Night Riders - Tobacco Marauders
Hopkinsville was our destination to check out an exhibit on psychic Edgar Cayce, but the town has a few other surprises.
In the same museum, there was a display about the "Night Riders -- an excitable local organization from the early 1900s. Also known as the "Silent Brigade," it was comprised of "dark fired" tobacco farmers upset about the low prices paid for their crops by the buyers' monopoly.
The Night Riders became more militant in their actions, wearing cloths masks to disguise their identities. Things apparently got out of control, as one headline from December 7, 1907 screams "A NIGHT OF HORROR -- In Red Glare of Burning Buildings Human Devils Gloat Over Their Wanton Power in the Destruction of Property and Terrorizing of Good Citizens." The Night Riders marched into town by the hundreds, burned down three tobacco houses, shot a train brakeman trying to switch his cars to a safer spot, and brutally beat a tobacco buyer.
The museum display includes a Night Rider mask on a mannequin, and various newspaper accounts of the conflict and attack on the town.
But one generation's "Gloating Devils" is another's cause for celebration; the museum sponsors the Night Rider Tobacco Raid Re-enactment every year at the end of September. Costumed marauders ride horses around an exciting hayride that recreates the 1907 Night of Horror.