Monday, September 15, 2014

September 15, 1897: Lyle Levi (Levy), Henry Shuler (Schuter), Clifford Gordon, William Jenkins, Jr., and Bert Andrews

Today's journey through history covers the lynching of five men. We start this journey with the El Paso Herald (El Paso, Texas) on September 15, 1897:


They Were Merely Accused of Burglary.


The Spirit of Lawlessness Pervade All Classes.—One of the Victims a Scarred Union Veteran.—Further Trouble Expected.

Five Burglars Lynched.

VERSAILLES, Ind., Sept. 15.—Five men in jail here under charges of burglary were lynched this morning. Three hundred men masked and on horseback rode into town at 1 o'clock and went to the jail. The leader presented a revolver and demanded the keys. The jailer refused, and there-upon the keys were taken by force. Without delay the mob rushed into the cells, after shooting down the five prisoners, placed ropes around their necks and dragged them out. The crowd proceeded to [a] tree, one square away from the jail, and immediately strung up the five wretches. The men lynched are:  Lytle Levy, Henry Shuler, Clifford Gordon, William Jenkins, Jr., and Birt Andrews. Andrews and Gordon had already been wounded, having been shot several times while attempting to rob a store at Correct, last Saturday night. Shuler was in jail for attempted burglary, Levi and Jenkins had just been indicted for robbery, Levi was an old soldier, and bore on his face wounds received while fighting for the union. None of the lynchers are known. All came from a distance, presumably from the neighborhood of Correct, where two men were arrested Saturday night. The greatest excitement prevails.

Andrews and Clifford Gordon Saturday night attempted to rob the postoffice at Correct. They were surprised and a fight ensued. Both were arrested the following day. Lytle Levi and Bill Jenkins were accomplices. Henry Shuler had already been jailed for burglary. It is thought that all are members of a gang systematically engaged in robbing stores and residences in various villages of Ripley, Jennings and Dearborn counties for a number of years. It is claimed that a part of the mob that did the lynching is from Milan and Summan. It is asserted that before the lynching members of the mob patrolled all houses in the vicinity of the jail so as to prevent interference. Members of the band wore masks, and various commands were given in cipher by numbers, suggesting football. Great crowds in sympathy with the relatives of the mob's victims are reported to be collecting at Versailles and further trouble expected.

Continuing along on the same date, the story can also be found in The Wichita Beacon (Wichita, Kansas):


In Indiana a Mob Gets Excited Over Petty Thefts. 

And Hangs Five Men to Trees Who Are


One Old Soldier Who Fought for His Country is Lynched.

Of Course No One Knows Any of the Murderers.

Versailles, Ind., Sept. 15.—A mob of 400 infuriated men last night lynched Lyle Levi, Bert Andrews, Clifford Gordon, William Jenkins and Himey Shuler.

They were taken from the authorities. The men had been arrested for burglary.

Frequent robberies had enraged the citizens of the county and the mob was composed of citizens from Milan, Sunman and other towns.

The mob, on horseback, entered the town an hour after midnight and called out Jailer Kennan, who, upon refusing to give up the keys, was overpowered. The mob soon pushed its way into the cell rooms and in their impatience first fired on the five prisoners and then dragged them to a tree, a square from the jail door, and hung them up.

Andrews and Gordon had already been wounded, having been shot several times while attempting to rob a store at Correct last Saturday night.

Shuler was in jail for attempted burglary, and Levi and Jenkins had just been indicted by the grand jury for robbery. They had failed to give bond and were put in jail last evening.

It is thought that Levi and Shuler were both dead from the shots fired by the mob when taken out of the jail.

The bandages that were on the wounded men were found later this morning along the streets where they had been torn off as the men were dragged along.

Lyle Levi was an old soldier and bore on his face wounds received during the civil war while fighting for the Union.

None of the lynchers are known. They all came from a distance, presumably from the neighborhood of Correct, where the two men were arrested Saturday night.


Indianapolis, Ind., Sept. 15.—Governor Mount has sent the following to the sheriff of Ripley county:

"Wire me at once, the particulars of lynching that has occurred in your county. I further direct that you proceed immediately with all the power you can command, to bring to justice all parties guilty of participating in the murder of the five men alleged to have been lynched. Such lawlessness is intolerable and all the power of the state, if necessary, will be vigorously employed for the arrest and punishment of all parties implicated.


"JAMES A. MOUNT, Governor."


Louisville, KY., Sept. 15.—A special to the Evening Post from Osgood, Ind., says:  Incensed by numerous depredations, repeated burglaries and daylight robberies, the  people of Ripley county, Ind., have taken the law into their own hands and meted out to the perpetrators a punishment greater than provided by the law. Five men, who have long been a terror to the citizens o fthis [sic] county, met their death a tthe [sic] hands of an enraged populace, and when the citizens of Versailles, the county seat arose this morning, it was to find the bodies of five men dangling from as many limbs of an elm tree in the center of the public square.

Stout ropes not over six feet in length, had served to send each to his eternity, and their feet were but a few inches from the ground, while their hands and feet had been securely pinned with strong ropes.

Versailles is a town of some 800 people. It is one of the  oldest in the state, and although it is five miles from a railroad station, and has no telegraphic communication with the outside world, as have more pretentious towns of the county. It is still the county seat. For four or five years, and even longer, the farmers of the county have been the victims of a lawless gang, who apparently lacking in fear, have plied their vocation to the terror of the people, for they seemingly have no visible means for earning a living. Farmers would came [sic] into town with a bunch of cattle or load of farming products and the next morning they would be found along the roadside, suffering from a wound and minus the proceeds of their sales. Old German farmers have been visited and both men and women have been subjected to all the tortures that hardened minds could stand. Aged German women have been made to stand on red hot stoves in an effort to compel them to disclose the hiding place of some treasurers [sic] in the house. These depredations have continued unceasingly. Arrests have been made, but the guilty parties have covered up their lawlessness and it was seldom that conviction followed.

During the past week robberies had increased alarmingly. On last Saturday word was received by the sheriff that the store of Wooley Brothers, at Correct, Ind., ten miles from here, was to be entered. The information had been given by one of the gangs confederates who had been under suspicion. Sheriff Henry Bushing arranged that his informant should accompany them and, securing five deputies, they went to the place. Sheriff Bushing concealed himself in the cellar, while his deputies were stationed at a convenient distance outside. Shortly after midnight the gang reached Wooley Brothers store. Clifford Gordon and the sheriff's informant, were designated to break into the building. Gordon himself effected an entrance and just as he stepped inside the sheriff grabbed him. Both pulled pistols at the same time and began firing. Bert Andrews was with the robbers, and he too joined in the fusilade,[sic] while the deputies came to the assistance of the sehriff. [sic] Some thirty shots were fired, the sheriff was shot through the hand and Gordon was shot several times. Three pistol balls entered his body and he was also shot in the leg. Gordon and Andrews succeeded in escaping and came to Osgood, where they were arrested. The robbers had driven out to the place in a buggy belonging to Lyle Levy and from information subsequently gathered , it was learned that the robbery had been planned at the home of William Jenkins.

A final stop on the same date where I will give only some of the article. The majority of the article in the Decatur Daily Republican (Decatur, Illinois) gives the same details, but towards the end it gives a few more:

. . . Henry Shuler was in jail there for robbing a barber shop at Osgood. When it became known that they were in jail word was passed around that "justice" would be summarily dealth [sic] out to them. At 1 o'clock this morning the horsemen began to appear from every direction at the rendezvous near Versailles and at 2 o'clock 400 men marched into town, knocked at the jailer's residence, where were Jailer Keenen, Robert Barrett, William Block and Wensett, deputies. When the door was opened they were covered with revolvers and commanded to deliver the jail keys. The command was complied with. The mob with these entered the jail. Levi, Jenkins and Shuler showed fight. The former was shot down and the others were brained with stones, then ropes put around the necks of these three, and with Gordon and Andrews, dragged 200 feet to an elm tree in the court house square and hanged. An inquest was held this morning.

The citizens approve the work of the mob, and threaten to hang three or four more members of the gang. The troops asked for, the citizens say, are not wanted.

The end of journey finds us several months later on February 23, 1898 in the Daily Capital Journal (Salem, Oregon):

Lynchers in Trouble.

INDIANAPOLIS, Feb, 23.—After months of waiting for the local authorities of Ripley county to indict the men who lynched Clifford Gordon, Lyle Levy, Bert Andrews, William Jenkins and Henry Schutter, at Versailles, in September, the state today began the work itself:  Arrests will be made as fast as the accused can be tried.

C. H. Hughes, superintendent of the county infirmary, has been arrested upon information sworn to by Governor Mount. While the state is expected to show that he was in the mob and therefore guilty of murdering the five prisoners, the warrant charges him with the murder of Henry Schuter. Another warrant has been sworn out for the arrest of Archibald Wright, against whose life an attempt was made 10 days ago. He left soon after and is supposed to be in Chicago. It is believed that he has agreed to turn state's evidence.

Thank you for travelling on this journey to the past with me. As always, I hope I've left you with things to ponder.  

No comments:

Post a Comment