Early Chicago: Family Driven From South by Mob

Family Driven From South by Mob

(Source: Chicago Defender Archives)

This famous photo of a migrant family is frequently used in history books and on the internet. Though usually unidentified, the Arthur family was well known to the publisher of the Chicago Defender, who orchestrated the group's arrival in Chicago and staged the photo that accompanied the following caption in the September 4, 1920 edition of the paper:

Facing starvation, Scott Arthur and his family, driven from home like dogs, girls assaulted, sons burned at the stake by Paris, TX mob, arrive in Chicago without money and homeless! They were taken in charge by Dr. W. W. Lucas, secretary of the Co-Operative Society of America, who discovered them in the Polk Street Station Monday.

The family had been the victim of a brutal lynching and was brought to Chicago as part of the Defender's "Great Northern Drive." The family's story had been forgotten until journalist and syndicated columnist Vernon Jarrett, a former reporter for the Defender, rediscovered the family's history.