Hattie Carroll

Hattie Carroll was a 51-year-old mother of eleven children who worked on the kitchen staff at the Emerson Hotel.

Late on the night of February 9, 1963, Carroll was working the white-tie Spinster’s Ball when William Devereux “Billy” Zantzinger arrived to the soiree already drunken and boisterous. The 24-year-old Zantzinger was a scion of a wealthy Charles County tobacco-farming family.

By all accounts, Zantzinger assaulted at least three workers at the Emerson Hotel and the Eager House restaurant with a toy cane. At the Spinster’s Ball, Zantzinger struck a 30-year-old waitress with the cane and called her “nigger,” causing her to flee in tears.

Moments later, angry that Carroll did not serve his bourbon quickly enough, Zantzinger struck her across the shoulder and head with his cane, calling her “nigger” and “black son of a bitch.” Zantzinger then attacked his then-wife, Jane, knocking her to the ground.

Carroll told co-workers, “I feel deathly ill, that man has upset me so,” and collapsed. She was rushed to the hospital and died eight hours later. Her autopsy showed hardening of the arteries, an enlarged heart and high blood pressure. The cause of death was identified as brain hemorrhage.

Zantzinger was arrested for disorderly conduct after the ball, and charged with murder after Carroll’s death the next day. A team of pricey lawyers were hired, who won a change of venue to move the trial to Hagerstown. A three-judge panel reduced the charge from murder to manslaughter.

After a three-day trial in August, Zantzinger was found guilty and fined $125 for assaulting hotel employees and sentenced to six months in jail and fined $500 for the death of Carroll. The court deferred Zantzinger’s jail sentence until September 15 to allow him to harvest his tobacco crop.

The Herald Tribune quoted Zantzinger on his sentence: “I’ll just miss a lot of snow.” Jane was quoted as saying, “Nobody treats his niggers as well as Billy does around here.”

Bob Dylan recorded “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” on Oct. 23, 1963, which is included on his 1964 album, The Times They Are A-Changin’. The song cemented Carrol’s role — and Zantzinger’s notoriety — in American popular culture. Here, Dylan sings the ballad on the Steve Allen show in 1964:

After his jail sentence, Zantzinger returned to his Carroll County farm. Eventually, he turned to real estate, and in the early 1990s was charged with fraud and deceptive practices, accused of renting run-down shacks with no running water. He died on January 3, 2009

Wikipedia: The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Life after a Lonesome Death

Hattie Carroll is buried at Baltimore National Cemetery along with her husband, James, in lot 40 of Section K.

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GPS: 39° 16.641’, W 076° 42.473’



  1. IBen Getiner 6 years ago

    Who Cares….?

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    1. Erin 5 years ago

      Only stupid gits like yourself are so thoroughly apathetic.

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  2. kathi 6 years ago

    I care…

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  3. Carl Smith 5 years ago

    So do I…..
    Thanks Kathi.
    IBen should have been aborted.

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  4. David 5 years ago

    I do also

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  5. steve vitoff 5 years ago

    i recorded a version of the dylan song accompanied by archival photos from baltimore and elsewhere. i invite you to see it! s


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  6. Tamara 5 years ago

    Amazing, that I have never heard of this. Born and raised in Maryland (Hagerstown), it’s kind of sad that schools shy away from even teaching the history of their own cities/counties/states. Why? Yes, racism is a hard pill to swallow, but that doesn’t mean we are not to learn about the atrocities that have blighted a people, communities, towns, a country. It’s everyone’s history regardless of their nationality or ethnicity, and I would hope (& pray) that we learn from the hate, ignorance, and revolting racism of the past so that it’s eradicated in the future. — Peace to you IBen Geitner.

    …Nice video Steve Vitoff

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    1. steve vitoff 5 years ago

      thank you!!

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  7. mohammad inamdar 5 years ago

    how can you not care about a human being who has been killed!
    and i am sorry to alarm you but if do not care you are no different that Zantzinger

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  8. FERERRO LEE CARROLL 4 years ago


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    1. Bridget Carroll 3 years ago

      I agree with you the only way I hear or know of our grandmother is the great articles I come across . I make sure people know that Hattie Carroll was my grandmother. Elegant woman she was and to think I served my country fighting two wars for the ignorant people in our society. To the negative comments made imagine if it was your grandmother . I’m gonna come out of my honor and courageousness for a minute and agree with my cousin because family is so important to me . You all can eat shit and die and to Zantzinget burn in hell I spit on your grave you big racist bully. Now back to reality ,Thank you so much Bob Dylan I follow your music all the time, and to the fucked up society Peace Be Still !!!!!

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    2. Warning: printf() [function.printf]: Too few arguments in /home2/bruce/public_html/welcometobaltimorehon/wp-content/themes/abomb/includes/comment.php on line 15
      2 years ago

      Can you tell us more of what happened to your grandmother’s family?

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    3. Zosha Stuckey 2 months ago

      Fererro, are you still online? I’d like to interview you.

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  9. cee jee 4 years ago

    I am a 39 year old white male and I care very much about this story about a fellow human being, the tragically murdered Hattie Carroll. This story should serve as a reminder that it was not that long ago that racism and racial disparities were so endemic that a terrible murderous act could be compounded into a greater tragedy which was how our system of justice failed to properly punish a criminal and failed it’s duty to Hattie’s family, the black community and the community at large. It failed us all because it sent a message that different citizens could not expect equal treatment under the scales of justice. This allows some small minded ignorant individuals to assume they have a basis for their prejudice.
    As for IBen, sir, every day there are less and less people in the world who choose to wallow in their complete wrong-headed racial prejudice. You may never believe this sir but YOU ARE WRONG. I hope that the light of truth will someday enter your heart and enlighten your mind.

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    1. Brian 4 years ago

      No one cares how old you are.
      No one cares if you are a male or female.
      No one care what the color of your skin is.
      The story is not about you.

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  10. steve vitoff 4 years ago

    i would not repsond or acknowledge the racist posts. it doesnt help to respond or say how outraged you are. if you have not, i invite you to pls scroll up and watch my video about ms carroll’s killing

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  11. IBen Getiner 4 years ago

    An idiotic idealist once spake the following fantasy: “As for IBen, sir, every day there are less and less people in the world who choose to wallow in their complete wrong-headed racial prejudice.”

    Yes, you might be right. Why just the other day on TV, I saw a clean-cut black family in front of their middle-class house in the burbs shooting hoops with Tony the Tiger.! LOL….!!
    You see, that’s the ‘truth’ that your kind responds to and believes in. Because even though it ain’t REAL, it’s the way you all want it to be! So at the risk of sounding a bit cliche, I must borrow a parallel from ‘the soundtrack of a generation’… (the Woodstock movie): “Maybe if we think really hard, we can stop this rain”!!

    NO RAIN…..!! NO RAIN……!! NO RAIN…..!! NO RAIN…!!

    Yet still the rains came steadily still. Just as they always will….

    You’re living in a dream, bub!

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    1. Janis 2 years ago

      That comment is iBen Getiner BTW. You’ll get along with Zantzinger just fine in hell.

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    2. Stefania 2 years ago

      We may be leave in a dream but you’re a poor human being living a really sad and miserable life. What is worst?

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  12. Janis 2 years ago

    TL;DR This story isn’t about you its about this woman whose life was ended by a drunkard racist. Get over yourself and seek therapy bigot troll.

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  13. Fererro l.Carroll 9 months ago

    This is my Grandmother who i never got a chance to meet because of a racist

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    1. Zosha Stuckey 2 months ago

      are you in Baltimore? Your grandmother’s story needs to be more known as a way to educate ignorant people!

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