Norton's extended family, Charleston, Illinois,
Kenneth H. Norton, Jr., kissing his bride,
Annabel Derrickson at their wedding in 1944.
Kenneth H. Norton, Jr. family: (left to right)
Annabel Norton, Frank Norton, Jr., and Michael K. Norton,
Mrs. Claire Derrickson with her grandson,
Michael K. Norton, Mattoon, Illinois.
Mr. Michael K. Norton. He served in the U.S.
Army in Vietnam, c. 1967.
Mrs. Minnie Portee with her grandson, Kenneth
It was difficult for Lincoln to forsee the pivotal
role he will play in the emancipation of African Americans later
in the history of the United States. Lincoln, Douglas and the electorates
they spoke to in Charleston on September 18, 1858 were confident
African Americans will remain non-citizens and second-class people.
But because societies and individuals evolve over time, Lincoln
and his views on slavery and the status of blacks were destined
to change. Hence, we can appreciate Lincoln's defense of Matson
On October 16, 1847 the case was tried by Judge
Samuel Treat and Judge William Wilson. The judges ruled in favor
of the Bryants. In addition, Matson was required to pay the cost
of the Bryants' arrest and their upkeep in jail. Anthony Bryant
and his family chose to relocate to Liberia in West Africa. Their
ship passage to Liberia was paid by Rutherford, Ashmore and other
sympathizers. It is said that the Bryants were seen in 1848 in Monrovia,
Liberia by an American missionary. The rule of law prevailed for
the Bryant family. But William Moore, another black resident of
Coles County in the late nineteenth century was not as lucky as
the Bryant family.
William Moore, who was born in Virginia, moved
to Mattoon with his wife and four children in January 1887. He did
odd jobs for a living. His tribulation began following an encounter
with a young white woman at the Mattoon train station about midnight
on Sunday June 24, 1888. The Effingham woman had to wait for the
train for about two and a half hours. She claimed that while waiting
for the train, she asked Moore to assist her in locating a restaurant.
Moore obliged by directing her to a place close to Essex house where
she alleged Moore assaulted her. While Moore went to search for
food for her, she ran to a house nearby where the police were informed.
Following Moore's return he was arrested by the authorities. The
next Monday, the 25th, Moore appeared before Justice McFadden in
Mattoon. (23) The Judge ruled Moore be remanded in jail in Charleston
pending his trial in November. But this was not to be. Meanwhile,
the news had spread that a black man had assaulted a white women.
A mob made up of people from Effingham and Shelby Counties (from
where the woman had friends and family) began to congregate for
a revenge on Moore. (24) The mob then took a train from Mattoon
to Charleston where they seized Moore and later lynched him. The
Mattoon Gazette reported that before he was hanged, Moore
...in a firm voice he beseeched the Almighty
to protect his wife and children in their bereavement, to lead them
aright, and for mercy for his own self. At the close he sang one
of the melodies common with the colored race, the crowd all joining
in the chorus, and then on a ladder one Mr. Leitch [States Attorney]
then stepped forward and said: 'Moore, in the presence of Almighty
God and death, did you commit this crime for which you are now about
to be hanged?' In a strong, clear voice the reply came promptly
forth, 'As I hope to be in Heaven in a few minutes, I did not.'
The Mattoon Gazette reporter could not understand
how lynching could have happened in an enlightened Coles County
society of 1888. As far as the reporter was concerned the citizens
of the county had acquired sufficient education from numerous schools
in the area that they should not have stooped so low as to participate
in a lynching. To the uninformed American lynching was a southern
phenomenon. Granted that the majority of lynchings were carried
out in the south, ample evidence exists that they occurred in mid-western
and northern states. Whereas lynchings in the United States were
committed on blacks, as well as Native Americans and whites, the
majority of lynching victims were blacks.