New marker partially funded with public donations

A state marker commemorating the victim of a dark crime in Delaware history will be replaced later this month following the theft of the original marker.

The George White Commemorative Historic Marker, which was installed June 19 and unveiled Sunday, June 23, was stolen from its Greenbank Park location in Pike Creek barely six weeks after its installation.

The new marker will be unveiled at a special ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 20, at 3 p.m.

White was a black farm worker accused of murdering a white woman in 1903, with little evidence to suggest his guilt.

White was eventually jailed. Following inflammatory sermons by a local pastor, on July 23, 1903, a mob broke into the jail and kidnapped White.

He was later lynched, his body burned and hacked up as souvenirs by attendees.

The marker, unveiled on the 116th anniversary of White’s death, was discovered missing by police on Friday, Aug. 2, after a resident report on Aug. 1.

The crimes committed against White returned to light following a campaign from Sanford School senior Savannah Shepherd, who learned of the incident during a visit to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.

With support from Sen. Darius Brown, D-Wilmington, the marker was installed in a relatively short time.

At the time of the theft, Shepherd’s family said in a statement that they draw no conclusions against the perpetrator.

“We do wish we could engage in a conversation with whoever did this and we strongly believe that, with some level of understanding about why this marker and this history matters to us, all of this could have been avoided,” the statement said.

Delaware Crime Stoppers is offering a $2,000 reward to anyone who provides information leading to an arrest and conviction.

The Delaware Public Archives ordered a replacement marker shortly after the theft.

To encourage community ownership, donations from private citizens were accepted to help fund the purchase and installation of the new marker.

Brown said in a statement that they will not be deterred by the “cowardly and criminal” act.

“For centuries, certain elements of society have tried to suppress and erase African-American history. They did not succeed then and they will not succeed now,” sid Brown, who is also chair of the Delaware Legislative Black Caucus. “Their crimes will only serve to bring our community closer and strengthen our collective resolve to ensure that acts of racial terror, such as the lynching of George White, will never be forgotten.”