The Crime

The Research

The Reasons

Sources

 

 

By Greg Fuller

On March 16, 1912 a fight occurred in Mike Castriagano's Saloon at 1301 Webster Avenue (which today would be located two blocks southeast of Jacob's Field in Cleveland, Ohio). The fight between two African-American friends resulted in the death of Lester Jones from two gunshot wounds to the chest that were fired by Ed Harville.

The following is a reconstruction of the people involved, the facts of the crime and research which was compiled from the Western Reserve Historical Society and Cleveland State University archives. Following the account of these facts, I will discuss the social, economic and cultural trends underlying the murder and apply them to Cleveland life in 1912. I will also compare my findings about Cleveland and, once again, apply them to the larger regional and national trends from that time.

Reconstructing a piece of history proved to be a difficult task. The time and energy of piecing together the facts was interesting, but many pieces were missing. Particularly interesting was the fact that none of the Cleveland newspapers covered anything about the murder, the trial, or verdict, especially the Cleveland Gazette. In one sense I feel cheated, on a much broader scale, I can only think of the African-American community that felt and still feels cheated. By examining this case, spending time on research and dissecting the information that was available, I was able to compile many observations regarding the people involved and of the neighborhood itself. My observations when applied to Cleveland, the Midwest and the nation as a whole showed that Cleveland was a unique place, but the treatment of African Americans that were once "almost" equal to whites was changing in 1912. This change towards a racist city was subtle compared to the rest of the nation, and the following decades would prove that racism, subtle or not, is still racism.

The Crime