A number of years ago the board of the Texarkana Museums System began doing “Haunted History Walks” in downtown Texarkana. Among the most heinous stories on the tour was the documented history of Ed Coy and Julia Jewell. With all the controversy over the statue downtown, I am being encouraged to share the story again.
When the museum board began doing these tours, it was extremely important that history be accurate. There was a big discussion about the story of Ed Coy and Julia Jewell, and for history, the case was researched in great detail to be added to the list of stories shared on the tours. As horrible as it felt to share the dark history of that time, we did.
Here is where I say that some details of Mr. Coy’s story were changed on the walk itself to make it easier to flow and the Bi-State Building wasn’t even in Texarkana in 1892. Back then Stateline Avenue ran all the way to Front Street. In front of Union Station, I thought it would be okay to say that where that intersection would be is where it happened because that was what easier than walking to the actual site closer to the railyard.
In fact, Ed Coy was dragged to an Oak stump closer to the current railyard currently occupied by Texarkana Arkansas Police and other City vehicles. As crazy as it seems, some really odd events on the tour led to that area. Not going to spend a lot of time trying to convince anybody of “hauntings” one way or another, but here is what I wrote about this particular part of the tour when we did them, and here is what I published in a blog post from 2014…
On February 20, 1892, the life of 32 year old Edward Coy came to a gruesome end. The man was accused of raping a white woman. Coy never had a chance.
There was no trial, only the statement of a woman and there were clear questions about the event skimmed over in newspapers of the time. Coy was described in the press account of assaulting Mrs. Julia Jewell. Coy was of mixed race and Jewell was white. The press account made Coy out to be a rapist but reading between the lines, you realize there was much, much more to the story.
Coy had gone to Jewell’s home allegedly to sell hogs to her husband. Jewell told police that Coy attacked her when she told him her husband had gone to town. When her husband came home, a posse of 50 men was formed to find Coy. Two suspects were brought in front of the woman but she said they were innocent. When Coy was brought in, Jewell said he was the rapist. The lynch mob brought him to town and planned to hang him. However, mob mentality took his execution to a new level.
Newspaper reports stated he was taken to a telegraph pole at the corner of Stateline and Front Street where they planned to hang him. Other accounts say he was tied to a tree stump in the train yard. But where ever the location, the fevered crowd of about a thousand people wanted more. When he was tied to the pole, the crowd advanced on him and someone dumped coal oil on his body. The crowd chanted “Burn him! Burn Him!” Julia Jewell looked Coy in the eye as she took a torch and set him on fire. Coy burned alive.
There is more, an investigation by a civil rights activist in Chicago found that Mrs. Jewell was a woman who played the victim well. She was reportedly of bad character and her husband was an alcoholic and gambler. She had been intimate with Coy for more than a year, and was reportedly pregnant at the time of the incident. But she was forced by intimidation by her family to make the charge against Coy.
Coy contended he and Jewell were involved. As she lit him on fire he turned and asked her how she could burn him after they had been “sweethearting” for so long.
The story was carried in papers from coast to coast and around the world. The Arkansas Gazette eloquently stated,
“People witnessed his burning, thus endorsing it with their presence.”
Interestingly, on the 1900 US Federal Census, Jewell is still married to her husband and had four children. By the 1910 US Federal Census, Julia’s husband is listed as a widower. Julia Jewell died in 1902 following the birth of her last child.
Witnesses have reported a light flickering and a more than a few credible witnesses have claimed to have seen what appears to be a shadowy man with smoke coming off his body. Two people on the Haunted Texarkana tour reported hearing a voice in their right ear only stating, “Join me.”
Recently, a clairvoyant took the walk with us reported that she saw Edward Coy standing in the area and he was unhappy…very unhappy. He was angry with me and that I was not telling his story correctly. She knew details that she should not have known. In our original “ghost walk” script, we had details about how he had swapped clothes with a friend while he was on the run from the posse, we edited a lot of that info out to save time. She knew details about the clothing Coy wore. I had said, “Mrs. Jewell lit his coat on fire.”… the clairvoyant said he was not wearing a coat, he had on a sports jacket, (TRUE)… She told me that Julia Jewell had lit his jacket at the hem, and on the sleeve, (TRUE), she said that they had been seeing each other for years, (POSSIBLE).
As for my personal experience in that particular area of the Ghost Walk, (even if it means the boss might want a urine test)… Something pulled the back of my shirt, I was wearing one of those nylon fishing type shirts with a little velcro patch on the back. Something jerked my shirt hard enough to undo the velcro and pull me backward, and there was nobody behind me, only the train switchyard.
(It is my belief that Coy was innocent and murdered by the lynch mob.)
Again, not trying to convince anyone to believe anything, but a few different “paranormal researchers” have come thru town and investigated the area with similar results… there is an unstable presence in that area.
There are facts however that state that Ed Coy was killed closer to the railyard, in Texarkana Arkansas.
Here is what the Encyclopedia of Arkansas published. Actually you should see more of the publications from the time… AP Story of Ed Coy Lynching… Article from Arkansas Gazette…another Article from the Arkansas Gazette on the aftermath of the killing. Just sickening.
With all of this controversy with the statue down by the post office, and folks trying to use the story of Ed Coy by saying that is the site of the lynching are wrong. Tear the statue down, move it to Rondo, I don’t care one way or another, but I think using the story of Ed Coy as a means to get rid of it is wrong. Tell his story, yes, but the statue site had nothing to do with the cruel injustice that man suffered.
For whatever it worth, there it is.