for a week in hopes the jury could hear his testimony in particular–but he remained in Washington and claimed he could not leave work to appear in court. He sent a sworn statement, saying he had heard of the lynching via a telegraph Saturday morning (which is why he was certain of the bet), but had had no forewarning the previous day. He claimed his suggestions about it the night before had been in jest. His statement was read for the jury by Justice of the Peace and acting Coroner Charles M. Jones, who was also a member of the Rockville Baseball Club.

Above, the 1893 Rockville Athletics team. Among those pictured are Somerville Bean (center row, 3rd from right), next to him (2nd from right) Cary Kingdon, Charles M. Jones (front row left) and Harry Dawson (front row right).
Above, the 1896 Rockville Baseball Club, pictured at the fair grounds a few months before the lynching of Sidney Randolph. Not all men are identified fully, but among those pictured are Charles M. Jones, Harry Dawson, and Cary Kingdon.

Kingdon, as pictured on the 1893 Rockville Athletics Baseball Team. He also appears in the 1896 team photo.

Cary Kingdon (1872-1946) Born in Washington, DC to John Kingdon (born in Jamaica, West Indies) and Alverda C. Appler, Cary Kingdon and his family moved to Rockville by the early 1890s. Cary played on the Rockville baseball team for many years, 1893 through c. 1900. He married Harriett Claggett in 1902 and they had two children. In 1896, he was part of a group of young men headed to Frederick on the train the evening of July 3, 1896, when a rumor started that Randolph was to be lynched. Kingdon testified at the coroner’s inquest into Randolph’s death, that he heard the rumor, and also claimed he sent a quick letter to State’s Attorney Kilgour, warning him of the potential lynching (Kilgour stated he received no such letter). Kingdon’s teammates Somerville Bean and Harry Dawson were referenced in testimony, but never appeared as in-person witnesses. From the age of 27, Kingdon worked as a newspaper reporter, and his wife Harriett, with a college education, worked as a school teacher. He died in Rockville in 1946, but there is no record of where he and his wife were buried.

Somerville Bean, pictured with the 1893 Rockville Athletics team.

H. Somerville Bean (1870-1935) The son of Cornelius and Lucinda Bean, Henry Somerville Bean lived in Rockville until just before 1900, when he relocated to Washington, D.C. and worked as a carpenter for the United States Department of Agriculture. He was called as a key witness at the coroner’s inquest into Randolph’s death in July, 1896, because several men had named him as the source of a rumor, circulating on the evening of on Friday, July 3, that Randolph would be lynched that night. He refused to appear before the jury, claiming he had work in Washington that he could not leave. The third session of the inquest was postponed for a week in hopes Bean could appear, but instead he sent a sworn statement that was read to the jury by Justice Jones. He remained single and continued to work in Washington, retiring some years before his death in 1935 at age 65. He was also a member of the local Lodge of Masons. He is buried in Forest Oak Cemetery in Gaithersburg.

James P. B. Veirs, as he appeared c. 1955, shortly before his death at age 90. Photo from his obituary in the Washington Post Times Herald.

James P. B. Veirs (1866-1956) Born the fifth child of farmer and landowner William Augustus Veirs and his wife Rebecca Biays Veirs, James P. Veirs lived his entire life in Montgomery County. His family had significant land holdings in the Rockville/Gaithersburg area, including the Veirs Mill that the current road is named for (spelled “Viers” due to an old mistake by the road commission in the proper spelling of the family name). According to his testimony at the inquest into Sidney Randolph’s lynching: on July 3, 1896, Veirs was headed to Frederick for the baseball games to be played the following morning when he heard a rumor that Randolph would be lynched. He claimed to have spotted deputy sheriff Horton Thompson in Gaithersburg, and asked him if the rumor was true. Thompson said, “I think not.” Veirs then said “You shouldn’t let them lynch that man,” to which Thompson made no reply. He was at the hotel breakfast table in Frederick the next morning, when the bet was almost struck between Somerville Bean and Harry Dawson on whether or not Randolph had been lynched in Rockville the night before.

Veirs served as the postmaster for Rockville 1901-1902, but mostly maintained his dairy farm and profited from the purchase and selling of land as the city expanded. He was apparently married sometime after 1920, but is listed as divorced in subsequent censuses; he had no children. He continued to be civic-minded and politically active in his later years, founding the “Fusion Party” that took over from Democratic-led County Board in the 1930s. Veirs died in 1956, at the age of 90, and is buried in Rockville Cemetery.

The Snouffer Family

Prior to the inquest into the lynching of Sidney Randolph, the papers reported a story told by an unnamed farmhand, who lived on the property of a “well-known farmer near Gaithersburg” who had several grown sons (potentially the Snouffer farm). He said he was at work early on Saturday morning– the morning Randolph was killed–and ​the sons came home just before dawn, their horses lathered up with exertion. Their father angrily asked where they had been, and they spoke to him in undertones, after which the father exploded in shouting and expletives which made it very clear what they had been doing. (The newspaper did not mention the family by name at this point.)

It is likely this witness was Clarence Ennis, who lived in Washington Grove and did testify at the inquest. He stated that he worked for the Snouffers, and while he was at work the Monday after Randolph’s death, Snouffer sons William and John approached him and accused him of telling the above story loudly so a crowd could overhear (probably including reporters). Ennis denied it; the Snouffers threatened him and said he would hang for it if he ever talked about it again. Ennis did not return to work. He added that he had also heard their sister Nannie ask them on Saturday morning (July 4) where they had been the night before, but they didn’t answer her.

The Snouffers were further implicated by the testimony of Francis Hall, who stated he met his girlfriend Jennie Neale that Friday night (July 3), when she was coming in on the last train at Washington Grove station. As they were walking back to Gaithersburg around 2:00 am, they came upon a wagon with two men sitting in it. Ennis identified one positively as John Snouffer, and thought the other was probably his brother William. Jennie Neale said the same, and said she thought the other, less-identifiable man was wearing a mask.

Ennis and Hall were both Black men– the only Black people who testified at Sidney Randolph’s inquest. One of the papers reported a few days ahead of their testimony that two Black men had been terrorized by a group of white men: they were taken out to the woods, ropes were put around their necks, and they were interrogated about what they knew about the lynching Friday night, under threat of death. They claimed they knew nothing, and were eventually left alone, but horribly frightened. If these were the same two men, they gave testimony knowing their lives were in danger.

G. Fenton Snouffer, c. 1880s. Photo uploaded to by Charlotte M. Layton

Francis Hall is not found in Montgomery County in the 1900 census. Clarence Ennis (1879-1944) was still living with his parents in the Gaithersburg area until 1910, and would only have been 17 years old in 1896. After 1910, he married Marie (or Mary Agnes) Eunis, and worked as a waiter in the hospital, then later moved to Washington, D.C. to work as a porter. Widowed by 1930, he married a second time to Victoria Bailey and lived in D.C. until his death in 1944.

G. Fenton Snouffer (1838-1904), the father of the John and William Snouffer implicated in this testimony, was born in Frederick County in 1838 to a slave-owning family. He married his wife Mary in 1858. By 1860, he owned seven enslaved people, and still employed six Black servants on his farm and household in 1870. The Snouffer family did not relocate to Montgomery County until after 1880; they were living on a farm near Laytonsville in the 1900 census. Snouffer died in 1904 and is buried in Rockville Cemetery. His son John Snouffer (1868-1960) married Julia McKindless in 1899, had six children and lived until 1960– he was 92 years old when he died. The other son William Snouffer (1861-1901) married Anna C. Luke in 1896 and presumably moved out of his father’s household then. William died at age forty of heart disease, only five years after the Randolph lynching, in 1901. His gravestone reads the same as his father’s: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”

Officials Involved with the Investigation and the Legal Proceedings

Governor Lloyd Lowndes (1845-1905) Born in Clarksburg, Virginia (West Virginia today) on February 21, 1845, Lowndes graduated from Allegheny College in 1865, and subsequently earned his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1867. After establishing his legal career in Cumberland, Maryland, Lowndes became the owner of several successful businesses, one of which was the Cumberland Daily News. He first entered politics in 1873, serving as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, a position he held for two years. In 1895, Lowndes secured the Republican gubernatorial nomination, and then went on to win election to the Maryland governorship on November 5, 1895. He was sworn into office on January 8, 1896. During his tenure, a state geological survey was initiated; the “Eastern Shore Law” concerning congressional representation was annulled; a new charter for the city of Baltimore was instituted; a reform election law was sanctioned; and troops and provisions were organized for the Spanish American War. He took an interest in the lynchings of Sidney Randolph and Joseph Cocking, which occurred in Maryland within a week of each other in the summer of 1896. Publicly deploring the practice of lynching, the Governor offered a $1000 reward for information on members of either lynch party. His offer went unclaimed, as no one involved with either lynching was ever identified. After running unsuccessfully for reelection, Lowndes left office on January 10, 1900. He continued to stay active in his various business interests, as well as remaining active in his political role as the State’s Republican leader. Governor Lloyd Lowndes passed away on January 8, 1905, and was buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in Cumberland, Maryland.

Judge Henderson, as pictured in “Men of Mark In Maryland,” c. 1907.

Judge James Barnes Henderson (1845-1917) Admitted to the Montgomery County Bar in 1868, Henderson practiced briefly in West Virginia before returning to Rockville and entering into partnership with George Peter. He was married in 1870 to Clara Smith Adamson (1846-1926) with whom he eventually had eight children.He served two terms as State’s Attorney, starting in 1880, and in 1895 he was appointed Associate Judge of 6th Judicial Circuit Court, serving 15 years. He presided over the grand jury that ruled on the case of Randolph’s murder in November of 1896, strongly charging the jury with the task of identifying members of the lynch party, ultimately to no avail. He served as a director for both the Montgomery National Bank and the Rockville Cemetery Association, and as a trustee of the Rockville Academy. He died in 1917 and is buried in Rockville Cemetery.

Justice of the Peace docket kept by Cortice Baughman, 1895-1902. This JP record book is one of only a dozen that survive from the 19th century, preserved at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis.

Judge James Barnes Henderson (1845-1917) Admitted to the Montgomery County Bar in 1868, Henderson practiced briefly in West Virginia before returning to Rockville and entering into partnership with George Peter. He was married in 1870 to Clara Smith Adamson (1846-1926) with whom he eventually had eight children.He served two terms as State’s Attorney, starting in 1880, and in 1895 he was appointed Associate Judge of 6th Judicial Circuit Court, serving 15 years. He presided over the grand jury that ruled on the case of Randolph’s murder in November of 1896, strongly charging the jury with the task of identifying members of the lynch party, ultimately to no avail. He served as a director for both the Montgomery National Bank and the Rockville Cemetery Association, and as a trustee of the Rockville Academy. He died in 1917 and is buried in Rockville Cemetery.

Jones, as pictured for the 1893 Rockville Athletics baseball team. He also appears in the 1896 team photo.

Charles M. Jones (1873-1957) The son of Charles B. Jones of Maryland, Charles Mace Jones’s mother Emma died before 1880, and the elder Jones married Lavinia Lyddane in 1883, moving the family to Rockville from Kent County around that time. Jones was a member of the Rockville Baseball Club, at least 1893-1896 (see baseball club photos above). At age 23, having been appointed as Justice of the Peace for Rockville on February 21, 1896, Charles M. Jones was declared an acting coroner and as such he presided over the jury of inquest into Randolph’s death.  His occupation was given as “lawyer” in the 1900 census. Jones never married, but lived with his stepmother and various members of her family for most of his life. He later worked as a salesman and a real estate agent.

Sheriff Collier, c. 1900. Photo provided by Glenn Wallace

Sheriff John W. Collier (1849-1908) John William Collier was born in Virginia, the oldest son of Richard H. and Mary F. Collier. According to the 1870 census, John William Collier was living with his parents in District 3, Montgomery County, at age 20; his father was working as a lock-keeper. He married Anna C. Padgett (1855-1900) in 1878 and they had ten children, seven of whom lived to adulthood. In 1880, Collier’s occupation was listed as “boating” in the Medley District (likely he was working on the canal as his father had done). He was elected Sheriff of Montgomery County in November of 1895; he appointed Charles Peyton as jailer the following month, and later appointed Horton G. Thompson as one of his deputies.

Following the attack on the Buxton family in May of 1896, Sheriff Collier took Randolph and Neale into custody. That same day, Collier quickly anticipated the likelihood of a lynching attempt and removed the suspects via train to Central Station in Baltimore rather than leave them vulnerable to a lynching in Rockville. Though early on he seemed convinced of their guilt, as time progressed he seemed less inclined to believe Randolph and Neale were the culprits in the Buxton attack, though he questioned them frequently “under duress” that likely bordered on torture. After Randolph was returned to the jail in Rockville ahead of the Buxton murder inquest, Collier claimed he was removing the prisoner nightly to continue to thwart lynchers, until assurances from John Belt of Gaithersburg and Judge Henderson in Rockville convinced him Randolph would be safe. As he lived near Boyds, he was not present for the jailbreak on July 4 in Rockville, and claimed he had no warning of the planned lynching. The grand jury’s report in November of 1896 took special pains to acknowledge his exemplary performance of his duty, in part to protect him from similar retaliatory lawsuits that the Sheriff of Charles County suffered in the wake of the Cocking lynching there. The following year, Collier was elected a Clerk of the Court, while his former deputy Horton G. Thompson was elected Sheriff. By 1900, Collier was listed as a farmer living in the 11th district and was active there as a trustee of the schools. After the deaths of his wife Annie and daughter Ruth, he was re-elected for a second term as Sheriff, 1901-1903. He died in 1908 at his home near Dickerson, and is buried in Monocacy Cemetery.

Horton G. Thompson (1857-1927) The son of Joseph Thompson (b. 1815) and Charlotte Tschiffely Thompson (d. 1858), Horton Thompson was raised near Brighton post office in District 4, Montgomery County. In 1880, he was living in Darnestown with his two brothers, Charles and Daniel, and employed as a farm worker. His mother Charlotte’s brother was Frederick A. Tschiffely, Sr.– the father of James H. Tschiffely, who along with his wife accused John Diggs-Dorsey of rape and assault, leading to the latter’s death by lynching in 1880. Horton Thompson and James Tschiffely were first cousins. Thompson married Louisa “Lula” Green Marshall in 1888 and had five or more children. The Montgomery County commissioners appointed Thompson as a constable in April, 1896 and John Collier appointed him as a deputy for Gaithersburg during his tenure as Sheriff. Along with local preacher L.L. Lloyd, Thompson took an active part in investigating suspects Randolph and Neale and finding circumstantial evidence against them. In 1900, Thompson was still in Gaithersburg, working as a special agent for the railroad. By 1920, he was working as a government clerk in the city of Washington, where he died in 1927. He is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery.

Peyton, c. 1920, when he was serving as a watchman in Washington, D.C.

Charles H. M. Peyton (1859-1934) was appointed as jailer for the Montgomery County jail by Sheriff Collier in December of 1895. Born and raised in Loudoun County, Virginia, Peyton moved to Montgomery County and married Adelia Everhart in 1885. The couple had three children and lived in the Martinsburg/Poolesville area. Peyton worked on and off as a shoemaker throughout his life. He was the caretaker of the jailhouse during the time Randolph (along with Neale and many members of Neale’s family) was incarcerated there in the summer of 1896. He was censured by the Rev. Lloyd and by an entire letter-writing campaign in Gaithersburg for publicly expressing his belief in Randolph’s innocence, and sharing that sentiment with Randolph as well. Peyton was tricked into opening the jail early in the morning on July 4, when the lynch party pretended to have a prisoner for him to lock up. His companion that evening, another shoemaker named James Tholwell, was also taken unaware. The men were overpowered by the lynchers and forced at gunpoint to relinquish the keys. As soon as the invaders had left with their victim, Peyton alerted John Kelchner and George Minor Anderson to the jailbreak, and a search party led by the three men followed wagon tracks made by Randolph’s captors to no avail: Randolph was already dead and the lynchers had dispersed by the time they located him. Peyton and Tholwell both testified at the inquest into Randolph’s death– Peyton took the stand twice.

Alexander Kilgour (1855-1917) Serving as State’s Attorney at the time of the Buxton/Randolph case, Kilgour was the son of Alexander Kilgour, Sr. (b. 1799) who was also an attorney in Rockville. Kilgour, Jr. received his apprenticeship with brother-in-law Judge Chilton in Alexandria, VA, setting up practice in Rockville by 1882. He was appointed as State’s Attorney in 1895. During his tenure he was prominently involved with the Buxton/Randolph case: requesting the services of detectives from first D.C. then Baltimore, organizing coroner’s inquests, and often making statements to the press and public. He seemed, of all the Montgomery County citizens, the least consistent in his conclusions about the suspects in custody– he changed his opinion on their guilt or innocence frequently, and many times stated incorrect information to the press as if it were fact. By 1900 he was living in Rockville with his sister Martha Chilton. In 1914, at age 59, he married Eliza Prettyman (then age 38), whose father was Clerk of Court Elijah Prettyman; the couple did not have children. Kilgour collapsed in the courtroom and died on April 11, 1917, having just addressed the jury at the conclusion of a case.

Talbott, c. 1915. Photo from Glenn Wallace

Henry Maurice Talbott (1851-1934) Talbott was born in West Virginia and studied law at Columbian College (now George Washington University) in Washington, D.C., graduating in 1872. He was married in 1875 to Cora Wilson, with whom he eventually had four children. For the first several years of their marriage, the couple lived in Georgetown with Cora’s parents and her siblings. By 1886, he had set up a partnership (Talbott & Talbott) in Rockville with his brother, William Hyde Talbott. In 1896, he was asked to represent Richard Buxton’s interests at the inquest into Buxton’s daughter’s death, assisting State’s Attorney Kilgour, who was already acting in the role of prosecution. His role is not fully known, as the lawyers did not question the witnesses directly during this proceeding. Talbott continued to practice law at his Rockville firm until his death in 1934. He is buried in Rockville Cemetery.

Gould, c. 1890. Photo from Ward Clemence White.

Ashley M. Gould (1859-1921) Born in Nova Scotia, Canada, Ashley Mulgrave Gould emigrated to the United States as a child, arriving in Boston with his family by 1866. He was naturalized, and grew up in Northampton, Massachusetts, graduating with an A.B. from Amherst College in 1881, then earning his law degree from the Columbian Law School at Georgetown University in 1884. While living in Washington, D.C., he married Margaret Gray in 1888; the couple had six children, three of whom lived to adulthood. In June of 1896, a month before his only son Ashley M. Gould, Jr. was born, he volunteered to represent Sidney Randolph (most likely pro bono) at the inquest into the death of Sadie Buxton. The family had been living in Takoma Park since 1894, where they were enumerated in the 1900 census. In 1898, Gould was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, then served as the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1901 to 1902. He also began teaching as a professor of law at Georgetown University in 1901.

This caricature of Justice Gould appeared in the Washington Post: April 9, 1905, when he was a new justice for D.C. Supreme Court.

In 1902, Gould was nominated by President Theodore Roosevelt to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia vacated by Andrew C. Bradley. Gould was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 8, 1902, and served in that post for the remainder of his life. After the death of his wife Margaret in 1904, he was married a second time to Elizabeth Brewer. He died in Washington after a brief illness in May, 1921. The Ashley M. Gould Law Club, founded at Georgetown in 1927, was named for him, in honor of his “brilliant contribution to the legal profession [which] was only exceeded by the loving personality which endeared him to all.”

George Minor Anderson, c. 1903, with his only son Thomas. He lived on Commerce St. (now 39 W. Montgomery Ave.), in a house that is still standing today and used as a law office.

George Minor Anderson (1857-1927) Born and raised in Rockville, G.M. Anderson was the youngest son of James W. Anderson, a former captain in the Confederate army. He attended Rockville Academy as a boy, then went on to St. John’s College in Annapolis and West Point Military Academy, finally earning his law degree from the National Law School in D.C. Before being admitted to the bar in 1892, he served as a deputy in the office of the clerk of the District Court and as county surveyor. In 1895, he was the Republican member of the Maryland House of Delegates, but turned down Democratic support for a bid at speaker of the house, against Republican caucus leader Ashley M. Gould. In 1896, Anderson was first involved in the Randolph case by serving as attorney at the inquest into Sadie Buxton’s death for the various members of George Neale’s family who had been held on suspicion of colluding with Neale in the attack on the Buxtons. He was later part of the search party alerted by Charles Peyton in the early morning of July 4, who followed the wagon tracks through town and eventually discovered Randolph’s body– the lynching was committed on farmland owned by Anderson’s family.

Later in his career, Anderson served as Special Attorney to the Department of Justice (working on cases out west involving Native American tribal claims against the federal government), then in 1919 was appointed as Auditor of United States Court of Claims, while maintaining legal practice in Rockville. Late in his life, in 1902, he married Julia Prout Vinson, daughter of local Judge John T. Vinson: they had one son, Thomas Minor Anderson, who later became a well-known judge in the Montgomery County Circuit Court. G.M. Anderson was an active member of the Christ Episcopal Church in Rockville, and a member of the local Masons. He died of a stroke in 1927, at the age of 70, and is buried in Rockville Cemetery.

Edward Compston Peter, the son of Rockville attorney George Peter, attended Rockville Academy as a boy, and then studied law under his father and his father’s partner (and later Judge of the Circuit Court) James B. Henderson. He served two 4-year terms as State’s Attorney starting in 1887.  In 1888, he married Mary G. Vinson, the daughter of Judge John Thomas Vinson; the couple eventually had four children. He entered into practice in Rockville with James Alby Henderson, son of his father’s partner, in 1896. He was a powerful political supporter of the Democratic Party, particularly aligned with Blair Lee.

The Peter house, across the street from the county jail on Maryland Ave. This building later served as Rockville’s City Hall until the 1960s, when it was razed for the the new City Hall building still standing today.

Edward Peter was the lawyer assigned to represent George Neale at the inquest into Sadie Buxton’s death in June of 1896. He had also served as Neale’s trial lawyer in 1887, when Neale was tried and convicted for the attempted rape of Jennie Gloyd. The Peters lived in Rockville, a few doors down from blacksmith John Hilton, half brother of Teeny Buxton, with whom the Buxtons stayed frequently in 1896 between the attack on the family in May and their return to their home in Gaithersburg at the end of July. Peter’s property was also directly across the street from the Rockville jail building on Maryland Ave., from where Sidney Randolph was abducted the morning of July 4.

By 1900, 37-year-old Edward Peter became the first vice president of the Farmers Banking and Trust Co., and from 1910 until his death, he served as an Associate Judge of the Montgomery County Circuit Court. On August 23, 1923, Peter attended the Rockville Fair– later that day he walked to Vinson’s Drug Store with his wife and dropped dead inside the establishment. He is buried in Rockville Cemetery.

Detective Weedon, in 1894. From “District of Columbia Police” (Sylvester, 1894), courtesy of the DC History Center.

Detective Sergeant Richard Edward “Ned” Weedon (1859-1938)  Weedon was a member of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC., serving from 1884-1921. He was appointed to the MPD in July 1884, was made a precinct detective in 1892 and promoted to Detective Sergeant in 1901. He featured in hundreds of cases in the D.C. papers, and was considered something of a local celebrity, having driven the ambulance with the mortally wounded President Garfield to the White House in 1881. A few weeks before he was called to investigate the Buxton case, he was also involved in investigating the murder of 14-year-old Elsie Kreglo, concluding she had been killed by Irwin L. Ford. Ford was convicted and hanged for the crime. Weedon arrived in Gaithersburg with his partner Edward Horne late in the afternoon on May 25, 1896, having been appointed to the Buxton case by Inspector Hollinberger, at the request of State’s Attorney Kilgour. Weedon and his partner reviewed the leads proposed by the Gaithersburg locals, as well as the evidence against Randolph and Neale, finding it lacking. They soon began pursuing other leads and checking the alibis of local white citizens, including members of the English family, Zed Easton, and Richard Buxton himself. This angered the townspeople, who refused to cooperate with the detectives. Weedon and Horne abandoned the Buxton case on May 27, telling reporters that Randolph and Neale were most likely not the culprits and expressing anger at the locals for obstructing their investigation.

Weedon, as pictured the year of his retirement in 1921. This picture was published with his obituary in the Washington Post in 1938.

Weedon married Mary Augusta “Gussie” Jones around 1917; the couple had no children. The Detective Sergeant retired on October 14, 1921. Following the death of his wife Mary in 1929, he lived with his nieces, Mrs. Margaret Jones and Mrs. Anna M. Jones of 37 Rhode Island Avenue NW. There, on January 9, 1938, he committed suicide by firing a single shot into his right temple with his .38-caliber service revolver, leaving a note which read; “Happy New Year. Good-by.” He was buried with his wife in Congressional Cemetery in Washington.

Detective Horne, 1894. From “District of Columbia Police” (Sylvester, 1894), courtesy of the DC History Center.

Detective Sergeant Edward Horne (1853-1923)  Born in Montgomery County, Maryland, and raised near Harper’s Ferry, VA, Horne was the son of Irish-Scottish immigrants. He relocated to Washington, D.C. around 1870 to work in the Navy Yard at age 18. He married his wife Mary Flaherty in 1877. He later became a member of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC, serving from September 1, 1880, until his retirement and pension on February 16, 1923. His son Martin Edward Horne, born in 1880, also later joined the police force, serving from 1905-1916. A second son, Edward Michael Horne, was born in 1896.

A highly regarded member of the department, Detective Sergeant Horne, along with his partner, Detective Sergeant Richard Weedon, were often sent to other jurisdictions to assist with investigations, including the May, 1896 investigation into the attack on the Buxton family in Montgomery County, Maryland. Earlier in 1896, they had investigated the stabbing murder of Elsie Kreglo, for whose murder Irwin Ford was tried, convicted, and executed. Detective Sergeant Horne retired from the department in January 1922. He died unexpectedly the following year at his home, 336 2nd Street NE, as he was about to have breakfast. He is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Washington.

Seibold, as pictured in the Baltimore Police Department blue book in 1907.

Detective George W. Seibold (1840-1925) Born to German immigrant parents, Seibold grew up in Baltimore and initially worked as a cigar maker. He married wife Louisa in 1861 and they had three children, two of which survived to adulthood. He joined the police force in Baltimore as a patrolman in 1863, and was quickly promoted to sergeant a year later. He was appointed a detective in 1881, working out of headquarters in City Hall as assistant to Captain A.J. Pumphrey.  He was sent by Police Marshall Jacob Frey to Gaithersburg in May of 1896, along with his colleague Herman Pohler, to investigate the attack on the Buxton family after the detectives from Washington resigned from the case. After 48 years on the force, he retired as the oldest member of the department in December of 1911, having worked a desk job overseeing younger detectives for several years prior. Known to his colleagues as “Uncle George”, he was hit by a car on his way back from a visit to the police headquarters in 1925, and died from complications several weeks later.

Pohler, as pictured in the Baltimore Police Department blue book in 1907.

Herman Richard Pohler (1858-1924)  Born in Baltimore to German immigrant parents, Pohler worked in a cigar factory as a young man until he joined the Baltimore police department in the early 1880s. He married his wife Louise in 1886, and they had one son, Harry R. Pohler, born in 1887. For nearly 25 years he specialized in murder investigations, and was frequently “loaned” to the counties on cases which required trained investigators, including the 1896 Buxton murder case in Montgomery County, Maryland. He was also known for the arrest and conviction of Jacob Henson (a Black man) for the murder of Daniel F. Shea in Ellicott City. Pohler was given a number of medals for meritorious service, including a special honor medal presented on July 6, 1922, by Charles D. Gaither, Police Commissioner, for detective work Pohler performed in 1895. He was one of six men to receive the medal. Pohler retired from the police force on November 18, 1922, after spending 40 years in the service. He died in his home of a stroke in 1924, and is buried in Baltimore Cemetery.

John Mercer Langston, professor at Howard University Law School, which he founded. (Library of Congress)

John Mercer Langston (1829-1897) Langston was the son of Ralph Quarles, a white plantation owner, and Jane Langston, an enslaved woman of mixed race (Black/Native American). He grew up in Oberlin, Ohio following his parents’ death, and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oberlin College. Langston became the first black lawyer in Ohio, passing the Bar in 1854 after studying law as an apprentice. He became actively involved in the antislavery movement, organizing antislavery societies locally and at the state level. He helped runaway slaves to escape to the North along the Ohio part of the Underground Railroad.

Langston married Caroline Wall, a senior in the literary department at Oberlin. They settled in Brownhelm, OH where he became the country’s first black elected official, serving as town clerk. He later served as a city councilman and on the Board of Education in Oberlin, where he practiced law starting in 1856. During the Civil War, Langston recruited African Americans to fight for the Union Army. As chief recruiter in the West, he assembled the Massachusetts 54th, the nation’s first black regiment, and the Massachusetts 55th and the 5th Ohio. After the war, he was appointed inspector general for the Freedmen’s Bureau, a federal organization that helped freed slaves. Selected by the Black National Convention to lead the National Equal Rights League in 1864, Langston carried out extensive suffrage campaigns in Ohio, Kansas and Missouri. Langston’s vision was realized in 1867, with Congressional approval of suffrage for black males.

Langston moved to Washington, DC in 1868 to establish and serve as dean of Howard University’s law school — the first Black law school in the country. He was appointed acting president of the school in 1872. In 1877 Langston left to become U.S. minister to Haiti. He returned to Virginia in 1885 and was named president of Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute (now Virginia State University). In 1888 he ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives as an Independent. He lost to his Democratic opponent but contested the results of the election. After an 18-month fight, he won the election and served for six months. Langston was the first Black Congress member from Virginia.

After he lost the bid for his re-election to Congress, Langston moved back to Washington, D.C. where he practiced law and worked on his autobiography, From the Virginia Plantation to the National Capital, published in 1894. Along with his young partner, Thomas L. Jones, he led indignation meetings against lynchings, following the 1896 Maryland lynchings of both Joseph Cocking and Sidney Randolph. Langston died on November 15, 1897 at his home in Washington.

Thomas L. Jones (1865-1929) Born in Virginia to James Jones and Sarah Morrison Jones, renowned attorney Thomas Lincoln Jones was an 1892 graduate of Howard University’s law school and was eventually appointed as Assistant United States District Attorney in 1925, a post he held until his death. He married Mary E. Briles in Washington D.C. in 1889, and they subsequently had two daughters. Jones was in partnership with John Mercer Langston; their office was located on Vermont Avenue in Washington.

He was also politically active, serving as a member of the Republican State Central Committee in the District of Columbia. A contemporary and supporter of Robert H. Terrell (the first Black judge in the Washington, D.C. Municipal Court and husband of author and women’s rights activist Mary Church Terrell), Jones spent his career defending Black men in court, arguing for fair treatment and non-discrimination. It was rumored he had declared his intention to represent Sidney Randolph at the trial Randolph did not live to see. In 1896, along with attorney colleagues, local ministers, and concerned citizens, he spoke at several indignation meetings on behalf of the incarcerated suspects Randolph and Neale, demanding proper legal proceedings and protesting the way Montgomery County was handling the case. Following Randolph’s murder, this group became known as the Anti-Lynching Society and continued to hold meetings to protest lynchings, one of which was attended by noted anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells-Barnett. According to a 1915 Washington Bee article highlighting local black lawyers, Jones was considered “one of the best known criminal lawyers at the bar.” Out of thirty-five or more murder cases, the press reported that no client of Jones was ever hung.

Doctors Involved in the Case

Dr. E.C. Etchison, c. 1900

Dr. Elisha Cornelius Etchison (1848-1916) Etchison received his medical education at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and College of Physicians and Surgeons, graduating in 1874. He married Henrietta Dorsey Waters in 1876 and settled into practice in Gaithersburg. The couple had four children, two of which lived to adulthood. Their son Garnett Etchison also became a physician. In addition to his medical practice, Etchison was active in Democratic politics of the time, chairing the Democratic State Central Committee and serving on the Board of Supervisors of Elections. He also served on the Gaithersburg Board of Commissioners 1879-1881 and 1890-1892, elected president of that body three times. Dr. Etchison ran the town drugstore and soda fountain on the northwest corner of Diamond and Summit, across the street from John A. Belt’s store, which became Diamond Drug in the 20th century. He was the first doctor to attend the Buxtons following the attack on the family in 1896, and was also present when Buxton first identified Randolph at the Washington hospital. He gave testimony at the inquest into the death of Sadie Buxton, describing her injuries (including a drawing of her head) and determining the cause of death. Etchison died at the age of 68 in a Washington hospital, and is buried in Forest Oak cemetery.

Dr. John McCormick (1870-1943) John McCormick was born and raised in Washington, D.C. He married Aimee Sioussat there in 1890, and the couple had three children. The family relocated to Gaithersburg by 1895, after the birth of their last child. In 1896, McCormick was the doctor that attended to Sidney Randolph’s gunshot wounds, which he suggested could not have been sustained during his capture. Dr. McCormick’s opinion on this matter was used as “proof” of Randolph’s guilt, in the manifesto published by Rev. L.L. Lloyd following Randolph’s murder. In the early 1900s, McCormick moved to Mobile, Alabama to join the Medical School staff at the University of Alabama. He was an active Mason in the Lodge of Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, and the J. H. McCormick Lodge in Mobile is named in his honor. He died on September 15, 1943 and is buried in Mobile.

Linthicum, c. 1900. Photo added to by achantle

Dr. Otis Linthicum (1866-1926) Born in Prince George’s County to Dr. William A. Linthicum and Sarah Elizabeth (Mullikin) Linthicum, he earned his M.D. from the University of Maryland School of Medicine: Baltimore in 1890. He was married in 1894 to Ella M. Stonestreet, daughter of another local doctor, Edward E. Stonestreet, and the couple had three children; only their son William A. lived to adulthood. On July 4, 1896, Linthicum was the doctor called to the site of the lynching, where he examined the body of Sidney Randolph and determined death by strangulation. He was also called to testify at the coroner’s inquest into Randolph’s death. He practiced medicine in Rockville for 35 years, also serving as president of the Montgomery County Medical Society. He was active in local politics and civic duty: serving on the Rockville Town Council for two years, and as Mayor of Rockville for four years, he was also a member of the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department, the local Masons, and the Chamber of Commerce. Linthicum and his wife attended the Christ Episcopal Church of Rockville. He died of acute indigestion in August of 1926, only a month after his wife died, and they are buried in Rockville Cemetery.

Dr. Thompson, as pictured in his obituary in the Washington Post, 1917.

Dr. J. Ford Thompson (1837-1917) Dr. Thompson was a well-known Washington surgeon, personal physician to several presidents and a longtime practitioner in several Washington Hospitals. His private practice was located at 804 17th St. In May of 1896, he was called to Gaithersburg to attend the Buxton family following their injuries; he later acted as primary physician for the family at Garfield Memorial Hospital, performing surgery on both Sadie and Maud Buxton to relieve symptoms from their head injuries.

Thompson was born in St. Mary’s County, Maryland March 20, 1837 and was educated in public and private schools in St. Mary’s County and at the Rittenhouse Academy in Washington. He began his practice in Washington in partnership with Dr. M.V.B. Bogan after graduating Doctor of Medicine from the University of Stockholm. He married Marion Virginia Reeves in 1860; the couple would have six children, three of whom lived to adulthood. During the Civil War Thompson served in military hospitals in the city and in the field. He was Professor of Anatomy at Columbian Medical College (later George Washington University) and afterward served for more than twenty years as Professor of Surgery at that college. He was a member of the American Medical Association, the American Surgeon Association, and President of the Medical Association of the District of Columbia from 1881-1882.  Dr. Thompson served as surgeon to Providence, Columbia Hospital for Women, Emergency, Children’s, George Washington University and Garfield Memorial Hospitals. Dr. Thompson was one of the first physicians to realize the value of specialization in medical practice and early in his career gave up all his practice except that of surgery.

About ten years before his death he underwent a serious operation for stomach trouble in London from which he never fully recovered. He returned to the States shortly after and retired from active practice, dying in 1917 just shy of his 80th birthday. In a bizarre footnote, in 1920, Thompson’s son–Joseph Ford Thompson, Jr., a 52-year old artist–killed a 16-year-old girl and himself in an apparent case of murder-suicide.

Other Local People Referenced in the Case

Dawson, as pictured on the 1893 Rockville Athletics Baseball Team. He also appears in the 1896 team photo.

Harry A. Dawson (1874-1944) A lifelong resident of Rockville, Harry Allnutt Dawson was the son of John and Amelia Somervell Dawson, the heirs of the Beall family. In 1900, he was living at 103 W. Montgomery Ave. with his family, along with their cousin Margaret J. Beall still living as matriarch of the house. A graduate of Georgetown University Law School, he practiced law in Rockville, and spent a short time out west before returning to work as a clerk for the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs in the District of Columbia. He married Mary P. Hoff in Pennsylvania in 1901 and they went on to have five children. He had served in the Spanish American War, and volunteered again during WWI as a captain in the U.S. Army, honorably discharged in 1919.  From 1920-1924 he served as postmaster in Rockville; he was also a member of the Lodge of Masons. After 1928, he worked as a clerk for the U.S. Compensation Commission, from which he retired in 1933. He died at Suburban Hospital in 1944, a few months after his wife had also passed away, and is buried in Rockville Cemetery.

Clem Johnson (1865-1925) Born in the Sandy Spring area to Clement Johnson and Margaret Walton Johnson, 15-year-old Clem was still living in the Mechanicsville District with his brother Joseph and sister Clara in 1880. He may have married Mary Foreman in 1886. By 1896 he was living in the Gaithersburg area, possibly working at the mill. Sidney Randolph was thought to resemble him, and many witnesses testified to seeing a man who “looked like Clem Johnson” (also the phrase Richard Buxton used to identify his attacker) in Gaithersburg several days before Randolph stated he had arrived in the area. Johnson was apparently well-liked and never suspected of being the attacker, despite Buxton’s reference to his appearance. In 1900, Clem Johnson was living nearby to general store owner John A. Belt in Gaithersburg. Listed as married but without his wife in the household, he has two children: Gracie and George. He married again to a woman named Josephine in 1909 and by the 1920 census, he was still living on Frederick Rd. (southwest of the B&O railroad) in Gaithersburg, with his wife and two granddaughters with the surname Dorsey. Clem died in March of 1925 and was buried in the Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church Cemetery in Norbeck.

Captain James Barry Adams (1867-1939) Born to Thomas and Eliza Adams in Maryland, James’ mother apparently died when he was very young, leaving him to be raised by father Thomas and his aunt, Alice Adams, who lived in Washington, D.C. James was married in New Jersey to Katherine “Kitty” Ranney in 1888 and the couple had two sons, born in Gaithersburg in 1894 and 1896. Possibly the “Mr. Adams” who employed Opera Warfield in 1896, he earned his rank of Captain in the Spanish-American War, in which he fought 1898-1899. In 1900, Capt. Adams and his family were associated with Fairview Seminary in Gaithersburg, enumerated alongside Dr. Waters and family. Several black servants were employed by the school, but Opera Warfield is not one of them; she may have moved to Washington by this time. By 1910, Adams and his family had also moved back to Washington, but by 1920 Adams had apparently deserted his wife and moved to San Francisco, listed in the census there as a clerk for a packing plant and living as a boarder on Pine St. Katherine Adams died in Washington in 1929 and is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery; James Adams apparently died in 1939, still living in California, but his final resting place is unknown.

The Meems According to newspaper accounts, “Mr. Meem” owned the field near where Opera saw a man run across the tracks. This title could refer to any of the four Meem brothers: George W., Clorivore, Albert F., or Otto C. The most likely landowner was Otto C. Meem, as his household was enumerated near to the Englishes and Phebuses–established neighbors of the Buxtons–in the 1900 census, although George W. Meem and Clorivore Meem were not living far away either.

George A. and Martha Meem (d. 1895) bought 200 acres of Gaithersburg property in 1865, parts of which were later used for the B&O railroad tracks. Their land was also used to create Chestnut Street, a road put through in the late 1870s to access Ward’s Station and Ward and Fulks’ store, which fronted Frederick Rd. This is probably the property referred to in Opera’s story– a field near the railroad tracks would have been Meem property, but it is unclear which brother owned what parts. The area is now the site of the Montgomery County Cooperative Agricultural Center, used for the fairgrounds.

Elizabeth Jane “Jennie” Gloyd (1870-1947) In 1886 at the age 16, Jennie Gloyd accused George Neale of raping her, an accusation that led to his 1897 conviction and commitment to the Maryland State Penitentiary to serve a ten year sentence (he was released early, in December of 1895, for good behavior). George Neale’s conviction played a role in establishing a motive for him to attack the Buxton family in 1896, leading to his arrest and alleged connection to the other suspect, Sidney Randolph.

Gloyd was the daughter of William Thomas Gloyd and Elizabeth Susan Claggett. Her mother was married three times: first to Thomas Peddichord in 1861, with whom she had three children, then to William Gloyd in 1869, with whom she had four children including Jennie, then to James Lawson in 1883, with whom she had two more children. After Jennie Gloyd accused George Neale of assaulting her in 1886, she remained in Gaithersburg, listed in the 1900 census (age 29) still living with her mother, stepfather James Lawson, and three adult siblings. James Lawson was listed among those who testified at the inquest into Sadie Buxton’s death in 1896, claiming to have seen Randolph around the water pump in town several days before the attack and thinking he resembled Clem Johnson. Jennie Gloyd is noted in the family records as being mentally incompetent–it is unclear if her mental affliction predated her trauma or if it was caused by the assault. She was living with her mother in the 1910 census, enumerated as “Jennie Lawson.” After the death of her mother in 1917, Jennie lived with her half-brother Zachariah Lawson and his family, according to the 1920 census; her full brother William Dice Gloyd also lived in the household. By 1930 she had been committed to St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C., an institution for the mentally ill, where she presumably lived the rest of her life. Jennie and her mother are buried together in Forest Oak Cemetery.

Jury for Coroner’s Inquest into death of Sadie Buxton (June 11-12, 1896; Gaithersburg)

Justice Cortice B. Baughman summoned the following: Harvey W. Gladhill (foreman), Upton Darby, John A. Belt, Richard H. Miles, William H. Coomes, Dr. J.G. Warfield, Harry B. Cramer, Leonard B. Hays, Robert R. Briggs, George V. Crouse, Wilson B. Tschiffely, R. Dorsey Trundle.

Jury for Coroner’s Inquest into death of Sidney Randolph (July 4, 7, 13, 1896;  Rockville)

Magistrate Charles M. Jones summoned the following: Benjamin Riggs (foreman), Samuel Soper, George Emmerich, Thomas McCollough, Thomas W. Stonestreet, Samuel A. Matlack, F. Cushman Braddock, William R. Pumphrey, Joseph O. Moulden, Wallace E. Ricketts, Lawrence Flack, Charles Ogden, Thomas Mills.

Grand Jury to determine the culprits behind Randolph’s lynching (November 24, 1896; Rockville)

Judge James Henderson presided over the following: Alfred F. Fairall (foreman), William Magruder, Edward B Brown, Clarence Griffith, Edward R. Allnutt, Eugene E. Jarboe, George Trail, Jetson L. Granger, Charles Collingsgrove, Wilson B. Tschiffely, Lucian T. Walters, Joseph T. Moore, Jr., John W. Briggs, Thomas G. Ward, William T. S. Kirk, John Merson, Joseph M. Burdette, Reuben B Detrick, William C. Dwyer, Rezin Bowman, John P. Stone, Henry Howard, Erasmus Perry.



United States Federal Census: Population Schedule, 1850-1940. (2020).

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