| The Palace Drugstore dominated a prime commercial
corner just under one of downtown Dallas's most prominent architectural
landmarks, the soaring Elk's Arch. Together, they formed a makeshift
amphitheater for the last act of the tragic comedy of March 3, 1910;
the Palace's two story facade providing an urban backdrop with box office
seats for Elk's Arch's dramatic shell. The first incongruous notes
that sliced the routine lunchtime din, wafted through the open second-floor
windows, drawing the curious and, undoubtedly, alarming a few. Within
minutes, the elevated onlookers spotted, in the increasingly agitated streets
down below, a man scaling the arch and securing a rope. Then, from
off the sullied pavement and over the heads of thousands of riveted Dallasites,
the mutilated corpse of a naked, elderly Negro ascended. Audible to
some were the words of commendation a mob leader had for his fellow lynchers.
"You did the work of men today and your deeds will resound in every state, village, and hamlet where purity and innocence are cherished and bestiality and lechery condemned."
The H. J. Buvens family had esteemed Allen Brooks a trusted servant until Flora Daingerfield, a second servant, claimed to have discovered Brooks with their missing three-year old daughter in the barn. Dr. W. W. Brandau examined the child and concluded, rather vaguely, that there was "evidence of brutal treatment." A local newspaper described the alleged crime as "one of the most heinous since the days of Reconstruction." Immediately following Brooks arrest, a mob attempted, but failed, to kidnap him from authorities. But while his trial was underway, a second mob, of two hundred whites and one "conspicuous Negro," entered the courtroom and successfully overwhelmed a "defending force" of fifty armed deputies and twenty policemen.
No shots were fired. The defenseless Brooks was trapped on an upper floor. The mobsters tightened a noose around his neck and threw him down to the hungry pack twenty feet below. Dozens savagely attacked, kicking and crushing his face until he was covered in blood. The adherents of hanging overruled those with a taste for burning. The unholy pilgrimage from courthouse to arch began.
"Contact with the pavement and obstacles on it wore most of the clothes off the Negro before the arch was reached," noted the Dallas Morning News. "At one point his coat was torn off, at another his shoes were dragged from his feet, and finally his trousers yielded to the friction of the passage along the street." What remnants of clothing that clung to the corpse were soon stripped away by souvenir hunters.
Postmarked June 11, 1910, Dallas Texas.