Elmore Mob Lynches Four

Source Type: Newspaper
Publisher: The Weekly Advertiser
Place of publication: Montgomery, Alabama
Date of publication: Jun 24, 1898 12:00 am

ELMORE MOB LYNCHES FOUR. Four of the prisoners were hung this morning. One negro admitted to being present while the other did the work–full details of how the mob battered down the jail doors–the soldiers too late to protect the prisoners. Wetumpka, June 17. –(Special.) –News has reached here that this morning about 9 o’clock four of the negroes were hung by the mob: Sol Jackson, Lewis Spier, Reese Thompson, and Champ Thompson. The hanging was about three miles from the scene of the crime. Sol Jackson admitted that he was on the ground and stood watch while the others did the burning and killing. He said he only heard one pistol shot. The mob spent last night and the early hours of this morning making investigation. The money was not found because the investigation was broken up by the arrival of the troops about daylight. When the troops came up with the mob the crowd guarded, the prisoners dividing into two parts one going one way and the other in the opposite direction. The crowd going the wrong way deceived the troops into the belief that it had the prisoners and so the troops pursued the wrong party. This enabled the mob to get a safe place with the prisoners and delayed the hanging until the hour named. The Sheriff states that the presence of the troops prevented the mob from burning the prisoners as was the program. They were afraid the troops would come up on them and so the prisoners were hung. Not in many, very many years and probably not in all her history has the beautiful little town of Wetumpka witnessed the exciting incident that took place her last afternoon. In yesterday morning’s Advertiser was a special from here giving the account of the dastardly murder of the old man Wm. Carden and his wife and a relative of Mrs. Carden’s, Wm. Carlee on the Jackson Road, eight miles north of Wetumpka. The motive was supposed to be robbery as Mr. Carden was known to have a lot of money in the house and five negroes, Sol Jackson, Camp Reese, Lewis Speer, and Reese Thompson, and his brother were arrested on suspicion. When they arrested them, the officers gave it out that they only wanted the men as witnesses, fears being entertained that if the neighbors found out that there was a probability of the suspects being the guilty parties they would be lynched then. The negroes were locked up in five stout iron cells just back of the office in the Elmore County jail here, a comparatively new brick building and as strong as the ordinary run of modern jails. THE MOB APPEARS. Yesterday afternoon the very atmosphere seemed heavy and redolent with latent, sudphurous possibilities–even the rapids below the long bridge changed their murmurings to an ominous muttering roar. About 4 o’clock something happened–or began to happen– and it will require lots of exciting scenes and a long stretch of time to erase the memory of that something. At the hour named four or five armed horsemen sauntered leisurely into town coming down the Jackson Road–as it afterward transpired, they were merely the advance guard of a big mob. Presently a perfect avalanche of horsemen into town–they were all thoroughly armed and cool, calm, and collected as if they were on their way to a holiday frolic. They kept straight on to jail at the far end of the east town and by that time a crowd of Wetumpka people had gathered about the jail–some from mere idle curiosity but the major part of them to prevent any violence being done for everybody not a fool realized that the horsemen were after the five negro suspects– and the good people of Wetumpka are anything but fools. These horsemen by the way were composed of the very best people and some of the most prominent citizens of Elmore and Coosa Counties–they made not the slightest efforts to conceal their identity but on the contrary boldly rode through the streets of Wetumpka at 4 o’clock on a bright June afternoon went quietly to the jail and coolly announced what they had come for and what they were determined to have. There were at least 200 of the mob–excitable figures have run the number as high as 400 but there was scarcely that many–at least only a few gossip loving individuals saw that many. The leaders of the mob with a goodly crowd following them dismounted at the jail gate and advanced towards the front door. Several of the most prominent citizens of Wetumpka were gathered about the jail doors and began arguing with the appealed to the mob to abandon their plan of taking the negroes. Rev. Dr. Andrews of the Methodist Church made a lengthy and powerful appeal, but his eloquence had no effect for all the time the leaders of the crowd were inside the jail trying to force their way from the office into the cages in the rear. Proposition after proposition was made to the mob one of them being that people of Wetumpka would raise a purpose to employ skilled detective to figure out the perpetrators of the crime. This proposition came very near succeeding and the mob was wavering when one of the leaders sprang upon a chair and being an impassioned speech reminding his companions of the horrible sight they had just seen the mutilated bodies of the dead and winding up with the statement that now when they were so near to getting what they had come for they were not going to let a few town people persuade them out of it. This speech had the desired effect and though Dr. Andrews had offered $10 and other like sums the mob went to work with the renewed energy. They had come thoroughly prepared for their work and with the aid of the cold-chisel and crowbars soon had the heavy outer door off its hinges and the lock broken. They then demanded the keys and Jailor Ollie Rhodes seeing that there was no way out of it handed them some keys. A rush was made for the cage in the rear of the cells behind the office and a negro by the name of Eli Birl who was in the hall on the outside of the cages was seized. He was in for concealed weapons and had nothing to do with the other offense and on learning this the crowd put him back in the cage. The only prisoner in this section who was in for a capital crim was Tom Garth the negro convict who killed another convict at Speigners Tuesday night and Jailor Rhodes fortunately sent him over to the walls this morning. The mob then surged the right keys, but the jailor told them that the ones he had given them were the only keys he had. It turned out afterwards that Sheriff D. W. McCoy had hidden the other key. It was known by this time that the troops from Montgomery had been sent for and every possible ruse was adopted that would help a play from delay. The leaders of the mob discovered through that the five negroes were locked in the cells just between the iron cages and the office and tired of all the delay they started for them. Some of the younger and hot-headed members of the mob had proposed to go around by the windows in and the rear and shoot the prisoners from there but the older cooler heads nipped that plan in its incipiency saying that they were not there for that kind of work. All the men in the jail went to work with a will at getting the cells open and in something over though hours from the time they had entered the jail they had the iron doors of five cells in which the much-wanted negroes were locked, battered down and torn from the hinges. As each door was torn down the trembling wretch inside sprang to the front of the cell in obedience to the command and passively gave up to his captors. Then as quietly as they had come–without any unnecessary noise or confusion– the great crowd of horsemen slowly rode out of town with the five negroes in their midst. The leaders of the mob said that they were intended to take the negores to the scene of the crime where a jury of twelve good men would try them. If they were innocent, they would be released but if guilty only one verdict would be given them, and nobody asked what that was. THE MONTGOMERY TROOPS. Just about 9 o’clock the special bear– The run from Montgomery to Elmore was made in very fast time but from Elmore to Wetumpka Engineer Loftin and Conductor Brooks felt their way along the unfamiliar track the darkness murky with rumored threats. As the train pulled up a small crowd at the station yelled out “It’s all over boys, your too late” but Captain Westcott put himself and command under Sheriff McCoy who took them at once across the bridge to the east town, where a halt was made in front of Riverside Inn. After a short stop they startled the troops from Montgomery pulled up to the little station at Wetumpka. Out to the walls with the intention of getting wagons and following the mob who had a start of about forty minutes on them. At the walls there was a delay, Warden Perkins not being willing to allow his wagons to be used without the consent of some of the convict inspectors but finally Mr. Trapp gave his consent over the wires and Governor Johnston being asked what to do told Captain Westcott to use his discretion. Hon. Thos. Williams started out in his buggy to try and persuade the mob to release the negroes and Captain Westcott waited until his return. In the meantime, Warden Perkins spread a bountiful repast to the hungry, tired, soldier boys which was much appreciated as were the attentions of his family. A little after 1 o’clock in the morning Captain Westcott too his command and started in the direction that the mob were supposed to be. What happened after that a special at the head of this tells in more graphic words than any others that the English language can produce. QUEER FACTS AND MORE DETAILS. As is this case with every happening there are coincidences, so this is no exception to the rule. ON the 15th day of June 1883 just fifteen years ago on Wednesday, the father and mother of Mr. Wm. Carden were brutally murdered at their home near Rockford in Coosa County. In very short order the murderer was arrested and strung to the nearest tree by the outraged community. On Thursday the son and his wife were murdered and some of the mob who came to Wetumpka to take the suspected murderers from jail were the very men who had taken part in lynching the murderer of the father and mother fifteen years ago. In the smoldering embers of the fire were found the melted remains of some silver money and in a field in front of the house was found the top of a snuff box that Mr. Carden kept some gold pieces in. The negro Sol Jackson is not a native of this part of the country but drifted here with the commencement of work on the government locks and river improvements. Some time ago he borrowed $2 from Mr. Carden and the other day he made a proposition to work it out by cutting wheat. Jackson bore a very bad character generally and the other negroes shared that honor with him. This matter has given the good people of Wetumpka and adjacent community something to talk about for months which for some days war talk will be a drag on the market. THE FORCED TROOPS. The Montgomery troops all reached home about 5:30 pm yesterday. They were a little tired but none the worse for the trip. As stated above, Capt. Westcott placed himself and the men at the disposal of Sheriff McCoy and about on o’clock gave the order to move on in the direction taken by the mob. Mr. Perkins furnished wagons into which all the troops were loaded and started up the road. When they had gotten about a mile from the penitentiary the wagon in charge of Lieutenant Rousseau of the Greys broke down but the plucky Lieutenant ordering his men to “fall out” and “fall in” started in a swinging walk after the other wagons. Finally just before day at a large campfire was seen in the woods to the left of the road and the command was halted, Capt. Westcott’s place being to make a detour and by a flank movement surround the mob. For some reason though Sheriff McCoy was opposed to this and it was abandoned. The intention of the mob was to hang the negroes here and burn them but this was frustrated just then. Shortly after this the mob separated when the troops came up with them the second time and began running through the woods in two columns. Capt. Westcott charged that column that he though had the negroes but it was the wrong column and the other on had the negores. When the mistake was discovered it was all over the negroes were swinging to tree their dangling bodies making a gruesome scene. The negroes all confessed to having a hang in the brutal murder but none of the money has yet been found except the melted silver stated above.