Lot 161: 4 Photographs 1891 Italian Lynchings
December 2, 2016
New Orleans, LA, USALive Auction
Description: Group of Four Photographs Pertaining to the 1891 Italian Lynchings in New Orleans, incl. photographs of sites where killings occurred, mounted and labeled, 11 in. x 14 in., unframed. Provenance: Gaspar Cusachs, entrepreneur, historian and collector, (1855-1929); The Gaspar Cusachs Collection, loaned to the Louisiana State Museum, New Orleans, LA (c. 1909-2016). Note: On the evening of October 15, 1891, during an ongoing investigation of possible Italian Mafia activities of the Matranga family in New Orleans, police chief David C. Hennessey was shot multiple times by a group of assailants. Before succumbing to his gunshot wounds the following day, Hennessey identified the assailants as a group of Italian men. Public outrage encouraged police to round up any Italians who they felt had a connection to the murder of Hennessey, which led to the arrest of nineteen men. In February and March of 1891, all nineteen Italian men were acquitted due to lack of evidence or mistrial, inciting an outraged public to form a mob. The mob stormed the Orleans Parish prison where they carried out the lynching of eleven of the acquitted men, with little interference from police. According to historians Joseph Maselli and Dominic Candeloro, the incident, which was heavily covered by the national press, introduced terms like Mafia and Mafioso into the popular lexicon of American culture. Ref.: Nystrom, Justin A. Sicilian Lynchings in New Orleans, KnowLA Encyclopedia of Louisiana. Ed. David Johnson, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, June 23, 2013, web. Maselli, Joseph; Candeloro, Dominic, "New Orleans's 1891 Nightmare: Eleven Italians Lynched, Italians in New Orleans. Arcadia Publishing, 2004. pp. 3542.