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Norton's extended family, Charleston, Illinois, c. 1935.

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, c. 1953.

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 H. Norton.

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 in 1848.

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 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.' (25)

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.


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