On Saturday, November 17, 2018, in Culpeper, Virginia, the lives of three men, Charles “Allie” Thompson (d. 1918), William Grayson (d. 1850), and William Thompson (d. 1877), were remembered. The men were all lynched in Culpeper County. The Remembrance and Reflection event at the Culpeper Baptist Church marked the centennial of Allie Thompson’s lynching.
The ceremony included music, stories and dialogue on constitutional and human rights. Guests gathered at the County Courtyard for a musical selection and prayer at the local jail where Allie Thompson was incarcerated and from where he was kidnapped. Zann Nelson, local historian and former director of the Museum of Culpeper History, has been researching the case of Allie Thompson since 2005. In 2012, she worked closely with CRRJ student Michele Scavongelli ’12, who traveled to Culpeper to research the lynching and assisted the local community in its appeal to the Virginia governor for a posthumous remedy in the Thompson case.
On November 20, 1918, while cutting corn about a mile and a half from his home, 18-year-old Allie Thompson was arrested for the alleged rape of a young white woman. In the early morning of November 25, 1918, while Thompson was incarcerated in the local jail, a mob of 12 to 15 men kidnapped him. He was hung on an oak tree approximately two miles north of town. The perpetrators were never pursued or prosecuted. The only “justice” Allie Thompson’s family received from the County of Culpeper was a payment of $25 ($10 for the coffin and $15 for the burial expenses) on October 1, 1919, for the burial of their son.