Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

March 5, 2014

Pat Smith: Alcohol fuels riotous 1907 crowd

After the 67-year-old widow Sefton was raped by John Green, city officials, businessmen and a representative from a newspaper agreed not to publish anything about the crime for fear there would be acts of vengeance.

A list was made of 15 African Americans who had been a source of trouble since they came to the city and they would be asked to leave the city by train with passage paid. They hoped to avoid trouble, but after news of the crime spread the newspaper ran the story in the afternoon edition.

In less than an hour of the news story publishing, one of the white men got drunk and decided this was the time to get even with a man who had reportedly been hired for a job he wanted. (The job was at the Strasburger “tonsorial parlor.” Tonsorial parlor was just a fancy name for a barber shop.)

The man was an African American. Both men had come to Greensburg as laborers to work on the many improvements in progress. The white man was soon joined by another man and the two spent a couple of hours trying to pick a fight with anyone willing to fight. Because they were drunk, city officials got much of the blame for having allowed the 22 saloons and the brothels all the leeway they wanted.

By 8 p.m. several more whites joined the original two in front of the DeArmond Hotel. More “heavily drinking riffraff” joined in. There was no dealing with the drunks. One report stated that the mob totaled about 100.

The news source that had got the word out so quickly about the rape stated there were 300. Judging by the population at the time, the merchants that were staying out of sight and those who went home when the trouble started, I don’t believe there were more than 50 to 75 drunks, African American and white, in the whole fray.

Text Only
Columns
  • Why government openness matters Failing to share information makes us weaker. It enfeebles congressional oversight, which is a cornerstone of representative democracy and which, when aggressively carried out by fully informed legislators, can strengthen policy-making.One of the fun

    August 21, 2014

  • Ferguson is Everytown, U.S.A. The tragic killing of college-bound teenager Michael Brown has raised questions about the frequency with which police kill unarmed black men in America. The answer, unfortunately, is far too often.Just three months ago, on a warm April afternoon, a w

    August 21, 2014

  • Walking makes a comeback Just a few years ago, the idea that we could have a national conversation about walking might have seemed unlikely. After all, we’ve been walking forever. What’s there to talk about? As it turns out, plenty. As a number of groups cite a range of reas

    August 21, 2014

  • nei-gb082014-linda kennett column pic A collecting bonus? It's in the cards Remember the packs of sports trading cards from the 1970s and 80s? I recently stumbled across several boxes of them that I thought my son had taken when he bought his first home 15 years ago. But there they were, still in the closet and mixed among t

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • nei-gb082014-homemakers column file photo Summer has flown by It seems summer is nearly gone. The State Fair is over, the Power of the Past is gone for another year, and the children are back in school. It may be time to think about getting involved in making and donating some items for Riley Hospital. We alw

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pat Smith: Goofy golf raises breast cancer awareness Last week I stopped in to ask Susan Doerflinger Burkhart to please interpret a letter I received from an insurance company I had two or more years ago. As usual, she was able to ease my mind. While there she asked if I was going to play in the all-fe

    August 20, 2014

  • Craft brewers, vintners bring spirits to State Fair Brad Hawkins felt right at home hawking his beer at the Indiana State Fairgrounds last week.When Hawkins opened his Salt Creek Brewery in a converted filling station in tiny Needmore three years ago, some tee-totaling neighbors protested he was putti

    August 19, 2014

  • Back to the classroom These days, it seems like the summers are going by even faster than they did when I was a student! Just yesterday, the temperatures were beginning to warm up and children were hanging up their backpacks. Now, many of them are already back in the clas

    August 19, 2014

  • Our children and their children Let’s ponder “our children” and “their children.”First, Gov. Mike Pence made a wise call this past week when he ordered the Department of Child Services to begin reimbursing families who had adopted special needs children.A class action lawsuit filed

    August 19, 2014

  • Remember the joy Williams gave Ball State’s Wes Gehring, the author of dozens of books on Hollywood stars, says the apparent suicide of Robin Williams will not tarnish the comedian’s legendary achievements.Williams was found dead Monday in his California home. He was 63.“As the li

    August 16, 2014