LEONARDTOWN, Md. (WJZ) – Gov. Larry Hogan last week pardoned 34 lynching victims in Maryland, including Benjamin Hance, St. Mary’s County’s only documented lynching victim.

Hance never had been tried for alleged misconduct or found guilty of any crime before he was lynched in Leonardtown in 1887. The same day, Hogan had pardoned Howard Cooper.

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Hance, a Black man, was arrested May 27, 1887, and taken to the town’s Old Jail, where a mob broke in June 17, held the jailkeeper at gunpoint and took Hance from his cell after breaking down the door. They took him to a site on the outskirts of town and hung him from a tree. An inquiry into the lynching neither identified nor convicted any mob members of any crimes and the case was dismissed.

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The St. Mary’s County Museum Division has been partnering with the Equal Justice Initiative on the Community Remembrance Project to bring the injustice to light, according to a statement from county officials.  The division and its partners collected soil where Hance was said to have been hanged and sent a jar of soil to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala. A second jar and an exhibit are in the Old Jail Museum in the same cell that held Hance. Admission to the museum is free, and visitors can come daily between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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The partnership is working to establish a historical marker about Hance’s story, expected to be erected on the museum grounds on Nov. 1.

CBS Baltimore Staff