|In 1867 the Courthouse was here on Main Street, In Warrensburg, MO |
A Museum today.
WHEREAS; The greatest of crimes are becoming more and more frequent and punishment less and less certain; therefore, Resolved, That we, the people of the town of Warrensburg, and of the county of Johnson, without distinction of party, do pledge ourselves that we will, to the extent of our ability, assist in the discovery of the perpetrators of all murders and robberies, and will assist the officers of justice in detecting and punishing them; and as the civil law proves inadequate to bring such criminals to justice, therefore, Resolved, That we will support a vigilance committee, in executing summarily,' all murderers, robbers and horse thieves, wherever they can be identified with reasonable certainty, believing, as we do, that self-preservation is the first law of nature, and that the citizens of a county are justified in administering justice to such criminals, wherever the duly constituted authorities from any cause whatever, are unable or fail to do so.
Sanders was present during the meeting, but the instant it adjourned, disappeared. The committee organized, and by nine o'clock were on the march. "Hark! Peace! It was the owl that shrieked, the fatal bell-man, which gives the sternest good night," Night had again spread her black mantle over our half of the earth. The weather had moderated, the wind was soft and damp. The roads were soft and sloppy and disagreeable, it was nine o'clock. The Warrensburg committee consisted of about one hundred of our best citizens. They were joined at Fayetteville by the Fayetteville committee, and together they marched directly to the Nation; a detachment from the main body proceeded to the house of a desperado, named whom they arrested and held, while others, with his wife for a guide, on Honey creek, where the execution took place. It was dead midnight. The ground had congealed. A full moon looked down from mid-heaven. The wind was still, the frosts glittered in the pale moonlight; nothing was heard, save the tramp of feet, or the distant hoot of the night owl. The main body of the committee were at the rendezvous, awaiting the arrival of the prisoners. The men were standing in groups or seated on fallen trees. All was still. No noise was heard- all seemed to be impressed with the solemnity of the occasion. With no light, save that of the full moon, the court was convened. The prisoner, Sanders, was brought forward, and walked with a firm step, taking a position directly fronting the judge, when the court addressed him as follows: "Richard Sanders, you are charged with one of the most infamous crimes known to the law-not one, but many. You are charged with murder, and, to make it still more infamous on your part and more horrible to a refined community, I will add assassination." Sanders interrupted the judge by saying: "It's a d-d lie!" The judge, without noticing the interruption, continued: "You are charged with stealing horses; you are charged with murder and robbery, in the broadest sense of the word; you are charged with being at the head of a band of murderers and marauders, who have, for years, made Johnson County the scene of death and destruction. And, to crown your long reign of infamy, I charge you with being the murderer of David Sweitzer." "It's a lie! Let it be proved," said the prisoner, in an altered voice, looking around him with a disturbed air. Sanders was livid. A legal arrest, perhaps, would have appeared less formidable. His audacity would not have forsaken him before an ordinary tribunal; but everything that now surrounded him surprised, alarmed him. He was in the power of those whom he had deeply wronged. The judge continued: "Yes, you have again spilled blood without any just provocation. The man whom you assassinated last night came to you in confidence, not suspecting your murderous intent. He asked you what you wanted. ' Your money and your life!' and you shot him dead." "Such was the story of Mrs. Groninger," said a man in the crowd. "It is false! She lied!" "Mrs. Groninger didn't lie," said the judge, coldly. "For the crimes you have committed you must die! If we turn you over to the civil authorities you will escape, or, by some of your comrades in infamy, prove an alibi, and be turned loose again upon society. No, it must not be. If, perchance, you were tried, found guilty and sentenced to death by a civil court, there would be a chance for you to escape justice, or you would stand on the scaffold if found guilty and jest with the hangman, or, I fear, profane the name of God with your dying breath. No, it must not be, you must die in secret; die tonight; die now. It will save your mother the shame of a son dying on the scaffold, and she can say, 'He was murdered, killed by a mob.' Listen! You are not the only one. Many of your companions will follow, and that soon! This last outrage is more than we can bear. Your crimes demand an extraordinary reparation. You have broken into houses with arms in your hands. You have shot men down in order to steal. You have committed another murder. You must die here. In compassion to your mother I will spare you the shame of the scaffold. I now sentence you to hang by the neck until dead!" Nothing could be heard but the quick breathing of the prisoner, or the whistling of the wind through the branches of the leafless trees. The voice of the judge was not harsh, but soft and sad. He was calm and collected, and every feature showed that he was about to accomplish a solemn and formidable mission. The prisoner was stupefied and seemed to be so overcome by the recollections of the past, that he uttered not a word. He was placed upon a horse, with a rope fastened from his neck to a limb above. The judge again asked, 'Who killed Sweitzer?' Sanders replied, 'I don't know. I think Morg Andrew.' Someone in the crowd cried, 'Oh! Hell, Dick; drive up the mule.' The horse was driven out from under, and the shadows of eternity gathered around him. The other prisoners were released without any confession on their part. The members of the committee then dispersed to their respective homes, with orders to be ready at a moment's warning, leaving the dead alone in the woods. "Vengeance to God alone belongs; but when they thought on all their wrongs, their blood was liquid flame." The chief of the outlaws was dead.
|Jeff Collins Vigilante Hanging Was Here. |
Possibly from one of these Blackjack Trees at Maguire Steet at Grover.
Foster School Pictured Here, Warrensburg, MO
|MoPac Rail Road Depot - Warrensburg, MO|
Fifty Vigilantes Took Two Prisoners Being Transported Main St. A Mob of 400 Was There and proceeded downWest Gay Street to the Post Oak Creek and Hung the Prisoners and buried them there.
|Eureka Mills, Built by Lank, Fike and Company|
|Hangings In Warrensburg, Mo Would Have Been |
Similar to This One in Montana in 1the 1860s
All executions, after the hanging of young Stephens and Andrews, were without the consent of the committee and against their wishes.
"WARRENSBURG, September 1867. Dear Mollie: As I write, I am only waiting to face death. I am now going to die, and as you know, I die for your sake, and my soul shall cling to yours, whether to heaven or hell it goes. Goodbye. J. M. SIMS."
After writing this note, he climbed up in a wagon that stood under the tree, remarking, that he would rather be on top of the limb than under it.