Wednesday, May 3, 2017

June 22, 1874: Clark Evans

Our first article comes from The Cairo Bulletin (Cairo, Illinois) published Tuesday June 23, 1874:

Sequal[sic] to the Halbirt Murder.

The Murderer, Clark Evans, Lynched.


CARROLLTON, ILL., June 22—At last we have the sad sequel to the horrifying details of recent Halbirt murder, in this county, which have been given in your columns, together with the particulars of the arrest of one Clark Evans, and his subsequent confession of the murder and other crimes of which he had been guilty in the course of the past few years.

At about 2 o'clock this morning the jail in this city was visited by a large number of men in wagons and buggies. The jailer was aroused by an alarm at the door, and the statement that the party on the outside were in possession of a party arrested for murder, whom they desired to imprison. When the door of the anteroom was opened some nine or en men rushed in, pushing one of their number before them, under pretense that he was the culprit. Getting fairly in the jailor discovered that they were all in disguise, either by wearing masks or with blackened faces, and at once suspected the object of their vist [sic]; but as quick as thought he was pinioned by several of the party, pointing cocked revolvers at his head, and demanding the keyes [sic] of the main door and cells. Simultaneously some of the party discovered the keys hanging near the barred entrance, and took possession of them. While one-half of the party held the jailor at bay, the other half proceeded to unlock the doors, going immediately to the cell where Clark Evans was chained down, and they released him by means of a hatchet and cold chisel. In a few moments they rushed back to the entrance, with Evans in charge, and hurried him into one of the wagons. On looking out into the streets the jailor saw a large number of persons afoot as well as in the buggies and wagons, and they hurried away in various directions. He gave the alarm at once, but could not get enough persons together at the hour to pursue. The sheriff and deputies started out, but could not get on the track of the fleeing party. About 7 o'clock this morning ex-Sheriff Bell, who resides at Providence, came in, bringing the news that a man was found by some passers by hanging to a tree by the road side, near the south approach to the Apple Creek bridge. Hurrying thither the officers ascertained that it was Clark Evans, the prisoner who had been taken from the jail a few hours before. The culprit was suspended in such a way that his feet nearly touched the ground by the bending of the limb but he was dead and cold.

A coroner's inquest was held, in the presence of a vast crowd of people, who had gathered from all quarters. The corpse was taken down and placed in a rough box made at the saw mill near-by, and then deposited in the Providence grave yard.

Of course, the authorities have not the remotest idea as to who composed the lynching party, but the whole affair was well planned and adroitly executed. One of the buggies evidently used by some of the midnight visitors, broke down within a block from the jail, by running off a small bridge. Doubtless as quick as the horses could be removed from it the parties accompanying it fled, as in the buggy were found an old felt hat, the sleeve of an old coat, two plugs of tobacco neatly wrapped in a portion of the county papers, a quart bottle with about half a pint of whisky in it, and a small leather valise containing some heavy twine, a cold chisel and a hatchet. This buggy has not been identified or claimed, but a rumor prevails that it belongs to a party residing near Whitehall. The whole affair has created a profound sensation, and so outrageous was the murder committed by Evans that but few are disposed to blame the parties who have taken the law in their own hands. The broken buggy is in the hands of the sheriff and will probably never be claimed.

Our next article is about the murderer and comes from the Decatur Daily Republican (Decatur, IL) dated May 4, 1874:

CARROLLTON, Ill. May 2.—It is quite definitely ascertained that a desperate character who hails from the vicinity of Montezuma, Pike county, Illinois, is the murderer of Mr. John Halbirt, which occurred near this city on Thursday night last. He is best known by the name Clark Evans, but has traveled under the names of James Bridges and William Owens.— Those who saw him on the day of the murder describe him as about five feet eight or nine inches high, fair complexion, short sandy or light hair, and no beard. He has two or three teeth out of the lower jaw, and is about twenty-four years old. When last seen he wore a pair of stogy boots, striped store pants with a patch on one knee, a close-bodied blue- black soldier's coat with frock tail, and a grayish cap. He carried away from Halbirt's house a suit of nearly new dark steel mixed clothes and a pair of light pegged boots nearly new, one of which had been cut below the instep and sewed up. Halbirt's son offers $300 reward for the arrest of the murderer, and late this afternoon news were[sic] received that parties were in close pursuit.

As you can see from the previous and will see in our final article, Evans was clearly considered an undesirable in the community. Our final article comes from the New York Times (New York, NY) dated May 6, 1874:

ARREST OF THE ALLEGED MURDERER OF JOHN W. HALBIRT IN ILLINOIS.

Special Dispatch to the New-York Times.


CHICAGO, May 5.—A special from Carrollton, in this State, says that Clark Ivans, twenty-four years of age, who was brought up in Pike County, is ascertained to be the murderer of John W. Halbirt, killed near that city on the night of the 30th ult., the particulars of which were telegraphed THE TIMES. Ivans was arrested this morning in Scott County, and all the evidence leading to his detection and arrest are almost positive proof of his guilt. He is supposed to be one of the party who murdered Dr. Foley two years ago in Pike County. His brother is now serving a term of twenty years in the State Prison for killing an old man in Pike County about four years ago. The culprit just arrested has but recently concluded a term of years at Joliet for breaking into the Catholic Church at Carlinville and stealing the church plate and jewels.

Thank you for joining us and, as always, we hope we leave you with something to ponder.

Monday, May 1, 2017

August 8, 1871: Harry Johnson and Washington

Today we'll be looking at the lynchings of two men in Frankfort, Kentucky. The first lynching was of Harry Johnson, reported in The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) dated August 5, 1871

LOUISVILLE
———
A LADY BRUTALLY OUTRAGED BY A NEGRO.

LOUISVILLE, August 4.—Mrs. Pfeiffer, a respectable married lady, while gathering blackberries, near Frankfort, Kentucky, on Tuesday, accompanied by her daughter, aged fourteen years, was attacked and brutally outraged by a negro. Her child gave the alarm, but the fiend escaped.

Yesterday a negro named Harry Johnson was arrested on suspicion and lodged in jail at Frankfort. He was subsequently identified by the mother and her daughter. Great excitement prevailed, and an attempt at lynching is feared, against which strong precautions have been adopted by the authorities.

Johnson waived examination yesterday, and was remanded to jail. When asked what he did with the knife he had when he made the attack on Mrs. Pfeiffer, he answered, "I threw it away." On the prisoner being taken from the jail to Court the husband of the outraged lady attempted to shoot him.

The excitement in the city is intense. No violent demonstrations have been made yet, but the jail is strongly guarded, as the rage of the people may take the form of action any moment.

Our next article is about the lynching of both Johnson and another man named Washington. Both were lynched on the same day although for different reasons. Our next article is from The New York Times (New York, New York) dated August 9, 1871:

The Troubles in Frankfort, Ky.

LOUISVILLE, KY., Aug. 8.—About 2 this morning about two hundred armed and masked men went to jail in Frankfort and demanded the keys. The State Guard, who had been on duty there, had gone as it was supposed ; all disorder was over. The jailer was compelled to surrender the keys, and the men entered and took out the negro who committed the rape on Mrs. PFEIFFERED[sic] a few days ago, and also the negro WASHINGTON, who was said to be the one who fired the first shot in the riot there yesterday, in which two white men were killed. The negroes were taken about half a mile from the jail and hanged. Great excitement prevails in the community in consequence of the turbulent scenes yesterday evening and the lynching outrage this morning. No further violence is anticipated, however.

Washington was lynched because of heightened emotions over voting, which led to a riot. Our next article discusses more on his lynching and is from The Spirit of Democracy (Woodsfield, Ohio) dated August 15, 1871:

Terrible Fight at Frankfort and Lexington.
—————
The Blacks Attack the Whites.
—————
Two White Men Killed and Others Wounded.
—————
[Special Dispatch to the Enquirer.]

FRANKFORT, KY, August 7—After the polls were closed here this evening, the negroes, who had been very insulting and threatening during the day, made an attack upon the whites with pistols and bricks, from which a general fight began. Two white men were killed instantly, and a number wounded ; the exact number has not be ascertained. Some four or five negroes were wounded, but non seriously. The blacks far outnumbered the whites, having assembled at the polls with a view to creating a disturbance. The white men were exceedingly quiet and forebore to encourage any trouble. Mr. W. D. Gilmore, late a citizen of Lexington, and a clerk in the Auditor's office, was shot through the breast and instantly killed. He was using every endeavor to quiet the negroes and keep down a disturbance when the fatal shot reached him. Mr. Silas Bishop, a poor man and quiet citizen, was also shot throught he breast, and died at once.

The conduct of the negroes, under bad advice from white leaders, has been low, defiant and outrageous beyond expression. The community is much incensed. Several negroes have been arrested, and are now in jail, but it is believed that several of the ring leaders have escaped. The State troops have been ordered out, and the city is now comparatively quiet. After the riot about seventy-five negroes marched in a body down Market street yelling and defying the whites, but at this time there is not a negro to be seen, and no further fighting is expected. The vote has not been announced, owing to the great excitement occasioned by the riot, but it is understood that the Radicals have carried the town by about 50 majority.—They anticipated about 300.

These lynchings took place at the tail end of Reconstruction, which ended in 1877. Tensions were high over black suffrage. If you notice, the author of the final article acts as if blacks had no place being at the voting place, however, they legally had the right to vote. Not that this stopped whites from attempting to prevent blacks from voting. The lynching of both Johnson and Washington most likely occurred to keep blacks in the community "in their place," and away from participating in voting. Johnson was an easy scapegoat because he fit under the popular concept that black men were out to rape white women. Washington was a direct victim of the riot. He may not have fired any shots but by lynching both him and Johnson, the white community was sending a clear message that blacks needed to stay docile, quiet, and out of politics.

Thank you for joining us and, as always, we hope we leave you with something to ponder.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

March 30, 1877: Charley Manley

Hey everyone, K here. Sorry there hasn't been an article recently. I was in the middle of moving, but having done that articles should continue fairly regularly.

Our first article comes from the Atchinson Daily Champion (Atchinson, Kansas) dated April 8, 1877:

LYNCHED
————
Charley Manley, a Well-Known Character in Northern Kansas, Hung by a Body of Masked Men.

————
The Seneca Courier, published near the scene of the Manley tragedy, thus gives the particulars:

    The news reached Seneca last Monday morning, that on Saturday night last Charley Manley, a notorious character, who has carried a hard name for years, was lynched and hung at Grenada. Although the stories were at first very conflicting, in the afternoon parties came to Seneca who were present at the affair, and we learn the full paticulars [sic], as follows:

    John O'Brien's horses were stolen some time ago, and last Saturday Manley, and Joe Brown, of Granada township, were arrested upon an affidavit of O'Brien charging them as accessory thieves. Manly was arrested at Netawaka by Constable Sewell of Wetmore, assisted by George Gill, and Brown was arrested by I. Hudson, of Granada.

    The prisoners were arraigned before 'Squire Crist, at Hudson's Hotel in Granada, for trial, and the case was called about half-past 8 Saturday night. As the case was opening, Manley was in the court room and Brown in an adjoining dining room; but before any proceedings were had, an armed force, fully masked, entered the court room and seized Manley. Resistance to the lynching was made by Constable Sewell and 'Squire Crist, but the lynching party set about firing pistols, and thus secured their victim. During the firing Brown escaped through a window, and has not since been neard [sic] from. No one was harmed during the firing, and as the bullet-holes were afterward found in the ceiling, it is supposed the shooting was done to create a furore [sic] and better accomplish the plot.

    The lynching party went west from Granada, and next morning Manley's body was found on W. W. Letson's farm, on the north side of Muddy creek, hanging by the neck to a tree in the timber. 

A coroner's inquest was held over Manley's body on Sunday. There were some $70 in cash and several worthless scraps of paper found upon him, and a membership certificate to some mysterious order. The jury rendered a verdict that Manley "came to his death by hanging by the neck with a rope by a party of masked men, names unknown—the act was felonious."

    The lynching party performed their work of arrest in a quiet but deliberate manner. There was no excitement outside of the shooting, and no symptoms of drunkenness, or profane language. Mr. Crist was knocked down to his knees when attempting to rescue Manley, and Constable Sewell was "intimidated" from arresting the lynching party by a shot-gun cocked and pointed at his face. All the officers did their duty and were evidently as surprised as was Manley at the proceedings. It seemed a matter of the gravest duty, and those engaged in the affair likely feel that they have rid the country of a man who defied the law, and had often boasted on his fearlessness of arrest and punishment. They formed a rear-guard after the capture, that prevented the officers and others following the prisoner, and hence the manner of Manley's death, and the last scenes, are only known to the lynching party.

    We have no censure to make in this particular case, but trust nothing of the like will become common. It is a serious matter; and the advice of D. Crockett is opportune: "Be sure you are right, and then go ahead!"

The next part of our story comes from the Recorder-Tribune (Holton, Kansas) dated April 5, 1877:
 
LYNCH LAW IN NEMAHA COUNTY.
————
Charley Manley, of Netaweka[sic], the Victim

The following are the facts, so far as we have been able to glean them, in reference to the sad affair of lynching, which occurred at Granada, last Saturday night.

It is a notorious fact, and one to be very much lamented, that the crime of horse stealing has become so common here in a few counties in Northern Kansas, and has been carried on so successfully as to justify the conclusion that there is an organized gang, the members of which, in all probability, reside in almost every community.

All are aware that, while horses have been stolen every few weeks, first in one locality, then in another, for the past few years, it has been next to impossible to secure the conviction of a single one of the thieves. It is true a few young boys have been convicted, and sentenced to the penitentiary for stealing horses and cattle; but the probabilities are that there were none of them members of the organization; on the contrary, were novices, doing a little business on their own hook, and were easily arrested and convicted.

Our information is to the effect that certain parties lately arrested in Nemaha county, and now in jail at Seneca, have turned states evidence, and implicated others, and that C. C. Manley, of Netawaka, was designated, not only as one of the gang, but a leader of the same. Officers with a warrant in their possession came to Netawaka on Saturday and arrested Manley, and took him first to Wetmore, and from there to Granada, where they stopped for the night, guarding their prisoner at the hotel. About 10 o'clock p.m., a company of masked me, 40 or 50 in number, rushed into the sitting froom of the hotel, where Manley and his guard were, firing their pistols, evidently with the intention of creating all the confusion and consternatio[n] possible, and seized Manley, and without ceremony hustled him out of the hotel, one of the party throwing a noose over his head, as they passed out. 

What else occurred we have no reliable information of, except that, on Sunday morning, Manley's lifeless body was seen dangling at the end of a rope, the other end of the rope being secured to the limb of a cottonwood tree, on Mr. Letson's farm, near the town. Some time Sunday the body was cut down, a coroner's inquest held, and a verdict returned in accordance with the above facts.

Manley was a saloon keeper, at Netawaka, and we learn has been regarded by the citizens there, and other places where he has lived, as a bad, and, by some, as a dangerous man. Just what evidence the so-called regulators may have had that he was guilty of horse stealing, we are not informed. Even though it was conclusive, we do not wish to be understood as upholding them in what they have done, in taking the law into their own hands. A band of horse thieves is certainly a terrible curse to a community, and not the least of the evil that often results from such a curse, is that lesser curse—a vigilance committee.


Thank you for joining us and as always, we hope we leave you with something to ponder.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

July 20, 1897: Holley/Hillery/Jim Speakes

The main issue with tracing lynchings is the confusion of names in the newspaper. Many papers failed to get the names of lynching victims correct. Such as Holley Speakes who could also be known as Jim or Hillery. I've chosen this lynching because this is a clear case where a black man was lynched under the claim of having outraged a white woman. However, as you will see in this first article, it is more likely that he either upset Mrs. Vaughn or attempted to rob her when she refused to give him food. Our first article is from The Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama) published July 23, 1897:

TROUBLE AT RIVERTON.
________

 
A Woman Attacked and a Posse Looking for the Negro—A Race War May Result.

Riverton, July 20.—(Special)—Yesterday evening about 4:30 o'clock an unknown negro entered the front door of the home of Mr. S. L. Vaughn of this place. He was accosted by Mrs. Vaughn and asked for something to eat. Being told there was nothing, he attacked the lady with criminal intent, but stumbled over a chair. Mrs. Vaughn ran from the back door and aroused the neighbors. The house was surrounded but the negro had escaped. Citizens were infuriated and formed a posse. They scoured the country all night and tracked the negro out the railroad five miles from town, where he took to the woods and was lost to the crowd. Many negroes working on public works here were carried before Mrs. Vaughn, but she failed to identify them, and they were turned loose. It is thought the negro is hidden in or near town, and every citizen is still on the outlook. The would-be ravisher is unknown. He is described as dark yellow, middle height and weight, well dressed, apparently a stranger. He first asked if her husband was in, and on being answered no, rushed on Mrs. Vaughn fiercely. His intent was plainly evident.

Mrs. Vaughn is in delicate health, and completely prostrated, and for a time it was thought she would die. However, she rallied and is ready to help identify the criminal. Had the negro been caught he would have been summarily executed.

    The white people are aroused against the negroes generally. A large number of those employed by the contractor of the government works talk of organizing and ridding the town of them. This may result in a terrible race war tonight. A few moments ago a negro seriously cut a farmer who was in town. The people have not abandoned hope of yet catching the would-be rapist. Parties are in pursuit. At this late hour many people are firmly convinced the negro was killed by his pursuers last night, but the facts cannot be ascertained, as the searchers won't talk.

THE NEGRO ARRESTED. 

——————


Mrs. Vaughn Identified Him and the Officers Start With Him to Jail.

Riverton, July 21.—(Special)—The negro, Halley Speaks, was arrested two miles from here this morning at 8 o'clock and was brought into town. He had been searched all night for seriously cutting J. N. Roberson, one of the bosses of the contract work at the lock here. When captured Speaks was found to have been badly shot in the face during the melee yesterday evening. A part of his lower jaw was shot off. Excitement was intense all night, and on account of the cutting of Roberson following so soon after attempted rape of Mrs. Vida Vaugn the people were ready for lynching, but cooler heads prevented.

Later, the negro Speaks was identified by Mrs. Vaughn as the negro who assaulted her. This infuriated the people and they determined to lynch him tonight. He was all day in charge of officers Bryant, Harlan and Griffin. At 7 o'clock the officers left town with Speaks, a small crowd following. The officers were determined to get him to jail; the crowd determined to hang him. At 8 o'clock it is conceded that Officer Griffin has got away with Speaks, bound for Cherokee, where he will take the train for Tuscumbia. The crowd is still scouring the woods for them.

Roberson is a member of the firm of Roberson Bros. Of Hillsboro, who are furnishing county convicts for contractors here. He was seriously wounded and may possibly die.

A crowd of men have left here on horseback determined to intercept the officers with the negro on the way to Cherokeee.[sic] A hundred men have sworn he shall not get to jail alive.

Our next article is from The World (New York, New York) published July 21, 1897:
 
FLORENCE, Ala., July 20.—A race war is on at Riverton to-night, and serious trouble is feared—all the result of the attempt of a negro to assault Mrs. S. L. Vaughn.

The negro attacked Mrs. Vaughn this afternoon, but she fought him off and aroused the neighborhood. Searching parties were formed, and the entire section was scoured for the negro, who had fled. It is known he was captured and shot, although the searchers will not admit it.

The whites are preparing for serious trouble, and there may be startling developments before morning. Mrs. Vaughn is delicate, and the shock, it is feared, will kill her.

Riverton is a town of 600 inhabitants and is the headquarters of the Government works on the Colbert Shoals Canal. Several hundred workmen are employed; two-thirds of them white men, of the class that fight with desperation. In the surrounding country there are hundreds of negroes employed on plantations, and if they should enter the conflict a race war of no small proportions will inevitably result.

The frequency of the crime which has brought on the trouble has made the white people of this section inclined to take the law into their own hands, and give the severest and speediest punishment in each case. Hundreds of white men from the eastern and central portion will flock to Riverton to-morrow, to assist those who are there.
We have an article here from The Tennessean (Nashville, Tennessee)published July 22, 1897:
 
PROFFERS OF ASSISTANCE.
______


Men With Arms Ready in Florence to Move.
FLORENCE, Ala., July 21.—(Special)—An unknown negro attempted to assault and outrage Mrs. S. L. Vaughn, an estimable woman, at Riverton, Ala., yesterday. Mrs. Vaughn resisted with all her power and scared the brute away, then gave the alarm. Armed parties were out all night last night and are still out searching for the negro. If caught he will be carried before Mrs. Vaughn for identification and if identified will be hanged or burned on the spot.
Last night excitement at Riverton was intense and it looked as though a race riot would result. A white man whose name could not be learned was severely cut by a negro man.

Reports from Riverton to-day say that all is quiet, but that the white people are searching with determination for the fiend who committed the deed.

The white men are almost at the mercy of the negroes at Riverton, as that town is located near the Government works on the Tennessee River and the negroes outnumber the white by three to one. People in Florence are somewhat excited and there are many men here who are ready and willing to go to Riverton, armed to the teeth and help the white people.

A prominent citizen of this place, whose name had best not be given, wired a friend at Riverton that he had forty guns, as many men and plenty of ammunition awaiting a call for help from Riverton.
Here is another article from The Asheville Weekly Citizen (Asheville, North Carolina) dated July 23, 1897:

RAN NEGROES OUT OF TOWN 

————— 


ONE OF THEM ASSAULTED A WOMAN. 


————— 


This Crime and Bearing of the Criminal's Friends Caused an Uprising of the hites[sic]—Maybe a Lynching.


FLORENCE, Ala., July 21.—An uprising against negro workmen on the government works at Riverton, Ala., last night caused a small race war at the place, and today those negroes who can get away are leaving.

    Yesterday evening a negro attempted to assault Mrs. S. L. Vaughn. Mrs. Vaughn escaped. The neighborhood was aroused and chase was given. The negro escaped, for the time, to the woods.
The negro's fiendish attempt and the insolence of other negroes, several hundred in number, incensed the white workmen and they determined to run them out of town. There were several fights between negroes and whites, and one white was seriously cut. The excitement was intense and many negroes would have been killed had not the counsel of cooler heads prevailed.

The negro who caused the riot was captured, was identified by Mrs. Vaughn, and proved to be the same negro who cut a white man last night. There will be a lynching before night.

FLORENCE, Ala., July 22.—A report from Riverton this morning says the negro caught yesterday was started for Tuscumbia, guarded by an armed party. Near Cherokee he was met by a mob and hanged. Another report, not credited, says he was tied to a stake and burned to death. His identify[sic] was thoroughly established by his victim, Mrs. Vaughn. Mrs. Vaughn's condition is serious.
We have another article from The Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, Utah) July 22, 1897:

LYNCHING EXPECTED

—————


Race War Precipitated by a Negro's Assault.


FLORENCE, Ala., July 21.—An uprising against negro workmen on the government works at Riverton, Ala., last night caused a small race war at the place, and today those negroes who can get away are leaving.

Yesterday evening a negro attempted to assault Mrs. S. L. Vaughn. Mrs. Vaughn escape from him, as the negro in pursuing her fell over a chair. The neighborhood was aroused and chase was given to the negro, who took to the woods. The negro's fiendish attempt and the insolence of several hundred other negroes incensed the white workmen and they determined to run the blacks out of town. There were several fights between the negroes and whites, and one white was seriously injured. The excitement was intense, and many negroes might have been killed had not the counsel of cooler heads prevailed.

The negro who caused the riot yesterday was captured this morning. He has been identified by Mrs. Vaughn, and proves to be the same negro who cut a white man last night. There will be a lynching before night.

Riverton people are sending to neighboring towns for men, guns and ammunition. The most serious trouble is feared. Many negroes are leaving the town. Others are sullen and defiant. As the morning train passed Riverton Junction 100 panic-stricken negroes boarded it, many without money to pay fares. They were all taken to the next station.

Florence, Ala., July 21.—Jim Speaks, the negro who caused the trouble at Riverton, is probably swinging from a convenient limb between Riverton and Cherokee tonight. Speaks was captured near Riverton this morning, and at 8 o'clock this morning officers started for Tuscumbia for him. An armed company started after the officers, swearing they would hang the negro before he could be taken five miles. They undoubtedly carried out their threats. It develops that the negro accomplished his purpose, and that his victim is 60 years of age. She is said to be badly injured. Riverton is intensely excited, and reinforcements are going into the town from every direction.

Once again we here from Montgomery. The Weekly Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama) dated July 30, 1897 writes:

GREATLY EAXGGERATED.[sic]
————
The Officials Say There Has Not Been Any Danger of a Race War.

Tuscumbia, July 23.—(Special)—The negro, Hillery Speakes, who outraged Mrs. S. L Vaughn and inflicted a knife wound in contractor Bud Robinson's side, at Riverton, this county, Monday evening, was brought to Tuscumbia yesterday afternoon by Sheriff Gresham, who met the negro at Cherokee in charge of Constable R. E. Harland of Riverton, and lodged in jail. He has a pistol shot would in his chin which was inflicted at the time the negro plunged his knife into Robinson.

Mr. Horland says the reports about the affair, furnished the newspapers, are very much exaggerated and have been highly colored. He denies that ay[sic] race war was at any time likely to be precipitated, the trouble being confiened[sic] to Robinson and the negro. It is believed, however, that he raped Mrs. Vaughn, and she identified him among thirty or forty negroes carried before her. Mr. Horland further says that he, having in charge the prisoner, was overtaken between Riverton and Cherokee Tuesday night, while en route to Tuscumbia, by a mob of fifty men, and although they could easily have taken the negro from him, as he was unarmed, and swung him to a convenient limb, they did not do so, possibly for the lack of a brave and determined leader. At no time was the negro outside of the mob's reach, and why he was not lynched is to him inexplicable. There is no further trouble anticipated since the incarceration of the scoundrel and the law will probably be allowed to take its course.

Our final article is from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) July 23, 1897:

SPEAKES NOT LYNCHED

The Riverton (Ala.) Negro in Jail at Tuscumbia.
FLORENCE, Ala., July 23.—Jim Speakes, the Riverton negro, escaped lynching. The officers eluded the mob and placed the negro in jail at Tuscumbia.

It is unknown whether or not Speakes was actually lynched. Since blacks were working on a canal for the Government there were most likely repercussions for the lynching of Speakes. So the Montgomery Advertiser and Riverton or Florence papers could have had a good reason for saying that Speakes was not lynched. There were no further reports of him going to trial, however, since he was shot in the face, it is possible that he died before they could even take him to trial. Its also entirely possible that he isn't the man who supposedly outraged Mrs. Vaughn. We leave you with the evidence to make up your own minds as to what happened in this case.

Thank you for joining us, and as always, we hope we leave you with something to ponder.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

July 25, 1874: James Ross

Our first article is from the The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) published July 30, 1874:

Hanging a Boy.
[From the New York Tribune.]

We do not consider hanging at all a fit penalty for horse-stealing, even when the punishment is inflicted according to law. We regard lynching of all descriptions as extremely undesirable. Hanging a boy eighteen years of age for any crime is, prima facie, a barbarous business. The St. Joseph (Mo.) Herald describes the murder of James Ross, who had been arrested for making free with the steeds of the farmers in that vicinity. Ross, in the custody of an officer, was on his way to jail, when he was seized, in spite of the Constable's remonstrances, by a mob of armed men. Resistance was useless. Ross was dragged from his horse and taken into "the timber." Then, for the first time, this boy seemed to comprehend the awful fate which awaited him. He shook with fear and cried for mercy. With one end of the rope about his neck, he burst into tears; he admitted that he had stolen horses; but then he added piteously that "he was a mere boy, and wanted time to reform." The only answer to this was the stern warning that he "had but five minutes left;" and four stout men significantly took hold of the rope. The lad was so agitated that he would have fallen to the ground if he had not been supported. Then he rallied again, and again besought mercy. He might as well have spoken to the deaf. Then came "silence for a moment," broken only by the tick of the watch in the spokesman's hand. There was no pity in their rigid faces. The shadows of night were gathering, and only a minute remained to him, when the boy began to pray, although in a tone so low that his words were indistinguishable. Then came from the executioner the cry of "Time's up;" and after the single exclamation, "O, my God!" the body of the young horse-thief was dangling ten feet from the ground. His hands were thrown wildly up to catch the rope, but a moment after they dropped lifeless on each side, and the boy horse-thief was dead. The executioners mounted their horses and rode rapidly away, leaving the corpse there alone with the night.

It is curious to notice how, under these wild frontier conditions, the law is upon the one hand contemptuously disregarded and upon the other studiously respected. After the lynchers had departed the Coroner came. He tenderly cut down the boy's body and proceeded to hold an inquest. The only witness examined was the bereaved Constable, who swore in the most satisfactory way that the lad had been taken from him. The death proved itself, and the jury found that the deceased died by violence "at the hands of some party or parties unknown." This was deemed quite enough by every horseowner[sic] in the county. Their equine losses had been avenged, and why should they too curiously seek for the avengers, especially when such a search might have been personally inconvenient to some of them? There was one horse-thief less in Holt County. So they thanked God, took courage, and kept perfectly quiet.

We suppose that a horse must be of more value than many boys in those regions of magnificent distances and of limited railway facilities. At any rage, horse-stealing there seems to be regarded as a trifle more felonious than murder in the first degree. That the law does not consider it seems to argue inefficient and defective legislation. If the plunderers of stables are to be hanged, would it not be a little better to have the operation regularly performed by the Sheriff, and after a due conviction of the plunderer?

We must confess that our prejudices are rather in favor of lawful proceedings, provided they are possible. There will, under the Lynch judicial system, sometimes be a danger of hanging the wrong man; and we suppose that no honest Missourian, though robbed of his whole stud, desires to be soothed by the murder of the innocent. If the public tribunals are inefficient, it is the people (horse owners included) who are to be blamed. If the legal penalty of horse stealing is not sufficiently severe, make it so by a new statute! If boys are to be hung, by all means try them first according to law.

Our next article is from The State Journal (Jefferson, Missouri) dated July 31, 1874:

ANOTHER LYNCHING.
————
A Boy of Eighteen Strung Up.
————


A terrible affair occurred in Holt county, above St. Joseph, on Saturday last. James Ross, a boy of eighteen, had been arrested for horse stealing. He was taken to Bigelow for examination, after which he was sent to Oregon to jail. On the way he was taken by a party of disguised men from the officers who were with him and hung.

The St. Joe Gazette thus relates it:
Ross was taken from his horse and led into the timber a distance of about fifty yards, and placed upon the ground. Then, for the first time, he seems to have fully realized his terrible fate and quivered like an aspen leaf. A rope was thrown over the limb of a stout oak tree, the prisoner was placed beneath it, and the fatal noose adjusted about his neck. One of the men then informed him that he had but ten minutes to live, and urged him to "make a clean breast" of all he knew in connection with the gang of horse theives that had infested the country. Ross burst into tears and pleaded for mercy. He admitted that he had stolen horses, but said that he was yet a mere boy and there was time to reform. He would give the names of none of those with whom he had been associated, and again begged that they would not hang him. The spokesman sternly informed him that he had but five minutes left, and at the same time four stout men took hold of the rope preparatory to giving the fatal swing. For a moment the prisoner seemed almost ready to sink to the ground, and two of the party stepped forward to support him.

The man rallied again and made another appeal for mercy. His captors were silent, and it was evident that all further appeals were useless. There was a silence of afully a minute during which the spokesman's hand could be heard. It was a sad and solemn scene—the young boy standing so close on the verge of the grave, the gathering shadows of night casting their gloom around those stern, determined captors, whose purpose it was evident no entreties could change. Another minute, and Ross was engaged in prayer, speaking in a tone so low that scarcely a word could be distinguished. But a few sentences had been uttered when the word was given that "time was up," and after the single exclamation "Oh my God !" the body of the horse thief was dangling ten feet from the ground. For fully two minutes there were strong convulsive struggles. The hands were thrown up to clutch the rope, and the legs were thrown violently around, with every evidence of intense suffering. Then the hands dropped to the side and the body hung a lifeless mass.

Our final article comes from The Holt County Sentinel published October 23, 1874. It describes the indictment of the men who lynched James Ross. It was rare for lynchings to be prosecuted and Ross' age and the fact that he was white probably led to the indictment of his murderers. Whether they were actually convicted or not is unknown. I am only going to include part of the article because it is a very long winded piece with comments from the judge presiding over the case.:

From the St. Joe Gazette.

James Ross.
————
THE EIGHT HOLT COUNTY MEN INDICTED FOR MURDERING HIM ADMITTED TO BAIL
————
 Ninety-six Thousand Dollars Pledged.
————

The details of the lynching of James Ross in Holt county in July last are too familiar to our readers to require more than a brief recapitulation. Ross, a boy of sixteen, had been arrested for stealing a horse from Mrs,[sic] Marshall, of Holt county. He had brought the animal to this city and sold it to a man named Millar. Subsequently he he was arraigned before Esquire Long, at Bigelow, plead guilty, and in default of bail was committed to jail in Oregon. While being taken to Oregon in a wagon by Constable Rice, a band of masked men stopped the team, took Ross from the custody of the constable and lynched him. At the August term of the Circuit Court eight men, supposed to have committed the crime, were indicted for murder in the first degree. On Friday of last week they were arrested and confined in jail at Oregon. On Tuesday, the 13th, Judge Henry S. Kelly, of the circuit court, issued a write[sic] of habeas corpus, returnable on Friday, the 16th, and accordingly,at[sic] ten o'clock yesterday morning, the matter came up for hearing before the Judge at the Court House in Oregon.

The prisoners were present in court in person and by their attorneys. The motion for bail coming up, it was conceeded by Mr. Dungan, prosecuting attorney, that the evidence, so far as discovered, was not of such a conclusive character as to deprive the prisoners the right of bail. The Judge accordingly admitted them to bail in the sum of $12,000 each, the following well-known citizens of Holt county becoming their sureties; Wm. M. Catron, Daniel Gillis, Jno. W. Bridgman, Jno. Gresham, Edward A. Brown, James G. Catron, Christopher Catron, Wm. A. Hinkle, David S. Alkire, Albert B. Welton, Edmond D. McCoy, Archer Hamon, Thos. Everett.

We give below a copy of the record of yesterday's proceedings,filed[sic] with E. L. Allen, clerk of the circuit court:

THE RECORD.
STATE OF Mo.,} In the vacation of
HOLT COUNTY, } the circuit court.
Be it known that on petition of Frank Bridgman, Chauncey H. Graves, Soloman Catron, Wm. H. Symkins, John Foster, Charles E. Barnes, Royal Van Dusen and John D. Rice, showing that they were detained in custody by Wm. G. McIntyre, sheriff and jailor of said Holt county, by warrants issued on an indictment found against them by the grand jury of said county at the August term of 1874 of the circuit court, for the alleged murder of one James Ross. I, the undersigned judge of said circuit court in vacation, did issue the write[sic] of habeas corpus, commanding the said sheriff to bring the said parties before me at the Court HOuse in Oregon, the county seat of said county, on this day, together with the cause of their detention; and the said writ having been executed by bringing said parties before me as commanded, and the cause of their detention being by the returns admitted to be the same as that alleged in the petition.

And now the said partied[sic] move to be admitted to give bail for the appearance at the next term of circuit court of said Holt county to begun and held at the Court House in Oregon on the third Monday in December, A. D. 1874, to answer to the charges of murder as set out in said indictment:

And said motion coming on to be heard before me, the State of Missouri being represented by T. C. Dungan, the prosecuting attorney of said Holt county, and the defendants, petitioners, being present in person and by Messrs. Stokes, Duff, McKnight, and Wilkinson, their attorneys, it is admitted by the said prosecuting attorney, for the purpose of this motion only, that the proof of the guilt of said petitioners, so far as the same has come to his knowledge, is not evident, nor the presumption great, that they,or [sic] any of them, are guilty of the crime charged in the indictment ; it is therefore

Ordered by me that each of said petitioners be admitted to bail, and that they and each of them be required to enter into a recognizance in the sum of $12,000 each, with sufficient sureties, jointly and severally binding each petitioner with his sureties in that sum, for the appearance of said petitioners on the first day of the December term of the circuit court of said Holt county,to[sic] answer to said indictment for the murder of said James Ross, and not to depart the court without leave.

And the said parties having entered into the recognizance in the sum of $12,000 each, with approved securities, as above required, and thereupon the said defendants, petitioners, were ordered to be discharged from custody, and the papers are herewith ordered to be returned to the clerk of the circuit court.

Given under my hand this 16th day of October, 1874.

H. S. KELLEY,
Judge circuit court

As always, we thank you for joining us and hope we leave you with something to ponder.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April 14, 1882: Henry Ivy and Sim Acoff

I just wanted to say hello to everyone. I'm K, daughter of the author who originally started this blog. Since she is currently focusing on life, but thinks its important to continue covering lynchings, I am going to be posting lynchings. You'll still hear from the author, but not as frequently as you will hopefully be hearing from me. You may note that our styles are different. I have a Masters in history so I have more of a background to comment. However, the style that the author uses in just providing the facts, is excellent so I will try to keep comments to a minimum.

Today we learn about the lynching of two men in Dallas County, Alabama. You may note that Sim Acoff's name is also noted as Jim Acoff. I am unsure if it is Sim or Jim as two Alabama papers differ in the use of his first name. Today we will start our story through the pages of The Marion Commonwealth (Marion, Alabama) dated April 20, 1882: 


Lynched.


Two More of the Slayers of Weisinger Meet Their Doom.


Selma Times, 14th.]

From various reports and rumors that have reached the city from Brown’s Station, it is known, beyond the possibility of a doubt, that Henry Ivy and Sim Acoff, negroes who it has transpired were implicated in the killing of Mr. J. B. Weisinger on the 19th of December last, were taken out and lynched by a body of 


FORTY MASKED MEN, 


at two o’clock yesterday morning, in the woods five miles south of Brown’s Station on the Ala. Central Railroad, near Bell’s church. The hanging of Ledlow and Weisinger for participation in the horrible crime, has hardly been consummated, the death-dealing scaffold has only lately been laid away, and now we are called on to chronicle the slaying of two more of 


THE RED-HANDED MURDERERS, 


for their share in the killing. It seems that before, but particularly since, the execution of March 31st, matters on the Weisinger plantations have not been altogether lovely as it was thought by many white people, and their belief was largely shared in by numbers of negroes that others besides the two unfortunates whose necks were stretched were concerned in the crime, and threats were freely made that it would go hard with anyone who had a hand in the murder. Last Wednesday afternoon Henry Ivy, who has been haunted by thoughts of the execution, suffering from the pants of conscience, made 


A CLEAN CONFESSION OF THE CRIME,
 

giving himself away as the man who really did the killing, and implicating his brother, Porter Ivy, who received a life sentence; Ledlow and Weisinger, who were hanged; Sim Acoff, who was then at large on the plantation, and Abb Smith, who has left for parts unknown. 

This confession was voluntarily made to seven intelligent white men. Ivy and Acoff were immediately arrested and taken before Esquire Gwinn, who hold them to await action by the grand jury. When it became generally known on the neighboring plantations that 


IVY HAD MADE A CONFESSION,
 

the negroes, who had devotedly loved their “old master,” and still revere his name, became furiously excited, and it was with great exertion on the part of white people that they were kept from stringing the two culprits up then and there. Ivy, it appears, was very unpopular with his own people, many of whom declare that he and his brother swore away the lives of Ledlow and Weisinger. After some trouble, consequent on the incensed negroes’ frenzy, the prisoners were given in charge of three white guards—Messers. E. J. and Enoch Bell, and W. C. Whitt—and were by them taken to a school house, not far distant, for safe keeping through the night. At two o’clock, while Mr. Whitt was absent at a well seventy five yards off, getting a drink of water for Ivy, forty masked men, thought to be all whites, rode up to the building, quickly overcame, bound and gagged the guards, and made off with the negroes who


IN VAIN PLEAD FOR MERCY


and just one day more of life. 


The Messrs. Bell, who were seated before a fire, with their backs to the door, were taken completely by surprise, as they thought the footsteps were those of Mr. Whitt in returning, and so were easily overcome, and unable to identify any of the maskers. The party was out of sight before Mr. Whitt returned.


 The exact transpirings of the next half hour cannot be obtained, but when the results of the


SWIFT, SURE AND DEADLY WORK

Of the vigilants [sic] are known, imagination can vividly color the scene of strangulation in the dark and somber woods at dead of night, the writhings of the self-confessed murderers, dangling from a rope thrown over a far spreading limb of some monarch of the forest that cast its gloomy shade over that lawless 


BAND OF AVENGERS


and the two miserable horror-struck villians [sic], can be easily pictured.


While taking their way through the woods, near the school house, late last evening, a crowd of negroes were badly scared by seeing


IVY’S LIFELESS BODY


swinging two [sic] and fro betweed [sic] Heaven and earth. Acoff was not to be found thereabouts, but that he met his death at the hands of the lynchers may be set down as a certainty. Who the lynchers were is not known; where they came from is not known; where they formed, or whither they went is not known. That they fully accomplished their unlawful designs is known; that they performed 


THE FIRST ACT OF THE KIND


ever enacted in Dallas county is known; and that they will keep the matter as sacredly secret as possible may be relied on. 


There was little or no excitement at Brown’s Station yesterday over the occurrence. It was talked of, but not frequently; business was transacted; negroes went to and from their work; the occupations of the people were quietly carried on; and from the looks and appearances of men and things, no one would ever have mistrusted that out there in the green woods, where nature had seemingly been most beautifully lavish, Judge Lynch had but the night before sat in all his erroneous glory and carried into eflect [sic] his unwise and semi-barbaric intentions. 


THE CONFESSION OF IVY


and its accompanying document, which were handed us yesterday by Mr. William Bell, are appended:


HENRY IVY’S STORY OF THE MURDER.


The morning Mr. Will Weisinger went to Selma he told me to go down and work with Bill and Al if I wanted to.

I stayed at home and cut wood till 12 o’clock, it looked so much like raining. That day my sister came up there and she, my wife and myself went to the store. My sister came at 12 o’clock. Al Weisinger came to the store for nails while I was there; I asked him was he going to use the wagon after dinner; he said he was going to haul one load of posts with it, and then I could get it. Myself and a little boy named Campbell, went and got the wagon and commenced hauling wood. Campbell cut and I hauled. The second load I hauled, Abb [S]mith stopped me and told me that he, Bill Ledlow, All[sic] Weisinger and another fellow were going to get some money that night. I asked him what fellow it was: he (Abb Smith) said it was Sim Acoff. I asked him how they were going to get it; he said they were going to run over the “old man” and get it. I told Abb it would be wrong to do that. I went to hauling wood and said no more to him until night. About half an hour by sun my wife went to the residence to milk the cows, (Mr. W. T. Weisinger’s residence). She told me to come to the yard and bring her baby back, as she had milk to bring back. Al Weisinger and Emily Nelson were in the yard. We all left the yard together.  When we got to the store, Al Weisinger and Emily stopped; myself and wife went home. About an hour after we got home Emily came to my house. As soon as she got there, she told me these fellows said come on. I asked ‘What fellows?” She said Bill Ledlow, Al Weisinger and Sim Acoff, up at the store. My wife then spoke and said she wanted some fish from the store. I said take this nickel and go up there and get some. She said, “No I am afraid to go up there where all those men folks are.” I then took the nickel and remarked that I would go up there and borrow a nickel from old master and get three, and pay him when Mas. Willie came back from Selma. When I got there Bill Ledlow, Al Weisinger, Abb Smith, Porter Ivy, and Sim Acoff were going in the store. Bill Ledlow and Sim Acoff saw me and they turned back and came to where I was. Bill Ledlow said, “Henry, we want to make arrangements to get some money to-night.” I asked him how they were going to get it. He said they had concluded to hold the “Old Man” and get it. I told him that was wrong. Bill Ledlow said, “You do as I tell you.” He told me to get a stick and go in and hit the “Old Man.” I told him again it was wrong and I didn’t want to do it. When he said “Old Man” I knew he meant Mr. J. B. Weisinger, the old gentleman in the store, and who was killed that night of next morning. Bill Ledlow said not to kill him, but to knock him senseless. Sim Acoff said kill him. I told [__] Acoff [_] was wrong, and I did not want to do [_]. Bill Ledlow said “Do as I tell you.” We then went in the  store where Al Weisinger gave me a piece of rail. Mr. Weisinger was standing behind the counter talking. Bill Ledlow called for [whi__]. When Mr. Weisinger stopped to draw the whisky I struck him one lick and he fell on his knees. Bill Ledlow said, “Strike him again.” I then struck him the second blow. Then Bill Ledlow jumped over the counter and got one of the money drawers. I went behind the counter and got the other drawer and gave it to Sim Acoff. We all went down in the woods and poured the money in Sim Acoff’s hat. We then carried the money to my house. Bill Ledlow did not go up to my house with us. Sim Acoff and Al Weisinger divided the money at my house. Al Weisinger, Bill Ledlow and Sim Acoff got twenty five dollars each, Al Weisinger taking Bill Ledlow’s share’ myself, Porter Ivey and Abb Smith got fifteen dollars each. Emily Wilson was in my house. Sim Acoff and Al Weisinger told her to say  nothing about it; that they would see her after awhile. Then they left my house.

His

HENRY M IVY.

Mark.


We, the unders’nged citizens, do hereby certify that Henry Ivy made the above confession in our presence without fear or compulsion.  


W. C. Billingsley,
C. P. Whitt,
Wm. Bell,
L. C. Ellis,
W. C. Whitt
Enoch Bell,
E. J. Bell. 

I don't know whether Ivy actually struck "Old Man" Weisinger or not. I find it hard to believe that he confessed to seven white men without fear or compulsion. Our next article comes to us from the Alabama Beacon (Greensboro, Alabama) April 21, 1882: 
 
Henry Ivy and Jim Acoff, (colored,) two of the murderers of Weisinger, were lynched on Wednesday night of last week, by a masked mob,—numbering about forty.  The former had made a voluntary confession that he participated in the killing of Weisinger, in fact, he said that he struck the fatal blows. He also implicated Jim Acoff, and the three men tried and convicted.


Ivy’s body had been found, but Jim Acoff’s was not. A colored man has said that he met and spoke to Acoff in Meridian since the lynching.



It is to be regretted that lynch law was resorted to. Three of the murderers had been tried and found guilty, and two of them hanged, while the third was sentenced to the penitentiary for ten years. As a general rule, to which there can be very few exceptions, the courts of the country should be resorted to, for the punishment of violators of the criminal law. Lynching, though probably justified under some peculiar circumstances, should never be resorted to where the courts are open, and no special impediment in the way of a fair administration of justice. Our Northern enemies, who take an especial pleasure in commenting on acts of lawlessness committed in the South, will not fail to notice this affair to our prejudice.



It wasn't uncommon for Southern papers to claim that Northerners were against them and therefore they needed to prove that the South wasn't full of terrible people. Clearly this is not the opinion of the journalist of the Marion Commonwealth, who takes a romantic and almost gleeful approach to detailing the crime and lynching. Something interesting to note is that this lynching actually came up in a speech made at a convention of newspapermen held that same month. (I will not completely post the article here because of the size and because it is more about the convention.) An article on the convention appeared in the Greenville Advocate published in April 27, 1882 and stated that:  "In the course of his address [the speaker] warmly commended the denunciation by Alabama journals of the recent lynching of two negroes, Ivey and Acoff, in West Alabama."  By distancing themselves from lynchers, journalists assisted their communities in attracting business into the area.


Our next part of the story is a take on the lynching from a paper outside of the South. The Ottowa Free Trader (Ottowa, Illinois) dated April 22, 1882 published the following article: 

Thriving Business of Judge Lynch,

On the 19th of December last, J. B. Weisinger, a planter, near Brown’s station, Alabama, a man 60 years of age, was brutally murdered in his own house, half a dozen negroes being supposed to have had a hand in it. Two of them named Bill Ludlow and Al. Weisinger, were finally brought to trial and convicted, and on the 31st of March executed. On Wednesday of last week Henry Ivy, suffering under the pangs of conscience since the execution, made a voluntary confession to seven intelligent colored men to the effect that he and his brother, Porter Ivy, and another negro named Sim Acoff, had been parties to the murder of old man Weisinger, he himself (Henry Ivy) having really done the killing, though Porter Ivy and Sim Acoff, as well as the two men who were hanged, had been equally guilty participants. When this confession became generally known the negroes upon the plantation became furiously excited, and Ivy and Acoff who had meantime been arrested and bound over for their appearance before the grand jury, were taken in charge by three white men and placed in a school house for safe keeping. At midnight, however, forty masked me, thoroughly armed, rode up to the building, quickly overcame and bound the guard, and rode off with the negroes. Next day the lifeless bodies of Ivy and Acoff were found in the road hanging from the limbs of two trees.
 

 Our final chapter of the story is from The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) published April 25, 1882: 

The body of Sim Acoff, one of two negroes who were lynched near Brown’s Station on the 14th for complicity in the Wiesenger murder, is reported to-day to have been found in a swamp near where Ivey was hung. Buzzards were eating his flesh, but his head showed bullet holes. The report has been denied, but has again been asserted, and is probably true. 

Thank you for joining us and as always, we hope we leave you with something to ponder.