Thursday, June 30, 2016

August 18, 1897: Plain Speech by a Georgia Lady.

Today we feature an article about the speech Mrs. Rebecca Felton gave when addressing the Georgia State Agriculture Society which met on Tybee Island on August 12, 1897. Mrs Felton was a big proponent of the Lost Cause myth including spreading the belief that white women were in mortal danger of "black brutes." If you are interested in learning more about Rebecca Felton here is a good place to start. 

This article is found in The Wilmington Messenger (Wilmington, N. C.) dated August 18, 1897:


Mrs. W. H. Felton is a Georgian lady of education, intelligence and we doubt not refinement. Her husband has served in the Federal House with credit to himself and his state. Mrs. Felton is thoughtful and observant. The Messenger within a fortnight discussing the raping outrages and lynching violence, said that white women living in the rural districts orin [sic] exposed suburbs of towns and cities were all the time uneasy. Between the perambulating tramps and the prowling black wolves they were in constant terror. Mrs. Felton evidently sees the matter as we stated it to be, for she insists that the wives and daughters in the country homes need protection from bad men, whether white tramps or lustful black brutes. She thinks it much more humane to consider the conditions at home now than to send spare millions into heathen lands. She is anxious to protect the unprotected white girls of character on the secluded farms and to put an end to the infernal lynchings. She says "if these poor maidens are destroyed in a land that their fathers died to save from the invader's foot, I say the shame lies with the survivors who fail to be protectors for the children of their dead comrades."

She is not unfriendly to missions, but she loves the white girls in their homes who lives at the mercy of predatory scoundrels. She writes:

"I do not discount foreign missions. I simply say the heathen are at your door, when our young maidens are destroyed in sight of your opulence and magnificence and when your temples of justice are put to shame by the lynchers' rope. If your court houses are shams and frauds and the law's delay is the villain's bulwark, then I say let judgment begin at the house of God and redeem this country from the cloud of shame that rests upon it!"

This bright, pure Georgian woman of the Anglo-Saxon race writes with some kindling eloquence as she contemplates the cruel outrages and the cry of the helpless for protection. The law is powerless it looks like. Nearly 11,000 criminals last year in the United States, of whom thousands were murderers and rapists, and but some 140 executed. It is no wonder then that lynchings occur, and that the potent voice of woman pleads for mercy and protection for her sex against violence in its most fearful and damning form. Hear her as she unites her voice with the cries and implorings of the unprotected, fearing, defenceless ones—the mothers and maidens:

"The crying need of woman on the farms is security in their lives, in their homes. Strong, able-bodied men have told me they stopped farming and moved to town because their women folks were scared to death if left alone.

"I say it is a disgrace in a free country when such things are a public reproach and the best part of God's creation are trembling and crying for protection in their own homes. And I say, with due respect to all who listen to me that so long as your politics takes the colored man into your embrace on election day to control his vote; and so long as the politicians use liquor to befuddle his understanding and make him think he is a man and a brother; when they propose to defeat the opposition by honey-snuggling him at the polls, and so long as he is made familiar with their dirty tricks in politics, so long will lynchings prevail because the causes of it grow and increase."

Surely, surely something is wrong, something is very rotten politically when these things exist. it is time for an awakening, for a radical change, from the roots upward. In North Carolina a few thousand wicked, mean white fellows are working a great wrong and are paving the way to a war between the races. As some one said the other day, in print—some exchange the Messenger copied from—whenever the combine is in power in North Carolina, the trouble with negroes begin. The lynchings have broken out like the measles since Russel became governor and his set went into law making and grub distributing. In this city trials of justice are impossible. The city is in the hands under the entire control of a few whites and their myrmiddons. it is the worst policed town or city, we doubt not, on the Aemerican [sic] continent. Whose fault is it? The taxes are heavy. How are they distributed. The sight of a policeman at night is indeed a curiosity. What proportion of the police are negroes?

Mrs. Felton reads of crimes in North Carolina—of recent rapes, and after two years or more of no lynchings until the one the other day at Asheville, and she writes:

"The time is at hand when the good people of North Carolina are ready to say to the republican politicians and others who affiliate with them:  'You find means to control the negro vote to degrade the state and put yourself in office. You must find means to stop the crime that invites lynching by the ignorant and malicious of your supporters, or you cannot escape responsibility of their actions. You have encouraged the ignorant negroes in thinking that the success of the party of which his race composes nine-tenths insures him against the just penalty of his wrong-doing. You have told him that the whites were his enemies. In his ignorance he has interpreted this to give him license to degrade and debauch. You are his teacher. You must correct your teachings, or you cannot escape the wrath of an outraged people."

That is a brave, true, we doubt not, religious woman, born in the south, who is thus putting in a strong, white light the truth as she sees it, and as any fair, faithful, true white man in North Carolina must see it. The white men who control the negroes are responsible for their crimes.

In this connection let us copy what an able, greatly respected jurist of Georgia, one of Mrs. Felton's honored countrymen, the late Chief Justice Bleakley, held. He said that "those who cimmit [sic] rape or murder, put themselves outside of law and follow their own will instead of abiding by the will of society as expressed in the ordinances of government. Those who lynch these criminals do precisely the same thing; they put themselves outside of law and follow their own will of society as expressed in the ordinances of the government."

The thing for all good citizens, of all parties and races, to do is to put a stop to those outrages against society and against humanity and against law. It seems from the ably edited Savannah Press that Mrs. Felton's paper read to the farmers on Tybee island created something of a sensation. The Press says of her:

"Mrs. Felton is a strong writer and a very interesting person. She touches nothing that she doesn't illuminate. Whether we agrees with her or not one is held by her earnestness and power. The fact that Mrs. Felton was surrounded and cheered after her paper was read and that she has been elected a life member of the society shows that her efforts were appreciated."

It is very unfortunate for any people or state when lynchings are resorted to in order that the failures of the courts may be remedied. if it should long continue it would prove disastrous and the only appeal would be to the heated mob. But with twelve men to be a jury and all to agree, and with the possibility , if not certainty, that one rascal may get in who is put there specially to prevent a righteous verdict where comes in the opportunity of justice and punishment? Things are badly mixed and twisted and need purifying and straightening.

If you are interested in learning more about Governor Russell of North Carolina perhaps to understand the context of the article, you can find information here.

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

October 18, 1883: Louis Foster

Today we learn about a lynching in Texas through the pages of the Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan) dated October 19, 1883:

Very Suspicious Circumstances Attending the Discovery of a Hard Character.

GALVESTON, TEX., October 18.—News Schulenberg special:  The body of Louis Foster, colored, was found to-day hanging to a tree near South Union Church, in Lavaca County, with a charge of buckshot in the neck and a pistol ball in the head. Foster is said to have been screening an escaped murderer the past few days, and has borne a bad reputation for years.

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

November 25, 1879: Henry Walker

Today we learn about a lynching in Georgia through the pages of The Tennessean (Nashville, Tennessee) dated November 26, 1879:

Negro Burglar Lynched.

ATLANTA, Nov. 25.—A special to the Constitution from Perry, Ga., states that a negro charged with burglary and who confessed that he belonged to a gang who have been committing burglaries in several counties, was taken out of jail and hung to a tree.

I found this exact article in two papers and no more. Since it mentioned a special to the Constitution, I decided to read through the Constitution and luckily I found an article with more information. This article comes to us from The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) dated November 26, 1879:

Special dispatch to The Constitution.

PERRY, Ga., November 25.—A negro was hung here last night named Henry Walker, who was under arrest. He was taken from the guard-house in Fort Valley after the house had been broken open; chains and locks broken. He was hung to a tree in front of the guard-house until he was dead. On the preliminary trial held the day previous, when brought up on a charge of burglary, he stated boldly that he was one of a gang of negroes who for the last eighteen months had been engaged in burglarious [sic] depredations in this and adjoining counties; that within a week they have broken into and stolen from two houses in Bibb county and one in Houston. He said he always went prepared to overcome any resistance, being armed with an axe; that he had been frequently under arrest and in jail, but had escaped and would do so again, and appeared to be a hardened desperado. Judge Simmons called up the grand jury and instructed them to inquire into the hanging, stating that he was greatly shocked to hear of the outrage and requiring them to summon, if necessary, every person in Fort Valley, and if possible discover and bring to justice the perpetrators of this outrageous murder, no matter who they may be.

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

Monday, June 27, 2016

October 29, 1879: Bill Young

today we learn about a lynching of a man acquitted of a crime through the courts but not the community through the pages of the Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) dated October 30, 1879:


The Vengeance of a Mob Visited upon a Supposed Murderer.

Bill Young, After Being Once Acquitted, Is Executed by Lynch Law.

Believing Him Guilty of the Murder of the Spencer Family,

The Northern Missouri Farmers Take Retribution into Their Own Hands.

He Is Dragged from the Presence of His Newly-Married Wife;

And, Bleeding and Exhausted, Is Hanged from His Own Gateway.


Special Dispatch to The Tribune.

KEOKUK, Ia., Oct. 29.—The case of Bill Young, whose trial for the murder of Lewis Spencer and his four children, near Luray, Clark County, Mo., in 1877, which closed at Kahoka on Saturday last, and resulted in a verdict of not guilty, culminated to-day in a resort to mob violence. There was strong circumstantial evidence against Young, but the prosecution was greatly weakened by the fiasco of Detective Lane in attempting to account for the bloody overalls. Although acquitted, a majority of the people in Clark County were convinced of his guilt, and, however much they may deprecate lynch law, it is safe to say that the public at large who had read the evidence shared this opinion. it was not known or even suspected outside Clark County, however, that any move would be made to execute summary punishment.

On Sunday afternoon Young was married to Miss Lydia Bray, of Ohio, to whom he was engaged before his arrest, and who has been in this section for the past four months assisting him in preparing his defense. They arrived in this city on Monday evening and remained here until this morning, when they left for Young's house near Luray. Their movements have been closely watched. Last night a mob numbering 100 to 200 men assembled north of Kahoka, and was waiting there this morning when the train passed. Finding that Young went on to his home, they followed on horseback and in wagons, and after his arrival there surrounded his house and demanded his surrender. Young, who was accompanied by J. C. Coffman, of Toledo, one of his attorneys, refused to surrender, and opened fire on the mob, but without effect. Shots were exchanged, and firing was kept up until Young was wounded. Eight men then forced their way into the house, took Young out and hanged him until he was dead. The most intense excitement prevails, and it is impossible as yet to obtain the particulars.

The mob that hung Bill Young is variously estimated at 250 to 500. They met at Lincoln College, near Kahoka, last night, voted to carry their purpose into execution, and arranged all the details. It was part of the plan to take Young from the train on its arrival to Kahoka, but the man who was sent to this city to notify them of his movements delayed sending his dispatch until it was too late. The mob then proceeded with great haste to Luray, a distance of ten miles. Upon their arrival there Young had reached his home, and two ladies had called on Mrs. Young. Coffman was also there. The mob surrounded the house, and demanded all but Young come out,—Coffman and the two ladies,—but Young kept his wife and children with him. Firing was soon opened, and for a time a perfect volley was kept up. Young's mode of defense was to open the door, fire into the crowd, and dodge back, the crowd returning the fire whenever he made his appearance.This was kept up until Young received four wounds and fell to the floor, bleeding and exhausted. The mob then piled hay around the house, and were about to fire it. When Young's children came running out, exclaiming, "Father is killed." A squad of men then entered the house, placed him in a wagon, ran it under an arched gateway leading to the premises, and placed a rope about his neck.

They then endeavored to draw a confession from him, but reports are contradictory as to how well they succeeded. Some say that he admitted enough to convinced them of his guilt, and that he mentioned the name Langford and Bill Rhodes as having been implicated in the murder. Others say that he maintained his innocence to the last. It was proposed to him that if he would pay the costs of the prosecution, make a confession, and leave the State, he would be released, and it is said he agreed to all but the confession. After allowing him to make his will the wagon was driven off, and he was left hanging until he was dead.

Young was warned at various points along the road that a mob was waiting to hang him, but he refused to stop. His only reply was that he had beaten them once, and could do it again, and that he did not propose to run off or be frightened off.

The time occupied in carrying the plans into execution was about two hours.

The men wore no masks, and made no attempt at concealment. Many of them were well-known citizens of Clark County; others are said to have been from Illinois and Iowa. A large number were boys from 14 to 18 years old. The crowd had been drinking freely, were, no doubt, greatly incited to the desperate deed by liquor. Detective Lane was among the leaders of the movement, and is said to have taken a very active part in the hanging. None of the mob were wounded so far as reported.

The Gate City, commenting editorially upon the lynched, will say:  "The reasonable doubt in the mind of the twelve Clark County jurors leave the men who did yesterday's deed without any warrant for their act that can stand the test of their sober reflection. We think Bill Young was a bad man. We don't think his death, per se, any loss to the community or the world. We think he may have had a guilty participance  by act or knowledge in the Spencer murder. His deportment during his trial, and since his acquittal especially, has been very foolish and very offensive. It showed him to be a man of little personal or moral sensibility. It was such an extraordinary display or crude and coarse vanity, that it almost helps the jury's presumption that maybe he was not guilty of the Spencer murder after all, because it was a foolish and self-conceited vanity that all seemed to hang upon the fact that he was a hero of a conspicuous trial. If he had been really guilty, and unless he was not at all human, but every whit a devil, instead of this exhibition of pompous vanity over his trial, some thought of the white, cold faces of those he had killed would surely have come into his mind, and made him reserved and timorous after so narrowly escaping the hangman."

Young was repeatedly warned at different points on his way to Luray not to return; that there was much dissatisfaction over the verdict, and that his life would be in great danger if he persisted in going back. He disregarded these warnings, however, and continued his journey.

The mob surrounded his house at 11 o'clock. The inmates at that times were J. C. Coffman, the Toledo attorney; Young, his wife, and four children, and Mrs. Rowe and her three children. Random firing was carried on between the besieged and the besiegers until the afternoon, when Coffman came out and a parley was held with Young. The latter agreed to surrender, pay all costs of the late trial, and leave the country, but he would not confess that he committed the Spencer murder. He asserted his innocence, and said he had no confession to make.

At one time the mob got a load of hay, but instead of making use of it in their attack, deposited small quantities of it about the house, and set fire to it. This was soon extinguished by the mob, however. Young went upstairs, and, while there, was shot and wounded in the stomach and breast. For a period of half an hour following this all was quiet, when a rush was made for the house and an entrance effected. Young was found lying on the floor up-stairs, his wife and children standing over him and crying, "He is killed."

Young called for the picture of his first wife and kissed it very affectionately. He also called for Detective Lane, who shook hands with him. Two of the men wrote for Young a short biography of his life. The mob then formed in line in the yard, and Lane selected from the number nine men to hang Young. Four men carried him to the orchard gateway, near the house, he praying in a very supplicating manner on the way.

Young was placed in a wagon, with his feet and hands tied, and allowed time in which to make a statement. He said he had made a written statement agreeing to assist in ferreting out the Spencer murderers, and given the same to Hanson and Johnson. He then indulged in a rambling talk, probably for the sake of gaining time.

The crowd yelled:  "That is not what we want, tell us who assisted you in the murder of the Spencers." His last words were:  "I am as innocent of that crime as the angels in Heaven."

At 4 o'clock the noose was adjusted and the wagon pulled out. The body swayed back and forth until life was wholly extinct. In twenty minutes the crowd mounted their horses and rode away. As they were departing, Mrs. Young crying and wringing her hands, and beg them to cut Young down, which was refused.

Young's gunshot wounds were not serious.

After Coffman came out of the house, he was locked up in the granary.

It is said that the mob was composed of good citizens of Clark County. There were a few from town. The sentiment  of the people is divided. Some approve of the action of the mob openly. Others were not sorry Young was out of the way, but do not endorse this summary method of disposing of him, while his friends regard it as dastardly outrage.

We continue with an article found in the November 3, 1879 edition of The Saint Paul Globe (Saint Paul, Minnesota):


Warrants were issued yesterday for the arrest of all persons known to have been engaged in the lynching of Bill Young, at Luray, mo. last Wednesday. Detective Lane, who was very active in procuring evidence against Young, is said to have been the leader of the lynching mob, and several citizens of Luray are among those to be arrested. The warrants were issued at the instance of Young's wife, J. C. Coffman, one of Young's lawyers from Ohio who was at Young's house when the mob surrounded it, and has been missing since, appeared yesterday at Memphis en route home. it is said he admits an attempt was made to bribe the jury in Young's favor.

The Fort Wayne Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Indiana) keeps us informed in their November 6, 1879 edition:

Bill Young's Lynchers Likely to Escape From Justice.

Bill Young's Lynchers. 

St. Louis, Nov. 6.—Detective Frank Love [sic], who is accused of leading the mob that lynched Bill Young, at Luray, mo., a few days ago, and several other persons who have been under nominal arrest for the past two or three days for being concerned in that affair, appeared before the examing magistrate at Luray yesterday, but nobody was there to prosecute, and no action was taken. John Young, son of Bill Young, who had threatened vengeance upon the murderers of his father, he's left the country, and Mrs. Young, at whose instance [sic] the above arrests were made, will leave Luray.

Our next article comes to us through the pages of The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) dated November 18, 1879:


Important Revelations Coming to Light—A Number of Persons Implicated.


KEOKUK, IOWA, November 17.—The facts connected with the lynching of Bill Young are gradually coming to light through the preliminary examination of S. Cross and Buck Brown at Memphis, Mo., and the names of those implicated are multiplying daily. David Bowman was on the stand to-day, and testified that Brown helped pull the wagon from under Young. John Young, son of Bill Young, was the principal witness examined. He testified to seeing Cross at the landing on the side of the house from which his father was shot, and the latter said it was Cross who shot him. No shots were fired from the house at all. William Edin opened the door and let the mob in, and about fifteen men went upstairs. Ralph Stewart and Bill Smith guarded the family after they took Young out among the others. The witness testified to having seen Frank Earl Wagner, Alex Yalton, Ballard Guthrie. Cal- Kennedy, of Peaksville; Charles and Wm. Carter, john Scott, Henry Bartlett, Samuel Armstrong Dowell, John Carr and Bill Flennings.

A letter has been received here from Mark Lane dated at Corydon, in which he says that if the authorities of Clark County want to take the matter in hand he is willing and ready to come back and answer for the part he took in the affair.

A small tidbit from the Marion County Record (Marion, Kansas) dated November 21, 1879:

Gov. Phelps of Missouri, on the 8th, telegraphed Adjutant-General Mitchell, whom he sent to Clark County to investigate the lynching of Bill Young, that the law must be executed at all hazards; that the local authorities should be sustained; and that if the people of Clark County engage in insurrection, he could assure them that he (the Governor) would suppress it.  

The Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) dated November 23, 1879:


Special Dispatch to The Tribune.

KEOKUK, Ia., Nov. 22.—Judges Anderson and Schofield gave their decision at Memphis, Mo., to-day in the case of O. S. Cross and Buck Brown, who had been undergoing a preliminary examination for the lynching of Bill Young. They held both partied to answer, but admitted them to bail, fixing Cross' bond at $2,000 and Brown's at $5,000. The decision was a surprise to nearly everyone, as it was generally anticipated that Cross would be discharged, as he not only established an alibi by responsible witnesses, but impeached the witnesses for the prosecution. there is much indignation in Clark County at the result. The parties will be brought to Kahoka on Monday, when it is said they will be able to give bonds without any trouble.

The Great Bend Weekly Tribune (Great Bend, Kansas) dated December 6, 1879 gives us this small statement:

Frank Lane and Bill Smith, two of the leading spirits in the mob that hung Bill Young at Luray, mo., and for whose arrest the Governor offered a reward of $250 each, are now in custody.

The Rolla Herald (Rolla, Missouri) dated December 18, 1879:

Gov. Phelps certainly deserves great credit for the course he has taken in the matter of the hanging of Bill Young in Clark county. his course is to rebuke to the too common practice of mob law, a mode of dealing with human beings that is depreciated by every law abiding citizen. Viva la Phelps—Cass Co. Courier.

The Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) dated April 11, 1880 keeps us informed:

The Lynchers of Bill Young, at Kahoka, Mo., Discharged.


Special Dispatch to The Chicago Tribune.

KEOKUK, Ia., April 10.—The Grand Jury in session at Kahoka, mo., failed to find a bill against any of the parties held for the lynching of Bill Young, but found a bill against Frank Lane for perjury while on the witness-stand in the Young case. He is held in $500 bond for his appearance at the October term of the court.

The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) gives us a little information on the man the case is starting to surround in its May 19, 1880 edition:

Deceived and Deserted.


KAHOKA, Mo., May 18.—The wife of Frank Lane, the detective who headed the mob which hung Bill Young in Clark County last October, returned to-day. She states she was abandoned by Lane at Laharpe, Illinois. She left here a month ago with Lane against her parents' will. They were united in marriage, according to the lady's story, by a Justice of the Peace at Alexandria. No such Justice can be found. The supposition is that the girl, who is very young, was imposed upon by a bogus marriage. Lane has not been heard from.

The continuation comes to us from the Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) dated May 27, 1880:



Special Dispatch to The Chicago Tribune.

KEOKUK, Ia., May 26.—At the last term of the Circuit Court of Scotland County, Mo., the Grand Jury indicted Frank Lane, the so-called detective, for the murder of Bill Young. Lane was held to answer at the preliminary examination, and admitted to bail. On the morning of the indictment he made his escape, but was overtaken and arrested to-day at Yankton, D. T., and will be brought back for trial. Young was tried and acquitted in Clark County, Missouri, for the murder of the Spencer family, and afterwards taken from his home and hung by a mob headed by Lane.

As time passes, the newspapers reflect the growing disinterest in the case by relegating news on it to small paragraphs. This paragraph comes to us from the Weekly Graphic (Kirksville, Missouri) dated June 12, 1880:

Detective Frank Lane arrived at Memphis, Mo., in irons, on Thursday night. He will be tried for the murder of Bill Young.

An article found in the Portsmouth Daily Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) dated August 14, 1880 gives us information about a monument to the Spencer family:

—A LARGE monument has been erected at Kahoka, Mo., with the following inscription:  "The Spencer Family.—We are all here, murdered with an axe night of Aug. 3, 1977, at their home. Their bodies lie beneath this tomb, their virtues shout it."  It marks the spot where the five members of the Spencer family were slain, and its dedication, with elaborate ceremonies, drew together 50,000 persons, so great had been the excitement over the crime. The deed was palpably committed by one man, who killed his victims one after another as he came upon them; but who he is has never been ascertained. Bill Young was hanged by a mob, but a jury had acquitted him, and there was nothing at all proven against him except his bad character. His last words were:  "I am as innocent of this thing as the angels;" but the leader of the lynchers replied:  "You're a good man to hang anyhow."  His wife has now sued the county for $10,000 damages.

Another article comes to us from The Atchison Daily Champion (Atchison, Kansas) dated November 6, 1880:

OUR readers may remember the hanging by a mob, in Clark county, Mo., last October, of a man named BILL YOUNG, who had been acquitted of the charge of murdering a family named SPENCER. The principal witness against YOUNG on the trial was a detective named FRANK LANE, who also headed the party which executed YOUNG. The feeling against YOUNG was so strong that the grand jury refused to find a bill against LANE. The Judge of the court appears to have been so much interested in favor of the YOUNG gang that he ordered the grand jury of Scotland county to take cognizance of the murder, and that grand jury found a bill, as it appears the statute of Missouri allows to be done in some cases. LANE was arrested and held in jail, and his counsel to his case to the Supreme Court, which has decided the statute unconstitutional, and ordered LANE'S discharge from custody. No man will ever be punished in Clark county for the hanging of BILL YOUNG.

I have two more articles that are less about the lynching and more about life after the lynching for two participants of this story. Our first article comes to us through the pages of the La Plata Home Press (La Plata, Missouri) dated May 14, 1881:

—The detective who worked up the evidence that convicted the Talbott boys of murder in the first degree, was none other than the notorious Frank Lane, the leader of the mob that hung Bill Young in Clark county a short time ago. A Holt county paper now thinks that the boys are the innocent victims of a deep-laid and diabolical conspiracy. Lane's actions  in Clark county stamp him as a wretch who would hesitate at nothing to accomplish his vile and nefarious purposes.—Linneus Bulletin.

Our final article is found in The Boston Weekly Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) dated April 20, 1881:

Mysterious Death of Bill Young's Widow.

KEOKUK, Ia., April 17.—The sudden death of Mrs. Lydia Young, the youthful widow of the notorious Bill Young, who was lynched in Missouri, is creating considerable interest from the fact of a mysterious letter, which arrived the day after her death, dated "Earl Station, Ill.," and signed "I. C. Pierce." it is hinted that there was something very curious about her sickness. The body will be disinterred and examined.

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

Thursday, June 23, 2016

August, 1880: Waldron

Today we learn about a lynching in Georgia through the pages of the Record of the Times (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) dated August 20, 1880:

Judge Lynch in a New Role.

ATLANTA, Ga., Aug. 19.—A young man, named Waldron, having been arrested at Sunnyside, Ga., by the sheriff of Spaulding county, a posse overpowered the sheriff, took the prisoner, and cut his head off. Waldron ran away about two weeks ago and came to Atlanta, bringing with him a young girl of 12 years old, his wife's sister.

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

November 16-17, 1895: James Bowens

It was brought to my attention by boot17, a reader, that according to the Maryland archives James Goings, which I first covered in 2014 and can be found here, was actually James Bowens. I did some research and that is most definitely correct. So today we will be covering what I found on James Bowens' lynching, starting with an article found in Evening Star (Washington, D. C.) dated November 18, 1895:


James Bowens Hanged by a Maryland Mob.

James Bowens, a young colored man, who assaulted Miss Lillie Long, aged about twenty-one years, at the home of Hamilton Geisbert, about one mile south of Frederick, Md., at 5:30 o'clock Saturday afternoon, was taken from the county jail at 1:30 o'clock yesterday morning by a mob of about four hundred men, and was hanged to a tree in a field on the Jefferson turnpike, about one-half mile from Frederick. 

The tree upon which he was hanged was nearly opposite the spot where "Bigus" was lynched in 1887.

A report reached Frederick at 11:30 o'clock Saturday night that the young lady had died from the effects of the beating and cuts the negro had administered. While this report was not true, it maddened the men, who were already in a high state of excitement. Several mobs were quickly organized, but they had no leader. After some delay a member of the mob stepped forward and assumed the leadership. Unmasked, but armed with revolvers and knives, the mob marched upon the jail, arriving there about 12:45 a. m.

Wounded the Prisoner.

It required about thirty minutes to effect an entrance into the jail. When the door was broken open the crowd rushed into the corridor, quickly overcoming the resistance which was offered by the deputies to protect their prisoner, and, passing through the engine room, proceeded to the first cell on the ground floor, where Bowens was pleading for mercy. Several blows of the sledge soon severed the lock from its fastenings, not, however, before one of the mob fired four shots at the prisoner, one of which took effect in his leg, producing a flesh wound only.

In the adjoining cell were Robinson, colored, who recently attempted an assault upon a colored girl in Urbana, and young Crutchley, a white man of Brunswick, who is charged with assault upon two white girls, aged twelve and sixteen. both men thought the mob was after them, and they screamed and cried piteously for protection, but, fortunately for them, the crimes for which they were incarcerated were not known by the mob, or they might have shared a fate similar to that of Bowens, as the mob was aroused to a high state of excitement. 

Arriving at the tree which had been selected as the scene of the execution, the negro was asked to confess, and not to die with a lie on his lips, but he made no reply.

Much to the surprise of the lynchers, two Salvation Army men appeared upon the scene and requested to be allowed to pray with the doomed man. This was granted.

Prisoner and Lynchers Prayed.

The Lord's prayer was then recited, and the negro and the lynchers joined in repeating it. Bowens' hands and feet were then tied and the rope tightened around his neck. the other end was then thrown over the limb of the large tree and the command given, "Let him go." In an instant he was jerked off his feet and was dangling about five feet in the air. he uttered a few groans, when one shot was fired. It took effect in his temple. then he was motionless.

After the lynching a member of the mob made a brief speech, in which he said:  "It is not with a spirit of malice toward this unfortunate wretch or his race that we are here tonight, but it is to teach men of his class that they must let the white women of Frederick county alone or suffer the consequences, of which this is an example."

After greeting their leader, the mob, among whom were a number of farmers, quietly dispersed and repaired to their homes.

Our next article comes to us through the pages of The News (Frederick, Maryland) dated November 18, 1895. I would have transcribed this article first, but the copy I have is not very clear, so please excuse me for any sections I cannot transcribe.






A Brutal Assault on a White Woman Leads to the Speedy Execution of the Guilty Man—How the Assault Was Committed—Thaken From the Jail to the Scene of the Biggus Lynching and Hung from the Limb of a Locust Tree—Salvation Army Officers Pray With the Doomed Man—Weird and Tragic Scenes at the Place of Execution—Crowds View the Body and Look at the Work of the Mob at the Jail—The Funeral To-day and Investigation by a Coroner's Jury—Cut His Victim With a Pair of Scissors and Tore Her Clothes.

One of the horrible affairs that every civilized community dreads but which seems to be inevitable under existing conditions has added another to Frederick's list of lynchings in the past eight years. The victim of the mob this time was James Bowens, a twenty-three year old colored man of bad reputation, who was accused of having attempted to rape Miss Lilly Long, a comely white woman of 22 employed at the home of Mr. Hamilton Geisbert on the Cemetery road a short distance south of Frederick, and committing a brutal and fiendish assault upon he in his unsuccessful effort to accomplish his purpose.

The assault occurred about 5 o'clock Saturday afternoon, shortly after which the negro was arrested, given a preliminary hearing before Magistrate Edward Hewes at the Mayor's office, committed to jail in default of $300 bail for a further hearing Monday, and at 1 o'clock Sunday morning was forcibly taken from the jail, hurried out the Jefferson road and hung to a limb of a locust tree in a wheat field on the east side of the road, close where Biggus was lynched in November, 1887.

At 9:15 Sunday morning Messrs. Schroeder, undertakers, cut the body down, placed it in a plain stained coffin, a jury of inquest, summoned by Acting Coroner C. H. Eckstein, viewed it and it was placed in the jail until the afternoon when it was removed to the home of the negro's parents in Locust alley, whence the funeral took place today at 2 p. m. The jury of inquest adjourned until to-day, when the investigation was conducted behind closed doors in the grand jury room at the Court House.



Story of the Fiendish Negro's Brutal Attempt.

James Bowens, the victim of the determined mob who meted out stern justice yesterday morning, was on a spree Saturday in this city with a number of colored companions.

It is said that five or six pint bottles of whiskey wee bought and consumed by the crowd during the day, and in the afternoon Bowens, Hiram Bowman and Jno. Tonsil were seen out on the Cemetery road. Bowman, it is claimed, became too full to follow the others and laid down along the road to sleep, when Bowens robbed him of $4 and he and Tonsil went on. What became of Tonsil from this point in the case is not known. He seems to have disappeared and has not been seen since.

Bowens, however, at or near 5 o'clock appeared at the farm of Mr. Wm. H. Warner and asked Mr. Warner for something to eat. Warner told him he had nothing to give him, but he could probably get some thing at Mr. Geisbert's and pointed to the house. He said that the negro left him and went in the direction of Geisbert's climbing the fence and crossing the field. He wore heavy boots with plates on the heels, light pants, a brown shirt, grey coat and brown slouch hat.

At the Geisbert house there was no one home but the servant, miss Lillie Long, a modest, quiet, highly respectable young woman who has been working at the place some time. When he came out he asked her for something to eat. While she was getting it for him he made an indecent proposal to her and offered her a dollar. She screamed and started to run, when he told her that she needn't run, for if she did he would kill her. She fled down the lane to seek help, but the negro followed her and caught her in the space of about a hundred yards. "I am Wilson," he said.

He seized her, and in the struggle she was thrown to the ground, her nose striking in the dirt, bruising and skinning it. She fought desperately to protect her honor, but the undismayed brute, clutching her under the chin, cut her twice with a pair of fine steel scissors, about six inches long and with one blade as sharp as a razor. One cut was made on the right side of her neck an inch and a half in length and another below four inches and a half long. She is somewhat fleshy and the blade only cut through as far as the muscular tissues, but a narrow escape was made from severing her jugular vein.

In the struggle her underclothing was torn off her, but ere she lost strength to longer resist, Roger Geisbert, who heard her screams, came to her assistance. The negro made off on the road toward Frederick. Miss Long managed to get to the house, shocked and frightened and bleeding from her wounds. The alarm was at once given, and Wm. A. Font, from an adjoining farm, where the negro had also asked for food, and Ross Geisbert, immediately started in pursuit of the negro. Mr. Wm. H. Warner, who was also summoned, started out a different way, throwing a Winchester rifle into his wagon and determined to get the negro if possible.

Messrs. Font and Geisbert, who were on the right track, caught up with Bowens just as he reached the pavement at the west end on the McMurray factory on South street. Font said:  "We want you." To this Bowens replied:  "What have you got to do with this, you are not a county constable?" At the point of a pistol the men bravely captured him and took him quickly to the Mayor's office.

The news of the ------ quickly spread, and the office and street in front of City Hall were --led with excited men and boys. Mayor Yeakle and City Attorney C. - S. -e-y were there, in a short while Magistrate Hewes came in, and in the meantime Hiram Bowman, after whom deputy sheriff James Crum had gone, was brought in, saying that he wanted to lay a charge against Bowens of stealing four dollars from him.

The first witness called was Wm. A. Font, who told how he had been notified of the assault, followed the negro and arrested him. Wm. H. Warner also told what has already been stated in regard to his part in the case, adding that Bowens told him he was from Baltimore and on his way to Pittsburg. Walter Weller told that he had seen Bowman and Bowens going out the cemetery road after four o'clock in the afternoon. Bowens, who all the time maintained and impudent and defiant air, was called and swore that he had been in town unloading wheat for Mr. Padgett, of near Buckeystown, at Gambrill's mill. That he had been at the house of Hiram Brown's brother at the time the assault was committed and had gone around from All Saints street to South and was walking down South street when arrested. He was taken in the bar and searched by Officer Niles Abrecht, after Bowman swore that he had stolen four dollars from him. A bandanna handkerchief, tin box, box of cigarettes, a pint of whiskey and some small articles were found on him. Even his boots were searched. When again questioned, Bowman said that it wasn't Bowens but Tonsil that had stolen the money. In default of $300 bail the Magistrate committed them both to jail for a further hearing Monday, Bowman as a witness.

Deputy sheriff Crum and Warden Groff handcuffed the men together. While they were doing it Bowens grew very insolent, used abusive language, swore at Wm. A. Font, said he was not the man that made the assault, that he had not been to Geisbert's and that they all "had it in for him" because he was a Republican and they were Democrats. Cries of "Get a rope, Get a rope" were made by the crowd, but the Magistrate soon stopped that. The negroes were hurried downstairs into a wagon at the door, the crowd breaking into wild cries of "Lynch him, Get a rope." A lot of boys followed the wagon down Market Street and many went over to the jail. Bowers uttered defiant and abusive words several times while getting into the wagon and afterward. The officers say he protested his innocence repeatedly and when at the jail he was told the crowd might try to harm him said always, "I ain't done nothin', I'm not the man." At the jail warden Groff discovered the scissors, off of which he wiped something he thought had the appearance of blood. Bowens had them in one of his boots and afterward put them in his hip pocket.



An Assault on the Jail and Execution of the Negro.

For some time after the incident at the Mayor's office a strong undercurrent of excitement prevailed among people on the street and in public places, and the only topic of conversation was the assault, details of how severely the young woman had been handled reaching the city. Dr. Ira J. McCurdy had been summoned to attend her and after he had dressed her wounds and returned, greatly exaggerated rumors of her condition were circulated by excited men and boys.

At ten o'clock a fight that occurred on the Square corner attracted attention for the time being from the assault, but an hour and a half later a report was brought in that Miss Long had died at 10:40. There were then ominous signs in the air and a small crowd gathered at the cattle scales in Derr's alley. A false alarm of fire just before 12 o'clock seemed to be a preliminary signal for the desperate work of the night.

If the lynchers had expected to procure axes and ropes at the united Engine House, as some said, they were deceived, for the doors there were locked and no one was permitted to move a thing.

Gradually little groups of men began to move toward the jail from various directions. Singly, by twos and threes and in larger numbers, they came. Many of these were citizens attracted only out of curiosity and having no part in the lynching. At half past twelve a crowd moved out of Saint street, through Mantz's alley into South street.

The voice of one of the men was heard calling on all who meant business to hold up their right hand and swear. "Remember," he said, "we come on an errand of death and we bring death with us." Numerous pistol shots were fired in the air here and there, and the murmur of the mob as it grew in numbers rose like the swell of the sea, now a wild outburst of human yells, and then a subdued moaning and wailing that filled the night with unutterable weirdness.

A small group of spectators was gathered on the pavement west of the jail. They were approached several times by men from the crowd down by Mantz's alley and asked if they meant business; if so, to come on.

Slowly but surely the crowd below grew in numbers and louder arose its murmur. Families in the neighborhood, alarmed from their sleep, peered out of windows and doors and expressed the wish that they would not lynch the man right there.

Minute by minute, passed; five, ten, fifteen. It was now half-past twelve. the night had passed into the Sabbath morn. Twice tolled the bell on the Catholic clock. the murmur from the crowd below—now a solitary yell, now a chorus of fierce cries for vengeance—nearer and nearer drew. the dark mass moved forward. A steady onward jog, a wild cry, wilder than any yet, and then a rush of trampling feet; open were dashed the gates of the jail yard. "This way, come on, come on boys!" One, two, ten, twenty, thirty, a hundred of them, through the gate, across the yard, straight for the door on the west side they moved.

On Saint street, before coming around, they had broken into the blacksmith shop of Robert Fraley and secured several sledges—twelve pounders—hammers and bars. many were armed with pistols. only a few more masks.

Scarcely had they entered the yard before the ring of a pistol shot from an upper window on the west ---- -- ----- the deputies within would ----- ----- resistance in their power. Who knows how the prisoners within trembled and prayed, that one especially who must have realized that the cry of doom had sounded for him! Four times the clapper of the bell in the belfry hit the metal sides, then the rope, which Mrs. James Crum had pulled, broke and its voice was still. There was no other way for those within to summon assistance except by telephone, and that was downstairs. It was useless anyway, perhaps, for nothing could have stayed that mob.

Now it had reached the door.

 In spit of the ----- flashes from the windows above, the sledges were driven against the oaken panels by swarthy arms --- ------ ---- ---- ----- -- the timber cracked. The hinges gave "Bang!" In at last it went, but here the mob was foiled, for a strong, iron grated door confronted them and their blows could not shatter that.

"The lower door, the lower door," shouted the crowd on the pavement and -- --- -----. "Go in. go in, get him, get him."

Then the point of attack was changed. Occasionally a pistol shot rang out; several shots were fired by the mob against the jail ----, but onward the determined men moved. The wooden door in the basement opening into the hall that leads past the boiler room into the kitchen, and through that to the corridor of the basement tier of cells on the State prisoners' side, was soon shorn of its panels and its lock burst off. Then the mob knew victory was theirs. Those on the outside shouted. those that were filed in were calm and determined.

Sheriff D. P. Zimmerman was away on business at Woodsboro. Those in charge of the jail knew that further resistance was useless, but they offered no aid to the mob.

One bang of the sledge and the door to the kitchen was open. Then through the other kitchen door and they were in the corridor. The heavy lock on the corridor door was broken, the hasp was turned back on its hinges. A few feet away, in the first cell, was the doomed man. As he saw the desperate men he cowered and cried. A blow of the sledge and the cell lock fell shattered. The man was theirs! With nothing on but underclothes and stockings he was seized and brought out.

It is said someone fired a shot that hit him in the leg, but that further shooting was forbidden. Others say the shot was fired in the corridor before the cell was reached. All the prisoners were locked up in their cells and probably crouching in the corners dumb with fear. Crutchley, the man who assaulted two little girls at Knoxville, and Robinson, the negro who assaulted a negro girl at Urbana, were among them and may have thought the mob would wreak vengeance on them too.

Bowens was led out protesting that he was not the man. While the men were within those on the outside had lowered the electric light in front of the jail yard, extinguished it and cut the rope off. The rope was passed to the men within who wanted it.

"Here he comes, they have him." The crowd was again wild with excitement. The negro is said to have told those who held him to hurry up. Outside the gate he declared he was not the man, that he had been in jail three weeks. "Strike a match someone," a man shouted. "Here, you men that know Bowens, is this him?" "Yes, that's Jim Bowens," a voice replied. "All right, go ahead!"

The crowd gave a mighty whoop. Many closed in around the negro. On they moved toward the Jefferson road. The pace was that of a dog trot until the road was reached, and then a walk. Many in the crowd fired pistols in the air. But the men grew more orderly and sedate. There was no sympathy for Bowens, but there was no tendency to brutality. The men seemed to have constituted themselves a band to mete out justice and wanted to do it with all the decorum possible under such circumstances.

There was some hesitation at first as to where to hang him. One place thought of was deemed too close to the houses. Down the road the throng moved, spectators int he rear. A telegraph pole with a low cross arm was sighted on the left and suggested as a good place. The men in the lead moved on. A few steps farther and they were at the field, now sown in wheat, on the Kennedy Butler farm and across from his house. A locust tree, standing leafless and ghostly along the South fence, was the chosen spot. The mob scaled the rails. In a moment they were gathered around the tree. Spectators and all, there were fully three hundred present.

A man with a sturdy voice started to talk to Bowens. He told him that they had brought him there to die. That his last hour on earth had come and if he had anything to say he should say it quick. All the crowd seemed to want to talk at once and it was several minutes before quiet reigned. "We want you to confess, Bowens."  Said the man. "Do not die with a lie on your lips, you have got to go anyhow, so tell the truth and be done with it."

In a voice that was very husky and weak Bowens answered:  "Indeed I did'nt [sic] do it, I'm not the man." He would say no more. The crowd still urged him to confess, telling  him that he would have to hang anyway so he'd better tell the truth. Just then Capt. Eugene Mott and Lieut. Wm. Anthem of the Salvation army, made their way through the throng and asked if they would be allowed to pray with the man. In front of the jail one of them had begged the men not to do what they were about to do. He was rebuffed. but they did not refuse him permission to pray. The mob uncovered. The man's prayer was an earnest, pitiful appeal o Almighty God for mercy on the doomed man's soul. He prayed that he might be forgiven for his crime, that his heart might be opened to salvation and that his soul might be saved.

Then the other prayed earnestly for mercy on the wretch, and in conclusion, with stillness everywhere, beneath the stars that looked down from above, amid that weird and tragic scene, arose the words of the Lord's prayer. Bowens repeated them after the speaker. Others joined their voices in pronouncing  the wonderful plea. At the end preparations for the execution were begun.

But still another man had something to say. He spoke clearly and forcibly. He appealed to the crowd to believe him that they were gathered there not in a spirit of malice toward the colored race, but to set an example for the protection of homes and firesides and to teach the lesson that the women and children of Frederick county must be saved from the fear of assault. "I want everybody to understand," he said, "that this is the spirit in which we are here with this unfortunate wretch tonight, and that we must stand united in this purpose."

The final scene in the tragedy of the night was the enacted. The rope was brought and fastened by a strong noose around the negro's neck. his hands were tied behind him, first with shoestrings and then with a piece of rope. "Yes, tie his hands," said some one. Don't let him suffer any more than necessary." His feet were not tied. Someone scaled the tree, threw the free end of the rope over the limb and climbed down. Several times it was found to be wrong, and three times the man climbed up. Once he yelled to the crowd not to shoot while he was there. Several times matches were lighted to see to fix the rope.Then the signal; was given that all was ready.

Bowens asked if he could pray again. "No," someone said with an oath. "Up with him!" Strong arms pulled on the other end of the rope. the men breathed quick and heavy. Upward, upward, upward. Two, three, four, five, six feet he went, swinging to and fro and the legs automatically kicking. The crack of a pistol was heard. The bullet seemed to strike the hanging man. "Stop that," a commanding voice cried. "Don't lets have any of this.  --, --- ---- ----," - ---- -- -----, and then quietly almost a ----, the back of the crowd disappeared.

A few remained behind and - ----- then a man here and there shouted, "Good bye you -----." "Good bye you ----." "Good bye, -----"

In ten minutes the field was deserted. ----- and ---- from the --------d hung the victim of the mob's vengeance. ----- -- --- ---- --- the court of Judge Lynch stood a -------.



Views on the Lynching—Condemned by the Rev. Delk. 

While there is a general sentiment among the better thinking people of the city against the principle of lynching, there is hardly any dissent to be heard from the opinion that the negro received his just desserts. The large number of assaults that have been committed in the county the past several years, the recent excitement in regard to the outlaw Charles Wilson and the bad reputation of Bowens all combined to arouse and anger the crowd Saturday night. There are some who openly and bitterly condemn the actions of the lynchers. There are others who uphold it as the proper thing to have done, and there are still others who say they believe the negro was properly punished for his brutal deed but they would rather have seen the law take its course. From the pulpits of several of the churches last night reference was made to the deed in the prayers, and yesterday morning before his sermon at the Evangelical Lutheran Church here the Rev. E. H. Delk, of Hagerstown, who exchanged pulpits with Mr. Kuhlman, said:

"I come as a friend of the pastor of this church, a neighboring clergyman. What would my friend, Mr. Kuhlman, do under the shadow of these calamities. I shall speak as a citizen of the United States and of the Commonwealth of Maryland. I am sure I voice the better sentiment of Frederick city. A double crime has been committed in our midst. Frederick county id no better nor worse than Washington county. No word in palliation of the brute who made his assault upon helpless womanhood shall be offered by me. Our blacks are more sensual than our white population, but the remedy is not murder, but a better public school education and more ethical religion. It would have been bearable if he had been shot down by the father or brother. But for an irresponsible, lawless mob to wrest from justice the rightful property of law—this wa murdering justice. No doubt some of the mob thought they were acting the part of a rough justice. Yes, the justice of a Zulu tribe, not the justice of civil liberty and American courts. But this is a caution, a warning, to our judges, attorneys and constabulary and citizenship. We must hasten our trials.

Are our judges so dilatory?

Are our lawyers so sophistical?

Are our jurors so timid?

Are our prosecuting attorneys so indifferent?

Are our jails so flimsy?

Are our constabulary so in sympathy with mob violence?

Are our citizens so careless in their speech as to give encouragement to such a caricature of law and order?

A mob is citizenship in anarchy. Let no young man here think he did justice or womanhood a service in the lynching of that black. Let him rather thank God that the murderer does not rest upon his hands or heart."

The ministers of the colored churches denounced the lynching last night, but the members of the race here declare that while they do not uphold the mob they think Bowens' deed deserved severe punishment. Many sympathize with the father of the negro, who is a sober, industrious, well-behaved man.



Scenes and Incidents on Sunday—Visitors to the Spot. 

Few people in Frederick knew of the lynching of Bowens until Sunday morning dawned, but the news soon spread and hundreds of men, women and children flocked to the scene of the execution and viewed with morbid curiosity every feature connected with the case. The locust tree from which the negro hung, one stocking off; the jail, every place the mob had been the people thronged, and they kept it up until late  in the evening. At 9:15 o'clock the Messrs. Schroeder, undertakers, cut the body down, placed it in its coffin and took it to the jail, where it was placed just inside the grated corridor down on the west side, so that the people could view it. Many colored people were among the visitors. Warden Groff was busy all day showing visitors about, letting them look at the five broken locks, and answering the questions of the curious. The jury of inquest summoned by Acting Coroner C. H. Eckstein after viewing the body adjourned to meet again at 3 p. m., but at that hour decided to postpone their investigation until today, while in the meantime the body was removed to the basement corridor and an autopsy performed by Drs. F. B. Smith and Ira J. McCurdy. They concluded that death had resulted from strangulation. They found an abrasion on the right side of the head that might have been caused by a bullet grazing the skull; a bruise on the left side of the head, probably caused by a blow from a hammer, but there was no bullet wound that could have caused death. In the evening the body of Bowens was taken to the house of his father, Simon Bowens, in Locust alley, where many members of their race called to condole with the parents of the unfortunate wretch. The funeral of the mob's victim today at 2 o'clock was in charge of Messrs. A. T. rice & Sons, and internment was made in the colored graveyard. A large crowd attended it.

The members of the coroner's jury are" E. T. H. Delashmutt, foreman; Robert T. Danner, George W. Plunkard, Reuben E. Hann, Cyrus A. Font, George Esterly, john W. Poole, C. Elmer Hull, Henry G. Dull, Lewis E. Burck, Wm. A. Hann, Thomas Eaves.


Shortly after one o'clock this afternoon the jury, which heard the testimony of a number of witnesses, and deliberated for some time, brought in a verdict to the effect that:  "James Bowens came to his death on the night of November 16, 1895, in Frederick county, of strangulation , at the hands of parties unknown to this jury."


Miss Long, the victim of the brutal assault, is a niece of Sheriff Daniel P. Zimmerman.

The money found on Bowens consisted of a $2 bill, a $1 bill, a quarter, and seventy cents -- --- --- ----- pieces.

Miss Long --- - ------ ----- night Bowens cut her with a butcher knife and that the knife had a brown handle.

Miss Long was --- ----- of the action of the mob soon after the lynching had taken place, and expressed herself as being very satisfied.

At 11:30 Saturday night's ---- moved across the street in front of the hardware store of Messrs. John E. P---- & Co., after standing there for a few moments some of them again crossed the street and once more stood in front of the Frederick County Bank ten or fifteen minutes before twelve o'clock a man came down West Patrick street toward the Square Corner, and just before reaching the corner he called out in a clear voice, "Come on, boys." The crowd moved across the street. the men seemed determined to carry out their plan, but it was plain to see that there was no one willing to assume responsibility of acting as a leader. Several in the crowd, however, seemed to possess the necessary courage, and they urged the others on at various places along the route. Just before arriving at the corner of West All Saints' street another stop was made for a few moments. Again there was a tendency to hang back on the part of some, but again they were urged on by one or two who by the that time seemed seemed to be in advance leading the mob up the street. At Brewers' alley the crowd once more halted, but in a little while thirty men again started, followed by a large number who had become separated from the main crowd and were coming slowly behind. On they went until reaching the cattle scales, where the definite plans were formed.

Our final article is a small one from the same paper as the previous but the November 20, 1895 edition:

He Won't Testify Now.

James Bowens, who was lynched here Sunday morning, was summoned to appear before the grand jury in Hagerstown next Monday on the case in which a hearing was had before Justice Bitner, who held court for James Beard, who shot Richard E. Walden through the leg at Island Park. Bowens was the chief witness. he was on the docket there as "Jim Bowens."

Thank you again to boot17 for letting me know the correct name. It is amazing what you can find when you have the right name. It is not unusal to have to use several variations of a name when researching, but I could never have guessed that Goings was actually Bowens. I can only assume that someone heard wrong when getting the report.

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

Monday, June 20, 2016

March, 1898: James Lafette and daughter Sarah, cont.

Today we are learning more about a lynching I first covered in March, 2015 and can be found here. I  am glad to have found an article which named the victims, I always hate when I can't find a victims name. It seems horrible that not only were they lynched but they were nameless as well. Today we have an article from The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) dated March 3, 1898:


As Spies By Moonshiners.

Bodies of Old Doctor and His Daughter.

Found Dangling From a Tree in the Wilds of the North Carolina Mountains.


RALEIGH, N. C., March 2.—In the mountains of Western North Carolina, 12 miles north of Morgantown, James Lafette, who claimed to be an Indian doctor, and his twelve-year-old daughter Sarah have been lynched. Their bodies were found to-day under a ledge of rock. The ropes with which they had been hanged were still around their necks, and the bodies showed evidence of having been dead several days. Just when the lynching occurred is not known, but Lafette and his daughter disappeared four weeks ago from their little cabin in the neighborhood of Table Rock.

Those who were first startled at their disappearance remembered that they had moved to the neighborhood mysteriously.


And it was only surmised that they had departed as they came.

The section in which the crime was committed is inhabited largely by moonshiners. In October Lafette and his daughter moved to the neighborhood, and it was whispered among them that he was a spy in the disguise of an Indian doctor. He spent his days searching for herbs on the mountain side and in compounding a mixture that he offered for sale among the simple mountaineers as a panacea for all the ills of nature. The only charge against the daughter was that she was over inquisitive into the affairs of her mountain neighborhood. so aroused became the moonshiners at the suspicions  regarding the strange couple that Lafette received a warning to leave the community. This was before the holidays, but he apparently paid no attention to it.The lynching is believed, therefore, to have been perpetrated by the moonshiners, who lynched the girl for the same reason—that of having information as to the violations of the revenue laws. The


Would not have been discovered for months, probably, but for the recent forest fires on the mountain sides. Farmers from another section of the country went to the scene to fight the rapidly advancing flames, when the ghastly discovery was made. The bodies showed evidence of a terrific struggle, and it is believed, in consequence, that the mob was composed of only a few persons. The discovery of the crime creates the biggest sensation of the year in North Carolina, as it is the first instance in the state where a female has been lynched. The girl was said to have been a bright, intelligent child. Public indignation is at white heat.

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

Saturday, June 18, 2016

July, 1880: Multiple Lynchings

Today's article is one I found in many papers, but could unfortunately not find any other articles confirming the event. Newspapers can be very difficult in the past because they picked and chose what lynchings would be of public interest and so not every lynching was covered. Therefore, not finding a lynching in the paper is not the same as a lynching never happening. I would think to verify or deny a lynching, one would have to look through archives and court documents. 

This article comes to us through the pages of The Leavenworth Times (Leavenworth, Kansas) dated July 16, 1880:

At Lincoln, in Lincoln county, New Mexico, the citizens united in celebrating three days in succession in a thrillingly unique manner.  On the 3d a drunken prisoner in jail was lynched; on the 4th the Deputy Sheriff was lynched by the deceased's friends, and on the 5th another prisoner was taken from the jail and lynched. Further returns are awaited for with interest.

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

Friday, June 17, 2016

May 28, 1919: Jay Lynch

Today we learn about a lynching in Missouri through the pages of The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) dated May 29, 1919:


Victim Had Just Been Sentenced for Life When Seized by Missouri Mob. No Capital Punishment in Missouri.

Lamar, Mo., May 28.—Shortly after Jay Lynch had pleaded guilty to the murder of Sheriff John Harlow and his son and had been sentenced to life imprisonment, 24 men entered the courtroom, took Lynch from the hands of officers and hanged him in the yard before a crowd of 500 persons. When Lynch's body was swung into the air, the spectators, including many women and children cheered. Lynch is one of few white men to be lynched in Missouri.

Immediately after Judge B. G. Thurman passed sentence, he ordered Lynch taken to his office under guard of seven deputies. Here he was allowed to greet his wife, baby, mother and sister. His handcuffs had been removed that he might hold his baby and he had just given the child back to its mother when the men entered and seized him.

Mob Gave No Warning.

Lynch this afternoon had been brought from Butler, Mo., where he had been held in jail since his arrest in Colorado several weeks ago. There were no threats when he was brought from the train to the court house. There was no show of violence in the court room when the prisoner was arraigned, and, according to witnesses, the men composing the mob gathered in the corridors of the court house and in the yard and no warning was given of their action.

Capital punishment is not possible uunder [sic] a law enacted by the legislature in 1917. An attempt was made to repeal the present law shortly after the lynch shooting and the chief supporter of the repeal of the law was Representative Henry Chancellor of Barton county, where Lynch was hanged.

Lynch was arrested at Lamar on the request of St. Louis authorities where he was charged with box car robbery. On March 3 Sheriff Harlow, in response to a request of Lynch to use the long distance telephone, opened his cell. Lynch drew  a revolver and shot the sheriff, killing him instantly. The son of the sheriff came to his father's rescue and was also shot by Lynch and died two days later.

A posse of bloodhounds attempted to trail lynch, but failed.

Barred at Mexican Border.

Leaving Lamar, Lynch, according to his confession, went to Kansas City and from there to St. Louis, where he obtained funds from friends. Going to Jacksonville, Ill., he purchased a motor car and started west. He was refused permission to cross the Mexican border and continued on to Los Angeles. Coming back east, he was recognized at LaJunta, Colo., by a resident of Lamar, and apprehended.

Lynch's arrest at LaJunta came on May 14, shortly after which he was brought back to Missouri and confined at Butler, mo., the authorities at that time believing that he would not be safe at Lamar because of the intense feeling.

After his return to Butler, Lynch confessed that he had tramped through the country surrounding Lamar after his escape, and at one time while being trailed by the posse with bloodhounds, had stood on one of the street corners of the town and watched the posse work. While Lynch made no confession as to where he had obtained the weapon which he used to kill Sheriff Harlow and his son, his mother and wife were supposed to have smuggled it to him. They were held immediately after his escape on the charge of being accessories to the crime.

The next article comes to us through the Arkansas City Daily Traveler (Arkansas City, Kansas) dated May 29, 1919:


Jay Lynch Pleaded Guilty to the Murder of Sheriff Harlow


Sentenced to Prison For Life, Then Immediately Seized By a Mob and Hanged in Court House Yard

Lamar, mo., May 28. (By the Associated Press)—Jay Lynch, slayer of Sheriff John Harlow and Harlow's son on March 3, was hanged by a mob, after taking the prisoner from the court room.

Lamar, mo., May 29—Whether there will be any effort to identify and bring to prosecution members of the mob which yesterday hanged Jay Lynch, confessed slayer of Sheriff John Harlow and Harlow's son, here, March 3 last, was a matter of much speculation today.

Although the lynching was still the sole topic for conversation the town was quiet, the only outward evidence that anything extraordinary had taken place being the sight of numerous groups on street corners discussing the affair.

Local authorities early today said no warrants had been issued. The coroner's jury late last night returned a verdict that Lynch came to his death "at the hands of parties unknown."

The court house yard where Lynch was hanged shortly after he had pleaded guilty to the double murder and received a sentence of  life imprisonment was visited by scores of persons, many of whom recalled that the elm tree upon which he was hanged was planted ten years ago by Sherif[f] Harlow.

The chambers of Judge B. G. Thurman, to which Lynch had been taken for safe keeping while the authorities prepared to hurry him to Nevada, Mo., and from which he was dragged by the mob, also attracted the curious.

It became known today that while Lynch was pleading with the mob in the court house to spare his life that he declared the shooting of the sheriff's son an accident.Both the sheriff and his son were shot by Lynch when he escaped from the county jail where he was being held for the St. Louis authorities.

It also was learned by the authorities that the first attempt to hang Lynch failed. Stunned by being struck with a stone by someone in the crowd which had first seized him, the unconscious man was placed under the tree and the rope tossed over a branch. The branch, however, was too frail and the body pitched downward. Amid the shouts of the crowd, which included many women and children, a stronger branch was selected, the rope drawn over it and the body hoisted into midair.

Official Investigation

Lamar, Mo., May 29.—An official investigation of the lynching here yesterday of Jay Lynch after he had been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Sheriff John M. Harlow and the sheriff's son, was begun at a conference today between Prosecuting Attorney H. W. Timmonds and Sheriff W. A. Sewell of Barton county.

According to Prosecutor Timmonds there will be a thorough probe of the hanging and every effort made to apprehend those who had a hand in wre[a]king the summary punishment on the slayer. Whether the authorities have the names of the mob leaders is not known. Prosecutor Timmonds said he would not hesitate to cause warrants to be issued if he developed sufficient evidence to warrant the step.

The advisability of asking Judge B. G. Thurman of Nevada to call a special grand jury to take charge of the investigation was being considered by the prosecutor and sheriff this afternoon. They were somewhat doubtful if the court has authority to call a special grand jury prosecutor Timmonds being unable thus far to find any authority in the Statues for such a move.

Prosecuting Attorney Timmonds in a statement today fully exonerates Sheriff Sewell and his assistants as being powerless to prevent the leaders of the mob carrying out their purpose. He said that at least two of the mob leaders were knocked down before they got possession of the prisoner.

Joplin, Mo., May 29.—At the office of a Joplin undertaker shortly after noon it was announced that the body of Jay Lynch, who was hanged by a mob at Lamar yesterday had been taken to Forest Park cemetery and buried.

A reporter wh[o] went to the cemetery at 2 o'clock this afternoon reports that the body is not at the cemetery and after a long search of the territory surrounding the cemetery the reporter failed to find either the relatives or the casket containing Lynch's body.

The grave digger at the cemetery said he understood that the grave he was digging was to hold the Lynch body. There is a suspicion that announcement that Lynch had been buried at Forest Park was a hoax and that the body is to be buried in some other cemetery.

J. W. Lynch of Kansas City, father of Jay Lynch, arrived in Joplin this afternoon. He left his car, entered one of the undertaking establishments and was driven rapidly from the city. 

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