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Richard Dickerson Lynched
(Three related articles)

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Sandusky Star
Tuesday, March 8, 1904
Transcribed by
Contributed by Joyce Robinson


Mob Stormed a Almost Impregnable Jail, Got Prisoner and Shot Him to Death

Then the Body was Hoisted on a Telegraph Pole and the Mob Fired Revolver Balls into it for a full Half Hour, Yelling, Meantime, With Delight—Revolvers passed Around.

Springfield, O., March 8.—Richard Dickerson, the negro who shot Police Sergeant Charles Collis Sunday night was lynched here last night by [a] mob of more than 1,000 men. The lynching was one of the most horrible in the history of the country and Springfield stands aghast today at the work of her citizens.

The mob gathered about the jail early in the evening but at that time it was mostly composed of boys and it was not believed that anything serious would happen. A little later, a number of men joined the crowd and about 9 o'clock a demand was made of Sheriff Routzahn that he deliver the murderer to them. The sheriff declined to do so and at the same time told the crowd that the jail was impregnable and it would be useless to make an attack. He also told the crowd that he intended to defend the prisoner to the utmost of his duty and that while he would not like to harm any good citizen of Springfield, he would do his duty at whatever cost. He advised the mob to disperse at once.

Apparently, this advice was taken. A crowd that had been battering at the east door of the jail desisted and the mob dispersed. At 10:45 the sheriff and the squad of police he had in the jail believed all danger was over. In a few minutes, however, the mob reappeared with reinforcements, taking the officials off their guard. The south door of the jail was stormed and an entrance affected. Sheriff Routzahn and his deputies were overpowered [and] the police inside the jail were shoved back into the corners and disarmed, before they fairly knew what was happening. The cell was attacked, the cast door forced open and in a very few minutes fully 600 men were inside the jail. They were equipped with railroad iron, cold chisels and sledge hammers and threatened to tear down the cells and take every prisoner in the place out and lynch him if the sheriff did not deliver Dickerson over to them.

Finally, in order to protect the innocent prisoners from the mob, Sheriff Routzahn told where Dickerson was and the mob got him in a trice. The jail was so crowded after an entrance was affected, that the militia could not have protected the prisoner had it been on hand.

Dickerson was taken out into the large yard that surrounds the building. There a hollow square was formed and the negro placed in its center. The leader kept the crowd back while twenty or more men drew their revolvers and shot Dickerson dead. When it was apparent that the negro had expired, the mob picked up the body and carried it to the corner of Main street and Fountain avenue, one of the most prominent corners in the city. There a rope was tied around the neck of the corpse and it was drawn up a telephone pole until it was about 18 feet from the ground. Then the crowd shot at the body for half an hour fairly riddling it with bullets. As the body swayed about from the force of the bullets the mob hooted and yelled with delight. Aside from the shooting and yelling there was no disorder and the mob dispersed early in the morning.

The crime for which Dickerson was lynched wa one of the most brutal ever committed in this city. He had been living with a colored woman known variously as Anna and Mamie Corbin. They had quarreled and Dickerson had left her, leaving soma clothing behind. He went back for this and a man named Jones, the landlord refused to let him enter the house. Dickerson went to the police station Sunday evening and told his story and at his request Sergeant Collis accompanied him to the house.

While he was gathering up his clothing, Dickerson and the woman quarreled again and the former pulled a revolver and shot the woman in the left breast. She died later from the wound.

Collis tried to place Dickerson under arrest, but the latter fired at him four times, on shot taking effect in the abdomen. Dickerson then escaped from the room. Collis, despite his wound, followed, firing at the negro and calling upon others to stop him. When he got to the street, he fell, but even then fired two shots at the fleeing man. Dickerson was pursued by a number of people but out ran them to the police station where he gave himself up.

Feeling ran high against the murderer all day yesterday and when it was announced in the afternoon that Collis was dead the excitement became intense. There was scattered talk of lynching, but no one believed that anything serious would come of it. In fact, when the mob first formed around the jail, it was so lacking in leadership that the sheriff was not greatly alarmed. But leaders appeared later in the evening and the result was the lynching.

One cause for the lynching was that a number of murders have been committed in this city in the past few years and none of the murderers have been convicted. There has been a feeling for a long time that justice has been miscarrying and people have been dissatisfied. This city has a large colored population, also, and there is considerable race prejudice in consequence.

Springfield, O., March 8.—The body of Richard Dickerson remained suspended about four hours. It was finally ut down and taken to an undertaking establishment. The remains will be shipped to Cynthiana, Ky., Dickers's former home, for burial. There were about 25 revolvers in the crowd that lynched Dickerson and some of these were passed around. When one man had taken a shot at the swinging body, he would coolly pass his weapon on to his neighbor and thus one revolver would accommodate four or five people. Everything is quiet this morning.

Springfield, O., March 8.—Mayor Bowlas, Chief of Police O'Brien, and former Mayor Burnet, now a member of the board of public service, held a long consultation Tuesday and at its conclusion made a statement to the effect that the sentiment among the white peopl being practically unanimous in endorsing the action of the mob, no attempt at prosecution would be made from their stand point, although the affair might be taken before the grand jury by County Prosecutor McGrew.

Lima Times Democrat
Tuesday, March 8, 1904
Transcribed by
Contributed by Joyce Robinson


Leaders Not Under

And No Effort

Is Being Made to
Apprehend Them.

Springfield People, However,
Deplore Last Night's

But Believe That the Lawless Element of City Has Been Taught a Wholesome Lesson by the Mob's Work.

Springfield, O., March 8.—Great crowds today visited the scene of last night's lynching of Richard Dixon [Sic.], the colored man who had killed policeman Collis. At the court house and sheriff's residence, which stand side by side, the people gathered in knots and discussed the tragedy. There is apparently no disposition to make an effort to discover the mob leaders. While the lynching is deplored, the community is almost a unit in believing the lawless element of the city has learned a wholesome lesson. Mayor Charles J. Bowlus did everything possible to uphold the law and Major T. J. Kirkpatrick called on companies B and E, Third Ohio, but it was impossible to get the soldiers together in time to prevent the lynching. Judge J. K. Mower of the common pleas court is deeply chagrined over the action of the mob. He was making arrangements to call a special grand jury to try Dixon [Sic.].

Mayor Charles J. Bowlus, who did everything possible to prevent the lynching, said today: "I called up Sheriff Floyd Routzan last evening, and asked him if he anticipated any trouble." He replied: "He had no fear whatsoever of mob violence." When I learned a mob had collected at the jail, I sent for Chief of police O'Brien. I asked him to send a squad of officers to the jail and I had every man in the force on duty. I called on Major T. J. Kirkpatrick of the Third Ohio, who frankly said the militia men did not want to turn out to guard the jail. They said they might be compelled to shoot their friends. The militia men did not refuse to turn out, but expressed a dislike to do so. It was impossible, however, to get the soldiers to do so. The Mayor wired Adjutant General Critchfield, at Columbus, asking him for soldiers. Major Kirkpatrick remained on duty, but could not get the men together. Finally Mayor Bowlus notified him that the trouble was over. The Major had just informed him that the best he could do was to get together 20 men out of more than 100.

"It's a disgrace to the county," said Judge J. K. Mower today, in common pleas court. I would have called a special grand jury immediately if Prosecutor McGrew had been ready. I may call a special any way. The lynching will be placed before the jury."

The scene when the negro was secured by the mob beggars description. No human being was ever handled more roughly. Men knocked each other down in their mad desire to take a hand in the lynching. It was all done so quickly that an accurate description is impossible.

The body remained suspended about four hours. It was finally cut down and taken to an undertaking establishment. The remains will be shipped to Cynthiana, Ky., for burial.

There were about 25 revolvers in the crowd that lynched Dickerson, and some of these were passed around. When one man had taken a shot at the swinging body, he would coolly pass his weapon on to his neighbor, and thus one revolver would accommodate four or five persons.

Lima Times Democrat
Wednesday, March 9, 1904

And Buildings in the Notorious Levee
Are Now in Ashes.

Springfield, O., March 9.—The riot of Monday night in which Richard Dickerson, the colored murderer of Policeman Collis was dragged from the county jail and lynched was followed by a series of wilder scenes last night that threatened an extremely serious race war. During the day some of the negro sympathizers were overheard making threats to burn the jail and court house when night came. The threat became common gossip and infuriated the white citizens who began to gather upon the streets and threatened the negroes until, by 10:30 o'clock a mob of about 1,000 men had collected at the corner of high and Spring streets. Here they were addressed by Rev. Father Crogan, assistant pastor of St. Raphael church who pleaded with them to return to their homes and preserve order. His pleadings were unavailing however and at 10:45 o'clock the mob, which was constantly increasing in numbers began to advance upon the notorious negro district known as the levee, where many desperate criminals have been harbored by the illiterate and lawless inmates of the old dingy buildings.

The whites approached the buildings occupied by the colored people behind cars in the Big Four railroad yards. The discharge of revolvers sounded like a Fourth of July celebration. The crowd continued to advance, and at 11 o'clock it began to bombard the buildings with stones and bricks, breaking a number of windows. Shots were also fired through the glass, and as the broken pieces fell to the sidewalk the cheering was deafening.

Forty policemen were rushed to the scene, but they could not control the situation, as the cheers of the men brought large re-inforcements to their aid.

At 11:20 the torch was applied to one of the negro resorts and soon raging flames illuminated the scene. The fire department was called out but the mob threatened to cut the hose if any effort should be made to save any of the negro dives. A row of buildings one square in length, and from Spring street to Gallagher street was destroyed, involving a property loss estimated at $20,000.

Mayor Bowlus ordered out the local militia and at 11:33 o'clock Mayor Kirkpatrick arrived on the scene with 35 men. The Xenia and Urbana companies and two companies of the Third regiment from Dayton were sent to the scene under orders from Governor Herrick.

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