Tuesday, June 20, 2017

December 27, 1880: Joseph Snyder

Our lynching today comes out of The Daily Union-Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) published December 29, 1880:


THE FIRST LYNCHING EVER KNOWN IN PENNSYLVANIA
————
Full Particulars of the Double Tragedy Near Bethlehem—A Horrible and Graphic Recital— How the Crime Was Committed—Flight and Discovery of the Murderer, Etc.
————
The Murderer Found in a Hay Loft.

EASTON, Pa., Dec. 27— Two crimes of the most terrible and most sickening character, by which three human beings have been deprived of their existence. were committeed[sic] within the past twenty-four hours at a little settlement called Santee's Mills, a few miles from Easton. The story is not a pleasant one to read.
Joseph Snyder is a worker in the Coleman Ore Mine, was about twenty-eight years of age, a German by birth, of muscular build and not bad looking. He had lived for some time as a boarder in the family of Mr. Jacob Gogle, of whose daughter he became enamored. Alice was but fourteen years old and her parents objected to the acceptance of Snyder as a husband. Thus there arose ill-feeling between Snyder and Mr. And Mrs. Gogle.

About eleven o'clock last night Snyder arose from his bed, and entering in a nude state the room where Mr. and Mrs. Gogle were sleeping brained each of them with an axe. He then sought the chamber of the young girl whom he had professed to love. With her there at the time a girl named Clara Young, was paying her a visit, and her younger sister, Mary. Snyder here conducted himself in a shameless and brutal manner, and the terrified girls—two of them mere children—screamed at the top of their voices.

Clara and Mary, crying "Murder!" ran down stairs into the room of Mr. and Mrs. Gogle and crouched, trembling with fear, upon the foot of their bed. Hearing no sound from the couple whom they supposed to be there the strange silence increased their terror, and Miss Young, hastily springing to the floor, struck a match upon the wall. The scene that met their gaze under the feeble rays of the match was enough to freeze the blood of older and braver hearts. Mr. and Mrs. Gogle were there, but they were apparently dead. The bed clothing and even the walls were covered with blood. Overcome, almost faint with horror, the girls gave only one glance, and then tottered headlong from the room and mounted the stairs screaming.

The murderer, bravely repulsed by Alice Gogle, was still in her room ; but when he heard the approach of Clara and Mary he savagely seized them, and, pushing them into another room, locked the door. They remained for some time shivering with both cold and terror, but the door was finally unlocked and they were allowed to go into another room, above the kitchen, which was warmer. The murderer then went down stairs and taking off his shirt burned it in the stove. The girls remained locked in the second room for several hours until they were almost dead with fright and suspense. Alice Gogle, looking through a pipe hole in the floor, saw the murderer putting his shirt in the stove. She asked him what he was doing, and he replied that it was not his shirt but some shingles that he was burning. She told him that she knew it was his shirt.

Snyder now went out and alarmed the neighbors, telling them that a murder had been committed at Gogle's house. He did not appear excited or concerned in the least, but while the neighbors were assembling he took care to disappear. This was about four o'clock this morning, and several neighbors had already come to the house where the murder had been committed. Word was at once sent to Bethlehem and other places in the county, and in a short time a very large crowd had assembled, among whom was Detective Yoke, of Bethlehem. A systematic investigation was then commenced.

The excitement and confusion were great, and little or nothing had yet been done toward caring for the children or looking for the murderer. Threats of lynching were at once made contingent upon the finding of the murderer. The two murdered people were well known as good and worthy persons, and that so horrible a crime should have been committed for so foul an end by one who lived in the house of his victims was exasperating in the extreme and provoked the bitterest menaces. The farmers and neighbors, though excited in action, seeming, in talking of vengeance, perfectly cool and clear. It was altogether a singular scene, and was followed by one still more remarkable for a peaceful county like Northampton. This was the hanging of the murderer by a crowd of men who uttered neither curses nor reproaches, but pulled hard and calmly on the end of a rope to the other end of which a human being was swinging into eternity.

Shortly after the arrival of Detective Yoke, he, with others, commenced a search for the murderer. They were a long time engaged in tracing every footprint in the snow, but could find none that seemed to lead to his hiding place. For hours the murderer was hunted without success. Finally Detective Yoke concluded to search Captain Keller's barn, and while in a loft that contained sheaves of wheat he hand touched something which, on being brought to the surface, was found to be a man's arm, and a voice was heard to say, "It's me." The detective asked if it was Snyder, and, receiving an answer in the affirmative, ordered him to hold up both hands. The murderer obeyed and the detective handcuffed him, at the same time taking from him a revolver.

The report that Snyder was found spread like wild- fire, but the fact that he had been armed caused the greatest portion of the crowd to keep out of harm's way until they were assured that the detective had the weapon. As soon as possible he was removed to the house where his victims were still lying on their bloody couch. While he was on his way threats of lynching were made on all sides, growing louder and more numerous, and the desire to take the matter out of the hands of the law seemed to have reached a stage where it was no longer controllable. It was found that there was a rope in the possession of one of the men in the crowd, who had taking it from a bedstead in the upper part of the Gogle house, probably with the intention of applying it to the fatal use for which destiny had reserved it. This was about nine o'clock, over an hour after the murderer had been found by Detective Yoke. This officer resisted to the best of his ability the advances of the crowd, which now became thoroughly infuriated. One of the most frequent expressions heard was a determination to spare the county the expense of a trial and the risk of an evasion of justice.

The example of Allen C. Laros, who escaped hanging on the plea of insanity, was of great force in producing the result which followed. The people entered the house, overpowered the detective, threw him out of the door and marched the murderer to a tree in the front yard, where he was told to prepare for death. He begged for a reprieve of an hour, but it was denied him. The detective attempted to intercede, assuring the lynchers that the murderer could not escape being hanged if they permitted him to be tried by a jury and that the District Attorney had been sent for and was momently expected. His pleading was of no avail, and the prisoner was quickly hoisted into the air. He died instantly, his neck being broken. The crowd then threw snow in his face and on his body. After hanging twenty minutes the latter was cut down by the poor house authorities and taken to that institution.

The Coroner's jury was at this time holding an inquest on the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Gogel[sic], and so quietly was the hanging done that they did not know what had taken place till informed that the man was dead. Snyder was very cool and collected, admitted committing the deed and only asked for time that he might be given a trial by jury.

The girls gave their story to the Coroner's jury and verdict was rendered that Mr. and Mrs. Gogle had died from blows given them by Snyder.

All day long the scene of the tragedy has been visited by crowds of people, several hundred going out from Easton alone. The detectives will spare no pains in arresting the persons who were implicated in the lynching of the murderer. It is claimed that nearly two hundred men were concerned in it, led, however, by one man whose name up to this writing has not been revealed. He was fired upon by Detective York, but without effect.

Mr. Gogle was a miner and worked in the mines near his residence. He was thirty-eight years old and his wife was thirty-four. They were both natives of this county. The victims presented a horrible and sickening appearance. Their skulls were crushed in, the wounds showing that the murderer had struck them with the blade of the axe. The walls of the room and the bedclothes were bespattered with blood.

During the interval between the arrest of the murderer and the lynching he told the following story :—"I wanted to live with the girl, but her parents would not let me. We had quarrelled[sic] about it yesterday afternoon. In the evening I went to bed determined to get square with them. I waited until they were all asleep and there was quietness int he house. About eleven o'clock I got up, took an axe and entered the room of the old folks. They were sound asleep. I struck them both several times and left them dead. I then went to the room of the girls. I put them into another room and burned the shirt I had on, which was bloody. I then aroused the neighbors and hid up in Ritter's barn. I did the deed, and suppose they will hang me for it."

The Coroner held an inquest upon the body of Snyder this afternoon and rendered a verdict to the effect that the deceased came to his death by hanging, and that parties who committed the deed were to the jury unknown. It is generally believed that the murderer committed a terrible outrage upon the girl Alice after killing her parents, although she denies that he did so.

District Attorney Anstett visited the scene this morning and at once commenced investigating the case. He will, if possible bring the lynchers to justice. The quick action of the lynchers is commended by a large number of citizens of Easton, while other indignantly condemn it.

The hanging of Joseph Snyder is, according to the oldest police officers and detectives whom I have been able to see, the first case of lynching that has occurred in this State. There have been several instances, however, in which the populace have come very near resorting to illegal violence. The more prominent among these happened when Mike Doyle and Ned Kelly were arrested for the murder of the Summit Hill mine boss, John P. Jones. The citizens at Tamaqua and Landsford turned out in two bodies to lynch them, being provided with ropes and a plentiful supply of arms, but they were outwitted by the Coal and Iron police.


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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

August 19, 1874: Tennesee Massacre

The lynchings that we'll be covering today are outrageous. It was heard across the United States, but today is relatively unknown. Like the lynching of Washington and Johnson mentioned earlier this week, this lynching was the result of tensions due to Reconstruction. I want to apologize ahead of time because this post is going to be very long.

Our first article about the lynchings is from the county where it occurred. It is covered by The Milan Exchange (Cairo, Illinois) published August 27, 1874:


THE WAR BEGUN!
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COMMENCING AT PICKETTVILLE!
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"Cleaning out the Country"— Twelve Fiends Arrested and Imprisoned!
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An Outraged People Rise Up in their Majesty and Lynch them!


For several weeks past vague rumors have been afloat of the negroes in this and Carroll counties arming and drilling regularly. It is said they have quietly bought all the buckshot that could be had in several country stores, and none of them have been seen hunting lately. Two weeks ago it was suggested by a number of our citizens that it would be well to organize a company here for guard and police duty, but our citizens thought it unnecessary and imprudent and the matter was dropped. Now, in view of the occurrences of the past few days, we think it very important that something should be done at once. We should have a military company in each town in the State. The issue is forced upon us and we dare not disregard it. The safety of our families may depend upon it. Our neighbors in the villages around are calling on us for help and we have no organized force to help ourselves. Read the following and judge whether we are saying too much when we urge prompt action on the part of our citizens.

Saturday night as James Warren and Monroe Morgan were going home from Pickettville, a band of thirty or forty negroes, ambuscaded just below the village, fired upon them and wounded Morgan's mule, peppering its head and shoulder with shot. Morgan and Warren fled back to Pickettville and gave the alarm. A posse was soon out in pursuit of the dusky fiends, and twelve of them were caught that night and Sunday and held for trial Monday. THe news of the trouble reached Milan Sunday morning, and it was rumored that the citizens of that section needed assistance and protection from threatened destruction by the blacks. A party of thirty of our citizens immediately equipped themselves and repaired to the scene of the action. When they reached Pickettville they found considerable excitement, but no one hurt, and apprehending no further trouble they returned.

Monday the negroes were tried at Pickettville before Esqs. Fly, Parker and Jordan, and all twelve were committed. They confessed their guilt, stating that they were organized and designed "cleaning up" the whites and controlling this country themselves. They mentioned three companies in this county—one at Humboldt, commanded by one Reagon, another at Hope Hill, commanded by Rial Burrow, and the one near Pickettville, under the immediate command of Col. Josh Webb, who says they have endured the whites as long as they can and must exterminate them and take charge of the farms and rule this country as they see fit.

Three or four hundred men were present at the trial, coming from various parts of the country to witness the trial of the would-be destroyers of their families and homes. Great excitement was manifested by the crowd; however, no demonstrations of violence were made toward the prisoners, who appeared very impudent, intimating that this was but the beginning—that we might check them for a while, but an issue must and would come.

Writs were issued for fifteen others, but as yet only two or three of them have been taken, among whom is Rial Burrow, captain of the Hope Hill clan. Considerable excitement prevails throughout the country, every citizen being on the alert and many of the negroes frightened.

It is rumored that two white women have been killed near Pickettville, but we have as yet not been able to trace it to anything definite. The mayor of Trenton, we learn, telegraphed to Jackson to hold a company in readiness, and an engine and train is at that point, ready to move at a moment's notice.

We have reliable information that a party of about eighty men went to Trenton Tuesday night and took sixteen negroes from the jail. Up to the time of going to press six of their bodies had been found riddled with bullets. It is supposed the others were killed and left in the swamp near that place.

LATEST

L. M. Jones telegraphs from Trenton to Gen. Campbell, at Jackson, that the excitement is without any real foundation and the help will not be needed.

It is due to the negroes here to say that they have made no demonstration and seem perfectly quiet, for which they deserve commendation.

Our next article comes from The Indianapolis News (Indianapolis, IN) and is dated August 27, 1874:

The negroes at Picketville, Gibson county, six miles from Humboldt, Tennessee, last Saturday and Sunday, threatened a riot on account of some supposed wrong done them, and manifested a strong desire to kill two or three citizens and fire and sack the town. On Tuesday sixteen ringleaders were arrested, taken to Trenton and placed in jail for safe keeping. About 1 o'clock next morning, 75 to 100 men entered the town, rode up to the jail, demanded and compelled the Sheriff to deliver up the keys. After the maskers had obtained possession of the prisoners they tied them together and marched off on the Huntington road. Half a mile from town six of the number were cut loose and ordered to escape, and as soon as that command was given a full volley was fired upon them, killing four and wounding the other two, one mortally. The remainder were carried up the river two miles and killed. Their remains were collected and are being taken care of. On the assembling of the court several speeches were made by the members of the bar denouncing the conduct of the disguised men who were from the country, and urging upon the Judge to give the grand jury an extra charge, ordering him to send out for witnesses all along the road, from here to Pickettsville, in order to arrest and punish the criminals. While the charge was being delivered, runners arrived in hot haste, with a report that a large body of negroes, well armed were marching to Trenton, which caused an adjournment of the court. Scouts were sent out, but returned reporting all quiet. There is no mistake that the negroes are well organized, and ready for action at a moment's warning.

Our next article is the first article I found on the subject. A warning, this article sounds like it is from a conspiracy theorist. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, MO) dated September 5, 1874:

THE TENNESSEE MASSACRE.
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An Inside History of the Affair—A Radical Plot to Affect the Fall Elections.


[From the Cincinnati Enquirer.]

From a party of prominent citizens of West Tennessee we learn the inside history of the late killing of negroes near Picketville, Gibson county, in that State. Picketville is near the borders of Carroll county, and is situated in what is known as

THE SKULL-BONE COUNTRY,

where during the war, Radical bushwhackers and negroes had it all their own way, and committed not less than two hundred murders for the purposes of rapine and robbery. Throughout that section the negro outrages have recently been frequesnt and horrible, and just before the election of the 6th of August, during the campaign preceding which the questions arising under the Civil Rights bill were bitterly discussed, the alarm among the whites became so great that in many instances women and children

SLEPT OUT OF DOORS,

believi[n]g they were in danger of being burned in their beds by organized gangs of blacks, led by white desperadoes, as they almost invariably are. The fears were founded partly on the plot overheard by one Bostwick, a Republican, and a member of Jack Rogers' Tennessee regiment, Federal, during the war, and partly on the frequent recurrence of murders of negroes by masked me, such as the late one in which an aged colored man named Dick McKinney, four miles east of Chestnut Mound, Smith county, was shot without provocation in his house, or the shooting of Julia Hayden, a school- teacher, at Hartsville, and which, though taking place since the event of which we are about to treat, are a part of its outgrowth and history.

To confirm Bostwick's statement of a contemplated rising on the 5th of August:

"Two or three negroes in the neighborhood of Gleason, Tennessee, in Weakley county, went to their employers on the morning of that day and gave up their guns and asked his protection. The citizens thereupon commenced arming, and to their dismay and in confirmation of their fears they found that not a pound of buck-shot nor a pistol could be had in Henry or Weakley counties."

The alarm turned out to be false, however, for that night, but on last Saturday week it was proved that Bostwick's warning was not idle. A few days previous Joe Whole and four other citizens of Picketville bought

A ROAST PIG

from a negro named Joe Webb, and, after eating what they wanted, gave the residue to a negro with them. Their right to do this was disputed by Webb and his friends, and a fight on the spot seemed imminent. The men reached home safely, however, leaving as it proved, the negroes thirsting for vengeance. On the Saturday named, while two young men named Munroe Morgan and James Warren were riding along the road, some three miles from Picketville, they were fired upon by some thirty or forty negroes hid in the woods. The young men abandoned their horses, which were killed or badly wounded, took to the woods and escaped to the town and alarmed the citizens. Suspecting a negro named Jim Walker of complicity in the shooting, a constable with a posse, proceeded to his house, where they captured a negro named Ben Ballard, who confessed that negroes chiefly from Humboldt and vicinity, had met Saturday night and organized to protect Col. Webb, colored, from ku-klux, and after that, to go to Picketville, kill five men, (the give concerned in the pig affair), burn the town, take possession of the lands, and to use their own expression.

"CLEAR UP THE NEIGHBORHOOD"

They had expected to meet another company of negroes that night, but they failed to come, and after the firing on Warren and Morgan, they dispersed. Sixteen negroes in all were arresed and tried before a magistrate, five more turning State's evidence in addition to Ballard.

THE LYNCHING,

as is already known, soon followed. Eighty-six men, armed and masked, called at the jail at midnight and demanded the prisoners. The jailer, being alone and helpless, gave them up. THey were first tied in couples, and then the couples all tied together, and marched out of town. Shortly after they had left, shots were heard, and next morning six negroes were found outside the limits of the village, four dead, one mortally and the other dangerously wounded, all having been shot several times. They were the six who had confessed, and the other ten

HAD MYSTERIOUSLY DISAPPEARED.

Where were they? A search of the country far and wide failed to develop any dead negroes, and it soon began to be whispered about by Radicals that the ten had escaped. They had, when the shooting began, according to the thin story circulated, rushed over a bluff, and bound as they were, had gotten away from eighty-six armed men. The citizens saw plainly through it all now. The Radicals and negroes, to counteract the effect of the discovery of their plot and the leniency of the whites—the very five men whom they had intended to kill first forming part of their safety escort from court to jail—had taken the negroes out, shot those who had betrayed them and from whom they feared further revelations, and released the others.

The moral is clear to the wayfarer. The very sun shines through the whole affair. The negroes are instigated and organized by white Radicals for election purposes, who themselves caused the lynching for effect, as told, while on the other hand, Governor Brown's offer of an aggregate reward of $43,000 for the lynchers shows where the Democrats stand. There are men in Gibson county ready to declare that the real hard criminal is high in position and far away from the actual scene of outrage, while the following figures will go far to show why Gibson county and vicinity should be selected for such deep and damnable political plotting. The county is the largest voting county in West Tennessee, except Shelby. Her white voting population is 5,000, negro 1,000. The Democratic majority is 4,000. Carroll, adjoining, and in three or four miles of Pickettville, has a voting population of 4,000—1,800 Democratic and 2,200 Republican. The civil district, "Alwood," in Carroll adjoining this Picketville county, is Republican by fifty majority.
 
I'm only including a portion of our next article because much of it repeats the same details that the others have already done. This article is from The Whig and Tribune (Jackson, Tennessee) and is dated April 29, 1874:

Right here we would be glad to close this sad and terrible story of ignorant passions run wild—all the result of the agitation of the civil rights bill, that acme of all villianies forced upon the people of Tennessee by the representative men of the colored race in this State. But it is our duty to go further, and tell the whole horrible story.

On Wednesday morning at one o'clock, a hundred or more masked men entered Trenton, overpowered the jail guard, took the sixteen negroes there confined for participation in the Pickettsville outrage—and murdered them to a man within a few miles of Trenton. This action was an outrage, that demands and has received the unqualified condemation of the people regardless of race. In Trenton an indignation meeting was held, and the lawless maskers denounced in unmeasured terms. The Governor has offered a reward of $500 each for the apprehension of the thoughtless, cruel and lawless maskers, who perpetrated this unncessary and shameful crime. Intense excitement grew out of this fearful outrage, and the negroes throughout Gibson county were greatly aroused and alarmed. Dispatches full of blood and thunder flashed over the whole country, and from the lakes to the gulf, and from ocean to ocean the crime of the maskers has met a universal condemnation. Yet is is true, that terrible as their crime was, it was provoked by crimes as great—crimes either perpetrated or contemplated by the blacks themselves. But while there are palliating circumstances in the matter, the lawless maskers who killed the sixteen negroes on Wednesday morning are murderers, and should be dealt with as such. These negro would be assassins, had been tried by the law, under the law they had been remanded to jail, they were in the keeping of the law, the law in the hands of white men, and there was neither reason nor excuse for the summary vengeance that was visited upon them.

Growing out of this fearful affair—Trenton, Pickettsville and Humboldt were agitated on Wednesday by the news that large bodies of negroes were marching on those towns. The wildest excitement prevailed, and dispatches were sent in every direction asking immediate help. One of these dispatches reached Jackson about 10 a.m., and within an hour two hundred well armed men were ready to march. A train was put in order, an engine fired up and everything was placed in readiness to move at a minutes warning. No satisfactory dispatch being recieved from the threatened towns, the two hundred men referred to, under the command of Gen'l Campbell, marched to the depot to emark for the seat of war. A finer body of men never marched on any occasion, or under any banner. But at the depot a dispatch was received that the services of the Jackson boys was not needed. Here, without further comment, we leave this whole terrible business, determined in future issues of the Whig and Tribune to discuss it more fully.

Our next article comes from The Herald and Torch Light (Hagerstown, MD) and is dated September 2, 1874:

A Slaughter of Colored People.

The news from the South for the several months past, has embraced a number of accounts of fights and riots between the whites and blacks, in which the latter are not only made to bear the blame, but pretty nearly all the killed and wounded. In nearly every one of these encounters the colored people are the greatest sufferers, and not unfrequently the only ones, and yet we are asked to believe that they bring on the collisions which result in such terrible punishments to them.—One of the most cruel of these stories came to us last week from a place called Pickettsville, Gibson county, Tennessee, as follows:—

"Nashville, August 26.—A number of negroes at Pickettsville, Gibson county, six miles from Humboldt, threatened a riot last Saturday and Sunday, on account of some supposed wrong done them, and manifested a strong desire to kill two or three citizens and fire and sack the town. Yesterday sixteen of the ringleaders were arrested and taken to Trenton and placed in jail for safe keeping—About 1 o'clock this morning between seventy-five and one hundred masked men entered the town, and riding up to the jail, demanded and compelled the Sheriff to deliver up the keys thereof.—They then took the sixteen negroes from prison, and after killing four and mortally wounding two on the confines of the town, rode off with the remaining ten, and are supposed to have killed them.—Nothing has been heard of the party since they left. Considerable excitement exists among the negroes, and the whites are taking steps to defend themselves in case of an outbreak.

The poor excuse, which is generally offered for lynching negroes in other Southern States, VIZ: that they are governed by carpet baggers, can't be availed of to mitigate this outrage.— Tennessee is Democratic, and overwhelmingly so, in all its departments of government, and it would be a remarkable occurrence, indeed, if a negro received less than legal justice from such hands.— We are, however, glad to perceive that a portion of the white people of Tennessee have denounced this frightful slaughter of the colored prisoners at Trenton, and that the Governor has offered a reward for the apprehension of those guilty of it.

Our next article comes from The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY) and is dated August 29, 1874:

THE TENNESSEE LYNCHING.
————
Indignation Meeting in Memphis—The Governor Urged to Vigorously Enforce the Law.

MEMPHIS, TENN. Aug. 28.—There was a large meeting of citizens held at the Exposition Hall tonight to express the indignation of the community at the barbarous murder of the colored prisoners taken from the Trenton jail. Mr. B. M. Estes presided, with Ex-Gov. Harris, Judge Archibald Wright and Charles Clatericht as vice presidents. Speeches were made by Ex-Gov. Harris, Jefferson Davis, Col. Duncan McRae, Gen. Forrest, and others, denouncing the cowardly assassination of the prisoners, and calling for the prompt and most energetic enforcement of the law against the perpetrators. General Forrest stated he stood ready to start to-morrow to assist the officers of the law in bringing the assassins to punishment. Resolutions were adopted expressing the horror and indignation of the community at the foul crime, and demanding of the Governor prompt and energetic measures for bringing the murderers to the bar of justice, and relieving the State, as far as possible, from the disgrace of such horrible crimes, asking the Government to employ the police experts of Memphis to assist in capturing the assassins, and to employ the best legal counsel int he State to assist the Attorney General in prosecuting them.

I could post article after article on just the fallout of this lynching, however, this post is already very long so it will suffice if I mention that: several towns in the South publicly denounced Gibson county and it's citizens for their actions by passing resolutions, the governor offered rewards for information, both Northern and Southern papers blasted the county for it's actions, and a lot was discussed about the Civil Rights Bill being pushed in congress. As far as I can see in the papers, nothing was ever done to prosecute the actual perpetrators and the names of the murdered were never revealed.

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

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.