Wednesday, July 2, 2014

July 2, 1895: Marshall Price

The Denton Journal (Denton, Maryland) dated July 6, 1895.


Taken by a Masked Mob and Hanged to a Tree Near the Jail.

Marshall E. Price was taken from the jail about eleven o'clock Tuesday night by about forty masked men, unknown to the crowd about the jail, and hanged to a tree not forty yards forty yards from the door of tho[sic] prison.  Early in the afternoon it was whispered that a mob would be here, and there were mysterious movements by several strangers in town.  Toward nightfall carriages began to come in and everybody seemed to think that the lynchers would come.  Excitement, though suppressed, was manifest everywhere.  It is stated that in some way it was communicated to the officers that any attempt to take Price away would be foiled, for spies guarded every possible avenue of escape.  It was not thought advisable to attempt to get away with the prisoner, as the only practicable route would have been through Delaware, and he could not legally be carried beyond the State line.

Price was resting quietly in his cell during the early part of the evening, but there was so much talk outside toward nine o'clock that his suspicions became aroused.  He was perhaps the last one to entertain thought of danger, however.  About the hour mentioned, or a little later, Guard Charles Algurber went to the wicket in the cell and called Marshall and told him of the danger and that he felt it his duty to warn him of it in order that a little time of preparation would be given him.  Price became beside himself with excitement in a moment and in a voice  full of terror plead:  "For God's sake let me out;  I will hide;  I will not run away."  The officer told him that he could not open the door; that he had no key.  Price begged him to hasten to the sheriff for the key so that he cold escape before the mob arrived, and the guard could stand the tearful entreaties no longer, and hurried away.  He well knew that there was no earthly power at hand that could save Marshall Price, whose heart-rending moans still rang in his ears as the crowd increased and the white capped spies walked about with watchful eyes.

By nine o'clock several hundred had gathered on the court house square, and the disguised visitors began to arrive about half-past ten, several of them wearing white caps and walking through the crowds assembled in front of the jail, evidently trying to ascertain what resistance would be made.  These spies were apparently satisfied with the outlook, for they quickly returned to the main body of their party.  Like soldiers they formed in line near the new court house and rapidly marched to the jail.  There was perfect order among them.  When they reached the front door of the prison they found a throng of spectators awaiting, and a hurried consultation was held.  The leader then took his men around to the rear entrance, and at a word from him they burst open the door with a heavy crowbar.  Here they met Sheriff Berry, who commanded them to desist, only to be seized by the mob and,together with his deputy, Walter J. Roe, thrust into a room and told to stay there.  Price's cell, on the second floor, was thon[sic] made for and the door battered down in less time  than it takes to tell it.  The prisoner resisted, saying:  "Gentlemen, I have one thing to say—" but before he could say it one of the men, with a curse, struck him over the head and knocked him senseless.  The rope was put around his neck, and willing hands hauled him down stairs, head-foremost, with a rush.  Opening the front door the leader of the gang told the crowd there assembled to get out of the way, and the people did not stand on the order of their leaving but fell back and stood beneath the broad-spreading trees near by and saw Sallie Dean's avengers drag Price, now limp and unconscious, along.  Thirty yards from the jail door stands a big maple tree.  An attempt was made to climb it, but the white cap who had the ropo[sic] in hand going up found that he could not reach a limb, and he came down.  The rope was then thrown over and a dozen or more hoisted up the victim.  The moon shone brightly through the big trees and every movement of the lynchers could be seen plainly.  After the body had been hanging several minutes they struck matches and looked at it.  Then they cheered lustily for Judges Wickes and Stump and Sheriff Berry, and condemned Governor Brown for granting the respite.  Dr. George said death was caused by strangulation.  Many viewed the body dangling in the air.

The affair was managed with some skill, for the arrangements were carried out quickly and without any confusion.  The whole plain evidently had been thoroughly canvassed at a rendezvous, which was said to be near town.  Many of the lynchers had apparently come from a considerable distance, and it is said that Sussex county, Del., Dorchester and Talbot furnished some of them.  That there were avengers from the district in which the murdered little girl lived it is but natural to suppose.

Justice Hutson summoned a jury of inquest Wednesday morning as follows:  Jonathan Evitts, Clinton Cook, Frank W. Reddeu, George W. Richardson, Charles M. Lloyd, Walter J. Roe, Charles Alburger, W. Frank Towers, Thomas L. Chaffinch, Jacob Gingher, A. W. Short, and Frederick Hyde.  A meeting was held Wednesday, but adjournment was made untii[sic] Thursday.  An effort was made, it is understood, to learn the names of those who participated in the lynching with a view to prosecuting them.  The jury assembled Thursday  and heard the testimony of several witnesses.  It is understood that nothing of importance could be learned.  The jury again adjourned to July 17th.

Mr. Joseph H. Price, father of the dead man, accompanied by the widow, was among the scores of people who came to town Wednesday morning.  The father was incensed, as well as deeply grieved, at what had been done, and expressed himself freely.  He engaged Undertaker Cooper to inter the body of his son, first purchasing a lot in Denton cemetery.  In the afternoon the young widow went to the jail and was ushered into the front cell, first floor, where the corpse lay, and wept bitterly when the bruised and ashen face was uncovered.  She remained with the dead about ten minutes and examined the wounds about the head and neck.  One of these, about the forehead, had evidently been given when the lynchers first entered the cell.  It was thought by some that a whip-handle, leaded, was the weapon used.

The remains were buried about noon on Thursday.  The lot which had been purchased by Mr. Joseph H. Price of Superintendent Mowbray was not used, as several of the directors of the cemetery association objected, and the grave was dug in the rear portion of the cemetery, known as the public ground.  Tho[sic] father and widow of the dead man came to town about ten o'clock and concluded the preparations for the burial.  The jury of inquest was in session and six of the jurors went down to the jail with Undertaker Cooper and acted as pall-bearers.  They accompanied the remains to the cemetery, and quite a number of people followed.  The father and widow of the dead man drove over to the grave.  A great deal of sympathy was expressed for them.  The burial rites were read by Rev. Z. H. Webster, who had often visited the condemned man in his cell.  It was thought toward the last he seemed more inclined to change in his spiritual condition, and this was thought to be due to the pastor's influence.  For this reason it was the desire of the father of Marshall that Mr. Webster should officiate.  The services were brief at the grave.

The lynching of Price occasioned much comment in Baltimore, and is generally regretted.  Governor Brown said the granting of the respite was incumbent upon him as Governor, and was purely ministerial in character.  He had no discretion in the matter.  The Governor said:  "It is only another very forcible argument in favor of the enactment of a law such as I recommended in my last message to the General Assembly, that all prisoners convicted of capital offenses should be at once taken to the Penitentiary and left until the sentence imposed by the court is either carried out or set aside."

Sheriff Berry went out of town Tuesday afternoon to take his children away.  Some time ago he had arranged that they should be away from town before the fifth of July when the execution was to take place, according to the sentence of the court.  "When I returned," said the sheriff, "I found a man up a tree opposite to Price's cell.  He came down and another man joined him.  They both were strangers to me.  I sought to give them the impression that I had taken the prisoner away, but the man who had been up the tree said: 'Yes, I know he has been sent away, but he is up in that room all right enough, for we've been talking with him.  You could not have gotten him away if you had tried.'  When I was in the feed room that evening a man came in and notified me that the crowd was on the lookout and that it would be useless for me to try to take Price out.  I have been censured by some people for not taking Price away or not making a fight against the mob.  I did all that was in my power.  It has been practically impossible for me to leave town with Price since he was brought here the last time.  For several days I know I have been constantly watched, and had I attempted to get away with him I believe he would have been seized and hanged."  

Speaking of the raid on the jail the sheriff said:  "Then, as to my not making a  stronger flight.  I and my deputy are two.  At least a dozen armed men came in, and they had two or three hundred sympathizers at their back.  After it was announced that a reprieve had been granted it was impossible for me to get a strong posse.  Then, again, I did not propose to be killed, and I certainly did not propose to kill anyone defending Price.   I did my duty.  My conscience is clear on that point.  I think I would have exceeded it had I shot three or four men and had gotten shot myself."

This next article is from The Times (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) dated July 14, 1895.  


Scathing Words by Marshall Price's Attorney on the Apathy of Sheriff Berry.

Special Telegram to The Times.

BALTIMORE.  July 13.

Three young lawyers, Millard F. Taylor, J. Henry Baker and Robert F. Leach, Jr., who made such a great legal fight to save Marshall Price, the murderer of little Sallie Dean, from the gallows, have achieved by their efforts a notable reputation.  Had their client not been hanged by a mob they would probably saved his neck, as they were prepared to carry the case upon  its technicalities to the State Court of Appeals, and if necessary to the Supreme Court of the United States upon a constitutional point.  Mr. Taylor caused a sensation by his denunciation of the lynchers and scathing criticism of the Sheriff.  In an interview Mr. Taylor said:  "The lynching of Price is a disgrace to Caroline county, and Sheriff Berry is solely to blame because he did not remove the prisoner to Baltimore.

"We did not believe Price had a fair trial at Denton and the case was pending before the Court of Appeals.  On Saturday last, in company with Messrs. Baker and Leach, I called on Governor Brown, who granted a reprieve after we presented the facts of the case to him.  At the suggestion of Attorney General Poe we wrote to Sheriff Berry immediately after leaving the Governor's office."

The letter reads:

"After consultation with the Governor and Attorney General, a reprieve has been granted in the Price case.  We know you are not properly prepared to protect the prisoner in your jail, and we earnestly request you bring him at once to Baltimore or to remove him to some other place of safe keeping, as we fear violence.  Should anything happen to Price, the responsibility will be charged to you individually.  We specially recommend and caution you to say nothing of the Governor's action till prisoner is in some place of safety."

The letter was signed by Messrs. Taylor, Baker and Leach.

Continuing, Mr. Taylor said:

"This letter was received by Sheriff Berry on Monday, and he had ample time to get Price away on the boat for Baltimore.  He could even have removed him a day before the lynching, but he showed apathy in the matter.  Price could easily have been taken from the jail in daylight, for men who do lynchings are cowards and only work under cover of darkness.  In my judgement, Sheriff Berry neglected his duty and as an officer of the law he failed to carry out its previsions and prevent this act of violence.

"It has been said that during the recent argument at Denton in Price's behalf I was reprimanded by the court.  I wish to state that I was at all times treated with the utmost courtesy by the court."  

Mr. Taylor expressed himself as being confident had he been at the scene of the lynching he would have been done bodily harm.  He received the telegram from a friend in Denton.  It read:

"Price lynched last night; mob fairly orderly; wanted you."

Mr. Taylor spoke flatteringly of the kindness bestowed upon the counsel for the defence at Denton.  Said he:  "The occurrence in my opinion, was not the act of citizens of Denton,  for they are beyond a shadow of a doubt law abiding.  My client's death was undoubtedly due to vehemence exercised by a disorderly mob from around the vicinity Delaware Forest and Keat Island."   

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