After reading the rebuttal to my letter of June 20 regarding the 1902 lynching of Alonzo Tucker in Marshfield (as it was then called), I did an online search to try validating details my source had provided. Steven Greif, a Coos History Museum board member, co-wrote the rebuttal with Richard Wagner, who has authored a book about Louis Jerome Simpson. They claim I passed on false information change.org had given me, regarding Pat Hennessy's and Louis Simpson's alleged role in this incident. Fair enough.
In the early 20th century, a black man could hardly so much as look at a white woman, much less give her eye contact, without being accused of "assault." This was the case throughout the south and even in certain areas of the north, like Coos County, Oregon. I can't prove it of course, but my hunch is Alonzo Tucker was no rapist.
My skepticism goes to the accuser, not the accused. In an environment that was insanely hostile towards blacks, where black men were commonly viewed as rapists or potential rapists, justice for Alonzo Tucker was virtually impossible. And like the deaths of countless other blacks that have occurred since 1902, all over nothing.
Rest in peace, Alonzo.
My husband and I spent hours online, trying to dig up evidence that change.org was right, that Louis Simpson was the lynch mob’s ringleader and Pat Hennessy was the man who shot Alonzo Tucker. There may have been some truth to their claim about Hennessy, indicated in the September 28, 1902 issue of the Coquille City Herald, where Hennessy is mentioned "shouldering his rifle." But even from archived newspaper articles published in 1902, within days of the incident, Louis Simpson is never mentioned.
I owe Steven Greif and Richard Wagner each an apology, along with everyone who read my letter. Never again shall I trust any one source to provide a factually accurate account, of anything I wish to comment on. The last thing I’d want to do is water down a story like this with fictitious (information), or unwittingly (libel) someone who lived and died before I was even born. I don’t want to discredit myself, either.
But most importantly, this is about Alonzo Tucker. It's about having enough respect for the man, and for what he suffered in his final moments, to be as factually accurate as possible about those events leading to his horrible death.