From: History of Hamilton County, Illinois
Pub. 1887 – Goodspeed; p. 288-292
(Typed as written.)

            On May 4, 1877, Greenville R. Farris shot and killed Irish James Campbell under the following circumstances: John C. Gray had a pen of corn on the farm of Farris which he had sold to Campbell, and on the day above named.  Campbell went with his wagon and two boys to haul the corn away.  While he was loading the corn Farris came across the field and shot him while he was in the corn pen, and immediately fled the country.  On the 19th of November, 1878, Greenville R. Farris was assassinated in Arkansas while on his way back from Texas to that State.  After being shot he was taken care of, while he lived by J. G. and Julian Billingsley, and by them was buried.  His assassin was soon afterward lynched and hanged to a tree until dead.

            George A. Rogers was burned to death in the calaboose March 28, 1878.  He could not be saved.  He had taken a watch from S.D. Shunks, of Mt. Vernon, a short time before, and was under the influence of drink at the time of his incineration.  A coroner’s jury rendered a verdict in accordance with the facts.

            A man named Bennet killed his wife with the aid of a Negro girl living at his house.  Both Bennet and the Negro girl were tried, separately, but both acquitted.  It was, however, the general belief that one or the other committed the murder.  F. M. Youngblood and C. S. Conger prosecuted the accused, and Judge S. S. Marshall was attorney for the defense.

            Some years since there was a family named Digby living south of McLeansboro.  Boarding in this family were two young men named Sinklar, both of whom wanted to marry Miss Digby, a very beautiful young lady, member of the Digby family.  One night John Sinklar was murdered as he lay asleep in bed, and Henry Digby, who lived about a quarter of a mile away, was accused of the murder, arrested, tried and sentenced to the penitentiary for fourteen years on the strength of an ante-mortem statement by John Sinklar, that Henry Digby was the guilty man.  Just before the expiration of his term of service his case was taken up on a writ of error to the supreme court, where the finding of the circuit court was reversed on the ground that the ante-mortem statement of the murdered man, not having been his dying statement, was not properly admitted as evidence.  After Digby was released from the penitentiary a nolle prosequi was entered in the case.  The true history of the case was that John Sinklar, the man who was murdered, was engaged to marry Miss Digby, and his brother, being determined to marry her, killed John; at least this is the general belief.  When Digby came home for a new trial, this brother was in the penitentiary for the commission of another murder in Belle Rive, Jefferson County.

            But, perhaps, the most unjustifiable murder ever committed in Hamilton County was that of John Mann, which occurred February 19, 1886.  John Mann was born near Dover, Tenn., August 29, 1823, and was a son of Elisha and Nancy (Hunter) Mann, who came from North Carolina to Hamilton County about 1840, and there spent the remainder of their lives, the mother of John Mann dying just before the breaking out of the war, the father during the war.  John Mann was married about 1850 to Miss Rachel Barker, daughter of John and Nancy Barker, and who died about 1877.  He was married next to Miss Susan Tatum, daughter of William and Julia Tatum.  He first located on a grant of land received for service in the Mexican war, where he lived until about 1860, when he moved onto the farm at present occupied by his family about four miles south of McLeansboro, on Barker’s Prairie, and where he was assassinated.  While on his way from his home to another farm he owned about four miles south, and when he was about half way from the one to the other, he was waylaid and robbed, in a low, flat, woody country, and his pockets found turned inside out.  The murder was committed by three of his neighbors, whom he had saved from starvation in their childhood, named Hardeman, Marion and Schoolcraft, three brothers, with whom he had always been a close friend.  He received four distinct wounds, two buckshot and two bullet wounds.  His murderers are said to have been jealous of his success through life, as compared with their own, and had made threats, some time previous to the commission of the crime, that his career would soon be ended, and to facilitate their purpose they had some weeks before erected a kind of screen from public gaze, so that they might lie in ambush for him, unobserved, on a road which he frequently traveled in going from one farm to another.  The criminals were soon brought to justice, and, upon conviction, were each sentenced to the penitentiary for twenty-five years.  Mr. Mann, the victim of this heinous crime was a self-made man and by his thrift, energy and good management had accumulated a handsome competency; he was widely known for his integrity, hospitality and benevolence, and left a host of friends.  His widow and two children survive him.

            The following incident belongs to the political history of the county, but may, perhaps, not be inexcusably out of place here:  During the campaign of 1823 Chester Carpenter and James Hall were the candidates for the Legislature.  Hall being elected.  William Hall, the father of James, entertained Chester Carpenter during the campaign.  

           William Bryant, learning that Mr. Carpenter was afraid of ghosts, witches, hobgoblins, etc., determined to play a trick on the old man, and proceeded in the following manner:  Carpenter had heard that a man had been murdered in the yard, and when the conversation turned upon the murder he became somewhat agitated, seeing which Bryant said, “Mr. Carpenter, about dark a bellowing cow goes jumping and bawling down the ravine in front of our door, and then she passes out of sight and we see her no more.”

            The desired impression had been made.  A yearling calf had been tamed, with a view to riding it, and was kept in the pasture in front of the house.  The secret of the coming fun had been entrusted to the Hall family, and just about dark Bryant and the boy went to the pasture, caught the calf, tied a rope around its neck, and the boy got on its back.  Bryant knew the calf would take for the house, and he placed a briar about four inches long under its tail and followed on behind.  Away went the calf jumping, snorting and bellowing, with the boy holding on for dear life, and yelling at the top of his voice.  Just then Mr. Carpenter stepped to the front of the house to see what was going on.  The calf ran at the door, and, coming in contact with old gentleman, knocked him down, knocked over the chairs and the supper table upon which a splendid supper had been spread.  The calf got out of the house in some way, the boy went to a neighbor’s to stay all night, and the old gentleman said he would not stay in that place for the worth of the United States.  Soon after this he and Hall addressed the people of Knight’s Prairie, and as may be imagined Hall told the story on the old gentleman with good effect.  At that time there were but very few Whigs in the county, but the Democrats often voted for such Whig candidates as James Hall, Jesse C. Lockwood and Abram Irvin.

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