Killing of Elbert Williams in Tennessee in 1940


Case summary

Elbert Williams (1908 – 1940), a fireman and an official of the local NAACP chapter, was killed by a group of men led by Tip Hunter in Haywood County, Tennessee. Williams was kidnapped, beaten, and thrown in a river while some other Black citizens were banished from the county because they inquired about voting in the 1940 presidential election. Williams’ body was found in the Hatchie River. Grand jury declined to indict. An essay on this case, researched and authored by a CRRJ student, is available on request. Elisha Davis, a filling station operator and an NAACP official, was kidnapped, threatened with lynching and ordered to leave town in 1940 by a mob led by Tip Hunter in Haywood County, Tennessee. Davis and some other Black citizens were threatened out of town and one man, Elbert Williams, was lynched because of their efforts to register and vote. Davis and his family eventually fled town. Grand jury declined to indict. The FBI conducted an investigation into the kidnapping but reported it found no witnesses.


Alleged perpetrators/other named individuals:
Perpetrator group type: police, mob

Date of incident: 1940-06-20
Location: Brownsville, Haywood County, Tennessee
Location type: public space - rural
Allegation against victim: leading an NAACP voter registration campaign

Coroner process
Coroner/inquest: yes
Finding of no legal responsibility: yes

Criminal process
Arrest: [ ]
Charge/indictment/information: [ ]
Grand jury: yes
Trial: [ ]
Conviction: [ ]
Sentence: [ ]

FBI case ID:

Philadelphia 44-8

Memphis 44-12

DOJ case ID:


Investigated under the Emmett Till Act: yes
advocacy group resources
court records
death certificates - closed
federal agency records
news articles - closed
state agency records
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