Ruxton Ridgely, Jr. had front row views as well as stage roles in some of the uglier moments of history in the lower Maryland Eastern Shore counties in the 1930s and 1940s. He is included here because of an interesting newspaper article located about him printed by The Baltimore Sun on February 2, 1940. But the only photograph I have seen of the man was during one of those roles in the case of George Armwood who was lynched in Princess Anne, Maryland in October of 1933. Lt. Ridgely is shown here to the right of George Armwood only hours before Armwood would be killed. The photo was from the October 21, 1933 edition of the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper. The Afro-American was then a weekly publication, the photograph was in the edition following the October 18th lynching.
The photograph was taken during a stop in Salisbury when Armwood was transported to Baltimore for safekeeping; however, he was soon transported back to the Princess Anne jail from where he was dragged. Ridgely was one of the witnesses to Armwood’s statement to the police following Armwood’s capture. Ridgely was present along with several state policemen sent to guard Armwood in Princess Anne, and he was one of those policemen who later testified to details of the lynching, particularly of the mob participants.
The Sun article of February 1940 reported that “three years ago he was in command of a small detachment of troopers called in to quell an incipient riot among strikers at a Cambridge packing plant,” credited with assisting to calm the incident. And in 1940, in Snow Hill, Lt. Ridgely led a dramatic rescue as a leader of four policemen who pushed through a large mob to prevent two women from being lynched, shoving the mob aside, reportedly estimated to numbering nearly 1,000. This photo was in the February 24, 1940 issue of the Baltimore Afro-American.
Ruxton Ridgely, Jr. was the son of Baltimore attorney Ruxton Moore Ridgely and a nephew of former Police Commissioner Charles D. Gaither. Ridgely’s mother was Rebecca D. Gaither Ridgely. Ridgely was born in September of 1900 and died in February of 1989.
— Linda Duyer