A FRENZIED MOB, BENT UPON LYNCHING, STORMS COUTNY JAIL, BUT FAILS IN ITS PURPOSE
COURAGE AND JUDGMENT SHOWN BY COUNTY OFFICERS
Windows Smashed in and Doors Battered Down, But Prisoners Remain Secure---Two Men Accidentally Shot and One Struck in Face With a Brick---Wild Night Passes With Results Much Less Serious Than Seemed possible at First---Militia is Called Out and Does some Good Service.
Fierce in its determination to wreak vengeance upon some negro, and not caring to any great extent what one, a mob, whose strength was variously estimated at from 500 to 1,500 men, stormed the county jail at about 7:30 o'clock last night and for neatly four hours proved to be absolutely beyond control or reason. During the rioting three persons were injured more or less severely and the jail was made an almost complete wreck. Sheriff's officers and policemen succeeded, however, in protecting the inmates of the jail from mob violence until the local military and police forces could be amassed for the dispersing of the crowd.
From the time darkness first began to settle over the city ominous crowds of men began to congregate in various places, the chief rendezvous appearing to be the corner of Seventh and Walnut streets. Street cars coming from Alton Park and St. Elmo began to be loaded with men young and old, many of whom were armed with Winchester rifles and shot guns, and there made their way to the meeting place.
Gradually the crowd increased and the city was generally warned that trouble was brewing. The serious character of the gathering did not altogether appear, however, until a great crowd of citizens from Chickamauga, Tenn., headed by a brother of the late Constable Lon Rains reached the scene. Then it was that the jail authorities and other officials began to realize that the mob could not be coped with by they forces at hand.
hile consultations were being held as to what precautions should be taken to protect the jail and its inmates, a self-sonstituted leader whose name it seemed impossible to learn, arrived on the scene and stated the mob into motion. At first with deliberation the crowd moved up Walnut street and then with a rush and a yell it reached the jail door. The leader, a man fresh from some mill with a face begrimed with soot and dirt called for Sheriff Shipp. Being assured by Capt. George Brown, the jailer, that Capt. Shipp was not in the jail, this man said that he and his crowd had come to get the negro that had committed the foul crime in St. Elmo on Tuesday night and added that they were going to get him and hang him.
As the mob rushed the door of the jail Deputies F.A. Frawley, Matt Galloway
and George Brown took their stand by the big iron door leading into the
jail proper and no force, threats of cajolery could dislodge them.
Cries of "Westfield," "Smith," "Hang 'em" "Burn em," and various other
shouts mingled in a bedlan of sounds that filled the jail and the cries
were taken up by the hundreds outside who were stuggling for entrance.
It looked like chaos turned loose. At this time there was no recognized
leader and independent demands were made upon the officers until it became
impossible to recognize any of them.
As the crowd pressed closer and closer into the jail the number of frowning guns became greater, until there were not less than twenty threatening muzzles pointing towards the group of deputies.
When the mob reached the big iron door it found itself effectually stopped. Not only were there heavy bars of steel in the path to the cells beyond, but two determined officers, who for three long hours gave unmistakable evidence of nerve, stood there immovable. These officers were Brown and Galloway. The constant cry was for them to yield up the keys and it was a s constantly refused.
Finally the smut-begrimed leader above referred to, shouted that he would allow just five minutes for some person to yield up the keys and that if they were not produced in that time there would be made a trial of powder and bullet to determine their influence upon the officers. Capt. Brown gave those nearest him to understand that if any person tried to pass through the door, it would be over, his dead body, and Matt Galloway challenged all who cared, to try to remove him from his position. These two men commanded the respect of the mob throughout the entire crisis.
In the meantime Judge McReynolds arrived on the scene. He
made frantic attempts to attract the crowd's attention, but was unsuccessful
for some time. Finally he mounted a chair just inside the door and
at length secured a hearing.
The judge first asked the crowd who it was that was wanted. In answer the names of Westfield, Smith and the rapist were alarmingly mixed. It became evident at that moment that the crowd would never be satisfied until all three of the negro prisoners were delivered. Judge McReynolds continued:
"Men the negro suspected of assaulting the young lady at St. Elmo is not here. He has been sent away to Knoxville. You might search the jail all night and you would not find him. I appeal to you as a friend, and I am sure you are all friends of mine, to quietly disperse to your homes and refrain from violence. The accused rapist is not here--he is in Knoxville."These few words were well received until the judge stated that Ed Johnson was not in the jail. This announcement was greeted with jeers and insulting epithets. It was not believed and the crowd again became uncontrollable.
A little late Judge McReynolds again gained attention and he proceeded to make a proposition to the crowd. He suggested that if he could not be believed in the matter, the crowd might name three men to visit all the cells in the jail in company with the officers, taking along some man who would recognize the alleged rapist if he saw him. This suggestion seemed to meet with more or less favor, but soon the yells and jeers from those outside started the uproar inside the jail and the situation became decidedly more serious than before.
H. J. Franklin followed the judge and his first utterance caught the mob. He said that he was calling upon the crowd as a man who believed that nay man who had outraged innocent virtue should be hanged or burned, law or no law. From the time he made that utterance, Franklin had the crowd. His suggestion that ten men be named to go with the officers on an inspection or the jail and then report whether or not the man wanted was within, met with favor and quiet began to be restored.
By this time Chief Moseley and Capt. Cass had arrived on the scene with a large detachment of police. With great fearlessness these officers began to clear the lobby so that the suggestion of Frankin could be carried into effect. There was not a weapon displayed, except the hand clubs, and these were not, used on any person. The lobby was cleared, the door was opened and the "committee" entered the inside hall. When the negro department was reached the inmates were Found to be in state of abject terror. They were nearly all on their knees praying with upturned, ashen faces, and gave every evidence that they believed their hour had come. The obstreperous members of the committee were disarmed and locked up, fear being entertained as to their possible action.
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