Saturday, July 30, 2016

May 31, 1914: Marie Scott

Today we learned a lynching in Oklahoma through the pages of the Abilene Daily Chronicle (Abilene, Kansas) dated April 1, 1914:


An Oklahoma Mob Hanged Slayer to a Telephone Cable.

Wagoner, Ok., April 1.—One hundred masked men entered the county jail here before daylight yesterday morning and took Marie Scott, a negro, from her cell and hanged her to a telephone cable a block from the jail.

Early Saturday morning Marie Scott stabbed  to death Lemuel Pearce, a young white man, who, with a party of boys, had gone to the negro section of the town. As they were leaving a house the woman sprang upon Pearce and drove a knife into his heart, killing him instantly.

She was taken to jail and there was no demonstration until Monday night, when a knock on the jail door aroused the sleeping jailer, alone in  the office. A voice outside called to him that it was an officer with prisoners. He opened the door and a dozen revolvers were pointed at him.

The mob threw the jailer into a corner and took the keys of the cells. Then they opened Marie Scott's cell, threw a rope around her neck and marched her out the jail and a block away, where they threw the rope over a telephone cable and swang [sic] her up. The body was taken down an hour later by the sheriff.

The county attorney has started an inquisition, but no warrants have been issued. The sentiment of Wagoner County is with the mob. This is due largely to the fact that the death sentence of negroes have been commuted by the governor.

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


Friday, July 29, 2016

August 1, 1919: Fruitage of Mob Law

Today we feature an article found in the August 1, 1919 edition of the Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania):


THE suspicion that there may be some underground movement to foment trouble between the colored citizens of the country and their white brothers id somewhat justified by recent outbreaks in widely-separated sections. Down south, state officials and others are appealing to those colored men who left the south during the war period—under the impression that they would improve their condition north of the Mason and Dixon line—to return to their old homes, with the assurance of better treatment and appreciation for their usefulness.

It is hard to harmonize these appeals with recent stories of the treatment of returning black soldiers in Georgia. Two stories from Blakely and Cordele in Georgia illustrate this point. Both appeared recently in print in southern newspapers.

According to one dispatch, Private William Little, a returned soldier, was beaten to death by a mob near Blakely. It is stated that he was "a prominent young man in this vicinity and from one of the most respectable families in the immediate community." Details of his lynching are to the effect that returning from the service he was accused of wearing his military uniform "too long;" that upon arriving at Blakely he was advised by a certain white element to remove his army uniform and that several anonymous communications were sent to him with instructions to leave town if he wanted "to sport around in his khaki." According to the narrative, Little was halted at the railroad station when he first returned and told to strip himself of his uniform before he walked down the main thoroughfare of the city, being threatened with arrest unless he did so. Having no civilian clothes he was permitted to go home in his uniform. Later, whiie [sic] receiving congratulations from friends, a mob attacked him and he was lynched in the uniform to which his assailants seemed to seriously object.

The other story from Cordele states that Bud Williamson, a traveling representative of a picture company, was driven out of town by white people who objected to the selling of photographs showing Sergeants Johnson and Roberts, the famous heroes of the Fifteenth New York Regiment, engaged in hand-to-hand combat with Germans. Williamson's pictures were destroyed when he arrived in a white settlement to which he had been called by a telephone message. he was badly beaten and at the muzzle of a revolver was ordered to leave town immediately.

These may be extreme cases, but they are illuminating and illustrate the indefensible attitude of a certain class of the white population in the south and elsewhere. Fortunately for the welfare of the country, the law-abiding citizens of the white and black races are united in the determination to uphold the rights of all classes of our citizenry and to suppress the unruly element which seeks to arouse bitter feeling and race prejudice wherever and whenever possible.

Mob law will never be sustained in this country and it is high time that the lynchings which have disgraced America are prevented by the strong arm of justice. The failure to enforce law is an invitation to anarchy and all the evils in its train.

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

Thursday, July 28, 2016

December 11, 1914: Watkins Lewis

Today we learn about a lynching in Louisiana through the pages of the Reno Gazette-Journal (Reno, Nevada) dated December 12, 1914:


Accused of Being Leader of Murderous Band; He Dies Protesting Innocence of Crime


Eight Victims of Lynch Law In One Year at Same Place; Five in Ten Days

SHREVEPORT, La., Dec. 12.—The total of illegal hangings in this parish in the last year reached eight with the confirmation today of the lynching of Watkins Lewis, reported last night. Three of the eight negroes who met death at the hands of mobs were hanged yesterday. Five have been lynched in the last ten days.

Watkins Lewis was taken from the Caddo parish jail shortly before midnight and put to death for his part in the murder of Charles Hicks, postmaster at Sylvester, La., for which crime Tobe Lewis and Monroe Dirden  were lynched last week. Two other negroes were hanged by a mob yesterday after they had confessed to the murder of a farmer.

Seven of the eight negroes were charged with murdering white men and with attacking a white woman.

Burned at Stake

Positive information that Watkins Lewis, who was an aged negro, was burned at the stake by 200 white men at Sylvester station, where Hicks was killed, was received here today.

As the result of the confessions of two negroes, who were lynched the day after Hicks was killed and his store robbed and burned. Lewis was suspected of being the leader in the commission of the crime.

Protests He Is innocent

Lewis it is said, before being thrown upon the burning pile, protested his innocence and refused to divulge the hiding place of a large sum of money said to have been stolen from the postmaster's store.

Two other negroes, a man and woman, charged with participation in the crime, disappeared from the Sylvester neighborhood after the woman had been severely beaten by a mob, according to reports received by the sheriff here.

The Monroe News-Star (Monroe, Louisiana) dated December 31, 1914:




When Party Supposed to Have Lynched Two Negroes Returned to Scene of Crime—Police Juror and Prominent Physician Were Named by Coroner, Dr. A. A. Herold.

Shreveport, Dec. 31.—The Times says:  Sensational testimony offered Wednesday afternoon by Dr. A. A. Herold, parish coroner, before the investigation of the recent lynchings conducted by Attorney-General Ruffin G. Pleasant, marked the last day's session of the probe when an adjournment was announced until January 25, 1915. The disclosures of Dr. Herold were in direct contravention of the testimony offered by Police Juror J. M. Mays, of Greenwood, Dr. A. D. Hatcher of Flourney and Deputy Sheriffs Albert Smith if Greenwood and John Oden of Sylvester, with reference to the lynching of the negroes Elijah Durden and Jobie Lewis at Hicks Cross Roads on the morning of Dec. 2.

In substance Dr. Herold declared on the stand that he arrived at Hicks Cross Roads a few minutes behind the sheriff after bring notified of the murder of Charles Hicks, picked up what was left of the body of the murdered postmaster, saw a crowd of men go off with three negroes and after half an hour return with only one negro. The revelation of the entire hearing however, was the next statement when Dr. Herold declared that he saw J. M. Mays and Dr. A. D. Hatcher with the crowd that returned from the thicket with the one remaining negro and he was also told that two deputy sheriffs were with the crowd that came back. All this time Sheriff Flournoy was at Hicks Cross Roads with him, declared Dr. Herold.

S. Bender, a local junk dealer, took the stand and declared that on the night of December 11 he saw the crowd in front of the jail and talked to one of his friends, H. Self, who is a member of the present grand jury. Bender declared that Self talked to him while the mob was swarming around the jail.

The testimony of Dr. Herold places the net result of the investigation into the recent lynching outrages ordered by Governor L. E. Hall, at the naming of six individuals, who in all probability know about two of the series of executions. Wednesday's disclosures strikingly mention Police Juror John M. Mays of Ward Five and Dr. A. D. Hatcher of Flournoy, as having intimate knowledge of the hanging of Elijah Durden and Jobie Lewis on the morning of December 2 at Hicks Cross Roads and the testimony of Sheriff J. P. Flournoy fixes the probability that O. D. Cobb, of Carthage, Texas, borther-in-law [sic] of Charles M. Hicks, was one of the party which took Watkins Lewis from the jail on the night of December 11. The testimony of a  score of other witnesses points to the strong probability that the automobile which conveyed Watkins Lewis from the parish jail to Hicks Cross Roads on the night of December 11, was driven by Robert Ehrhardt, a local chauffeur who has been missing since the probe started.

The identity of the woman who occupied a seat on the back of the small Ford touring car which was used by the lynchers has never been definitely established despite the most persistent examination of witnesses along this line. Several witnesses claim that the woman was Ethel Hill, others said Ethel Williams. The last named was examined Wednesday morning and denied her presence at the jail on December 11.

Our last article is found in The Atchison Daily Champion (Atchison, Kansas) dated January 1, 1915:


Shreveport, La., Dec. 31.—Three prominent business men on the witness stand today in the lynching investigation being conducted by Attorney General Pleasant, testified that they witnessed the burning of the negro Watkins Lewis near Sylvester on the night of December 11. They declared that they went to the scene of the burning as sightseers and did not recognize any of the men who had the negro in charge.

It was brought out that only about fifteen men took an active part in the affair. They were described as "rough riders" with wide brimmed hats whom no one knew.

An effort to identify the woman who rode in the death car failed. One woman was placed on the stand but she denied she was in the car or was present at the burning of Lewis.

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

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

August 26, 1916: Jess Hammet

Today we learn about a lynching in Louisiana through the pages of The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) dated August 27, 1916:


Jess Hammet Hanged to Telegraph Pole for Attempting to Assault Woman.

Shreveport, La., August 26.—A mob of about 1,000 citizens of the oil section of Caddo parish stormed the town jail at Vivian, 20 miles north of Shreveport, today, took possession of Jess Hammet, negro prisoner, and hanged him to a telegraph pole. Hammet had confessed to entering the bedroom of the wife of an oil driller armed with a butcher knife and making an attempt to assault her. The woman fully identified the negro as her assailant.

The attempt at assault occurred early Friday morning. Deputies captured Hammet later in the day and made an unsuccessful attempt to convey him to Shreveport in an automobile. They were forced to take to the woods with their prisoner, but were found there by the mob and compelled to surrender Hammet.

The mob threatened lynching, and appeals were made by several citizens to let the law take its course. Among those who asked the crowd to disperse were the parents of the woman. Word of the gathering of the mob was telephoned to Shreveport, and Judge John R. Land, District Attorney W. A. Mabry, Chief Deputy Sheriff L. E. Stokes and a number of special deputies left in automobiles for Vivian in an effort to prevent the lynching. They were on their way when the jail was stormed and the negro hanged.

No shots were fired by the mob. After the lynching the crowd dispersed. Hammet was employed for a number of years by the father of the woman, and nursed as an infant the woman whom he subsequently tried to outrage.

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

Monday, July 25, 2016

December 15, 1933: Cord Cheek

Today we learn about a lynching in Tennessee through the pages of The News-Review (Roseburg, Oregon) dated December 16, 1933:


COLUMBIA, Tenn., Dec. 16.—(AP)—A 20-year-old negro a grand jury refused to indict on a charge of attempted attack on an 11-year-old girl was lynched near here last night.

The body of the victim, Cord Cheek, was found suspended from a rope tied to the limb of a tree after Sheriff Claude Godwin said he received an anonymous telephone call advising that he would find a "dead negro at the forks of the road" in the Glendale section nearby.

In response to a request to "come and get him" tha sheriff said he went to the place designated and found the body. Godwin said marks which appeared to have been made by bullets were found on the body and that the negro apparently died shortly before the hanging.

The attempted attack on the girl, an orphan, was alleged to have occurred about a month ago in the section where the negro was lynched. After the grand jury's refusal to indict, Cheek was released.

Officer here said they did not know the negro was in the section until the body was found. He had been released in Nashville where he was taken for safekeeping.

Jailor R. M. McDonald said the girl identified Cheek as the negro who attempted to attack her. He said "feeling ran very high for a time" but seemed to have quieted down.

Sheriff Godwin said he found no one in the vicinity of the lynching and that he had been unable to find anyone who knew anything about it. He said he had tried unsuccessfully to trace the telephone call.

"No one knew anything about it," he said, adding that the lynching "was handled in a very quiet manner."

Our next article is found in the Dunkirk Evening Observer (Dunkirk, N. Y.) dated December 16, 1933:


County Officials Profess to Be Completely Mystified By New Outrage.


But Officers Were Late in Arriving and Brief Coroner's Verdict Without Further Investigation Is Sole Result.

Columbia, Tenn., Dec. 16—(UP)—County officials today professed to be completely mystified as to the size or identity of a mob which lynched a Negro after he had been exonerated by a grand jury on a charge of attacking a white girl.

The body of Cord Cheek, Negro, newest victim in a series of mob outbreaks in various sections of the country, was found hanging from a cedar tree near the city last night. The body was riddled with bullets. Coroner Bert Erwin cut down the body and delivered a coroner's verdict of "murder by parties unknown." No investigation was undertaken immediately.

The mob had long since departed when county officials arrived. They had been summoned by an anonymous telephone call. When the informal execution took place,how many composed the execution party, whether the Negro was hanged and then shot or vice versa, was unknown.

Cheek was arrested Nov. 16 on a charge preferred by 11 year old white girl. A mobi mmediately [sic] formed in front of the Maurie county jail here, while officers spirited Cheek out the back and to the safety of the Nashville jail. The mob did not disperse until it had been permitted to search the prison.

The grand jury convened this week. Neither the girl nor any member of her family appeared to press the charge. The jury returned a no true bill and Cheek was released. He returned to his home here Wednesday.

The body was taken to a mortuary and a large crowd stood in the street outside for several hours. There was no sign of any feeling other than curiosity and the crowd finally dispersed.

Our final article comes to us through the pages of the Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) dated December 17, 1933:

Kidnapers of Man Lynched Are Known

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Dec. 16.—(U.P.)—Sheriff L. A. Bauman of Davidson County, said today that warrants were expected to be issued for six men who allegedly were seen kidnaping Cord Cheek, 20, Negro, lynched Friday night near Columbia, Tenn.

Two Negro students at Fisk University told officers that they witnessed the kidnaping of Cheek a half hour after he had been released from jail here. The Negroes said six men in two automobiles were heavily armed. They took the license plate numbers of the automobiles.

Three hours after the automobiles raced out of here with Cheek, officials at Columbia were told that his body could be found hanging to a tree six miles out of the city.

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

Saturday, July 23, 2016

May 29, 1903: Benjamin Gorman

Today we learn about a Georgia lynching through the pages of The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC) dated May 31, 1903:

Negro Murderer Captured and Lynched.

Americus, Ga., May 30.—Information reached Americus to-day of the capture and lynching yesterday evening of Benjamin Gorman, colored, for the murder of Shelley Kent, a young farmer residing near Church hill, in Webster county. The murder occurred Thursday when Kent and Gorman were in the field at work, and was without provocation.

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

Friday, July 22, 2016

June 29, 1895: Abithal Colston and Mollie (Maud) Smith, cont.

Today we are revisiting a lynching that I first covered here with very little information. I have learned a lot since starting this blog and writing the original post so today I can give more information. Our first article comes to us through the pages of The Daily Democrat (Huntington, Indiana) dated July 2, 1895:


A Little Affair in Trigg County, Ky., Costs That Many Lives.


Seeking Out Witnesses Who Appeared Against Him He Kills Two—His Own Dead Body and That of His Mistress Found Later.

PADUCAH, Ky., July 2.—News was received here Monday of a bloody quadruple tragedy in a remote section of Trigg county last Friday night. John Rhodes and Chat Hammond were shot to death by Abithal Colston, an ex-convict, and the next morning the bodies of Colston and Mollie Smith, his mistress, were found in the road riddled with buckshot.

It seems that Colston, who was but recently released from the Frankfort penitentiary, where he had been sent for horse stealing, had ever since his release been gunning for all who had been witnesses against him. Among the witnesses were five brothers named Rhodes, and they were the first sought out by the ex-convict. Meeting John Rhodes at Rhodes' Landing he shot him down, instantly killing him. He then started for the other Rhodes boys, and not far from where he had shot John Rhodes, he saw Chat Hammond giving Al Rhodes a drink of water from a spring. This so exasperated Colston that instead of killing Rhodes as he had intended he killed Hammond. He then left Rhodes who was unarmed and went to where his mistress, Mollie Smith, lived. They spent part of the night in drunken carousel, and shortly after daylight both were found dead in the road. Whether they were shot by indignant citizens or by the Rhodes boys or their friends may never been known.

Our second article comes from the Hopkinsville Kentuckian (Hopkinsville, Kentucky) dated July 5, 1895:

The Fourth Victim not Dead.

John Rhodes, the first man shot by Abithal Colston at Golden Pond, Ky. last week, was still alive at last accounts. The woman who was killed by the pursuing posse that slew Colston was named Maud Smith. The posse was led by two of Rhodes' brothers. The facts were substantially as reported by the KENTUCKIAN. The tragedy grew out of the fact that Rhodes was a witness against Colston when he was sent to the penitentiary for stealing cattle. The Rhodes boys have surrendered.

The report mentioned in the above article is found in the July 2, 1895 edition of the Hopkinsville Kentuckian (Hopkinsville, Kentucky):


A Bloody Murder Speedily Avenged in Trigg County Thursday.

Particulars of a bloody affair in Trigg county last Thursday have just reached this city. It happened "between the rivers," near Golden Pond. An ex-convict named Colston, who served out a term for cattle stealing and was released about three months ago, was the principal actor. In a row over a woman named Colston, a relative of his, Colston shot and badly wounded a man named Rhodes, and went off to get another load of ammunition and when he returned found a young man named Hammond administering to the wounded man's needs in his helpless condition. Without a word he fired upon Hammond and killed him outright. Colston and the woman then fled together in a boat and a posse was soon organized to pursue them. The posse came upon them after they had left the boat and firing upon Colston killed him. The woman then seized Colston's gun and attempted to fire but she too was shot and killed before she could shoot the weapon. The desperado who was killed was a notorious tough. He was the same man who shot and wounded Wm. Wadlington some time ago while Wadlington was trying to arrest him. The woman who caused the trouble bore a very bad character and the death of both of them was a good riddance to the community. Hammond was a young man of good character. Rhodes was still alive at last accounts.

It is hard to know which article tells the truth. I think the Kentuckian's story rings truer in the fact that the motive for shooting Hammond seems more believable. It also makes more sense for the two to run than to go out drinking and it explains why the woman was with him.

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

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

July 1, 1922: James Harvey and Joe Jordan

Today we learn about a double lynching in Georgia through the pages of The Index-Journal (Greenwood, S. C.) dated July 2, 1922:

Negroes' Reprieve Didn't Save Them

Jessup, Ga., July 1.—James Harvey and Joe Jordan, negroes, who were granted a thirty day reprieve Thursday after having been sentenced to hang for the third time, were taekn [sic] from officers and lynched in Liberty county early today.

The negroes were convicted last September of an attack on a white woman and were sentenced to be hanged, denied a new trial and sentenced again and after the state supreme court had upheld the conviction the hanging was set for last Friday. After the respite came officers were taking them to Savannah for safekeeping when a mob of about fifty men seized them and hanged them to a tree.

Our next article is found in the July 29, 1922 edition of The Broad Ax (Salt Lake City, Utah):


The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has announced the receipt of a letter from Governor Thomas W. Hardwick of Georgia regarding the lynching of Joe Jordan and James Harvey, two young colored men, convicted of assault, who were lynched on July 1 at Lanes Bridge, Georgia, after they had been granted a respite of 30 days by the Governor. In reply to the Association's request that not only the lynchers be punished but that Sheriff Rogers of Wayne County, Georgia and Deputy Sheriff Tyre, who permitted the mob to take the prisoners from him, be adequately punished. The Governor replied:

"As Governor of this State, I have offered the largest reward authorized by law for the perpetrators of this outrage, and I will instruct the court authorities and the Solicitor-General of the judicial circuit in which Wayne County is located, to present the matter to the grand jury at its approaching session. I will do all I can to vindicate the law in this matter."

Our next article comes to us through the pages of The Kansas City Kansan (Kansas City, Kansas) dated July 30, 1922:

Obstructionist Tactics

The expected efforts to lead discussion on the Dyer anti-lynching bill in the United States senate by senators from Southern states into the realm of sectional and racial prejudice have already begun, according to a statement by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at its national office, 70 Fifth Avenue, New York. On July 1, two colored boys, Joe Jordan and James Harvey, were lynched at Lane's bridge, Georgia, after Governor Hardwick had granted them a respite for thirty days. This action followed the gathering of evidence by the N. A. A. C. P. and presentation of that evidence to the governor by attorneys employed by the N. A. A. C. P. On July 10, the New York Times carried an account of a sermon by the Rev. P. T. Holloway, of Jesup, Ga., in which this white minister arraigned officers of the law for neglect of their duty and accused them directly of aiding the lynching party.

The N. A. A. C. P immediately sent to each member of the senate a copy of the Times clipping. Senator William M. Calder of New York inserted the clipping without comment in the Congressional Record of July 12. On the following day Senator Calder was viciously assailed by Senators Harris of Georgia, Shields of Tennessee, and Dial of South Carolina. These senators followed the usual custom is arguing that "the South should be left alone to settle the negro question . . . outside interference cannot help" and pointed to newspaper accounts of crime in New York city as evidence that the South should not be attacked for lynching. Nothing was said by any of the three southern senators regarding the newspaper clipping in which Reverend Holloway, a southern white minister, charged connivance between officers of the law and the mob that lynched the two boys. Rev. Holloway, in the sermon which aroused the ire of Senators Harris, Dial and Shields, charged that officers of the law practically invited the lynchings. In the course of his remarks he said:

"The morning after the unlawful execution I heard two men talking about a lynching, and one of them was an officer who took charge of the victims purposely to take them to Savannah. The general public wants to know why they should have been taken away from Jesup, and especially why they should have been taken away in a Ford car, when there were fast passenger trains going straight through to Savannah making no stop. We demand to know how a mob of men seventy miles away could find out when these prisoners were taken from the county jail, and where they got their information of the route taken. The general public would like to know why the officers who had these prisoners in charge stopped at Lane's Bridge thirty minutes and told that if anybody came along to tell them they were going to Savannah, and would probably have car trouble. The public wants to know why two men, whose names I could call, went to a citizen's house on Thursday and said:  'Let's get those two negroes and lynch them. The sheriff said it would be all right; that he would offer no resistance.'"

It will be remembered that when Sheriff L. W. Rogers of Wayne county received Governor Hardwick's telegram granting a respite of thirty days to Jordan and Harvey, the sheriff replied:  "Your order received with much sorrow."

We continue the tale with an article in The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) dated September 23, 1922:


Police Chief of Jesup and Wayne Deputy Among Five Indicted in Double Lynching.


Indictments Name I. W. and "Dock" Rhoden, J. R. Tyre, Bob Price and Carl Stuart.

Hinesville, Ga., September 22.—Indictments charging murder in connection with the lynching of two negroes were returned here today by the Liberty county grand jury against five residents of Wayne county, including Chief of Police I. W. Rhoden, of Jesup, and Deputy Sheriff J. R. Tyre, of Wayne county.

Others indicted are the chief's brother, "Dock" Rhoden, of Jesup, and Brunswick; Bob L. Price, of Wayne county, and Carl Stuart, now supposed to be in Telfair county.

This is the first time that indictments have been secured against alleged members of a mob in southeast Georgia. The lynching occurred the night of June 30, near Old Midway, in this county.

The negroes, James Harvey and Joe Jordan, were under sentence of death following their trial for murder. They had been reprieved by Governor Hardwick and were on their way to Savannah, to be held for safe-keeping. They were taken from the officers and hanged. The lynching created a widespread feeling of indignation in Liberty county.

Inquiry into the lynching was ordered by Judge W. W. Sheppard Tuesday at the opening of the fall term of Liberty county superior court. The fact that the prisoners had been reprieved by Governor Hardwick, on the ground of the discovery of new evidence, gave the prisoners the status of wards of the state. According to the judge's charge to the jury their murder while under the protection of the state was a particularly dangerous outrage against government.

Solicitor J. S. Daniels was in charge of the prosecution before the grand jury today. With the co-operation of other county officers he had previously investigated the lynching.

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

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

December 11, 1878: Luther Mitchell and A. W. Ketchum

Today we learn about a lynching in Nebraska through the pages of The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) dated December 14, 1878:


Horrible Story From Western Nebraska.

Two Prisoners Taken from a Sheriff by a Band of Regulators and Hanged and Their Bodies Burned—Reports of Other Horrors.

Special Dispatch to the Enquirer.

LINCOLN, NEB., December 13.—Horror upon horror comes to us from the western part of the State. To-day word was received that Ketchum and Mitchell, two men arrested on a charge of murdering Sheriff Stevens, of Custer County, had been burned at a stake on Long River, on Wednesday, by a band of armed men, who took them from Sheriff Gillen, of Keath County, who had them in charge. Stevens was killed by Mitchell last week while attempting to arrest Mitchell and Ketchum on a charge of cattle stealing, and after he had shot Ketchum. Sheriff Gillen was sent to take them back to Custar [sic] County, and, when a few miles from Plum Creek, he was surrounded by a band of armed men, who took the prisoners away from him. Their bodies were found about one mile from Long River yesterday, burned so that they were scarcely recognizable. They had evidently been hanged while in irons, and afterward burned to a crisp.

People hereabouts are greatly excited over the matter. Ketchum and Mitchell have always been known as peaceable and law-abiding homesteaders, the latter being forty years of age. It is believed that the charge of cattle-stealing was trumped up against them. Stevens and Ketchum were bitter enemies, and each had sworn to kill the other on sight. There is evidence to prove that Stevens exceeded his authority as an officer by shooting Ketchum in the arm while his back was turned and at the time he called upon him to surrender. It is a fact that Stevens' real name is Olive, and that he was a criminal refugee from Texas, where he was wanted for the murder of two men.

The hanging and burning of Ketchum and Mitchell would have disgraced the wildest band of Sioux or Cheyenne Indians on the continent. Sheriff Gillen, of Keath County, is believed to have had an understanding with the mob. He will be investigated.

Another article comes from The Columbus Journal (Columbus, Nebraska) dated December 18, 1878:

In an other column mention is made of the arrest of the supposed murderers of Stevens, and now comes the sad intelligence that while the sheriff and a posse of men were taking the prisoners, Ketchum and Mitchel [sic] to the county seat for trial the party was overpowered by a mob of about twenty-five men, who were all masked and well armed. They took the prieoners [sic] away from the officers, tied them to a tree, and burned them to death. Murderers and cattle thieves are meeting with terrible punishment at the hands of judge lynch [sic] in this State. it is most certainly not the best condition of society, as it takes too many risks that some of its victims may be innocent, which a proper legal trial would fully establish to the entire satisfaction of the community.

Two Men Tied to a Tree and Burned.

Some weeks since a man by the name of Stephens was killed under circumstances, which, we believe, are substantially given below. A. W. Ketchum and Luther Mitchell were arrested on a charge of murder, and taken to Kearney for imprisonment. Mitchell was an old man, sixty-three years of age, and one of the first settlers of Loup country. While on the way to Custer county, in charge of an officer, a mob of twenty-five masked men took the prisoners, tied them to a tree and burned them. A late Omaha Herald has the following:

"A conversation last evening with a stock man who is familiar with the circumstances out of which this matter has grown, says that last summer a well-known stock man came up from Texas with 5,000 or 6,000 cattle and selected a ranche [sic]. The man Stephens was his foreman, and, it is stated on excellent authority, was also his brother, passing for some reason on an assumed name. Our informant narrates several incidents which go to show that Stephens was an unprincipled desperado, who scrupled at nothing, and says that he was universally unpopular with the stock men. He states also that Mitchell was an elderly man and generally respected, and the affair which resulted in Stephens's death really occurred as follows:

Stephens' employer (or brother) had for a long time only a "road brand" on his cattle, and has been in constant trouble on that account. It was growing out of some trouble of this kind that Stephens and some of the Texan herders on the ranch went to Mitchell's to arrest Mitchell and Ketchum, a young man who was stopping there. Stephens rode up to Ketchum and told him he had come to arrest him, and the latter not instantly giving up his arms without question, Stephens began firing at him, wounding Ketchum in the elbow before the latter returned the fire. He then fired on Stephens, mortally wounding him as stated. The gentleman also states that none of the stock men, unless it were the Texas herders on the ranch, where Stevens [sic] was employed as foreman, had any desire to trouble Mitchell or Ketchum. He says that this event, if it has occurred as stated, is the work of Stevens' [sic] brother and of the Texas herders in his employ, and that such an outrage can only result in prompt action on the part of the stock men to bring the demons to justice; that it is the last of several troubles with the same men, and will fall heavily upon them. To those who know the prompt and desperate action which the stock-men find necessary in such cases, the prediction has a deal of meaning, provided the circumstances are all as stated."  

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

Monday, July 18, 2016

July 23, 1903: Mooney Allen

Today we learn about a Texas lynching through the pages of The Tennessean (Nashville, Tennessee) dated July 24, 1903:




Mooney Allen Was Attempting to Murder His Wife and When Policeman Skensbury Interfered He Fatally Wounded Him and Fled.

BEAUMONT, Tex., July 23.—Policeman Walter Skensbury was this afternoon shot and fatally wounded by Mooney Allen, a negro, who was pursued by a crowd of citizens and shot to death shortly afterwards. Allen started into to-day to shoot his wife and he forced a negro policeman and others who interfered to retreat.

Skensbury appeared, when the negro covered him with a Winchester and told him to halt. The officer was surprised and did so, whereupon Allen fired, the bullet striking Skensbury in the side, passing through the body.

After firing the negro started down the street in the direction of the Threadneedle house. Sheriff Landry's gun was empty, but at that instant some one placed a loaded revolver in his hands and he struck out after the negro.

In the meantime a crowd of men, many of whom had pistols, started in pursuit of the negro. Some of them kept up a constant firing, and the fugitive kept running until he reached Cedar street. He then turned and ran down Cedar street. He fell dead halfway down Pearl and Main streets.

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

Friday, July 15, 2016

December 7, 1891: Dick Lundy

Today's lynching was suggested by reader Cal Zium and comes to us through the pages of The Times (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) dated December 8, 1891:



The Prison Doors Forced Open by a Mob Who Fill the Murderer With Bullets, Then Cut His Throat.

Special Telegram to THE TIMES.

COLUMBUS, S. C., December 7.

Another lynching was added to-day to the famous calendar of crime in Edgefield. Dick Lundy, colored, was shot to death in the all [sic] there to-day for the murder of James Ouzts, son of the Sheriff of the county.

Saturday night young Ouzts went to a hall where the negroes were having a hot supper. He was looking for a negro for whom he had a warrant. Without any apparent cause Dick Lundy shot Ouzts.

Lundy was arrested and put in jail. Ouzts died to-day. Hundreds of countrymen gathered in the town and lynching was looked for. Governor Tillman was apprised of the state of affairs and telegraphed Sheriff Ouzts to summon the Edgefield Rifles and to protect the prisoner at all costs. Young Ouzts was buried by the Rifles with military honor.


While the Sheriff and the company were attending the funeral a body of men forced their way into the jail, riddled Lundy with bullets and then cut his throat.

On receipt of the news to-night the Governor offered a reward of $500 for the principal lyncher and $250 for accessories. He instructed the Circuit Solicitor to proceed to Edgefield, make a searching investigation and report upon what measures were taken to prevent lynching.

The Solicitor was instructed to take a guard and make any arrests he deemed proper.


In response to the Governor's telegram, Sheriff Ouzts to-night wired the following:  "While attending the funeral of my son to-day, between 4 and 5 o'clock, a body of men forced entrance into the jail and shot and killed Lundy, who killed my son.

"I very much deplore the lynching. I had ordered the Edgefield Rifles to go to the jail at 6 o'
clock and guard it, but the lynching took place before they could get there."

Governor Tillman is very much put out over the affair, the prevention of lynching being a great hobby with him. He has had introduced in the Legislature a bill giving the power to remove Sheriffs who have prisoners lynched in their care.

Sheriff Ouzts' family have asked for a guard, and a body of soldiers are stationed at the residence.

Lundy was an ex-convict, who was sentenced to life imprisonment int he penitentiary for murdering a negro years ago. He was pardoned by Governor Thompson, after serving six years on account of ill heath.

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

Thursday, July 14, 2016

June 28, 1922: The Illinois Lynching.

Today we feature an article found in the Edgefield Advertiser (Edgefield, S. C.) dated June 28, 1922:

The Illinois Lynching.

"Some were lynched, some were burned when the mine was fired, others were beaten to death and the majority fell before the scores of bullets poured into them."

In fact, they were all "lynched," these non-union miners murdered in Herrin, Illinois, and the Associated Press dispatch would have been more accurate if it had said so. A mob of 5,000 men set upon other men, overpowered them and killed 40 or more of them. The members of the mob say that they were right in killing their "enemies." The members of a mob who kill a negro always defend their act, claiming merit for it.

The mob in Illinois burned the mine structure and with it burned men to death. Atrocities equal to that have been done lately in Texas and in Georgia. It is not less cruel to burn a white man than to burn a negro—the mob in Illinois burned white men.

In Illinois the mob butchered many victims after capturing them—when the non-union miners were in the power of the strikers.

Indeed, the tragedy in Herrin had every defining mark of a lynching. It differed from Southern lynchings only that no Southern lynching has ever had so many victims.

What does Representative Dyer think about it?

What is Representative Madden going to do about it? The lynching occurred in Mr. Madden's state—just as did the lynchings in East St. Louis and Springfield some years ago, when negroes were the victims.

That a victim is a worker and the mob is composed of strikers surely does not take the killing out of the definition of mob law, lynch law. Will the Dyer bill, if passed, put an end to affairs likt [sic] this in Herrin? If so, Representative Dyer has been provided with an argument in its favor more convincing and powerful than those furnished by Texas, Georgia, South Carolina and other Southern states.—The State.

An article on the mine massacre in Herrin, Illinois comes to us through the pages of The Washington Times (Washington, D. C.) dated June 23, 1922:



Mine Deaths Blamed on Operator Who Refused to Close Plant When Warned.

WEST FRANKFORT, Ill., June 23.—Two haggard, disheveled men, their clothing torn in tatters, who said they were survivors of the massacre of captives taken from the Southern Illinois Coal Company's mine at Herrin, were escorted out of town today by a volunteer posse.

The two men came into town on a passenger train. No sooner had they descended than they were surrounded by a crowd, which, after asking a few questions, marched them north along the railroad tracks to this city's outskirts and told them to get out. When last seen the two fugitives were trudging in the direction of Benton.


CINCINNATI, June 23.—Denial of any responsibility for the massacre of non-union coal miners at Herrin, Ill., was made here today by John L. Lewis, president of the United Mine Workers, for the miners' union. Lewis' statement declared that he did not encourage or condone lawlessness.


International News Service.

HERRIN, Ills., June 23.—"Twenty-five scabs are dead, nine are in the hospitals, and the mine is closed. The striking miners' prayer is answered."

These words, crudely lettered on a sign, are conspicuously posted in a barber shop on the main street a short distance from the morgue that houses most of the victims of the mine war that prevailed late Wednesday and throughout most of Thursday. It apparently typifeis [sic] the feeling prevalent in this district.

No Fear of Punishment.

There is no apparent apprehension that a day of punishment will come to those responsible for the outbreak of violence in which twenty are known to have been killed and many injured.

The disposition here today seems to be to regard the affair as a closed incident. Outside of the crowds that are pouring in to gaze and sneer upon the victims in the morgues, everything is quiet.

The known victims of the warfare number twenty killed and eighteen seriously wounded. Many are still unaccounted for and the dead may reach fifty.

Of these known to have been killed two were striking miners and eighteen were workers at the mine of the Southern Illinois Coal Company, where the outbreak centered. The injured list included but three union men.

Seventeen Bodies in the Morgue.

Seventeen bodies are in the morgue at Herrin. The body of Superintendent McDowell has been taken to Marion. 

The injured list is made up of three injured guards at Carbondale, and fourteen injured miners and mine workers in the hospital at Herrin.

Out of fifty-two men who left the mine, eighteen remain unaccounted for. Six guards who escaped from an ambushed motortruck are still missing.

Reports continues to come in today of dead bodies lying in fields and woods through which the attacking forces marched their victims after the surrender at the mine. Officials were inclined to doubt the authenticity of these reports, although it was admitted that the casualty list probably would be increased by the finding of additional bodies or the death of some of the more seriously injured.

The property loss will amount to hundred of thousands of dollars. Everything about the mine that could be destroyed was wiped out by dynamite or fire.

The wounded in hospitals told of acts of barbarism and their stories find apparent confirmation in the condition of the bodies of the dead.

The outbreak has set a new mark for lawlessness in Williamson county, which for twenty years has been known as "bloody Williamson."

Guards Blamed For Trouble.

The question of responsibility for the riot probably will not be settled until some outside investigating body gets into the district.

Union officials put the blame upon the officials of the Southern Illinois Coal Company for trying to operate with strike breakers in a 100 percent union territory and for hiring guards that invited trouble. They claim the trouble was started when a miner by the name of Guy Hudgins was shot by a guard while on his way to Herrin on a business trip.

Their claims are party borne out by Sheriff Melvin Thaxton, who tells of a conference with W. J. Lester, owner of the mine; Delos L. Duty, State's attorney; C. K. McDowell, and Col. Samuel N. Hunter, of the Illinois national guard, in which he urged that the mine be shut down. He declares Lester stated that he bought and equipped the mine for the purpose of mining coal and that he proposed to do it.

Colonel Hunter, who arrived in Marion Sunday to look over the situation as a representative of Adjutant General Black, of the Illinois national guard, said that he kept in constant touch with the sheriff and was advised by the sheriff that he had the situation well in hand.

Urged Owner to Close Mine.

On Sunday, Colonel Hunter said, he was advised of possible trouble in the districts around Herrin and Marion. He notified the State's attorney and the sheriff to arrange a conference with all sides represented. It was at this conference that he urged Lester to shut down the mine. He regarded it as a menace to the community to attempt to operate it under existing conditions.

Monday and Tuesday, Colonel Hunter said, he spent the time investigating and was assured by the sheriff that the situation was well under control.

On Wednesday he was notified that a mob of fifty men had raided the Herrin Supply Company, taking six guns, eight rifles, and 3,000 rounds of ammunition. Later the Moseley store was raided, but the ammunition and guns had been removed. An attempt was made to obtain guns and ammunition from the local chapter of the American Legion but they had been removed.

At 2 o'clock Wednesday afternoon Colonel Hunter said he was notified that a mob of 600 had assembled at the cemetery near Herrin. Colonel Hunter said he notified the sheriff's office and deputy told him the sheriff had gone to the boundary line of the county near Carbondale to investigate the reported shooting of guards on a truck bound for the mine. The deputy informed him, Colonel Hunter said, that he was the only man on duty at the sheriff's office.

Asked For Troops.

A short time later Colonel Hunter said he was notified by Superintendent McDowell, of the mine, that the men were starting to march on the mine. He said that firing had begun and asked for troops. Colonel Hunter told him he had no authority to call out troops without request from the civil authorities.

About 3:50 o'clock Wednesday afternoon McDowell again called Colonel Hunter and renewed his request for troops. Colonel Hunter again said he could not call out soldiers and McDowell asked what he could do.

"I suggested a flag of truce," Colonel Hunter said. "And asked him to see if further trouble could not be averted. I asked him to withdraw the men and arrange with the miners to let his mine lie idle. He said he would if I would get in touch with union officials and ask them also to run up a flag of truce. truce. [sic]

At 5:30 p. m. I got Fox Hughes, vice president of the United Mine Workers, on the telephone and advised him of what McDowell had asked and he agreed to do it. Hughes said he and Secretary Davis would go to the mine under a flag of truce and endeavor to call off their men. I them called McDowell and told him the union officials had agreed to his terms. He said firing had ceased."

Colonel Hunter said he later learned that Hughes had gone to the mine and that the shooting ceased until dawn of Thursday.

According to survivors, they were gunned down after surrendering. I agree with the editorial, the riot at Herrin does indeed appear to be a lynching. I don't know if it was the largest lynching because many of the race riots never give final totals and it is hard to know who is dead and who was run out of town. This riot does resemble the race riots quite a bit and those were recognized as lynchings.

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

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

July 8, 1872: Alexander McLeod and Absalom Kimmel

Today we learn about a lynching in Ohio. Our first article introduces the crime for which the men were lynched and give us a view through the eyes of a man arrested and then released is found in The Indiana Herald (Huntington, Indiana) dated July 10, 1872:


Interview with A. J. Kimmel.

Since the receipt of the first news of the terrible murder of Mary Belle Secore, in Mercer county, O., and the connection with that fearful tragedy of the name of A. J. Kimmel, of this county, our people have manifested a great interest in the matter; and we believe there has been a general hope that young Kimmel would establish his innocence of any share in the horrible crime. We are gratified to be able to state that he has been fully exonerated and discharged from custody.

On Monday, it was reported that he had returned to his home, near this place; and we believing it desirable that the gross misrepresentations of the facts which had appeared in the daily papers should be corrected, at our request Andrew J. Kimmel called at this office on Monday evening, and made the statements upon which this article is based.

His parents live at the old toll-gate on the Warren plank-road, a little over a mile from Huntington. He has been employed for some time driving a peddling-wagon for A. J. Dillingham, of Ft. Wayne. On the Thursday previous to the murder (June 27), he went to Ohio with his wagon. About 4 P. M. on Friday, at a cross-road, some four miles from the scene of the murder, he accidentally met Alexander McCloud, who was driving another of Dillingham's teams, and with whom he was well acquainted. It was their custom to meet—according to the exigencies of their business—sometimes once a week, at others from two to four weeks; but this meeting was purely accidentally. Being in the neighborhood of the residence of Henry Kimmel, Andrew's uncle, they drove thither, and remained over night. Saturday morning, Andrew hitched in his team, and got ready to leave, paying his bill; but yielded to the solicitations of his relatives to remain over the Sabbath.

On Saturday, they attended a rail-road election in Liberty township, returning to his uncle's about five or six o'clock in the afternoon, remained about the premises all evening, and slept there. Andrew slept with McCloud on the nights of Friday and Saturday. Sunday morning, June 30, (the day of the murder) McCloud, together with seven members of Henry Kimmel's family—boys and girls—went to Sunday school at Liberty Church, and all remained to hear the preaching. Andrew, being ill with neuralgia, staid at the house. At about half-past eleven A. M. he was sitting on the porch talking with his uncle, when his cousin Absalom Kimmel and McCloud returned to the house together, leaving the rest of the party which had accompanied them at the church. In reply to an inquiry, McCloud said they were tired of the preaching. Directly afterward, Andrew went upstairs, and feeling unwell, lay down on the bed, without removing his clothing. About 12 o'clock, noon, the rest of the party returned from church, and it is Andrew's opinion that at that time McCloud and Absalom Kimmel had left the house, although, from his being up stairs, he cannot positively assert that such was the case. About 2 P. M., they returned, and it is supposed the murder was committed between these hours—12[P.] M. and 2 P. M.—but it was not discovered until Monday.

They staid at Henry Kimmel's that night leaving on Monday morning, the murder being yet unknown, and Andrew ignorant that anything of the kind had occurred.

On leaving his uncle's house they passed the scene of the murder, each driving his own team, and McCloud being in advance. At this place, Andrew says, his horse became restive and frightened, and it was with difficulty that he controlled them. He thinks now their fright was caused by their smelling blood. They drove on into Jay county, Indiana, intending to peddle there through the week, and to return to Ft. Wayne Saturday afternoon. However, having so broken their assortment of tinware as to interfere with their making good sales, they were obliged to go sooner than they had thought to, and got to Ft. Wayne about five or six o'clock Thursday evening. The next morning, between eight and nine o'clock, they were arrested on Calhoun street, Ft. Wayne, by the sheriff of Mercer county and three deputies. McCloud was inclined to resist the officers, while Andrew advised submission, saying they had done nothing which need make them afraid to go anywhere. They were forced into the vehicle, McCloud cursing and protesting, and saying when some three miles out of the city, that he thought there was "some G-d d—d mob." At Decatur they got dinner, and were separated, the party proceeding in two buggies, one of the prisoners being carried in each. They passed through Wilshire, Van Wert county, Ohio, and proceeded at once to the scene of the murder, shortly before reaching which McCloud was handcuffed. Throughout the entire trip he had been rebellious, profane and saucy. Arrived at the scene of the murder, McCloud became somewhat excited, and avowed, in substance, that he had "never committed any murder or adultery on that bloody spot." It must be borne in mind that all this time the officers had not acquainted either of the men with the cause of their arrest—so Andrew says—and that up to this time he had not known of a murder being committed.

From this place they were taken to Calina, where a preliminary examination was held, and Andrew released, without having been confined in jail at all, as was incorrectly stated in some of the newspapers. He was put under $500 bond to appear at the fall term of court, as a witness, and left for home last Saturday. We believe the people or the whole county will rejoice with him and his family over the manner in which his innocence was vindicated.

Very naturally he is anxious that the misrepresentations which have been circulated through the papers should be corrected. The statement that Henry Kimmel's family were "notoriously bad characters," as was published, was proven by testimony of his neighbors to be false. They were all dismissed from custody, with the exception of Absalom Kimmel, who, with McCloud, is confined in the Celina jail. These two are the only ones now held for the crime. It is said Absalom has made a confession or statement to two persons, but up to the time of Andrew's departure, it had not been made public. One newspaper account states that a ribbon—subsequently identified as one worn by the girl—was found attached to Andrew's bridle. This he denies, and says that the ribbon referred to in the papers was picked up from the ground, on what he afterward learned to be the scene of the murder, by one of his cousins, who handed it to McCloud, and that the latter fastened it to the bridle of one of his own horses, where it was afterward found, in Ft. Wayne, by a deputy sheriff from Mercer county.

Concerning the murder, Andrew knows nothing further than was elicited by the testimony given by various parties at the preliminary trial. The late hour at which this point was reached in our interview with him, prevented him giving the facts to us with any fullness, or our making notes of what he did say.

The victim of this most cruel murder was Mary Belle Secore, a little girl about 13 years old. She was a half-orphan, her mother being dead, and lived in the family of a gentleman named Seederly. On the morning of the day of her death, she attended Sabbath School at Liberty Church, which is between two and three miles from the house in which she lived. Like many others, she remained to attend church service, and at its close, about noon, set out for home, unattended. She was last seen alive, by any but her murderers, when she had gone about half a mile from the church. She was missed Sunday afternoon, but her absence occasioned no particular uneasiness; nor yet when she failed to come home at night, for she had on frequent occasions before stopped on the way and remained over night with her grandmother.

When Monday morning came, however, and she did not, and inquiries were made, without anything being learned of her whereabouts, her friends became seriously alarmed, and began a search for her. The news spread, the neighbors joined with her friends, and soon her body was found in a brush heap, about two rods from the road and within half a mile of her home. The sight presented of her remains is described as a most sickening one. Her head had been crushed to pieces by a blow with some heavy instrument, and was entirely served [sic] from the body, which was shockingly mangled. The poor child had been popular in the country neighborhood where she lived, and her death had been so cruelly and wantonly brought about, that the utmost indignation and excitement were provoked. The officers of the law were promptly alert, and set upon the track of the murderers. Let us hope that entire success may reward their efforts, and that the cold-blooded fiends who robbed this poor child of life, after first robbing her of that which was dearer than life, may be hunted down, and made such a fearful example of as will impel all ruffians to bridle their vile passions, and make them slower to shed human blood.     

The information about the lynching comes to us through the pages of the Daily Arkansas Gazette (Little Rock, Arkansas) dated July 14, 1872:


A Fearful Deed and Its Atonement.

Special to the Cincinnati Commercial.

VAN WERT, Ohio, July 9.—Alexander McLeod and Absalom Kimmel, two of the men charged with the rape and murder of Belle Secore, in Liberty township, Mercer county, were taken out of the jail at Celina, yesterday, and hung. It had been noised abroad that the criminals would be lynched Monday, and early in the day people from far and near flocked to the town until thousands had assembled. At 10 o'clock an organized band of some three hundred horsemen, with a captain, and a hanging committee of twenty-five in wagons, arrived. They held a meeting on the fair grounds, after which they went to the jail, caught the sheriff and took the keys from his pocket, and opened the cells. The two Kimmel brothers and McLeod were brought out and put in wagons with the committee of twenty-five, and the procession started for the place where the girl had been murdered, which is some eleven miles from Celina. Thousands of persons followed, forming a procession miles in length.

Water was furnished from barrels, tubs and pails along the route, showing that the most ample preparations had been made for the terrible work. Arriving at the field where the murder had been committed, the owner of the farm objected to having the execution take place on his premises. The captain of the lynchers then ordered that the hanging been done in a field in front of old man Kimmel's house.

When they came in sight of the house the old man was seen running across a field, and was soon hidden in the woods. Mrs. Kimmel fell in a spasm and has been prostrated ever since. A tree which forked some twenty feet above the ground was selected as a part of the scaffold. Poles were cut and placed on end, and from there to the tree a pole was fastened. Over this pole ropes were thrown, and the wagon containing the doomed men was drawn by hand to a point directly under the ropes. The captain fastened the ropes around the necks of Absalom Kimmel and McLeod, and all was ready to swing them off when the sturdy form of Elias Secore, the brother of the murdered girl, appeared and pleaded in behalf of the youngest prisoner, Jacob Kimmel, aged seventeen years, expressing his doubts as to his participation in the outrage or murder, the confession of Absalom Kimmel to the contrary notwithstanding. This noble expression of christian heroism was greeted with a wild huzzah, and by the sufferance of Elias Secore, Jacob Kimmel still lives.

The doomed men were then notified that their end was near, and given an opportunity to speak. Kimmel confessed his guilt; but McLeod said:  "I am not guilty. You are shedding an innocent man's blood." The committee of twenty-five were ordered to do their work, and but one man responded. Volunteers were called for, and promptly came forward and pulled on the ropes, drawing the murderers upward till their heads touched the pole over which the ropes were suspended.

They died from strangulation, and in fifteen minutes were believed to be dead, but were allowed, however, to hang for nearly a half hour. Kimmel's jaws dropped and his tongue ran out, but McLeod's features remained perfectly natural. The bodies were given to physicians at fort recovery and Shoneville.

The younger Kimmels was sent back to jail, and all the Kimmels have been notified to leave the county within sixty days.

The only disturbance was caused by one of the committeemen proposing three cheers for Jeff. Davis during the hanging. The crowd dispersed without an incident worthy of notice, and thus ended one of the darkest crimes on record.

Our final chapter has a bit of a twist and is brought to us through the pages of The Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) dated May 2, 1926:

Wrong Men Lynched—Real Murderer Confesses after 50 Years

And Now for the First Time the Restless Spooks of the Innocent Victims of the Mob Have Departed in Peace and no Longer Haunt the pitiful Grave in the Cornfield Where the Body of Little Mary, the Murdered Girl, Lies

The grave of Mary Arabelle Secaur, in a lonely corner of the Liberty Center, Ohio, burial grounds, is at last beginning to sink. It is as if the soul of the 14-year-old victim of a cruel murder is content to let what remains of her mortal body be resolved at last to dust, now that justice has been done to the memory of the two men lynched for her death—and now turn out to have been innocent.

For fifty-two years, while neighboring mounds covering the bodies of stalwart farmers who sought to avenge her were smoothed flat by the hand of time, the grave of Mary Arabelle has strangely resisted the obliterating process. The rounded mound stayed stubbornly above the surface of the ground, and all this time a rose-bush has bloomed on Mary Arabelle's pitiful grave—has bloomed even amid the snows. Now the rose-bush, planted, the townspeople believe, by the spectral hands of the two victims of mob fury, has withered.

The town folk have whispered of the wraiths of Alexander McLeod and Absalom Kimmel, the two lynched men, hovering above the little grave, each carrying wound around his arm the ghostly strands of the rope that hanged them. They say they have gone, and gone, too, are the weird lights which hovered about Mary Arabelle's grave. It is true that the scientifically minded declared that these were merely ignis fatui—the "fool's lights" often seen in graveyards due to the decomposition of bodies. But how could that be, ask the awed villagers, when they know it to be a fact that since the confession of the real murderer of the little girl was made public, these mysterious lights have ceased to glimmer upon the headstone of the grave?

It was just a few weeks ago that Thomas Bradwell Douglas, lying on his deathbed in Denver, Colo., confessed that it was he who had murdered Mary Arabelle. It had been Douglas who had led the mob which had stormed the jail in which McLeod and Kimmel were lodged and who had cried loudest for their death, while the farmers strung the ropes around their necks.

But was the story that he told true?

How could anyone have any doubt, say the townspeople, when from the very moment Douglas spoke that lonely grave began to settle, the rosebush died, and all those spooky things which had made the spot one to be shunned after dark unanimously ceased to be? No reasoning, no explanations of scientists can swerve them from their belief that during all these years the place has been haunted because of the injustice done McLeod and Kimmel and now that injustice has been rectified the unquiet spirits of the murdered girl and the lynched men have been appeased and they have departed and peace has settles down upon the grave in the cornfield corner!

Mary Arabelle's murder was exactly the sort that justified a lynching, if anything ever does. She was just at that delicate, lovely age that hovers between childhood and girlhood that morning, years and years back, when she left her home to trip to the church a good two miles away. It was, to be exact, the pleasant Sunday morning of June 23, 1872. Mary Arabelle's way led past field and through woods, but the day was beautiful and nobody ever did hear of anybody being hurt on their way to church. And Mary Arabelle reached church safely and heard the sermon and sang, and maybe flirted a little bit in the way of the time, and started back for home.

Mary Arabelle's family waited for her all through the afternoon. night came and she did not return. Her father roused the village, and all through the night the torches and lanterns of the searchers flickered in fields and woods.

They found her on Monday morning—what was left of her. The wild pigs had been at her body. But there was enough to know that she had been wickedly maltreated before she died.

Liberty Centre's church bell rang the tocsin. Storekeepers shut their shops and the farmers left their plows to help Sheriff Dan Spriggs and his deputies in their hunt for the man who had done the dreadful thing. Suspicion centered on McLeod and Andrew Kimmel—the brother of Absalom Kimmel—who were wandering peddlers, and on the day of the murder had stopped at the Kimmel home on the outskirts of Liberty Centre.

A fast-riding posse overtook them going into Fort Wayne, Indiana. They circled the two and herded them back to Ohio. The pair seemed surprised and asked why they were being taken back. They were not told. When the posse got back, the three brothers of Andrew—Absalom, George and Jacob Kimmel—were arrested. It had been learned that they had spent Sunday with Andrew and his friend McLeod. The prisoners were all lodged in the Mercer County jail at Celina.

McLeod, who was a Scotchman, was the only man of the five under arrest who was taken to the scene of the crime. This was because he was a stranger, more or less, in the community. They had found on his person a handkerchief with blood spots on it. He had explained the stains by claiming he was a chronic sufferer for nose bleed. Repeatedly he asked what "it was all about." They led him to where they had found Mary Arabelle. When they halted him he turned impatiently to his captors and demanded:

"Why have you taken me to this bloody spot?"

The phrase was his death warrant.

The place was a forlorn and desolate one. The adjective McLeod used to describe it has been for generations a tabooed word in England. It means something different in England then it does here. It has, in fact, only been within the past year or two that Bernard Shaw dared to use it for the first time on the stage—and then the audience waited intensely to hear it and gasped with horror when they did.

In Ohio of 1872 it meant literally bloody. Mary Arabelle's blood had been scattered all over the spot. Why did McLeod call it a bloody spot if he had no guilty knowledge it had been bloody, indeed?

It was enough for the men who had taken him there. The proscribed adjective was his death warrant. Grimly silent they took him back to the jail. And then George Kimmel made a confession stating the McLeod had told him that he and Absalom had killed the child. This confession George afterward repudiated, explaining it as follows:

"I was arrested and put in jail Friday. On Saturday morning Dan Spriggs and Johnson took me out of jail and led me to the woods. When they got me out there they threatened to kill me, to hang me. They gave me three minutes to tell what I knew about the murder. I knew nothing, but they had guns on them and I thought they would kill me if I didn't say something, so I told them Absalom and McLeod told me they had assaulted and killed the girl. I had no such conversation with McLeod and Absalom, and I told this lie to Spriggs and Johnson in order to save my own life."

Then Andrew J. Kimmel, the other brother, was told that if he turned State's evidence he would go free. He was told that George had already implicated Absalom and McLeon [sic]. In order to save himself, as he later admitted, Andrew went before Seth Snyder, justice of the peace at Mercer County, and stated it to be his belief that his two brothers Absalom and Jacob, together with McLeod, had committed the crime.

It was decided finally to hold only Absalom and McLeod for trial. But the farmers were determined to take the law into their own hands. In this they were strongly incited by one Douglas, so the records show.

A mob of several thousand recruited from the countryside for miles around organized and marched to storm the jail. On their way to it they unwittingly brought about the death of another man, William Doran. Doran, it appears, had committed a secret offense against the morals of the community. He was seated in his farmhouse that morning, disturbed because of the chance that his offense might be found out. He had a very guilty conscience. looking across the field he saw the mob marching and assumed they were coming for him. He fled from the farmhouse to his barn, and there he cut his throat with a razor and died.

Officials of the jail had expected trouble. All day long the country people had been coming into town in pairs and groups. Daniel Callen, an attorney who had been engaged to defend Kimmel and McLeod, ran to the jail with news of the march of the vengeance-hungry horde. From a window of the jail Callen pleaded with the crowd. He said that the two men were innocent and he could prove it if they only gave him time. Several of the mob produced pistols and threatened to shoot him if he made any attempt to interfere with them, but they tore down the door and wrenched the keys from his hand. They seized McLeod and Kimmel and put them in a wagon and started for Liberty Centre. Callen estimated the mob at twelve hundred men, two hundred whom were on horseback.

Douglas, who was at the head of the mob, inflamed it to immediate action. The blood lust was on them and they went ahead. With the cruelty peculiar to mobs they decided to execute the two men in front of the Kimmel house, where there were two trees. A sapling was placed in the crotches of the trees and two ropes attached. The nooses were placed around the necks of the prisoners.

Through the windows of the house the mother and sister of Kimmel looked on.

McLeod was asked if he had anything to say. He was given a Bible and told to swear to the truth of anything he cared to say. He took his oath and swore he was innocent. His speech convinced many that he was telling the truth. he said:

"I cannot condemn my conscience. i know nothing of the matter. I never saw the girl in my life to my knowledge and never touched her. Let the law take its course and the guilty will have to suffer. God will not let the innocent die, and I pray God to save men, for I am innocent. If it were the last word that passed my lips, I would say I know nothing about it."

A voice from the mob cried:

"Why did you say 'bloody spot?'"

"It's only my way of speaking," explained the condemned Scotsman patiently. "You say there was blood on my clothes. There is blood on them now, and yet it is not the suit I wore the day of Mary Arabelle's murder. My nose bleeds frequently. It started to bleed when you took me from jail. I swear to you I am innocent of this crime. If you want to put me to death, I will have to die, but innocent blood will flow. I tell you the truth. I swear before God and man I'm innocent. Johnson and Spriggs induced the boys to say what they did. I'm ready to die. Oh, God, comfort my poor mother and sisters and forgive you all."

He had no sooner uttered his last words of forgiveness when his hands and those of Absalom Kimmel were bound.

From the windows Kimmel's mother and sister and Mrs. Patrick Callen, a sister-in-law of the attorney who had tried to save them, stared, frozen with horror.

They saw in the crowd the face of Douglas. They saw Douglas fix the sapling on which the men were hanged.

The nooses tightened around the necks of the two men. The wagon was driven out from under them. They writhed and danced on air.

And it was not until the other week, when the murder and lynching had been all but forgotten in the haze of half a century, that there came word to the few surviving members of the mob that lynched McLeod and Kimmel of the deathbed confession at Denver of Douglas. This, written by him when he was dying and found in his Bible after his death, reads:

"In this, my dying hour, and in full hope that by so doing I will secure absolution for my sins, I make a full confession of a deed that has weighed upon my mind like a death pall from the day of its commission.

"I am the guilty wretch who outraged and murdered the girl Secaur, near Celina, O., in the Summer of 1872. Heaven alone knows what prompted me to do this deed, but all the time my brain was on fire from drink. I was veritably a madman and past the power to control my actions.

"The hanging of the two men, McLeod and Kimmel, was as vile a murder as was ever perpetrated. I was one of the men that executed them. I urged them on to do it, for I felt it necessary to secure my own safety. I now know and feel that in acting as I did throughout the whole affair I committed sins of most grievous character.

"I hope God will pardon me and that the publication of this statement will relieve the families of the men, McLeod and Kimmel, from the stigma of dishonor now resting upon them. I feel that I have but a few more moments to live and with my last breath I avow the truth of all the statements here related.


A plain little marble shaft had been put up over Mary Arabelle's grave. In the years that passed, cornfields pressed it closer and closer. At last it was almost submerged by the green stalks.

Yet always something of unrest, of weirdness hung over it. It did not sink and become level with the ground as did the graves about it. A year or two after the murder a rose bush was found growing from it—about where the heart of Mary Arabelle lays mouldering six feet beneath. No one had planted it there—at least, no living hands had done so. But it grew and flourished. Oftentimes it blossomed even when the snow was on the ground.

And night after night those who watched saw the ghostly lights floating there; and others told of the cloud-like wraiths of two men with ropes wound around their arms floating above the grave.

For half a century almost Liberty Centre says it has seen these spooky things. Then suddenly they stopped. The grave began to sink. The rose bush died. The lights were gone, and were the smoky wraiths that carried the ghostly ropes.

From the moment Douglas emptied his heart of its guilty secret they stopped.

It is a strange story. But this village of Liberty Centre believes it.

"It was only Mary Arabelle trying to tell something," says Aunt Mollie Miller, Absalom's sister. "She was trying to right a wrong. It has taken a long time to do it, but the wrong has been righted at last. And as for those who hanged my brother and Mr. McLeod that day, I say what I heard Mr. McLeod say just before he was killed—forgive them."

[Photograph of Alexander McLeod (Above), and a Sketch of Absalom Kimmel, the Two Innocent Victims of the Lynching Party.]

[Facsimile of the Little Book Printed at the Time Setting Forth the Story of Little Mary's Cruel Death and the Hanging of the Two Suspected Murderers by the Mob of Farmers in Celina, Ohio.]

[For Half a Century Neighbors Have Reported the Strange Flashing of Lights and from Time to Time Declare They Have Seen the Spectral Forms of Alexander McLeod and Absalom Kimmel, the Victims of the Mob's Fury, Floating Above Little Mary Secaur's Lonely Grave in the Cornfield, Each Spook Carrying Wound Round His Arm the Rope He Was Hanged With.]

I hope you enjoy the picture of the spectres as much as I do. It is a very interesting interpretation of what people described.

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