Friday, September 2, 2016

January 13, 1894: J. G. Burton, William and John Gay

Today we learn about a lynching in Kansas through the pages of The McPherson Republican and Weekly Press (McPherson, Kansas) dated January 19, 1894:


The Brutal Murder of Fred Dinniny Avenged.

RUSSELL, Kan, Jan. 16.—A terrible exhibition of prairie justice was seen here Saturday night when three men, J. G. Burton, William Gay and his son, John Gay, were lynched by a determined mob. The men were held guilty of the murder of Fred Dinniny last July. Dinniny lived with T. W. Burton on a farm eleven miles north, and July 9 he disappeared. Burton had his team and even wore some of his clothes, but claimed that Dinniny had gone to Oklahoma with young Gay.

Gay returned a short time ago, and, on close questioning, confessed that Burton had poisoned Dinniny. The elder Gay attempted to point out the place of burial, but failed. Burton then made a confession that the Gays killed him, and on Thursday took the sheriff to a cornfield in a ravine where the body, decomposed and mutilated, with the skull crushed, was found. Indignation ran high, and it was with difficulty that the three men could be got back to the jail, where they had been confined since their arrest late in December.

Saturday night a number of men from the vicinity of the Burton farm came into town and were reinforced by farmers from all parts of the country. The party appeared to have been picked, for there were only about 130 in all when, at midnight, the surrounded the little jail and demanded the prisoners. This was refused by the sheriff, but the parley was short. The mob easily forced their way into the jail and dragged out the terrified trio from their cells.

The mob was cool and apparently well organized and made no attempt t concealment, though there were many onlookers. They took the men out through the streets and guarded them with jealous care, leading them along the Union Pacific track, a little prairie stream is crossed by the railroad and wagon road, about 100 rods east of the Russell depot.

To the bridge over this the mob went and placed the trembling wretches near the edge. Ropes were ready and one was put around the neck of each of the men and tied to the stringers. There was no time for prayers or pleadings, but at a signal all three were pushed off the edge and dropped eight or ten feet with all the precision of a professional hanging.

To make sure of carrying out their purpose the mob fired two shots into each body, although death came quickly by the rope. Then the lynchers rode away quietly and the bodies swung cold and stiff.

When morning came passengers on the east bound express train had a plain view of the bodies as they hung from the high bridge. Hundreds of people gathered around, but it was not until 10:30 that the bodies were cut down. The coroner at once held an inquest and without delay the jury returned a verdict that deceased came to their death at the hands of persons unknown.

There is little sympathy felt for the victims. The murder was a cruel and heartless one, and the murdered man had many friends. Ever since his disappearance suspicions have grown more pointed, and the three men lynched were considered guilty, and during the past week, and while the inquest over Dinniny's remains were being held, attention has been given almost exclusively to the matter. The trivial booty secured and the evidence of mutilation given by the body robbed the murderers of all sympathy.

It is not likely that any attempt will be made to prosecute the lynchers.

Our next article is found in The Abbeville Press and Banner (Abbeville, S. C.) dated January 31, 1894:


They Are Hanged Together From a Railroad Bridge. 

Between 1 and 2 o'clock a. m. a mob of about twenty men entered the jail at Russell, Kan., took out J. G. Burton, William Gay and his son, John Gay, and hanged the three men to a small railroad bridge a short distance east of the depot.

In the jail were two steel cells in which the prisoners were confined. Guards were placed around the jail, and it was the work of only a moment for the rest of the lynching party to gain entrance to the jail building. About this time Burton began to scream, and demanded what they wanted with him.

The masked men began to break off the locks from the cell s with sledges, and this took some time. Burton was the first one taken out, and he was removed to the spot selected for the lynching and there left under guard. The rest of the party returned and joined the guard who were watching the jail.

The two Gays were then marched to the bridge, where Burton had been left. Ropes were placed around there necks and then the leader clapped his hands three times, and quick as a flash all three were pushed off the bridge. The Gays evidently died from strangulation, but the noose on Burton's neck slipped around and up over his chin, and he was heard to breathe heavily for a moment. Several shots were then fired into his body. Each of the others also received a bullet. The mob then left as quietly as they came, going north.

The crime for which they were lynched was the killing of Fred Dinniny in July last on the Burton place. They were also cattle thieves. Stockmen especially have been suffering from the depredations of this gang for several years past. It was not considered safe for any person to cause the arrest and conviction of any member of the gang.

I am not sure if T. W. Burton and J. G. Burton are the same people or possibly related. 

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

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