USI and former local high school student honor lynching victims one year later


A year ago, on October 21, 2022, Sophie Kloppenburg, a former student at Mount Vernon High School in Mount Vernon, Indiana, and current student at Columbia University, unveiled her passion project—a memorial bench and historical marker commemorating the scene of seven African American lynchings/murders in Posey County in 1878. The project was a collaboration with the University of Southern Indiana College of Liberal Arts Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. 

A series of speakers will take the podium at 10 a.m. Saturday, October 21 at the Alexandrian Public Library in Mount Vernon, Indiana, at 115 West 5th Street to honor the one-year anniversary of the project. Speakers include:  

  • Sophie Kloppenburg, Leader of the 1878 Memorial Initiative  
  • Dr. Kristalyn Shefveland, USI Assistant Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Associate Professor of History 
  • Dr. Laurel Standiford Reyes, USI Assistant Professor of Psychology 
  • Dr. Cacee Hoyer-Mabis, USI Associate Professor of History and Affiliated Faculty of Africana Studies 
  • Jim Redwine, Former Posey County Circuit Judge and author of Judge Lynch 
  • Andre Le Mont Wilson, Author of Hauntings, Essayist and descendant of Daniel Harrison Sr., John Harrison and Daniel Harrison Jr. (the three men who were lynched at the site) 
  • Dr. Mark Auslander, Visiting Lecturer of Anthropology from Mount Holyoke College 
  • Kevin Krizan, Economics, Marketing, and Innovation and Open-Source Learning Teacher at Mount Vernon High School 
  • Kori Miller, Director of the Evansville African American Museum 

Auslander will additionally give a lecture titled, Regenerating Lineage in the Shadow of Racial Violence: The Burdens of “Postmemory,” on campus at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, October 19 in Kleymeyer Hall, in the lower level of the Liberal Arts Building.  

“This has been an example of a true community partnership, and we have utilized our research skills to support and bolster a dynamic individual (Sophie Kloppenburg) who has brought forth a transformative event for the Mount Vernon community,” says Shefveland. “History nurtures personal and collective identity, but its discussion in textbooks, alone, alienates many. Public-facing projects such as this one, however, help to engage more people in their own history.”  

The Posey County site is where Posey County residents Jim Good, William Chambers, Edward Warner and Jeff Hopkins were lynched. Daniel Harrison, Sr., Daniel Harrison, Jr. and John Harrison were also murdered at other sites in the Posey County community. A grand jury was called to investigate the tragic events—however, no one was ever indicted.   

The memorial, created in 2022, consists of a dual-sided historical marker with a QR code leading to the David L. Rice Library Guides webpage. The webpage offers additional insight into the lynchings and secondary sources of information. An ongoing partnership with the USI History Department and USI’s David L. Rice Library will help to maintain the website with extensive information to assist in the continual education of these historical events.