During the 1940s, it was rare for a black person to have control over an enormous amount of land. However, Reverend Isaac Simmons from Amite County, Mississippi, owned more than 270 acres of debt-free land. His family is said to have owned the land since 1887, and worked the land producing crops and selling the wood. It was not long before rumors began to spread that there was oil in southwest Mississippi.
A group of six white men decided to show up on Simmons’ land and warn him to stop cutting lumber. Simmons consulted with a lawyer to work out the dispute and ensure his that the property would belong to his children in the event of his death.
Later, the men showed up at the house of Simmons’ oldest son, Eldridge. They order him to show them the property line. While Eldridge and the men were riding out to the property line, the men began to beat Eldridge and shouted that the Simmons family thought they were “smart niggers” for consulting a lawyer. The men then went to Reverend Simmons’ home, dragged him out of his house, and drove off the property with him in the car.
The men shot Simmons three times, cut out his tongue, and told his son that the family had ten days to get off the land. Three days later, Reverend Simmons was buried and his family fled the area, so the killers took possession of the land. Later, an all-white jury acquitted the only one of the six men to face trial for murder.