MT. VERNON, Ind. (WEHT) — Posey County lynching victims are being remembered more than 140 years later thanks to a local high school student.
Mount Vernon High School senior Sophie Kloppenburg started working on the project after she learned about people who were lynched on the Posey County Courthouse lawn in 1878.
17-year-old Sophie Kloppenburg says it wasn’t until recently that she learned about the lynchings when one of her teachers mentioned it to her.
“I was so shocked because I’ve lived here my whole life and I had no idea that it has happened,” she tells us.
When she learned there was no memorial to mark what happened, she reached out to county officials to make it happen. A memorial commemorating the seven African American victims was dedicated at the historic Hovey House on Sunday after months of work.
“This is about them and everything we’re doing is about remembering them and what happened,” Sophie says. “This took a lot of work to get done but the end result was just really rewarding.”
The memorial is located where residents Jim Good, William Chambers, Edward Warner and Jeff Hopkins were lynched in 1878.
Daniel Harris Sr., Daniel Harrison Jr. and John Harrison were murdered in other parts of Posey County. A grand jury was called to investigate, but no one was ever indicted.
USI President Doctor Ronald Rochon spoke at the dedication, saying it’s an important day for the community.
“I had no idea what kind of response this would bring from the community,” Dr. Rochon says. “This is heartwarming. You can feel the love in this room right now.”
Rochon says he’s so proud of today’s youth and we depend on them to make the world a better place.
“When we think about freedom fighters, we think about the civil rights movement. Overwhelmingly we forget that these were young folk. These were folk at the age of 17, 18, 19, 20 making change in America. Sophie’s a freedom fighter.”
The memorial has a QR code that you can scan with your phone. It will take you to the USI’s Rice Library guides webpage with more information on the lynchings.