New historic marker notes Butler County lynching, racist mob violence

Oxford men were among thousands of Black people killed in this manner in U.S. during reconstruction after Civil War.

A new historic marker was unveiled Monday in Oxford recognizing the racist legacy of lynching and mob violence and two local African American men who died from them.

The marker describes the hanging and mob deaths of Henry Corbin in 1892 and Simeon Garnet in 1877, who were among more than 4,000 Black men, women and children subjected to mob violence and lynching across the United States during the reconstruction period after the Civil War.

Corbin and Garnet, both of Oxford, were among 15 people known to have died by racial terror lynching in Ohio from 1865 to 1950, said Miami University officials who joined Oxford city officials at the marker’s unveiling at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

“I am so humbled that Miami University had the opportunity to honor the lives and preserve the memory of Mr. Henry Corbin and Mr. Simeon Garnet and to collaborate with the City of Oxford and the Equal Justice Initiative to make it happen,” said Miami University President Gregory Crawford, who spoke at the ceremony.

“Remembering and reconciling the past will build a better future for the Oxford community, the state of Ohio, and our country as a whole,” said Crawford.

Descendants of Corbin and Garnet were present at the marker’s unveiling ceremony.

According to portions of the marker’s text: “During the 19th century, white mobs in Oxford lynched at least two Black men after kidnapping them from the old Town Hall Jail that stood near this site.

“In September 1877, a white mob stormed the jail to lynch a Black man named Simeon Garnet. Without serious investigation, Mr. Garnet had been presumed guilty of assaulting a white woman. A mob led by the woman’s husband broke into the jail on September 2 and shot Mr. Garnet, who managed to survive. Upon learning that Mr. Garnet was alive, the mob attacked the jail again on September 3, shot Mr. Garnet at close range, and dragged him outside the jail, where he was left to die.”

“On January 14, 1892, a white mob abducted Henry Corbin, a young Black man, from the jail to lynch him. Mr. Corbin’s employer, a white woman, had been found dead in her home on January 5. A mob quickly formed when the woman’s daughter accused Mr. Corbin of the killing. Mr. Corbin’s family maintained that the accusation was false and that the daughter had implicated him to hide her own involvement in the crime. Mr. Corbin was captured after being wounded and was brought to the jail; but the mob seized Mr. Corbin from his cell, hanged him from a tree, and shot him over 400 times. Local officers failed to prevent either lynching, which terrorized Oxford’s Black community. In the end, no mob participants were held accountable.”

Anthony James, Miami University associate professor and director of the Family Science Program, said in a statement the historic plaque was also the result of the school and students’ efforts as part of “the broader vision for Miami’s Truth and Reconciliation Project (and) its continued focus on the work that remains left to be done in advancing truth and reconciliation around race in America and honestly confronting the legacy of slavery, lynching and segregation.”

Miami University will host the 10th Annual National Civil Rights Conference this summer. Miami was chosen to host the conference because of its sponsorship of the conference, its history of activism tied to Freedom Summer and the numerous civil rights landmarks and sites around campus.

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