Sunday, September 21, 2014

September 21, 1916: Bert Dudley

Follow me on a journey to the past. Our first stop is The Emporia Gazette (Emporia, Kansas) on September 21, 1916:


Bert Dudley, Convicted of Murder of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Muller, Denied His Guilt.



Mob Supposed To Have Been Made Up of Men From Neighboring Towns—Their Crime Was Committed Early This Morning.

Olathe, Kan., Sept. 21.—Bert Dudley, charged with the murder of Henry Muller, an aged German and his wife, was taken from the Johnson County jail here early this morning by a masked mob and hanged to a telephone pole.

The mob came to Olathe in motor cars, supposedly from near Stilwell, where the Mullers had lived. Sheriff Lon Carroll refused to give up Dudley, and the mob overpowered him. Then they battered down three jail doors. Several shots were fired, but none was injured. The murder of which Dudley was convicted last Tuesday, was committed near Stilwell, seventeen miles southeast of here, August 20. Dudley, who was an ex-convict, was employed as a farm hand, and killed Muller because of an altercation over a team of mules which he wished to borrow to do some road work. Mrs. Muller was killed when she asked Dudley what had become of her husband.

The crime was not discovered for several days. Dudley, after having hidden the bodies in an abandoned cellar, lived at the Muller home with a boy whom he had hired to aid in the farm work. When he endeavored to sell a load of wheat from the farm, an investigation was started that led to the discovery of the murder.

The jury which convicted him was out only fifteen minutes.

The mob was well organized and apparently led by one man. It came into Olathe quietly. The lights of the dozen motor cars were dimmed by coats thrown over them, and the license tags removed. One man went to the jail first and called Sheriff Carroll, whose residence is there, out of bed, with a story that a man had been hurt in a motor car accident. As he came downstairs, he was seized from behind. He fired two or three times with his revolver, but was overpowered and his hands were tied behind his back. Mrs. Carroll ran out a back door of the jail with the keys and threw them in the grass. Members of the mob, unable to find them, broke into a garage opposite the jail and began battering down the doors, three of which separated them from Dudley.

Carroll was taken into the jail by the mob, and was a silent witness of the work. Mrs. Carroll, who was outside the jail, called the fire department, an undersheriff and A. G. Carberry, the city marshal. The fire department threw streams of water upon the men still outside until they were forced to desist by a display of revolvers. The undersheriff and Marshal Carberry were overpowered, tied and taken into the jail. Just as the door to Dudley's cell was broken down, someone struck Carberry on the back of the head with a revolver and rendered him unconscious.

Dudley was taken out and his hands tied. He was asked if he had committed the crime.

"So help me God, I did not do it," he is quoted as having said.

He was taken to the motor cars, a block from the jail, and the mob went to the edge of town on an extension of the road that, coincidently [sic], is known as Dudley street. The convicted man's feet were tied and he was again asked whether he committed the crime. Again he denied it, being quoted as saying:

"No, I did not do it."

A forty-foot rope was thrown over an arm of a telephone pole and he was pulled up, his feet being nearly ten feet from the ground. Then the mob, for the first time it had entered the town nearly an hour before, began yelling and shouting. A number of shots were fired at the body, six of which struck it. The mob, convinced that Dudley was dead, got into the motor cars again and started south, on a road leading toward Stilwell. It is supposed they were neighbors of the murdered couple, although all were masked.

One man seemed to direct all the operations, it is said. At one time, according to rumors, the leader was forced to compel the mob to give up the plan of taking Dudley to the abandoned cellar where the bodies of Muller and his wife were found and burn him there.

A few minutes after the mob had departed Sheriff Carroll, who had been left at the jail, and other officers cut down Dudley's body.

Our next stop is The Wichita Beacon (Wichita, Kansas) on September 22, 1916:


Olathe's Sheriff's Wife Relieves Him of All Night Worries.

Judge Who Sentenced Bert Dudley Forced to See Lynching.

Olathe, Kas., Sept. 22.—The mob spirit, and the mob, for that matter, that lynched Bert Dudley, convicted slayer of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Muller at Stilwell may have originated in Stilwell. But Stilwell didn't know Dudley had been lynched until C. L. Randall, county attorney of Johnson County, and E. Carroll, the suspended sheriff, told the news when they visited Stilwell late yesterday afternoon.

Stilwell was astounded to learn that the rumors it had heard were true. Everybody in the town asked Mr. Carroll and Mr. Randall for the details. After spending two hours trying to find some clew in Stilwell that might lead to the identity of the mob, Mr. Carroll and Mr. Randall returned to Olathe last night.

Heard Mob Southeast.

The first definite information as to where the mob came from was given by M. T. Meredith, treasurer of Johnson County. He heard the procession of motor cars pass his house about midnight. Mr. Meredith lives five miles southeast of Olathe. The motor cars passed his home coming from the southeast.

Mr. Carroll, automatically suspended from office for allowing a prisoner to be taken from him and lynched, late yesterday afternoon sent his application for reinstatement to Governor Capper. The application was drawn up by S. B. Scott, the attorney appointed by Judge A. O. Rankin to defend Dudley in his trial. It will be at least ten days before Carroll can be reinstated, the county attorney said.

Mrs. Carroll Always on Job.

Mrs. Caroll [sic] is her husbands relief watch. She is "Fluffy" to her husband, and relieves him of all worries of his office at night. Mrs. Carroll is tall, slender and wakeful at nights. "I haven't had a good night's sleep since Mr. Carroll became sheriff," she said. Her eyes are blue and her hair blonde.

Judge Rankin of Paola, before whom Dudley was tried, was a helpless witness to the delivery of Dudley. He was aroused from his hotel by the assault of the mob on the jail doors and hurried to the jail. Pushing his way through the crowd, Judge Rankin attempted to enter the jail to plead for the prisoner's life.

Judge Was Warned.

A masked man halted him and pointed a revolver at the judge. "You'd better get out of here," the member of the mob warned him, "or someone is likely to get hurt."

Judge Rankin retired to the spectators circle. He went through the crowd trying to find enough men to form a resisting party. He found the onlookers trembling and not in the mood to offer opposition. He went back to his hotel.

Take Up Investigation.

Investigation by the county officials got under way here today into the mob which yesterday broke into the Johnson County jail and lynched Bert Dudley, slayer of Henry Muller, aged German farmer , and his wife.  A. L. Randall, county attorney, began issuance of subpoenas for witnesses of the mob's work for an inquiry that possibly will be started later today. Preparations were also being made for an inquest, although legal technicalities have held this up, and citizens began agitation for a grand jury.

Mr. Randall's inquiry was expected to be the first to bring forth any results. The coroner's inquest, scheduled for today will not be held at once because of a conflict arising as to the proper authority in calling it. Dr. P. L. Lathrop, who was the coroner, automatically became sheriff yesterday as a successor to E. G. Carroll who was overpowered by the mob and doubts his authority to summon a coroner's jury. It was thought it could be done, however, by a justice of the peace.

Find Some Relatives.

A brother and sister of the victim, Thurman Dudley and Cora Dudley, were found yesterday in Freeman, Mo. They were unable, they said, to provide burial for their brother, and would not come from Freeman to see him.

"Blots Name of Kansas'"

Topeka, Sept. 22.—Governor Capper returned from Hutchinson last night and ordered an investigation into the lynching of Bert Dudley in Olathe early yesterday.

"The act was deplorable and the lynchers will not be allowed to go unpunished," the governor said. "I have directed the attorney general to make an investigation and report to me. Until this is available I do not believe I should discuss the lynching. This is the most serious blot on the fair name of Kansas that has come for many years and every power of the state will be used to erase it."

Feared Was His Turn.

Leavenworth, Kas., Sept. 22.—"I'm glad I'm here!" was the exclamation made by Joseph Smith, a convicted horsethief, when he was received at the prison at Lansing at noon today. Smith breathed a deep sigh of relief as the iron doors closed behind him, shutting him off from the outside world.

Smith was one of the prisoners in the Johnson County jail when the mob took Bert Dudley, convicted slayer, from the jail and hanged him to a telephone pole.

"When the mob stormed the place, each of us thought they would take all of us out and string us up," declared Smith.

Rope May Solve Mystery.

Olathe, Kas., Sept. 22.—Fifty feet of loosely woven hemp rope with a thin black thread running through it may be the means of identifying members of the mob that lynched Bert Dudley.

Sheriff Carroll has the rope with which the murderer was hanged and has begun a hunt through the stores of Johnson County to see if he can match it and find who purchased it. It was a strong, pliable rope, such as is commonly used by cowmen.

The man who tied the noose knew his business. Sheriff Carroll said it was a perfect hangman's noose.

State Will Aid.

Topeka, Kas., Sept. 22.—Following a conference between Governor Capper and Attorney-General S. M. Brewster today, it was announced that the state would give every possible assistance to Johnson County in their efforts to apprehend members of the mob who lynched Bert Dudley, slayer of Henry Muller and wife, yesterday. Attorney-General Brewster was in communication with the local officials today and he stated that he believed the Johnson County officers were acting in good faith in their efforts to find out who were members of the mob. Sheriff E. G. Carroll, who automatically was succeeded by Dr. P. L. Lathrop, probably will be reinstated next week, it was said.

Dudley's Sweetheart Warned?

Olathe, Kas., Sept. 22.—Was the sweetheart of Bert Dudley—the woman who indirectly caused him to be arrested—told in advance of what was to happen to Dudley.

Citizens of Olathe believe she was. The woman left the city early yesterday afternoon and boarded a train and opinion is that members of the mob visited her and told her what was to happen and for her to get out.

Although Dudley had a chance to leave the vicinity after committing his crimes, he stayed so as to be near the woman he hoped to marry.

Again, thank you for joining me on this journey to the past and I hope I've left you with something to ponder. 

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