Saturday, August 20, 2011

Myrtle Vance and the Lynching in Paris Texas

Paris has a sad history of lynchings.  Local historian, Skipper Steely will be publishing a book in late October or November 2011 about the lynchings that have occurred in Paris, Lamar County.  The pictures included to the left are the grave site of a little girl of 3 named Myrtle Vance who was murdered in the summer of 1893.  Skipper told me that she was found dead in a pasture near the old Gibbon's House on 6th Street.  A black man named Henry Smith was accused of her murder and was brutally lynched at a site near the railway tracks and the old Rogers and Wade building.  Skipper tells the story so much better than I so you will want to read the account in his book.  One of the saddest facts he told me about Myrtle's murder was that her mother lost 3 children in 1 year and her husband died not long after Myrtle.  The statute on Myrtle's grave is located on Lily Lane in Evergreen Cemetery, Paris, Texas.

A friend and a poet from Paris has written two poems about Myrtle.  One of her poems follows.  Aubry, Sherry's daughter went with us this morning to visit Myrtle's grave.  We spent time in the early morning light and August heat taking pictures of Myrtle's resting place.  We are planning to take more next Saturday.  So, hopefully we will have more pictures and another poem to share with you next week.  By the way, Sherry Scott is the founder of the Paris Poetry Society.  They meet once a month at venues all across Paris.

Where She Lives
by S. L. Margaret

Myrtle lives on Lily Lane
I once found her sitting on
a clump of rock
beneath the elms.

I didn’t know her story
the findings in the field
the fear and terror unleashed
that darkened the town and
stained the ground.

Only, that she sits gently
with a lily at her feet
stares down at her clasp hands
where the rain water collects in
her arms
and remains forever three
on Lily Lane.


  1. very sad story... love the pictures.

  2. You neglected to say she was ripped limb from limb and also raped and beaten by the black savage.


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