Tuesday, November 3, 2015

October 1, 1894: Berry Rich

As promised yesterday, today we learn about the lynching of Berry Rich. The Crittenden Press (Marion Kentucky) dated October 4, 1894 is our source of information. Starting with an editorial and then continuing to the article:

The Berry Rich affair is deeply regretted by the citizens of Crittenden county. It does not add to the good name of the county; to strangers it will appear that we are not a law abiding people. No matter how provoking or exasperating the conduct of few lawless fellows, the shameful death of Berry Rich is totally inexcusable. Human life is too sacred a thing to be thus ruthlessly taken. Every man is entitled to meet his accusers face to face in the courts of his country. No man gets so high, and none sink so low, that he is not entitles to a fair hearing before a jury of his peers. There are times when revolting in human crimes arouse the human soul to such righteous indignation that forbearance is almost impossible , and the demand for speedy justice, coupled with intense excitement , blunt the reasoning faculties, and blind the eyes of men to all other considerations,but this was not one of them, and we are happy to say that the good people of Bell's Mines, condemn and deplore the affair. Berry Rich's home was a poor one, and his life may not valuable to the world, but that home was his castle and should not have been invaded, except by the hand of the law, and that life was dearer to the wife and his prattling children than any crowned head on earth. Again we say, the people of Crittenden county, including ninety-nine percent of these of Bells Mines, condemn the unwarranted deed.


Berry Rich Called from His House in the Night and Hung.


Berry Rich lived on a farm about 9 miles a little east of north from Marion, and about one and a half miles north of the country store of Mr. E. C. Moore, known as Mattoon. About 3 o'clock Monday morning Rich and his family were awakened from their slumbers by a call from near the door. Rich answered the summons and after lighting a lamp and dressing himself opened his door and invited the unknown person or persons to come in and take a seat. The reply was, "we are in a hurry and want you to go with us up to the cross lanes to the sycamore, to meet Bill Goode, who wants to see you." Rich stepped out, several men came from around the house, and Berry Rich went up the public road with them never to return alive. At daylight he had not returned and his son-in-law, Gus Query, of Blackford, Ky., and Rich's son started in search of him. Following the footprints made in the dust of the highway during the night, they went down the road some three hundred yards and there, in plain view of the road, held in a standing position by a rope around his neck, was the dead body of Berry rich, cold and stiff in death. One end of an ordinary grass rope, which had evidently been used during the season as a plow line, was tied to a limb (about 2 inches in diameter, and eight or nine feet from the ground) of a small sycamore tree; the other end was around Rich's neck, tied in the regular hangman fashion; the feet were resting on the ground, hands hanging at his side, and face somewhat swollen. The tree stood at the edge of a little clearing, and on a hill and about four hundred feet from the front door of Wm. Rich's residence, which is only a cabin. The news was soon scattered over the neighborhood. Justice of the Peace Taylor was sent for; when he arrived a jury was summoned and an inquest was held. The verdict was that Berry Rich came to his death by hanging, at the hands of unknown parties. The body was cut down and carried to his house, where it remained until late in the afternoon when the interment took place at Mt. Zion cemetery. Mrs. rich, wife of the dead man, was called upon by a representative of the PRESS, just before the burial. She is a stout woman of perhaps forty years, not unpleasant face, but full of determination. She talked freely of the affair, and as she stood in the yard, surrounded by her four small children, one at the breast, detailing the events of the morning, her face lit up with intelligence, while the emotions of anger and sorrow would chase each other across her countenance. When she said, "we would have fit um," there was fire in her eye, and you knew she meant it. When she related how Gus could not tell the dreadful news a tear came and the lip quivered. Her story was as follows"


"About 3 o'clock Monday morning we were awakened by some one at the door calling for Berry. He got up and told he would open the door as soon as he got his pants on. He lit the lamp, put on his pants and opened the door and said 'come in and have a chair.' The man outside said, 'we haven't got time; we have Goode up at the cross lanes at the sycamore and want you to go and consult with him.' Berry asked them if they had Goode arrested and they answered 'yes.' Berry asked me where his coat was, and while he was dressing they said, 'hurry up, we are in a hurry.' When Berry had finished dressing he stepped outside and a man outside said: 'come on boys.' When they started off I got up and went to the door and heard them ask Berry when he saw Bill Goode. Berry said, 'fellows, I have not seen Goode,' and those were the last words I ever heard his say. I think there were five or six of them. When they were at the door Gus Query cleared up his throat or made some noise that attracted their attention, and they asked who was there. Berry told them it was Gus and his wife.

"Of course Berry nor none of us was expecting any trouble of any kind; had we known or even thought of this terrible thing we would have fought them until we were all killed. we had a gun and two pistols in the house, of these we never even thought. Only a day or two ago Berry said to me that he would hate to be in Goode's fix—having to lay out and away from his family. About eight months ago Berry told Goode in my presence that he must keep away from us, that he would have nothing more to do with him; that people were telling him they would have nothing to with him if he went with Goode. Good[e] said that he didn't give a dam[n] and has not been here since I don't know when.

"About daybreak I began to mistrust something and felt uneasy about Berry staying away so long, and I went to the barn before it was good light. As soon as it was light Gus and Jeff went to hunt him, while I was getting breakfast. Soon Gus came running back and he could hardly talk, and he told us they had hung Berry.

"I did not see a one of them. They kept back in the dark. I have no idea who any of them were."

Gus Query, who married Rich's daughter, gave substantially the same account as Mrs. Rich. He lives at Blackford and he and his wife were visiting her father's family. While Mrs. rich thought there were only five or six, he was sure there must have been a yard full of them. When daylight came he followed the tracks down the road and they led him to the dead man, and he gave the alarm. In the woods near by where Rich's body was found, horses had been hitched.

Berry rich has been a resident of the county for a number of years. He came here from Webster county some sixteen years ago, and has never been very prosperous. He was a man without much energy, a hard drinker, rarely ever coming to town without getting intoxicated. By many he was regarded as harmless, inoffensive, rather confiding, shiftless man. He was apparently always in a good humor, ready to do whatever favor asked; and was offended at nothing. he owned a small farm, worth probably $700; his house was a modest, box structure, of three rooms; his family consisted of a wife, two married daughters, one single daughter about grown, three small boys, one in his teens and a baby. In the neighborhood where he lives but few men will express an opinion in reference to him. Some regard him as pictured by the foregoing description, while others will shake their heads and say nothing. The consensus of opinion is, however, that he did not deserve the fate he met, and the deed is condemned, and on every hand the affair is regretted by the people of that section of the county.

Who did the deed is of course unknown; nobody hazards a guess and the surmises are few and unsatisfactory. for the past year or two things have been occurring in that section that have harassed and tormented the people greatly, and about these things they would not talk. There are no better people on earth than many in that part of the county, while ----- of the past month prove there are some hard characters also. Residences have been burned, barns have been destroyed by fire, hay and wheat stacks consumed, while the good people have been absolutely afraid to even discuss the matter. There was a general feeling in the community that these depredations were chargeable to a certain party, but there was not sufficient evidence to convict any one, and if a man even hinted at what he thought was the truth, it would not be long until he felt the hand of the miscreants. This is state of affairs that has existed there for many months, and it was these things that led up to the untimely end of Berry Rich. The man whose name was connected most prominently with these various arsons and other petty crimes was William Goode, who for two years has been the keeper of the county poor house. Whether he was guilty of them or not most of the people thought his hand was behind them all, and they regarded Berry Rich as associated, to a greater or less extent, with him. Some weeks ago a number of men disguised went to Goode's house in the night, and searched the place for him, but he was gone, and no one could or would tell his whereabouts. A few days later, according to reliable reports, he sent to a citizen of that section and requested an interview, the meeting to take place on Heath mountain. The citizen went and found Goode and a number of other men in camp, armed and provisioned sufficiently to endure a long siege, and so situated as to command the situation against even a large body of men. Goode wanted to arrange an armistice; he wanted hostilities suspended until he could get his stock and farming implements and household goods away, proposing to leave the county as soon as possible and he wanted the citizen to act as an embassador [sic] in patching up a truce. the citizen did not know Goode's enemies, and told him he could not bear the message, because he did not know where or to whom to take it. Goode it is said gave the information, stating that he knew who they were. A few days later the stock was driven out and everything indicated the speedy departure of Goode; his family were, however, still in charge of the poor house. On Sunday night, according to Mrs. Goode's statement, the mob was there again in search of her husband, the place was again ransacked, but Goode was nowhere to be found. The men were disguised. Some wore masks while others had blackened their faces, and all were strangers to the woman; they told her that they would hang her husband if found. It is some four or five miles from Goode's to Rich's, and a few hours after the visit to the former, Rich was called up and out, and went to his death.

Goode is evidently a bad man, and he is a shrewd, thrifty one, too. It is said that he drove out forty or fifty head of cattle, that perhaps he owned a hundred head of hogs, three or four yoke of oxen and log wagons, all of which he moved to Union county, when the situation go so uncomfortable in this county.

Rich's association with Goode evidently led the mob to believe that he knew where Goode was, that he was connected with him in the unlawful acts; hence its work.

The Evening Bulletin (Maysville, Kentucky) dated October 2, 1894:


One Man Hanged by a Mob and Another Compelled to Leave the Country.

MARION, Ky., Oct. 2.—News has just been received here of a terrible crime committed by a mob of White Caps in the northern part of this county early yesterday morning. Berry Rich, a farmer, was taken from his home and deliberately hanged. The cause of the crime is said to have been that several barns and houses have been fired in that vicinity, and that hogs, horses and cows have been stolen. William Goode and Berry Rich have been suspected as the guilty parties. Goode has left the community.

Mrs. Rich, the wife of the mob's victim, says the mob came to her home about 4 o'clock in the morning. Some one called for Rich, telling him that Goode was up the road waiting to see him, and urged him to come. Rich dressed and went with the men and did not come back. After daylight the family commenced the search for Rich, and found his dead body hanging from a tree in the woods. No one knows who constituted the mob.

Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.   


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