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Scott County, Indiana
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Lynching of Marion Tyler

Contributor: Randi Richardson

Indianapolis (IN) State Journal, December 28, 1898, p. 8.


Scottsburg Citizens String up Marion Tyler to a Tree

Scottsburg, Indiana, Dec. 24-Marion Tyler was taken from the county jail here this morning between one and two o'clock by a masked mob and hanged to a tree in the courthouse yard. Tyler was in jail awaiting trial for shooting his wife Nov. 3. He shot her twice and shot himself twice, but both had recovered sufficiently to be up. The sentiment of the people is divided with a majority condemning the mob's action. There is, of course, no clue to the identity of any member of the mob. Tyler's trial was set for Jan. 13.

A few minutes after one o'clock, Sheriff James F. Gobin heard a knock at the door of his residence and, being used to calls at all hours, went to the door in his night clothes. Three masked men with drawn revolvers thrust the door open and grabbed him, and four others with double-barrel shotguns rushed in. A member of the mob said they wanted Tyler and demanded the keys to the jail, but the sheriff refused. By this time, the bedroom was crowded with masked men and the mob's leader leveled a revolver at the sheriff and demanded the keys in a hurry. The sheriff said he would die first, but his frightened wife told the mob where to find them.

After obtaining the keys, several members of the mob went to the room of Deputy Sheriff Cal Gobin and with drawn revolvers compelled him to dress and come downstairs. Both the sheriff and his deputy were ordered to lead the way and unlock the jail and cell occupied by Tyler. Both refused, and the members of the family were placed in one room and guarded while the mob proceeded to the jail.

The lynchers seemed to understand just where to go. They entered the upper room of the jail, lighted a lamp in the corridor and placed guards on the outside of the cell in which Tyler and an old man were confined. The cell door was unlocked, and two members of the mob entered going direct to Tyler's bed.

They bound his feet and tied his hands behind him. Then another stood by the lighted lamp and tied a hangman's noose at the end of a half-inch manila rope. This was placed over Tyler's neck, and a man took hold of him on each side, and he was dragged from the jail to the street below. On reaching the street, Tyler was heard to say, "Oh, my God, kill me here." He was told to keep quiet, and if he said anything else during the whole performance, the the inmates of the jail or members of the sheriff's family failed to hear it.

The mob took Tyler to the courthouse yard two hundred yards away. The men were drilled and answered to numbers instead of by name. On reaching the courtyard, the mob selected a convenient limb on a shade tree, and over this the end of the rope was thrown. Tyler was placed on an old door and held up while the end of the rope was tightly fastened. Then the door was allowed to fall, and Tyler dropped to death by strangulation with his feet about eighteen inches from the ground. Their work being completed, the mob marched out the courtyard to the street and disappeared.

All this was done so quickly and so quietly that the town was not aroused. As soon as the guards were out of sight, Sheriff Gobin came from his residence, but he could find no trace of the lynchers. From whence they came or where they went is a mystery. Besides the sheriff's family and the old man who occupied the cell with Tyler, only one man has been found who saw them. This was a young man who returned from the country with a horse that he put in a livery stable. On coming from the stable to go to his hotel, he was halted by three men with drawn revolvers. He was ordered to sit down in front of the livery stable and keep quiet. He remained across the street from the jail. He says those who went into the jail wore long, dark masks, but the men who guarded him wore no masks that he could discern.

After the mob left the courtyard, this young man was ordered to go into the stable and remain there half an hour under penalty of being shot. He went into the stable but came out as Sheriff Gobin was passing. The coroner was at once notified, and shortly before three o'clock the lifeless body was cut down and taken to an undertaker's establishment. His parents at McLeansboro, Ill., were notified, and the body will be sent there.

All thoughts of mob violence had apparently passed from the minds of the people of this locality soon after the shooting last November, and the lynching was a surprise. The people of this county greatly deplore and feel deeply the disgrace that has been brought on the community by this act of an unknown mob that is generally supposed to have been organized outside of this county.

This is the first hanging that ever took place within the borders of this county.