Sunday, July 20, 2014

July 20, 1899: Lon French

The Humboldt Republican (Humboldt, Iowa) on July 28, 1899 gives us just a small bit of information in the following:

Lon French, a desperado,was shot to death by a crowd of angry citizens at Freelandsville, Ind.

There is no date given in the article, but looking at the January 1, 1900 list of lynchings for 1899, the date is given as July 20. 

This next article is interesting to me. It is found in the San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California) on July 21, 1887:


Alleged Confessions Shown to Be False.

A dispatch from Chico states that Hong Di, the lately lynched murderer of Mrs. Billou, said that Marshal Burns told him to tell the story about Weaver, and also promises the confessions made to Cottle, the cell-mate of the Chinese.  At a late hour last night Marshal Burns was seen at his residence on Seventeenth, near Mission street.  He said that he left Colusa on May 11th and never even saw Hong Di, so that it was impossible for him to have imparted the alleged instructions about Weaver.  Referring to the confession that Hong Di proposed wiping out Weaver and the Billou family and then, after ravishing and killing Maud Billou, committing suicide, Marshal Burns said that the story was absurd, and believed to be so by Mr. Billou as well as by the daughters.  The general opinion he found prevalent in Colusa was that Weaver cowhided the Chinese for some offense and then Hong Di took the horrible revenge, with the details of which all are familiar.  Hong Di, Mr. Burns said, was an unusually smart Chinese and could evidently lie glibly.

The details are not so familiar 127 years later.  To get an idea of what happened, I am using an excerpt of an article from The Marion Star (Marion, Ohio) dated July 12, 1887.

...Hong Di had been reprimanded by Mrs. Billion for some shortcoming and became surly.  A day or two after, while Mr. Billion, a wealthy rancher, was absent, and Mrs. Billion, her two daughters, and William Weaver were sitting at sitting at supper, Hong Di suddenly rushed into the room with a rifle and shot Weaver through the shoulder.  A second shot went through Mrs. Billion's heart.  Both daughters fled and escaped uninjured. The murderer was found some time after on the banks of the Sacramento river, nearly starved.

In case anyone was wondering, Hong Di was the cook for the family.  Also, I am not sure if the family was named Billou or Billion.  Different articles write the name different ways, I lean towards Billou, though.  Before being lynched, Hon Di was asked why he attacked, he responded he was drunk. More on this lynching can be found in this post.

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