It was just a matter of time before I heard from one of the descendants of the four men lynched in Ada, Oklahoma. During my research, I had occasionally run across articles written by descendants of the four accused men which tell of the Ada lynching as seen from their family’s view. It is usually portrayed in such a way stating that their loved one, who had been accused of murder and hung from the rafters, had been terribly wronged. Well, they would be right.
My first question is, however, to whom should the anger and the blame for the hangings have been directed? Should it have been directed towards the mob? I have no doubt that the four men lynched were entitled to have their day in court. The fate of the four men hung should never have been decided by angry citizens, but rather by an honest jury. And their demise should not have occurred at the force of fellow citizens masked in the dark night. But again, is it accurate to put the blame on the mob? After all, this is the hand the citizens were dealt. Known assassins congregated in and around Ada because they knew they could. They were even provided a saloon to be used as their gathering place. Having already killed an unknown number of men, there was no adequate law enforcement available to the community so as to deal with the many assassins. And at times when they were dealt with, the court system allowed assassin after assassin to be tried as murderers yet released back onto the streets free to continue roaming among good citizens.
When a system fails to protect its citizens, eventually the citizens will take a stand and protect themselves. And when one of the most cold-blooded assassins arrived in town, the citizens did just that. Were they right in doing so? There is no right that has occurred here, and there are no winners in this story. None whatsoever. There are only those who have been wronged by a failed system.
Perhaps I could take the suggestion of the descendant (below) and tell his untold story of the four men lynched. But in all fairness, I should also include the untold story of descendants of the innocent men who were murdered by assassins living in Ada at the time the story took place, whose families never received justice for the murders of their loved ones. I have personally heard from a couple of them as well. It appears to me that families – from all sides of the story of the Ada lynching – are still seeking closure. They didn’t find it in 1909. And most likely, they won’t find it now.
My own book review: If you are looking for a story with a happy ending, then this book is not for you.