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The Union County Museum sits about five miles north of Anna in Cobden, a community known for its apple and peach orchards. He declined to be interviewed for this story. About 10 workers fled to the woods.
For much of the 20th century, Anna was almost entirely white, except for a handful of black residents at different times.
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The whole world. With a rope around his neck, the Bulletin reported, James confessed. She prayed.
At the time, he was dating a girl who was biracial. He complains that black soldiers are treated better than white soldiers. But the stories of how these communities became or stayed mostly white are often unknown, ignored or not fully told. Hindman died in The night after James was killed, a band of men from Anna headed for a nearby quarry, which employed a of black men.
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Smith shrugs it off. I talked with public officials, historians and longtime residents. Bloodhounds, after picking up the scent from a piece of cloth used to gag her, led Cairo police to arrest a black man named William James, an employee of the Cairo Ice and Coal Company, according to the Cairo Bulletin. Some sundown towns in the Midwest have begun to confront their legacies. He had a friend who lived in Anna and had spent weekends there.
I met him while he was playing basketball with his young son in the park. ProPublica Illinois is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism with moral force. Today, Anna is one of the whitest municipalities in southern Illinois — according to the census, Cairo has long been emblematic of a future that Anna fears: the decline of a once-thriving town. Then, in a moment that would lodge itself in regional memory, a year-old white woman from Anna was found dead in November in an alley in Cairo.
Ralph Smith, 30, has been employed there for two years.
Coincidentally, her name was Anna — Anna Pelley. John Sales was in his mid 90s when he died in August Their niece, Nora, who lived in the same house, died about 30 years later.
He warns that freed black men will take jobs away from white men. People around the area, not just in Anna, have called him derogatory names based on his race, he said. Today, Emily and John share a small tombstone in the Anna cemetery. But the city is still commercially alive. Anna is a city of a little more than 4, people located in the middle of Union County, where soybean fields and flatlands to the north give way to the forests and sandstone canyons of southern Illinois.
He calls black people animals. Smith never thought she would live here. She trusted God and she trusted her son. She described what she saw and he knew she was in Anna. He felt he and his brothers and sisters would thrive. I told him I was a journalist from Chicago and asked him to tell me about this town. So I went in, too. They then dragged his body through the streets, set it on fire and later cut off his head and stuck it on a hitching post.
For years, he avoided Anna. But after a series of incidents that made her feel unsafe in Murphysboro, Smith said, she wanted out.
Ruel Hindman, who lived in Anna, was 7 at the time. Stories of intimidation and violence against black people — and against white people who tried to employ them — in Anna continued for decades after the war. Her eldest son, Arieh Hart, had an idea. According to police reports, one of the suspects allegedly tried to sodomize the victim with either a tire iron or an ax handle. Like many other small towns, Anna has lost industry.
But these incidents happened. In Marchfour young white men attacked a black year-old in a parking lot behind a furniture store on Main Street. I got into town just after sunset. Hartline grew up in Cobden, the town just north of Anna. He disagreed. Some people still do. Michael Hunter leaned forward in his camouflage-printed office chair. But there are some black people here, and more, it seems, during the workday. John and Emily Sales had lived together in Anna for 50 years, in a small home on an alley.
When Easter Smith opened the door, her house smelled like dinner.
Highway Independent businesses run up and down Main Street. Patrick Brumleve, who oversees the museum as the president of the Union County Historical and Genealogical Society, said Anna was named after Anna Davie, the wife of the man who founded the town in But he said he gets asked every so often about A-N-N-A by outsiders like me.
One time it happened while he was pumping gas. She told her husband that Anna was the place they needed to be.
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Less than 72 hours later, without a trial and after the county sheriff unsuccessfully tried to spirit James out of town to safety, residents took the law into their own hands. Some of the white people who left Cairo blamed changes in the city — its population loss, the flight of business, episodes of violence during the civil rights era — on black people.
I picked up the book in part because its author, James W. Much of his research on sundown towns led him back to his home state, where I now live and which I wanted to better understand. There was one exception: the Sales family.
She asked me not to publish her name, out of concern for her safety. I took a seat at the bar.
The high school was good and it had a strong sports program. Smith thought hers was the only black family in Anna when she arrived, though she thinks a few more families have moved in since. He recalled an incident inwhen he was leaving the Farm Fresh milk store after school. A man two stools over from me struck up a conversation.
The Union County Board of Commissioners is all white. He now comes to town to go to Walmart and to get his car washed. Although one of the young men told police they attacked the victim because he was black, the police did not charge the four men with a hate crime. He just said it.
The mob pulled him up to hang him, but the rope broke, so they shot him repeatedly instead. Black people also work at Choate Developmental Center, a state mental health facility in Anna. Years before, when she was new to Illinois and living in Murphysboro, about 25 miles north, she got lost driving somewhere on U.
Highway 51 after dark and called her husband for directions.