History Record View

Title: Obituaries Williamsport, IN. Warren Review- Thursday, May 30, 1895 Edition
File Attachment:
Attachment Type:

Saturday morning between 3 and 4 o'clock, John Halls, Jr., and William Royce, who raped Miss laure Barnett, were taken from the jail by a crowd of people-very orderly people too- and hanged at the Gilbert Street Bridge. The punishment fits the crime. Ever since the raping of Miss Barnett took place there has been great excitement not only in this city but in the whole country. The crime was a most revolting one and the people almost as one man cried out for vengeance. Some of the best people in the city openly declared that the perpetrators should be taken out and hanged or shot to death, while the people of Indianola where the young lady was born and raised, declared that nothing could save the lives of the villains who had committed the awful crime when once their identity was established beyond all doubt. Indianola's population is made up of good, law abiding people as lives in any community yet the brutal outrage of an innocent young girl was more than human nature could endure, and they resolved on vengeance swift and awful. As soon as the news of the outrage had reached them in the daily papers large numbers of tehm came to this city and have been here nearly ever since, waiting for the identity of the prisoners to be fixed beyond all cavil. They said little but their actions told much. Large crowds of them reinforced by sympathizers from thsi city and surrounding country could be seen here and there on the streets talking about the case. There was no mistaking their intentions. When Halls and Royce were arrested all felt certain that the guilty parties had been captured but not a move was made against them until after their identity had been fisxed by Miss Lillie Draper yesterday morning. Miss Draper readily pointed them out from a crowd of twenty or more prisoners at the jail. She said she could not be mistaken about it- Halls and Royce were the men who had accosted she and Miss Barnett on the bridge Wednesday night and who afterward assaulted Miss Barnett and dragged her across the bridge into the woods. This was all the outraged girl's father and his friends wanted. They felt that there would be no mistake committed in the lynching of the two men who had been arrested, and they immediately began making arrangements for the attack on the jail. The news of the identification of Halls and Royce spread rapidly and during the day and evening people came in from Indianola, Catlin, Georgetown and many other places and by ten o'clock the streets about the courthouse was full of people and the most intense excitement prevailed. A reporter for the News found, at 9:30 o'clock a band of not less than two hundred men in Ellsworth Park. People seemed to be coming from every direction-afoot, in wagons, horseback and awheel. A continuous line of pedestrians was on either sidewalk. while Danville has had the reputation of always having abided by the decision of the courts and juries, one could see that Judge Lynch was about to take the law into his own hands. Some affected to believe that "mob laws would never disgrace Danville." Yet they too felt nervous and were so anxious about the matter that they stayed up to see what would transpire. At about 11 o'clock the crowd at the park filed through the gate and moved toward the public square in twos and threes. That the program for the night's work had been carefully mapped out none of those who watched them doubted for a moment. In the crowd were some men from Southtown but the majority were residents of Indianola and Carroll Township. The leader was a well-known and respected man from Indianola. The mob went to the square and thence to Heines' barn where they made the final arrangements for the attack on the jail. They procured heavy sledges from a neighboring blacksmith shop and a telegraph pole picked up near by, the latter to be used as a battering ram, and with these they marched to the jail and began an attack on the south door of the jail, the one leading directly into the jailor's office. A crowd of fully a thousand people had congregated about the jail and as the determined men took up the pole and proceeded to batter the massive door, cheer after cheer and cries of "hand the brutes!" "Kill them!" "Vengeance calls for blood!" etc. In vain did Sheriff Thompson, Mrs. Thompson and Deputy Sloan entreat the men to go away and let the law take its course. Sheriff Thompson assured them that he had done everything in his power to make convition sure and he knew that the pirsoners would be given life sentences. "Yes," said the father of the outraged girl. "You can't hang them and they deserve death. You are but doing your duty and I respect you for it, yet we must have those men's lives. My innocent daughter's blood calls for vengeance!" said he. The crowd who had stopped to listen to the sheriff then began again to batter the door. In the meantime Judge Bookwalter had been sent for and arrived soon afterward, but could do nothing. It being found that the door could not be opened with the pole and the sheriff having refused to open it for them, the men procured an old railroad rail from the Wabash rigth of way and with additional men began another assault on the door and soon forced it open. After much hard work the other doors were battered down and the prisoners reached. The prisoners had been separated and Royce was reached first; this was about 2:30. A rope was put around his neck after which the work at getting at Halls was commenced. Royce said when the door of his cell had been forced open, "Treat me nice and I will tell you where the other fellow is." They found Halls about twenty minutes after Royce was found. Both were then led out, followed by the whole crowd. They marched up Vermilion Street and west on Main Street to the Gilbert Street Bridge, the place where the crime was committed. Halls and Royce both looked as white as a sheet, but neither spoke a word or were spoken to by the crowd. It was all done very quiet, no blows were struck and no abusive language was used. Upon arriving at about the middle of the bridge, the crowd came to a stop and the boys were asked if they had anything to say before they died. Neither spoke for a few seconds, then Royce spoke up and said he would like to see his father if he was in the crowd. Royce Sr., was called, but he was not in the crowd,. Royce then asked for any resident in Southtwon. When presently Ed Lloyd appeared, to whom Royce said, "Please tell my father taht I died happy, have made peace with my God, and that I am innocent of the crime." Halls was then asked if he had anything to say. He said, "Well, I say just about what Royce said." Preparations were then made for the final act when Royce begged for somebody to go for his father, when Halls also made the same request. The crowd agreed to grant them this so somebody was sent for their fathers. A few minutes elapsed, the parents had not come and teh crowd began to get impatient and shouted to throw them over, so the ropes were tied firmly about their necks, their feet and hands were also tied, and then the ropes were tied firmly about the railing of the bridge. The boys and especially Royce, while the preparations were being made, begged and pleaded for them to await until they could see their fathers., to which the crowd replied, "Why didn't you brutes wait before you ravished the poor girl and then you wouldn't be in this fix." The final preparations being made, Halls and Royce were then asked again if they had anything to say to which they replied and begged them to wait five minutes, but their pleadings were not heeded, and the fathers of the two boys not having to come, they were launchedinto eternity. Royce was thrown over first, two men doing the deed. Hall was then thrown over and it took three men to swing him. Neither made and outcry. The ropes were about seven feet long. A large number of the crowd gathered below the bridge. It was about twenty minutes until four o'clock when they were hanged. The bodies were left there and the coroner notified. They died from strangulation in about 15 minutes after they were thrown over. Not a man in the large crowd was seen with a mask. The crime, for which Royce and Halls paid the penalty with their lives, was committed on Wednesday night the 23rd, and the terrible story was given in detail in the News on Thursday. The particulars are as follows: Miss Laura Barnett, daughter of James Barnett of Indianola and Miss LIllie Draper- both as respectabe girls as ever lived- went out for a walk, starting from their homes shortly after sundown. They walked down Vermillion Street to the public square, where Miss Barnett expressed a desire to see the new bridge at the foot of Gilbert Street; the girls went to the bridge, at the north end of which they were accosted by two young men, one of whom asked them if they were out for a pleasant walk; also if she would tell him the time of evening. Miss Draper replied that they were "not out walking with you." She also said that she had no timepiece. One of the men then knocked Miss Barnett down and the other tried to grab Miss Draper but she ran away; he drew a revolver and threatened to shoot but this did not stop her and she came over to Mr. Curtis' and gave the alarm; a crowd, including some of the police, quickly gathering. In the meantime, both men had begun to drag Miss Barnett across the bridge; on the way over they met an old man named John Downs, a resident of Southtown; the girl appealed to him for protection and he came to her assistance but was promptly knocked down by one of the brutes. The girl was taken to the river bottom near the south end and outraged. Her cries were heard by the searching party who had started across the bridge but by the time the searchers could reach the place whence they came no one could be found. The girl's har was discovered and picked up, however. No further cries of distress were heard, as the brutes had partially filled Miss Barnett's mouth with earth and sand. After scouring the woods fringing Southtown on the west for some time, the girl's handkerchief was found near the old powder house on the riverbank. The search was continued for some time afterward when a man named Coke, going for another lantern, saw Miss Barnett staggering along in a dazed condition near the old mule barn of the Consolidated Coal Company, about half way between Southtown and Tilton. The brutes had evidently left the girl in the barn after having ravished her several time. Coke gave the alarm and a crowd of searchers came up. Miss Barnett was placed in the buggy of George Menig, who happened to be driving by, and brought to this city and taken to the home of Miss Ella Foos on North Franklin Street, where Dr. M. S. Brown rendered medical assistance. She was found to have suffered several bad cuts on teh head, besides a severe nervous shock. Her injuries were serious and her recovery is yet doubtful. From Miss Foos' she was removed to the home of Silas Dixon, where many kind friends called to see her and to inquire as to her condition. At about 2:30 o'clock on Thursday morning Capt. Frank Laird of the police force, swore out a warrant before Justice Coburn for the arrest of Halls and Royce on a charge of rape, and a few minutes later they were found at their homes in Southtown; they were brought to this city and taken before Justice Coburn, who continued the preliminary hearling unitl 2 o'clock p.m. of the same day and in default of $5,000, each was remanded to await the action of the grand jury. It is the general opinion of the people that Halls and Royce were the guilty parties and that their awful doom was but a fitting punishment for their crime. May their fate be a warning to others who may have a desire to rape innocent girls and women. --Danville Daily News

Date: 5/30/1895
Origin: Warren Review Extracted from Microfilm
Author: Sharon Roberts
Record ID: 00003502
Type: Obituary
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 3/25/2014
Entered By: Chris Brown

Information in this record is provided for personal research purposes only and may not be reproduced for publication. If you have questions about copyright issues contact the archive source listed above.