Charles Whitley

Calvert County's Only Documented Lynching

Charles Whitley was originally from Stafford Circuit, Virginia. At the approximate age of 19 he worked as a chef for the Lyles, a white family who considered him to be an intelligent and skilled young man. He was trusted by the family and was considered close to them as he had moved with them from Virginia to Maryland. The Lyles were comprised of three children who were known as Daisy (11), Annie (5), and Sammy (3) and their parents, Reverend Lee M. Lyle and Mrs. Lyle.

On June 2nd, 1886, Whitley had decided he would head into the nearby woods to collect ingredients for a salad and asked Daisy if she would like to accompany him. Upon refusal, Whitley grabbed his basket and headed towards the yard where Annie and Sammy played with each other. He picked up Annie and carried her into the woods, upsetting Sammy and causing him to cry. Daisy, trying to stop Sammy’s crying, searched for her sister in the woods only to find Whitley molesting her in his lap. He would later be apprehended by Reverend Lyle himself upon hearing the girls’ stories, despite both being bribed and threatened by Whitley to not tell.

Four days after Whitley’s arrest, there would be a break-in at the prison where he was held. According to the guards, a silent, armed mob of more than 40 men had shown up, overpowered the guards, and kidnapped Whitley. A noose that seemed to be professionally tied around his neck, and, despite his begging, he was dragged to the nearest tree. He was hanged and left there for the community to discover the following morning. Under the order of Justice Dolrymple, Whitley was cut down from the tree and buried near the same jail he had been dragged from.

A jury of inquest was held soon after by the county sheriff, to whom Whitley was originally handed to, to identify the participants of the lynching mob. James W. Lyons was the only one who was identified by the guards for aiding and abetting the murder of Charles Whitley. He was prosecuted for such, though, like in many other lynching cases, no records were found of this prosecution. Reverend Lyle stated to the Calvert Gazette that “though we should condemn the events of the lynching, we shouldn't condemn it too much”.



Prince Frederick, Maryland.