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.