The Dothan Riot

SIZE
40.5' Long by 16.5' High

COMPLETION DATE
May 1998

ARTIST NAME
Cheryl Hardin

TALKING POINTS

  • The Dothan Riot took place in October of 1889, just 4 years after Dothan was incorporated.
  • The riot started over a tax the city council levied on every commercial dray that traveled the city streets, without giving the citizens of Dothan a right to vote on the tax.
  • Claiming it was unfair to farmers, The Farmer’s Alliance, headed by Green Stringer, refused to pay the tax.
  • Marshall Tobe Domingus arrested Green Stringer for not paying the tax and his trial was set for Monday, October 14.
  • Green Stringer was released on bail and that evening ran into the Marshall, Deputy Parker Powell and several friends while he was out walking with his sons.
  • There was a dramatic shootout and riot that ended up taking place as guns were drawn and words were exchanged.
  • Marshall Tobe Domingus is the man in the black jacket on his knees with a man on his back stabbing him.
  • Marshall Tobe Domingus was arrested and charged with the murder of George Stringer. He was convicted, but the Alabama Supreme Court sent the case back for retrial where he was found not guilty and freed.

The Dothan Riot was as dramatic as the great shootout at the OK Corral in October 1881! It was October of 1889, just four years after Dothan was incorporated on November 11, 1885, when the Riot took place at the public well and fire-bell tower in the center of the intersection of St. Andrews and Main streets.

The riot started over a tax the city council levied on every commercial dray that traveled the city streets, without giving the citizens of Dothan a right to vote on the tax. The Farmers' Alliance, headed by Green Stringer, refused to pay the tax, claiming it was unfair to the farmers who wanted to haul their cotton to the gins in downtown Dothan, and bales of cotton to the new railroad freight depot in Dixie that had opened on August 13, 1889.

It was October, coming to the end of the cotton season, when Marshall Tobe Domingus arrested Green Stringer for not paying the tax. The trial was set for Monday, October 14, and Green was released on bail. That evening, Tobe, Deputy Parker Powell, and several friends were out for a stroll and met Green and his sons, Ben and George Stringer, and several of their friends, across from the Deal and Shadgett Bar on East Main near the town’s water well, and a fight started.

George rushed to the rescue of Ben, and pistols were drawn from every quarter. There was a crowd on the street, but they scattered like quail in every direction. George’s and Tobe’s shots were so close together, they sounded as one. Jeff Walker was killed and George fell dead across Jeff. Tobe is the man in the black jacket on his knees with a man on his back stabbing him. Several others were wounded. Tobe was arrested and charged with the murder of George Stringer. He was convicted, but the Alabama Supreme Court sent the case back for retrial. He was found not guilty and freed at the second trial.

T.E. Williams, the editor of Dothan’s first newspaper, The Dothan Light, said at the end of his October 16, 1889 article about the Riot, “Bad, Bad Dothan.”