Posts Tagged ‘Lynchings’

Mutilated and Hanged by a Mob

September 27, 2010

WORSE THAN DEATH

Prisoner at Golden, Col., Mutilated and Hanged by a Mob

GOLDEN, Col., June 2. — Alexander McCurdy, who horribly mutilated his step-brother, Charles Berry, whom he suspected of intimacy with his wife last winter, was taken from jail this morning and lynched, after being subjected to the same treatment he gave Berry.

The sheriff gathered a possee and captured John Richwine and John Koch, two guards  put out by the lynchers. They are said to have given the names of all concerned in the lynching, and they will be arrested after the inquest which is now in progress.

McCurdy’s crime was a most revolting one. He assaulted Berry while the latter was asleep. He afterwards pickled the organs which he cut off and sent them to his wife in Indiana. He escaped, but was captured in Indiana some time afterwards, convicted of mayhem and sentenced to three years imprisonment. Berry meanwhile had recovered, and during the trial of McCurdy was with difficulty restrained from assaulting him. Berry was eighteen years old, and McCurdy about thirty.

The Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) May 2, 1894

Lynched.

By Associated Press.]

GOLDEN (Colo.), June 2 — Alexander McCurdy, who horribly mutilated his step brother, Charles Berry, last winter, was this morning taken from jail and lynched, after being subjected to the same treatment he gave his victim. McCurdy was this week convicted of mayhem and yesterday sentenced to the penitentiary for three years, the full extent of the law.

At 2 o’clock twenty men aroused Alexander Kerr, the jailer, choked him, and taking the keys, went to McCurdy’s cell. He was dragged to the lawn in front of the building and probably died while this was being done, but his body was rushed down to Lakewood trestle, over Clear creek, and hanged. The sheriff has arrested John Richweine and John Koch, guards for the lynchers. They have given the names of all the others and the coroner’s jury is preparing warrants.

The Weekly Gazette and Stockman (Reno, Nevada)Jun 7, 1894

 

FACTS MERELY MENTIONED.

Alexander McCurdy was mutilated and hanged by a Colorado mob for a revolting crime.

The Evening News (Lincoln, Nebraska) Jun 4, 1894

Vogel Proved an Alibi.

GOLDEN, Colo., Nov 29. — George Vogel, one of the young men charged with the lynching of Alexander McCurdy last summer, has been found not guilty. His defense was an alibi. Five other citizens are yet to be tried on the same charge.

The Evening News (Lincoln, Nebraska) Nov 29, 1894

‘The Archer Gang’ and the Archer-Stanfield Feud

March 23, 2009

Martin County Courthouse in Shoals, Indiana

Martin County Courthouse in Shoals, Indiana

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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

image from wildtexasart.com

image from wildtexasart.com

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.

“Flopping Bill” Cleans the Ranges of Desperados

February 26, 2009

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Thirty Horse Thieves and Cattle Rustlers, in Two Months, Were Hanged and Shot by the Determined Vigilantes of the Northern Montana Plains. Prominent Men Were Involved in the Raid That Cleaned the Ranges of Desperados. Death Was Quick and Sure. Prisoners Were Taken From United States Troops and Lynched. The Story Told for the First Time. The Law Called a Halt.

It is a story of which little has been told. Most of those who rode with “Flopping Bill’s” vigilantes have left the state or crossed the Great Divide. Those who have remained are reticent. As to the 30 or more desperate horse thieves and cattle rustlers who operated in Northern Montana in the early eighties — well, bleaching bones on wind-swept prairies tell no tales.

In 1885 the cattle and horse business in Northern Montana was becoming more and more unprofitable, for the reason that there were organized bands of horse thieves who had stopping places from the Canadian line to Mexico, and who made more money in the business of stealing horses and live stock than the real owners could in raising them. Of course more horses than cattle were stolen, because they were easier to get away with, and in those days were worth a great deal more money.

The stealing became so serious that the cattlemen of Northern Montana were forced to do something, and in the fall of 1885 they did it. When the cattlemen start to do anything they do it up brown, and it was so in this case.

The tale of the hanging of the road agents of 1863-4 by the vigilantes of Alder gulch has been told so often that it became known from one end of the world to the other, and it is looked upon as the biggest thing of its kind which was ever pulled off in Montana. This is a mistake and the cowboys of Northern Montana during the year of 1885, from September to November, hanged and shot more men than the vigilantes of Alder gulch ever dreamed of. This may seem like a fairy tale at this time, but it is a fact, and there are men in Northern Montana at the present day who have the papers to prove the assertion.

During the fall round-up of the Judith in the fall of 1885 it was decided to do some hanging. Who proposed the matter, or by whom meetings were held, it is not necessary to state, as on of the leaders of the cowboy vigilantes in now a prosperous stockman within a few miles of old Fort Maginnis, another is a prosperous sheepman living near Ubet, and another lives in Butte, after having spent a number of years abroad. And there are others, but the matter of the real extermination of the rustler was carried on under the direction of “Flopping Bill” Cantrell.

“Flopping Bill” was a desperate character himself and worked against the rustlers because it paid better than to work with them. From September, 1885 until the weather became too cold to ride, “Flopping Bill” and his band of cowboy exterminators worked, and when they had finished there was no count of the men whose candles had been snuffed, but there are men in Great Falls today who can name at least 26 of them, and it has always been estimated that about 30 people were hanged or shot by “Flopping Bill’s” band during that fall.

The first performer in the bloody drama of extermination as carried on by “Flopping Bill” was a half-breed near Fort Maginnis. Some one believed that he had stolen a steer and butchered it, and one night during August, 1885, he was taken near the ranch of Reese Anderson and strung up to a cottonwood tree without a chance to say his prayers, if he knew any.

That was the beginning, and shortly after “Flopping Bill” called for volunteers to search for horses which had been stolen from the herds of several well known stockmen. The requisition was made upon the round-up, which was camped on the Musselshell about 60 miles above the mouth, and reckless riders and desperate men only were chosen.

The posse made a hard ride that day, and by night they came to the cabin of a man named Downs, near the mouth of the Musselshell. Downs kept a sort of trading post, and was suspected of being in league with the thieves. It was early daylight when the posse arrived and they at once surrounded the cabin, and when Downs came out it was “hands up.”

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A search of the corral and vicinity discovered 22 D.H.S. horses, and Downs was asked to explain. He saw that he was up against it, and gave a full list of all the men connected with the “rustling” business, and indicated where they had their rendezvous. The Missouri runs swift and deep where the waters of the Musselshell enter it, and the banks are high and steep. A rope was placed about the neck of Downs, and a convenient tree was looked for. Some one spied a large grindstone which stood alongside of the cabin.

“Tie it to his neck and drop him in the river,” was the suggestion, and it was carried out literally. To-day the big round grindstone, with the hole in the center, lies in the bottom of the Missouri near the mouth of the Musselshell, and if time and water have not proven too much for the hempen rope the neck bones, at least, of Jim Downs are the grindstone’s companion.

Armed with the information derived from Downs the posse rode south to the mouth of Lodge Pole creek, where there were several “rustlers” located, and in the early morning light three of them were captured and strung up on some cottonwood trees which surrounded the cabin where they had lived. One of the hempen ropes with which the hanging was done swung in the breeze for many years, and perhaps is there yet — it was up to five years ago.

Some of the cowboys in the posse began to get more than they had bargained for, and wanted to quit the business, but “Flopping Bill” pointed out to them that they would be hanged by the civil law if their share in the impromptu hanging was known, and that together with other cogent reasons prompted them to remain.

The next bunch of rustlers was located along the Missouri. They passed as woodchoppers, and a large number of them had rendezvous at Long John’s Bottom on the Missouri, a short ways below the mouth of the Musselshell.

“Flopping Bill’s” posse came upon the camp early one morning, and was discovered by the horse herder, whom they promptly shot, and charged upon the camp. There was a block house with a stable attached, belonging to the rustlers, but most of them were sleeping in tents, and when they shooting began one of them was shot while getting to the block house. Once there they defied the posse, and it was only by strategy that they were dislodged. While the posse kept a hail of bullets against the house, one of the cowboys sneaked up there through the grass and set fire to the stable, and it in turn fired the block house. Just how many rustlers were killed will never be known, but there were at least 11 in the house and six were taken prisoners, while one escaped.

The one who got away was Dixey Burroughs, a half breed, and well known in Northern Montana. Burroughs managed to get away from the house, and was stopped by one of the outer guards, bu dropped behind a log and at the fourth shot managed to get his man, and escaped. Who the cowboy was that was shot has never been divulged. He was buried where he fill and a hint given that nothing was to be said about it.

That night “Flopping Bill” went away and during the night a number of men rode up to the camp of the cowboys, and after a sham battle, took six prisoners, and in the morning their bodies were decorating the Cottonwoods, on the east end of Long John’s Bottom. “Flopping Bill” came back and said the men who had taken the prisoners were a posse from Miles City — and nobody inquired further.

When Dixey Burroughs escaped he crossed the Missouri on a raft, and met old man James and his two sons, Dick and Jim, together with two others. This part of the gang had not been home when the cowboys called, and when Dixey told his story they saw that there was death in the air, and started down the river on a raft. They knew the cowboys were after them and that they would be shown no mercy, and so when near Poplar, they surrendered to a sergeant and a detail of seven United States soldiers, and asked to be taken to Fort Maginnis for trial. The sergeant and his detail started with the prisoners for Maginnis, and early the third morning they awoke to find themselves in the hands of a dozen masked men.

“Hitch up your outfit and drive straight on,” said the leader of the party, “and we will not injure you at all; refuse and we will kill you all. The prisoners are ours.”

The sergeant, whose name is not recalled — the whole affair appears in the records of the post during this year — hitched up and drove on as requested, and the dozen masked were left behind. The prisoners were never seen again, except that a couple of years ago an old-timer told a story of meeting Dixey Burroughs over the Canadian line, and he said he had been spared his life by promising to leave the country.

After these the hangings were desultory, but the aggregate for the two months of September and October is believed to have amounted to about 30. The cowboys would be riding the round-up, and some night word would go around and in the morning 20 of them would be gone for a day or a week, and no questions asked.

That winter, it is related, a crowd of men rode up to the place where the cowboy vigilante crew were quartered, and served notice that everyone of them must leave the country or die. The majority of them left, and have met death in one way or another, but there are still two or three of the posse remaining in Northern Montana, but they do not boast of having belonged to “Flopping Bill’s avengers” in ’85. “Flopping Bill” also found it advisable to leave the country many years ago, and less than two months ago his death was recorded in old Missouri — for Bill was a Missourian and had ridden with Quantrell.

The 1885 episode of the rope and gun has not been written about very much, but the advertising it got was such as to discourage “rustling” in Northern Montana for many years, so that it is only the pilgrim of recent years who has been reviving the business — the real old-times of the bad lands would not take any one’s stock as a gift — but “Flopping Bill,” the man of nerve, without human feeling, has gone over the divide, and perhaps the stock inspectors may be given more work in consequence.

The Anaconda Standard: Sunday Morning, Aug 11, 1901.

flopping-bill-horses

AS IT WAS In Billing 45 YEARS Ago Today
(From the Billings Gazette, May 28, 1885)

William Cantrell, one of the stock inspectors of the territorial association, and known in the Maiden country as “Flopping Bill,” is attending court, as a witness. (Cantrell was an important figure in the cleaning out of the rustlers along the Musselshell by Granville Stuart and his cowboys in 1884.)

Billings Gazette (Billings, Montana) May 28, 1930

Little River County, Arkansas Lynchings, 1899

January 19, 2009
An Alabama Lynching: picture from Gutenberg.org

An Alabama Lynching: picture from Gutenberg.org

RACE WAR IS ON
WHITES OF ARKANSAS KILLING OFF THE COLORED MEN.

CLAIM TO KNOW OF A PLOT
FIRST LYNCH THE CHIEF AUTHOR AND THEN FOLLOW UP.

SEVEN KNOWN DEAD TO DATE
HUNTED DOWN AND KILLED IN DIFFERENT LOCALITIES.

Wrath of the White Men Not Yet Appeased, and Search Going On
–Murder of Planter Starts the Trouble.

TEXARKANA, Ar., March 23. — A race war is on in Little River county, and during the past forty-eight hours an indefinite number of negroes have met their death at the hands of an infuriated white population. Seven are know to have been lynched, shot to death or slain in some manner and the work is not yet done.

The bodies of the victims of the mob’s vengeance are hanging to trees in various parts of the country, strung up wherever overtaken, while that of another who was shot to death while trying to escape, was thrown into a river.

White men are collecting in mobs heavily armed and determined; negroes are fleeing for their lives and the community is in an uproar.

The known dead to date are:
GENERAL DUCKETT.
EDWIN GODWIN.
ADAM KING.
JOSEPH JONES.
BENJAMIN JONES.
MOSES JONES.
UNKNOWN MAN.
Two Let Off With Whipping.

Joe King and John Johnson were also taken in hand by mobs and whipped. They were afterwards turned loose and have disappeared.

Little River county is in the extreme southwest corner of the state, bordered on the west by the Indian territory and on the south by Texas. The negro population is large and has for a long time proved very troublesome to the whites. Frequent murders have occurred and thefts and fights have become common affairs. One or two negroes have previously been severely dealt with when the people found it necessary to take the law into their own hands but it was not until Tuesday that the trouble took on a very serious aspect. It then developed that carefully laid plans had been made by a number of negroes to precipitate a race war, and that many white men had been marked for victims. It is learned that twenty-three negroes were implicated in this plot and the whites are now bent on meting out summary punishment to the entire coterie of conspirators. Seven have been killed and the work of wiping out the entire list continues without relaxation of determination.

All implicated in the plot are known and small parties of white men, varying in number from twenty-five to fifty, are scouring the country for them. Wherever one is found he is quickly strung up, his body perforated with leaden missiles to make sure of their work and the mob hastens on in quest of its next victim. Some of them were found near Richmond and the work of killing the first two or three was an easy matter.

Negroes Panic Stricken.
But the news soon spread among the negroes, who, instead of making the resistance and offering the battle that they had threatened, became panic stricken and began getting out of the community as quickly as possible. Two whose names were on the list of conspirators got a good start of the mob who were detailed to look after them and they succeeded in reaching  the Texas state line before being captured. However, they did not escape. They were overtaken, out of breath and exhausted, but were swung without ceremony.

Last Saturday a prominent planter named James Stockton was murdered at his home near Rocky Comfort by a man named Duckett. The negro escaped at the time, but after remaining in hiding in the swamps until Tuesday he surrendered, saying he had had nothing to eat since his flight. He was taken to Rocky Comfort and soon after his arrival there Sheriff Johnson and deputies started with him for Richmond. They were overtaken by 200 armed men, who demanded the prisoner. Duckett was taken to the place where he had killed Stockton and after making a confession he was lynched. when the negro was taken to the George  plantation just before the start was made for Richmond, it seemed as if every man in the ten miles knew of the capture and before the officer and prisoner could get fairly started the whole country was aroused.

Had Planned an Uprising.
After the lynching it was learned that Duckett had frequently tried to get the negroes in the country to join him in a race war against the whites. A few hours after he had killed Stockton he passed several negroes at a farm house and told them that he had killed one white man and if they would follow him he would kill more. It is now believed that the negroes had banded for a race war. Duckett’s body was buried by the county, as the negroes refused to touch it.

Advices from New Boston, Tex., tonight are to the effect that across the river several negroes have been lynched. This morning Benjamin Jones was found dead on Hurricane Bend and from New Boston it is learned that Joe King and Moses Jones were found hanging to trees at Horseshoe Curve today. Another Jones is missing. In the gang that was plotting for a race war were twenty-three negroes, and it is likely that the entire number have been strung up in the thickets. The negroes are fleeing from the district. Today three wagons full arrived at Texarkana, having crossed Red river at Index at midnight last night. The citizens of Little River county have suffered much recently from lawlessness. Some months ago, the two races clashed at Allene at a sawmill and a small riot followed. From accounts it seems that Duckett and several ringleaders have been killed.

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Mar 24, 1899