Monday, April 4, 2016

September 21, 1891: Anton Sieboldt

Today we learn about a lynching in Wisconsin through the pages of The Decatur Daily Review (Decatur, Illinois) dated September 23, 1891:



LYNCHED A MURDERER.

The Slayer of Farmer Meighan Hanged to a Tree.

THE WORK OF A WISCONSIN MOB.

Two Hundred Neighbors of the Murdered Man Overpower the Sheriff. Batter Down the Jail Doors, and Make Short Work of the Trembling Culprit—The Father of the Wretch Thinks the Lynching Is Quite Just and Right.

DARLINGTON, Wis., Sept. 22.—The body of Anton Sieboldt, who brutally murdered James Meighan, a well known farmer, is lying in the undertaking establishment where it was taken from the tree on which Sieboldt was hanged at noon Monday by a mob. The murder which resulted in the lynching was committed on a farm in the town of Willow Springs, two miles north of Darlington, at 5 o'clock Thursday afternoon. Meighan was a farmer, living about six miles north of the city, in the town of Willow Springs, and was building a new house. Sieboldt was a farm laborer, working for J. W. Ray on an adjoining farm. Meighan came to the city to get a load of lumber and Sieboldt came with him. Toward evening they started together for home on a load of lumber. From what was learned later it appears that the men got into a fight on the wagon and continued until Meighan was killed, his face being beaten into a jelly. The weapon supposed to have been used was the wagon hammer.

Claimed Self-Defense.

Some passers-by saw the finishing act of the tragedy, and Sieboldt said:  "He tried to kill me, but I have finished him in good shape." He then unhitched the horses, and riding one and leading the other, started home. He was overtaken by the officers at the Furnace springs, arrested, and brought to this city. A mob gathered at the jail with the avowed intention of lynching Sieboldt, but the sheriff took the murderer to Monroe, Green county, for safe-keeping. There he remained until Monday, the date set for his preliminary hearing, when he arrived in town on the morning train and was placed in the jail. Monday morning people began to arrive in the city by twos and threes and half-dozens, until a crowd of fully 200 excited persons, neighbors of the murdered man, were in the village. At noon, however, it was evident that the mob which had gathered about the jail meant business.

Demanded the Keys.

Cries of "Give us the keys," "Bring out the prisoner," "Open the door," "Batter down the doors," etc., were raised on every hand. The prisoner, who was confined in one of the strongest iron-bound cells in the jail, heard the cries and shouts of the mob, and trembled, and moaned, and shrieked alternately. The demands for the keys were ignored by the sheriff and his deputies. the doors were locked and protected by heavy bars. When the mob saw the doors of the jail would not be thrown open they procured axes and sledges and attacked the panels of oak and maple. Barriers gave way one after another. The sheriff and the jailer attempted to protect the prisoner, but were overpowered in an instant and disarmed. Straight toward the cell where the doomed man was cowering rushed the men who were determined to avenge Meighan's murder. The iron bars gave way like pipestems.

In the Mob's Power.

A rope was in hand and a noose was put around the man's neck. Out of the jail hurried the shouting throng, hustling the prisoner through the corridor and out into the courthouse square. There was a halt, but for an instant; then the rope was over the limb and half a hundred willing hands were jerking the struggling form of the murderer upward. The lynchers quickly dispersed. But in their places came hundreds to see the body of the murderer and inspect the jail and the scene of the hanging. The affair caused tremendous excitement. Sieboldt's aged father and mother, who live in the town of Elk Grove, arrived in the city shortly after the hanging, for the purpose of attending the examination. When told that his son had just been hanged the father said that it was probably just and right. There was a sad scene in the jail, where the body was first carried, and where the parents saw it.


The Weekly Wisconsin (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) dated October 17, 1891:

Left to the Grand Jury.

DARLINGTON, Wis., Oct. 7.—The coroner's jury having in hand the matter of the death of Anton Sieboldt, the murderer lynched here a short time ago, met at 1 o'clock this afternoon. District Attorney Simpson was present and stated that a grand jury had been asked for to meet at the December term of court and advised the jury not to go into an investigation at this time. The jury rendered the following verdict:

An inquisition taken at Darlington, in the county of Lafayette, on the 21st day of September, 1891, before William Hopper, one of the justices of the peace of the said county, upon the view of the body of Anton Sieboldt, then dead, by the jurors whose names are hereto subscribed, who, being duly sworn to inquire on behalf of the state as to what manner and by what means the said Anton Sieboldt came to his death, upon their oaths do say that the said Anton Sieboldt came to his death between the hours of 12 and 1 o'clock in the daytime of the 21st day of September, 1891, by strangulation in having been hanged to a tree in the public square of the city of Darlington, in said county, by a mob, and it appearing from the the [sic] representations of Jeff. B. Simpson, the district attorney of said county, that it would be unwise for this jury to further investigate this matter at this time, for the reason that a grand jury will soon be empanelled for this county to investigate this matter. In testimony whereof the said justice of the peace and the jurors of this inquest have hereunto set their hands this 7th day of October, 1891.

WILLIAM HOPPER,
Justice of the Peace.
THOMAS BRACKEN,
JOHN W. GALAGHER,
W. A. ANDREWS,
JAMES MCGINTY,
WILLIAM MARTIN,
HENRY KNAUTZ,
---------------------------------------------Jurors.


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

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