Illinois Genealogy Trails

Crime News Gleanings from Massac County

The Counterfeiters in Massac Co. Illinois
A fellow by the name of Stanford Rimmer, belonging to the gang of counterfeiters in Massac county, Illinois, has been making a confession, in which he implicates a large number of persons. They were engaged in making counterfeit gold and silver coins and notes of the Kentucky and Indiana banks. He named, also thirty-two men, all of whom were from Massac county, except three. Among the number were the sheriff, county clerk, three justices of the peace, and four constables, all of whom had their orders to leave the county by the by the(sic) 2d of the present month, and not to reside in the south part of the State. Forty-five others had similar order, and were preparing to leave - Quincy Whig

(December 1, 1846, Prairie Du Chien Patriot, Prairie Du Chien Wisconsin -- Submitted by S. Williams)

The Troubles in Massac Co. Illinois
The following communication from the Governor, made to the Legislature in regard to the late difficulties in this unfortunate county, is undoubtedly the most correct statement of the affairs there that has yet been published.  The governor had secret agents there for the purpose of ascertaining the true state of affairs, and from them this communication emanates:

Benton, Franklin County, Illinois, Jan. 1, 1847 His Excellency, A. C. French, Governor of the State of Illinois:
SIR: In compliance with your note of the 21st ult., which came to hand on the 26th, we proceeded to Massac county on the 27th, and made all the inquiries and gained all the information in relation to their difficulties in that county, that our limited stay enabled us.  We will not attempt to give you particulars in detail, as we heard them; but will give you in as brief a manner as possible, a general history of the difficulties, as we were able to learn them from various sources.  We were not confined in our inquiries to either party, which we found were known by the names of “Regulators” and “Flathead,” but placed most reliance upon what was told us by men said to be respectable and who had not taken any part in the difficulties on either side.
We were careful not to disclose our business to but one individual in the county, and to him only as we were upon the point of leaving the town.  We gathered our information by inquiring of individuals alone, and by asking companies of men, which we found in taverns, stores, &c.; and from them all we were told that there was a number of persons engaged in making and passing counterfeit money, stealing horses, &c.; that they had heretofore been able by some means to evade the penalty of the law.  In order to ride the county of such characters as were thus implicated was the first object of the “Regulators;” and so far as we could learn, their object met with the approbation of almost the entire county.
They had continued their operations of regulating for some months. Some individuals were allowed a committee of “Regulators” to try them. Some were found guilty and had “orders to leave.”  Others were acquitted.  Some were regularly tried before magistrates, &c., &c.  Some were whipped and some received a coat of tar and feathers.  The number implicated with the counterfeiters, it appears increased rather than diminished. Men heretofore looked upon as honest men were implicated with increased the excitement.  Men who had hitherto remained neutral or who had favored the “Regulators,” now left them, or disapproved of their course.
While affairs were in this excited situation, a company of “Regulators,” say twenty, more or less, went to an old man’s house, by the name of Mathias, to arrest him, in order to force him to give evidence, which they supposed was in his possession, of the guilt of certain characters in his neighborhood, and one or two individuals who had staid at his house.  He and the old lady resisted.  The old lady, being a stout woman, floored one or two of the party with her fists, when a gun was presented against her breast accompanies with a threat of blowing her heart out if she continued her resistance.  She caught hold of the gun and shoved it downward when the gun fired and shot her through the thigh.  She was struck one or two blows with a gun barrel on her head, inflicting considerable wounds and flooring her in turn, when they captured the old man and took him off, since which time he has not been heard from and strong apprehensions are entertained that he will not be seen again alive.
The “Regulators” say the shot at the old lady was accidental.  She made the proper affidavit before the proper authorities for the purpose of having those who were concerned in the perpetration of the offence arrested, whith the proper authorities proceeded to do.  After having arrested, say ten, more or less, of the individuals who were present when she was shot, &c., the proceeded with them to the Metropolis house, in Metropolis city, and there placed a guard around them, while search was made for the old man, Mathis, whom they wished to procure as a witness against the “Regulators.”
The news of their arrest having gone abroad, the “Regulators” assembed in numbers, say one hundred and fifty, or more, for the avowed purpose of rescuing the prisoners. They (the “Regulators”) say the “Flatheads” had determined to put the prisoners to death, if they failed in convicting them.  The “Flatheads” say they had no such intention It appears the guard who had the prisoners in charge were about as numerous, or nearly so, as the “Regulators.” Various attempts to compromise the difficulty between the parties without the effusion of blood were made but could only be effected by the unconditional release of the prisoners, which was granted.  There are some circumstances connected with that day’s proceedings which we will relate, in order to give you an idea  of the feeling which seemed to have governed them.
After the surrender of the prisoners, the regulators proceeded to take such individuals into custody as they saw proper.  In attempting to take a man, they fired at him once or twice in the Metropolis House, (the holes in the wall were pointed out to us,) without doing him any damage, when he surrendered and was led down stairs by two men.
When in the hall of the house, a man stabbed him from behind, inflicting a severe wound. When he was stabbed he cried and screamed murder, &c. A Methodist preacher, who is appears, is a Captain of a Regulating Company and lives in Johnson county near the Massac line exclaimed, “Now they’re using them as they should be,” or words to that effect. The wounded man, it is said, will recover of his wounds.  He was, by respectable authority, represented to us as an honest, industrious young man.  No proof was adduced against him of his having ever been guilty of any criminal offence, but some of his relations were implicated as having been concerned in counterfeiting &c.  The excuse given by the man who stabbed him for doing so was that there had previously been some personal difference between them.  We were also informed that Anderson is a brother to the man who shot old Mrs. Mathis.
The Regulators took some three or four individuals and gave them into the hand of about thirty Kentuckians, (who were present under the command of a man who resides in Paduca, which is some twelve miles above Metropolis,) to be dealt with as they saw proper.  Some of the individuals who they had arrested were suspicious characters; though there was one whom they had taken who resides in the north part of the State, who had been engaged for some time in Metropolis City in settling the affairs of an estate in which he was interested, against whom there was no charge and his offence seems to have consisted in taking an active part in arresting and securing the prisoners.  He was tied together with the rest of the prisoners and while in this situation some fellow asked permission of the Captain to thrash him, which was granted but he was prevented by others. The old man Mathis, who is amongst the missing, was represented to us as an honest, industrious old man.
On the 23d ult., there was a convention held in Golconda, consisting of five delegates from each of the counties of Massac, Pope and Johnson.  The delegates being Regulators, the Sheriff of Massac county had received orders from that convention to leave within thirty days from that date.  Further particulars of the proceeding of the convention we have not been able to learn.  The Sheriff, we were told, had gone with his family to some of his friends. What course he would pursue we could not learn.  His opponent at the last election, we were informed, was a member of the Golconda convention and has taken an active part in the difficulties. The Clerk of the County Commissioners’ Court had also left, together with a large number of citizens, some of whom have since returned.  There appears to be a cessation of hostilities at this time.
How long they may continue to keep quiet we cannot say.  Should those who have been ordered off, not return, it is possible the difficulties may terminate but from information which we felt inclined to place reliance in, it would be utterly impossible for the authorities of Massac county to enforce the laws and punish any individual for any offence, who belongs to the party of Regulators.  The Flatheads say a majority of the Regulators are disappointed office seekers, or at least the leaders of them.  The Regulators on the other hand, say that the Flatheads are horse thieves and counterfeiters.  From the bet information we could learn, there are but few responsible men who take an OPEN part in favor of the Regulators at this time, but there are some influential men behind the curtain, and stimulating others to act; some very abandoned and some very honest men, who are acting with the best intentions; and the same may be said of the Flatheads.  Of this, however, we feel confident that a large majority of the people of that county are sick and tired of the difficulties and are anxious to see them at an end.  If allowed to continue, no good citizen can remain in the county.

We may not be correct in all our statements. Our impressions may be incorrect in some instances; but in the main we think we have had correct information and such as would justify us in the statements we have made.  
 [The Ottawa Free Trader, Ottawa, January 22, 1847; NP, Sub by FoFG]

Something Concerning the Exercise of Executive Clemency in Illinois.
A List of Pardons Issued to Prisoners Under Sentence for Manslaughter and Murder.

A.P. Mingea; May 1869, murder; Massac County, 20 years; pardoned May 19, 1875. The papers
in this case are very voluminous. Judge David J. Baker, who sentenced him, writes recommending his pardon.
Elmer Washburn, late Warden, the prosecuting attorneys, and almost the entire community where he resided speak highly of him, and deem his imprisonment sufficient. The convection was almost wholly on circumstantial evidence, and there seems good grounds for executive interference. Mingeas is claimed to be a talented high minded man, and there is reason to believe that he for reasons creditable to the noblest mind, voluntarily assumed the odium of the crime to save others.

[Inter-Ocean Springfield, January 17 1876, submitted by Barb Ziegenmeyer]

Special Dispatch to The Tribune
JOILET, ILL., Jan. 26-A convict named Lafayette Williams, who was sentenced from Massac County in May last to one year's imprisonment for burglary and larceny, died in his cell at the State Penitentiary, very suddenly, Wednesday evening, of suffocation, caused by the bursting of an abscess of the pharynx superinduced by inflammation of the tonsils. The prison physician, Dr. Helse, assisted by Dr. William Dougall, made a post-mortem examination and certified as to the cause of the man's death. [The Chicage Tribune. Saturday, January 27, 1877 -- submitted by Sharon Foe]

Been "Shoving the Queer."
Springfield, Ills., March 9-Peter Turner and J.W. Hamilton, both of Brooklyn, Massac county, have been bound over by United States commissioner Robinson at Cairo, charged with passing counterfeit money. They failed to give bail and were lodged in jail here.
(March 9, 1894, Davenport Daily Leader, Davenport Iowa. -- Submitted by S. Williams)

Pardoned on Deathbed
Springfield, Ills., Aug. 28 - Governor Yates yesterday afternoon pardoned John Lemly, who was convicted of murder in Massac county, 1896, and sentenced to ninety-nine years in the penitentiary. Lemly is broke in health and is practically on his deathbed now. He killed Benjamin Ladd in a quarrel over a woman.
(August 28, 1903, The Daily Review, Decatur Illinois -- Submitted by S. Williams)

Offers Reward for Murderer
Springfield - Gov. Deneen has issued a proclamation offering a reward of $200 for the apprehension, arrest and conviction of David Ray, a negro, charged with murder. Ray is accused of having shot and killed John Johnson on August 13, 1906, at Joppa, in Massac county. He made his escape and the efforts of the authorities to locate him have so far proved vain.

(March 22, 1907 Suburbanite Economist, Chicago Illinois. Submitted by S. Williams)

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