Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"and every man was heavily armed..."


Whitecaps at Point Reyes
Cause Terror.


The Lynching Party Was From
San Francisco.


Gunshots Disturb the Quiet Town
and People View a Dreadful
Sight Near Morning.

    The quiet village of Point Reyes was terror-stricken Sunday morning last by the presence of whitecaps and a lynching scene, which the good people witnessed through half-closed window-blinds at an hour before the dawn.

   So absolute was the reign of terror that followed this truly terrible sight not one of the townspeople would dare to venture outside until daylight came. Even then, with the sun shining brightly above them, only a few fearless ones walked out into the streets. In their faces could be seen the reflex of a desperate resolve to maintain law and order, although these men felt a chilly, creeping sensation as they bravely faced danger. As for the women folk and children they had not the temerity to open front doors, imagining, no doubt, after the ghastly and realistic nightmare of a few hours before that every other man but the man at home was a whitecap, a lyncher and a murderer.

   The startling occurrence/however, supplied a superabundance of food for conversation before breakfast was thought of, and so the gentler sex were doubly compensated for their dread of going out of doors.

   At 4 A.M. the slumbering village was rudely awakened by reports of firearms—an inexplicable and most singular incident there. The sharp crack of the rifle was easily distinguished from the shotgun's boom and the short, spiteful pistol crack was recognized among the fusillades. To the unsuspecting people this variety of reports as well as the continuous firing was a cause of terror. It aroused them from their slumbers in a great fright, and presently lights appeared in every dwelling. In the dim light could be seen a troop of men dressed in white sheets, their faces hidden by masks and every man was heavily armed. Between them they dragged a victim, who more dead than alive as it then seemed from the awful ordeal he was undergoing could neither hold his bead erect nor walk of his own volition. The whitecaps carried a rope. They moved in the direction of a telegraph pole in solemn procession, discharging weapons occasionally to prevent possible interference in the execution and add additional ghastliness to the scene.

   Their procession ended at a pole which suited the purpose and people watched their movements with bated breath. A white cap climbed the pole and drew a rope over the crossbar. Beneath dangled a noose. Into this loop the lynching party thrust their victim's head. It was noticed that the crowd stood back and entered into conversation with the doomed wretch who, however, made no reply.

   Then the murderous-looking whitecaps pulled together on the rope and finished their work of hanging.

   Lights went out in their houses as if indicating that those inside were afraid it should be suspected they witnessed the lynching, which might possibly bring the whitecaps' wrath upon them. But from many darkened windows the last act was watched, when every masked man in the crowd raised a gun and with deliberate aim fired at the hanging body.

   After the execution people would not venture out, and so the lynchers disappeared.

   Sunday morning saw the figure of a man at the end of a rope, but who he was nobody could imagine. He was cut down and then the truth was known, for he was a dummy with a painted face and a well proportioned figure.

   The startled citizens learned that the hanging was a farce, part of a high jinks by the "Never Sweats," a coterie of sportsmen from San Francisco who were in Point Reyes for pleasure as well as a shoot over the hills next day. Such a grim practical joke as this was not thoroughly appreciated by the people of Point Reyes, as much indignation was felt at the fright it had caused. However, as the perpetrators are frequent visitors and were acquainted well enough in the town to laugh over it all they escaped with a caution. Among those who participated in the dark deed were: James Markland, Lloyd Eaton, William Robertson. Thomas Irvine. Emil Zimmer, Charles Deitz, William Durant, Charles Woodman, Edward Booth and Professor Sugarhouse.

   Previous to the wild midnight lynching the sportsmen held a funeral service on John Sammi, one of their number, who had gone to bed early in the evening in a cottage at the hotel. Markland was high priest and the remainder of the company was variously made up of mourners, choristers and spectators. They appeared before the horror-stricken Sammi in their white-cap garb with masks, white gowns, burning candles and firearms. One of their number carried a coil of rope, with a loop at one end, which added still further to his fear, until one indiscreet laugh dispoiled the illusion.
 The following advertisement appeared just to the right of the above article.
[The Morning Call, San Francisco, Sunday Morning, November 19, 1893. Volume LXXIV--No. 172. Pg. 18]

No comments: