Some background on the Archer Gang, posted by Jan Taylor, on Rootsweb.com.
Much has been written about the Archer Gang. This was one of the reckless gangs who brought fear and terror to the hearts of many. Today they have all faded into history and only their stories remain to be told and retold, stories which always seem to hold great interest and sometimes an air of romance about them. How the outlaws lived and died and about the crimes, they committed in Orange, Dubois and Martin counties in Southern Indiana. The Archer Gang made their headquarters in what is now known as Lost River Township in Martin County, next to the county line. This gang was made up of family members being Thomas Sr., Sam, John, Martin and young Martin Jr. The remaining family members were Sam Marley, first cousin; Kinder Smith,nephew; and John Lynch, related by marriage.
You can read the rest at the link above.
A Sheriff Defeated.
VINCENNES, Ind., Dec. 29. — Sheriff John A. Padgett arrived here from Martin county, Ind., seeking John B. Archer, who is wanted for the murder of John Bunch, a farmer of that county, who disappeared four years ago. The crime was fastened upon Archer by the recent confession of his deserted wife, who said that Archer murdered Bunch for his money, boiled the flesh of the body in a boiler and buried the bones. Padgett found Archer on a farm five miles south of here. Archer and two companions barricaded themselves in a house and threatened to shoot the officer. Padgett thereupon returned here for re-enforcements and has got a posse of fifteen men to go out with him and capture Archer dead or alive.
The Olean Democrat (Olean, New York) Dec 31, 1885
BAGGED ON A FARM.
An Alleged Murderer Caught near Vincennes, Indiana.
By Telegraph to the GAZETTE.
SHOALS, Ind., December 30. — John B. Archer, who is charged with the murder of John B.*[Samuel A.] Bunch, four years ago, was captured at the farm of Leroy Boyd, five miles south of Vincennes, and brought to the Martin county jail, Tuesday, by sheriff Podgett**. David Crane, another of the gang, was also arrested here and lodged in jail. Both state that Bunch was killed by the Archer gang in July, 1882, because he had aided a farm hand of his named Morley***, in escaping from the country. It seems that Morley had killed one of the Archers.
Daily Gazette, The (Fort Wayne, Indiana) Dec 31, 1885
*There appears to be a mix-up/typo regarding the victim’s name in the article above. Based on the “History of Orange County Indiana, Bunch’s name was Samuel, not John. **Podgett is probably Padgett as well. ***Morley is actually Marley.
A Murderer Caught.
POPULAR BLUFF, Mo., Jan. 2.
Tom Archer, charged with the murder of Jno. B.* Bunch, near Shoals, Martin Co., Indiana, in 1881, was arrested in this city late Thursday night by City Marshall Miles. Archer had just arrived and getting considerably under the influence of liquor, divulged his name to the Marshall. In 1881 John B. Bunch was murdered near Shoals and his body sunk in the river and afterwards is supposed to have been taken up by the perpetrators of the crime and burned. Tom Archer, this same Archer, and a man named Lynch are charged with committing the deed. All have been arrested.
Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) Jan 2, 1886
SWINGING FROM TREES.
THREE DESPERADOES SUMMARILY DEALT WITH IN INDIANA.
A Father, Brother, and Son’s Murderous Career.
Three leaders of a gang of desperadoes in Martin county, Ind., have just received summary punishment at the hands of a midnight band of lynchers. Details of the affair are as follows:
Precisely at 11:30 o’clock a vigilance committee of about 100, composed of men from Martin and Orange counties surrounded the jail at Shoals. The lynchers were very quiet and orderly, and the sheriff was first aroused by the barking of his dog, followed by a knock on the door. He asked who was there, and the answer was a crashing in of the front door, followed by heavy blows which completely demolished it. The mob then went to the jail door and knocked off the lock and were dismayed to find another which would not yield to blows. After about twenty minutes a man in the crowd was found who understood opening the cell door. It yielded to his efforts and the lynchers rushed in and grabbed all three of the intended victims, Thomas, Martin, and John Archer, the latter the son of Thomas, the ringleaders of what is known as the Archer gang. The mob was provided with the necessary tools both to get in and to capture them if they made any resistance. Several of them had long iron hooks with which to grab the prisoners around the neck if they resisted without endangering their own lives.
When the Archer gang saw the lynchers they offered no resistance, and when asked if they had anything to say they refused to speak. Their hands were tied behind their backs, and they were taken over to the court house yard. They were again asked if they had any confession to make, and, still no reply being given by any of them they were unceremoniously strung up to young maple trees. Tom Archer, the oldest one of the gang, about sixty years of age, was hanged first. Martin Archer, brother to Tom, aged about forty-five years, was suspended next. John Archer, son of Tom Archer, who was about thirty years old, was hung to a tree with his hands tied behind him, about thirty feet from his father.
The crimes for which the three men were hanged comprise almost everything in the criminal calendar from murder to petty thieving. For twenty-five years they had been a reigning terror, both in Martin and Orange counties, and had terrorized the community in which they lived until the people did not know when they went to bed at night whether they would be murdered before morning or their houses burned down. They never failed to visit vengeance for a fancied slight, and many a farmer in Orange and Martin counties had lost considerable sums of money by daring robbery, the theft of cattle, or the burning down of barns and houses. Martin Archer had a family living in Southwest Township, Orange county, who are well thought of. Two of his children are young ladies teaching school in that section of the country. Old Tom Archer, as he was called, lived in Martin county, Columbia township, and had a large family, every one of whom are under indictments for larceny, arson and murder, an bear a bad name generally. John Archer, formerly lived in Columbia township, and in the past year had been living seven miles east of Vincennes, where he was captured two months ago and brought to Shoals by Sheriff Padgett. The chief cause for their being hanged was the confession of John Lynch, anther member of the gang, who is in the Washington Daviess county jail. He made a confession and told where the bones of a man named Bunch, one of the victims, were. They were found in two different graves, the body having been cut lengthwise, and each piece being buried separate. It seems that unknown parties followed the officials when they went to the place where Bunch was buried and saw them exhume the remains. Word was immediately spread over the county, and the vigilants prepared themselves accordingly.
The Delta Herald (Delta, Pennsylvania) Mar 19, 1886
In a trial on Thursday of a brother for shooting at the man who had assaulted his sister, while on trial for the crime in the Criminal Court, Judge Clark gave the jury this charge:
“The current history of crime in this country is that, with rare exceptions, juries will not convict a man of murder for killing another man who has in any of the forms of licentiousness violated the virtue and chastity of a female who stands in the near relation of wife, daughter, or sister to the slayer. This results from a higher degree of civilization and a more elevated plane of common sense that recognizes the truth that nothing so justly exasperates and more heats the blood than such an offense against a near female relative, and that therefore if hot blood should in any case extenuate homicide much more should it in such cases.”
The man was acquitted, of course, but the charge of the judge has attracted no little attention and comment among lawyers and others.
Judge D.O? Heffner and Sheriff J.A. Padgett, of Martin County, have sent a request to the Governor for troops to assist in preserving the peace at the preliminary examinations of Sam Archer and Lynch, to be held at Shoals Wednesday next. The Governor has instructed the Attorney-General to have a company of militia ready.
The New York Times (New York, New York) Mar 21, 1886
THE LAST OF THE ARCHER GANG.
SAM ARCHER TO BE HANGED AND JOHN D. LYNCH TO GO TO PRISON.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., March 27. — A special dispatch from Shoals, Ind., gives the conclusion of the trial of Sam Archer, the last of the gang three of whom were recently lynched in the Court House yard. The trial has been proceeding since Wednesday, the prisoner being under the guard of a company of State militia from this city. After the Judge had charged the jury they retired, but were not out more than an hour when they agreed upon the verdict, as follows:
“We, the jury, find the defendant, Samuel Archer, not guilty as charged in the second count of the indictment, and we do find the defendant, Samuel Archer, guilty of murder in the first degree as charged in the first count of the indictment, and assess his punishment at death.”
The prisoner, who sat facing the jury, moved not a muscle, but sat motionless as he had during the whole of his trial, yet his face showed that he was in deep thought. The attorneys asked for a new trial, which the Judge overruled. Another motion was made asking an arrest of judgement, which was also overruled, and then the Judge addressed the prisoner as follows:
“It has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt that you willfully and maliciously took the life of Samuel A. Bunch, making you guilty of the charge proffered against you of murder in the first degree, for which crime you shall suffer death. You shall hang by your neck in the jail yard in West Shoals until you are dead on the 9th day of July, 1886.”
Had the Judge fixed the date three days later it would have been the fourth anniversary of the murder for which Archer forfeits his life. In the meantime the Judge ordered that the prisoner be kept in close confinement in the Martin County Jail or such other place of safety as the court may from time to time direct. The prisoner was then removed to his cell. He was gazed at by hundreds as he passed through the long lines of people on either side of the walk through which he was required to pass.
The court room was then cleared of part of the spectators, and John D. Lynch, the last of the notorious gang, and through whom the principal evidence was obtained which fixed the guilt of his comrade, was called to answer the charge of perjury. He pleaded guilty, and was immediately sentenced to three years at hard labor in the State prison. He was removed to jail to remain until afternoon, when he was taken to the station under the escort of Sheriff Padgett and the militia, and arrived at the Jeffersonville.
Prison this evening.
Since the conviction and sentence of Sam Archer it is currently and authentically reported that he has exposed the entire gang, and that some startling revelations will be the result. It is thought the Archer gang is not the proper appellation, and that the organization extends over some half dozen counties at least, and that Mart Archer, the acknowledged leader in this locality, ranks no higher than second lieutenant as compared with some of the other leaders.
The New York Times (New York, New York) Mar 28, 1886
ENJOYING KILLING PEOPLE.
VINCENNES, Ind., April 2. Samuel Archer, sentenced to be hanged July 9 for his many crimes, confessed in jail yesterday that the testimony of John Lynch against him was correct from beginning to end, and attributes the misfortunes and criminal actions of the Archer family to his uncle, Martin Archer who, Sam said, seemed to enjoy killing people.
The New York Times (New York, New York) Apr 3, 1886
MOB LAW IN INDIANA.
THE TERRIBLE PUNISHMENT METED OUT TO KINDER SMITH.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., March 16. — A Shoals (Martin County) special to the Journal says: Much violence seems to have spread to adjoining counties. A report was current here today for the first time that a bold attempt at lynching was made on Friday night last near French Lick, Orange County. This was not generally known until to-day. The victim was Kinder Smith, a nephew of the late Thomas and Mart Archer, who expiated their crimes more fully. Smith was a desperate character, and was supposed to be implicated in the horrible crimes perpetuated by the family in this county. The mob captured their victim at the house of Bennett Grigsbey. The lynchers, about 35 in number, surrounded the house and demanded the surrender of Smith, who was soon in their possession. They then marched him in their midst to a dark woods near by, where a rope was in readiness. A noose was hastily made and placed over his neck. The spokesman then ordered the lynchers to make ready. He placed one end of the rope over a limb of a tree and the mob pulled up Smith’s body, leaving him dangling in the air for a few moments, when, fearing death would free their victim, he was lowered to the ground. After recovering consciousness he was again swung in midair until he began to turn black, when he was again lowered and asked to tell what he knew of the Archer gang and their crimes. He said he knew nothing. He was then raised by the rope and lowered again. This time he was almost past saving, but after a short time revived sufficiently to speak, when he was again asked what he knew of the Archer gang, and if he was a member, and, receiving no answer, they decided to try, the whipping post. A large bunch of hickory switches were obtained and he was given 40 lashes. When he was again asked for the desired information he said he was innocent, and begged for mercy, when they agreed to free him on condition that he would leave that section of the State and never again return. He accepted the proposition, and they told him that if he were seen here again a like punishment would be inflicted. The people in that section of the country are determined to protect themselves and property at all hazards, and mob law is the last resort, and they claim it is justifiable in this case, believing that there are some persons yet at large who are as deeply implicated as those already dealt with.
The New York Times (New York, New York) Mar 17, 1886
NOTES OF THE DAY.
The Governor of Indiana positively declines to interfere with the sentence of death pronounced against Sam Archer, at Shoals.
The Daily Review (Decatur, Illinois) May 7, 1886
PAID THE PENALTY.
Samuel Archer, Member of a Noted Gang of Desperadoes, Hanged at Shoals, Ind.
A Brief History of the Bloody Crimes for Which He and His Brothers Suffered Death.
SAM ARCHER HANGED.
SHOALS, Ind., July 10. — Sam Archer, one of the members of the famous Archer gang of desperadoes, received the reward of his many crimes yesterday from the hands of the sheriff, being hanged for the brutal murder of Samuel A. Burch on the 11th of July, 1882. The story of the murder, as condensed from the confession of Lynch, one of the gang, is as follows: On the 3d of July, 1882, Sam Marley and Matt Archer got into a difficulty, resulting in the fatal shooting of Archer and Marley. This enraged the older Archers, as they were called, very much, and they determined to punish Marley at the first opportunity, and to accomplish this end they organized themselves into a gang of six members, viz Tom, Mart, John and Sam Archer, John D. Lynch and David Crane. Mart was chosen captain and adviser. The work of ferreting out the hiding place of Marley began. Bunch’s house was guarded constantly, as suspicion rested on him as the one who was aiding Marley to escape. This espionage did not reveal the desired information and the Archers resolved to kill Bunch if he refused to reveal Marley’s hiding-place. They seized him, took him to a cave and murdered him. Nothing was learned of Bunch’s fate until last winter, when the deserted wife of John Archer, who had taken refuge in the Martin County Poor Asylum, gave evidence that caused the arrest of the Archers. On March 9, 1886, a mob attacked the jail at Shoals, battered down the doors, and, seizing Mart, Thomas and John Archer, father, son and brother, lynched them. A week later Sam Archer was arrested in Fountain County and brought here, and was tried and convicted as above stated. Sam Archer leaves a mother, two sisters and two brothers. His oldest brother is serving a term in the penitentiary for grand larceny, while the youngest is serving time in the reform school at Plainfield. The fate of the Archer family is a hard one. Four of them have been victims of the gallows and two others are in prison.
The Daily Review (Decatur, Illinois) Jul 11, 1886
THE STANFIELD TRAGEDY.
The Coroner Acquits Archer of Her Murder and Renders a Verdict That She Suicided.
VINCENNES, Ind., Dec 22. The coroner rendered a verdict in the case of the tragic death of Miss Stanfield in Martin County, to the effect that she committed suicide by shooting. The preliminary trial of Charles Archer, charged with her death, was held, and yesterday he was liberated. He testified that he was with her the night before her death and that she took his revolver and hid it. He asked her why she did so and she said she was going to commit suicide. The next morning (Saturday) he saw her walking along the road toward a church. He hastened toward her. She turned on him and pulled out the revolver and told him if he came any further she would shoot herself. He had ruined her and would not marry her and she was going to die. She placed the revolver to her breast and fired, the ball entering her heart. Archer then gave the alarm. The testimony of the physicians who held the postmortem; was that she could not have inflicted the wound on herself; that she must have been sitting down when shot. General dissatisfaction was felt at the coroner’s verdict, and another warrant was issued for Archer’s arrest, but it is rumored that he has fled the country.
The Dunkirk Observer Journal (Dunkirk, New York) Dec 22, 1887
John Lynch, who several years ago belonged to the Archer gang of desperadoes, who terrorized southern Indiana, is dead. He was the last of the crowd to pass away.
Fort Wayne News (Fort Wayne, Indiana) Dec 19, 1894
Old Hatreds Cause Many Deaths in Indiana Feud: Date Back to Year 1882 Shoals, Ind.
Oct. 4 — Another life has been forfeited and the sixth member of the Archer family of Southern Martin County, has “died with his boots on” as a result of a family feud that has raged there for several years, it was revealed here, following the fatal shooting from ambush of Clyde Archer nineteen recently.
For years Hoosiers have been wont to look with pity, if not disdain, on the family feuds which members of warring families of the Bluegrass State. But apparently in Indiana’s backyard a family feud has been raging for years between the Archers and Stanfield families which has resulted in several deaths.
Clyde Archer met his death Tuesday, August 15. About a year previous young Archer had killed his man at French Lick, Ind., when he stabbed Roy Stanfield, a neighbor, who accused Archer of stealing some money. He was acquitted in court on a plea of self-defense.
Row is of Old Standing.
The two families had harbored ill feelings against each other for many years following the killing of Annabel Stanfield by Charles Archer, an uncle of Clyde. The older Archer was acquitted of this crime, and a few years later a brother of Clyde was freed of a murder charge.
Back in 1882 Martin Archer was killed by a man named Morley, who was afraid Archer might tell of a larceny job in which the murderer, his victim and John B. Bunch were implicated. This killing aroused the ire of the Archer family, the member of which swore vengeance.
The Archers, accompanied by John Lynch, went in search of Marley and, being unable to find him, discovered Bunch. When Bunch declined to reveal the hiding place of Marley the Archers bound him took him to Saltpeter Cave in Orange County, Ind. a lonely spot near the home of Tom Archer.
Here they again demanded of Bunch that he tell where Marley was hiding. As Bunch repeated his statement that he did not know the whereabouts of Marley the Archers shot him to death and left his body in the cave several days.
Later they removed the corpse, placed it upon a pile of brush that had been saturated with coal oil, and burned it. Then a tree was felled and placed over the ashes to prevent discovery of the crime.
Confesses to Crime.
Fours years later, Lynch, conscience-stricken, confessed to the crime. Following the confession Thomas Archer, sixty-five, and Martin Archer, fifty, brothers, were arrested. Then John Archer, thirty, was taken into custody in connection with the grewsome murder.
All three were placed in jail at Shoals, Sam Archer, father of John, and another member of the murder band, was still at large.
At midnight, March 9, 1886, a band of armed, masked men visited the Shoals jail, removed the three Archers and hanged them to trees in the courthouse yard. Their bodies were permitted to hang there until 11 o’clock the next morning.
A short time later Sam Archer was apprehended, tried, convicted and sentenced to be hanged. The execution took place July 9, 1886 in the presence of what was termed a “circus day” crowd assembled about the scaffold.
All that saved Lynch from being a victim of the executions of the mob that hanged the three Archers was the fact that he was confined in the Daviess County Jail.
Since that time the hatred between the two families has grown apace, and, members of each family are on guard always for an outbreak of the feud.
Olean Evening Times (Olean, New York) Oct 6, 1922
More newspaper transcriptions (New York Times articles) can be found at this link.