Site of the Hanging Tree
The intersection of SW Second Street and Lucien Avenue is the site of the darker side of Corning's history. This was the site where Klansman Luther Bent Taylor and Lafayette Melton met their fate in 1882 and 1885. The hanging of these two men marked the end of Ku Klux Klan terrorism in Corning.
Backstory and Context
At the intersection of SW Second Street and Lucien Avenue (known as Myrtle Street at the time) is the location of a darker part of Corning’s history. This area south of the Courthouse square was known in those days as “The Goose Pasture.” This was the location of the hanging tree. It was here that Klansman Luther Bent Taylor met his fate on Friday, April 21, 1882 for the crime of murdering his fellow Klansman Riley Black for trying to leave the Klan. The second and last hanging that took place on this site was that of Lafayette Melton for murdering Frank Hale in January of 1885. The tree has long since been removed and Corning would expand south and eventually build over the site. During this era the courthouse was moved to Boydsville which left Corning and western Clay County with no one to keep unlawful citizens in check. This location tells of time when Ku Klux Klan activity was terrorizing Corning and when hanging was legal.
Argenweb – Arkansas Genealogical Resources Online “Not ‘The Hanging Tree’” Accessed October 25, 2019 http://www.argenweb.net/clay/hangingtree.htm
Argenweb – Arkansas Genealogical Resources Online “Our Home Boy Outlaw – Bent Taylor” Accessed October 25, 2019 http://www.argenweb.net/clay/courierbenttaylor.htm
Oliver, James M. Corning Cavalcade Centennial Edition. Edited by Frank Cochran. N.p.: 1997.
Corning Centennial Book 1873-1973