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The Hanging of George Sharpe and John Johnson

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser




On May 12, 1857, Franz Jacob Barth, a peddler, was traveling on the road between Troy and St. Jacob, while returning home from St. Louis. Three men – George Sharpe (alias George Gibson), Robert Sharpe (alias Joseph Watson, and brother of George), and John Johnson (alias Edward Barber) “waylaid” Barth and shot him, supposedly because Barth wouldn’t let the men ride in his wagon. All three were captured early the next morning near Lebanon, and taken to the Edwardsville jail. Barth lingered three days before he died on May 15, 1857. The men  were tried and convicted of murder, however Robert Sharpe’s sentence was commuted, as he was but a mere youth. George Sharpe and John Johnson were hung on June 19, 1857.


Source: Alton Weekly Courier, May 28, 1857
Further advices from our assistant at Edwardsville inform us that the trial of the murderers of Jacob Barth is progressing quietly, and without any undue excitement. The apprehended attack from the mob was not made on Thursday night.

P. B. Foukr(?), the prosecuting attorney, is assisted by J. H. Sloss, Esq., of Edwardsville. The following are the names of the jurors: George Hedges, Jacob Pruitt, Benjamin Huestis(?), Lewis W. Tindall, George D. Williams, J. H. Williams, Wimmiam Sandrach, Adam Pruitt, I. B. Randle, Ignasius Sneeringer, Francis Agnu, and William Cursey.

The case was opened by the prosecuting attorney in a short speech to the jury, setting forth their duties and responsibilities in their present position. Mr. Trible opened the case for the defense in a short, but appropriate speech. Nineteen witnesses were sworn in behalf of the prosecution. The following is a very brief abstract of the testimony given by each:

John Ferguson:
Saw deceased on Tuesday morning in Illinoistown (East St. Louis); did not see the murder; saw Jacob Barth last in Troy; saw prisoners following deceased, and eighty steps behind at Troy; prisoners had on same clothes as now, in court; is sure they are the same; took dinner with deceased that day.

Caleb Brown
Saw deceased at Troy at 8AM on the day he was shot; saw prisoners same day at 11:30 o’clock, eating lunch at Miner’s Tavern; saw them leave in direction of Highland; prisoners had a gun and carpet sack; heard what Barth said after he was wounded.

James Armstrong
Is a harness-maker and saddler. Saw prisoners pass through Troy towards Highland at noon on day of the murder; noticed them particularly; they were walking, and Barber was lame; were dressed nearly the same as now in court; Gibson had a gun.

Mrs. Narcissus Regan
Saw prisoners on Tuesday – the day of the murder – one mile and a half from Troy, and one and a half miles from where the murder was committed, at twelve and a half o’clock; they were going towards Highland, one was lame, and another had a gun and a black carpet sack; is sure prisoners are same men, and described their outer clothing accurately.

John Hollis
Saw prisoners on day of murder on road from Troy to Highland, within one mile and a quarter of where Barth was shot; noticed them particularly, and is sure they are the same; Gibson had a gun – thinks it was a musket.

James Johnson
Saw prisoners on day of murder, one and a half miles from Troy, going towards Highland; Gibson had a double-barrel shotgun and carpet sack.

Mrs. Smith
Lives a quarter of a mile west of where Barth was killed; prisoners passed her house about one o’clock on day of murder; Gibson had a gun.

Solomon Rhoads
Saw prisoners about two o’clock on day of murder, near Highland; Barber walked lame, and kept looking back; Gibson had a gun and carpet sack; heard of the murder between three and four, and went to the place; found tracks of three men – one denoting small heel to boot; tracks were similar to boots worn by one of the prisoners; when found, prisoners’ boots corresponded to tracks, and mud on boots same as in vicinity of murder; heard shooting in direction of murder before he saw prisoners; lives three miles from Troy; the murder was committed within three quarters of a mile of his house.

Mrs. Smith
Was working in her garden; saw prisoners about a quarter of a mile from where Mr. Rhoads saw them, and a half mile from where the man was shot; is sure prisoners are the same men; Barber looked back at her frequently; heard a gun fired twice, and heard a man “halloo.”

Joshua Ensmingle
Was only a short distance from the place of murder; heard two large reports of gun, and three small ones; went to the spot and heard groans when he got near; went to a mill nearby to get assistance; returned to the wagon and found Barth leaning on a box in wagon, wounded; the wagon was forty yards off main road and mules still hitched; took the wounded man to his house where he remained three days, and then died; the shooting was done about three o’clock, two hundred and fifty yards from the bridge over Silver Creek, and half a mile from the mill; the first two reports sounded like a shotgun, and all the reports were in quick succession.

Dr. John L. Dewey (also spelled Dewy)
Was called to see deceased after he was wounded, and before he died.

(A debate here arose as to the propriety of allowing the jury to remain in court while Dr. Dewey’s testimony in relation to sanity of deceased, and the propriety of introducing deceased’s deposition, was taken. The jury was withdrawn, and the witness continued.)

Thought Barth would die, and so told him in a few moments; Barth gave the circumstances of his wounds, in a manner indicating that he was in all senses; had no pulse at first, but his system rallied; said he should never recover; expected to die, and would be willing to die if he could shoot his murderers first; this was while his deposition was being taken; was suffering considerable pain; deposition taken about twenty-four hours before his death; two depositions were taken; he appeared collected and calm at all times during presence of witness; administered small doses of morphine; was with him on first visit three hours; did not examine the wounds particularly on this visit; no clergymen present to my knowledge.

Friend S. Rutherford, Attorney for the DefenseMr. Friend Rutherford objected to the introduction of depositions of deceased as testimony, and quoted authorities against it. The court ruled out the objections, and exceptions were taken to the ruling by counsel for defendants.

The jury returned to the courtroom, and the examination of Dr. Dewey was resumed.

Found deceased in a collapsed condition; no pulse; was present when defendants were brought in; deposition was taken by consent of deceased.

Dr. Dewey was withdrawn from the witness stand for the present, and Mr. Swain was sworn and brought upon the stand to prove the identity of a memorandum of facts taken by him at request of deceased. The memorandum was introduced into court by Prosecuting Attorney Fouke. Court adjourned over to seven o’clock yesterday morning without hearing testimony of Mr. Swain.

We expected another report from our assistant yesterday evening, giving us the proceedings of the trial yesterday; but up to ten o’clock last night, nothing further reached us. It will be seen that the testimony taken, as far as reported to us, is entirely circumstantial and not very conclusive. Although there is not the least doubt in the minds of those who are at all advised of the circumstances of the case that the prisoners are guilty, something more to the point will have to be testified to, or conviction will be impossible. But the weighty evidence has yet to come. The depositions of deceased; the testimony of the man by whom the murderers were frightened, and the testimony of those present when deceased recognized the prisoners as the persons by whom he was shot, when introduced, will beyond a doubt fasten the guilt of a cold-blooded and brutal murder upon the prisoners at the bar. Our assistant writes us that the prisoners are all very young men, neither of them appearing to be over twenty-two years of age. They are Englishmen, and have been in this country but a short time; they say that they came West in search of work.

Friday morning:
Court was opened at 8 o’clock on Friday morning, and the trial of George Gibson, Edward Barber, and Joseph Watson, for the murder of Jacob Barth, was immediately resumed. A motion was made by the counsel for defendants to clear the courtroom of all witnesses, except the one on the stand, which was ordered to be done, and all but one of the witnesses were removed. The testimony on the part of the prosecution was then continued.

John R. Swain
Is a Justice of the Peace; went into the house where deceased was lying wounded, in advance of prisoners; did not pay particular attention to conversation between deceased and prisoners; administered oath by consent of deceased; probably a little before oath was administered, deceased remarked something like: “if he had a knife he would like to cut prisoners’ throats;” stopped to satisfy himself about manner of putting questions; asked him his name – he answered Barth; asked if he was sensible he was mortally wounded, and would die; he said yes; spoke to him of importance of his testimony; he made no reply; took down what he said, and it is contained in this memorandum (referring to a memorandum introduced into court yesterday); asked prisoners their names; wrote them down; Barth said Gibson held mules and demanded his money.

(A debate here arose on the admissibility of the declarations of deceased, as heard by witness, as testimony; objections were urged on the ground that they were the expressions of a man not in a proper state of mind to take a solemn oath. The court overruled the objections, and the examination of the witness was resumed.)

Deceased said that the man who gave his name as Edward Barber, and the man who gave his name as Watson, shot at him with a pistol; deceased stated, in answer to question put by self and Dr. Dewy, that he expected to die; asked him if he made answers to the questions in view of approaching death; answered “yes;” called attention of bystanders to this fact; prisoners stated in presence of deceased that they had never seen deceased before; at this time deceased appeared to be cool; in conversation with friends manifested considerable feeling; witness thought it very solemn occasion; room full of persons when prisoners were brought in; deceased recognized prisoners in the crowd; when identified, prisoners manifested great boldness; was satisfied deceased would die; am satisfied deceased thought so too. This occurred on the 15th inst., between ten and eleven o’clock a.m. in Madison County, the day after deceased was shot; prisoners were brought into the house where deceased was, by Charles Crouse; but little was said when prisoners were brought in; George Gibson was the first brought in; deceased recognized him as soon as he saw him; prisoners denied the shooting; deceased recognized the other prisoners as they were brought in; deceased was a little excited; face white and eyes glassy; made no answer to question when asked if he would have deposition taken; was not acquainted with Barth; took him to be a German from his language; he talked pretty good English; was not engaged more than fifteen minutes in writing depositions; deceased was in well-lighted house; prisoners were standing, one at the head of the bed, the other two towards the foot, but not close together; they were held while standing all the time; deceased recognized prisoners without being asked if they were the persons who made the attack; endeavored to take down all answers made by deceased to questions; can’t say certain whether prisoners had ropes about their necks or not; did not see ropes; think language used by deceased was, “if I had a knife I would like to cut their throats;” don’t know whether this was before oath was administered or not; don’t remember if the question was asked of deceased, “here are the prisoners; don’t you know them;” heard no proposition to lead prisoners in and let deceased have a shot at them; when recognized the prisoners were (the farthest) about six feet from deceased; prisoners could not have been recognized as accused when in the crowd by the actions of their jailors; they were recognized by deceased in the crowd; deceased recognized prisoners as soon as he saw them.

Dr. John S. Dewy – recalled
When first saw deceased, found wounds made by nine buckshot in the side and on the left shoulder blade; eight shots struck shoulder blade; one passed through and came out between third and fourth ribs in front, through clothing; probed the wounds five or six inches deep second day; wounds ranged upward and outward; person shooting must have been behind and to the right of deceased; the wounds were the cause of death of deceased; was present when he described the men who shot him; description was not minute; said he had seen the men before; they had followed him; one had a gun, another a carpet sack; prisoners had asked him to let them ride; he had asked them if they were Germans, and they could not speak to him; overtook them first about Collinsville; was present when he made the declarations to Mr. Swain; this was the evening on which Barth was shot, the day before arrest of prisoners; deceased was notified prisoners were coming, there was a large crowd in the house; thought it best he should have free air, so went in from yard and tried to get the men from around him; before witness knew prisoners were in the house, deceased said, “there they are, there is one of ‘em!” prisoners came in with the crowd; a great many strangers were present; had not seen the prisoners before; took me some time to pick them out; there were two men between prisoners and Barth; deceased pointed out the one who took the horses and which one made demand of his money; Barth died third day after wounded; wound mortal of necessity, and not by accident; death was the effects of concussion and bruise of wound; circumference of wounds that of my hand; wounds were near enough together to cause death by concussion; blood had settled around wounds; deceased thought he was dying; did not hear him express a hope of recovery; he was faint and weak, but in his senses; spoke to him of his murderers; he hoped they would be caught and hung; said he would kill the men if he had a rifle; said nothing about a knife; great excitement in the crowd in the house; heard no proposition to bring prisoners in and let the wounded man shoot them; one man said prisoners ought to have their throats cut; prisoners, when brought before deceased, had ropes about their necks; deceased’s eyes were sure; had no fever; first I knew of the prisoners was from the recognition of deceased; saw ropes about prisoner’s necks; deceased was forty-three or forty-five years old, and died of his wounds; there are instances where men have died of wounds through the lungs, mortal from accident, and not of necessity; did not see the ropes when prisoners came in; when I did see them, they were hanging down behind; Barth appeared to be a very resolute man, rather stoical.

(The clothing of deceased was here brought into court, bearing bullet holes, and identified.)

L. C. Cornmann
Saw deceased 9 p.m., the day he was wounded; took deposition; on return from Edwardsville, met Dr. Dewy, who said he had just left deceased; went and saw him; a large crowd was at the house; administered oath, and took his answer; asked if he was willing, he consented.

(The deposition was here introduced without the signature of deponent, the witness stating that the deceased was unable to sign it. A discussion between the opposing counsel ensued upon the admissibility of the deposition without the signature. The court decided that the paper was lacking in an essential requisite, and that it could not be received as a deposition.)

The testimony of Mr. Cornmann resumed:
Barth told me he had lodged the night before at the tavern two miles from St. Louis; left early in the morning; about 10 o’clock he found or overtook three men near the tollgate, between Collinsville and Troy; they were either standing or walking; one who was lame, asked him to let him ride; said he was afraid of some devilment; said two of them had on black coats, the other, light colored coat; one had a double-barreled gun and black carpet sack; he said they could not talk German, and he thought they were Americans; had on black hats; when he was stopping at a tavern near Troy to feed, these men passed; they went up to Troy; he stopped at the tavern about an hour; about 12 o’clock he started towards Highland; in Silver Creek Bottom, near a bridge, the men came up; one of them either put his gun into, or shot into back of wagon, and shot a load into his back; one caught his mules by the head, and demanded his money; the mules would not stand; two of the men fired at him with pistols – one from the front, the other from the side of wagon – three or four times; did not hit him; the mules struggled; one of the mules was hit by a shot; prisoners heard someone coming and ran off; he was sure those who attacked him were the same he saw on the road before.

(The court here took a recess of five minutes, after which the examination of witnesses was resumed.)

Andrew Kimberlain
Was the first man who saw deceased, after he was shot; found him leaning on a box in his wagon, too weak to be removed; went for Dr. Dewy, who came to see deceased; the vehicle was a common lumber wagon, with white cover; deceased told witness that he saw the same men who shot him at the tollgate, and again at Troy; described prisoners correctly; said they had a shotgun, two were common-sized men, and one a small man; did not describe their clothing; was not at the house when prisoners were brought in; did not follow prisoners to arrest them.

James Regin
Was one of the party that followed the prisoners; the first he saw of them was at 1 o’clock about, on the day of murder, three men – one carrying a carpet sack and gun; after hearing a man was shot (knew deceased, saw him half an hour behind the three men); witness suspected those three men; went on horseback to the place; noticed footprints; noticed one in particular – it was that apparently of a fine boot; one hundred yards above Silver Creek Bridge, saw the wagon; blood was dripping through the wagon; the men had not been tracked; witness was taken down the road a short distance, and saw where the wagon had turned out of the usual track, where a gun patch was found; the wagon was stopped at the side of the road by a sapling about six inches in circumference; found the tracks where the deed was committed, and noticed the track seen before; the tracks from the wagon indicated that the murderers had been running; tracked them to east fork of Silver Creek, where they had crossed on a log laying in the creek, and stepped in the mud; the tracks were the same seen near the wagon; has compared boots of prisoners to the tracks, and found they agreed; was not present when prisoners were arrested; mud on boots of prisoners, when arrested, same as that in bottom over which they were pursued; no direct road from the place of murder to Lebanon; took no definite measure of tracks, only by sight; is pretty good judge of measure; thinks track was about 11 inches long, heel of boot track peculiar shape.

Charles Crouse
Was not present when the men were taken; half a mile off; they were taken on the Lebanon Road, three and a half miles this side of Lebanon; took from them, on search, two small pocket knives, a small compass, a bundle of keys, a cloth with blood on it, which they said had been used by one of them who said he cut himself in shaving; blood was fresh; found what had the appearance of being a amrod, bearing the marks of powder on the end (things shown to the court); were arrested about six or seven a.m. on the road, Wednesday, on other side of Silver Creek bridge; arrest made on road from Troy to Lebanon; distance from Highland Road to Troy and Lebanon road, about three miles; the men were traced by the peculiar track mentioned by Mr. Regin; tracks found corresponded with boots worn by prisoners; first discovered this track about six in the morning at the intersection of Lebanon and St. Louis Road; did not notice tracks, but pursued the men, having heard they had been seen; coming back noticed the tracks, and they corresponded with the boots worn; men had ropes upon their necks when taken to Ensminger’s, where Barth was; and men had hold of the ropes; was acquainted with deceased; when prisoners were brought before Barth, he said they had threatened to cut his throat after they shot him; Gibson and Watson had ropes around their necks.

James Bradley
Saw Barth soon after he was shot; found a bullet or buckshot in the wagon; found where Barth was shot what appeared to be a rifle wad.

(Wad presented in court, and shown to jury, together with bullet patching found in possession of prisoners, for their comparison; ball also introduced; see testimony of Charles Crouse.)

The things were found where the man was shot; found tracks similar to those described by former witnesses; was one of the first two that reached the wagon of deceased; started to take Barth to Ensmingers; went about one hundred yards when Barth said he could not ride any farther in the position he was in; he said he had been shot by three men; Dr. Dewy came up and gave him some medicine – an opiate; was at Ensminger’s mill when notice of murder was given; the sheet covering of wagon was drawn down at sides, and possibly so behind; Barth said he was shot; didn’t say as to the position of men who shot him; said they were young men, and German or English; have seen deceased several times; he wore goggles and was a dark man; was not present when prisoners were arrested; never saw them until I saw them in court yesterday.

Charles Grouse – recalled
Arrest was made by Messrs. Lize and Wendle Smith; found bloody towel on Barber, also the ramrod; Gibson had the shucking pin; Watson the keys; breast pin I took from Gibson; shot bag from Barber.

Only two witnesses were sworn on the part of the defense, and their testimony was very limited and unimportant.

Mr. Baumann
Has known deceased about two years; he always had sore eyes a little, but not much; he wore glasses on account of his sore eyes; he lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania seven years.

Mr. Barth
Knew deceased; he had sore eyes about a year; wore goggles; was a farmer; has been a peddler for a year; did not quit farming on account of his sore eyes.

The testimony was closed at 3 o’clock on Friday afternoon, and the time from that hour until a quarter past eight was consumed in arguments of the counsel – the prosecuting attorney making an opening and closing speech, and Messrs. Rutherford and Sawyer both speaking on behalf of the defense.

After being out forty minutes, the jury brought in a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree, as charged in the indictment.

Confession of the Murderers
We are just in receipt of dispatches from a reliable source, obtaining information to the effect that on Sunday morning the prisoners confined in the county jail under conviction of the murder of Jacob Barth, have made full confession of their guilt. They say that the act was committed from a spirit of revenge and not for the sake of money. They were incensed at Barth, because he had refused to let them ride, and from a desire for revenge, shot him.

They confess that the names given by them when arrested are assumed, and that their real names are George Sharpe, Robert Sharpe (brothers), and John Johnson. George Sharpe has been in this country three years. The other two came over one year ago. George Sharpe is twenty-two, Robert nineteen, and Johnson eighteen. They are all of English birth and parentage.

The criminals protest that this is their first crime. They have friends in Will County, Illinois, and Fayette County, Iowa.

They say that before dark, the day of the murder, six men were within twenty feet of them, and had they raised their eyes from the tracks which they were examining, must have seen them. The brothers seem to realize their situation, but Johnson manifests a stolid indifference to his fate.

The National Guards
The promptness and willingness with which the National Guards answered the call made upon them by the Sheriff, on the 18th inst., when the peace and quiet of the county was threatened by an enraged mob, is deserving the praise and highest commendation of not only the press, but every individual citizen of the county. They have shown themselves worthy the confidence of the citizens of the county, and men to be relied upon in the hour of danger, men who are willing to sacrifice personal comfort and face danger in defense of the laws which they respect, and of the lives of each and every one of their fellow-citizens, by the watchfulness and faithfulness with which they obeyed the commands of their officers, and of the Sheriff, during their week’s stay at the county seat. To Captain Turner and his assistant officers, great praise is due for the perfection of discipline which marked the conduct of the men who had chosen them as their leaders and disciplinarians.

Source: Alton Weekly Courier, June 4, 1857
Yesterday, between nine and ten o'clock a. m., sentence of death was pronounced upon Robert Sharpe, George W. Sharpe, and John Johnson, for the murder, on the 12th inst., of Jacob Barth. The sentence is that between the hours of ten o'clock a. m. and six o'clock p.m. on the 19th day of June, proximo, the prisoners are to be hanged by the neck until they are dead. While this dreadful sentence was being pronounced, the prisoners were _____ moved, and went freely.

The crime was committed on the night of May 1, 1857, on the road between Troy and St. Jacob. Barth was a peddler, and was waylaid and shot while returning from St. Louis. Three men, George Gibson [George W. Sharpe], Edward Barber [John Johnson], and Joseph Watson [Robert Sharpe], were indicted on May 16th, by a grand jury consisting of F. T. Krafft, foreman; J. L. McLanahan, James Whiteside, Aaron Ruby, Jacob Leder, W. M. McCain, J. J. Parker, James Kelt, Josiah K. Gillham, B. L. Dorsey, L. S. Wells, L. R. Weeks, John Macon, Collier Brown, John Cox, George Moffith, C. W. Layman and Jacob B. Cox. The trial commenced on May 21. A jury consisting of J. H. Williams, L. W. Tindall, George Hedges, William Sandbach, G. G. Wilson, Jacob Prewitt, Abram Prewitt, Benjamin Heustis, Ignatz Sneeringer, I. B. Randle, William Keirsey and Francis Agnew, found the defendants guilty, and on May 29th they were sentenced by Judge William H. Snyder to be hung on the 19th of June, 1857. Watson, one of the murderers, was a mere youth, and had his death sentence commuted by executive clemency. During the Civil War he was pardoned out. He entered the army and served faithfully to the end, and it is said, now resides in St. Louis a respected citizen. The other two, Gibson and Barber, paid the penalty of the crime on the gallows, which had been erected on the grounds of the Edwardsville county farm, south of the city.

This murder created the most intense excitement, particularly among the people in the eastern part of the county, where Barth, the murdered man, had lived. An organized body of men, numbering about 500, headed by Savage and Smiley, appeared on the streets one day, to take the murderers out of the jail to hang them, but Z. B. Job, with the assistance of several prominent citizens, among them Judge Joseph Gillespie, F. T. Krafft and J. S. Wheeler, succeeded in quieting the infuriated mob. During the excitement, the Alton Guards were ordered out and for ten days remained in charge of the jail. On the day of the execution, the town was thronged with people from all parts of the county, to see the hanging. Read the story of their execution here: The Hanging of George W. Sharpe and John Johnson, June 1857

Sheriff Zephaniah JobAccording to the obituary of Sheriff Zephaniah Job: In 1856 he was elected sheriff of the county, and it was in this capacity that he officiated at the hanging of some men who had killed a German peddler near Troy, in Madison county. There was intense excitement at the time, and an effort was made to lynch the prisoners. Sheriff Job could get no one to guard the jail except three men, Josh Dunnegan, John Wheeler and Nelson Montgomery. These three men were posted with the sheriff where they could command the approach to the jail and had instructions to shoot to kill, when the mob made the attack. The demand was made for the prisoners, and Sheriff Job defied the crowd. As the aged gentleman told of this story of the past, the strong heart of older days which had not quailed was no longer so strong, and the tears which came not in the olden time when the incident occurred flowed freely, showing the shadow of the emotion of an event fifty years gone by, which was then concealed, but through a half century reached out its influence and touched the old man keenly. By a trick Sheriff Job got a delay from the mob and managed to get a company of militia from Alton, who defended the prisoner. When it came time to hang the prisoners, Sheriff Job refused to permit anyone else to do the work. One of the prisoner's sentence was commuted to imprisonment, and he was afterward pardoned.

Source: Alton Weekly Courier, June 4, 1857
Yesterday, between nine and ten o'clock a.m., sentence of death was pronounced upon Robert Sharpe, George W. Sharpe and John Johnson, for the murder, on the 12th inst., of Jacob Barth. The sentence is that between the hours of ten o'clock a.m. and six o'clock p.m., on the 19th day of June, proxime, the prisoners are to be hanged by the neck until they are dead.

Source: The New York Times, June 28, 1857
The trial in the case of the People vs Gipson, Barber and Watson, for the murder of Jacob Barth, was closed, and the case given to the jury at 8:15 o'clock yesterday evening. After being out just forty minutes, the jury returned and rendered a verdict of "Guilty!" Mr. Sawyer entered a motion for a new trial, which after argument, was allowed by the Court. The Germans from Highland and vicinity, and other friends of the deceased, were very much incensed in consequence of the new trial being granted, and the attack from the mob, for the purpose of seizing the prisoners and hanging them, in Judge Lynch's summary manner, was confidently expected last night or today.

Upon hearing of the gathering of a mob in Edwardsville for the purpose of administering summary punishment to the three murderers of Barth, and of the likelihood that they might be arraigned before the Court of Judge Lynch, we dispatched one of our assistants to the scene of action for the purpose of gathering all the particulars of events as the occurred. It appears that several hundred of the citizens of the southeastern part of this county, friends and acquaintances of the deceased, hearing that the prisoners were about to take a change of venue, determined to take them from the jail and hang them without trial. This body of men was composed principally of Germans, fellow countrymen of the murdered man, and were led on by two men named Smiley and Savage. Between ten and eleven o'clock Monday, the mob entered the town from the south on horses, in wagons, and on foot to the number of four hundred. The leaders and some of the other members of the gang bearing red and black flags, with which they marshaled on their blood thirsty companions. As soon as Sheriff Job received intelligence of their approach, he proceeded to take steps for the protection of the jail. He had placed some twenty or thirty men in and about the jail, and provided them with such arms as could be procured, when the mob made a rush towards the building, headed by the leaders, Smiley and Savage, who each bore a flag. When the two leaders had approached as near as it was thought proper they should, the officers and some of the citizens who had resolved to sustain the law at all hazards, headed by Sheriff Job, rushed upon and unhorsed them, taking from them their flags and their arms. Several others of those foremost in the ranks were unhorsed. This determined and bold action appeared to intimidate the remainder to some extent, though threats were still made and continued for a number of hours (the mob neither advancing nor retreating), during which time speeches were made by Messrs. Gillespie, Metcalf, Job and others, in English, and Mr. Krafft in German. These speeches appeared to have a good effect, for soon after, the threats of the rioters began to be less frequent and less savage, and in half an hour the whole gang had left town.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 30, 1903
Frank Clement has in his possession a pamphlet published in Edwardsville in 1857, which contains an account of the murder of Jacob Barth, a peddler, near Troy, by George Gibson, Ed Barber and Joseph Watson. Zephaniah B. Job was Sheriff, and the murderers were captured early next morning near Lebanon. Their trial took place almost immediately after a mob had attacked the jail and had been repulsed. The prosecuting attorney was Philip B. Foulke, and the attorneys for the defense were Seth T. Sawyer, Friend S. Rutherford and John Trible. The murder was committed because Barth refused to let the three ride. They pleaded not guilty, but were convicted and sentenced to hang June 19, 1857. Watson was a mere boy, and his sentence was commuted, but the sentence was executed in the cases of the other two. Before execution the three culprits made a confession and said they had started out from Iowa with the intention of robbing people and committing murder if necessary. The only speech in the pamphlet is an impassioned plea for justice and for law and order by Friend S. Rutherford, the conclusion of which is given below:

"Now violence has been threatened and I want to say in behalf of myself and associate counsel and the court, that no threats of violence, come from what quarter they may, wilt frighten us out of our sense of duty and propriety. For myself, I big defiance to mob law, and am ready at all times to promptly meet any attempts at the overthrow of law and order, and help to mote out summary justice as the attempt deserves. I am satisfied that twelve good men and true, can be found in this county to give any man a fair and impartial trial."

Of all the actors in this trial, Judge, Prosecuting Attorney Foulke, Attorneys Sawyer, Rutherford and Trible and Sheriff Job, the latter is the only one now living, after fifty years. Mr. Rutherford and Mr. Trible became soldiers in the war for the Union [Civil War], the first as Colonel of the 97th Illinois Volunteers, and Mr. Trible as Captain of Co. I, same regiment. Captain Trible was wounded in the knee at the battle of Arkansas Port, Arkansas, and was brought home to Alton where he died shortly after his return. Colonel Rutherford was taken ill in New Orleans while in command of his regiment, was brought home to this city where he died on the 20th of June 1864. Philip B. Foulke was elected Congressman from this district and is long since dead. Seth T. Sawyer died at a good old age in this city some years ago. Judge Snyder, who tried the case, died many years ago. Zephaniah B. Job, then Sheriff, is still hale and hearty - and full of vim, as ready to stand up for his rights as ever, whether it be in the courts or elsewhere. He has passed the four-score mark.


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