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The Ohio Democrat
New Philadelphia, Ohio
Friday, August 1, 1873, page 3
LYNCH LAW IN RAGERSVILLE.
Jeff. Davis, a Notorious Character, Receives Seven Bullets in His Body and is Afterwards Hung in a Tree.
On Sunday, July 20th, a notoriously feckless character, named Jeff Davis, alias John Miller, who has frequently figured in our courts of Justice, made a villainous attempt, as is reported, on a Miss Hunierickhouse, who was in company with another girl, on the public highway, in the vicinity of Ragersville. He also made an assault on a little girl named Flora Lehn, in the neighborhood of their house, on Stonecreek, on the same day. Upon being apprised of the matter, Esq. Lehn went to Ragersville and filed an affidavit of the facts, and a warrant was issued by Levi Travis, a Justice of the Peace, in the town of Ragersville. The warrant was placed in the hands of constable D. Neff, who made diligent search for him, but did not at first succeed in arresting him. On Friday evening John Shank went up from Bakersville to Ragersville and informed the constable that Davis was in Bakersville. D. Neff, constable, and John Balr [Sic.], an assistant, started again in pursuit of him on Saturday. Then succeeded in arresting him about six miles south of Newcomerstown in Coshocton county, at the house of a widow woman. They arrived at Ragersville with their prisoner about sundown on Saturday evening last, July 26. While Davis was in the Justice's office, in the custody of the officers, and waiting for the witnesses to arrive, a crowd of unknown men from the country, seized the prisoner, with great violence, first blowing out the lights, then knocking him down with a poker; the, after firing seven pistol shots into his body, dragged him from the office by a rope attached to his heels, some distance through the town, to a tree, and there hung him up by the neck until dead. The officers in charge of the prisoner endeavored to protect him from the infuriated mob, but without success. John Blair, assistant constable, was struck in the eye while in discharge of his duty. The mob engaged in the transaction is estimated at between twenty and thirty persons. The officers present endeavored to preserve the peace, but the mob were inexorable, and with drawn pistols ordered back those persons who attempted to follow them to the scene of execution. The body was removed in a wagon, on the night of execution, and has since been found in the vicinity of Shanesville and an inquest held upon it. Our informant says that no citizens of Ragersville took any part in the affair, and many good citizens advised against it when they found that violence was intended to the prisoner. It is said in justification of the proceeding, that, in addition to his beastly conduct to several little girls and grown women, and frequent vulgar exposures of his person to females on the public road, he had also threatened certain parties to shoot them, using the most violent and abusive language; and also made threats that he would burn their property. It would seem, from all accounts, that he was regarded as a desperado and feared by the whole neighborhood--particularly the female portion thereof. It may be added that Jeff. Davis is an old offender, who was sent to the penitentiary from Zanesville about twenty years ago, and had also but recently finished a four years' term in the penitentiary to which he was sentenced in our Court for the same offence for which he has now paid the forfeit of his life. While the mob were dragging him from the Justice's office, a new butcher knife fell from his pocket.
But, notwithstanding the decidedly reckless character of the man, and his many crimes, we can not justify this lawless act of violence, conceived and executed, as it was, in such hot haste, and notably wanting in the order, regularity, deliberation, and even precision, that frequently accompanies such lawless proceedings. The State is, no doubt, well rid of a dangerous character, but it would have been much better for all concerned, could he have been disposed of according to the forms of law.
We have merely given the facts as we have hastily gathered them, preferring to defer any further comments until we are more fully advised in the premises.
The Ohio Democrat
New Philadelphia, Ohio
Friday, August 8, 1873, page 3
More About the Outlaw Jeff. Davis
The Iron Valley Reporter [Canal Dover, OH], Aug. 2d, says:
"A history of Jeff's eventful life would no doubt be very interesting to our readers, but among the many confused statements, it is almost impossible to arrive at facts. His real name was Miller. He was Swiss by birth and settled with his parents in Stark county, this State, where, it is understood, he still has respectable relatives living. He commenced his career of crime at a very tender age, and before his sixteenth year found his way inside a prison. He was a large, muscular man, 45 to 50 years of age and weighing, perhaps, 200 pounds. Several years of his life were spent in the penitentiary. He was first sent from Stark county, but for what crime we have been unable to learn. On his release, he avenged himself upon the jury that convicted him by burning a barn for each of them. Satisfied with his work there, he transferred his field of operations to Holmes, Wayne, and Tuscarawas counties, where he engaged in a series of petty depredations, and frequently found himself inside the county jail. Finally, he attempted a rape upon the person of a respectable married lady living near Ragersville, for which he was arrested, tried,convicted, and sentenced to the penitentiary for four years. He was not only a powerful but a desperate man, and in assisting to arrest him after the latter offense, Mr. H. H. Scheu, the present proprietor of the Dover livery stable, received several severe stabs. Serving out his term, he returned to Wayne county, where he was arrested for some trivial offense and confined to the jail at Wooster. From there he made his escape in a novel manner. The Sheriff had gone into Jeff's cell to leave his evening meal, unwittingly allowing the keys to remain in the door. Jeff watched for a favorable opportunity, and while the official's back was toward the door, the culprit slipped out, locked the doors, and the officer of the law was a prisoner. The united efforts of three smiths succeeded in releasing the Sheriff from his imprisonment after several hours of hard labor. Jeff, having regained his liberty, turned his steps toward ------ honored us with his presence ---- Saturday, July 12th. While here he called upon Mr. Scheu, whom he had stabbed years before, and paid his respects in terms more emphatic than polite. He not only threatened Mr. Scheu for the part he had taken in his arrest, but also gave notice that he would kill the Ragersville constable the first time he caught sight of that individual. He used the most disgusting language and was the terror of the whole community. From here he went to Stone Creek, where he attempted the crime for which he gave up his life."
THE CAMBRIDGE JEFFERSONIAN
Thursday, 27 November, 1873, page 3
The Tuscararwas Advocate has the following in relation to the indicting of a part of a mob of lynchers who killed Jeff. Davis at Ragersville, in that county, last summer. It will be remembered that Davis was lynched during an examination before a Justice for the alleged commission of a rape, of which, however, there are now doubts of his being guilty.
"The last thing the Grand Jury did before adjourning on Wednesday of last week, was to find indictments for murder in the first degree against four parties charged with complicity in the lynching of Jeff Davis, at Ragersville, in July last. The parties are Samuel Schepfer, John Shank, Samuel Winkever and Peter Stiles. Warrants were placed in the hands of the Sheriff at noon of that day, and Schepfer, Shanks, and Wink- ever were arrested and lodged in jail the same night. Stiles, it is understood, has gone to California. The accused parties have employed nearly all the attorneys at our bar, and it is rumored that the trials will take place next week, but it is not very probable that they will be tried so soon. They will have to await their trial in jail as they cannot be bailed out. These men are all married and have families and have hitherto borne good reputations."
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