Monday, May 30, 2016

September 21, 1893: Thomas Smith

Today we learn about a lynching in Virginia starting with an article found in The Roanoke Times (Roanoke, Virginia) dated September 27, 1893:


Summary of the News of the Unfortunate Occurrence.

The Fusilade of Death From the Guns of the Militia—Eight Killed and More Than Twenty-Five Injured—The Negro, Thomas Smith, Finally Taken From the Police and Lynched—His Body Burned Next Day—Story of the Brutal Crime He Committed—Investigation by the Coroner's Jury.

On account of the unprecedented call for copies of THE TIMES containing the very full account of the recent unfortunate occurrence in this city the very large supply printed has been exhausted. To meet the demand for the entire story THE TIMES this morning reprints the articles contained in the successive issues since Wednesday, September 20, and includes the completion of the taking of evidence by the coroner's jury yesterday afternoon, also their verdict. The story follows: 

Roanoke passed through a reign of terror Wednesday night, September 20, and the city have since been enveloped in gloom. Eight men are lying cold in death, and twenty-five more are wounded, some of them mortally.

The scene, one of the most terrible ever witnessed, which was over in a few minutes, beggars description.

The dead are:

S. A. VICK, proprietor of St. James Hotel.
WILLIAM SHEETS, a fireman of the Norfolk and Western railroad.
CHARLES WHITMYER, a conductor on the Norfolk and Western.
J. B. TYLER, of blue Ridge, a section master on the Norfolk and Western.
GEORGE WHITE, shot through the leg and bled to death.
JOHN MILLS, of Back Creek, Roanoke county, a farmer and distiller.
GEORGE SETTLES, of Vinton, shot in the head.

The wounded are:

O. C. FALLS, member of Friendship Fire Company, mortally wounded.
WILL EDDY, shot through the groin.
GEORGE O. MUNROE, shot in the head.
FRANK WILLS, shot in the arm.
THOMAS NELSON, leg shot off.
LEROY WHITE, shot in the back.
J. B. MCGEHEE, shot in the leg; flesh wound.
J. B. SHEPPARD, shot in the leg.
E. J. SMALL, shot in the stomach.
J. F. POWELL, shot through the body.
J. E. WAYLAND, clerk in the postoffice, shot in the leg.
GEORGE LEIGH, clerk at Ponce de Leon Hotel, flesh wound in the leg.
WALTER P. HUFF, knocked down and ankle badly sprained.  
MAYOR H. E. TROUT, shot in the foot.
WM. BERRY, shot in the leg.

Toward nightfall the angry mob which was guarding the jail in which was confined Thomas Smith, the negro who had so nearly murdered Mrs. Henry Bishop, began to increase and to become more excited.

By eight o'clock the excitement was intense but at the same time was suppressed. When at this time over 100 men from Troutville, Hollins and the surrounding country, where Mrs. Bishop lives, came up Campbell avenue followed by hundreds of the citizens of Roanoke, shouting and yelling, the restraint was renewed and the crowd assumed the proportions of an angry mob of 4,000 or 5,000 people.

The excited men passed around the door to the station house and angrily demanded the prisoner, but the Light Infantry, who had, with Mayor Trout and the police force, retired inside the jail building, remained firm at their posts.

For some time it was thought that no attack would be made as there seemed to be no leader, and mixed up with the mob were hundreds of citizens who were drawn there solely from curiosity and who were innocent of any intention to violate the good order of the city.

The crowd was in a fever heat of excitement and suspense when several hot-headed, imprudent persons in the street opposite the jail, near the Chinese laundry, fired a number of pistol shots.

The militia at once returned the fire with the fatal result above stated. It cannot be ascertained who gave the order to fire, but it was asserted on the street to have been given by Mayor Trout himself. At any rate, no warning was given the citizens.


At the second fusilade from the soldiers the mob fell back, most of them into Commerce street, a number to Roanoke street and some into Salem avenue.

When the smoke cleared away the work of carrying off the dead, dying and wounded began and at once the engine house of the Junior Hose Company, Dr. Luck's office on Roanoke street, Fox & Christian's drug store and Dr. Gate's office were turned into improvised hospitals.

Stretchers were brought out and strong and willing hands bore away their friends that only five minutes before were in the bloom of health and strength.

Excitement was at a fever heat and the indignation against Mayor Trout and against the Light Infantry was terrible. Mr. Trout had been carried to the Ponce de Leon Hotel, but afterwards taken home and an angry mob went through the hotel demanding that the mayor should produce the negro or die. On finding he had left the hotel they proceeded to his residence on Campbell avenue and went through every room in the house, but Mr. Trout had previously been carried away in a carriage by his friends.

The soldiers at once dispersed and went to their homes, the mob hooting and crying shame. Another raid was made on the jail, but the prisoner was not to be found, as he had been surreptitiously carried out at the rear of the jail by officers while the dead citizens were being carried off the field and was taken out of the city in a buggy, and, it was supposed, carried to Salem.

The excited mass of people, who, by this time had lost all reason, forced their way into the hardware store of Evans Brothers and compelled the clerks to hand out a large number of guns and pistols.


An improvised platform was placed in front of Fox & Christian's drug store and J. Allen Watts began to plead with the citizens to listen to reason and disperse. In vain did he call on them for silence and appealed to their reason, telling the multitude what a fearful thing it would be to shed more innocent blood.

All the time the crowd was yelling, and probably not a dozen men heard the speech of Mr. Watts. There were cries of "Sit down!" and someone in the crowd fired three pistol shots, presumably at Mr. Watts, but no damage was done.

Judge John W. Woods mounted the platform at the side of Mr. Watts and tried to speak to the people, but his voice was drowned in the cries of the multitude who were demanding that the mayor be brought out and made, at the peril of his life, to state where the prisoner had gone.

At this time someone started the cry that the prisoner was hid in the attic or cupola of the courthouse and a mad rush was made on that building, and in a few minutes there were more people in the temple of justice than was ever before between its four walls at any one time.

The courthouse was searched from the ground to the roof, but the prisoner was not there and the crowd came out disappointed and more angry than ever.

The crowd still remained on the streets until after midnight and scattering groups were standing around in different portions of the city until morning discussing the awful occurrences of the early evening.

Nearly all the physicians in the city were on hand ministering to the wants of the dying and wounded men, and everything known in medical science was done to alleviate the sufferings of the wounded.

Several ministers of the gospel, prominent among whom were Rev. W. F. Hamner, Rev. Dr. W. C. Campbell and Rev. S. L. Rice, were on the ground from the first bestowing the solaces of religion to the men in their dying moments.


The scene at the undertaking establishment of Oakey & Woolwine was a ghastly one. One by one the dead men were borne in on stretchers until seven men were lying there at one time being prepared for burial. The dead men there were S. A. Vick, Capt. Charles Whitmyer, Wm. Sheets, W. E. Hall, J. B. Tyler, George Settles and John T. Mills.

The awful evidences of the terrible tragedy were only too visible in the streets. In front of the station house, near the street car track, were large pools of blood and brains. Bullets were picked up in the streets, and their marks can be seen on telegraph poles and on the fences along the street.

The stationhouse, the jail and the courthouse have the appearance of having been struck by a cyclone. The windows in the mayor's office are filled with bullet holes, and some of the glasses were broken out by stones.The panes of glass in several of the windows in the courthouse were broken out.

It was rather remarkable that no one in the jail or stationhouse was injured, for as soon as the fatal volley was fired by the soldiers the building was fairly riddled with bullets.
One fact that makes the affair all the more to be regreeted [sic] is that a special grand jury had already been summoned to indict the would-be murderer. Hustings Court was in session and the word of the commonwealth's attorney, the judge and all the officers of the court had been given solemnly to the masses of citizens at the jail that the negro's trial would be immediate and speedy and the punishment meted out as severe as the laws of the land would allow.

The special grand jury is composed as follows:  Frank R. May, R. H. Angell, R. T. Boswell, A. S. Chewning, Teaford Clingenpeel, J. T. Smoot, W. P. Dupuy, P. W. Huff and Van Taliaferro.

It was openly demanded last night that an investigation must be made speedily and thoroughly or there would be more violence. It is evident that thousands of citizens will demand to know on whose head rests the responsibility of the death of eight men.


Thursday was the saddest day in the history of Roanoke, a day fraught with many perils and exciting scenes, which not even time itself can efface from the memory of those who passed through the awful scenes.

When the first bright and peaceful rays of the glorious autumn sun fell on the quiet city, hushed in sleep Thursday morning the mutilated body of the negro fiend, Thomas Smith, was dangling at the end of a hempen rope from the hickory three [sic] near the corner of Franklin road and Ninth avenue n. w. silent and alone.

Several parties would occasionally visit the spot through curiosity and relic hunters stripped branches from the tree and almost divested the upper portion of the negro's body of clothing, carrying away small shreds as mementos of the awful night and the tragic end of the wretched cause of all the trouble.

As was stated in THE TIMES, the lynching was done by a body of about one dozen determined men, followed by the same number of boys and other spectators. When the noose was adjusted around the neck of the condemned wretch he cried out, "Oh Lord, have mercy on me!" and was at one strong pull of the rope launched into eternity to stand at the judgment bar of his God.

As the morning advanced the number of spectators who gathered on the spot to witness the ghastly scene increased, and by the time the coroner's jury arrived on the spot there had assembled a vast concourse of people.

 Dr. Henry V. Gray, the coroner, early in the morning summoned the following jury to hold an inquest over the remains:  W. P. Camp; F. O. Williams, of F. O. Williams & Co., slate and tin roof manufacturers; W. A. Banks, J. A. Curry, carpenter; W. H. Simmons and E. W. Staples.

These gentlemen repaired to the fatal spot, viewed the ghastly body of the victims and made all possible inquiries into the particulars of the matter.

Finding it impossible to obtain any reliable information concerning the lynching the jury returned the following verdict:

"An inquest taken at and near the corner of Franklin road and Ninth avenue southwest, in the city of Roanoke, county of Roanoke, State of Virginia, on the 21st of September, 1893, before Henry V. Gray, coroner of said city, upon the view of the body of Thomas Smith, there lying dead, the jurors sworn to inquire when, how and by what means the said Thomas Smith came to his death, upon their oaths do say that the aforesaid Smith came to his death on the night of September 21, 1893, between the hours of 12 and 6 o'clock a. m., by being hung by the neck to a tree until he was dead and by persons unknown to this jury."

Soon after the coroner's jury had left the scene the body was cut down by Sid Pritty, according to the orders of the authorities, and it was intended to bring it to an undertaker's establishment to be prepared for burial. This was not allowed and the angry crowd grew terrible in its violence and excitement, and the leaders swore they would drag the remains to the residence of Mayor Trout and hang them in the yard and then bury them in front of the residence.

Strong men caught hold of the rope and dragged the body across the street, and would have carried out their threats but for Rev. W. C. Campbell and Capt. Robert B. Moorman, who made earnest speeches to the multitude and implored them in the name of common humanity and decency to desist from the terrible and outrageous undertaking. At last they agreed not to do so, and at Captain Moorman's suggestion, a wagon was called, the mutilated body of the victim put in and was driven off toward the river amid the deafening cries of 4,000 people, saying, "Take him and burn him."

On, on went the mad mob bent on their sickening scheme towards the Roanoke river until they reached a spot about five hundred yards above the narrow guage [sic] railroad bridge, where they halted and proposed in a suitable place to enact the deed they came there for. Several cedar trees were cut down and piled up, making a hastily improvised funeral pyre, on which was placed the dead body on [sic] the lynched negro. 

A detail was sent out after oil and light wood, which soon returned with two gallons of coal oil and several goods boxes, which were added to the pile, and in a short time the arrangements were complete. At 10 o'clock to the minute the match was struck and fire set to the pile of inflammable material, which sent its lurid flames and dense volumes of dark smoke high toward the heavens.

The flames roared and cracked, leaping high in the air, while all around stood 4,000 people, men, women, boys and children, on foot, in buggies and carriages and on horseback, and numbers of them shouting over the horrible scene. In a short while all was over and all that remained on earth of Thomas Smith, the would-be murderer, was a pile of white ashes and a few bits of bone.

Hundreds of the visitors gathered close around the human bonfire and cast in pieces of wood, determined to add something toward the cremation. Smith's sister, a girl 15 years of age, stood by and witnessed the terrible fate of her brother's remains.

The mob dispersed, leaving in squads and alone, most of them coming back to town and renewing their threats against the military, the mayor and all the city officers. There were calls for an indignation meeting to be held in the afternoon at the Academy of Music and also at night, but the subsequent conciliatory actions of various citizens and committees advised against such meetings.

Calls were issued for railroad men's meetings, Masonic and Red Men's meetings, and a meeting of the employees of the Roanoke Machine Works, to be held at the shops later in the day.

The conservative and conciliatory ground taken at all of these meetings did much to allay the sanguinary spirit which pervaded the city, and caused numbers of the citizens to return to their homes.

In the absence of Mayor Trout from the city, according to law the reins of government fell to the hands of the president of the city council, R. A. Buckner, who early yesterday morning issued the following proclamation:


ROANOKE,Va., Sept. 21, 1893

To the Citizens of Roanoke:

It is with profound regret that the deplorable circumstances of last night existed which caused the sacrifice of innocent lives and to prevent the possibility of renewal of violence and further loss of life, i hereby appeal to the sober judgment and a law-loving sentiment of all the people of this city and call upon them to aid me in preserving investigation of the causes which led to those unhappy results. And I hereby pledge that every effort will be made to bring to justice any one who may be liable for the wrongful death or injury of any citizen.

I hereby call upon all citizens to at once return to their homes and resume their usual occupations. The welfare and prosperity of our city absolutely depend upon the preservation of peace and good order.

R. A. BUCKNER, Acting Mayor.

All day a determined set of men hung around the courthouse and jail with a resolution not to disperse until some agreement was reached. Toward evening there was talk of a compromise being effected and W. P. Dupuy went to men who were supposed to be the leaders and asked what they proposed to do.

They replied there would be no more trouble if Mayor Trout, Chief of Police Terry, Sergeant Traynham and Special Officer M. C. Morris were removed from office.

Mr. Dupuy said that he would confer with the citizen's committee, which he at once did. At the request of this committee Acting Mayor Buckner suspended the chief of police, the city sergeant and Officer Morris, pending the investigation.

Mr. Dupuy returned to the courthouse at 6 o'clock and made a brief speech relating this action of Buckner, and told the people that while no one had the power to remove Mayor Trout, he promised them in the name of the personal friends of the mayor, who would give their word, that Mr. Trout would not resume his office until after a full investigation was held. The crowd then dispersed and went peacefully to their homes.

Meetings were held by the Masons, the Knights of Pythias, the Knights of the Mystic Chain, the Red Men and other orders, at which resolutions were passed to the effect that they would uphold the laws and do every possible thing to preserve the peace and good order of the city.

There was a large assemblage of citizens, composed of railroad men and shop men, in the Smith music hall in the afternoon. Vice-President Sands, of the Norfolk and Western, addressed the people and asked them to assist in preserving peace. He called on them to know how many would volunteer to act as special police in case of an emergency and a large number expressed their willingness to serve the city in that way. These men were furnished with badges and sworn in as special officers.

Later in the afternoon there was a large meeting at the Roanoke Machine Works, which was addressed by Vice-President Sands, W. A. Glasgow and H. A. Gillis, who appealed to the people to exert themselves to preserve order. The speeches were heartily received and about fifty men volunteered to act as special police, who were directly put on duty. At this meeting the following resolution was adopted:

Resolved, That, in the opinion of this meeting, the firing upon the crowd assembled around the courthouse was not justified by existing circumstances and was in a great measure unprovoked, and we hereby demand from the proper authorities that a most rigid investigation be made of all the circumstances of the affair, and that, in case the guilt of any official, civil or military, be proved, that said officer should be requested to resign, and that he be punished to the full extent of the law; and that, if the Roanoke Light Infantry be found guilty of the charges against them, they be disbanded and their arms and equipment returned to the State authorities.

The special committee of thirteen, of which Maj. Joseph H. Sands is chairman and John J. Sheehan is secretary, published a card containing resolutions passed earlier in the day and a statement that Mr. Buckner had suspended several officers. This had a conciliatory effect on the masses.

The statement follows:

To the people of Roanoke:

At a meeting of the citizens of Roanoke, held at different points in the last few hours, the undersigned committee was appointed to look after the interests and welfare of the citizens of the city, and at their first meeting the following resolutions was adopted:

Whereas it is most desirable that all excitement should be allayed, exciting speeches or conversation discouraged, and that the majesty of the law shall be respected as being competent to deal fully and justly with all persons who may be suspected of sharing illegally the events of last night; therefore be it[.]

"resolved, By this joint committee, appointed by citizens of Roanoke, that it demand the immediate summoning before a grand jury all persons who can give information as to suspected persons; this committee, individually and collectively, take such action as may cause the people to refrain from all violence or threats of violence and disperse to their homes and usual avocations.

"Resolved that the judge of the Hustings Court is hereby respectfully requested to summons a grand jury of not less than sixteen (16) good, substantial citizens, to whom he shall give in charge for immediate action, inquiry into the occurrences of last night."

Mr. R. A. Buckner, acting mayor of the city, has appointed a large number of special policemen, whose duty it is to urge upon the citizens to preserve order and to disperse to their homes; and every man is asked and appealed to support those officers in the preservation of the peace of the city.

The people are assured that everything will be done by this committee, collectively and individually, to thoroughly investigate the sad affair of last night, and to deal with any one, acting illegally, in accordance with the laws of the land.

Upon the recommendation of this committee, and charges having been preferred, Mr. R. A. Buckner, president of the City Council, and acting mayor, has suspended Chief of Police Terry, J. B. Traynham and M. C. Morris, pending a full investigation; and Mr. Buckner, president of the City Council, will act as mayor of the city until a full and complete investigation has been made of the action last night of the mayor and all the officers of the city. [Signed]

JNO. J. SHEEHAN,                                        JOS. H. SANDS

Secretary,                                   Chairman.

Roanoke, September 21.

The committee held a second meeting when it was agreed that the affairs in the city looked better than at any time during the trouble.

By Friday the city had been fully restored to quiet and order. There were no demonstrations of any kind, and while there was still a strong feeling in the matter, everything was subdued. The city is again under the civil authorities, and the country people who were loudest in their demonstrations have returned to their homes.

The committee of thirteen citizens, who have been largely instrumental in restoring harmony in the city, meet twice each day. They believe that the trouble is over, and their chief work now is to have the affair properly investigated before the coroner's jury and the special grand jury.

With the exception of J. H. Campbell and Otho C. Falls and Mr. Campbell are both very dangerously wounded, and their physicians entertain but little hope of their recovery.


The funeral services over the body of George Settles, who lost his life in the sad occurrence, were preached Thursday afternoon at his home, about two miles below Vinton, by Rev. C. H. Buchanan, after which his remains were carried to the family burying lot and placed in their last resting place.

Mr. Settles was a young man of strong heart, good character and was a great favorite with all who knew him. The entire community extend their heartfelt sympathy to his grief stricken mother and relatives in their great affliction.


Mrs. Bishop Enticed Into a Saloon Basement and Horribly Beaten. 

The dastardly crime committed was one of the darkest that stains the criminal pages of the history of the city, remarkably free from crimes and outrages more common in other cities.

An aged and respectable white woman—Mrs. Anna Bishop, wife of Henry Bishop, a well-to-do and respected citizen of Cloverdale, Botetourt county — was at the market Wednesday morning, in company with her 14-year-old son, with a load of produce.

She was enticed into a vacant cellar near the Randolph street bridge, cruelly beaten into insensibility and out of all recognition, and then robbed of her purse, containing less than $2, by the negro fiend, Thomas Smith, an idle, vagrant young negro, who resides at Vinton, and who at one time was an employe [sic] of the Crezer Iron Company's furnace.

The dastardly deed was discovered about ten o'clock and in an incredibly short time was spread throughout the city, and a vast concourse of citizens assembled around and near the market square.

About 10:30 o'clock the woman recovered consciousness in the cellar, crawled out in her pitable [sic] condition, found her way to the market square and related the terrible story of the brutal outrage to the clerk of the market, Robert E. Coleman, and to others who took her into the Roanoke and Southern saloon, where she was given stimulants and messengers dispatched for a physician.

Some one had told George Bishop, her 14-year-old son, that an old lady had been nearly murdered and it was thought she was his mother. The boy came rushing into the saloon almost breathless and looked at the distorted countenance of the old lady.

Her long, black hair was matted with gore and her clothes had been torn in tatters and her hands and whole body were covered with blood, dirt and slime from the cellar.

He cried out, "Oh, no, that's not my mother," and did not recognize her until he heard her voice. Then the lamentations of the boy were pitiable indeed.

The injured woman was soon entirely conscious and collected and told her story without excitement and in a straightforward manner.

She was in the market, she said to a TIMES reporter, and had nearly disposed of her produce when a negro approached her and claimed to want to purchase a box of grapes she had for a Mrs. Hicks, whom he said lived on Salem avenue near the bridge

She unsuspiciously followed him to deliver the grapes and receive her pay down the steps and into the cellar under the vacant house, No. 124 Salem avenue, next to the Randolph street bridge.

As soon as they were inside he threw down the box of grapes, locked the door and dashed a pail of water that was sitting on the ground in her face, evidently intending to blind and dazzle her.

He demanded her money, which she gave him, the sum being about $1.99, and implored the brute to take the money and spare her life. He then attempted to bind her wrists with a strap and brandished a razor, acting as if he wanted to cut her throat.

The woman, now being made desperate with terror and despair, exerted all her strength, wrested her hands loose and knocked the razor across the cellar on the floor.

The inhuman brute then struck her a fiendish blow on the head with the heavy iron top of an ice cream freezer which felled her to the earth and then struck blow after blow on the defenseless head of the prostrate woman with a brick and a heavy stone until she was unconscious.

He then left her, evidently supposing that life was extinct. All the weapons were found in the cellar afterwards, covered with hair and blood.

It is not known how long she remained in the cellar, but it is supposed to have been about half an hour.

Dr. J. N. Lewis and Dr. J. L. Stone arrived and dressed the wounds as well as possible, and the victim of the dastardly deed was removed to the home of her relative and friend, W. P. Blount, at 917 Tazewell avenue southeast.

She described the man who committed the deed as a negro about 22 years old, medium size, tolerably dark, dressed in a faded black frock coat with grey pants and a large black, slouch hat. A large number of citizens, together with the officers, immediately began to institute a search, when a negro was seen to board an east-bound freight train at 10:30 o'clock that filled the description.

He was pointed out when William Edwards, a young colored man, bravely leaped into the car, which was moving rapidly away, and seized Smith by the collar and told him to consider himself under arrest.

Smith attempted to shove Edwards backwards out of the car, when both men leaped out and fell together near the track.

The would-be murderer jumped up and ran with all possible speed in the direction of Belmont, with an angry crowd of citizens in hot pursuit, some in buggies and others on horseback. The hucksters at the market unhitched the teams from the wagons and rode the horses with harness on in the mad chase.

The fugitive was discovered in the extreme southeastern part of the city just entering the woods near Wood Novelty Works. Detective W. G. Baldwin who was in the lead, when about 150 yards off drew his revolver and ordered the negro to stop.

The wretch obeyed and came back towards the officer saying, "Boss, I didn't hurt that woman."

The prisoner was helped on the horse behind the detective, who turned and immediately began to gallop back towards the city, surrounded by an angry mass of citizens, which was increasing at every step and who were crying "hang him" and "lynch him."

Captain Baldwin grasped his revolver in his right hand and warded the citizens off. He came directly to the "Home of the Sick," thinking the injured woman was there, but on finding she was still at the saloon on Salem avenue, he carried the negro there and hastily took him inside for identification.

The woman immediately knew her assailant and said so. Then came the difficult task of lodging the prisoner in jail. The detective again mounted the horse and took the frightened negro behind him and started in a swift gallop up Salem avenue in the direction of the station house, with the excited crowd, which had now increased into an angry mob, following and demanding the prisoner.

The negro was safely lodged in jail, which in a few minutes was surrounded by over a thousand men clamoring for revenge and blood. Commonwealth's Attorney W. O. Hardaway mounted the sill of the station house window and begged the people to be calm.

He said the negro would be speedily prosecuted and justice to its full extent would be swiftly meted out.

Mayor Trout followed in a brief speech in the same strain, and Police Justice Turner also counseled peace. The excitement subsided and a large part of the crowd dispersed, but a large number kept the jail surrounded in order that the prisoner might not be spirited away by the officers.

Men on horseback were dispatched to Botetourt county to inform the woman's husband, Henry Bishop, who is sick at Troutville, and to inform the citizens of Botetourt of the affair. Henry Bishop and his wife, who is about 50 years old, are members of the Brethren Church and stand high in the community in which they life. They have a son who is an employe [sic] of the Norfold and Western and runs on the Shenandoah division. 

The identification of the negro does not depend upon Mrs. Bishop's testimony alone, for a number of people in the market saw her follow the negro to the cellar with the grapes, but thought nothing of the occurrence at the time. Among these citizens is J. E. Turner, who lives at No. 611 Second avenue northwest.

All day the excitement became more intense and the crowds on the streets became larger and an air of subdued excitement pervaded the city

At 4 o'clock Mayor Trout ordered the streets in front of the jail cleared but the police force were ineffectual and the Roanoke Light Infantry, about twenty strong under Capt. John Bird, were mustered out with instructions to keep the people off the street.

At this juncture the police arrested and lodged in jail two citizens who were tardy in obeying orders. This proceeding only added fuel to the flame and made the concourse of people indignant.


The Coroner's Jury Sifting the Matter to the Bottom.

The coroner's jury reconvened at the hotel Lee Thursday afternoon at 2 o'clock, pursuant to an adjournment of the morning session, which rendered a verdict upon the death of Thomas Smith, the negro fiend. It was composed of the same gentlemen and Dr. Gray continued to act as coroner. there were also present Judge Brand, who appeared at the request of the relatives of some of the men killed in the riot. Early in the day Attorney Thomas W. miller tendered his services to the jury to advise them in legal matters and he was also accepted with the services of his stenographer, who took a verbatim report of the proceedings.

As there were a number of witnesses to summon, Deputy Sergeant R. H. Wright and several policemen were impressed into service and it was not until 3:30 o'clock that the testimony was begun. The jury had, previous to this, viewed the remains of the deceased so as to proceed without further interruption.

The first witness was Police Justice Walter H. Turner. He said that all day long he had feared some outbreak and breach of the peace and had used his best influence against any violence. He and Mayor Trout were together when the crowd gathered at the jail shortly after Smith was arrested, and the mayor made the appeal to go quietly to their homes and avoid any disorder.

As he went to his supper he saw that the crowd around the jail was too small to occasion any apprehension, but feeling slightly uneasy after supper he borrowed a horse and went down town to look around. He heard a great cheer from the neighborhood of the jail, and, leaving his horse at William's stable, he ran around and got there only four or five minutes before the firing began. When he reached the building Mayor Trout was standing on one of the lower steps of the front door, and in front of him were six or seven members of the Roanoke Light Infantry. inside the building in the police court room were Captain Bird, Lieutenant-Colonel Pole and several militiamen. At this time the crowd outside the jail numbered over 1,000, and they were evidently getting restless.

Mayor Trout proposed to address the mob, but the tumult was such that it would have been quite impossible. Just at this critical moment some one or several persons began battering on the western door of the jail and immediately a rock crashed through the window.

Then it was that some one cried, "Get back, Get back," and a moment later shots were fired. Whether the firing began on the inside or the outside he was unable to say, but no sooner was the first shot fired than the fusillade instantly became general.

There was no order to fire that he heard and none could have been given inside of the room without his having heard it.

He saw parties in the street firing pistols but could not recognize them. The chief of police was standing near him and he saw firing out the window in the direction of Greene Memorial Church. He saw one man fall in the middle of Campbell street but could not tell who shot him.

Shortly after this he was called into the corridor and remained there till the fusillade ceased. After it was over he saw Mayor Trout come in the door and the mayor said to him, "I am shot in the foot." Upon glancing at his floor the blood could be seen oozing out of the shoe.

The next time he saw the mayor he was in the lobby of the Ponce de Leon Hotel, when the mayor said to him that he must go to Captain Bird and tell him that this killing must be stopped, which he did, when Captain Bird told him that he was getting the negro out as fast as he could. The whole thing took only about five minutes.

When asked who ordered the troops out, he said the mayor had written the order in the afternoon, but as this order was not witnessed by two citizens, as law requires, it was brought back by Lieutenant Moss and W. O. Hardaway and myself witnessed it.

He was asked if Mac Morris was in the station and said he was not. In addition to the troops downstairs there were some troops upstairs, but of these I knew nothing, as I did not go up there at all. Most of the killing was done in front of the station.

Frank R. May, the next witness, testified that he saw the crowd moving up toward the jail and went with them. he thought they were firing blank cartridges and when he found out they were not he got away from there as soon as he could. This was all he knew and heard nothing of any order to fire.

N. F. Normoyle testified that he was on the west side of the jail standing near and a part of the time talking to Mac Morris, who, he said, did not shoot at all, as he was near him all the time. He saw no rock thrown nor heard any crash, but did see three or four men pounding on the west side door.

As this pounding was going on a rifle was stuck out of the side window of the police court room and fired into the air, then the firing became general. There was an order to fire given and from the inside of the room.

When the firing commenced he got up close to the jail wall, with several others, and waited there till it stopped. He saw no one fall, but saw them lying on the ground when the firing ceased.

When asked how many were on the west side of the jail he said he did not know, but he did not think there were many more than 100 people close up to the jail.

A. L. Jamison, the feed and coal dealer, was next examined. He said that he was sitting at his home about 7:30 o'clock, or perhaps a little later, when he heard some shooting near the jail. He ran down the street, and when he stopped he was about twenty-five feet from the jail building.

He heard the battering on the western door and a little later heard and saw shots from the crowd in front of the jail and that they were the first shots fired. He could not tell how many shots were fired or how many men were firing them, but they were answered by shots from the rifles of the militia. The fusillade became general and at this time he became dazed.When he roused himself he noticed the crowd running and saw wounded and dead men lying about him.

Just as he started to run he saw a man in front of him deliberately shoot four or five shots from a revolver into the militiamen standing in front of the jail. He got away as quickly as he could, but went back as soon as the firing ceased.

As soon as the first shots were fired the crowd began to disperse, but the firing continued till they reached Commerce street.

He said that there were twenty men or more who were well up near the jail and who were circulating among the crowd begging them to make an onslaught and capture the negro. In all there were not more than eight militiamen guarding the front door and police were occasionally passing through the crowd.

He heard no order given to fire, nor did he notice anyone making an effort to quiet the mob. The principal attack was made right opposite the front jail door and he was certain at least nine out the ten citizens there were simply there as spectators.

W. I. Jones testified that while standing on the corner of Campbell and Henry streets he saw the crowd coming in from Betetourt headed by young Bishop, a son of the injured woman. The crown [sic] consisted mostly of boys and young men and hastened to the jail to join the throng already there.

As well as he could tell there were 1,500 or 2,000 around the jail, and at least twenty-five or thirty moving around the crowd inciting them to make an assault on the jail and take the prisoner from it.

He saw bricks thrown against the door and heard a crash, and a little later the firing began. He saw one man drop wounded and another fall to keep from being hit by the flying bullets, but heard no order to fire. He was close to Mac Morris but said that Morris took no part in the affair. He said he thought the firing commenced on the inside. When the crowd gave way the military kept on firing until they reached Commerce street when the firing ceased. About five minutes before the firing began he saw Captain Bird and Mayor Trout on the outside of the building.

Peter Dugan, the contractor, next testified. He said he was standing at the end of the front steps nearest the court house and was nearer the militia than anyone else. He thought the first firing commenced on the inside, though he heard no signal nor order given. He did not see Mayor Trout at all, but saw one or two police pass through the crowd. He heard none make an attempt to disperse the mob till the firing began, and when it started and he saw the people running he laughed at them, thinking only blank cartridges were being used.

He soon realized the danger of his position and got away as rapidly as possible. There were only seven or eight militiamen standing in front of the building and he was so close to these that he had to push the muzzle of the rifle of one of them aside in order to keep from being shot while he was trying to make his escape.

The citizens had no intimidation there would be any firing and it was done entirely without warning. He saw no citizens firing at all. The whole thing lasted about a minute, or perhaps a minute and a half. Two men fell almost immediately in front of the front door, and of the rest the majority shot were found to have been injured in an alley immediately opposite.

James A. Pugh, city editor of the Roanoke Daily Record, testified that he came on the ground at 7 o'clock and remained until after the firing had ceased. There were 1,000 to 1,500 in the crowd, and these are augmented by about fifty from Botetourt [sic]. As soon as the rustic delegation arrived there was a rush made on the guards on the front steps of the jail which was repelled with the bayonets.

Then the crowd seemed to edge around to the west side of the jail for the apparent purpose of making an attack. All this time I was in the court room and could see quite plainly. Very soon the battering commenced on the western door and Captain Bird stationed at the western windows four militiamen.

He sent others upstairs. Someone at this time raised the sash of the window and the men put the muzzles of their guns through the opening.

At this moment some one from the outside threw a rock through the window and a few seconds later another followed. Then the men in the window began shooting and the fusillade became general. There was one policeman in the room and he was firing his revolver but I can not remember who it was.

It was his impression that the firing through the side window did not damage as they seemed to be aiming above the heads of the mob.

Most of the shooting was done in front. Before the firing stopped he went into the corridor. He heard no one ask the mob to disperse, nor did he hear anyone order to fire. He said he would have suggested another plan of guarding the jail by putting militia in the jail proper, but Captain Bird was so busy that he did not have a chance to talk of his plan to him.

When the firing ceased the mob had scattered and the militia just seemed to melt away. Some had citizens clothes brought to them and others went out the back way.

Policemen at the time were also a scarce article. The firing began at 7:55 o'clock and did not last over a couple of minutes.

He said he was told there were about fifty armed men in all in the jail, both upstairs and down. At the close of Mr. Pugh's testimony, it being 5:45 o'clock, the inquest adjourned till 11 o'clock Friday morning.


The coroner's jury met at Hotel Lee Friday morning and resumed their labors. Adjutant-General Charles J. Anderson, of the State militia of volunteers, was present, but he stated that he was not at the inquest in his official capacity. The first witness examined was Robert E. Coleman, clerk of the city market, who testified:

I was in the city on the night of the 20th. I started at 8 o'clock to the reading room of the Democratic executive committee. Saw an immense crowd around the courthouse—about 2,000. When I got near the Ponce de Leon the firing commenced, and I heard a bullet whiz by my head. I ran into the basement of the hotel. I couldn't tell where the first firing began. I heard no orders to fire given. I met Chief Terry afterwards in the hotel lobby. He asked me to go up and tell the crowd they could have the negro. I asked him why he didn't do that before these men were killed. He made no answer."

The next witness introduced was J. V. Jamison, who said:  "My little boy and I came down Campbell street to see the great crowd and I waited to see the temper of the people. A few minutes later I met Mayor Trout, who asked me if there would be any trouble. I told him yes, I thought there would be. Mr. Trout said I have done my duty; I have ordered all the officers of this town to protect the prisoner, and that is all I can do.

"After I left him and walked up Campbell street a yell was made and I walked backed [sic] to a spot nearly the opposite the mayor's office, and the crowd made a break and at their rally got up very near the courthouse. The firing commenced from the windows of the mayor's office on the west side.

"The firing came first from the second and third floors of the building. That was the first report I heard of guns. I thought they were blank cartridges and I said so. The streets were soon cleared. I didn't hear a word from the inside and there was not much shooting on the outside. The people in the upper story of the building fired up in the air. The damage was done from the front of the jail. The firing kept up while the people were on the retreat.

"I do not believe the people would have dispersed even if notice had been given them. The best people of Roanoke were in the crowd and were unharmed. I believe an amicable adjustment could have been made. The people didn't apprehend that they would be shot. i didn't think thee was such a fool in Virginia that would fire into an innocent lot of men. I didn't think the guardians of the peace would shoot me because I was not in the mob. The mob was on the west side.

"All of the soldiers are young men and most of them beardless. The surrender of the negro would have adjusted the matter, but I believe that nothing else would have satisfied the crowd."

Luther Miller—"I was at home about 7 o'clock. i heard the yelling and came down to see what the crowd was going to do. I came down on the west side of the jail, watching the crowd who was making a break on the jail. I don't know how many belonged to the mob. There seemed to be only a few who were trying to gain an entrance. I saw no attack on the military. I believe that the crowd intended to take the negro regardless of consequence. The guns that were fired on the west side seemed to be fired upward. The guns in front were not, but fired into the crowd. I saw one military man in the door and after the volley a number came out on the street. I know of no order given to fire.Didn't hear of any address given to the crowd. I didn't think the city was in danger, nor did I suppose the officers of the law would defend the negro at the expense of the lives of the citizens. The first firing, I think, came from the magistrate's office. Three or four guns were fired, then a regular volley."

J. B. Chewning—"Through curiosity I came back from home after supper. I was standing near Greene Memorial Church when the crowd began to pound upon the door. i moved down closer and was standing withing twenty-five feet of the door.

"When the window on the west side of Justice Turner's office was hoisted by the soldiers and the first shot was fired into the air, after which it became general. I heard no address to the people on the west side of the jail. I believe there were about thirty people who were trying to break the door in. The first shots from the window were at an angle of about forty-five degrees. Didn't hear any order of fire given. The mob was composed of men and boys."

General Anderson here explained that in every case the military was subordinate to the civil authorities except when martial law was declared which could only be done by the President. An officer can be fined $500 and a private $100 for refusing to obey this law.

At this juncture A. L. Jamison came before the jury and asked to be allowed to explain that the report of his testimony on the previous day was incorrectly reported in THE TIMES. What Mr. Jamison intended to state was that the first shots he heard fired was from pistols held by persons in the rear of the guard that was placed around the door of the jail and between the jail and soldiers, or perhaps inside the jail, but at any rate in the rear of the guard around the steps.

The jury then adjourned to meet at 2 o'clock. Shortly after 2 o'clock the jury again met, and Capt. J. F. Terry, chief of police, was first place on the stand. Capt. terry said:  "I was suspended Thursday evening by Acting Mayor R. A. Buckner. I was at the mayor's office all the afternoon and evening. Mayor Trout and I were in the street trying to reason with the people and keep them back from the jail. The firing was, I think, done outside the jail. I heard no orders to fire. The people were throwing rocks and bricks against the windows and door, and Captain Bird several times told them to get away. I fired two shots through the window up in the air to frighten the people away.

"Ever since Mr. Trout has been mayor he has said that there never should be a prisoner suffered to be taken out of the jail by a mob. At 2 o'clock I wanted the prisoner sent to Radford on the 4:30 train and sent Mr. Bu-kner to see Mr. Trout about it. He came back with Mr. Trout and they seemed to favor it. Police Justice Turner was opposed to it, and said a city of 2,500 people ought to be able to take care of its prisoners.

"Mr. Trout said we must protect the prisoner. If necessary we must fire on the mob. The general instructions were to resist the mob with firearms if nothing else could be done.

"Immediately after the brick came through the window the firing began. I did not shoot at anyone. I fired in the air. Mayor Trout was in chief command, I should think. I thought they were going to shoot from the position they had taken  and started to ask Captain Bird not to shoot, but saw the mayor near him and kept silent."

Capt. Wm. G. Baldwim—"I refused to assist in guarding the jail, because I positively did think there was danger of an attack on the jail, but I did offer to take the prisoner to my office and guard him with five men. Five men in the jail properly armed with Winchesters could have protected the prisoner, but they could not do it on the outside."

A. H. Griffin, sergeant of the police force, acting chief:  "I was at police headquarters and heard the chief order to keep the crowd off of the vacant lot between the jail and Greene-Memorial Church, and to keep the north side of Campbell street clear. I went into the court house and cleared it. The people were orderly and left when asked. The mayor entreated the crowd to go back or they would get hurt, but they refused to listen. The mob gathered on the west side of the jail. Some one threw a brick or stone at the door and broke out the window.

"Then the shooting commenced at the lower window on the west side of the jail. I don't think any police officer put his hand on his gun. I told the chief and Judge Turner at 2 o'clock to send the prisoner out of town The judge opposed it.

"The orders were to use guns on the mob if sufficient cause was given, but I didn't see any use of shooting at retreating men. After the shooting several parties asked me to take away the prisoner but I refused until ordered to do so by the chief or mayor. I notified the chief. He said:  'If that's the situation turn the negro out and let him take his chances.' I refused and said I didn't want to be lynched. I afterward sent the prisoner with Officers Eakin and Austin and they took him to Reed's carriage shop. If M. C. Morris had a gun I don't know it. I heard no orders given to fire."

Dr. W. S. Gregory, of Roanoke Light Infantry—"I was one of the guards at the inner door with four others. I was ordered to one of the west windows. Was ordered there by Lieutenant Colonel Pole. He, Captain Bird and the mayor begged the men to leave the windows and doors of the jail and said they would be shot.

"Two rocks were thrown against the door and two bullets came in through the windows before anyone inside shot. Then Captain Bird said, 'Boys, we can't stand this. we will have to fire once and then retreat to save ourselves.' Before we fired an outside man fired five or six times in the direction of the windows."

At this juncture the other military men were asked by the coroner to leave the room. A few minutes later the other witnesses were also sent out."

"The soldiers," he continued, "did not appear to fire but one volley. The man outside said "Shoot the God d—n sons of b—' and then fired a number of times. All this occurred before the military fired. There was a feeling of perfect security. We had no intention of firing and didn't believe they would fire at us. Our guns were not loaded until we went up to the windows. The guns were empty when the mob was repulsed at the door.

"The succession of shots and the two bullets through the window was before there was any firing from the inside.

"After the firing Eston Randolph came in and said the negro must be taken out, that we couldn't kill all the good men in town and that it was Mayor Trout's order. We then went out and formed a line and disbanded."

John W. Hancock, member of Roanoke Light Infantry—"Six of us were placed in front of the door at the mayor's office. Captain Bird stepped out and told the mob that they must leave, that we would fire if they made an attack. Then I heard the battering on the door. The first shot that was fired by someone immediately in front of the mayor's office on the sidewalk across the street near the old wooden building now occupied by some colored people. Before our squad fired the men in the jail had fired, and the firing had become general."

At the conclusion of Mr. Hancock's testimony the jury adjourned until 10:30 Saturday morning.


The coroner's jury met again Saturday morning at 11 o'clock, having been delayed half an hour by the absence of two jurors. General Anderson, Lieutenant-Colonel Pole, judge A. J. Brand and Thomas W. Miller were also present.

John W. Hanock, of the Roanoke Light Infantry, who was the last witness examined Friday evening, was placed on the stand. At this point of the proceedings the official stenographer was sworn to report the evidence correctly.

Mr. Hancock said:—"I don't know how many of the militia were in rank. The last command I heard was 'Ready.' The witness refused to answer the question whether he would fire without a command to do so. I didn't see any of the officers at the time of the firing, he said, but my impression was that Captain Bird was in the room behind us. After we disbanded I went to my home. I am satisfied that some of the soldiers in rank with me fired. I was very near the centre of the squad. I remained there until the firing ceased and the crowd dispersed. I would not recognize an order from Mr. trout or the chief of police. I was then under Captain Bird.

"The order from Captain Bird was when he disbanded us that we go home quietly and take off our uniforms. I heard Mayor Trout address the crowd some time during the afternoon. One man grabbed my gun before the shooting and attempted to take it away from me. This was not long after 5 o'clock."

R. Randolph Hicks:—I saw a large crowd in front of the jail. There was some yelling. My impression was that most of the men were spectators. I soon heard the firing from the upper end of the jail. A regular volley followed and I retreated. I heard no commands.

D. D. Kennedy—"I am a moulder and live at 818 Tazewell street southeast. I was standing at the west side of the jail near the door. the first intimation I had of shooting was the poking of the guns through the windows. The next thing I knew the shooting started. I heard no warnings or orders given. I was a spectator. I didn't recognize any of the parties who attacked the jail. I was in front of the window, I stood between the window and the door. I never saw a stone thrown through the window or a glass shattered. The first thing I saw in the windows was the guns poked out.

"I never saw the men. This was about one minute before the firing. The first firing was from that window. i saw Mac Morris and Sergeant Griffin. I was shot in the forehead. The ball grazed my head. I saw Otho Falls shot. I saw some parties strike the door with a stone or brick. Their guns were pointed out first. I was making a speech. I asked the people for God's sake not to go into the hardware store for arms, but if they wanted to get the negro to scour the city for him.

"I think O. C. Falls was killed, or rather shot, in the first volley. After the shooting the crowd dispersed/ Didn't see any citizens fire a pistol. I had blood on me while I was speaking at the hardware store. I had been shot half an hour before I made the speech."

George F. Dyer—"I was at the do show. One of the managers told me there was some trouble at the courthouse. When I came up Mayor Trout was a few steps in front of the mayor's office making a speech. I could not hear much of what he was saying. He looked like he was making a speech. I only heard, "For God's sake, gentlemen, don't rush up." The shooting commenced right away. i never heard any orders.

"The shooting commenced on the west side of the jail; I think it was on the outside. The next fire I saw out in the street in front of the jail. I saw the flash of two pistols. I then started and when I went a few steps the military fired. The only policeman I saw was Mac Morris at the corner of the jail. I am not any way in the world connected with the military company.

"When I heard that the mob was going up to search Mr. Trout's house I went on horseback up there fast as I could and found John Trout there on the front porch with a gun. the mob was using bad language. I told them to send a committee of four or five and I would let them go through. i know the leader and saw him at the Ponce de Leon hotel. The partied in front of the jail were in my opinion excited and firing in every direction. One young man with his coat sleeves torn off seemed to be very officious in the matter. He answered to the name of Bishop. He was said to be the woman's son. I saw a fellow call him out and give him a drink. I think he was the man who kicked open some of the doors at the courthouse."

    Colonel Baker, of the second Virginia Regiment, came in and was asked to remain.


Sidney B. Pace, a member of the Roanoke Light Infantry—"I was ordered to the armory by Lieutenant Moss. We formed ranks there and marched to the jail. The first order was received to clear the streets. I was in front of the mayor's office at the time of the firing.

"The captain gave orders to us to keep the crowd back. The crowd in front of us was very disorderly.  I didn't receive any orders at all except to keep the crowd back. We had sent out pickets all around. I think they were run in. Owing to the great noise I could not hear orders to fire. The last order I remember hearing was 'charge bayonets.'

"The last time I saw Mayor Trout he was in the crowd trying to comman order. I don't know where the captain was at the time of the firing. There was firing in front of the jail. The first firing I saw to my left across the street opposite the jail. None of the squad fired until there was firing in the street. in the squad I think there were two men on my right.

"After the shooting we were called out and disbanded. I went home. I have been a member of the company about twelve months. I saw Captain Bird out in front of us insisting on the crowd to draw back. I saw the firing in the crowd all the time from the time it commenced."


Col. J. C. Baker, of Woodstock, attorney-at-law, commanding the Second Virginia Regiment—"On the night of September 20 I was at Pulaski and received a telegram from the lieutenant colonel of the regiment asking me to return. I replied that the senior colonel in command could take charge. Carefully following the law, I examined the order given to Captain Bird and found it in perfect form and legal. Being satisfied that there would be no further trouble, with the consent of the mayor, I left for Abingdon and returned to-day. I was not in the city during the time the difficulty took place. The order followed the formula laid down in the code. The order was signed by H. S. Trout, mayor, and two witnesses. Under the law the mayor had entire power to do this. I saw no other orders.

"Captain Bird told me next day the mayor had told him to defend the jail. I haven't seen Mr. Trout. I don't know where Captain Bird is. I haven't seen him since day before yesterday.. If I had been here with a regiment I should have felt it my duty to patrol the streets all night, but if old citizens asked me to disband I probably should have given way to them. My choice would be to hold the ground.

"When the man I had been ordered out to protect was gone I should think my duty was at an end and would leave. There is no special rule as to their going home or to the armory."

He refused to state when he saw Captain Bird, as it was a matter of confidence. The jury then adjourned at 1:15 p. m. to meet at 2:30 p. m.


It was nearly 3 o'clock before the coroner and most of the jury reassembled in the private office at Hotel Lee and resumed work. The first witness was:

Thomas Jefferson Martin—"I am a car builder at the Roanoke Machine Works. I have never been informed on what particular point I was summoned here for. I was in front of the jail. I had walked in front of the plumbing establishment on Commerce street. I talked with Mr. Davenport a few minutes, then walked up to [the] front of the jail and heard the banging on the doors of the jail.I turned and walked back two steps and heard one shot from a revolver and almost immediately the firing was in front."

"I didn't go up for a few minutes, possibly eight or ten minutes.Didn't hear any order for firing. When the firing commenced I was just opposite the jail. i didn't see the military at all.. I heard a shot and then came the volley. After the firing was over I came out and saw the dead and wounded carried off the street. When I went up they said, Halt! and I said, You wouldn't shoot one man. They replied Get away from here. I spoke to the first soldier I saw and said, 'My God, why did you do this?' and he said 'We had orders to do it.' I didn't know who the soldier was. There was no more said."

James Stewart Douglass, chief engineer of the Ponce de Leon Hotel—"I suppose I was summoned here for what I heard and saw. The affair happened about 8 o'clock. I saw some pickets on the pavement opposite the courthouse and near the mayor's office. When I first went out I saw 75 to 100 men coming up the street, shouting and hollowing, 'Come on, boys.' They seemed to be a delegation from somewhere. When I first saw them I heard someone say, 'Come on, they won't shoot.' All of them looked respectable. There were a good many boys and young fellows.

"I understood afterwards they were railroad men. I thought they were going to the jail to take the darkey out. I didn't see any soldiers at that time. I think I saw a policeman there.I didn't notice who he was. I don't think there was any special resistance offered to the crowd. I saw the soldiers tell the crowd to get back and jab at them with their bayonets. When I saw a man fall by the side of me I left. I couldn't see any firing from the street. It sounded like a hundred or more guns went off in a minute. I went there with the expectation of hearing the mayor or someone else make a speech. the first shot, it might have been two or three, appeared to be on the west side."


Lieutenant Colonel Wilbur S. Pole, of the Second Virginia Regiment—"About 10 o'clock on the 20th instant, I saw a policeman rushing by my office. I saw someone leading a woman whose face was covered with bloop [sic]. Captain Baldwin stopped the woman and obtained her statement as to who did it. The room was pointed out in which the assault was made on Mrs. Bishop. my attention was called to the pool of blood. Mrs. bishop was taken into the saloon. Mr. Baldwin started in search of the prisoner and I remained with the woman.

"I went after Dr. Lewis and got him to come down. Later I heard a crowd and saw Mr. Baldwin with the negro behind him and seated on a horse. He brought the negro into the room and asked Mrs. Bishop if she recognized that man. She replied:  "He looks very much like the man. Let me see his hat." The hat was shown her and she said:  "I identify the hat. He certainly is the man." Mr. Baldwin said to the man:  "We had better get out of here." Mr. Baldwin said to the crowd:  "She can not positively identify the man," but he would lock him up. He was taken to police headquarters.

"At 12 o'clock I had learned that the mayor had ordered the Light Infantry to hold themselves ready. At 2 o'clock Corporal Loving asked me if I had seen Captain Bird and said they had received orders to assemble at the armory. I received no notice until I hailed Captain Bird and asked him if he had received orders and he said he was then on his way to see the mayor, as he had notified his company to assemble at 6 o'clock and the mayor wanted them to meet at once. At that time there was a report circulated that Mrs. Bishop had died. I took the Vinton dummy, went to Tazewell avenue, and went over and found that Mrs. Bishop was resting quietly.

"I returned to the armory just as Captain Bird marched his company out of the armory. Captain Bird then marched his company to police  headquarters and was asked by the mayor who was in command of the company. The mayor ordered Captain Bird to clear the streets, which was done after much resistance.

"This was done about 5 o'clock. I went into the streets as a conservator of the peace and asked the people to disperse. I examined the code and found the order had been properly drawn and witnessed. From that time on to 6 o'clock the  crowd was very much diminished. From 6 to 8 o'clock the crowd increased rapidly, during which time I circulated among the crowd and asked them to disperse and was satisfied that the promises of the officers would be carried out. The crowd seemed to be very determined and not inclined to withdraw. It was evident to me there would be further trouble.

"I telegraphed Colonel griffin to hold his company in readiness for further orders. It was my opinion that I would not be in command until another company was on the ground, forming a battalion. I at the same time wired Governor McKinney that the company had been called out. That message was sent at the request of Captain Bird. At 7:15 Mayor Trout, who was at police headquarters, said, 'I think you ought to have that Salem company.' I wired Captain Griffin to come on the next dummy.

"On my way to the telegraph office I met a crowd coming up the street. i telephoned headquarters that the mob was coming.I -led the message to Captain Griffin at 7:51. I then returned to headquarters and found the mob had broken through the picket lines and was then in front of police headquarters When I arrived at headquarters Captain Bird had placed a guard around the door. Mayor Trout was endeavoring to address the crowd, but did not succeed, for they drowned his voice. I heard Captain Bird cautioning the men to keep down the points of the bayonets and not allow the men to press against the guns.

"The picket line was formed at a little after 8 o'clock by a relief of fifteen men in addition to the eighteen who were first brought from the armory. The guard was mounted by Sergeant Warner. The guard was stationed on the south side of Campbell street at the intermission of Campbell and Commerce. The picket line came  up on the south side of the curb stones on the north side of the street and extended about fifty feet west of the jail. The line then ran on the south side of the headquarters to thew yard in the rear of the jail. There were two men in the rear of the jail and two on the east side of the jail in the courthouse yard.

"I can't state what the orders were as I was not present. They were given by Captain Bird. Sergeant Warner received them and has them in writing. After Captain Bird had instructed the guard not to allow the men to press on the guns the leader strengthened the mob around the west side of the jail. I don't know the name of the leader. I then went into the police court room and into the rear hall to see how the guard was stationed and found several men on the steps leading up to the entrance. As I returned into the lobby I heard the first blows on the door.

"After the lines were broken by the mob, the guards on the street were called in. Captain Bird placed himself in front of the window and said, 'You men must get away from that door.' The captain sent for three men. They were sent, I think, by Lieutenant Hatcher.

"Just as the three men raised the window Captain Bird again called to the people outside, 'You men must get away from there. I have orders to protect this jail and will certainly fire if it is necessary. If I am compelled to fire it certainly will be done.'

"There was one stone thrown before, and this was the second stone thrown through the window. He said:  'Men, I give you fair warning. my guns are loaded with bullets; get back, get back.' Then a shower of stones fell upon the door, immediately followed by two shots from the outside.

"Before the last caution he had ordered ready. Then after the two shots were fired Captain Bird gave the command of fire. i noticed particularly that he commanded the squad 'ready, aim' and then at this time the rocking of the doors was almost deafening and two pistol shots were heard and the command of fire was given, but not until he again cautioned that they would shoot and the guns were loaded with bullets. that was all the command I heard."

On cross examination Colonel Pole said:  "This window was raised just before Captain Bird appeared at the window. He approached the window, placed his hands on the sill and said, 'Men, you must get away from that window.'  The first stone came through the window just as he reached the window. The second time he cried in a loud voice, 'Men, I give you fair warning; my guns are loaded with bullets; you must get back.' I don't think there was any doubt about the crowd hearing him. He spoke in a very loud voice.

"I don't know anything about the firing in front of the building and don't know who had charge of the guards upstairs. He didn't ask my advice and I didn't interfere. If the Salem company had arrived before the shooting took place I would have been in command from their arrival. I saw the mob march up to the guards and after the men charged bayonets they went to the west side.

"I should think there were about 250 people in front of the jail that started to the west side, but whether all that crowd around there were taking an active part, I don't know.

"There were two shots heard by me distinctly on the outside. There might have been shots I didn't hear. The noise was deafening."

Question by Dr. Gray—Do you regard the firing on the west side justifiably and according to law?

Answer—"I think that for Captain Bird to carry out the instructions he had received he could have acted in no other manner."

Question—Do you bear the responsibility of this thing?

Answer—"I was not consulted in placing the guards."

Question—Are the young men, the soldiers, exonerated and do the authorities bear the responsibility?

Answer—"I think the orders were properly given."

Question—If these young men killed somebody, either by orders or without orders, should they be exonerated?

Answer—"I think the military should be exonerated."

Question by Judge Brand—Was there any necessity of the troops firing?

Answer—"I think the circumstances at the time of the command of fire was given made it necessary.They had no other means, according to my idea, of protecting the prisoner."

Question—Did you accompany the mayor to the Ponce de Leon?

Answer—"I did."

Question—Did you have any conversation on the steps of the hotel?

Answer—"It was reported that the mob was breaking into the hardware stores to procure arms and dynamite and I saw they had broken into the stores."

Question—Did you converse with Captain J. Crane?

Answer—"I can't say."

Question—Did you say they could not blame the military, as we had orders." but at the same time condemned the firing, and say there ought not to have been any blood shed?

Answer—"I might have said the command had to be obeyed.I probably said it was a great pity that we should lose our citizens on the account of a worthless negro."

Question—Did you give the advice that it would be better to surrender the prisoner?

Answer—"I did not."

Question—Could not the two shots you spoke of have come from the upper window of the jail?

Answer—"I can't say from which point other than on the west side of the building; I didn't see the flash."


B. Lacy Hoge—About 7 o'clock I saw a friend of mine in the crowd and told him he had better leave as I believe the military would shoot; that necessity would force it upon them. I told them there was no law to shoot blank cartridges. I also spoke to Mr. Vick and told him the same.

"About that time a police officer ordered the crowd to disperse. I passed on through towards home. I met Lieutenant Hatcher and said 'I'm afraid you will have trouble.' He replied he was afraid they would but would stay as long as they had orders. Some one in the crowd said they would shoot blank cartridges.

"Lieutenant Hatcher said, 'You are mistaken. If we shoot t all we will shoot bullets.' After supper I came back and saw someone fire a pistol into the air, and while I was near the Presbyterian Church I heard the beating on the door. Then I heard the firing of five or six pistols. I then wheeled around and saw the volley from the military. I told Dr. Campbell at the time that the first shots were from the outside."

At the conclusion of Mr. Hoge's testimony the jury adjourned until 10 o'clock Monday.


The coroner's jury met at the Hotel Lee Monday morning at 10:30 o'clock and resumed their work of taking testimony in investigating the riot of September 20. The first witness was Willis S. Wilson, who was placed on the stand at 10:40 o'clock.

Mr. Wilson said— "I am a member of the Roanoke Light Infantry. About noon I received an order to report at the armory at 6 o'clock. About 4:30 I received an order to report at once. When I received the second order I reported at the armory. I waited at the armory until we were sent for and then went to the jail. I was placed on duty on the second floor in the window looking out on the Thomas building. I was ordered out to the front. I was not out of the jail until I was ordered out and disbanded. I wasn't where I could see the people, but I heard a tremendous noise. I did not hear any orders to fire. I did not see any firing after I came down.

"The fire was over when I called from the second story. I saw flashes. One man emptied a pistol from behind the fence in the rear of the jail. This was during the general firing. When we disbanded I don't think it was 9 o'clock. The orders were to go home and keep away from the crowd. There were other men started up the stairs with me. One of them was Private Van Lew at the window next the courthouse.

"Private Gregory was up there at the window facing Greene Memorial Church. While the firing was going on I walked over and looked out of that window. I saw a great number of people and pistol flashes."


M. C. Morris—"I was a special policeman September 20. I was stationed in front of the mayor's office. About 7 o'clock I went home to supper and a few minutes after I returned a yell and a crowd came up by the hotel. I went out in the middle of the street.

"A boy 17 or 18 years old, Will Davis, in his shirt sleeves, who lives on Fourth avenue and Old Lick road, was in the crowd. I caught hold of him as he approached the corner of Campbell avenue and Commerce street. The crowd jerked him loose. I hung on to his shirt sleeve and it was pulled off. I said, 'I have better sense than to hit a boy.' When the second rush came I fell back in font of. This same boy and Mrs. Bishop's son were in the lead.

"Mayor Trout called out, 'I call on you as good citizens, for God's sake to go home. I beg you as good citizens to go.' I saw the military poke their guns out of the window and I got back from that side. I fell back to the window on the corner. There was firing out of that window. My intention was to come to the front and they were firing there and I got between the window and the corner of the house. I went to Sergeant Griffin and asked for a pistol. He sent me to the chief. I didn't find him. I had no pistol. I haven't had a pistol since last winter.

"Mayor Trout ordered the crowd back two or three times. At night I did not see any pickets down on the corner. Just before the firing the rear guard was called in by Captain Bird. The first firing I saw was from the window, the upper window on the west side of the mayor's office. There were three or four shots there at first. I did not hear any orders. Mayor Trout came out in front and begged the people to go home.

"The last time I saw Mr. Trout he was in front of the jail. I did not see any firing in the crowd. There was a great confusion and noise. Sergeant Griffin caught hold of the Davis boy and told him to go home. I stayed all night in front of the jail. I left at 7 o'clock next morning. I went to breakfast and came back and remained on duty until 12 o'clock.

"I heard Captain Bird make some proclamation from the window and say, 'Get back.' I saw him put his face in the window and hollow. I didn't understand all he said. The shooting began in not more than one minute. I didn't see a police officer shoot. Mr. Trout passed through the crowd and said, 'For God's sake go home as law abiding citizens. The guns are loaded with bullets.' I was in a position to see the crowd. I think I saw no firing from the crowd before the firing from the window. I heard Captain Bird warn them once. Mr Curry, a member of the jury, was then by me.


A. L. Payne—"Wednesday evening at 6 o'clock I went to the clerk's office. I noticed the crowd assembling. I then went to Hotel Roanoke and took dinner. Then walked up toward the courthouse. I went around Salem avenue and Roanoke street to the south side of Campbell street and walked down Campbell avenue to the front of the mayor's office. I recognized no one in there except Chief Terry. At that time the crowd surged on the door on the west side. All at once I saw three militiamen rush across the room toward the window. In a moment afterward I heard another blow on the door. At that moment I saw the men raise their guns and fire. At once there were a number of pistol shots fired.

"Afterwards I saw Mayor Trout brought in the Ponce de Leon. The first firing I saw in front of the jail was from pistol shots in the crowd. I didn't fear the militia and thought the danger was from the pistol shots. I saw the crowd on the west side was a very turbulent crowd. Demonstrations were being made against the jail, so much so we left them. They were certainly not a body of law-abiding citizens. The first intimation I had that the crowd in front was disorderly was the great number of pistol shots fired.

"I certainly think if there had been any firing from the muskets in front before the pistol firing was going around I certainly could have known it. I was in line with the range of that fire if it had taken place. That firing couldn't have taken place until I moved away. Until the pistol shots were fired. I could see their flashes and the arms of the persons holding the pistols. I said to my friend we must get out of these pistol shots. I went on the ground and compared my position then with the spots of blood left on the street car track. The pistol shots was almost simultaneous with the firing on the west side.

"I heard the demonstrations against the door. I heard very severe blows."


S. Hamilton Graves—"On the night of September 20 I urged several friends not to go up there to the jail. I was sitting in my office window. Could only see about to the jail. About 8 o'clock shots were fired down the street. Then twenty-five or fifty men rushed up towards the jail and I heard knocking up there like it was on the door. The first shot I heard was from a pistol at corner of courthouse yard. I saw a man near Walsak's fire four or five shots back into the crowd."

W. F. Blackwell—"I was on the corner of Campbell and Commerce streets; then I went up to the front of the jail door. the crowd commenced gathering up pretty fast. i heard a noise in the rear of the jail. Directly afterward shots were fired on the rear side by parties on the inside. I thought they were blank cartridges. I was more afraid of the shots on the outside than from the military company. Pretty quick it  was a general thing. I heard no orders. I didn't see Mr. Trout. A man fell by me. Part of the militia were standing on the front steps. I was standing in front of them, saw the blazes and didn't get hurt. Most of the men who were trying to get in were on the back side. I had been standing there hardly two minutes before the firing commenced. I have since examined the door, and it shows indications of having been battered with stones."

Frank M. Bell—"At the time the shooting occurred I was between the street car rail and the curbing. The boisterous crowd seemed to be on the west side. I was twenty feet from the jail. there was some throwing of stones against the door. I heard the breaking of glass and firing immediately begun from the window. I moved down this way. The first shot followed the breaking of the glass on the west side. The flash lit up a couple of countenances.

"I saw Mayor Trout. I didn't see him speaking to anyone. I didn't hear any warning by anybody. I met Judge Gooch going home. He said it was their orders to shoot. I said you came near shooting me for you fired directly at me. he told me in the presence of my wife then he was simply obeying orders. He was placed in front near Campbell street. He's a short man and was standing on the steps. I said you came near shooting me. Why did you shoot powder and bullets? His answer was 'we were simply obeying orders.' I saw no one trying to disperse the mob. Plenty of us would have went if we thought there was any danger of being hurt.

"The reason I thought it was Judge Gooch who shot at me was I saw his gun pointed that way and saw the flash. I said that in a joking way and there is no reason to believe he would try to hurt me. Nearly all that crowd were boys."

Dr. Gray here asked the stenographer to put this down and lay particular stress upon it.

"I don't think there were over fifty people in the actual mob and most of them were boys. All the crowd I saw on Campbell street were good natured people joking. i could see the flashes but couldn't tell whether the shots were straight out or diagonally. I looked back after the street was cleared. They were still shooting. i saw Mac Morris but didn't see him do any shooting, but he hugged up against the wall. I think they fired into the good citizens and the mob stayed where they were."

Question by Juror Williams—"Could any of the militia, without getting out of the window, shoot into the mob?"

Answer—"One man might, but I saw three guns shining out and none of them twisting around. i didn't hear a word to disperse from any living soul. If Captain Bird had put his hed [out] of the window and spoke I would have heard it. I don't think any such orders were given. There was never a shot from the crowd on either side. I did see shooting in the crowd after the firing was well under way. I doubt very much if any one on Campbell street was armed. When I was shot I was in front of the mayor's door."

T. W. miller here asked the witness if he represented an insurance company.

"I have been representing an insurance company. understand Mr. Whitmyer was incurred. His wife sent word that he held a policy in our company. Some of the good citizens that were up against the jail along by the west windows were Jim Jackson, John Wooton, Frank Welsh, George Marshall and Jake Vest. I think there were 1,500 or 2,000 in the crowd. I suppose I talked to ten or fifteen in fifteen minutes. I judge from the size of the crowd that came up with young Bishop that there were only fifty or seventy-five in the mob. Everybody seemed to think the negro ought to be lynched.

"There were lots of men who did announce that they came there with the intention of violating the law."

Juror Williams objected strenuously to any evidence being given on the insurance business. He said it was out of place here.

Dr. Gray ruled the evidence out.

Question by Juror Williams—"Do you think that if this man who had been shot had unnecessarily exposed himself in any battle of any kind"—but before he finished the question the coroner interposed and again ruled out all the testimony relative to the insurance business.

At the conclusion of Mr. Bell's testimony the jury adjourned at 1:15 until 2 o'clock.


The afternoon session met at 2:45 o'clock. The first witness placed on the stand was H. L. Warner, second sergeant of the Roanoke Light Infantry, who testified as follows:

"I went to the armory at 6:15 and went to the jail with Lieutenant Hatcher. We got to to the jail at 6:45. I was at the jail until 7:30 when I went to my office. At the time of the firing I was at my office at the telegraph key. I was appointed sergeant of eight and I took those eight men and posted them at eight different points.

"At 7:30 I placed the fifth sergeant on the ground and went to the office. The instructions were received from Captain Bird when we were in the jail were, 'Now, boys, I want to caution you. we are loaded with ball cartridges. I am afraid we will have trouble and want to caution you not to fire without orders.' He gave me orders to instruct the men if the mob run over them to hasten into the jail.

"I was instructed that no one was to pass the picket lines. I left about twenty-five minutes before the firing. our squad was loaded with ball cartridges in about five minutes after we arrived. There were five or six police officers on hand."

Juror Williams at this point asked that the commonwealth's attorney be here to instruct the jury. Dr. Gray said the coroner was in absolute authority, but if Mr. Williams wanted Mr. Kardaway he could be asked to come, although the coroner has entire jurisdiction; that he had already delegated certain powers to Judge Brand. The coroner then asked the officers to summon the commonwealth's attorney.

Dr. J. T. Strickland—Mr. McGehee was the first man I saw. He was shot with a minnie ball. the next one I saw was O. C. Falls. He is still alive and was shot with a minnie ball. I saw young Eddy. He had his thigh broken and was shot in hip with a minnie ball. I saw Powell in Dr. Luck's office. He was shot with a minnie ball. The holes were to large for to have been made by anything else, but minnie balls. It's a larger wound than a pistol ball would make. I cannot distinguish the difference between a Winchester and a Springfield rifle ball.

Dr. George S. Luck—"There were three men brought into my office. John Mills was mortally wounded with a minnie ball. Powell was shot with a pistol ball in the chest; the pistol ball ranged back. Fuqua was shot in the leg with a pistol ball. I was standing in my office porch at the time of the shooting, but was too far away to say who shot first or in what direction.

Dr. H. E. Jones—"Three cases I have on hand. The wounds were made with rifle balls. One case was made by a pistol ball, mentioned by Dr. luck. Mr. Vick's wound was made by a rifle ball. Other wounds I saw were made by rifle balls. I saw only one case where the wound was made by a pistol ball. I was on Church street at the time of the shooting. Settles, Vick and White died from wounds from minnie balls judging from the size of the holes.

Dr. J. L. Stone—"C. B. North was I think shot with a pistol of about 22 calibre."

Dr. J. Newton Lewis—"I assisted Dr. Jones in dressing Will Eddy's wound. The wound was evidently made by a large bullet.

Dr. J. H. Lawrence—"I am attending two cases. The first was E. J. Small, who was shot through the hip. Geo. Munroe was shot in the head and it was only a flesh wound. The balls were I think large balls."


Capt. John Bird—"I am captain of Company G, Second Virginia Regiment, known to you as the Roanoke Light Infantry. My duties are:  I was sworn in to obey superior officers and to protect the constitution and laws of the State at my own peril. I received my commission properly signed."

Dr. Gray asked the question, Do you regard Mayor Trout as your superior officer?

Captain Bird replied—"I do."

Captain Bird made his statement in his own language as follows:

"About 11 o'clock September 20, I was talking with Mr. Lazell, who is connected with out business, and noticed the crowd in front of the jail. After finishing the business I went into my office and was told by a young lady stenographer that someone wanted me at the 'phone. Mayor Trout's son, john Trout, said his father wanted at the mayor's office at once.

"I went to police headquarters and Mayor Trout and Mr. Hardaway were there, and Mr. Trout said, 'I expect trouble to night and may have to call on you for your company.' I said, 'Well, we will be ready.' Mayor Trout said, 'You had better inform your men to hold themselves in readiness.' Mr. Hardaway asked, 'Isn't there some form to go through to call out the company.' I told him there was and Mr. Hardaway went at once to look at the code and Mr. Trout said the orders would be ready whenever it was necessary. i left police headquarters and went to the armory and got the roster and looked up the location of the men.

"I called up Lieutenant Moss and asked him to come into my office at once. While on my way I met three men and gave them orders according to those given by Mayor Trout. Lieutenant Moss and I went over the roll call and took down the names of the men who were in town and who were able to serve. Each took a list and went around town and notified every man we could find. About 2 o'clock I was going out to the shops and met Mayor Trout. He asked me if everything was ready. I said I could have the men ready at one half hour's notice. I decided not to go to the shop and returned to my office.

"About 4 o'clock Mayor Trout called me up and I went to the mayor's office on horse back and he told me he had written the order and delivered it to a policeman. he gave me orders to bring a part of my command to police headquarters at once. On my way to the office the policeman delivered the order. I telephones Lieutenant Moss to bring all the men in the office to the armory at once and to Sergeant Bently to tell Lieutenant Hatcher to bring all the men there at once.

"I then went to the armory and saw some of my men on the way up and instructed them to go to the armory at once. At 4:15 I had eighteen men in the armory. I gave orders to put ten ball cartridges in each man's box. We went at once to police headquarters, where we found Mayor Trout. As we went down the street the crowd jeered and mad such remarks as 'they won't shoot,' 'I can eat all the bullets that they will shoot.'

"The first thing Mayor Trout said was, 'Get this crowd away from the door.' We proceeded to clear the crowd with fixed bayonets and succeeded after some trouble. I then took them into police headquarters and loaded the rifles with ball cartridges and placed sentinels on the street to keep the crowd away, which we did with considerable trouble. I cautioned the men at that time not to do anything without orders.

"They stayed in this position until 6:15, when Lieutenant Hatcher brought another squad, making thirty-eight men, including the surgeon, Dr. Simmons. I then established a regular guard composed of Lieutenant Hatcher, officer of the guard; Sergeant Warner, sergeant of the guard; Corporal Crute, corporal of the guard, and eight privates went to eight different posts as follows:

One on corner of Campbell and Commerce streets, one from corner of the jail, one from the jail to Roanoke street, one at intersection of Roanoke street, one in front of the courthouse in the yard, two in rear of jail and one in the open lot, completely surrounding the jail, and instructed them to allow no one to enter those lines.

"We had no trouble and allowed persons to walk along the sidewalk, but instructed the men not to hold conversations with any one and to obey instructions only from officers. I instructed the men that if they found it impossible to hold the line to retreat to police headquarters. The men were getting hungry and I asked Mr. Trout where we could get supper for them. He told me to send to Catogni's for supper and he would be responsible for it. I gave orders to have supper sent up before 7 o'clock. At 7:15 I went down to Catogni's with Dr. Simmons to see about supper and told Lieutenant Moss to take charge of the jail.

"While there I heard Colonel Pole at the 'phone calling up police headquarters. I asked what was wanted He turned to me and said:  'Captain, do you see that mob going up the street?'Without replying I rushed to police headquarters. when passing Henry street i heard a good deal of hallowing and some pistol shots. When I passed through the guards I found them all right and said to Lieutenant Hatcher:  'Hold the crowd back.'

I rushed in, got my sword and returned to the guard line. I met Mayor Trout on the door step, who said, 'can you hold it,' and I said, 'yes, sir.'

I went out on the guard lines and was watching my guard and found it was impossible for him to hold the lines, and saw the people break through the guard line at the corner of Commerce and Campbell, coming up to the jail, violating the law, constituting themselves a mob, and after that I considered myself dealing with a mob and not citizens.

"At the same time I placed a guard at the front door and instructed Lieutenant Hatcher to bring in the rear guard and followed him to see they all got in the mayor's office. Before this I had placed four men on the floor where the prisoner was confined with instructions to obey orders; the guns were loaded; I placed six or eight men on the stair landing with orders to guard the doors. As soon as I saw my guard was inside I went out in front of the building. Mayor Trout was then begging the mob to go back. he said everything to impress on their minds that the rifles were loaded with ball cartridges and we would fire if we were compelled to.

"He was answered by jeers such as 'they won't shoot,' 'we'll have the nigger,' 'we can shoot too.' I also joined in with Mayor Trout and tried to make them go away and was answered in the same way Mayor Trout was. I tried very hard to impress on them that I would shoot if compelled to and warned them again and again to go back, and I know there were men in the crowd who knew we would shoot. They gave me the same answer they did Mayor Trout and while I was in the street I heard them battering on the door on the west side of the jail. My first impression was to run around on the outside, but on second thought I considered it best to do inside leaving Lieutenant Moss in command of the squad at the door.

"I then raised the window at the side of the door and leaning out the window said, 'You men must get away from that door,'  and the only answers I got were similar to those in the front. I then called for three men and either Lieutenant Moss or Colonel Pole brought me four. i leaned out and begged them to go away and said, 'Men, get back, get back,' and the only answer I received was a brick hurled through the window and jeers from the mob, and then I gave the command in a loud tone of voice so the crowd could hear me, 'Ready, aim.' I warned them again saying, 'Men, i give you fair warning, my guns are loaded with ball cartridges.' The only response I got was more rocks and some pistol shots through the window.

"I then said in a low tone, 'steady boys don't fire until I tell you,' I warned them again while they were shooting at me and they were still batting at the door. I was very anxious about that door. As I saw there was nothing else to do I said in a low tone to the squad only, 'Fire.' After firing one round they did give way and I rushed to the stairway to see about the door and said to the boys if it gets to hot for you retreat for the passage.

"I went up the stairs so i could see the outside door and found it all right and instructed the men there to shoot the first man who came through the door. I then rushed out to the front and called to them 'cease firing.' I found Mayor Trout in front, I asked the boys if any were hurt. The officer replied not a man. While out front I noticed a man lying in the street between the rails.

"I then came back to the office and met Mayor Trout. He asked if any of the men were hurt. then he told me that he was shot. I then went out and called Dr. Simmons to examine the man in the street. He said the man was dead. They attempted to bring him into police headquarters and I ordered them away and called Dr. Simmons back. I then noticed a crowd out in the lot and went to the window and called them to go away. They answered, 'There's a man here dead.' I ordered them to take him away and to disperse the crowd. About this time another crowd collected in front of the jail and I sent two men to send them away and tell them we would shoot any man who came in rifle range and they must go away.

"About this time different citizens came to me and said the mob was breaking into the hardware stores and they would soon be up and shoot us down like dogs. Before this Dr. Simmons, who was dressing Mr. Trout's wounds, I met him and the mayor and he said 'my friends are going to take me to the hotel. i am sick and will have to leave.' At the same time Colonel Pole went to the telegraph office to see about the Salem company that had been ordered some time before. The citizens came to me and begged me to take the men away as we would all be killed.

"My reply was:  'Our duty was to stay there as long as the prisoner remained in jail.' None of the men said anything. By and by a police officer suggested that they remove the prisoner and called for Chief Terry. he couldn't be found. I don't remember seeing him after the shooting began.

They then called for Sergeant Griffin. He came and I spoke to him about removing the prisoner. He said he could not remove him without orders from Terry or Mr. Trout. I then made up my mind to hold the prisoner. At the same time I asked Sergeant Traynham to unlock the cage where the prisoner was confined, and they got everything ready, and Sergeant Griffin came back with orders from Mayor Trout 'to remove the prisoner and for God's sake not to kill any more men.' At the same time the prominent citizens came and begged me to move my men away, saying they would all be killed. Sergeant Griffin and two policemen took the prisoner out the rear door. I saw them take him out.

"I then saw my orders were no good any longer. If the mob came I couldn't shoot. we had no instructions to guard the jail. Our orders were to guard the prisoner. At this time, different citizens, such as Judge Woods, Mr. Watts, and Colonel Brooke, kept coming up and begging us to take the men away. I told Lieutenant Hatcher to fall the boys in, in the street, They fell in line just as they should have done. They counted fours as they would at the armory. in the meantime I sent Lieutenant Moss to the armory to see about our arms and ammunition there, as I was much worried about their safety.

"I then told the boys to go quietly home and remove their uniforms, to leave their guns there but to hold themselves in readiness to be called out again. The men were not removed from the jail until the policemen had had time to take the prisoner to a place of safety. After the boys were all gone I went up Roanoke street and around to the armory and put on citizen's clothes. I found fifteen men there. I left the armory with instructions to turn  out the lights and lock the door, the men having all gone except a few citizens who were in the armory.

"I then went to a friend's house and waited for Colonel Baker, who came in on the midnight train, explained the situation to him and wanted to return down the street, but I was advised by my friends to remain quiet, and since then have been in their hands."

After the statement of Captain Bird had been concluded the jury adjourned until Tuesday morning.


Letter Sent to Mayor Trout Monday From Prominent Citizens.

The following letter was sent out Monday to Mayor Trout and furnished to the local papers and Southern Associated Press for publication:

ROANOKE, Va., Sept. 25, 1893.
Hon. Henry S. Trout, mayor of the City of Roanoke, Richmond, Va:

DEAR SIR—We, the undersigned, constituting a committee representing the citizens of Roanoke, after full and deliberate thought, have determined to write and ask you return to Roanoke as soon as the character of your injuries will permit of your traveling. We desire the return with you of all parties who may have left the city on Wednesday night.

It is proper for us to assure you in making this request that you will be secure from all molestation. we—and we know we speak for the vast majority of the citizens of Roanoke—desire and intend that there shall be a thorough, full and legal investigation of the causes leading up to the loss of life on Wednesday night, and are equally firm in our desire and intention that this investigation shall be  conducted according to legal forms and precedents, and under control of the officers of the commonwealth, without fear or favor.

It is our purpose to demonstrate to the world that the charge that we are under mob rule and that the course of law cannot be pursued on account of intimidation and threats is false. Yours truly, (Signed)

JOSEPH H. SANDS, Chairman.
J. J. SHEEHAN, Secretary.

Thank you for joining me and reading such a long post, as always I hope I leave you with something to ponder.

1 comment:

  1. The John J. Sheehan mentioned several times as Secretary was my great-grandfather, who served on the city council for nearly 50 years.