Lake City honors postmaster lynched 115 years ago

Lake City unveiled a historical marker on South Church Street honoring the life of Frazier Baker, the city's first African American postmaster who was lynched and killed by a large mob in 1898, along with his one-year-old daughter.

The mob set fire to the post office and Baker's home on South Church Street.

When Baker and his family came running out of the home to escape the flames , the mob opened fire on them killing Baker and his one year old daughter, Julia.

Baker's wife and three other children were wounded, but survived. They moved to Boston in 1899.

Baker's great neice Fostena Baker says her family is overwhelmed with joy at the city's efforts to honor their loved ones.

"It brings some degree of relief. Finally after 115 years Uncle Frazier is being recognized," said Baker.

At the time, the Charleston News and Courier called it "one of the most horrible crimes ever committed in South Carolina."

"Just the idea of coming after midnight. One would expect people to be asleep or down for the night at 1 am in the morning. And to take gasoline and shavings and put around the house knowing that there was a wife and children who had just come to the area 13 days prior to that. To see the wife and the children running out and then you start shooting. It was very obvious and in my mind that it was really meant to be done and well planned," Baker explained.

Lake City officials say after a year long investigation by the Justice Department, two men confessed to having been part of mob and agreed to testify against the rest.

In April 1899, 11 men were tried in US District Court in Charleston for Murder, Assault, Conspiracy to Commit Murder and Destruction of the Mail.

The jury deadlocked, and officials say no one was ever convicted.

Lake City's mayor says a blemish in his city's history was made right by the historical marker in Baker's honor.

"It's good that the community can come together and remember our past and focus on our future. This gives us some framework, ground work that we can work towards making Lake City a better community," said Mayor Lovith Anderson.