Burned At The Stake

May 22, 1917


Within 100 yards of the spot where a few weeks ago 16-year-old Antoinette Rappel was brutally slain and her headless body concealed in a wooded dell, Eli C. Persons, the negro slayer, was burned at the stake at 9:30 o’clock yesterday morning at the end of the long bridge across Wolf River bottoms on the Macon Road.

A crowd of some 5,000 men, women and children cheered gloatingly as the match was applied and a moment later the flames and smoke rose high in the air and snuffed out the life of the black fiend.

Seated in an automobile on the crest of the levee, which commanded full view of the execution place, where but a moment before she had sat in solemn judgment and pronounced sentence upon the negro, Mrs. Minnie Wood, mother of the murdered school girl, and other relatives witnessed the burning.

Mrs. Wood called upon the crowd to make the negro suffer “ten times as much as he made my little girl suffer.”

“We’ll burn him,” the crowd cried back willingly and eagerly.

“Yes, burn him on the spot where he killed my little girl,” the mother entreated.

It was an execution probably without parallel in the history of the south. The approximate hour and place of the lynching were advertised widely, but the organized forces of law and order, operating through the medium of the courts, dared not say nay to the outraged community in which Antoinette Rappel lived.