Hanged By a Mob

The Higbee News – May 1902; transcribed by Kathy Bowlin.

 30 May 1902--HANGED BY A MOB--Abe Witherup, the Monroe County Murderer,

Taken From Jail and Hanged to Railroad Bridge Near Paris.--Paris, MO, May 25—

“Abe Witherup, the murderer of Wm. Grown, was taken from the Paris jail at 2 o'clock this morning, marched to the bridge on the north edge of town and hanged.  The work was done by a mob of more than a hundred men, who rode quietly into the town at midnight.  They went at once to the jail but were held back for more than an hour by Sheriff Jas. W. Clark and Deputies Martin Clark and Polk Masterson, who stood before the entrance to the jail stockade with drawn revolvers and threatened to shoot the first man who attempted to force an entrance.

 The mob stayed before the jail for nearly two hours and then marched away.  The officers remained on guard but thought the mob had been foiled.  About two o'clock several men approached and engaged the sheriff and deputies in conversation and before they could defend themselves they were seized, disarmed and marched away.  The mob quickly surrounded the jail again and with sledge hammers battered the big iron doors off their hinges in a few minutes.

 James H. Whitecotton rushed into the jail as soon as the doors gave way and made a stirring appeal to the mob to desist and allow the law to take its course.  The leaders wavered and became quiet and would probably have spared the prisoner's life, but for the frenzied cries for vengeance from those in the rear.  Whitecotton was swept aside and in a few seconds Witherup was secured.  He made no resistance and in reply to questions confessed his guilt.  The father and brother of his victim were in the mob and assisted in escorting the prisoner to the bridge a quarter of a mile away.   The brother is said to have bound Witherup's hands and feet and adjusted the rope, and the father is said to have pushed him off the bridge.  His neck was broken by the fall.  His death was almost instantaneous.  The mob quickly dispersed and the body was left hanging until the arrival of Coroner Johnston this morning.  The inquest will be held Wednesday.  The action of the mob is generally deplored by the better element in Paris and vicinity.”