NC Literary Hall of Fame



"Stanly Has A Lynching" The Murder of Alexander Whitley: A Family Legacy Entangled In A Web Of Fiction & Folklore by M. Lynette Hartsell

$14.95, Paperback / $8.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-1-73235-410-4
September, 2018
Nonfiction: History
Available from your local bookstore and

In 1892, Alexander Whitley, a white man, was lynched in North Carolina—and became a local legend. Written by his great-granddaughter, "Stanly Has a Lynching" explores the ways his murder was justified for over a century through media, religion, balladry, and folklore.

"Stanley Has a Lynching" examines the ways in which the media as well as religious, political, and social institutions have used ballads, fiction, and folklore tales for over a century to celebrate, rather than condemn, the brutal lynching of a white man, Alexander Whitley, in 1892.

How men in a small town in North Carolina justified this act of murder as "Just Desert"—before, during and after the event—is exposed when facts, rather than fiction, are brought into focus.

Through her research and analysis, Ms. Hartsell demonstrates how a family legacy was tainted by a fabricated folktale embedded in religious motif. Many newspaper accounts from the 1800s help tell the story, conveying aspects of southern history and Lynch Culture not often found in textbooks.

M. Lynette Hartsell, great-granddaughter of Alexander Whitley, was born in 1948 in Albemarle, the heart of Stanly County. She graduated from North Stanly High School in 1966 and from Appalachian State University in Boone in 1969.

In 1981, after graduating from North Carolina Central University School of Law in Durham, she opened her law office and, over the course of thirty-six years, represented clients in the North Carolina State and Federal courts. She also served as a mediator and as an arbitrator in civil matters.

Currently, she lives in Cedar Grove with her partner, Laurie Fuchs. She enjoys writing, photography, and exploring historic and cultural sites in the U.S. and beyond.

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