Horrible Work of a Mob, article, partial transcription (Tonawanda News, 1895-10-07)

Horrible Work of a Mob (Tonawanda News, 1895-10-07).pdf

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Horrible Work of a Mob, article, partial transcription (Tonawanda News, 1895-10-07).pdf


Captain Phillips and His Son Charles Brutally Murdered.

Mob of Frenzied Men Shed Blood in Tonawanda After the Midnight Hour -Pistols and Stones Freely Used in the Murderous Work - Flora Phillips Had One of the Most Terrible Experiences that Ever Fell to the Lot of a Young Girl.

Boats John Graff and May. Other boatmen had tried to convince Phillips to wait his turn, "But entreaties had no effect...He said that his family were in need of the money and that his boats must work to get it for them."

Mutterings all day of impending violence. Men assembled between 12:30 and 1. Some called Captain names. Boats cut first? Someone fired a shot. Then more followed, Captain slain, son hit with a rock.

Tonawanda police arrive, men scatter. Officers Kumro and Graff (?) sent for medical assistance. Coronor Helwig in Martinsville. The boats discovered "drifted against the docks right at the swing bridge."

4:30 a.m. canal barns raided and suspicious men arrested. By 6:30 a.m. the Tonawanda "coop" (jail) was full, and still arrests were being made. Some pled innocence but most kept their mouths shut and refused to answer questions.

Many accounts circulating: Phillips not only loaded out of turn, but undercut price of boatmen's association. Some disputed his claim that he was poor by pointing out "he owns the two boats, the May and John Graff, and also a large farm and other property near Clyde in the central part of the State. The story is contradicted. Men who know Phillips say his property was encumbered, and it was necessary for him to have money to make an immediate payment to save his property from the sheriff. "

Co. Helwig to summon jurors and hold an inquest today.

"It is said by a boatmen that a good-sized delegation of Buffalo men came here yesterday with the sole purpose of causing an insurrection, and that this desire was inflamed by a free use of intoxicants. Bu t like all the other
stories floating about, this is denied by some, it is said that the boatmen did not go to the Scribner yards to do murder, but they went there to quietly talk over the matter with Captain Phillips and get him to join them and live up to the agreements entered into by his fellows. It is also said by some of the boatmen that no trouble would have resulted if a shot had not been fired from the boat at them. This angered them and brought about the

18 arrests by 9 a.m., "Nicholas Wendell, Edward Dunn, Jame S. Riley, Edward Munger, George Hyde, Joseph Dickerson, Frederick Oderkirk, Ervin Collins, Robert Rhinehart, John Lasher, John Stevens, Michael Cohe, Abraham Wheeler, Edward Leonard, Archibald Dow, Bonnie Warren, Edward Lawrence. To be arraigned on charge for murder.

U.S. Marshall Smearing witnessed all from the bow of Phillips's boat when the latter was struck. Phillips and son standing at stern. Previous two nights of bright moonlight now overtaken by heavy gloom in which all were indistinct. Smearing said he heard chains, and then saw a revolver covering him. Estimates 40-60 men, intending ill. Leader of medium build, had them men under control and a plan at work. Boats cut adrift, then a shot in Phillips head and heart.

"Following the shots came a volley of stones, clubs and missiles of-every description. The son of the Captain received a crushing blow in the back of the head just as he was turning to reach his dead father and fell to the deck with a deep moan. This morning the deck was covered with the missiles and the woodwork, splintered and dented, showed with what murderous force the volley had been hurled by the mob. The boat was less than five feet
from the shore when this occurred. The mob instantly scattered in every direction, evidently satisfied that they had accomplished their purpose. Marshal Smearing is positive that there were only two shots fired." Did not intervene because the odds were against him, and more bloodshed would have resulted.

Daughter asleep in cabin of the other boat. Phillips's revolver chambers all full, coroner has the gun.

"Lying on a lounge in Martin Wattengel's house on Webster street, with her head bandaged and Mrs. Wattengel soothing her, this morning was Flora Phillip, the daughter of the murdered captain. The
girl is but 20 years of age, and she worked aboard her father's boats, doing the cooking and other household duties. She had passed a terrible night, and the poor child shuddered when she thought of her
father lying dead in the undertaking rooms, within half a block of her. TH E NEW S asked her if she felt well enough to talk about the terrible affair and she answered in the affirmative. In reply to questions she said: "My home is at Constantia, N. Y. At that place the entire family, father, mother, three brothers and one sister beside myself, live during the winter. In the summer my mother and a sister 15 years of age and two brothers, aged 10 and 5 years respectively stay, while my father, my oldest brother and myself live aboard the boats. Yesterday there was no trouble about the boats. No men came there and tried to induce my father to leave. Early in the evening I
went to bed, the men remaining up. I was soon in a sound sleep, from which I was rudely awakened by the falling of stones on top of the cabin. Hardly had I got my eyes open before a big piece of rock struck the cabin windows demolishing them and scattering the glass all about me. I was terrified at that, but when my brother dashed down the stairs a moment later with blood streaming from his head, followed by a large number of pieces of rock, I fled into the inner cabin for safety. The fusilade was kept u p for several
minutes and when it stopped I ascertained that we were afloat on the river. No tug came to our assistance and I momentarily expected to be drowned, when I felt the boat come to stop. I looked out of the
cabin and thanked God when I saw that the lumber on the boat had caught on the bridge and were saved. Five minutes afterward the police came aboard the boat, and made it fast to the pier; where
we remained until nine o'clock this 'morning. Then the boats were towed ...and I was brought here." The girl is completely prostrated and lies in a serious condition.

"She did not know that her father was dead, until she was taken to Mr.
Wattengel's." Mother coming for her today.


"Officers Kumro and Duffy who alone were at the yards during the excitement had a thrilling experience. They were surrounded by at least 150 frenzied men, all of whom were clamoring for blood." "So
they bided their time, carefully looking over the men, and taking their names; the result of this being that it was not a hard matter to locate them when they dispersed and arrest them." Officers soothe crowd who wants to lynch Smearing.


T H E NEWS interviewed James Scribner of the Scribner Lumber Company this morning, who seemed deeply affected by the terrible murder that had taken place at his lumber yard. He said that he had
known Captain Phillips for fifteen years past and that he had every reason to respect and honor him as a man. He was originally a farmer and was the owner of a farm in the central part of the state at Constantia where he lived when the canal season was over. He had been taking loads from the Scribner Lumber company during all this period and they considered him an excellent boatman and reliable
man. Phillips, Scribner said, had considered the matter of joining the Canal Boatmen's Union, but when he found that 150 boats were tied up here waiting the load-in-turn arrangement he felt that he could not subject himself to the conditions imposed. He had a $300 mortgage on his farm coming due next month and knew that if he simply took his turn he would not get underway until late in the season if at all. Loading
at once meant $300 for him and in time to take care of his mortgage. He would not underbid the other boatmen but he would take the load offered him and get out at once." The Marshal had been provided by Scribner, came from Buffalo. (He claims at one point at least six revolvers were pointed at him).


THE NEWS visits the men in jail. When informed the son is dead too, "the face of the spokesman blanched."

Charles dies about 12:45 p.m. next day. Both stored in "the undertaking rooms of Wattengel & Reed in the Real Estate Exchange in North Tonawanda." As of 3 p.m. Flora, who seemed to have rallied when informed he could live, had not been told of his death.

The only non-family on the boats were drivers John Murphy and Steve Showers, according to Flora.

DA insists Tonawanda prisoners be taken to Buffalo, with the assistance of entire T police force.