Discover your family's story.

Enter a grandparent's name to get started.

a state:
Start Now

The Freedmen's Bureau Online

Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Tennessee
Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1869
National Archives Microfilm Publication M999, roll 34
"Reports of Outrages, Riots and Murders, Jan. 15, 1866 - Aug. 12, 1868"

Affidavits regarding the 1866 Memphis Riot

Before me personally appeared the undersigned Dr. R. W. McGowan and being duly sworn deposes as follows.

My name is Dr. R. M. McGowan, I live on South Street near Causey. On the 1st day of May 1866 while at my place I heard shots fired and upon going to the door saw several Policemen (one named Carroll) running up the street away from the mob and when they arrived at the bridge one of the policemen was shot - did not see who shot him - I went to dress the wound, while doing so the police returned with an increased force and immediately upon their arrival they commenced firing upon the colored people indiscriminately. There were women and children amidst the colored people. I saw one colored man killed by the police on the bridge, he was running away from them at the time. I saw another colored man endeavoring to conceal himself, when the police shot him and beat him over the head, he was left for dead. After night a colored soldier came to my house for protection, when a number of white men came along accompanied by police. One white man entered my place and asked me "what are you, you damn nigger doing here." I replied "let him alone, he is waiting for the ambulance to gather the murdered." He then said to me "you damn Yankee son of a bitch you can't come down here to live." I think he also said "we will burn you out." At this time the police came to the door when the man said "here is a damn abolitionist who says that the police are doing wrong," the mob cried "bring him out." I was forced out. The Captain of the Police then interfered and said "let him alone, I know him." The next morning they assaulted my store during my absence and I was forced to leave & close it and it remained closed for several days. I think the man who entered my store on the night of the 1st is named Wm. Porter, a butcher. I can identify him.

(signed) Robert McGowen

Subscribed and sworn to before me this the 18th day of May 1866.
(signed) Michl. Walsh
Capt. & A. A. A. Genl.
& P. M. Freedmen