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Lynchings on Maryland's Lower Eastern Shore: Arthur Collick, Charles Manuel, George Selby, Martha Blake, and Lillian Blake, 1940

Biography

Arthur Collick, Charles Manuel, George Selby, Lillian Blake, and Martha Blake  
Worcester County, Maryland

Arthur Collick (28), Charles Manuel (17), George Selby (age unknown), Lillian (aka Martha) Blake (32), and Martha (aka Virginia) Blake (14) were nearly lynched in February of 1940 in Worcester County, Maryland. All five were suspected to have committed or have been connected to the murder of a white farmer and the rape of his wife in Stockton, MD. Collick and Manuel were ultimately the only ones charged with such crimes. Little is known about the suspects before the crimes were committed, other than that Lillian Blake was Arthur Collick's common-law wife, and that Martha Blake was Lillian's daughter.

On February 11, 1940, Arthur Collick and Charles Manuel allegedly invaded the home of Stockton farmer Harvey Pilchard. Pilchard was killed by the intruders with a shotgun as he answered their knock on the door. Upon entering the house, the two suspects demanded money from Pilchard's wife, who attempted to flee upstairs. Mrs. Pilchard was wounded with a pistol by one of the robbers and sexually assaulted. The two suspects then fled the scene, but later returned. Mrs. Pilchard hid on the roof upon their return to her house. After the suspects had departed for good, the wounded Mrs. Pilchard was spotted on the roof the following morning by a millworker, who also discovered her husband's body. The police were informed of the murder and attack, and news soon spread throughout the county. Posses began to form in the street to apprehend the suspects. Mrs. Pilchard provided the name of her suspected attacker (Collick) to the police. In Pocomoke City, George Selby was arrested due to his friendship with the suspects.

Arthur Collick hid in the swamps of Worcester County along with Lillian Blake and her daughter Martha. A posse eventually came across the three of them, but Collick escaped while Lillian and Martha turned themselves in upon being threatened with death. The two women were transported to the jail in Snow Hill to be questioned about the identity of the murderers. After the news of the Blakes' capture circulated, a mob of 1,000 formed outside of the jail, demanding the surrender of the prisoners to help them identify the murderers. The mob also demanded to know the whereabouts of George Selby, who had been taken to an undisclosed location. After a struggle with the law enforcement officers present, the crowd eventually stormed the jail and seized Lillian and Martha, threatening them with nooses. After providing information to the mob leaders, the two women were then forced into automobiles and taken to Stockton. State policeman pursued the mob and were able to rescue the Blakes. Upon their rescue, the two women were moved to Baltimore for their own safety, later being transferred to a jail in Bel Air, Maryland. George Selby and Charles Manuel, who had also been apprehended, were also held in Bel Air. No legal action would be taken against the mob that seized Lillian and Martha Blake.

After the other suspects had been apprehended and secured, the search for Collick continued with the aid of planes. The mob mentality of the citizens had not disappeared either. Armed posses joined the official authorities in their search for the escaped suspect. An editor of the Worcester Democrat, former Washington College professor Edward J. Clark, openly encouraged lynching in one of the newspaper's columns. After five days of searching, Collick was finally located in Girdletree, MD. Collick surrendered to the authorities with no fight or flight, and was promptly whisked away to the same Bel Air jail housing the other suspects. However, he denied murdering Harvey Pilchard upon questioning.

A grand jury convened later in February to discuss the Harvey Pilchard murder case and its suspects. Martha Blake took the stand as a witness. Only Collick and Manuel were indicted by the jury, both for murder, armed robbery, and assault with attempt to kill. Only Collick was charged with the rape of Mrs. Pilchard. To avoid impartiality or mob violence, the trial of Collick and Manuel was transferred from Worcester County Circuit Court in Snow Hill to Baltimore County Circuit Court in Towson. Both suspects were then transferred to the jail in Towson to await their trial scheduled for the end of March. The suspects were heavily guarded to prevent any mob violence from occurring. Upon first appearing before the Baltimore County judges before their trail, both Collick and Manuel pleaded not guilty. The trials were then postponed indefinitely, eventually being held in late July of 1940. Both suspects were to have separate trials. Forty witnesses were called to the case, including Martha Blake and Mrs. Pilchard herself. Pilchard identified Collick as her rapist and husband's murderer at his trial. Meanwhile, Martha Blake revealed that Collick had planned the robbery and murder and that he had confessed both to crimes to her and her mother after they had been committed. Martha's uncle James Blake also testified that Collick had planned the murder and robbery. At Manuel's trial, Martha Blake testified that he indeed was a part of the planned robbery, and that he had been the one to wound Mrs. Pilchard during the ordeal. While Mrs. Pilchard could not positively identify Manuel as Collick's company, the evidence and testimonies ultimately condemned him. Arthur Collick was sentenced to death by the court, while Charles Manuel was sentenced to life imprisonment in Maryland Penitentiary due to his age. Collick was hanged at the penitentiary on September 13, 1940. 

Newspaper Clippings

"Slayers on Shore Said to Be Known," Baltimore Sun, February 13, 1940.

"Rout Shore Mob, Rescue Women," Baltimore Sun, February 14, 1940.

 

"Two Negro Women Rescued From Mob," New York Times, February 14, 1940.

"Police Think Negro Suspect Has Escaped," Baltimore Sun, February 15, 1940.

"Shore Mob Called Anti-Lynch Help," Baltimore Sun, February 15, 1940.

"Maryland Posse Hunts Man in Bog," New York Times, February 15, 1940.

"Murder-Robbery-Rape Committed at Stockton by Negroes Sun. Night," Worcester Democrat, February 16, 1940.

"'Chirps' from the Democrat's Pen," Worcester Democrat, February 16, 1940.

"Worcester County Farmer Murdered and Wife Attacked Sunday," Crisfield Times, February 16, 1940.

"Police Admit Clues at End in Shore Hunt," Baltimore Sun, February 16, 1940.

"Suspect Escapes Posse's Cordon in Md. Slaying," Washington Post, February 16, 1940.

"Shore Negro Jailed ; Court Meets Today," Baltimore Sun, February 17, 1940.

"Snow Hill is Determined to Have No Lynching," Baltimore Sun, February 18, 1940.

"May Return Suspects to Eastern Shore," Baltimore Sun, February 18, 1940.

"Grand Jury to Meet Tues., Pilchard Case," Worcester Democrat, February 23, 1940.

"Shore Murder Suspect Held," Midland Journal, February 23, 1940.

"Editor Urges Lynching of Murder Suspects," Afro-American, February 24, 1940.

"Trapped," Afro-American, February 24, 1940.

"Scene of Killing that Sent Mob on Rampage," Afro-American, February 24, 1940.

"AFRO Cameraman Shows Principals and Scenes in Near-Lynching at Stockton, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland," Afro-American, February 24, 1940.

Peyton Gray, "Mob's Prey at Ease in Antique Jail at Bel Air," Afro-American, February 24, 1940.

Bettye Murphy, Ruth Jenkins, and Paul Henderson, "Mob's Fervor Subdued by Shore Snow Storm," Afro-American, February 24, 1940.

"Names in Pilchard Case Kept Secret," Baltimore Sun, February 26, 1940.

"To Get Pilchard Charges Today," Baltimore Sun, February 27, 1940.

"Two Negroes Indicted for Shore Murder," Baltimore Sun, February 28, 1940.

"Three Indictments Are Returned Against Negroes in Pilchard Murder Case," Worcester Democrat, March 1, 1940.

"Collick and Manuel Indicted in Worcester," Crisfield Times, March 1, 1940.

"Grand Jury Gets Eastern Shore Murder Case," Afro-American, March 2, 1940.

"Ready for Trial in Shore Murder," Baltimore Sun, March 6, 1940.

"Mob Ignored by Grand Jury," Afro-American, March 9, 1940.

"Armed Guard Put at Towson Jail," Baltimore Sun, March 14, 1940.

"Separate Trials Asked in Slaying," Baltimore Sun, March 15, 1940.

"Trial of Shore Suspects Shifted," Afro-American, March 16, 1940.

"Trial of Stockton Suspects May Begin March 26," Afro-American, March 16, 1940.

"Suspects Plead Not Guilty," Afro-American, March 23, 1940.

Peyton Gray, "Not Guilty, Say Shore Suspects," Afro-American, March 23, 1940.

"No Date Set Yet for Shore Trial," Afro-American, March 30, 1940.

"Towson People Seem to Have the 'Jitters'," Worcester Democrat, April 19, 1940.

"Towson To Seek Trial Of Two To Cut Cost Of Keep, Now $900," Baltimore Sun, June 13, 1940.

"Worcester County to Ask Early Trial of Negroes," Baltimore Sun, June 23, 1940.

"Pilchard Case to be Called on July 29th," Worcester Democrat, July 12, 1940.

"2 Murder Defendants to be Heavily Guarded," Baltimore Sun, July 18, 1940.

"Seek Joint Trial in Shore Murder," Baltimore Sun, July 21, 1940.

"Towson Authorities to Guard Negro Murderers," Worcester Democrat, July 26, 1940.

"Pilchard Murder Trial Due Today," Baltimore Sun, July 29, 1940.

"Slain Man's Widow Points Out Collick," Baltimore Sun, July 30, 1940.

"Witness Says Negro Planned Shore Murder," Baltimore Sun, July 31, 1940.

"Shore Murder Trial Verdicts Likely Today," Baltimore Sun, August 1, 1940.

"Trial of Pilchard Murderers Ended," Worcester Democrat, August 2, 1940.

Peyton Gray, "Collick Calm as Widow Tells Story," Afro-American, August 2, 1940.

"Death Meted to Negro for Shore Murder," Baltimore Sun, August 2, 1940.

"Shore Suspects Duck," Afro-American, August 3, 1940.

"Execution of Collick Scheduled on September 13," Baltimore Sun, August 9, 1940.

"Pilchard Slayer to Hang September 13," Washington Post, August 9, 1940. 

"Mrs. Martha Blake Tells Afro Reporter Her Story of Eastern Shore Murder," Afro-American, August 10, 1940.

"Collick Death Date Is Friday, September 13," Afro-American, August 17, 1940.

"Gems Found in Home of Doomed Md. Slayer," Washington Post, August 29, 1940.

"Hidden Jewelry Found in Home of Collick," Worcester Democrat, August 30, 1940.

"Negro Is Executed For Farmer's Murder," Baltimore Sun, September 13, 1940.

Max Johnson, "Gallows Fails to End Calm of Shore Slayer," Afro-American, September 21, 1940.

"Plans to Expand State Police Unit," Baltimore Sun, November 1, 1940.