The Brooke Hart Kidnapping Newspaper collection provides newspaper documentation of the murder of Brooke Hart, which took
place on November 9, 1933 and the subsequent lynching of the perpetrators, John Maurice Holmes and Thomas Harold Thurmond
on November 26, 1933 in San Jose, California. Brooke Hart, a young man of 22 and recent graduate of Santa Carla University,
was appointed by his father, Alex Hart, owner of the Hart Department Store, the vice president of the company. The Hart family
was one of most respected and wealthiest families in San Jose. The kidnapping and murder became national news, and the lynching
of the two accused defendants marked the first and last lynching in San Jose since 1854. After Hart's body was discovered
in the San Francisco bay on November 26, 1933, mob violence broke out and an angry mob rushed the jail and the two men were
dragged to Saint James Park where they were beaten, stripped of their clothes, and hung. This story made national news and
a media and political circus followed. California Governor James Rolph Jr. shamefully applauded the actions of the mob, for
which he was condemned by President Franklin Roosevelt and former President Herbert Hoover. In the aftermath, gruesome street
hawkers sold post-cards of the event, while others sold pieces of the tree limbs as souvenirs. The trees were finally cut-down,
the jail and new post-office were badly damaged, and the mob was never indicted by the Santa Clara Grand Jury. The failure
of due process, the murders of the two defendants, and the lawlessness that prevailed is an important story in the larger
framework of the history of lynching in the United States.
This single series collection is arranged by format and date: Series I: Brooke Hart Newspapers and Scrapbook, 1933.
Brooke Hart was a wealthy, popular twenty-two year old male residing in San Jose, California. He was kidnapped on November
9, 1933. Brooke's father, Alex J. Hart, the owner of L. Hart and Son Department Stores, offered a $40,000 ransom for his son's
return. When it was determined that Brooke was murdered, a $500 reward for the recovery of his son's body was offered. Thomas
Harold Thurmond demanded the ransom and was arrested on November 15, where he confessed and named John Maurice Holmes as his
accomplice. Holmes denied any wrong doing and his family and friends confirmed that he had attended the theater that night,
but their stories were dismissed by the local sheriff.
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