Charlotte observer, book reviews, Susan Wells, A game called Salisbury, snubbed?

There is a rumor circulating that the Charlotte Observer has snubbed Susan Wells, penname Susan Barringer Wells. Susan has written a new book, “A Game Called Salisbury.” The book is about the murder of the Lyerly Family in 1906 and the subsequent  arrest and later lynching of 3 sharecroppers. The book is also about racial attitudes in the south and the nation. There is a Charlotte connection beyond any racial aspects. The 3 prisoners were brought to Charlotte for their safety before the trial was to begin. After their return to the Rowan County jail, an angry mob, stirred up by outsiders, lynched the 3 men.

Book signings have been taking place all over the state and the Greensboro Daily News, The Asheville Citizen and Salisbury Post have written articles about Susan and the book. With the involvement of the Mecklenburg County Jail in the story and Susan’s ancestral roots going back over 250 years all around Charlotte, one would think that sufficient to warrant coverage. Is there some other reason? Is this just a unjustified rumor? Are there still remnants of racism in Charlotte? Charlotte Observer, do you have a response?


3 responses to “Charlotte observer, book reviews, Susan Wells, A game called Salisbury, snubbed?

  1. Susan Barringer Wells

    I really appreciate thIS publicity!

    Incidentally, I am proud of the response to my book and reviews (pasted below), posted by reputable writers/educators, Tex Wood and Rob Neufeld. I am hoping that these reviews, the integrity of my research, and the positive response from the general public will begin to break down some of the barriers the book faces as a “self-published” work.

    Below are Wood’s review and a link to Neufeld’s at Asheville Citizen-Times’ . Also see professor Glenda Gilmore’s, found on the back cover.

    Posted on February 27, 2008.

    Professor George Tex Wood of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College has provided a review of “A Game Called Salisbury”, the new book by Susan Barringer Wells:

    “…Faulknerian in its revelations and observations of human nature, clearly spotlighting the question of real responsibility not just for active human evil, but also for spawning its activity. Those PEOPLE in the media (not some amorphous Media) are held to account. I doubt they’ll appreciate seeing that fact bared, so I doubt we’ll see many reviews of this thorough indictment. Wells shows us that lynchings were (and are) the tip of the iceburg, the cruel result of calculated manipulation of our base human natures and our cowardliness in not confronting evil when we see it, either now or then.
    While this book lacks Twain’s humor, it rivals his incisiveness.”
    Author does dogged detective work about a family murder

    Rob Neufeld
    February 17, 2008 12:15 am

    “One of the most chilling recent books about local history comes to our eyes via self-publication. In “A Game Called Salisbury” (Infinity Publishing), Susan Barringer Wells presents the story of a series of murders and retributive lynchings that had taken place within her family a century ago.

    The book is exhaustively researched and compellingly related. To be passionate about a subject is one thing; to tell the story in a fresh and focused way, as Wells does, is a rarer achievement.”

  2. I am from Statesville, NC. My Grandfather was born in 1887. My Grandfather told my mother, who in turn told me, that he traveled to Salisbury when he was 18 years old to witness a “public hanging” of three blacks who were convicted of murdering a family of Lyerlys in Rowan County. Statesville is 25 miles from Salisbury. It took quite a while to travel that distance in a horse and buggy in 1906. IF this was a lynching, my Grandfather would not have known about it, nor had time to travel that distance to be witness to it. In fact, for him to have known about the hangings, it would have had to have been announced in the newspaper at the time. There would have had to be a set time for the hangings. I am concerned about this book being “revisionist” history. It seems everyone, 100 years later, is taking this author’s second, third, etc. account as GOSPEL.
    Someone needs to look at this author’s resume before they automatically assume what she writes is truth.

  3. Susan Barringer Wells (Vaughan)

    Dear Marilyn,
    What your Grandfather knew was history.
    That period’s recent history gave him
    enough info to know that it was very
    likely, if not certain, that those
    two men and one boy would be lynched
    that night, the first night since
    the ax murders occurred, that they
    would be in Salisbury and away from
    the protection of the Mecklenburg
    County Jail.

    Certainly, he could be certain that
    an attempt to lynch the prisoners
    would be made.

    Also, if he was a member of the Klan,
    ( or White Caps as they were often
    called at that time)which is likely, since since he seemed so
    eager to see the “hanging,” and also
    because it might have been detrimental
    for him NOT to have been a member,
    in which case,
    he would have rec’d word from fellow
    members that the mob was planning
    to storm the jail that night –
    the first night of the trial or
    the day of the indictment (true bill).

    The manner in which lynchings were
    carried out were so scripted, in a
    sense, that there were predictable
    steps in
    the ritual, common to them all.

    If you read the book (which you can
    get at any NC Library through loan
    or otherwise), you will see one very
    detailed comparison to the March,
    1906 Chattanooga lynching, as an

    As for my resume. Here is some of it.
    I have an English/History degree
    from the University of N.C. I
    graduate courses in drama and art at
    the same university. I completed
    more than a year of a 2-year
    program in commercial art/ad design
    where I learned about the subtleties
    of visual propaganda (like that used
    to convince good whites to hate and
    torture blacks and like that used
    to sell fluoride to community water
    facilities and to sell potentially
    fatal drugs to the general population
    and so forth.
    I worked as a managing editor of
    a publisher of children’s educational
    materials until I became poisoned
    by the work environment, which led
    me to research for the next 20
    years the topic of environmental
    health and clinical ecology.
    I completed graduate courses in public
    health at the University of NC at
    Chapel Hill, and because of my
    husband’s death from agent orange, I
    researched the adverse health effects
    of dioxin exposure.
    While a student at UNC-Ch I conducted
    a survey of pesticides used in
    N.C. Colleges and publicized the
    results on a webpage. I also was
    invited several times to speak to
    UNC classes about
    my research on toxic exposures.

    In between doing research on
    environmental toxins and
    trying to heal from a disability
    caused by my own
    exposures, I earned several
    artistic awards for my paintings of
    Banks scenes. I was one of the
    featured artists in Outer Banks Magazine
    several years ago.

    About ten years ago, I discontinued painting, for the most
    part,when I
    began doing some family history work
    and stumbled upon the story of my
    relatives’ ax murder, which led me
    to the 1906 report of the “so-called”
    state’s investigation and to question
    the guilt of those who were lynched.

    For the next five years I spent
    most of my time collecting news
    and oral history on this topic, and
    after that I spent all my free time,
    while working as a nutrition
    specialist for a Federal child
    food program, researching this case
    and reading books on the subject.

    During this time I was mentored by
    one of the (if not THE) leading
    historian on
    the South, Yale Professor, Glenda
    Gilmore, who read and edited my first
    draft of the book and wrote a
    brief summary for the back cover.

    All I report in the book is based on
    everything I could find out, either
    written or oral about the story.
    All of the news articles I quote or
    paraphrase are cited, so than anyone
    may find them on microfilm (your
    local library can order most) and
    read for themselves the volume of
    info available on the case.

    Additionally, I include and focus on
    recent historical events that
    colored the reporting and perception
    of the ax murders, and I ask readers
    to always consider the source,
    which is exactly what you are correctly
    doing by questioning my capabilities.

    Is there anything else you would like
    to know?

    I’m sorry I am just now replying.
    My daughter had a terrible accident
    that has taken most of my time
    recently and I was totally unaware
    that you had posted.

    Thanks for asking.

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