William K. Donnegan

William K. Donnegan

Death 16 Aug 1908 (aged 78–79)
Burial Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois, USA
Plot Block 5, 83
Memorial ID 29887569 · View Source
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Mr. Donnegan was a 76 year old man who was a victim of the Springfield Race Riot of 1908. A mob attempted to enter the State Arsenal where displaced blacks were being housed. After being stopped by a militia guard, they changed direction and proceeded to march across the capitol grounds and headed for the home of William Donnegan. He was an elderly long time resident of Springfield, born in Kentucky. Donnegan was a cobbler by trade and a respected resident of the community. He owned his own home and also owned some adjacent properties which were occupied by members of his family. He was known to be a friend and the cobbler of Abraham Lincoln. Donnegan made a small fortune bringing southern blacks to Springfield to find jobs. He had never been accused of a crime. He had, however, broken the unwritten law of being married to a white woman for the last thirty-two years.

The mob approached Donnegan's home. When he came out to find what was going on, they grabbed him, cut his throat, dragged his body across the street, and lynched him in the Edwards School yard. He was still alive when the national guard cut him down, but he died early the next morning. This lynching was the last mob action of the riot.

City officials quickly expressed deep regret for the mob's actions and called for swift justice but the indictments returned by the special grand jury granted only one conviction. The murderers of William Donnegan were left unpunished.

His grave was unmarked until 1995 when tombstones were placed for several victims of the 1908 Race Riot. As his tombstone is inscribed, Donnegan's death was a catalyst in the formation of the NAACP.

Note: most likely born in Kentucky since that his where his mother Lee Ann was until she was emancipated in 1847.

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William was killed during the Springfield Riot of 1908. His death was a catalyst for the creation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). "Lest We Forget"

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  • Maintained by: BjJ
  • Originally Created by: Charles W Brown
  • Added: 17 Sep 2008
  • Find a Grave Memorial 29887569
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William K. Donnegan (1829–16 Aug 1908), Find a Grave Memorial no. 29887569, citing Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by BjJ (contributor 46902476) .