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Elbert Williams


     On June 20, 1940, Elbert Williams and Thomas Davis, both African-American men who were members of the NAACP in Brownsville, Tennessee, were abducted from their homes by Sheriff Samuel “Tip” Hunter, taken to the local jail, and questioned about the NAACP’s activities.  Thomas Davis was released from jail into a waiting mob, but escaped unharmed.  Williams’s body was discovered three days later, on June 23, 1940, in the Hatchie River.  Just a few days before Williams and Thomas Davis were abducted, Thomas’s brother Elisha Davis had been abducted from his home by Sheriff Hunter, Police Officer Charles Reed, and a mob of white men.  Elisha Davis was taken to a nearby river where he was questioned about the NAACP’s activities and told he would be killed unless he left town, which he did immediately.  Another African-American man, Jack Adams, was brought to the river at the same time that Elisha Davis was threatened, but Adams was released unharmed.  The men subject to abduction were all either founding members, or suspected members, of the recently-formed NAACP chapter in Brownsville.  Chapter members had begun voter-registration efforts in the African-American community just a few months before the abductions began.

Case Open Date
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Case Name
Elbert Williams
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Updated September 23, 2019