Atlanta turned out in force to watch the lynching of Sam Hose (Wilkes), a itinerant black worker who admitted killing wealthy Alfred Cranford, a resident of the rural town of Newnan. Also to be lynched was a black man, perhaps a preacher, name Strickland, who may have had a role in killing Cranford.
Born in Macon, Hose had moved to Atlanta and then Newnan in search of work. Here he found employment with Alfred Cranford a wealthy local white resident. As the story goes after more than a year a dispute arose over money owed to Hose by Cranford. Cranford secured a gun, became enraged at Mr. Hose and threatened him. Hose took an ax and threw it at Cranford and ran. Papers blared the details of the "murder," and the area was combed looking for Sam Hose. By his own admission, Hose knew he had hit Cranford with the ax but did not know he had killed the man until several days later. Then came the charge of rape. Then a story came out that Mrs. Cranford claimed that her husband's assailant had raped her as her husband lay dying.
A $500 reward was posted and Hose was captured on the night of Saturday, April 22. According to Ida Wells, who championed the case, newspapers including the Atlanta Constitution had hinted that Hose would be torture before being lynched or burned. What happened was unspeakable. Two trainloads of Atlantans (according the Constitution) arrived to witness Hose being burned alive. He was mutilated (fingers, hands, ears and genitals severed, flesh on his face skinned off), tied to a tree and burned. Parts of his body were taken by onlookers.
Ida Wells continued to examine the case, writing about it in a pamph0let titled "Lynch Law in Georgia."