Dada Comes to Pasadena

July 22, 1927
Pasadenans, beware!  If you’re Japanese, anyway.  See, there’s a “giant Negro” on the loose, and he’s a criminal.  His crime?  Hanging the Japanese upside-down.  

Seriously.  George Shimanouchi was minding his own business in the garage of his home at 126 Elevado Drive (now Del Mar) when the aforementioned giant negro (hey, not my nomenclature) arrived unbidden and hung the boy upside-down from a rafter.  

A Mrs. C. Duncan, 105 Elevado, heard someone yelling for help across the street and called it in; either she took her own sweet time about it or the authorities did, because when Detective Seargeants Mansell and Cheek arrived, Shimanouchi, now semiconscious, had been suspended head-down for nearly an hour.  

The boy held the opinion that his assailant planned to rob the house after tying him to the rafter, but officers found no evidence of entry.

(While Hippocrates was a firm believer in inversion therapy, practitioners evidently went to absurd lengths in sharing their craft before its popularization via American Gigolo.)

Strange Fruit

Feb. 1, 1907
Los Angeles

I was all set to write about Leroyxez, “The Human Pincushion,” being nailed to a cross promptly at 4 p.m. at Chutes Park, and then a story about lynching in the U.S. caught my eye.


Number of














Of the 73 victims for 1906, all but four were African American men, the exceptions being an African American woman and three white men, according to the wire story from the Washington Post.


Number of Lynchings


13 (down from 20 in 1905)











North Carolina


South Carolina










Indian Territory






Triple lynchings were conducted in Georgia, North Carolina and Missouri. The alleged crimes including stealing a silver dollar and stealing a calf (both in Louisiana), carrying a loaded pistol, petty robbery, improper proposals, miscegenation, criminal assault, assault and murder, attempted murder, murder and robbery, double murder, quadruple murder and quintuple murder. One victim was lynched for allegedly attacking three white women in one afternoon, the story says.

In the case of R.T. Rogers, one of three whites lynched in 1906, the mob chartered a train from Monroe, La., to Tallulah. His case had been in the courts for two years and eight months on charges that he killed a business rival.

J.V. Johnson, a white man, was lynched in North Carolina while awaiting a new trial after the jury deadlocked on whether he was guilty of killing his brother.

The third white man, Lawrence Leberg, “a tramp,” was hanged from a telephone pole in Las Animas, Colo., for allegedly killing a farmer who had befriended him.

“One victim was shot and the corpse burned; two were shot while they cowered in their cells, the mobs firing from outside the prisons; four were hanged and burned; two hanged and shot; 21 shot in the open; and 42 hanged,” The Times says, leaving us to wonder about the final victim.

There is no further information on the woman who was lynched.

E-mail: lmharnisch (AT)

A Gruesome First

Dec. 27, 1907
Henryetta, Okla., by the Associated Press

A little more than a month after Oklahoma achieved statehood, James Garden became a wretched statistic: the first black to be lynched there.

On Dec. 24, Garden went to see liveryman Albert Bates about renting a rig. When Bates refused, Garden accused him of racism, went across the street to get a gun, returned and shot Bates to death.

By nightfall, a group of 100 men stormed the jail, fought off police officers and hanged Garden from a telegraph pole in the center of town, then used his body for target practice, riddling it with bullets.

Knocking at the Bar

Dec. 25, 1907
Los Angeles

There are precisely two African American attorneys in Los Angeles and their appearance against one another in court provides a bit of amusement for The Times. We can dispense with the news article and its unfortunate use of dialect rather quickly: Paul M. Nash was suing G.T. Crawford, an African American waiter, for attorneys fees after representing his wife in a divorce. Crawford was represented by Charles S. Darden.

Like most mainstream newspapers of the period, The Times rarely wrote about African Americans and stories always identified them as:

A Many Splendored Thing

November 6, 1907
Los Angeles

When Mrs. Jenevieve Van Lakum, a well-to-do and refined 35 year-old widow from Manitou, Colorado checked into an apartment at 803 East Fifth Street with her four children and a black gentleman, it was assumed by the proprietor that the gentleman was her porter.

But a certain Patrolman C. H. Jones espied Jenevieve and the black gentleman about town, and made an investigation.  It came to light that the man, William Seay, was occupying the same apartment.  

Humane Officer Reynolds took the children into custody and the two adults face arrest.

After Mrs. Van Lakum was taken to Central Station and interrogated, she broke down and admitted that she loved the man, and “could not explain her affection for the negro.”  They came from the east to Los Angeles with the express purpose of becoming husband and wife, but the LA Powers That Be put the kibosh on that.  Police suspected that Seay held some “uncanny” influence over her, but Jeneivieve denied that she had been hypnotized.  Seay further stated that he maintained his relations with her only for the money she gave him, which to this point had amounted to about $500 ($10,261 USD 2005).

disappearedPostscript – on November 10, “Humane Officer” Reynolds confessed that the sextet had given him the slip.  After having secured Seay’s promise to stay away from the woman, Reynolds allowed Van Lakum to take the children in search of a cottage to rent—and disappeared.  

Says Reynolds:  “I believe that she has found a cottage somewhere in the suburbs and is living quietly.  Whether the negro visits her or not, I have no positive knowledge, but I am inclined to believe that he does.

“Information from the East states that Mrs. Van Lakum is the member of a prominent family in Chicago.  I think that she is irresponsible.  I believe she is mentally deranged.”

Let’s hope they found happiness somewhere, though where in 1907 Los Angeles that would be, I do not know.  Certainly not in Edendale.

A Curious Dreamer

Oct. 5, 1907
Los Angeles

Hilliard Stricklin is a man with an urgent desire to do something for his fellow African Americans. He says that he came to Los Angeles from Chattanooga, Tenn., about 1895 with a few dollars in his pocket, worked hard and saved his money until he opened a grocery store at 2053 Santa Fe Ave.

What he wants most is to build a facility for the elderly and for orphaned children, naming it the Stricklin Memorial Home for the Aged in honor of his mother.

Two years earlier, Stricklin bought the old Pertinico Winery on Vermont Avenue just south of Pico, paying about $10,000 ($205,235.70 USD 2005). The white neighbors in Pico Heights assumed Stricklin was bluffing with his talk about helping the elderly until the day piles of lumber and a crowd of workmen appeared on the site.

And then they were furious at the idea. Neighbors accused Stricklin of extorting an extravagant price for the property under the threat of bringing blacks into the area.

[Warning: Dialect ahead]