Leonard Woods, a miner, was reported to have shot and killed Herschel H. Deaton, a foreman at an Elkhorn Company mine, for refusing him a ride in his car. A mob of five hundred attacked the Whitesburg jail forty-eight hours after the death of Deaton. Neither Sheriff Reynolds nor the jailor, Mrs. Fess Whitaker, was able to discourage the mob. With hacksaws and crowbars they tore off a corner of the roof and entered the jail. Their original intention was to lynch Woods and the two black women who were accompanying him. Woods "begged off for them," stating that they had nothing to do with the shooting, and the mob leaders decided to leave the women. Practically all the other prisoners in the jail escaped.

Leonard Woods was taken to the state line at Pound Gap and tied to a speaking platform that had been erected ten days earlier to celebrate the opening of a new road through the mountains. He was shot through with more than a hundred bullets from pistols and highpowered rifles, and then his clothing was set on fire.

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