Rufus Salter (D. January 1, 1900), Negro Farmer, Shot Dead in His Door by a Gang of Whites
Updated: Mar 31
This blog was written on behalf of the Union County Community Remembrance Project (UCCRP) which seeks to document and recognize the history of lynching and racial terrorism in Union County. We seek to foster ongoing collaborative education, justice, and healing.
Contact: Nate Johnson, Park Manager
Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site
South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism
2677 Sardis Road
Union, SC 29379
Rufus Salter was first person that I had to find in Union County, South Carolina who suffered death by a "gang of whites." I could not find him anywhere at first. He also supposedly went by other names, Sartor and Farr. I tried to find Rufus with the last name of Sartor. Then, I looked for him with the last name of Farr. Sartor and Farr are familiar names too me. I had not heard of Salter.
I could not find any Salter's in Union County. According to the South Carolina Department of Archives and History (SCDAH), Salter's lived in Williamsburg County, South Carolina.
Finally, I figured if he had been killed maybe he would be in the Union County newspaper. I looked on Chronicling America. I tried Rufus Salter. Nothing came up for Union County. I saw a paper in Lancaster, South Carolina, The Lancaster Ledger. The story was first published in Spartanburg, South Carolina. It was Rufus Salter who died in January 1900. According to the The Lancaster Ledger, 10 Jan. 1900, page one, Spartanburg received the news January 8, 1900.
The Lancaster ledger. [volume] (Lancaster, S.C.), 10 Jan. 1900. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026900/1900-01-10/ed-1/seq-4/>
He was suspected to be an incendiary. Special to The State, was put in after the title. I suppose that at means this was put in The State paper. West Springs was the area in Union County. For a few nights the area was plagued with fires by an incendiary:
Mr. Marion Sumpter
Mr. Sanford Wellborn
Mr. Sam Foster
After the last fire, they suspected Rufus Salter. Rufus was a negro farmer on Mr. William Smith's farm. He lived there. Sunday morning a mob of white men visited Rufus' house. Rufus came to the door with his pistol.
He got off two shots. Then the men shot him with a rifle through his heart, and he fell. The mob withdrew and disbanded. No one knew outside of that group who had done it.
I was prompted to look over on Newspapers.com to see if I would find any more articles. The Scranton, Pennsylvania, The Tribune had an article on January 12, 1900. They found out from a dispatch from The State paper in Columbia, South Carolina. So, that means I should look there for an article.
The article mentions "the verdict of the coroner's jury." This points to further resources:
I also found in The Chicago Tribune, from a Chicago, Illinois issue from the next year, January 1, 1901, that they had been counting lynching for the year. Rufus Salter, colored, suspected arson, West Springs, SC was list as lynched on January 11, 1900, but we know that this occurred before January 8th:
The original article does not say how Rufus was left after being shot. Following the coroner's report would hopefully tell more. Also, Rufus' burial is something to seek out.
Recognize this person? Be sure to contact Nate Johnson, Park Manager, Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site, South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism
2677 Sardis Road, Union, SC 29379, 864-427-5966, SCPRT.com.