Thursday, February 4, 2016

1879 - 1880: Philander Gardner

Today we learn about an incident that led a man to run to escape the possibility of being lynched in Ohio. It is one example of an accusation that could have easily led to a lynching, but luckily did not in this case. We first learn about the accusation through The Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) dated October 10, 1879:

A COLORED man named Philander Gardner committed a rape on the wife of Mr. Ham Elliott, a worthy young farmer residing near Mount Gilead, Ohio, on the 4th inst. Gardner is a prominent republican, but the outrage has no political significance.

The next mention is found in the December 30, 1879 edition of The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio):



3. Mrs. Ham Elliott, near Mount Gilead, Ohio, charges that Philander Gardner, colored, had committed rape upon her some months previous, and by threats compelled her to conceal his crime. Gardner admits the truth of this charge and then "jumps" the neighborhood.

Next we start to learn more about the circumstance through an article found in The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) dated January 2, 1880:


Sequel to an Alleged Rape Case.

Sensational Divorce Suit at Bellefontaine, Ohio.


BELLEFONTAINE, OHIO, January 1.—Isaac H. Elliot, through his attorney, filed his petition for divorce, this morning, from Elizabeth T. Elliot [sic]. This is the sequel to the accounts published from Mount Gilead, last summer, in which a white woman claimed to have been raped by a negro, the parties all living there at that time, but the petitioner at present living here.

The petitioner, in his application, represents that he has been for a year last past and more a resident of the State of Ohio, and is now a bona fide resident of Logan County, said State. he further shows that he was married to the defendant on or about the twenty-fifth day of December, A. D. 1872, in the County of morrow, State of Ohio; that her maiden name was Elizabeth I. Hobson, and prays that she may be made a part defendant to his petition. He alleges that while living together there was born to them one child, now alive, to wit:  Clarence H. Elliot, aged four years, February 1880.

The petitioner further shows that the said Elizabeth I. Elliot, regardless of her marital duties towards him, did, on the 22nd day of June, 1879, and on divers other days, between said day and the 13th day of September, 1879, at said plaintiff's house, in said County of Morrow and State of Ohio, commit adultery with one Philander Gardner, being then and there a person of the African or negro race, the said defendant being of the European or white race; and your petitioner says that by reason of said defendants adulterous intercourse with Philander Gardner she became and was pregnant with a child; that there was and has been since the facts aforesaid became known to him a separation between petitioner and defendant; and that said defendant resides at said County of Morrow and State of Ohio.

The petitioner therefore prays that the said Elizabeth I. Elliot may be notified of the filing of this petition, according to law; that she may be required to answer the same, and that in the final hearing of the cause he may be divorced from the said Elizabeth I. Elliot, and the custody of said child may be decreed to him, and for such further and other relief as the nature of the case and equity may require.

Further information is found in the February 2, 1880 edition of the same newspaper:


A Negro Charged With Raping a White Lady Near Mt. Gilead, Ohio, Captured After a Four Months' Chase.


MT. GILEAD, OHIO, January 31.—Philander Gardner, the young colored man who for four months has been a fugitive from justice, having spent this time, as he says, in Canada and remote places in this country, has been captured, and is at present in the custody of Sheriff Sanford.

It will be remembered by the readers of the ENQUIRER that this fellow was, in October last, charged with rape by Mrs. Elizabeth Elliott, the reputed devoted wife of Mr. Shem Elliott, one of the foremost members of the Quaker Church, just south of this city. It was on the morning of October 4th that Mrs. Elliott made affidavit to facts warranting the arrest of Gardner on this charge, but the action of Mrs. Elliott and his wife [sic], under the circumstances, threw strong suspicions on the real truth of the affidavit and the blamelessness of Mrs. Elliott, the rape, she stated, having been committed some months before, and just beginning, at the time of making the affidavit, to "show up" in her physique, thus compelling her, in the affair, to take some means to preserve untainted, if such a thing might be possible, her reputation for chastity, and ward of the crushing results of the fact of her sustaining indecent relations to the negro gaining publicity. These facts, taken into consideration in connection with Mr. Elliott's permitting his wife to attend church with his colored man and retaining him in his employ, notwithstanding the reports which came to his ear of indecent familiarity between his wife and Gardner, and against the repeated protestations of his wife's parents, go far toward the acquittal by the public of the negro on the charge made against him.

his preliminary hearing will occur on Monday, and if bound over to Court his case will be placed before the Grand Jury on the 9th instant.

On account of Gardner's color and his lustful reputation, and notwithstanding the great blame attached to Elliott and his wife, public opinion is against him, and it is the desire of the community to have ample justice meted out in his case. Gardner says that the reason he rook his sudden departure on the morning of October 4th was to avoid lynching, being afraid of the results of his having so offended the dignity of our people.

Mr. Elliott some weeks ago filed his petition in Logan Common Pleas for a divorce from his wife, charging her with adultery with Gardner; but for some mysterious and unaccountable reason he has withdrawn the petition, and is now living peacefully with his wife.

Found in the next day's edition of the same paper:

Mt. Gilead, Ohio.


MT. GILEAD, February 2.—The negro Gardner, charged with rape, was to-day brought before Mayor Powell for preliminary examination. This, however, he waived, and in default of bail was ordered to remain in jail until Court commences Monday, and his case will be immediately submitted to the Grand Jury.

Our final article comes to us through the pages of The Times-Democrat (Lima, Ohio) dated March 4, 1880 and is unfortunately incomplete:

—Philander, or as he is better known here as "Jim" Gardner, an account of whose arrest appeared in the DEMOCRAT about three weeks ago, came up smiling last week and resumed his station in the dining room of the Burnett house. A full account of his hair breadth 'scapes, and the story of his rights and wrongs appears on another page of this weeks issue.


Flees from Justice for Fear of Being Lynched Before He Could Tell His "Story."

Martyred for the Cause of Justice, But Finally Comes Forth a Free Man to Tell the Story of His Wrongs.

[From Mt. Gilead Sentinel]

Some two weeks ago Sherriff [sic] Sanford arrested, in the city of Lima, Ohio, Philander Gardner, the colored man accused of criminal intimacy with Mrs. Elliott, a quakeress, who, with her husband had been residing south of Mt. Gilead, until the exposition of the crime last fall. Gardener [sic] was brought to Mt. Gilead, hand-cuffed, to await the action of the grand jury. no bill was found against the prisoner, as Mrs. Elliott refused, for some reason, to make complaint before the grand jury. The grand jury having completed its labors, it was found that Gardener [sic] had not been indicted, and on Wednesday evening the sheriff opened wide the iron door and permitted the accused negro to once more go forth to enjoy this land of liberty. it was early last fall that Gardner mysteriously departed from this township, for fear, as he said, of being lynched by a prejudiced public who, he surmised, would not give him justice, or an opportunity to give an explanation of the true inwardness of the affair, When he left he went with a determination of not being arrested or taken alive while indignation was at white heat, perhaps fearing that white heat would not be wholesome for a man of his color. He armed himself with a revolver and plodded his way through fields and woods to his parents' home in South Woodbury, this county. he did not visit long with his parents, but started immediately on a wearisome journey. Arriving at Kenton, Ohio, he took the cars and finally brought up in Canada. Learning that the excitement over the affair had subsided he ventured back to Ohio and found employment at Lima, where he has since found an ---- home, and for which ------- seems to have the ----------- -----tion. He inte-- --------now and ma-- ------------ generous ----------.

Unfortunately the rest of the page is illegible.  

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

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