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Life on the Rivers


The Daily Gazette

JULY 30, 1869


 The Steamer Dubuque a Scene of

 Violence and Murder.


Five of the Latter Beaten,

 Cut and Drowned.

 Stabbing, Pounding and Clubbing.








            The most fearful and bloody series of murders ever perpetrated on the Upper Mississippi River, and of a character never before known on a steamboat in these waters, were committed on the Northern Line steamer Dubuque, John B. Rhodes, Captain, at and near the levee at Hampton, Ill., seven miles above this city yesterday morning.

            Five negroes, deck hands, were victims of the prejudice and ferocity of a crew of raftsmen, and were beaten, cut, and drowned!  


at about seven o’clock in the morning. She is known as one of the finest packets in her line. Her deck crew was composed of some 30 hands, some of whom were white, but the majority were negroes. When she left here, the mate informs us, she had over two hundred deck passengers on board – a third of whom were raftsmen, the remainder being harvest hands. She also had over one hundred cabin passengers. 


a little after eight o’clock, as the steamer was nearing Hampton. Mr. Jones, second clerk, went on deck to examine tickets and receive fares, and stationed a colored deck hand named Moses Davison at the stairway, to prevent deckers from going above while he was thus employed. Soon a raftsman, well known as “pock-marked Lynch,” attempted to ascend the stairs. Davison stopped him, and after a brief quarrel, blows were passed. The mate, John F. Sweet, interposed and stopped the fight. Then, save loud talking among many of the raftsmen and by Lynch himself, there was no trouble for ten minutes or so. Davison stood one side and bore their insults without returning a word. By this time the boat was at the levee. At last the raftsmen formed a kind of ring on the forecastle, with Lynch in their center, and Davison was hustled alongside of him and commanded to fight it out. Lynch didn’t like the looks of Davison, and, calling him a d—d nigger, went for him with a chunk of coal. In an instant, as many as twenty-five of the raftsman joined in the assault.  The 


began.  Some of the raftsmen ran to the shore and armed themselves with chunks of coal, with which they stoned the colored men.  But Lynch and one Ted Butler, with a dozen followers, commenced hunting the negroes on the boat. In the melee, Davison escaped and ran up to the hurricane deck and secreted himself under the lifeboat aft of the Texas.  The lynch gang went sweeping through the deck passages.  The negroes scattered-some leaping to the shore, and some rushing for up-stairs.  Two of them were caught aft of the engines, terribly pounded and cut, and hurried to the stern, and made a leap into the water.  The passengers saw them sink immediately, and that was the last of them.  The water colored with their blood as they went down.  Their names were Wm. Olmstead and Clayton Jones.  Both were from New Orleans.

  One negro was pursued along the starboard guards, across the rear of the boilers, to the larboard guards, where he was hit on the head with a piece of coal, caught and beaten till he was nearly senseless.  Then a half dozen villains seized, ran him to the stern, and jumped him into the water.  It was said by two lady passengers who saw him as he sank from the windows of the passage in rear of the ladies cabin, that his throat was cut from ear to ear! His name was not ascertained.

  The fourth negro who was murdered was pursued up stairs, along the cabin and pursued up stairs, along the cabin guards, and across the hurricane deck to the deck again.  He fled toward the stern, was caught, and plunged into the river.  As he struck the water, a great piece of coal struck him on the head, and he went to the bottom. 


  About ten of the negroes escaped to the shore and ran away unharmed although several shots were fired at them from revolvers.



  After the murder of the negroes mentioned above, the raft fiends made a hunt for the “Niggers.”  They wandered all through the places and by ways on deck, and along the guards of the cabin, and on the hurricane deck.  At last Lynch spied Davison, as the latter lay curled up under the life boat.  He cried out, “Here’s a---son of a bitch.”  Davison heard him and turning the boat up, sprang out, and ran with a knife in hand towards the cabin stairs.  Lynch cried.  “That’s the one we want.”  And with three others pursued him.  Down on the deck went Davison.  There Ted Butler tried to stop him, and Davison slashed his bowels with a knife.  The negro then fled to the place where four of his fellows had met their death, and on his way was hit with a (?).  He jumped into the river and paddled for a while with his hands and kept his head out of water.  Two men set out from shore with a skiff to rescue him, but before they could get near him he ceased his efforts and sank!  


For the saving of the negroes were numerous and successful.  Several negroes were locked up in state rooms in the ladies cabin.  One instance is mentioned particularly.  Rev. D. C. McCoy, of Macomb, Ill., was in his state room with his wife.  A negro nearly covered with blood from a cut in his throat, fairly bounded through the open outside door, and cried, “Save me, do save me, Missis!”  The lady, perfectly ignorant of the terrible work going on outside, immediately closed the door.  In an instant, almost, she heard the tramp of men outside, and the cry, “Where is the hellion?”  Then there was a rush back for the bow, and her protégé was safe.  He remained in the room more than an hour.  Mr. McCoy sponged his wounds, and bound them, and made the poor fellow as comfortable as possible. Several of the hunted hands were secreted in the Texas rooms by the officers. 


Named Marshal white was severely wounded.  He had taken deck passage to McGregor in company with one Wm. Alexander, of East St. Louis, and another colored man whose name he did not know.  The three were standing near the machine known as the “nigger” when the hunt began.  Immediately six or seven scoundrels made for them.  White jumped over some boxes and ran forward, and as he did so, he was slashed with knives across the side of his head, and in his left thigh.  He went on upstairs, however, and was hid in a state room by Bill Henderson, the bar keeper Alexander escaped with but two or three bad bruises on his back caused by heavy chunks of coal which slighted on him with so much force.  He owes his salvation to a young lady who locked him in her state room, for the raftsmen would have had him sure, had it not been for the narrow passage way at the wheel house which hid him as he entered the state room.

  What became of the other negro is not known.  It is more than probable that he was killed, as he has not been seen since the villains came upon him. 


Not one of them was in possession of a shooting iron of any kind, and to interffered with the negro killing scoundrels, unarmed, would have been foolish indeed.  All they could do in opposition to scores of raftsman was to secrete the negroes when possible.   


By a raftsman.  On the deck a villain went rushing at the mate with a large knife.  At the mate’s side stood a Mr. McKinney, who gave the knife man a shove and a kick, that sent him staggering.  When he returned to the attack, “the mate wasn’t where he use to was, “ and Mr. Kinney was off somewhere else.    


the steamer hadn’t a single colored deck-hand on board, that was visible.  The killing was ended in that time, and only when there were no negroes to hunt.  Indeed, several of the rioters volunteered to act as roustabouts, and actually did work on deck. 


  The boat swung out form Hampton, and had proceeded but a few rods, when she went into shore again.  The idea was to wait the arrival of a force from Rock Island, Capt. R secretly telegraphed the sheriff of that county for help.  But the murderers saw through the stratagem and threatened to join together and fire the steamer, if she was not quickly moved up stream, so the steamer was soon swung out again, and continued on her way.  At Camanche, Ted Butler went ashore, as did also pock-marked Lynch.  Butler was captured, as will be seen hereafter.  


was made on a porter, who after the boat left Hampton, and when all comparative quiet went to empty some water on the guards.  He stepped out cautiously, but was discovered, and severely beaten by three raftsman. 


  As stated above, the sheriff of Rock Island county was telegraphed to for assistance in arresting the murders.  He immediately placed the matter in the hands of Deputy Sheriff Payne.  Superintendent Cotton, of the Western Union, placed a train at his disposal, and at eleven o’clock some sixty men, mostly armed, were on their way northward.  On they went till Fulton junction was reached.  The force then went over to Clinton, and in fifteen minutes the Dubuque came in sight.  This was between 3 and 4 P. M.  As she threw out her staging, a dozen men, with revolvers in hand stepped on board, and forced every raftsman to go aft.  The 


  Before reaching Clinton, they were full of talk of exterminating the d---d nigger, But when the posse showed determination to arrest them dead or alive, they just wilted.  Over twenty of them were tied at the wrist, and their feet shackled.  As the officers were doing this work, five or six of the fellows became obstreperous, but three or four good punches in the bread basket wilted them.  Captain Rhodes had decided to land the prisoners in Rock Island, and the boat was turned southward.  Nothing of note occurred on the way; save a brief stoppage at the Island, where it was at first determined to land the prisoners.  But this was given up.  The 


at seven o’clock.  The whole city seemed to be on the levee, while hundreds were on the davenport levee, hoping the steamer would touch on this side.  The people over the river were very quiet, however.  Under direction of Deputy Sheriff Payne, ropes were stretched about a good-sized piece of levee, and the people ordered to keep outside of the square thus formed.  The colored deck hands (who had been picked up on the way) formed two lines. The posse comitatus, stood guard with drawn revolvers.  The chief rioters were marched off the boat and to jail.  Then all the remaining raftsman were marched between the rows of negroes to be identified.  Some twenty-nine of these fellows were pointed out as having participated in the negro-hunting business on the steamboat.  Some of these were known to be innocent by the officers of the boat and the passengers.  Nevertheless all were jailed.  The following are the 


in the killing business, who are under arrest John Calliger, John Young, Andrew Frank, James Thompson, Thos Jones, Jas. Cochron, David Dawes, A. W. Frebble, Frank Gilmore, Jas. Quinn, Geo. Tracy, John Hait, Wm. Blair, Thos. Jones, John Campbell, Wm. Dalton, Holsey Hammond, Dennis Eagan, Nick Shilty, Oliver Shandamois.   


from among the deck hands, a dozen of whom were taken to the Court House as a lodging place.  Second Clerk Jones and Mate Sweet, also remained to give evidence.  


in landing the prisoners was more than two hours, owing to the careful eyes of the negroes. At half past nine o’clock the Dubuque started for the north again.  


on steamboats, were in large numbers, has long been a source of annoyance to officers and passengers. They have free access to the bar, and drink continually. Then they quarrel, either between themselves or the deck hands and they really run the steamboats, for nobody wants to oppose them.

            Now that an opportunity has occurred to make an example of these roughs, it is hoped that all the punishment that the law allows will be given the guilty ones. 


in the city had the affair much worse than it really was. The number of killed ran from six to thirty-six. The pilot, King, and five white men were all killed by rumor. The feeling in Davenport was intense. The only Davenporter on the boat was C. G. Blood, Esq. Mr. B. saw two of the negroes run back, and then in a minute heard they were attacked and knew that they had gone to the bottom.


Daily Gazette

August 2, 1869



Further Examination of Witnesses



Twenty five Defendants Discharged



   The examination of the ruffians implicated in the murderous attack upon the colored crew of the steamer Dubuque was continued at Rock Island on Saturday, the interest of the public being unabated.

  Deputy sheriff Love of Camanche, arrived on Saturday morning, with Wm. Randolph and Richard Riley, whose arrest was reported on Friday.  The negroes in court, however, fail to identify them as having taken part in the riot.  Randolph stated that he saw one negro chased overboard.

  Mr.. Crawford, of Camanche, who heard Ted Butler boast, in the Iowa House in C., that they “had killed two of the d-n niggers and thrown them overboard,” while in great glee over the matter, also arrived. 


On Saturday, commenced with Thomas Adair of Camp Point, Adams county, Illinois.  He identified William Blair as having fired three shots at a negro who stood on the wharf.  The balance of the crowd yelled “shoot the black son of a -.”  He saw two negroes struggling in the water, the rioters, shouting “Let the drown.”

  John D. Blood, of New Philadelphia, Tuscarora county, Ohio, testified that he was in the cabin when the row commenced.  He corroborated the testimony of the previous witness, in regard to the shooting, but could not identify the man who did it.  There were fifty or sixty rioters in all, he judged.  The confusion and uproar was very great.  He noticed the pock marked man (not yet caught) as a very prominent actor.  He saw one negro in the water and saw them pelt him with rocks until he was drowned.  After the riot, the raftsman expressed themselves as satisfied with having “cleaned out the niggers.” And driven them all ashore.  This comprised the substance of his testimony.  

George A. Scott, of Dubuque, a deck passenger, testified that he saw the raftsman pursue a negro form the hurricane deck, and afterwards saw the negro in the water.  Two men from Hampton went out in a skiff to rescue him, but the rioters deferred them by shouting “Let the black son of a – drown.”  During the melee there were loud cries of “Kill the black devils.”  He identified John Gallagher as a rioter, and saw him in the crowd with a rock in each hand.  He also identified Nicholas Scheltz.  He saw him running with the rioters, and shouting, “Go for em boys.” “ Scheltz has a cut or bruise over the eye.  He identified Ted Butler, the wounded man, and saw him knock the porter down.  He heard him brag that he had “knocked one nigger down, anyhow.” After he had struck the porter.  After the affray the Captain went down and asked the rioters if they wouldn’t please let the boys alone till he got to Dubuque.”  As they had driven the main portion of the crew ashore, they seemed satisfied, and at the various landings assisted the roustabouts in moving out the stage. 


  Patrick Roach, Jas. Jennings, Wm. Muntz and Jas. Quinn.  Were discharged at the close of the forenoon session.


  Francis Allen, of McGregor, Iowa testified that he had come down the river in a raft, and was going back again as a cabin passenger.  He saw the pock-marked Irishman throw a piece of coal at a negro. He saw three negroes sink in the river and drown, two before the boat left Haegy’s landing and one directly after the boat put out.  He identified Toomey, who told him, after the row that he (Toomey) had knocked a nigger down with a chunk of coal striking him over the ear.  Witnesses also saw Schektz beating the negroes with a cane.

D. E. Parry, of Philadelphia, a cabin passenger, testified that he saw Butler harranging a crowd of raftsman just previous to landing at Hampton and dressed Butlers wound in barber shop Saw the last two negroes drown.

  John Allen, raftsman and cabin passenger, saw a negro drown at Hampton wharf and another as the boat shoved out.  Saw the latter hit with pieces of coal, but couldn’t say who did it.

E. K. Bravton, raftsman, and one of the discharged prisoners, saw the last negro running along the lower deck, closely followed by white men.  Soon afterwards saw negro in water, and a boat push out fro shore.  The rioters said the boat couldn’t reach the negro in time to save him.  Steamboat was moving.  Saw Blair and Campbell running with others.  Didn’t see hart do anything.  Frank Gilmore was asleep during the whole of the riot.  Preble sat quietly on a box during the disturbance.  Saw Shannon in a bunk just before the commencement, and he remained there till the last negro drowned.  

  Joseph Gilmore, discharged prisoner, saw a good deal of the riot.  Saw men running around generally with coal in hand.  Saw a negro cut Butler on main deck, who knocked man down with piece of coal. Blair took a prominent part from discharging a pistol to throwing coal at the last negro, who was drowned, as the latter ran along the lower deck.  Saw John Campbell give Lynch the knife, with which the latter attacked the mate.  Lynch told Campbell hat a negro had cut hi in back of the head, and he was bound to have revenge.  Campbell afterwards had a stick in his hand, and witnesses met him aft and asked how the nigger came to get in the water.  Campbell replied “Never mind-he got helped off.”  Saw Toomey, Schult and Hammond taking part in the riot.  Thinks there were but five or six men prominently engaged.

  Matthew Crawford, of Le Claire, saw Butler after he got off the boat at Camanche.

  George Mann, discharged prisoner, saw Butler, Blair, Lynch and Campbell talking.  A negro rushed along and they pursued him to the horse guards.  Another man came out and told them the negro was in the place.  They opened the door and couldn’t see him, and went forward.  Went up stairs by the wheel and saw the body of a negro in the water,  Saw a negro running on boiler deck with a big knife in hand, going down stairs. Went down stairs and saw another negro in the water.

  Bishop R. Kellogg, deck passenger, testified but his evidence was of no importance.  He thought it wasn’t healthy to stay on the steamboat and got in cars at Hampton.

  Alonmzo Hibbard, of Moline, got on boat at Hampton with his wife, and went into cabin west and saw a white man fire at negro with deep gash in his face talking with some ladies.  Went forward and heard some of the rioters tell the captain to give his orders to them, they’d obey him, but wouldn’t be mixed up with niggers.  Went outside, and saw Toomey, with a piece of coal in his hand, coming towards him.  Toomey went along the cabin guards in a hurry.  Witness went down cabin and through a state-room to rear of wheel-house; looked over and saw a negro clinging to rail of aft guard.  His legs were torn form the railing by parties whom he could not distinguish.  Negro still clung with his hands; the hands were next torn away, and as the fellow floated off he saw a gash in his face, as if it were the same man he saw in the cabin.  Heard cries of “Kill him,”  “Drown him.”

  Frank gi9lmore, discharged prisoner, testified.  He recognized Chandamos as the man, who rushed about with coal in his hand, making bad demonstrations.  


  The testimony closed for the day.  The negroes were then called up, one by one, and asked to take a careful survey of the prisoners.  They followed instructions to the letter;  the objects of their searching gaze were about as uneasy a set of mortals as ever occupied the prisoner’s box in Rock Island.  As the negro would point to a rioter and spot him, the fellow’s breath would be impeded by a thickness in his throat, and his face give signs of appropriate fear.  The result was that the following named prisoners war 


Adam Frank, John Wright, Geo. Keddash, James Calahan, M. Chetaski, Frank Gilmore, A. W. Preble, Charles Coles, George Tracy, Jacob Filo, A. H. Olmstead, Charles Welsh, Timothy Connell, James Thorpe, E. Cosgrove, F. Beatty, A. J. Hawkins, Jos. A. Thompson, P. Shannon, C. Linden. 


Daily Gazette

August 3, 1869


Further Examination of Witnesses


Thrown from the Hurricane

Deck- Butler’s Speech



Crew- --The Villain Lynch

   The examination of the men implicated in the murder of the deck hands on the steamer Dubuque, was resumed yesterday forenoon.  The testimony given yesterday was little more than a repetition, or confirmation, of that previously given, although one or two new points of interest were brought out.

  The attendance was smaller than on Friday and Saturday.  The public seem to be of the opinion that he crime will be brought home to four or five, possibly six, of defendants, and that they will be brought to justice.  


     Yesterday, commenced with Theodore Jones, the second clerk on the Dubuque.  He testified that when going up the river on Thursday, and when opposite the old Moline landing, witnesses commenced collecting fare, beginning on the hurricane deck, and passing along the boiler deck to the lower one.  Placed two negroes on the stairs to prevent any deck passengers from slipping up stairs and escaping the payment of fare.  Was on the lower deck in the engine room, when the row began.  Saw Lynch run by with a chunk of coal in his hand, going forward.  Butler came by shortly afterwards, wounded.  Come again with a knife in his hand.  Witness had a negro with him to prevent deck passengers from passing forward or aft.  Butler struck at the negro with the knife, and thinks he cut him. Witness never saw the negro afterwards.  Coal flew around in a lively manner, and darkeys in the river were pelted with it.  Saw butler knock the porter down.  The captain came down to quell the riot, and accused the raftsman of killing four negroes.  Recognized butler, Toomey and Sheltz as having been engaged in the disturbance.  Saw Toomey ran through the cabin with a chunk of coal in each hand.

  The witness was subjected to a lengthy cross-examination, after which the court adjourned till


Adolph Schafer, George Bumbach, and L. F. Baker testified to the finding of the body of the negro named Armstead, who was one of the Dubuque slain deck hands, on Saturday at three o’clock, floating on a sand bar off Hampton, a quarter of a mile below Haegy’s wharf.  Mr. Baker is a justice of the peace, and delivered the body to coroner Knox.  He testified to hearing shooting and cheering on the Dubuque on the day of the riot.

  Dr. Plummer, of Rock Island, testified to an examination of the body of the deceased.  Found no marks of violence on the body of the deceased, with the exception of four serious contusions on the head, such as might have been caused by rocks or some blunt instrument.


  Mr. Henry Fullerton, of Hampton, was sworn.  He made a statement differing from the account of the affray given by any other witness, and one which gives evidence that at least five negroes were killed, and substantiating the Gazette’s first account, as indeed have all the other witnesses.  Mr. Fullerton testified that just as the boat was pushing out of Hampton, he saw a negro man around the hurricane deck, pursued by several white men.  When the negro reached the stern the second time he put his hand upon the rail, the men close behind him, and either jumped or was pushed over the rail, into the water, and was drowned.  While he was running the men threw coal at him.  The examination of


Now commenced.  The evidence of five of them, Chas. B. Smith, Bill Willians, Noah Johnson, Dick Bernard and Jim Johnson, was given during the afternoon.  Their, was given during the afternoon.  Their examination elicited no features of leading importance, and only showed that most of them, at least, were so terror stricken during the riot, as to be unable to see much that was going on around them.  Everyone was busy looking out for the salvation of his own life.  They did not succeed in confirming the identification of a single man, beyond the facts already given in regard to their merely pointing out the guilty parties on Saturday afternoon.

  The evidence of Smith showed that


Is a most effective individual.  Smith testified that he was on the boat until after it was brought back to Rock Island.  He did not leave, as did others of the colored crew, as he was concealed in a stateroom after the “hunt for niggers began.” Heard Butler make a speech to the whites on deck Butler said,  “Are you men of sense or are you dogs? Or what are you?  I am nothing but a poor raftsman.  If you are men you will surely do something.  For this,” exposing the wound in his side.  Anthony’s speech over the dead body of Caesar had not a more inspiring effect upon the Romans, than had the speech of butler’s upon the raftsman on the steamer Dubuque, if smith’s memory be correct.  For at the conclusion, Sampson shouted “Let us kill the d—n s-a of b-s,” and all the crowd yelled approbation.  Forthwith the raftsman scattered, and the murder of the negroes was commenced again.  This is the only new feature elicited in the testimony of the colored witnesses.  They wee attacked and got out of the way as best they could, without stopping to see who or what was after them. 


For the arrest of Lynch, offered by the Northern Line Packet company, is an indication at least that the company does not intend to tamely submit to the rule of raftsman on their packets.

  Lynch is described by sheriff Drury as being “a large, well built, broad shouldered Irishman, his face deeply pitted with small-pox. He is about five feet eight or nine inches in height, weighs 170 or 160 pounds, has dark complexion, short brown hair, no beard, and appears to be about 35 years of age.  He received a slight cut on the back of his head during the riot, and wore at that time a faded gray shirt, dark pants, dark brown coat, and brood brimmed black hat.”  It is said by some of the raftsmen that his home is at Stillwater, Minnesota.  The Dubuque Herald gives the following item concerning the villain:

  The ring leader of the affray, Lynch, came to Dubuque with the workmen on the railroad bridge, but did not leave with them.  He was here known more generally by the alias of “Scott,” and under that name had a sparring match with Fred Bussey.  He stole Tom McNear’s coat, was arrested for it, found guilty, and put in jail.  He is not a raftsman, but a wharf-rat, who would as soon swindle or steal form a raftsman as from any other man.  It is to be hoped he will be arrested and secure his just desserts-a short shrift and a tight halter.   


Daily Gazette

August 4, 1869



The Main Features of Yesterdays Evidence

     The examination of witnesses in the steamer Dubuque riot and murder case was continued yesterday.  John Anderson, Henry Campbell, Archie Ramsey, Geo. Wilson, John Henry, Chas. Schofield, Alex Wadworth, Robt. Kyle, Henry Mitchell, James Monroe, Samuel Strickland, Dan Pearson, Ben Thompson, Charles Shultz, James Siedge, Edward Nelson, William Alexander, Marshal White, Tucker Smith, Ephriam Johnson, and Henry Harris were examined.  It is useless to detail the evidence.  Each gives the same story of the ferocity and brutality of Lynch, Blair, Butler, Gallaher, Schultz, Kunick, and the rest of the raftsman.  These colored men saw their comrades beaten and purged to a watery grave, and stoned while drowning.  They heard over and over again such brutal expressions as “Kill every black son of a – on the boat.”  And whenever this was raised, Blair would shout, “and I’ll back you!”  Geo. Wilson testified that he was the man fired on by Blair, after having been kicked, choked and stoned by Gallagher, Schultz and Lynch.  When Blair failed to hit him, Lynch says:  “by--, can’t you hit as big a son of a –as that?”

Marshal White, of Davenport, (colored passenger) testified that he saw much of the brutality.  Butler hit him with a piece of coal, stabbed him in the thigh, and tried to cut his throat, but witnesses threw up his and and the knife only penetrated under his left ear. Campbell knocked White down, and went for a stick of wood to beat him with, when some one seized witness, and hurried him upstairs.

  Thus the evidence has accumulated until it is established that the engaged in the riot richly deserve the halter.

  Now as to the number of killed, the Rock Island Union says the following facts have been established concerning them:

            The First Two. - There was a struggle at the stern of the boat at the time the larger portion of the crew were being driven ashore, and two negroes were seen to sink.

            The Third was William Armstead, who let himself down into the water from the starboard after-guard, thinking to swim away, and who was stunned by coal thrown at him.

            The Fourth. -The man with a gash in his face whom Mr. Hibbard saw torn from the larboard after-guard and thrown into the river.

            The Fifth. - The man whom Mr. Fullerton saw pursued on the hurricane deck and jumped or got pushed from it over the side.

            The Sixth. - Moses Davis who was secreted on the hurricane, but who was chased down stairs and seen running on the boiler deck, had coal thrown at him by Blair as he ran along the lower deck, and was, according to Campbell, ”helped off “into the river.

            It is probable that Eagan and Cady will be discharged to-morrow, leaving thirteen rioters still in custody.

            A body supposed to be that of Davison was found at Muscatine on Monday. The clothing will be sent up to day for identification.

            The examination will probably be concluded today.


Daily Davenport Democrat

Aug. 5, 1869 

Rioters Trial Ended

   The examination of the Steamer Dubuque rioters was completed this forenoon.  The defense only introduced two witnesses. Charles Welch and Charles Linden, both discharged prisoners and then rested their case.  Patrick Conley, was discharged, and the case of Dennis Egan, John Hart and John Gallagher was continued for future examination.  All of the others, ten in number, were held for trial at the September term of District Court.  Their names are as follows:

John Toomey

Ted Butler

Wm. Blair

John Campbell

Wm. Doelan

Halsey Hammond

O. Chandemus

James Crossen

Lewis Simpson

Nich Scheldtz


 Davenport Daily Democrat

June 23,1870

Page 1

            Trial of the Dubuque Rioters – After examining 75 more talisman, the12th juror in this case was secured on Tuesday morning. Wm. Jackson of Rock Island then opened the case for the people. Osborn & Gest, of the same place, opened for the defense.  The jury are as follows: Robert McFarland, S.P. Pettys, James McNeil, Nazro Reynolds, Thos. Bollen, Jno. McFarland, W. A. Talbot, Wm. Slack, Theo. Dish, A. J.  McFarland, R. W. Ayres, Samuel Bowling. Robert Irvin, of Aledo, a passenger on the Dubuque at the time of the riot, who identified four of the rioters, was the first witness examined. John E. Perry, of Philadelphia, also a passenger, was next examined. Chas. A Jordon, of Fulton County, also a passenger, was on the stand a 2 o’clock yesterday. The prosecution ha about twenty witnesses to examine, and the case will probably consume the whole of next week. 


Daily Gazette

June 24, 1870

Page 4


The Dubuque Rioters.

             As we have before mentioned, the men under arrest, and nearly a year past confined in the jail of Rock Island County, for participation in the terrible and murderous riot on the Northern Line packet Dubuque, last July, took a change of venue to Henry County, and their trial is now going on. There was nearly one hundred men called before a jury was obtained. Judge Pleasants is presiding. The twelfth and last juror in this case was secured on Tuesday last, and the opening of the case commenced by Wm. Jackson, of Rock Island, on the part of the people, and Osborn & Gest for the defense. The prosecution have some twenty or more witnesses to examine, and the case will probably occupy the time of the court during the whole of next week. Charles A Jordan went on the stand at 2 P.M. Wednesday and was excused at 5 P.M.  He identified Dolan Toomey and Blair. John King, pilot of the Dubuque at the time of the riot, was the next witness. Geo. W. Mann, of Hudson, Wisconsin who was a passenger on the boat took the witness stand yesterday morning. The case seems to be making rapid progress.



Daily Gazette

July 2, 1870

Page 4

 The Dubuque Rioters.

    The case of the Dubuque rioters on trial at Cambridge, Henry County, by change of venue from Rock Island County, was submitted to the jury at five o’clock Thursday. The jury were out six hours, and agreed upon a verdict at 11 o’clock that night, which was presented to the court yesterday morning at 8 o’clock.

    Seven of the nine convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced as follows; Wm. Blair, three years in the penitentiary; Wm. Dolan, two years; Nicholas Schiltz, two years; John Campbell, two years; John Toomey, one year; James Cronan, one year; Oliver Chandanais one year; Halsey Hammond and John Gallagher were acquitted. The other indictment against these two for killing the negro Moses Davis, was noll. pros. Those convicted were tried for killing the negro Wm. Armstead, that being considered the test case. They were also indicted for killing the negro Davis, but the indictment will be noll.pros. The Argus says the case of Timothy Butler, one of the leaders, is continued to the October term of the Henry County court. He is now in the Rock Island county jail. The ringleader, Lynch, case is set for trial at the September term.


Daily Davenport Democrat

Sept. 22, 1870

Pg. 1


Lynch Trial

      Alluding to the trial the Rock Island Argus says:  “there is every prospect that the trial will be a close one.”  There is on both sides an array of legal talent.  Such as few cases have called out.  For the prosecution, Sweeney and Jackson of this city- Col. Mock states attorney of this city and Johnson of Galena.  Attorney of the Northern Line Packet Company, is a very able attorney.  For the defense there is Connelly & McNeal of this city, and Gen H. Parker of Davenport.”  A considerable number of witnesses have already been examined by the prosecution, by which it appears that Lynch, contrary to the general and standing was not a burly raftsman forcing his way from his place on deck into the cabin,, but a cabin passenger, who from time to time went down upon deck into the cabin as cabin passengers frequently do.  Being refused passage by the colored porter, a scuffle ensued, in which the raftsmen on deck took a hand and the bloody scene so well remembered took place.


Daily Gazette

Sept. 23, 1870

Pg. 4 

  The trial of the notorious Lynch, of Dubuque steamboat riot notoriety is going on before a jury at the rock Island Circuit Court.  A jury was empanelled after one hundred and thirty-six names had been called.  Six witnesses for the prosecution have been examined, including the clerk of the boat and passengers.  The evidence for the state will likely be concluded this morning.  The prosecution is represented by Col. Mock, State’s attorney assisted by Sweeney & Jackson, of Rock Island, and M. Y. Johnson, of galena, attorney of the northern Line Packet Company.  Connelly & McNeal, of Rock Island, and G. H. Parker, of davenport, appear for the defense.  It is claimed that Lynch was a cabin passenger who passed much of his time on deck, and that the riot was caused by the colored porter stopping him from going into the cabin.


Daily Gazette

Sept. 24, 1870

Pg. 4


Lynch the Murderer

   The evidence in the case of Lynch, the bloodthirsty ruffian who originated the murderous riot of a year ago on the Northern Line packet Dubuque. Was concluded yesterday afternoon and the argument of the counsel commenced.  The evidence for the prosecution is such that there is no show for an acquittal.  The only question is, whether it will be hanging or a long term in the penitentiary.  Among the witnesses called was Robert Tate, first engineer of the Dubuque, and who was on duty at the time of the riot.  He saw Lynch commence the quarrel with the colored men placed at the foot of the stairs by the mate of the boat to keep persons from going up while the clerk collected fare also saw Lynch and others strike the colored men; saw him with coal in his hand; heard him cry  “Kill the d-d niggers.” When the negroes were chased overboard, saw Lynch stand on the guard of the boat and throw coal at the poor men struggling in the water for life.  The witness identified Lynch as the man “who took a stick of cord wood and punched a negro on the head until he was drowned”; heard Lynch say he had “killed a negro.”

  Robert Irwin, a cattle dealer who lives at Aledo, Mercer county, Ill., was a cabin passenger on the Dubuque at the time, testified to the riot, all of which he saw; identified Lynch as the prominent leader; saw him with a knife in his hand chasing and cursing the negroes; heard him say he would kill them, that they could not stay on that boat, etc.  This witness also saw the prisoner throwing stone coal at the negroes in the water, and saw him punch one of the men in the river on the head with a stick of wood till the poor fellow sank and drowned.

  Wm. Eadelman, of Hampton, H. C. Wivill of Rock Island, and others testified to much the same facts.  Nearly all of the witnesses for the state testified that Lynch was conspicuous among the rioters.  Yesterday, when the testimony was pointed and direct as to his murderous conduct, Lynch manifested much uneasiness; the color came and went from his villainous countenance, and his limbs were continually moving about.  Never was evidence more convicting.  Lynch, we think, has a sure ticket for Joliet, where he will find some seven of his chums, who on the 28th of July 69, assisted him in murdering four inoffensive men, just because they were “niggers.


Daily Davenport Democrat

September 26,1870

Pg. 1


The Lynch Trial

             The lawyers handed this important case to the jury on Saturday afternoon. About one o’clock and after a consultation of about two hours that body returned, giving in a verdict of manslaughter. The sentence was imprisonment in the penitentiary for ten years. All things considered the prisoner has excellent reasons for thanking his stars that the sentence was not death by hanging. Many a man has tightened rope for a no less state offense.

            The defense was conducted by Geo. P. Parker Esq. of this city, to who’s superior ability as a criminal lawyer the prisoner in all possibility owes his life as there was a settled determination on the part of the prosecution to make it a matter of hemp.


Daily Gazette

 September 27,1870

 Pg. 4

 Lynch the Murderer.


            The jury in the case of Lynch, for murder, on Saturday, returned a verdict of guilty of manslaughter and named ten years in the penitentiary as the penalty. Deputy Sheriff Paine will take Lynch to Joliet in a few days. This makes eight of the rioters on the steamer Dubuque that have been sent to the penitentiary, which is more justice than most folks thought they would ever hear off in the case.

  Portrait and Biographical Album of Rock Island County, page 698.

    Indictments found against Wm. Dolan, Nicholas Schlirz, Wm Blair, John Toomey,--Lynch, Timothy butler, Halsey Hammond, John Galagher, John Campbell, Oliver Clandanis and James Cronan, at the January term,  1890, for causing the death of Moses Davis and Wm. Armstead or Armstrong, on the 9th day of July, 1869.
     Change of venue taken by all except Lynch.  After trying to have the indictment quashed, he was tried at the September term, 1870, and sentenced to ten years in the penitentiary.
     At the June term in the following year, the defendants, except Butler, were tried, and each found guilty save Hammond and Galagher; were sentenced to the penitentiary, their terms ranging from one to three years.  The case against Butler was dismissed.  This case created much excitement at the time.  The men indicted, in a row caused Davis and Armstrong to jump from a steamer into the Mississippi River, hoping to swim ashore.  They were drowned in the attempt."


Davenport Democrat

March 18, 1876

Pg. 1


        A fellow whose name is Thomas Burke, was arrested last evening, and an information for vagrancy filed against him before Justice Kaufmann.  After a hearing he was fined $15 and costs, in default of which he was sent to the stone pile to work it out.

       This fellow Burke is the fellow who ahs been representing himself as Simon Lynch, the leader of the riot in 1869, on board the steamer Dubuque, when some seven or eight negroes were killed.  He arrived in Rock Island a few days ago, stepped into the Harper House, told Mr. H. that he was just out of the penitentiary, that his name was Lynch, and that he didn’t have a cent in the world, and begged for a pittance.  Mr. Harper gave him fifty cents, and he went to other places and told the same story, with more or less success.  This led to an interview with Lynch’s mother by an Argus reporter and she said the fellow must be an imposter as her son was still in the penitentiary, and she had just got a letter from him in which he stated it would be ten months before he would e out of Joliet.  The bogus Lynch came over to this side and was playing the same game, but the police spotted him, and arrested him as stated above.  It appeared he is an old penitentiary bird got acquainted with Lynch while in Joliet but what earthly object he could have in trying to palm himself for him we fail to see. 


Collected  by Sue Rekkas

and transcribed by

Georgeann McClure 


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