Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July 29, 1908: Leander Shaw

The Pensacola Journal (Pensacola, Florida) dated July 30, 1908:



Two Attacks Were Made Upon Jail, the Mob Being Repulsed at First.


"Bud" Nicholls and H. C. Kellum, a Street Car Conductor, Were Killed, While Charlie Turner, Jailor Eaton and "Bud" Knowles Were Seriously Wounded.

Shortly before the hour of midnight, Leander A. Shaw, the negro who so brutally assaulted Mrs. Lillian Davis yesterday morning, was taken from the county jail by an infuriated mob, estimated at fully one thousand, and after being dragged about the streets for five or ten minutes, hanged to an electric light pole in the center of the Plaza.  There the body of the negro was riddled with bullets, fully five hundred shots being fired within the course of five minutes.


Before the negro paid the penalty of his crime, two men had lost their lives, one "Bud" Nicholls, shot in the first attack on the county jail, while young H. C. Kellum, a street car conductor, was shot through the heart accidentally, when the revolver of Sheriff Van Pelt was discharged while in his pocket.  The dead and wounded so far as could be learned in the excitement last night, are as follows:


"Bud" Nichols, shot in the head.
Henry C. Kellum, shot through heart.


Charlie Turner, shot in abdomen, probably fatally.

Jailor B. H. Eaton, shot in head, serious.

"Bud" Knowles, shot in the body, serious.

Fred Humphreys, slightly wounded.

John Van Pelt, wounded in side, head and arm.

James Byliss, slightly wounded.

W. P. Brownson, was shot through ear. 

Sheriff Van Pelt, injury to right elbow.

Joe Brewton, shot in the stomach.

-- is probable that more than half a dozen others were wounded, many of them receiving their injuries at the time the negro was hanged in the Plaza.


Crowds, restless and threatening, began to assemble in the vicinity of the county jail as early as 7 o'clock in the night.  That something was to be done during the night could plainly be seen late in the afternoon by the manner in which men and boys thronged Palafox street, though there were few open threats of lynching.

It was 8:45 o'clock that the first rush was made upon the jail.  Sheriff Van Pelt had talked for fully thirty minutes before the firing began.  He pleaded with the mob, which by this hour had grown to possibly five hundred though many on the outskirts were only onlookers and had no intention of participating in the trouble.  The sheriff talked as he had never done before requesting, pleading and ordering the mob to disperse, as he was -n honor bound to give protection to everyone in the county jail, and this protection would be afforded the negro Shaw.

Broke Down Gate.

The talk of the sheriff had no effect upon the mob, and the cries of "Lynch him, Lynch him," could be heard for blocks.  Some of the more determined secured one of the rails from the track of the bay shore line of the Pensacola Electric Co. and with this an assault was commenced upon the jail yard gate.  The sheriff continued to plead and threaten, but there was no response.

Then he told the mob that the first man to enter the jail yard would be killed.

Firing Commences.

The mob carried the gate down with a rush and when they did there was a volley from the second story windows of the jail building, where several deputies were stationed.  "Bud" Nicholls fell dead, a bullet entering the brain, while others were wounded.

The mob responded with a volley in which probably a dozen participated, and this was answered by the deputies.  For the space of two minutes the fight was a spirited one, but the mob finally withdrew and ceased firing, while several wounded men were taken into the police station and later to their homes and the hospital.  Among the men wounded in this engagement were John Van Pelt, a brother of the sheriff, and Jailor Eaton, of the sheriff's office.  Outsiders to be wounded were Charlie Turner, A. N. Knowles, James Bayliss, and Fred. Humphreys.

Overpowered the Officers.

Although firing ceased the mob remained around the jail building for several hours, being constantly added to, a large number of countrymen reaching the city late in the night and joining those already on hand, determined to lynch the negro.

Threats innumerable were made by the mob, but the sheriff with his forces stationed in front of the building held the crowd at bay.

It was about 11:30 o'clock when probably a dozen members of the mob scaled the rear wall of the jail an entered the back yard.  Proceeding quietly they unfastened the rear door of the hallway, and while the officers were busily engaged with the mob in front, the dozen men leaped upon them, bore a number of them to the floor, while others with drawn revolvers kept other deputies at bay.

The Negro Secured.

Quickly the keys of the jail were taken from Deputy Cusachs, and within one minute after entering, the mob was passing through the front gate with Leander Shaw.  Ropes had been secured, and while on the run a noose was placed about his neck.  Then he was dragged east on Zarragossa street to Tarragona, and then back again to the Plaza.  Up one of the electric light poles went a member of the mob and the rope was passed over a cross arm.A dozen hands gave the rope a jerk and the body of Leander Shaw was dangling thirty feet above the ground, the man wrighting [sic] in death agonies.

Five Hundred Shots.

No sooner had the rope been fastened than a fusillade of shots began, which continued for a full five minutes.  More than five hundred shots were fired at the body of the negro, which was riddled with bullets, amid the cheering of the infuriated men who had gathered from all sections of the city and who were loath to depart from the scene.

Another Man Killed.

In the last attack H. C. Kellum was killed, while a number received slight wounds, although the officers fired no shots.  It is believed that Kellum received his death wound when a crowd of four or five men were engaged in overpowering Sheriff Van Pelt.  The later [sic] was in the doorway with one revolver in his hand and another in the scabbard.  When he fell the revolver in the scabbard discharged, and it is believed that the bullet struck Kellum.

The shooting in the Plaza at the negro by the excited men was where the other men received their injuries.


"I was in duty bound to give protection to the prisoner," said Sheriff Van Pelt to a Journal representative this morning. "I pleaded with the mob as I never had before, and told them that I must protect the prisoner at any cost. I did not want to see anyone hurt, and am sorry that such occurred.

"I and my force were overpowered by the crowd that got in the back way. My entire attention was directed to keeping back the men who were in front of the jail and I did not know that anyone was in the jail until after I was on the floor with half a dozen men on me. 

Last night's lynching was the first to occur in Pensacola in many years, and probably the first ever to occur in the Plaza. Nothing, however, could have prevented the mob from lynching the negro. The spirit was aroused and even the shots poured into the crowd upon the first attack did not seem to have any effect upon the crowd, but made it more determined to hand the negro, no matter what might be the consequences.


Mrs. Will Davis' Throat Cut and Then Beaten Into Insensibility. 


Lady Attacked at Her Home About Six Miles From the City During the Absence of Her Husband — The Negro, Leander Shaw Identified by Her. 

Possibly the most brutal assault ever to be recorded in the annals of Escambia county, was that of yesterday morning, when Mrs. Lillian Davis, wife of Wiley Davis, defenseless and alone, was beaten into insensibility, her throat cut almost from ear to ear and left on the railroad track to die. This was committed by Leander A. Shaw, a burly black negro, who had been seen near the premises for several days, and who entered the yard on the pretext of desiring to buy some sardines. The brutal crime was committed at the home of Mr. Davis, which is six miles east of the city, near what is known as Gull Point. The negro was captured two hours later, but only after a desperate fight between him and Deputy Sheriff Johnsen, who finally overpowered the negro with the assistance of John Touart and others near the county bridge spanning Bayou Texar. 

Story of Assault.

Lying in a ward at St. Anthony's hospital yesterday afternoon, Mrs. Davis, who is in a very critical condition told of the assault to a friend who had called to see her. 

She said for several days past she has seen the negro occasionally in the bushes or passing her hoe, and on Tuesday Mr. Gunter, who resides near, came near shooting the man whom he saw in the bushes. 

Yesterday morning, she said about 7 o'clock, she noticed the negro pass the house shortly after her husband who is section foreman on the L. & N. had left home. The negro, after passing, retraced his steps and coming to the front door stated that he wanted to buy a box of sardines. Mrs. Davis keeps a small store adjoining the house, and she went there and procured the sardines. The negro gave her a dollar and having no change she told him to wait and she would go into the house and procure the change. This she did, but upon reaching her room she found the negro following her. She turned and ordered him from the house but the only response was a surly grin which overspread the feature of the man. A big Colt's revolver was lying on her dresser and this she reached for, but not in time for the negro had grasped her before she had an opportunity of using it... (Continued on page 3, but the page is missing)

The Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) dated July 31, 1908:


Verdict Saya "Unknown Men" Killed Shaw and Jury Proceeds to Sit on Other Victims.

Pensacola, Fla., July 30.—[Special.]—The coroner's jury which today investigated the death of the negro, Leander Shaw, who was lynched last night after a mob of 2,000 citizens fought with the sheriff at the jail, found that "Shaw  came to his death at the hands of unknown men."

The jury proceeded at once to investigate the death of Henry C. Kellum, a street car conductor, and "Bud" Nichols, a planter, who were killed when the lynching party stormed the prison.  Four members of the citizenry were so badly wounded that they are dying.  Five were seriously injured and at least a dozen were slightly wounded by bullets from the jail.

Shaw's body was cut down this morning by order of the authorities.

Mrs. William Davis, whose throat was cut by the negro, is still alive, but it is said she cannot recover.  The baby, who was struck by the negro at the time he tried to kill the mother, it is said, will recover.

No comments:

Post a Comment