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Soil Collection Ceremony Planned For Saturday At Site Of 1906 Springfield Lynchings

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Michele Skalicky
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A soil collection ceremony will be held Saturday at Park Central Square.  It will be hosted by the City of Springfield, Greene County and the Springfield-Greene County Remembrance Coalition.

The soil will be collected from the site where three Black men—Fred Coker, Horace B. Duncan and Will Allen—were lynched in 1906.

It will be provided in separate and labeled jars to Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City.  The soil will be used in an exhibit recognizing the victims of lynching across the state of Missouri and to create a memorial that acknowledges the horrors of racial injustice, according to the City of Springfield.  A similar ceremony took place in 2018, and the soil samples were provided to the Equal Justice Initiative museum in Montgomery, Alabama.

The ceremony will be livestreamed on the city’s Facebook page and on its website at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Koker, Duncan and Allen were hanged on the square and their bodies burned.  The lynching followed a report by two people, Mina Edwards and Charles Cooper, who said they were attacked and Edwards raped.  Police arrested Koker and Duncan, but released them after their employer said they’d been working at the time of the alleged attack.  They were taken to jail later, reportedly for their own protection.  But an angry mob dragged them from the jail to the square where they were killed.  Afterwards they went back to the jail for Allen and took him to the square, gave him a mock trial and hanged him as well.  It's estimated there were up to 5000 people who watched the day before Easter Sunday in 1906.

A marker on the square tells the story of the lynchings.