Tuesday, December 29, 2015

February 18, 1881: Loch Mallory, Lou Thweat (Lun Stell), Robert Thweat, James Elder and James Higgins

Today we learn about a Tennessee lynching through the pages of The Times (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) dated February 20, 1881:


Five Prisoners Taken from a Tennessee Court House and Promptly Lynched.


Nine Men in All Made to Suffer Death for Their Inhuman Crime.

Special Dispatch to THE TIMES.

NASHVILLE, February 19.

Never in the history of Tennessee has a murder been followed by such sure and bloody vengeance as that of farmer Laprade, near Springfield a few months ago. The circumstances of the crime were briefly these:  Laprade, who was a well-to-do and influential farmer and a miser, living near Springfield, sold his farm and received part of the purchase money. A gang of roughs in the neighborhood hearing that he had the money, joined in a plot to kill him. The murder was one of peculiar atrocity, and aroused the neighborhood to a great pitch of excitement. Two men, Jack Bell and Arch Jamieson, the latter colored, were believed guilty and promptly lynched September 15. Before their death they made sworn statements, which were written down by the mob. These statements implicated seven others, nearly all negroes. One of them, named James Higgins, was taken, and after torturing him by burning his feet horribly to make him disclose the story a confession was secured, which agreed with that of the others.


Higgins said that the party of nine went to Laprade's house on the night of September 8. Going in the rear of his dwelling, one of them knocked at the door, and imitating the voice of Laprade's brother asking admission, Laprade opened the door without thought of harm. The nine black fiends rushed in upon him, knocked him down and then demanded all his money. He gave them $5, saying that was all he had. this but enraged his assailants. Throwing a rope around his neck they dragged him around his grounds, hanged him to the limb of a tree repeatedly until he was almost unconscious, singed his body with torches and lacerated and mutilated him with knives in the endeavor to compel him to admit that he had concealed money, but always with the same result. Finally, made desperate by their repeated failures to extort from him the place of concealment of his supposed wealth, the demons proceeded to still more inhuman tortures. With the rope he was dragged about the yard and nameless outrages were committed upon his person. Finally his legs were cut and hacked and the tendons torn from their places from the knee down. Then his skull was crushed with an axe, after which the body was hidden under some bushes in a neighboring thicket and subsequently thrown into a sink-hole. Higgins in his confession gave the names of James Elder, Loch Mallory, Lou and Robert Thweat, Andrew Duffy and Bill Murphy. They were all arrested and thrust into jail. There was some talk of lynching them, but it quieted down as the time for their trial approached. on the 14th of the present month, however, about half-past ten at night, twenty-five mounted men rode into town, coming from the west, and proceeded to the jail. They came armed with guns, pistols, etc., and were evidently bent on taking the prisoners. They were addressed by Judge Stark and Attorney General Bell, who both urged the mob to desist, assuring them that the prisoners should have a fair and impartial trial, and if found guilty should be punished to the full extent of the law. They went off apparently satisfied, but to guard against accidents the troops were called out and placed on guard at the Court house. The trial began and the greatest interest was manifested. Murphy and Duffy turned State's evidence and were released last Thursday to return to their old haunts. This evidently excited the crowd, who feared that there might be some hitch by which the others might escape.


The trial of the remaining five prisoners—Loch Mallory, Lou and Robert Thweat, James Elder and James Higgins—was in progress all yesterday. Late last night it came to an end and Judge Stark delivered his charge to the jury. The prisoners were given to the Sheriff, who had got as far as the door with them when two hundred men, at a signal, sprang upon him, yelling like demons and firing pistols in the air. Taking the prisoners, the mob hurried to the second story of the Court House, put nooses, which were already prepared, around their necks and swung them out of the windows. They died without a struggle, except Jim Elder, who had to be thrown heavily to the floor, tied and then hanged. The crowd in the court room, which had been listening to the argument of the counsel, jumped from the windows to the ground and rushed in every direction. Hundreds of shots were fired, but none at the prisoners. The bodies were guarded by the mob until they were sure they were dead, when the leader gave orders to disperse. "My men, to your homes," said he, and they immediately departed, going in three directions. They came in on horses, but went to the Court House on foot and were not discovered until they met the prisoners at the door. No outsider was allowed to approach the scene until all were pronounced dead, and then it was announced that the man who cut them down did so at his peril.Higgins and Elder in their death struggle got their ropes twisted, and in the morning were found hanging as if by one rope.Citizens say the cause of the lynching was the release of Murphy and Duffy the night before. The latter returned to the scene of the crime, which greatly excited the neighborhood, where they were believed guilty.


After the lynching it was freely predicted that Duffy and Murphy would also be hanged before many hours. The mob divided and went in search of them. The predictions were not unwarranted. It now appears that one party rode off last night in the direction of the neighborhood where Laprade was murdered and came across Duffy. His body was found to-day, near Guthrie's, showing that he had shared the fate of his wretched accomplices at the Court House. It is also reported that Murphy, the other witness, and the last of the gang of black murderers, was caught and lynched. This makes nine men who have been lynched for the killing of Farmer Laprade. Twelve men have been lynched in Springfield in the last two years, two of whom—Sadler and Pierson—it is believed, were innocent. Ramsay was killed for shooting a young lady who is now alive, but the last nine it is thought, were guilty and deserved their fate. There is great excitement at Winchester also over the determination of a mob to lynch two prisoners charged with murder, and several companies of militia have been called out to protect the accused.

The State Senate this  morning unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the action of the mob at Springfield in taking prisoners from the custody of the court and putting them to death, and declaring that mobs must be suppressed if it takes the whole power of the State. The resolution calls upon the Governor to use all means for the arrest and punishment of the perpetrators of this crime, and promises the active co-operation of the Legislature.

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


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