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Archiver > Indian-Territory-Roots > 2005-07 > 1121140066

Subject: Mob Murder in 1898
Date: Mon, 11 Jul 2005 23:47:46 EDT

I am trying to find information on a 107 year old mystery. Here are all the
details. The things I need look ups for are;

Frank Burton- any census, birth, death, marriage records- he may have been
colored, I assume he was born in about 1870 (this could be incorrect), and had a
son with a white woman, Mary Headley (this information was on his son's
application for the Social Security Act), who was later murdered for being married
to another black man.

Ed Chalmers- anything prior to March 1898. He was at one time a resident of
Lonoke County Arkansas (according to newspaper articles concerning his death),
before moving to a town or place "near Wybark" in IT.

Mary Headley (may also be Burton or Chalmers)- between 1892 and her murder in
1898. May be in a census record with Frank Burton, or with her parents,
Lewellin (also known as David), and Sarah Headley, and/or maybe with brother Lewis

The following newspaper articles may give someone clues about their
whereabouts that someone who has never lived in Oklahoma would overlook. I am desperate
to find more info about what may have led her to be a victim of a mob murder.
Thank you for any information any of you can provide. Patty Headley

Ft. Gibson Post

Vol III No 23

Saturday March 26, 1898 (Part 1)

Abstracted / Transcribed by Linda Haas Davenport
A Horrible Crime Committed by a Mob Near Wybark. - Sunday night last a mob of
six heavily armed men went to the home of Ed Chalmers, colored, near Wybark
and called for him to come to the door. He refused and the men then pushed down
the door and began firing into the bed where Chalmers and his wife were
sleeping. Chalmers jumped from the bed and rushed to the men to defend himself, but
the mob grabbed him. He wrenched himself from their grasp and was trying to
escape through a window when some of the mob on the outside grabbed him and
proceeded to riddle him with bullets.
When the neighbors arrived on the scene a sickening sight met their gaze.
Chalmers was lying face downward literally riddled with bullets, and covered with
blood and was barely able to speak. In the house was his wife who was already
a corpse, and the entire floor was one mass of blood. Chalmers died Monday
morning, but before his death he gave the names of the men who he recognized in
the mob. The next morning a Mr. Matthews, who was about 50 years old, and who
has resided at Gibson Station, I.T., for some time, was found dead near the
railroad, only a short distance from the scene of the crime, with a bullet hole
through his body, and some weapons lying near. He answered the description of
one of the men who Chalmers described as being in the mob, and upon
investigation it was found that he had been shot at Chalmers house, doubtless
accidently, and carried to the railroad by his pals, who after finding that he was dead
placed the weapons by his side in order to convey the impression that he had
killed Chalmers and his wife.
Chalmers, who was a colored man, formerly resided in Lonoke county Ark. He
came to the Territory some time ago and recently married a while girl named
Headly, and it is thought that his marriage to this girl was the cause of the
brutal double murder.

Marshal Bennett of Muskogee has caused the arrest of seven men who are
charged with this crime. They were Ed Burns, Laton Sparks, R L Mills, Robt. Blalock
and one Smiley all of whom reside at Gibson Station. Lamon is a prominent
young merchant of Gibson Station and Gains is the depot agent of the M.K.&T.
railroad at that place, while Burns and Smiley are employed on the section.
Muskogee Phoenix





A Saturday Night Tragedy Wherein Three Lives Were Lost. – Bungling and
Brutal Work of Assassins.

A few miles north of Muskogee, between the Arkansas and Verdigris rivers, is
a strip of country that has been the scene of many a dark deed and brutal
murder in years that are past. It has at different times within recent years been
the rendezvous of desperate and daring outlaws and criminals, and has always
been regarded as a tough section. But in the annals of all the crimes in this
section that which sustained the record last Saturday night was perhaps the
most uncalled for and brutal.
Ed Chalmers, a state raised negro, was living in a little hut not far from
Wybark with a white woman by the name of Mary Headley. They were said to be
married and certainly claimed to their neighbors that they were man and wife. So
far as is known they were both harmless and peaceable residents and were
industrious farmers. The fact that a white woman and a negro man were married and
were living as man and wife grated on the nerves of some of the residents of
this section. This was but natural. The manner in which these neighbors took to
show their dissatisfaction over this disgusting alliance was, however, most
unnatural and uncalled for. A few of the near residents, all supposed to be white
persons, assembled Saturday night and during the rain and storm proceeded to
the humble home of these poor ignorant sinners and transgressors of the law,
and literally murdered them in cold blood. The details of the tragedy that took
place at the lonely cabin in the woods on this dark night are not as yet
fully known. The results of the raid were clear and distinct however. Jim Mathews,
one of the parties composing the mob, was found dead the next morning by the
M., K., &T. railway track, a mile from the scene of the killing. Weather
killed by accident by one of his own party or by the negro man in defending his
life is not known. The white woman was shot to death in her bed and her negro
consort was shot all to pieces, though he lived until nine o’clock Sunday
morning. Here was the fatal error in the work of the midnight assassins. The negro
man, the only human being on earth who saw and knew of the frightful raid, was
not killed. Before he died he made a dying statement in which he named several
parties as the guilty ones.
Early Sunday morning a messenger came running into Muskogee and informed the
officers that a man and woman had been killed across the river. Scarcely had
this messenger departed when word came that another man had been found near the
Katy track with a bullet hole through his body. Deputy Marshal Ross Reeves
was at once dispatched to the scene of the triple tragedy – the man who was
found at the track was evidently shot at the house where the two other parties
were killed – and instructed to find out all the facts so far as possible.
Strange rumors of the complexity of certain white citizens in the horrible affair
soon grew into reasonable certainties, and the actions of these parties on this
night, the findings of their dead companion and the dying statement of the
dead negro, all coupled together, formed a web around certain parties that
justified their arrest. Bright and early Monday morning Marshal Bennett was on the
ground and in conjunction with his deputies arrested Ed Burrows, section
foreman at theWybark: his two assistants, R. T. Mills and Robert Blalork:C. W.
Gains, station agent at Gibson, and W. A. Lamott, a merchant at Gibson. All are
white men and heretofor have borne good reputations. Rumor has it that others
are also suspicioned., but we refrain from publishing names as we desire to do
no one an injustice.
These five men were taken to Wagoner Monday morning and arraigned before the
grand jury. What the result of the grand jury investigation was we have not
yet learned. Excitement at Wagoner and the settlements across the river was at it
’s height all day Monday and Tuesday and is by no means abated yet. The
parties who stand charged with the frightful killings have many friends who insist
upon their innocence and many theories to advance for the occurrence of the
terrible tragedies. One thing is certain: it will only be a short time until all
the facts are known and the guilt placed where it belongs. No such crimes as
that, with the many circumstantial clues, can ever be hidden, and a few days,
at most, will place the whole affair at rights.
For the good name of the Indian Territory and the Northern District in
particular, it is to be hoped that the guilty ones, whether they be the ones now
charged or others, will be speedily detected and as speedily punished. It matters
not how grievous was the crime of the negro man and the white woman, they
certainly afforded no excuse for the wanton butchery of the mob and those who
imagined they or society were aggrieved knew or should have known that was a
lawful way to reach those who violate the laws of the land. There is no excuse
under heaven for the midnight raid and murder and each and every participant is
equally guilty for the lives of all three who perished that most foully on this
night and as a consequence of this mob assault.

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