On Tuesday, April 27,1882, a horrible crime was committed in Minneapolis, a crime so awful that humanity shuddered to believe it, and the most depraved repudiated it. The crime was followed by a retribution as swift as it was complete and terrible, a retribution not precipitated by an excited mob, but carried out by a collection of sober men, actuated solely by a sense of justice. The history of all events, where the popular voice has swept away the barrier of law and usurped the established forms of justice, does not offer an example so remarkable. The awful horror of the crime, followed so soon, not by a wild passion for revenge, but by a deep, determined, awful demand for justice, has never been paralleled. In a city of 60,000 inhabitants, without a show of excitement or disorder, a crowd of reputable citizens took from the county jail a wretch too vile to live and hung him to a tree near the scene of his revolting
2crime, without a human being to plead in his defense. And when the morning broke ami saw his form swinging in the breeze, the whole city — aye, the whole country — arose and said: "It was well done!" For once mob law was made respectable because it was the only law available. Popular vengeance stepped in where a short-sighted policy had made no way for legal retribution. The event was one to be remembered gratefully by the citizens of Minneapolis. It was one demanding congratulation rather than regret. It showed that there was a sense of right, a sympathy for humanity, that stepped beyond the puny barrier of the law of man and entered the awful domain of the law of God. It is to preserve a connected record of this episode, so noteworthy in the history of Minneapolis, that the present little book has been prepared. It was believed that many would like to preserve, in a convenient form, a record of this event, when a remarkable crime was avenged in a remarkable way which the whole civilized world pronounced at once as right and righteous.
At precisely four o'clock on the afternoon of Thursday, April 27, Police Officer Gleason received word that a tramp had enticed away a little girl on Fourth avenue south. John Mullaney was driving past in a carriage at the time, and hailing him, the officer jumped into the carriage and was driven hastily out the avenue. In the vicinity of Tenth street, he noticed several ladies talking to a man, who, seeing the carriage approach, wheeled and ran. The officer jumped from the carriage and gave chase, overhauling the fellow in Col. Stevens' yard at Tenth street and Sixth avenue. The condition of the clothing of the prisoner, which was covered with blood, aroused the officer's suspicions that a horrible outrage had been committed, and after lodging the man in the station, the officers visited the house of the parents of the little girl who had been enticed away, and found that in the meantime the torn and bleeding form of Mina Sneers, aged four years, had been brought to her home by John Farley, who had found her in the vicinity of Eighteenth street and Three-and-one-half avenue. Physicians had been summoned and the discovery made that the fiend had outraged the child, lacerating her in a frightful manner.
The parents of the girl, J. F. Spear and wife, reside at 1016 Fourth avenue south. Mr. Spear is a plumber employed at Sykes & Andrews', and the bright little fairy who was the victim of fiendish lust was the one joy above all others in a happy household. Mrs. Spear states that about 2:30 o'clock in the afternoon of the day named, Mina asked and received permission to visit the house of a neighbor named Peterson. An hour later Mrs. Peterson called at the Spear residence, and being asked for Mina, said she had not seen her. The mother became frightened, and started out to look for the child. She first encountered two small boys, who told her that a man had given them and Mina each a nickel, and taken them to a candy store, where he allowed them to spend the money, but had told Mina to keep hers, and had bought some candy for her, after which he had started away with her. At this juncture a man put in an appearance, and by the boys was pointed out as the person in question. Mrs. Spear demanded the return of her child, whereupon he commenced to swear at her terribly, in which occupation he was engaged for the last tune on earth when Officer Gleason was seen coming up the street. After the brute was lodged in the cell, the news of the outrage spread like wildfire, and by 7 o'clock it was the topic of conversation in all quarters, and but one sentiment was expressed — that the villain should be lynched. Crowds visited the lock-up, but only reporters and one or two others were allowed to see the prisoner. He at first refused to give his name, but subsequently said that it was Frank McManus, and that he hailed from Boston. He strenuously denied having committed the crime, and claimed to have got the blood on his pants, underclothes and hands in a fight on Wednesday night, but as the blood was fresh it was known that he lied. He subsequently
5acknowledged to Detective Hoy that he committed the crime, but gave no excuse for it. He wore a slouch hat, blue flannel shirt and coarse clothes; had a light moustache and was of medium height and heavy build. His pants were removed to be used as a witness against him on the trial. (P.S. — But they were not used). During the evening the excitement grew intense and at 10:35 Chief Munger, fearing an effort would he made to take the prisoner away, removed him to the county jail.
By midnight knots of men had gathered on various streets in the central part of the city, and were frequently to be seen moving hither and thither in a manner which indicated that there was business on hand. Where they came from no one knew, but an hour later they had gathered in front of the jail, and demanded admission. Sheriff Eustis was on duty, and told them they could not enter. Half a dozen strong men placed their shoulders against the door, and in it went. The crowd was quiet, but determined. "We want that man," was the demand made. "You can't have him," firmly replied the sheriff, but he was soon overcome and rushed off into a dark corner. He refused to give up the keys or tell where the prisoner was, but a heavy battering-ram was speedily secured, and after a few vigorous applications to the door leading to the main corridor, entrance was gained. The prisoners in the lower tiers gave the crowd the information that the man they wanted was in a cell in the third tier. Thither the vigilants proceeded only to find their way barred by a heavy iron door leading to a corridor in front of the cells. Heavy iron hammers were
6secured, and the work of battering down the door was commenced. This was at twenty minutes past one o'clock. Men took turns at the hammer and at guarding the doors to prevent surprise. The sheriff insisted that the crowd could not find the man, but they were determined, and for one hour and forty mi mites the powerful blows from the heavy hammer fell incessantly on the iron door. Finally, at 3 o'clock a. m. it gave way, and with a low exclamation of satisfaction the crowd entered the corridor. The prisoners directed them to cell No. 3, in which were two men, one of whom gave the information that the other had been placed there during the evening. The one thus referred to stepped to the grating, insisted that he was not the man, and claimed to he Tim Crowley. A detail inspected the records in the jail office but found no such name, and then were convinced that they had found the right man. Beside, his dress and a scar on the chin answered the description of McManus. However, there were one or two who thought there was a mistake, and it was accordingly decided to take him from the jail to the house of Mr. Spear, and if not fully identified, to return him to the cell. Accordingly the sledge was again called into requisition, and fifteen minutes later the villain was in the hands of the men who rid earth of his presence.
The prisoner was brought down to the office, where he calmly surveyed the crowd, but he gave no sign of fear or sorrow, nor spake a word. As he was leaving the cell, his companion cried out: "I want my pants. Those are my pants. He didn't have any on when he came here." This was another link in the chain of identification, but it was decided to remove all possibility of doubt. Handcuff's were slipped around his wrists, and the crowd started. They left the jail at 3:20. Twenty minutes later they were in front of the
7Spear residence. A committee was appointed to have the prisoner identified. Ladies who lived in the neighborhood, who had seen him in the afternoon, were called from their beds, and all recognized him. At last he was taken into the house, when Mrs. Spear instantly cried out in an agonizing tone: "That's the man; take, him away, take him away. Oh! those eyes, I shall never forget them!" "It's a mistake," was all the fellow said. The committee emerged from the building at fourteen minutes of 4 o'clock, and simply said: "He's the man." "Now for a tree," "Hang him," " Hurry up with him," and similar ejaculations were heard. One suggested that he be allowed to pray, but he was informed prayers would do no good for such a wretch. It was decided to take him out of sight of the house, and the crowd started up the avenue, which bends just above the house. Proceeding around the bend, a tree loomed up before them.
The tree, which is a burr oak, is situated in an open lot at the southwest corner of Grant street and Fourth avenue, opposite the High school, and diagonally opposite the Baptist church property. Before the prisoner had reached the place, a man had ascended the tree, and impatiently awaited the end of the rope. The prisoner was asked why he did it, to which he answered, "I didn't." "You lie," came from one, while another rejoined, "We're going to make a terrible example of you." Being asked his name, he said it was Tim Crowley, that his mother's name was Mary Ann Crowley, and that she lived in South Boston. The "man up the tree" was becoming impatient, but finally the rope was handed to him, when he passed it over a stout limb. All was the work of less time than it takes to write it. The man's hands had been tied behind him, and as the noose was about to be slipped over his neck he asked to
8say something quietly to one of the leaders. Being granted the privilege he stepped aside and confessed that he committed the crime but that he was drunk, He made some other revelations the nature of which are not known. And now, all was in readiness. The noose was adjusted and strong hands grasped the rope. As the men were about to pull him up, one man remarked, "He confesses," to which the prisoner replied coolly, "I confess nothing." He then clenched his hands and straightened his legs, evidently determined if he could not live like a man he would die like one. Creak, went the rope over the limb, and he swung clear from the ground. Two more pulls, and he was whirling round and round in the air. The end of the rope was fastened to the trunk of the tree, and at precisely four o'clock a sigh of relief went up from the crowd. Some started away, but others remained to see the brute die. Five minutes later there was a convulsive twitching of the legs and all was over.
After the Hanging.
As it came to be generally known next morning that there had been a lynching, crowds of people began to flock to the scene, and by 7 o'clock there were 1,000 people present. Relic-hunters cut up all of the surplus rope, and an enterprising photographer was on hand, taking front and rear views of the dead man. The police were on the ground, but found nothing to do, for everyone was of the same opinion. At about twenty minutes before 8 o'clock the Coroner arrived, and under his direction the body was cut down, placed in a wagon, and driven down the avenue, past the house where his victim hovered between life and death, and was finally unloaded at Warner's
9undertaking rooms. For days afterwards crowds visited the tree daily, girdling it of its Lark and carrying away all sorts of things as souvenirs. When the body was cut down the hat fell on the ground and was instantly torn into shreds and carried away in pieces by souvenir gatherers. It subsequently turned out that the tree from which the brute was hung was the same one under which he was seated when he enticed the girl to him.
At 9:30 o'clock A. M. and the following day Coroner A. C. Fairbairn commenced an inquest at Warner's undertaking rooms. The following testimony was introduced:
Wm. Gleason sworn: Am police officer: saw body of the deceased: saw him last alive on Thursday night at 10 o'clock; saw him first Thursday morning at 10 o'clock; arrested him Thursday afternoon on complaint of some women who said a scissors grinder had stolen a little girl: took a buggy and went to the scene and arrested the man; took him to a store where he had purchased candy, and the woman identified him as the man who had bought candy and took away the little girl; took him in the buggy to the police station; examined him and found blood on his hands, pants, drawers and vest; two fingers of his right hand were very bloody; he was locked up and a charge made on the books of rape; know he is the man I arrested and whose clothing was covered with blood; it was about fifteen minutes to four when I arrested him.
A. S. Munger sworn: Am chief of police; knew the body of Frank McManus, who was brought to the police station Thursday afternoon charged with rape on Mina Spear, a girl aged four years; removed him from the station Thursday night about 10:30 o'clock and placed him in the county jail in charge of the sheriff; had a conversation with the prisoner Thursday night, together with
10Detective Hoy and Mayor Amos; he told me he met tin- girl with several others in front of a peanut stand, and gave her candy and then took her in a wood yard where he committed the crime; his body and clothing were covered with blood. This confession was made in the evening before he was taken to the jail; recognize the body as that of the man who was arrested and taken to the jail.
J.M. Eustis sworn: Am sheriff; the prisoner I recognize as the man brought to the jail by chief Munger and Capt. Berry on Thursday night about 10:30 o'clock; about one o'clock next morning I was called to my door by persons who said they were friends, and demanded to be admitted; told them they could not get in that night; dressed and went to jail office just as the door was broken open; f was taken to a corner and hold by four or five men; did not recognize any of them; they were disguised; T saw hammers and timbers in the jail next morning, which I suppose they used to break down the doors; the man whose body I have seen is the man who was taken away; they took him away about 4 o'clock.
L. S. Caswell sworn: Am a police officer; saw body of deceased hanging to a tree on Fourth avenue south on Friday morning about 7 o'clock ; the body is that of the man who was arrested, and who I saw in the police station Thursday night; the body is that of the man I saw hanging to the tree.
R. J. Hill sworn: Am a physician; made post mortem examination on the body of Frank McManus; found an abrasion on the neck and on both wrists one-fourth of an inch in width, such as might have been produced with ropes; from the appearance of the body think death resulted from strangulation by means of a rope;
11judging from appearances, think the man was hung.
A. R. Brackett sworn: Am a physician; made post mortem; judging from external and internal appearances, think death resulted from hanging.
Jerry Murphy sworn: Have seen the remains; know them to be those of Frank McManus; knew him in South Boston about eight years ago; saw him here two days after the election; know that his parents lived in Boston in March last.
After listening to the evidence the following verdict was rendered by the jury:
STATE OF MINNESOTA, County of Hennepin, SS.
An inquest taken at Minneapolis, in the county of Hennepin, on the 29th day of April, A. D. 1882, before A. C. Fairbairn, coroner of the said county of Hennepin. Upon view of the body of Frank McManus, lying there dead, by the oaths of the jurors, whose names are hereunto subscribed, who being sworn to inquire on behalf of the state of Minnesota, when, how, and by what means the said Frank McManus came to his death, upon their oaths do say that he came to his death by strangulation, by means unknown to the jury.
GEO. F. SMITH,
PHILO F. LINDLEY,
LEVI N. PATTERSON,
E. C. CADY,
FRED CARLETON PILLSBURY,
AUTHUR F. MORTON.
After the verdict was rendered an opportunity was given the public to view the body, after which it was turned over to the students of the Minnesota College Hospital, it being considered best not to desecrate God's acre with its unholy presence.
The victim of the fiend's hellish lust hovered between life and death for a day or two, and then
12a hope of final recovery was given. At the time this hook goes to press she is doing as well as can be expected. It has been learned that the tramp's real name was McManus, and that he hailed from Boston, where he bore a good reputation up to the time he left there, five years ago. Since then he has been known as a professional burglar, who had served two terms in State prison.
A fund has been started for the benefit of Miss Spear, and at the time this book goes to press has reached handsome proportions and is still growing.
Boston HeraId, Saturday: Had the victim of the Minneapolis lynchers not insinuated that his name was Crowley, the reporters would not have been led into a long and ardous search last evening. About three score families by the name of Crowley were bothered with interviewers during yesterday afternoon, but the search for the antecedents of the Minneapolis victim of justice proved a fruitless one until nearly midnight, when a, trail was struck which, upon being followed up, brought success. Frank McManus formerly worked at the Bay State and the Norway rolling mills. He was twenty-five years old and one of three brothers. A call at 81 West Seventh street brought to the door a quiet and respectable looking lady, who had not heard of the misfortune that had happened to her boy. She was allowed to remain in ignorance of the truth. At the Norway mills John McManus was found, but he felt confident that deceased was not his brother, though what he knew of Frank and what constitutes the body of the telegram sent by the Minneapolis correspondent tally so completely that all doubt must vanish
13as to the man's identity, with this difference: Frank is said to have never served in the State prison, but did pass time in Dr. Huskin's reformatory institution for truancy. Another brother, Michael McManus, was at one time quite a sparrer, taught the art of self-defence in conjunction with Jim Crowley, and it is believed that it is from this direction that Frank took the name of Crowley. The South Boston friends of the deceased say that the description given last evening, even to the scar, was perfect, but the brother is not satisfied that it answers thoroughly. And, instead of his leaving this locality four years ago, his departure for the West is set down as having been five years ago next July 4. The young man's record is not very bad. He was a hard worker in the rolling mills, and left the city at a time when work could not be had. His brother John feels the situation keenly, and the blow upon other members of the family falls heavily. The sisters of the deceased are anxious for the purport of the message left with the committee of vigilants. A dispatch received at this office this morning states that McManus served a term of two years in the Wisconsin penitentiary.
That it may be shown how the press of the country regarded the crime, and the manner of disposing of the criminal, we quote the following extracts:
Minneapolis Evening Journal: It is a crime at which human nature stands aghast. A devil hot from hell could scarcely conceive or enact so atrocious a cruelty upon the tenderness and innocence
14of childhood. The Evening Journal is not an organ of mob law. We hold the right of every offender to trial and expiation under the law to be sacred. But there are exceptions to every rule. There sometimes arises occasions before which every law and every precedent must give way. The case, of McManus, or Crowley, was one of these. He had perpetrated a deed so horrible that human patience could not he expected to stand the strain. No man with a heart in his bosom could rest quietly with such a crime unavenged. It was a case that the statutes and the constituted authorities were entirely incompetent to deal with. There was a higher law that made his instant death necessary, and we thank God that there were men in Minneapolis brave and manly enough to execute it promptly.
St. Paul Pioneer-Press: There are no words to paint the blackness of the crime so promptly avenged. There is no conceivable justification for the act of McManus or Crowley. The punishment visited upon him was not too severe — no punishment can be imagined too severe for a crime that places the perpetrator outside the pale of humanity and by which he forfeits every claim upon human tolerance or mercy. The impulse that nerved the arms of his slayers' sprang out of the common feeling of human nature, and challenges the generous sympathy of every man with red blood in his veins. If their act was inspired by passion it was the generous passion that makes the groundwork of human justice; the righteous wrath that arms the ministers of the law with power to punish and erects a bulwark against the evil impulses of the depraved. It is the common and universal horror and detestation of crime that is the foundation and support of law for the punishment of crime. It is impossible to
15condemn the spirit that actuated the Minneapolis lynchers, and it is only too easy to find excuses in the law's inadequacy and delay and the inefficiency of its executors for the irregular and lawless manner in which that spirit was realized in action.
Minneapolis Tribune: The crime of Frank McManus was, without exception, the most fiendish that it is possible for a human being to commit. The punishment provided by law, restraint of personal liberty during life, is one which utterly fails to even approach the measure of legal expiation demanded by the universal popular heart. The hanging of McManus with the omission of the usual legal formalities is not condemned by this community, nor, so far as known, by any person residing in this community. Obviously no injustice was done to the criminal.
Chicago Tribune: If ever a crime was committed which justified recourse to mob violence in order that its punishment might be swift and sure — if any conceivable atrocity can be considered as justifying lynch law — such a crime was that of the tramp who was yesterday morning taken from the jail at Minneapolis and hanged from the limb of a tree in front of the high-school building. Under the circumstances it is not surprising that public sentiment in Minneapolis and St. Paul is on the side of the well-ordered mob which executed a well-deserved vengeance.
Milwaukee Sentinel: Mob law is to be frowned upon always, but a brute that is capable of perpetrating such a crime is unworthy of either sympathy or consideration by anybody. The fiend was identified by his victim, and afterwards confessed his crime. "The law's delays and the court's expenses are saved, and substantial justice is done.
16Winona Republican: Minneapolis doesn't wear a blue ribbon in her municipal elections, but she understands to a nicety the art of adjusting hempen neck-ties where they belong.
Madison, Wis., Journal: The lynching of McManus in Minneapolis yesterday is a thing to be regretted by every lover of good order, and by every friend of the supremacy of the law over mob violence; but the horrid nature of his crime must banish all sympathy for the brutal wretch whose beastly lust led him to the violation of a child of such tender years. In the face of such fiendish, diabolical sensuality, it is not to be wondered at that the public sentiment is inclined rather to sustain than censure the mob which dealt out summary punishment so richly deserved by the culprit.