All submitted and transcribed by J.S.
Richmond Palladium Daily 23Feb1906
RECORDS OF OLD TRIAL ARE INTACT
EXECUTION PAPERS OF HENRY CHRYST ARE AT COURT HOUSE
HE WAS HUNG AT SALISBURY
THE WORDING OF THE DOCUMENT IS QUAINT AND DIGNIFIED - PENMANSHIP PERFECT
The search that is now being made for matters of interest in connection with the Richmond Centennial, is bringing to light many things of historic interest, that have passed out of mind, for many years. Attorney Jesse Reeves, who is preparing a paper on the courts of the county, Wednesday came across the papers in the Henry Chryst murder case.
Almost thirty years ago Henry Chryst was hung in this county. Since that time only one other man has been hung in Wayne County Nathaniel Bates, who was executed in the yard of the old county jail. Bates was the first man to be hung in this county, since Indiana as admitted into the Union as a state, and Chryst was the only man executed in Wayne County during the time Indiana was a territory.
Chryst was hung from a tree in the public square of the
old town of Salisbury, April 1, 1816 for the murder of James Chambers,
by the grand jury and his execution sentence is on record at the
office of the county clerk and all are excellently preserved. The
wording of these documents is in the quaint, dignified old English
style and the penmanship is faultless.
The indictment returned by the grand jury states that Chryst killed Chashbers[sic] December 7, 1815 with a "matlock, commonly called a rifle gun. It also states that the deed was committed by Chryst "not having the fear of God before his eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the Devil." The indictment is signed by "Archinbald Watson, foreman."
The order of execution reads as follows:
"Henry Chryst shall be taken from the goal from the said
County of Wayne from whence he came, and from there to the place of
execution on the public square of Salisbury, in the county of Wayne
aforesaid, on Monday the first day of April next ensuing, and then be
hanged by the neck until dead, and that his body be delivered to his
friends and relatives. And it is further ordered by the court that the
sheriff of the said County of Wayne in this judgement, execute
Richmond Palladium Daily 26 Feb 1906
SALISBURY IS AGAIN IN PRINT
E.I. LEWIS WRITES ABOUT OLD COUNTY SEAT BEING "HOODED"
ESTABLISHED BY TRICKERY
HE ALSO TELLS OF HINDOSTAN AND PALESTINE, WHICH HAVE ALSO VANISHED FROM EARTH
E.I. Lewis, writing in the Indianapolis News Saturday, on "Ambitious Indiana County Seats that Have Vanished from Earth," has some interesting things to say about Salisbury, once the county seat of Old Wayne. The other two towns which he tells about are Hindoostan and Palestine. Hindoostan was formerly the county seat of Martin. Lewis says that it was killed by the prevalence of sickness. Palestine, the former county seat of Lawrence, he says, was built over a burial mound, a fact not known till long after sickness had also wiped it out of existence. Salisbury, he thinks, was "hoodooed" by the murder of Henry Chryst.
He gives an introductory paragraph to Salisbury and then follows a good account of it.
"Oh, yes; when we plow in the spring we turn up brickbats and pieces of broken crockery. That's all we see left of old Salisbury Wayne county's first county seat. Get pretty fair corn out of the field. The courthouse stood there near the hedge and down there in the holler stood the elm tree used as the gallows for the first legal execution in Indiana. If they hadn't moved the county seat away from here perhaps there would have been no Richmond." The farmer who owns and farms the site of Wayne county's first county seat looked out over a snow covered field.
Salisbury was a healthy enough place, but it seems to
have been hoodooed out of existence. It is asserted by local
historians that the county seat was located at Salisbury in 18180, by
trickery, and this alleged trickery undoubtedly led to the long
agitation, that in 1817, resulted in the seat's being shifted over to
Centerville, which, half a century later, lost the courthouse to
In the spring of 1816, a year before the removal of the county seat from Salisbury, a man named Henry Chryst, convicted of murder, was hanged to the branch of an old elm tree that stood on the outskirts of the town. The really harrowing feature of the tragedy occurred that night, when the son of the executed man, a lad of only twelve years, cut the cold boy of his father down and loaded it on a sled, hauled it fifteen miles through the forests and darkness to the Chryst home. The whole affair was so horrible that it cast a gloom over the town. Those were days of superstition and many thought that the execution brought the vengence of God on the town.
The fact that superstition existed just about the time is shown in the court records of the trial of a man named Petit, who, "not having the fear of God before his eyes," and "impelled by the Satanic Majesty, the devil," was charged with having committe3d theft. The town, according to some, became "impelled by the devil."
Salisbury, notwithstanding these handicaps, really did show unmistakable indications of developing into a large city. The court house and jail attracted population and civic pride led the citizens to advance the assertion that theirs was the most vigorous town in the eastern part of Indiana Teritoory[sic]. At one time the population was over 300 souls, which was considerable for these days, and there were industries that employed a number of men. But the decline came in a hurry when the court house and jail were moved over to Centerville. Most of the population followed the logs to the new location and in 1826 - ten years later - there were only ten families left.
It was at Salisbury that Olivet P. Morton was born and there he served his apprenticeship as a hatter. Among the noted men who presided over and tried cases in the court at Salisbury were Benjamin Park, James Noble, Jesse L. Holman, John Watts and Mile C. Eggleston.
The very location of the town has wiped out of memory. It is impossible to locate accurately the old streets, the exact spot where the courthouse square was, or where Morton was born, though the house in which he was born, now used as a barn, stands near its original location.
The logs of the old jail and courthouse were used later
in building houses in Centerville, and a few of those of the old jail
can be seen in a cowshed there. The bricks that were used in the old
log courthouse are now in the building on the southeast corner of Main
and Pearl streets in Richmond, and all that is left at Salisbury is
the few scattered bits of crockery and fragments of brickbats that are
turned up occasionally by the plowman.
Richmond Palladium Daily, Vol 42, No 79, 13 Feb 1917
EXECUTES MAN FOR $10.
The sheriff was the principal item of expense. "For execution of Henry Chyst[sic] $10." is one item in the sheriff's claims. A guard was hired at fifty cents a day to watch the prisoner. "Chryst's funeral expenses; : winding of sheet, $2; coffin $2." The nature of Chryst's crime is not stated. Each week the sheriff paid out $15 or $20 for wolf scalps, at $1 a scalp.
Richmond Palladium and Sun-Telegram, 1 Sep 1907
HOMICIDE TRIALS IN WAYNE COUNTY
PAPER READ BY JUDGE HENRY C FOX BEFORE THE WAYNE COUNTY PIONEERS' ASSOCIATION AT CENTERVILLE, ON AUGUST 17TH 1907
CHRYST KILLED CHAMBERS
I come now to the important homicide or murder case that have been tried in our courts, especially those that have transpired since I have been a practicing attorney, which is now about forty-three years. Wayne county has had three country seats, Salisbury, Centerville and Richmond, and in each one a man has been hung for the crime of murder. While Indiana was still a territory. Henry Chryst killed his son-in-law, a man by the name of Chambers, in Washington township, in this county. He was indicted and tried for murder in the first degree. Tradition has it that his daughter, Mrs. Chambers, had frequently complained to her father about the cruel treatment of her husband. Chryst went to their house, got into an altercvation with Chambers, attempted to stab him with a butcher knife, Chambers ran, and as he ran Chryst shot him with a rifle and killed him. The case upon the records is entitled United States vs. Henry Chryst. The case was tried on the 7th day of March 1817, and on the next day the jury returned a verdict of guilty. Thereupon the court, after over-ruling a motion for a new trial, sentenced him to be hanged in the public square in Salisbury on the first day of the following April, which was done. The principal witnesses against Chryst were his daughter, Mrs. Chambers, his wife3 and minor son. It is said that when his son took the witness chair the defendant remarked to him:
"Now, son, tell the truth, if it convicts your father."
After the execution it is said that the son took the body and conveyed it to the family residence on a sled in the night-time through the woods a distance of ten miles.
The next person to suffer the death penalty was
Hampshire Pitts, who was hanged in Centerville. Pitts killed a man by
the name of Mail, about four miles north of Richmond. He was promptly
arrested and indicted. His trial commenced on the 6th day of November
1822. A verdict of guilty was returned on the 9th day of November.
Upon a motion made, a new trial was granted by the two associate
judges, Jesse Davenport and William McLain, over-ruling the presiding
judge who was not in favor of granting the motion. On the 13th
day of the same month, the case was again tried and the same kind of a
verdict rendered. On this verdict the court sentenced Pitts to be
hanged between the hours of eleven o'clock a.m. and four o'clock p.m.
on the 6th day of the following December, which was done.
BATES OF WIFE MURDER
The next case is which the defendant suffered death, was the case against Nathaniel S. Bates, who was hanged in Richmond. Bates killed his wife in Hagerstown. This was an atrocious murder. In the morning of the day on which he killed his wife, he was seen to sharpen his pocket knife while in the country. He then went to the house where his wife was and while they were alone he committed the deed. After doing it, he appeared upon the streets and told wheat he had done. He was at once arrested, afterwards indicted and put upon trial. The trial commenced on the 5th day of May 1886, and lasted four days. The jury found him guilty and inflicted the death penalty. The court sentenced him to be hanged on the 26th day of August following, which was done. Bates went upon the witness stand and while testifying in answer to questions, said that when he went into the house he struck his wife with an axe-handle and knocked her down, then took her by the hair, dragged her head upon his knee and cut her throat with his pocket knife. He further answered that in doing so he believed he was guilty of murder in the first degree and deserved death.
Indiana Sentinel, Vol 3, No 50 (Vincennes, Knox County,
IN) 25 Mar 1820
From the Indiann Oracle.
TRIAL FOR MURDER!
The Circuit Court for Dearborn County closed its session on saturday[sic] last - the whole of the term was consumed by the trial of Amasa Fuller, on an indictment for the murder of Palmer Warren. Few trials have excited more general interest, as well from the character and appearance of the prisoner, as from the circumstances which led to the atrocious deed.The circumstances were briefly these:
Fuller had, for some considerable time prior to the murder of Warren, been attentive to a young lady who was residing with her uncle in Lawrenceburg; about the last of Nov 1819, Fuller left this place for Brookville; while there, the unfortunate deceased commenced an intimacy with the young lady to whom Fuller had been before attached; their intimacy resulted in an engagement of marriage, which was to have been consummated on the fatal 10th Jan 1820. It appeared in evidence, that about the middle or last of Dec. Fuller, then at Brookville, received a letter in the hand writing of Warren & signed by the young lady, enclosing a ring, in which she renounced all feelings of attachment towards him, and returned him the ring in pledge; that after the receipt of this letter, Fuller appeared gloomy and melancholy, and on Friday 7th January, he left Brookville on foot, and arrived at Lawrenceburgh in the evening of that day; after changing his wet clothes (having rained) he went into the house of the young lady's uncle, next to Mr. Coburn's hotel, where he put up, and was there frequently between the time of his arrival from Brookville and the day of the murder, meeting Warren at the house; he several times attempted to quarrel with him, which Warren as often declined; on Saturday, 8th Jan. it appeared that Fuller borrowed a pair of pistols with the avowed design of shooting at a mark, in which amusement he requested several young men to participate; on the afternoon of that day he asked a Mr. Hitchcock if he would go out and hunt with him, he replied that he would, and would go for his gun, Fuller answered, I do not hunt with guns, but with pistols. On Sunday, 8th Jan Fuller seemed cool and collected, talking on various subjects with his fellow boarders & declared he had no pretentions to the young lady in question. On Monday morning, 10th Jan. he asked Mr. Hitchcock, when up in his room at the hotel, what was the best way to to[sic] load a pistol and the serest way to kill? and observed I am afraid that this pistol has not enough powder in it, how shall I shoot it off so as not to be heard? (It must be observed that Warren's office is under the same roof with Coburn's hotel.) Fuller went down stairs and shortly after came up saying, I have shot it off, and no person heard me. Fuller then looaded[sic] the pistols with powder and flour slugs each - Hitchcock told him he hoped he had no evil designs - Fuller replied, "I have not, but I will shew you some tun." Fuller then put on a great coat which he had borrowed form Mr. Coburn, and feeling if it had pockets, he put one pistol in each pocket of the coat, and walked down stairs, having previously asked Hitchcock it he could discover that he had pistols. It appeared further in evidence, that Fuller left the house, came back and went out again; he was seen by Mr. Farrar, who was standing in the door of the house, next but one to Warren's Office, to come out of Coburn's bar room about a yard behind Warren, who unlolked[sic] the door of this office and entered followed by Fuller; in about 3 4's of a minute Mr. Farrar heard the report of a pistol in Warren's Office, instantly ran there, and attempted to open the door, it was stopped by something, and looking down he discovered the body of Warren lying crosswise the door and upon entering the office discovered Fuller standing beside the body, and the room filled with smoke and the smell of the powder; Warren was not yet dead, but struggling in the last agonies. Mr Farrar siezed[sic] hold of Fuller exclaimed, "good heaves, Fuller, is it possible you have done this?" Fuller replied, "I am a man and have acted the part of a man! I have been ridding the earth of a vile reptile! I glory in the deed!!!" The pistols were found lying on the counter of the office, one discharged of its contents, the other still charged, a writing was found on the floor, the substance of which was, that Warren, in the presence of Almighty God, swore to renounce all pretentions to the young lady, and acknowledge himself to be a base liar and a scoundrel! Fuller said, after his arrival, that he had presented this paper to Warren, desired him to sign it: he refused - he then offered him a pistol, bidding him defend himself like a man; this Warren refused - and that he then shot the cowardly rascal. They body of Warren was pierced with a wound just below the pap of the left breast. It does not appear that Warren had ever taken any undue advantage of Fuller, or even spoke a disrespectful word to him to the young lady, or any other person.
The prosecution was conducted by Amos Lane and John
Test, esquires: the prisoner was ably defended by Charles Dewey,
Joseph S. Benham, Daniel J. Caswell, Wm C. Drew, Samuel Q. Richardson
and Merrit S. Craig, esquires. The counsel for the prisoner moved to
continue the trial, until the next term of this court, on an affidavit
of the absence of two material witnesses. This motion was overruled by
the court, because not stating the facts to be proved by those two
witnesses. Another motion wa then made for continuance by the counsel
for the prisoner, on affidavit of the fact that popular prejudice ran
so high that the prisoner could not have a fair trial. The opinion of
the court was: That if the fact thus stated came to the knowledge of
the prisoner subsequent to the former motion for a continuance, we
would listen to it; but as it does not appear that it did, the motion
is overruled. The defence set up on the trial was Insanity. It,
however, appeared in evidence that the prisoner had been thought by
those witnesses who had seen him, to be more gloomy and melancholy
than usual, and as it something disturbed his mind; but nothing like
insanity was made out. After a long and patient hearing of the
testimony, which was very consistent and positive, and after an able
defence by the prisoner's counsel, the jury retired - an din about two
hours returned into the court with a verdict of Guilty. On
Sutarday[sic] morning the sentence of the Court was passed, by his
honor Judge Eggleston, that the prisoner at the bar be remanded to his
place of confinement, and be thence conducted, on Friday, 31st of
March inst. to the place of execution, and be there hanged by the neck
until he be dead! Fuller preserved throughout the trial, and at the
time the Judge pronounced to him his awful doom, that his days were
numbered, a stern, inflexible countenance.
Richmond Palladium and Sun-Telegram, 1 Sep 1907
HOMICIDE TRIALS IN WAYNE COUNTY
PAPER READ BY JUDGE HENRY C FOX BEFORE THE WAYNE COUNTY PIONEERS' ASSOCIATION AT CENTERVILLE, ON AUGUST 17TH 1907
The next person to suffer the death penalty was Hampshire Pitts, who was hanged in C enterville. Pitts killed a man by the name of Mail, about four miles north of Richmond. He was promptly arrested and indicted. His trial commenced on the 6th day of November 1822. A verdict of guilty was returned on the 9th day of November. Upon a motion made, a new trial was granted by the two associate judges, Jesse Davenport and William McLain, over-ruling the presiding judge who was not in favor of granting the motion. On the 13th day of the same month, the case was again tried and the same kind of a verdict rendered. On this verdict the court sentenced Pitts to be hanged between the hours of eleven o'clock a.m. and four o'clock p.m. on the 6th day of the following December, which was done.
Western Sun & General Advertiser, Vol 14, No 23
(Vincennes, Knox County, IN) 5 Jul 1823
On Thursday of last week came on for trial before the Circuit court of this county, the case of the State of Indiana vs. John Harvey, for the murder of Thomas Casey by shooting him with a rifle on the 8th of May last. The cause occupied the court the whole day, when the jury retired, and after a short absence, returned with a verdict of guilty. An attempt was made by his counsel, Messrs. Battell, Daniel & Law, to obtain a new trial, the motion was, however, overruled by the court as was also the motion made by them in arrest of judgment. The court on Saturday pronounced judgment, and we have been politely favored by his honor judge Goodlett, at our request, with a copy of the address to the prisoner on passing the sentence of the law, which we lay before our readers.
"John Harvey, the painful task which it has now become
my duty to perform, I would gladly put farther from me, by postponing
the judgment of the law until a future day, where it not that this is
the last day of the term. The grand jury of your county, at this term,
have indicted you for the crime of willful and malicious murder - a
trverse[sic] jury, selected with all possible care by your counsel
& yourself, after having patiently and attentively listened to
your defence, after having duly & deliberately weighed the
testimony for and against you, assisted as you were by counsel, have
returned a verdict of guilt against you. Your counsel, in the ardor of
their zeal, have applied for a new trial; the court did not think the
circumstances of your case would warrant it. They then moved the court
in arrest of judgt. which motion the court felt bound to overrule.
There is nothing left for the court to do but to pronounce the
sentence of the law upon the finding of the jury, however painful that
duty may be.
"The judgment of this court is, that you John Harvey, be conducted to the place from whence you came, there to remain until Friday the 27th day of June, on which day, between the hours of nine o'clock in the forenoon, and two o'clock in the afternoon, the sheriff of the county will conduct you to some convenient place withing one mile of the court house and there on a gallows erected for that purpose, will hang you by neck until you are dead.
"Here my duties as an officer are at an end, but let me, as a fellow creature, entreat you to implore the mercy of that God in whose mercy I hope myself; let me beg of you to repent, not only of this murder but of the sins of your life. Although we are conscious, in this instance, that we have faithfully discharged our duty towards you; yet it is possible for an earthly tribunal to err; but you and I must meet together at the bar of that God who will do right. Oh, let me entreat you to prepare for the event - any may he have mercy upon you." Evansville Gaz.
The Western Register and Terre-Haute Advertiser, Vol 1,
No 35, (Vigo County, Indiana) 14 Apr 1824
REGISTER OFFICE, TERRE-HAUTE, APRIL 14, 1824
On Thursday of last week in the Knox Circuit Court in this place, came on the trial of William Cox, a black man for a rape, committed on a young woman of respectable connections in this county by the name of Smith. The evidence was strong and conclusive and fixed the guilt of the prisoner beyond the possibility of a doubt. The jury were absent but a few moments, when they returned with their verdict. The prisoner is sentenced o be hung on Friday, the 9th of April. Counsel for the State John Law Eqr. Pres. atty. Counsel for the prisoner, Charles Dewey and Saml. Judah Esquires. W Sun
Indiana Gazette, Vol 9, No 3, Corydon, Harrison County,
13 Nov 1824
FROM THE W. CENSOR
At our request, we have been furnished with the following sentence of condemnation, passed, in the Madison Circuit Court, upon James Hudson for the murder of Logan, by the President Judge, the hon. W.W. Wick.
The constitutional accusing tribunal of the country for the county of Madison, a grand jury of your fellows and peers. have presented you for the murder of Logan, an Indian of a tribe at peace with the United States. You have been arraigned - have pleaded not guilty - and have put yourself upon your country for yourself upon your country for trial. A jury of your own selection have found you guilty of the accusation, after a patient and full investigation, in which much ability & ingenuity have been exerted by your legal advisors on your behalf. The court being, according to the benign maximum of the law, "of counsel for the prisoner," have anxiously sought for grounds of a rational doubt in your favor, but are constrained, by proof the most full, perfect, & clear, to accord to the verdict of the jury their reluctant, but undoubting assent. As the organ of the bench, it has, for the first time in my life, become my duty to pronounce upon a fellow mortal the most awful sentence of the law. Believe me, my heart recoils from the discharge of this duty. I would that it were otherwise.
I feels as a dying man. As such permit me to address you, and to call upon you to "Look down, on what? A fathomless abyss,
"A dread Eternity, now surely" your's.
The evidence in the cause clearly warrants the unhesitating and decided belief that you did without any just provocation, in cold blood, and with malice aforethought, shoot Logan so as thereby instantly to deprive him of life. O my God! how could you do it? How could you deprive your brother man (for Indian Logan was your brother) of that life which God gave him, and which was as dear to him as is yours to you?...
Indiana Spectator, Vol 1, No 27, (Lawrenceburg, Dearborn
County) 17 Jun 1825
EXECUTION OF SAWYER AND BRIDGE
The execution of these men for assisting in the murder of several Indiana in Madison county, took place on Friday last, pursuant to the sentence of the court, at the Falls of Fall Creek. The Rev. Mr. Strange attended them at the place of execution. After delivering a sermon the prisoners were told by the Sheriff that they had but a few minutes to live, and if they had any confession to make they then had an opportunity. Bridge arose, and stated that he had made a confession in writing, and it would shortly be published, and therefore he considered it unnecessary to recapitulate it; but said he was in part guilty of the crime for which he was about to suffer. He admonished the spectators, particularly the young people, to take warning by his untimely end, and flee from the wrath to come - Sawyer said but little. In a few minutes after they were launched into eternity.
After the bodies were cut down and placed in the coffins, the sheriff & guard went to the prison and brought out young Bridge (who had remained there during the execution of his father and Sawyer), with a rope around his neck, and proceeded to the place of execution. This is said by those present to have been one of the most solemn scenes they had ever witnessed. Beneath the gallows stood the coffins of old Bridge and Sawyer, the son of one of these unfortunate men just turned of his eighteenth year, about to meet their fate. Mr. Strange addressed young Bridge and the people, in the most pathetic and energetic manner described he scene before them. After he had finished, Bridge was ordered to stand on his feet, he expected nothing but his end was approaching, his knees tottered and it was with difficulty that he stood up when, instead of meeting the executioner his pardon was presented to him.
The Governor in exercising this high authority of the constitution, has acted in accordance with the wishes of not only the jury & officers of the court who tried young Bridge, but of most of the citizens of the state. Several Indian Chiefs form the north of Ohio; who were present with their interpreter, expressed a perfect willingness that the young man should live.
An unfortunate event occurred while the prisoners were hanging. The handkerchief with which the arms of Sawyer were fastened came untied, and the miserable man succeeded in clenching the rope & raising himself up, during which time he uttered several heart rending groans. The sheriff however succeeded in pulling him down and fastening his arms.
As an incident that Indians do not always look upon the
death of those who have injured them with perfect indifference, it has
been remarked that during the execution of Sawyer and Bridge those
present shed tears. Indianapolis Gaz.
Western Sun & General Advertiser, Vol 15, No 12, (Vincenness, Knox County) 1 May 1824
The Circuit Court for Madison county commenced its session on Thursday last - Thomas Harper, John T. Bridge, John Bridge, Andrew Sawyer, Stephen Sawyer, and James Hudson, were indicted for the murder of the Indians on Fall creek; but in consequences of the indisposition of the Hon. W.W. Wick, the president judge, the trial was laid over until the next term, which takes places on the 7th of October next. - Gazette
Indiana Palladium, Vol 5, No 16 (Lawrenceburg, Dearborn
County) 25 Apr 1829
We, last week, promised to give to our readers a detailed account of proceedings in the trial of Edward I. Swanson, but have been disappointed in obtaining some of the particulars, especially the address of the court to him on pronouncing Judgment. This we regret, as we understand the scene was an affecting one. We will however, give a condensed view of the testimony as taken down at the trial. The evidence on the part of the state was as follows:
An election for the captaincy of a militia company, took place at the house of Mr. John Arnold, in Rush County on the 4th of October last. Elisha Clark, the deceased, was a candidate for the office, and succeeded in being elected.
No quarrel had taken place between the deceased and prisoner during the day. In the evening, about sunset, all the company had left the ground except R. Blackledge, Lewis Clark, P. Reshee, Elisha Clark and prisoner, who were all, except Reshee, standing in Arnold's store. While there they deceased observed that he had few oppose him in his election, but some, and one not far off. Upon saying this, Swanson plucked him by the coat, and they went out of the store together, followed by Lewis Clark. While out, the prisoner endeavored to convince the Clarks that he was not their enemy, and enquired of Lewis if he had observed any using in his deportment on that day, indicating hostility to himself or his brother Elisha, who replied he had not. They then parted; and Swanson went in the direction of his own house (which stood a few feet from Arnold's) and the Clarks returned into the store, bade good evening, and in company with Blackledge, started home. They had gone but a few steps when Lewis Clark heard a gun cock, turned his head and saw prisoner raising his rifle, and before he had time to speak or to act, he fired, and Elisha exclaimed "Lord! Lord! I am killed!" Reshee testified that he was at Swanson's door when he came in and got his gun, and caught him and enquired "what he was going to do?" Swanson replied "let me go," prisoner appeared much excited and bent upon mischief. Reshee let him go and in a moment after heard the gun discharge, ran to the spot and saw Clark was shot, who died in about half an hour. This is the substance of the testimony in relation to the killing. Some testimony was adduced proving deliberate malice on the part of the prisoner, such as threats and hints of what consequences of Clark's towards some of the prisoner's friends, but hose expressions appeared to be cautiously worded, and could not be taken against him except when explained by other transactions, which we have not room to give. The defence set up by the prisoner's counsel was insanity. But the Jury entirely disregarded it. All they were able to prove was, that Swanson was absent minded, somewhat eccentric and incoherent in conversation. After verdict, a motion was made by the prisoner's counsel to arrest of judgment on several grounds, all of which were over-ruled by the court, and judgment was pronounced on Friday the 10th, condemning the unfortunate man to execution on Monday the 11th day of May next. Counsel for the state, W.W. Wicks, Esq, prosecuting attorney, assisted by James Whitcombe, Esq. For the prisoner, C.H. Test, M. Willet and H. Gregg, Esqrs. The prosecution was ably conducted, and the defence not less so. - Fayette Observer
Western Sun & General Advertiser, Vol 14, No 23
(Vincennes, Knox County, IN) 16 Oct 1830
This individual was tried at the late term of the Circuit court for Fountain county, for the murder of his wife. He was convicted, and sentenced to be executed on Friday the 12th of November. Free Press
Western Sun & General Advertiser, Vol 14, No 23 (Vincennes, Knox County, IN) 30 Oct 1830
Extract of a letter to the Editors, dated Covington, Oct 1, 1830.
"The trial of John Richardson, for the murder of his wife, came on before the circuit court on the 29th ult and after an investigation which lasted about thirteen hours, the jury retired, an din about two hours brought in a verdict of GUILTY. Yesterday, at about one o'clock, the judge proceeded to pronounce the sentence of the law on the prisoner, who stood by apparently unmoved. He is to be hung on the 12th of November. The Murder was not denied, and the principal ground upon which he relied of gettiog[sic] clear, was that of insanity. The prisoner was able defended by Messrs. Blake, Farrington and Patterson." Lafayette Free Press
Indiana American, Vol 1, No 41 (Brookville, Franklin
County, IN) 11 Oct 1833
The execution of John Jones and Cader Heron, convicted for murder, at the late term of the Bartholomew County Circuit Court, was to take place at Columbus, Indiana, this day.
Bloomington Post, Vol 3, No 23 (Bloomington, Monroe
County, IN) 13 Jul 1838
Execution - David Scott was hung at Laporte, Indiana, on Friday the 15th inst, for the murder of Joshua Copeland, in February last. The Michigan City Gazette says: "An immense throng of spectators surrounded the gallows, a large portion of whom were in female attire." Wayne County Chronicle
The Wabash Courier, Vol 9, No 33 (Terre Haute, Vigo
County, IN) 24 Apr 1841
For the Wabash Courier
CAPTURE OF N. BEAUCHAMP, SR.
Messrs. J.& T. Dowling: As our business, as planters, will soon call us back to Texas, and as many enquires have been made of us respecting the circumstances attending the capture of Beauchamp (whose reported murder of Mr. Mickleberry, in your county, last summer, created so much excitement,) we submit for publication a plain and unvarnished narrative of the facts. We do this the more carefully because, heretofore Texas, (our adopted county) has been considered the asylum of all kinds of desperadoes; and we wish to give, in this instance, a practical lesson to all such that there is no "resting place for the wicked" even in Texas, and to show the lovers of virtue and good order in the States that the People of Texas are a law abiding and just People. So far from being interrupted in our pursuit of Beauchamp in Texas, every facility was afforded where ever we travelled; and in many instances on knowing our business, those with whom we stopped refused to receive any renumeration. We mention this for the benefit of that class of emigrants - those chevaliers d'industrie - who leave their country for their country's good, and who think that an escape from the penitentiary or the gallows in "the States" is a good passport to favor and popularity in the Republic of the Single Star.
According to Beauchamp's own account, he did not leave the Union until after the Presidentail election; and he came to Hamilton, on the Sabine river (.0 miles from Fort Jessup, La.) in t he latter end of November, where he was employed as a Ferryman. He also kept house by himself, and world at the Blacksmith business. During his residence at this place, he did not live in great harmony with his neighbors. Having accused some of them of stealing his poultry, it had like to result seriously between one of them and himself. On leaving Hamilton, he came to Robert Anderson, sr. (the father of the undersigned) of whom he rented a blacksmith shop and tools, on certain conditions.
Mr. B. affected to be much displeased with the state of society in the neighborhood in consequence, as he said, of the absence of religious meetings and instructions. The undersigned then suggested to hm that if he would remove to where I resided, on the other side of Teriac, this objection would be removed, and I further remarked that I would try and procure employment for him at Mr. Flourney's, which I accordingly did.
He had not been long there before he purchased a couple
of horses, and started west on the 2d of March. As he owed my father
some money, and as a handbill offering a reward for a man of his name
and description, had been brought into the neighborhood form
Nacogdoches, myself and Mr. J.V. Keel started in pursuit of him
the next day. We told the road to Nacogdoches, and we there saw more
of the handbills alluded to. The more we saw and heard, the more we
were convinced of the correctness of our first impression that he was
the veritable Noah Beauchamp, who was said to have killed Mr.
Mickleberry. We discovered that he took t he road in the direction of
Cincinnati, (Texas). Before we reached the Trinity (Rio Trinidad), on
which Cincinnati is situated, we overtook a company of travellers,
from whom we learned that Beauchamp was with them several days on the
road; and that they would be glad to get rid of him on any terms, as
he had borrowed their money and lived on them ever since they met.
They said he was then gone up into town, (and had crossed the river)
with the ostensible view of buying flour and provisions for the
company, who had encamped on that sidfer of the Trinity for the night.
I then told them our object in the pursuit, and one of them, a young
man, volunteered his services to aid in his capture. On arriving
in town, we discovered he had left and proceeded west. Knowing we were
closed upon him, we determined that, as he did not know Mr. Keel, and
would not suspect this young man, that they should go ahead, and try,
by strategem, to secure Beauchamp's rifle. We travelled nearly all
that night; and just, before day light, we overtook him, fifteen miles
west of Cincinnati. He had just got up to start again, and the
landlord coming to the fence, we inquired of him if there was such a
man (describing him) as Beauchamp in the house. On answering in the
affirmative, we requested him to take his gun and knock the priming
out of it; and while, returning to the house to do so, Beauchamp came
to the fence, and inquired of Mr. Keel and his companion if they had
seen his horses or heard a small bell. In the mean time, I laid down
on my mule, so that he should not recognize me. He then came out
of the gate, when Mr. Keel jumped off his horse, and presenting his
gun, told him "You are my prisoner, sir." We then place him on my
mule, and tied him. We returned to Cincinnati to breakfast, taking
with us his horses and gun. We there untied him, in consequence of his
complaining of being sick, and did not tie him again until we got
thirty miles this side of Cincinnati. The next day (Monday) we bound
him again, but, as it rained very hard, we only travelled twelve
miles. The next morning he complained of being very sick - so much so
that we had to help him on his mule! Here he endeavored to make a
comprise with me, and offered to give up all he had, ignorantly
imaging that it was for the debt alone we took him! When I told him
that I would not let him off for $1000, he appeared surprised, and he
has since told me that, the moment I said that, he knew well what we
took him for. He affected to be so excessively sick that morning, that
Mr. Keel had to help him on his mule. We therefore thought it would be
inhuman to tie a dying man, and we ever gave him his gun to carry. We
however, took the precaution to discharge the load and take out the
flint. In the afternoon, he said he felt better. After riding about
thirty miles, he endeavored to get us separated, which he at last
effected. We overtook a negro, of whom we asked how far it was to Mr.
Durst's? He replied, 2 miles, and said that he belonged there. Mr.
Keel told him to mount the horse he was driving. By this time,
Beauchamp and myself got 200 years, or so ahead of Keel and the negro.
Beauchamp then urged his mule close up to me, and before I was aware
of it, he made a blow at my head with his gun (which he held by the
barrel), struck me over the temple, and came near knocking me off my
horse. The blow was so great that it broke the gun off at the britch.
I called out for Mr. Keel, and in the mean time, Beauchamp was chasing
me as fast as our beasts could carry us, he still retaining the barrel
of the gun. Mr. Keel spurred his horse up to him with all possible
despatch, and presenting his gun, told him to stop instantly and throw
down the barrel, which he accordingly did. Mr. Keel go the negro to
tie his legs under the mule's belly, and made him ride in front of him
until he arrived at Durst's. Before we got there, having shown further
disposition to resist, Mr. Keel fired the contents of his pistol
through his hat for the purpose of frightening him, which seemed to
have the desired effect. We stayed at Durst's all night, where the
lady of the house overheard him telling a negro that if he would aid
in letting him off, he would soon set him free. We started early the
next morning, leaving the gun and one of the horses of the prisoner
behind us. The next stop we made was at Nacogdoches, for a few
minutes, where we were soon surrounded by a crowd, and among them, a
number who knew Beauchamp, and to whom he stated that he did
strike Mr. Mickleberry with a knife in the breast, but did not know
whether he had died or not. We then left to go to my house, which we
reached at night, and on Wednesday we went over to my father's where
we stayed all night, and put on his irons. On Thursday, the 1st day of
April, we started for Terre Haute. We passed through San Augustine,
during the sitting of Court, and only travelled 23 miles that day. The
next day crossed the Sabine river, and travelled 35 miles. The next
day we arrived at Natchitoches, in Louisiana, and immediately went on
board of the Steamboat Canton, which took us to Natchez. We them
removed with our prisoner, on Wednesday night, to the Steamboat
Columbus, which brought us to Evansville. While on our passage, from
Natches, he endeavored to starve himself. He also endeavored
previously, to hang himself while on board of the Canton. It was on
Thursday night whilst lying in his berth. To confine him more secure,
and to prevent him from making away with himself, we locked the chain
that confined his feet, around the post of his berth, and Mr. Keel put
another chain around hi s neck and fixed it to a post. While in this
situation, he screwed himself down towards the foot of his berth, and
by this means, endeavored to hang himself. Some of the boatmen
observing him, called to me. I immediately went to him, and caught him
by the shoulders and drew him up to the head of the berth. After this,
he did not eat anything for three days. He also, at various times,
said that he would never come to Terre Haute alive. On arriving at
Evansville, we were out of money, but through the kindness of Mr. L.H.
Scott, a citizen of Terre Haue, we were supplied with money to enable
us to reach here. We arrived here on Friday night, the 16th inst,
where we have been well treated by the inhabitants, for which we
return them our sincere thanks. Robert G. Anderson Jr. For self and
The Wabash Courier, Vol 9, No 33 (Terre Haute, Vigo County, IN) 28 Sep 1842
The Sheriff of our county received, on Tuesday, last, an order from Governor Bigger commanding him to defer the execution of Noah Beauchamp from the 7th of October till the 30th December next. This respite to the prisoner is granted, we understand, on the application of the prisoner's counsel, in order that time may be had to submit to the Supreme Court of Indiana, at its next November term, some questions of law connected with the late trial and conviction, in which it is alleged there was a want of legality. The order of the Governor proceeds to say, that unless the judgment of our Circuit Court shall have been "reversed, annulled, and set aside by the decision and judgment of the Supreme Court," the Sheriff shall proceed to the execution of the prisoner on the said 30th day of December. Olive Branch
Daily Tribune, Vol 17, No 21 (Terre Haute, Vigo Conty,
IN) 21 Dec 1902
VIGO'S FIRST HANGING
GREAT CROWDS SAW DYAS SWING ON STRAWBERRY HILL
MAN ROSE ON HIS COFFIN
WAS HAULED TO THE SCENE IN AN OPEN WAGON AND DIED BY BEING STRANGLED ON SCAFFOLD
The announcement of death sentence to be meted out to Murderer Matthew Alexander has caused a great deal of talk to the other murders committed in Vigo county which were punished by death. A few of the older generation can remember the first hanging in this county, which took place on July 5, 1844. The second occurred on Dec 23, 1869.
Henry Dyas was the first person hung in the present limits of the county. Geo Brock, an Illinois cattleman, was brutally killed by Dyas in Nevins township in the fall of 1843. A house of ill repute was kept by one Mrs. Brady and her daughter, about a mile north of the present mining town of Grant. Dyas was married by frequented the place. Brock came from Illinois with cattle and stopped at the Brady house. He had an altercation with Mr. Brady about a liquor bill and Dyas killed the cattleman as he sat in a chair at the Brady house. Alexander Mars was a witness of the crime and it was on his testimony that the murderer was hanged. Another witness in the case, Asa Fenton, became insane during the trail and died a few years later.
Dyas was sentenced to death on June 4, 1844, and met his
fate before the eyes of thousands of persons on July 5. The hanging
took place at the foot of Strawberry hill, forming a natural
amphitheater for the multitudes of curious who came from all
parts of the country. The jail at that time was at Third and Ohio. The
murderer was taken from his cell, dressed in his death shroud,
which was white. He rode from the jail on top of the coffin in an open
two horse wagon, a long procession following to the place of
execution. Sheriff William Ray sprang the trap of the gallows after
the noose had been placed about the man's neck by Deputy Sheriff M.M.
Hickox. In some manner the rope slipped and instead of breaking the
murderers neck, Dyas died of strangulation.
The second and last legal hanging to take place in this county was on December 23, 1869 when O.A. Morgan paid the penalty for killing John Petri. Morgan entered the Petri house, at Twelve Points, with the intention of robbing Mr. Petri, who was an old man. Petri tried to defend his home and Morgan shot him. Judge Crain passed the sentence and the execution was conducted by Sheriff Stewart, in an enclosure built in the center of the intersection of Third and Walnut streets. Hundreds of people were in the city but only a few saw Morgan hanged. Passes were issued to a number for admission withing the enclosure and others availed themselves of the opportunity afforded by housetops, climbing to the roofs of neighboring dwelling and looking over the wall around the gallows.
The first Vigo county murderer to meet the death penalty was Noah Beauchamp, who killed George Mickleberry in May 1840 near St. Marys. The killing was due to a family quarrel between two well-to-do farmers of Sugar Creek township. On change of venue the case was tried in the Parke county courts and the execution took place at Rockville.
On April 6, 1868 John Reeves was deliberately killed by an employe named Stevens. the case came up during the same tem[sic] of court in which Morgan was sentenced to death, and Stevens also was given the death penalty. A new trial was secured and the sentence changed from death to life imprisonment.
Several other murders have occurred but only in a few
cases has the punishment been as severe as imprisonment for life and
up to Friday afternoon none others had been sentenced to hang.
Daily Wabash Express (Terre Haute, Vigo County, IN) 22 Apr 1883
THE FIRST MAN HUNG IN VIGO COUNTY - HISTORY OF HIS CRIME
GEORGE BRECK, A CATTLE DROVER, KILLED FOR REFUSING TO PAY A WHISKY BILL
THE DAY OF THE MURDERER'S EXECUTION MADE A GALA DAY
On the 5th of July 1844, Henry Dyas was hanged at the foot of Strawberry Hill, for the murder of George Brock in Nevins township, this county, in the fall of the previous year. This was the first death penalty ever inflicted by t he law in this county, and the execution therefore excited the greatest interest in the neighboring counties of this state and Illinois, and a crowd estimated at several thousand witnessed the last scene in the dark tragedy of which Dyas was the central figure. For a radius of fifty miles from Terre Haute, the farmers flocked here with their families, and the day on which a fellowman was to pay with his life a violation of the laws of the state was made a gala day. No better place could have been selected for a public spectacle than that at the foot of Strawberry hill, with its vast natural amphitheatre, furnishing an excellent view of the gallows erected for the execution. The prisoner rode from the jail at the corner of Third and Ohio streets to the gallows, seated on his own coffin, which was placed in an open wagon. He was encased at his own request in a white shroud, and the spectacle thus afforded, was followed to the gallows by an eager, curious crowd.
Wm. Ray was then sheriff of Vigo county, and Marvin M. Hickox deputy. The sheriff spring the after his deputy had fixed the rope around the neck of the criminal. In adjusting this the knot slipped, and instead of having his neck broken by the fall, he was slowly strangled to death.
The murder for which Dyas was executed was committed, as stated before, in Nevins township, in the fall of 1843 and was one of the most horrible and unprovoked crimes in the annals of this portion of the state. The scene of the crime was the log cabin of an old woman, Mrs. Brady, situated near the old Brooks' mill, on Otter Creek, three-fourths of a mile west of the station formerly known as Milton, on the I & St. L., and about a mile north of the present station of Grant, where the C.&E. I. coal branch crosses the I. & St. L.
Old Mrs. Brady, as she was notorious character in the sparsely settled neighborhood, and with a daughter who bore as hard a reputation as her mother, kept a low place, where liquor was sold, and dances held on frequent occasions. The place was the resort of all the low characters of that section, and among these was Henry Dyas, who, although a man of family, was noted for standing very high in the favor of the proprietress of the den and her daughter.
One Saturday evening in October 1843, Mrs. Brady had a quarrel with George Brock, an Illinois cattle drover who had been stopping at the house several days, and who refused to settle a bill for whisky that the old woman presented. She used violent and abusive language, and it was said made threats against his life.
The following Sunday morning Brock saddled his horse preparatory to leaving for his home, and returned to the house to bid the occupants good bye. This movement lost him his life, for while seated at the fire place in conversation with one Alexander Mars, Dyas entered the door, and before Brock was aware of the latter's presence, Dyas struck him in the back of the head with the blade of an axe that he carried in his hand. Mars who was unaware of his murderous intentions, when he witnessed the fatal blow fled from the room in fear of losing his own life. When Brock's boyd found it was discovered that he had been struck three times with the axe, one blow completely severing the spinal column. Either of the blows would alone have produced death.
Dyas, after completing his bloody work, filed to the woods, and an alarm was given by Mrs. Brady. When Mars fled from the house he had been stopped by the old woman, who explained that he needed fear no harm, but his did not satisfy him, and he concealed himself in the trunk of a hollow tree. From this place of concealment he saw Mrs. Brady emerge from the house, and going to a corner of the rail fence, change the dress which she wore and which was covered with blood, for a clean one. She then gave an alarm, and the news of the crime being noised around, a crowd soon assembled. Dyas had concealed himself in the woods, but a guard was placed around his house, and that night or the following morning he was captured, having stolen into the house for the purpose of procuring something to satisfy his hunger.
Many conflicting stories were told of the crime, and several of the rough crowd which infrequented Mrs. Brady's were implicated by these reports. But the generally accepted theory was that Mrs. Brady, piqued by Brock's refusal to pay his whisky bill, offered Dyas a horse if he would kill the cattle drover Alexander Mars, was the only witness to the horrible crime and on his testimony Dyas' conviction was secured. Mars is still living on the old Smock place, near Fort Harrison, and several years back, "Old Aleck," as he was commonly known, was one of the most familiar figures on the streets in the north part of the city. A small and dried-up old man he could be seen on the streets, under the influence of liquor, as he usually was when in town, the butt of the ridicule of the crowd of small boys, who with their boyish proclivities, had little respect for his age, or pity for his condition. Of late years, however, "Old Aleck," weakened by his burden of years has been a less familiar figure. Occasionally, however, he appears on the streets. He is but slightly changed in appearance from that of ten or twelve years ago, and the boys who then tormented him, and now grown to manhood and ashamed of their boyish behavior are ready to protect the decrepit old man form the jeers and ridicule of the crowd of boys that the appearance is bound to assemble. The old fellow when sober will have nothing to say of the murder in which he played such a prominent part, but with his memory freshened and his tongue loosened by a draught, of the liquid that has proved the bane of his life will narrate the events of the crime as above set forth.
As has been said before, several parties were reported to have been implicated in crime, but this was not developed in the testimony at the trial. It was in matter of universal comment, however, at that time that one of the witnesses, Asa Fenton, whose name was mentioned during the progress of the trial, and remained in that condition until his death, which occurred some fifteen or sixteen years ago.
On the testimony of Mars Dyas was convicted in the Vigo county court, and sentenced to be hanged on the 4th of June 1844. Arrangements were made for his execution on this date, but he was respited by the governor for one month. To prevent the execution falling on the national holiday, the date was changed to the day following, an don that day the convicted man suffered the penalty of his dreadful crime.
Old Mrs. Brady and her daughter left these parts soon after, and it was reported here several months after that the old woman had been hanged by a mob in one of the southern states for murder. She was a very rough character, and it was said that before locating in this county she had killed a husband with a flat iron in another state, and had come here to escape from this law, This was never proved on her, but from her bad character, it was generally believed by the residents in her immediate vicinity.
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