The Riot Of 1900--The
Darkest Night In Akron's History.
riot in Akron from Doyle's History of Summit County
26 Oct 1999 09:35:33 EDT
> The Riot Of 1900--The Darkest Night In Akron's History.
> Wednesday, the 22d
day of August, in the year 1900, was a day of
> rejoicing in America. The wires under the Pacific had throbbed with
> message of joy for all Christendom. Pekin had fallen--the capital
> of China. The Imperial Court had departed in hasty flight to the
> interior. The American troops were the heroes of the allied armies.
> had attacked and repulsed the Yellow Horde laying siege to the British
> Legation, where the American minister and his family and other good
> citizens had taken refuge when the Boxers arose. America rejoiced
> her sons and daughters had successfully escaped from the perils of
> 4,000 shells that fell into that legation; from the famine and sick-ness
> of the long siege, and especially from the ferocity and torture and
> barbarism of the legions of Chinese savages. Akron is a representative
> American community. Her people were just as glad as any on
> the glory which had come upon the American .armies.
> In the evening of
that day a large part of the beauty and wealth
> and culture of the city had met on the beautiful grounds of the Perkins
> homestead where a lawn party was being held for the benefit of a
> splendid charity. Sounds of mirth and music filled the air and countless
> lights and colors made it a brilliant scene. It is a common sight
> center of culture and fashion.
> Out in Lakeside Park
the beautiful summer night bad drawn a
> large company of spectators to the Casino, and they were enjoying
> full the delights of the theater.
> But the night in
Akron had not been given over to pleasure
> alone. What strange contrasts human living presents sometimes!
> darkest night Akron had ever seen had fallen with the coming of dusk
> that night. The perfect picture of' Hell, that was to be beheld
> the coming of dawn again, was then in the making. The Antithesis
> and light and love and good-will was gaining followers in other parts
> the city and they were preparing for the crowning of Hate, and Revenge,
> and Lust for Blood..
> If little Christina
Maas had not been playing by the roadside,
> near the home of her parents on Perkins Hill, on Monday evening,
> 21, 1900, in all probability Akron would have been spared her deepest
> shame. Not that the innocent child, in her sweet play, was the cause
> what followed, but that she was destined to form a link in the chain
> circumstances, without which completed action could not be had. She
> the little, six-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Maas.
> played by the roadside in the early evening with her girl friends,
> negro drove by. He called to her. She did not fear him.
> the older children to leave and promised little Christina a gift
> candy. He asked her to get into his buggy and she responded in her
> childish confidence and natural faith in mankind and all. He assisted
> her as she climbed in. He whipped up the horse and drove down the
> country road. The negro was Louis Peck. He was a stranger in Akron.
> had been here but a short time, having come from Patterson, New Jersey.
> His reputation there was very bad and the authorities wanted him
> for a long list of crimes he had committed. Since coming to Akron
> his wife had been working in a restaurant. He was about forty years
> age and black, and unprepossessing. After his arrest, he confessed
> freely all he did that evening, after he drove into the country and
> until he left the little girl crying and injured by the lonely roadside
> with night coming on.
> He had hired the
horse and buggy from a Main street liveryman.
> After driving back into town he abandoned them and they were found
> after by the police It was by means of the horse and buggy
> officers were enabled to learn the identity of the perpetrator of
> outrage. As soon as the police department was informed of the
> every policeman on duty was notified and instructed to be on the
> for such a negro as Peck. Every place in the city likely to harbor
> was searched and the railway tracks were watched with sharp sight,
> Peck succeeded in escaping from the city. He had lost no time in
> beginning his flight. Not a trace of him could be secured.
> the officers patrolled the railway tracks, rather expecting that
> was still in the city, in hiding, and would try to make his escape.
> number of them were scattered along the tracks on Tuesday night.
> Shortly after midnight
a freight train rolled into the Union
> depot from the east. Officer Duffy was patrolling the tracks in that
> vicinity and, as the train passed him, standing in the dark, a negro
> jumped from one of the cars almost into his arms . Officer Duffy
> arrested the man. It was Peck. He was taken at once in the patrol
> to the city prison.
> The prison-keeper
was awakened and spent the rest of the night
> talking with Peck about the crime. By adroit leading and skillful
> questioning Mr. Washer succeeded at last in getting Peck to make
> confession. R. W. Wanamaker, the prosecuting attorney, was
> stenographer secured, and Peck's statement was taken down verbatim.
> At 9 o'clock he was
arraigned before the mayor, W. E. Young, in
> the mayor's court. He pleaded guilty to a charge of rape and was
> over by, the mayor to the Common Pleas Court to await the action
> Grand Jury at the coming September term. His bond was placed
> and he was committed to the prison because of his inability to furnish
> bail in that amount.
> Greatly exaggerated
stories of his confession and of the
> criminal act were circulated throughout the city. The appearance
> evening papers (especially one, very imprudently printed in red ink)
> the cries of the newsboys selling them, stirred up a feeling of
> resentment. Excitement was slowly kindling. Many heedless remarks
> made by persons whose words usually carry weight. An Akron
> gentleman was on his way home at 5 o'clock that bright Wednesday
> afternoon. He stopped in a store and listened to a recital of the
> outrage by the merchant. Said the professional man in the hearing
> little company, "I'll be one of a hundred to go over and take him
> the jail and hang him." Not a man in the company protested. No one
> deemed the sentiment extravagant or the speech incendiary. There
> echo in their own breasts. Every man felt a personal interest in
> so great a wrong redressed and in having it done at once. Many
> intemperate remarks were made that afternoon as the story spread.
> As early in the day
as noon, threats were made to the
> authorities that the negro would he lynched. The executive
> of the city government heard the mutterings of the coming storm all
> afternoon. The county officers heard it also. None of them can be
> to say now that they were taken by surprise. They were totally
> unprepared when the hour of trial came, but they were not taken
> unawares. They had full warning more than ten hours before the storm
> broke in all its fury. They paid this much attention to the threats
> warnings they had received--they ordered Sheriff Frank G. Kelly to
> the prisoner to Cleveland during Wednesday afternoon for safe keeping.
> Another colored man named William (alias "Bug") Howard had been locked
> up in the prison awaiting commitment to the county jail as he, too,
> been bound over to the Common Pleas Court on a charge of shooting
> white man in the leg. It was deemed best to take Howard along, as
> might easily mistake the identity of the negro they sought, or .might
> so incensed at the whole black race, that they would not ,hesitate
> hang another than the one sought. These two black men were soon secure
> behind the gray walls of the Cleveland prison The Akron authorities
> congratulating them-selves on so successful an issue of their wise
> plans. When a mob appeared they would laugh at them and enjoy
> discomfiture when told the quarry had flown. They know more about
> and mob nature now.
> Crowds began to collect
at the intersection of Main and Howard
> streets a short time after 6 o'clock. Knots of men stood about the
> prison talking over the affair. Some were already discussing
> advisability of trying to make an example of the prisoner. Considerable
> sentiment in favor of such action had been aroused during the day
> several of the big city factories. Some of these men were present
> made up their minds that, if an opportunity offered, they would make
> good what they had said they would do.
> As it began to grow
dark and to become difficult to distinguish
> objects across the street, the crowd, much augmented, closed in about
> the old brick building which Akron people had known for many years
> "The City Building." They began to call for Peck and to hoot and
> the police officers who were within. The chief of police had become
> alarmed and had summoned every available man for duty at headquarters.
> Much parleying took
place between city officials and the members
> of the crowd. They tried to push into the building through the Main
> street doors, but the officers prevented them. There was still much
> daylight remaining when the first attack on the building was made.
> shower of stones and bricks broke the windows and bombarded the stout
> doors. Then a ladder was brought out and quickly manned. This was
> as a battering-ram on the north doors, which lead into the Mayor's
> Court. The stones and bricks continued to fly. The doors
> giving way beneath the repeated blows of the improvised ram.
> of the front windows was raised and a policeman emptied his revolver
> over the heads of the assailing party. This was a foolish move. There
> was no ammunition in the city building beside what was already in
> chambers of the policemen's revolvers and part of a box which was
> possession of the prison-keeper. The scarcity of ammunition was a
> of much alarm to the policemen in the building. They had sent outside
> secure more, but were unsuccessful.
> Across the street
were a large number of spectators watching the
> efforts of the men in their attack upon the building. Among them
> few carriages and buggies. In the one of the latter sat John M.
> Davidson, with his wife and four-year-old daughter, Rhoda. They had
> out looking at some work Mr. Davidson had taken the contract for
> were returning home by the way of Main street. They had started to
> the Quarry street hill and were told that the Fire Department was
> down. They turned back on to Main Street and other buggies crowded
> around them so that they were forced to remain.
> Mrs. Davidson was
looking at the policeman in the window. She
> saw him shoot his revolver directly at them. She heard bullets
> about their heads. Her little daughter said, "Oh, mamma," and her
> fell forward on her mother's knee with the blood flowing from a mortal
> wound in her head. Glen Wade,. a boy of ten years, was also standing
> among the spectators on the opposite side of Main street and he received
> one of the bullets from this same policeman's reckless--yes, criminal
> shooting. He was instantly killed. Hundreds of shots were fired
> afterward, and charges and charges of dynamite exploded, and two
> buildings were burned to the ground, yet these two innocent children
> were the only persons who lost their lives by reason of the riot.
> injuries received by other parties that night were mostly of a minor
> The party within
the walls was increased by this time so that it
> consisted of Mayor Young, the four city commissioners, Chief of Police
> .Harrison and seven or eight police-men.
> A hurried conference was held and it was decided to allow the crowd
> appoint a committee to enter and inspect the jail to make sure that
> was not in it. The mob selected a committee of six, headed
by a member
> of the City Council, who was one of the loudest and most strenuous
> all the seekers for the blood of this negro.
> When the doors were
opened to admit the committee, the crowd
> poured, in after them. It was impossible to stem that impetuous rush.
> They filled the building and searched every nook and corner of it.
> cells of the prison were opened, but the mob found no negro within
> building. Even Mr. Washer's private apartments were invaded and the
> garments of himself and wife torn from the closets where they hung,
> see if any one was concealed by them. Their cellar was ransacked,
> every spot which could possibly contain or shelter a man was searched.
> The disappointment of the mob was plain. Some one shouted that Peck
> in the county jail. The entire crowd started for the jail.
> Deputy-Sheriff Simon Stone was on duty. Sheriff Kelly was absent
> some unexplained cause. His continued absence through all the stirring
> events of that night and until the hour of danger had passed caused
> The deputy sheriff
met the mob in front of the old brick jail,
> which stood on the east side of Broadway, opposite the Court House,
> which was torn down on the completion of the new jail. Standing on
> old stone steps at the front entrance, he made them a short address,
> telling them that Peck had been taken to Cleveland that afternoon
> that he had never been brought to the county jail. He offered to
> committee chosen by themselves to make a search. This was done and
> same committee searched the jail thoroughly and reported that no
> could be found. The crowd moved over to the old Court House; battered
> the wooden doors, and trooped into every room in the building except
> office of the treasurer.
> Here the heavy iron doors resisted their efforts to make an entrance
> caused them to desist in their purpose.
> They hastened back
to the City Building and filled the space in
> front of it. They were still shouting and calling for Peck, and
> occasionally a stone or a brick would fly through the windows on
> the Main street and Viaduct sides of the building. When the mayor
> appeared at a window in the rooms of the board of health and motioned
> for silence, the crowd listened to him with comparatively good
> attention. He told them that Sheriff Kelley had taken Peck to ,Cleveland
> that afternoon and that there was no use hunting longer for him.
> one insisting that this was not so, the mayor offered to bet $20
> Peck was not in Akron. He urged them to disperse and let the law
> its course in bringing Peck to a full punishment for his crime.
> Of course, this did
not satisfy them. It was a mistake to
> suppose that it would. They were not there for oratory. They
> on a serious business. They sought vengeance. Nothing
but blood would
> satisfy them. It was a maddened, blood-thirsty pack of wolves, and
> advise, and to temporize, and to try to compromise with such was
> entirely unreasonable and a waste of effort. It was the temporizing
> policy of the authorities up to this time which had helped bring
> up to its present pitch. The attack was renewed with increased vigor.
> was no longer a crowd of men confronting the officers; it was a furious
> mob. Many of them carried pistols in their hands and a few shots
> fired at the building. Occasionally a policeman would come
> window and discharge five or six shots toward the sidewalk.
> Prison-keeper Washer
had been spending the evening with Mrs.
> Washer and friends at one of the summer resorts south of Akron. He
> gone out of town on the earnest solicitation of the chief of police,
> explained to him that, if a mob did form, it would make the story
> credible if it could be said that the prison-keeper was out of town
> the prisoner. When the fish supper was con-eluded, Mr. Washer
> reach the city building by telephone, but was unable to do so. He
> apprehensive that all was not right and started for Akron about 8
> o'clock. He drove into the mob at Main street about 9 o'clock and
> dragged him and Mrs. Washer from the buggy. They shoved two revolvers
> into Mr. Washer's face, boring the barrels into his flesh, saying
> wanted Peck and meant to have him. One man, in a perfectly fiendish
> condition of mind, kept scratching Washer's face shrieking, "It's
> we want, blood, blood, blood." He succeeded in drawing some of Mr.
> Washer's. Mrs. Washer finally succeeded in reaching their apartments
> the rear of the building, with a large part of her clothing torn
> her body Mr. Washer tried to make a speech to the mob The noise
> tumult was so great he could not make himself heard, except to a
> immediately surrounding him. He saw a man with a brick in his hand
> working his way up to the front. A, minute later and this brick struck
> the speaker on the side of the head and he dropped senseless to the
> street. The blow nearly fractured his skull and he suffered from
> wound it made for several years afterward.
> After Mr. .Washer
had been carried into. the drug store. on the
> corner, and the police had fired a few more desultory shots .from
> building, the crowd withdrew. The larger part of them strangely
> disappeared and an ominous quiet. reigned in the neighborhood from.
> about 9 o'clock until about .11. A few spectators stood on the opposite
> side of the street; another knot or two were scattered at different
> street corners. The electric lights were all burning brightly and
> street cars were running as usual. But for the broken panes in the,
> building, the stones and bricks on the sidewalk, and the ladder lying
> where the mob had left it, no indications that trouble had happened
> present The city commissioners took advantage of this lull
to leave the
> building by the rear entrance and made. a successful escape down
> railway spur. The mayor also took his departure and went direct to
> home on Perkins street. The Chief of Police, with seven or eight
> men, remained. About 11 o'clock the crowd began to collect again,
> the spectators were not long in finding out where its members had
> in the interim. An electric arc lamp hung about half way between
> City Building and the Beacon-Journal office and flooded the vicinity
> with light.
> The spectators saw
a couple of men cross the sidewalk with
> bundles in their arms and enter the south door, leading to the stairway
> to the second floor. In a few minutes after they returned, a fearful
> explosion shook the neighborhood, and brought a 'cloud of dust into
> street. The concussion was terrific, but little apparent damage was
> done. The walls still stood just as before. The dynamite for
> the other exp1osive which followed had been stolen from the Middlebury
> clay banks and from the chests of contractors doing work on the Erie
> A peddler had been arrested that Wednes-day morning for peddling
> a license and released on ball. He drove an old white horse in a'
> wagon. He volunteered to haul the dynamite to the City Building,
> mob gladly accepted his services. The cessation of hostilities
> to this cause 'and a further desire on the part of several to go
> and get. arms.
> The last of. the
cars carrying home the throng of
> pleasure-seekers from the Casino at Lakeside Park' had passed, and
> ears were on their way back to the South Akron barns. Perhaps a thousand
> men were in Main Street, from Church to Howard Streets. Four or five
> thousand more stretched from these points down to Mill and up to
> and covered the bluff on High Street. The active members of the mob
> numbered not more than two or three hundred, including active
> sympathizers. The rest were mere onlookers some a prey to a
> curiosity; others fascinated by the spectacle of terror enacted before
> After the first explosion,
a few men started to lower the
> electric lamp that was lighting the scene. They let it fall the last
> feet upon the brick pavement, and the place was dark enough for the
> vilest purpose. Up to this time, at intervals, a policeman in the
> Building would approach the window and fire five or six shots in
> succession into the sidewalk, directly under the window. It was easy
> see that the shots were directed into the ground and it was not possible
> that even the most foolish in the crowd could be fooled by the action,
> yet this silly performance was repeated many times. Then followed
> dynamite explosions, one after another, each sounding like the discharge
> of a mighty cannon. These reports should have awakened the
> The policemen had stealthily taken their departure out of the rear
> and crept 'off in the darkness. Some of them hid in the lumber yard
> the rear of Merrill's pottery; others in box-cars in the rear of
> American Cereal Company's big mill. Their demoralization could have
> been greater Each man was looking out for himself, and no one else.
> city property was' left to the mercy of the relentless mob.
> Soon a little blaze
of a match was seen burning at the northeast
> corner of Columbia Hall, the large rambling frame building next south
> the City Building. It had been erected as a roller skating
> the days of the first roller craze and had been used subsequently
> armory for militia and an assembly hall for concerts and bazaars,
> The little match kindled a pile of paper and dry wood and soon a
> fire was burning alongside the front of the hall. The building was
> dry and of such favorable construction that ten minutes had not elapsed
> until it was in flames at every point. It made a magnificent spectacle.
> Great tongues of flame leaped high above a seething mass of fire,
> the sparks ascended in showers. On the front side of the hall was
> tower with a flagstaff. An American flag waved nobly in the breeze
> by the ascending heat currents. The lesson of that waving emblem
> freedom was lost on that demoniacal assemblage. The fire reigned
> unrestrained fury. Not a drop of water fell into its midst. Violent
> hands were laid on every one who had the courage to attempt to subdue
> About midnight a
part of the crowd had marched down the middle
> of Main street to the Standard Hardware Company, located on the west
> side of South Main Street about halfway between Market and Mill Streets.
> They made entrance into the store by breaking a plate-glass window.
> few entered and passed out guns, revolvers, rifles, knives and
> ammunition, until the store was despoiled of its entire stock of
> goods. Over one hundred arms of various descriptions were stolen
> mob in this raid. Hidden behind telephone poles and in dark corners
> buildings, they kept up a perfect fusillade upon the city building,
> while Columbia Hall was burning. The firemen in the central station,
> only a stone's throw east of the City Building, had on the first
> appearance of the blaze, sounded an alarm of fire and carried a line
> hose down Church Street. The fire-bell had been rung earlier in the
> evening, with a response on the part of No.1 company, merely as a
> to attract attention of the mob from the City Building.
> Three firemen from
Company No.1 stood out in the middle of Main
> Street, holding the nozzle of the line of hose. The water shot through
> it for only a few seconds. The rioters had cut the hose in, many
> and, while the three firemen stood in the street alone, a perfect
> of bullets and shot were fired at them. One of them fell and another
> promptly stepped forward and took his, place at the nozzle while
> came out and removed their fallen comrade. It was the finest exhibition
> of heroism ever seen in Akron. That little band stood out there until
> the walls fell in, waiting for the water to come through that hose,
> laying new lines to replace the damaged. Cowards were firing
> from behind walls and telephone poles, yet they went about the
> performance of their duty as calmly as though it were an ordinary
> upon their customary foe, the Fire Demon.
> It was a superb exhibition
of manly courage. Many a man who felt
> the flame of faith in human nature die out that night, found it
> rekindled after beholding the deeds of those heroic firemen.
> The alarm had called
out other companies. In responding, one of
> them sent a hose-wagon south on Main from Mill Street. As they
> the Wilcox Block, a couple of ruffians called upon them to halt and
> presented guns from behind telephone poles. They paid no attention
> the command and both guns were discharged point blank at them. How
> ever escaped alive remains a marvel to those who witnessed the scene.
> They drove on, followed by bullets and shot, and only desisted in
> efforts to quench that fire when borne down by overwhelming numbers.
> Shortly after the
tower, with its staff and waving flag, had
> fallen into the flaming pit, the fire broke out in the City Building.
> Whether it communicated from the conflagration south of it or was
> afresh is not known. The more probable view is that the rioters hastened
> the destruction by setting the building afire directly. in an incredibly
> short time fire was bursting from every window in the building.
> dynamite explosions had wrecked the floors and partitions, doors
> windows had been demolished by the battering and storm of shot, and
> flames made quick work of the resulting debris. Both buildings were
> enveloped in flames and the conflagration was at its height. All
> splendor of the scene when Columbia Hall first burst into flames
> doubled. The street was as light as day. The heat drove all but the
> firemen back into the shadows. They stood their ground, beside their
> useless hose and apparatus. The mob would not permit a drop of water
> be thrown upon the fire and, like a tremendous furnace, it seethed
> rolled and roared-an awful spectacle to the thousands who covered
> hill-sides and house-tops, at a safe distance from the bullets of
> rioters. The gleam from the fire lighted up their faces, still
> diabolical with hate and bloodlust, as they peered from behind their
> barriers of defense. The frenzy possessing them had been stilled
> tremendous power shown by the natural element Fire. Even their
> disordered minds could perceive the magnitude of the influences they
> called into operation. Even they stood thrilled by the raging and
> of elemental power. Occasionally a malignant jeer, a demoniacal howl
> delight, or a shot, broke the spell and recalled the thoughtful
> spectators to the dread reality of the scene.
> The minutes passed
unheeded, but probably an hour passed, with
> the great fire holding the center of the stage--the one great spectacle
> that centered the interest and gaze of all. Then the walls of the
> building fell, and the. flames gradually shrunk within the pit of
> white heat. In the east, pale streaks along the horizon indicated
> coming of another day. The somber gray mellowed into gold and
> gleam of dawn mingled with the reddened glow from the ruins. The
> outlines of objects became more distinct. It was a signal from the
> powers of darkness to slink away. As the Sun-God scatters the forces
> Night; as Death dwindles into insignificance before the truth of
> resurrection; so the slaves of the Demon of Anarchy slunk away into
> their places of hiding, from their revel of blood and fire, before
> messenger on the hilltops, who heralded the coming of the source
> light--typical of order, law and right.
> By 4 o'clock all
of the thousands who thronged the streets had
> gone and the scene was almost deserted. It was safe enough
> those policemen who were in hiding to come forth and go to their
> and they did.
> At 7 o'clock the
first of the militia. arrived. It was Company C
> of the Eighth regiment, from Canton. it was known as "The Presidentís
> Own." Never were the boys in blue received with more profound
> gratitude. The feelings of Akron citizens were too deep for
cheers or a
> demonstration. Nevertheless, deep in their hearts they welcomed the
> soldier boys. What a relief to see those swinging battalions and
> that they represented the majesty of the law! What a comfort in those
> grim rifles, those well-filled ammunition boxes and the keen sight
> those sworn foes to disorder! For the thoughtful citizen had been
> disturbed. He had seen his entire city surrendered to the will
> riotous mob. There was absolutely nothing to restrain that mob from
> doing anything it pleased with the property and the lives of all
> citizens of Akron. Not a dollar, not a life was safe in Akron
> night. Had the notion been taken, every store and every home might
> been pillaged and looted. The leaders of that mob might have easily
> persuaded it to assist in working out revenge for private grievances
> murder and arson. They were drunk with power to which they were
> unaccustomed, and reveled in the use of it. For instance, just as
> City Building burst into flames a number broke in the doors of the
> little building alongside and ran out the electric police patrol
> automobile. As many as it would hold climbed into it; others
> the steps and climbed upon the top. Then, it was started amid the
> cheering of the mob and run about the downtown streets, with its
> occupants singing and yelling, until they tired of the sport and
> the wild orgy by sending it full speed into the canal.
> It was like a scene
from the wildest period of the French
> Revolution. One must go to the orgies of that carnival of disorder
> find a parallel, unless, indeed it shall be found in the conceptions
> certain great minds concerning the Inferno. It was the very
> of evil.
> In the meantime something
was being done in an attempt to stop
> the tide. There were a few citizens aware of what was happening,
> were not spellbound by the awful scenes nor frightened into supine
> subservience by the exhibition of the power of the mob. Some
> sought the sheriff. For reasons known to himself, and guessed at
> others, he could not be found. Akron had two full companies of militia
> and some other organizations of a semi-military character who carry
> rifles, and look real brave on parade days. The captains of these
> companies were appealed to. The reply was, "You must see the Governor."
> An attempt to assemble the companies resulted in getting only three
> four men at the armories; the rest were mingled with the crowd watching
> the fire. As be-fore stated, the city authorities, from the highest
> the last-appointed policeman, were completely demoralized. Finally
> Governor Nash was reached by telephone and he promised to send a,
> regiment of militia, if requested by the sheriff of the county or
> mayor' of the city. Probate Judge George M. Anderson, accompanied
> few citizens, then took a cab to search for the mayor. They
> at home and persuaded him to ask the Governor for help.
> The Fourth regiment
of the Ohio National Guard was in camp at
> Minerva Park, near Columbus. They had arrived there only a
day or two
> before for their annual encampment, as required by law. They were
> the command of Colonel J. D. Potter, who is a son of General Potter,
> the United States Army. They received their orders at 1 :45 o'clock
> M. At 2:45 the entire nine companies were entrained and on their
> Akron. A special train on the Cleveland, Akron & Columbus Railway
> brought them into Akron at 9 o'clock on the morning of the 23,d.
> immediately marched downtown and joined Company C of the Eighth Regiment
> in guarding the city. Colonel Adams of the Governor's staff
> took charge of all the military forces in the city, including the
> companies, which were never called from their armories during the
> disturbed period. The streets near the ruins were roped off,
> was allowed to approach them. The downtown street assumed a
> appearance. Armed sentries paced everywhere and companies were marching
> back and forth to mess and temporary barracks at all hours.
> after a consultation of officials and citizens, the mayor issued
> proclamation closing all the saloons in the city until further notice.
> The revulsion of feeling against the rioters was so strong that the
> saloon-keepers were very willing to assist, as much as possible,
> general effort to restore law and order. The proclamation was
> respected. Closing the saloons undoubtedly was a great factor
> bringing back of peace and quiet to the city.
> In the afternoon
of the 2nd a meeting of all the city officials
> and a few prominent citizens was called at the Hotel Buchtel.
> Police Harrison could not be found anywhere. It was reported that
> last seen about 4 o'clock in the morning driving out of the city.
> Durkin had been appointed by the city commissioners as acting Chief
> Police. With the city officials, there assembled at the Hotel Buchtel
> Judge U. L. Marvin, Prosecutor R. M. Wanamaker, Judge G. M. Anderson,
> Fire Chief Frank Manderbach, Colonel Potter, Colonel Adams and others.
> At this meeting the situation was thoroughly discussed and the city
> government reorganized. It was understood the city was not under
> law, but that the city authorities were in power and the military
> the government was there, not to supplant, but to assist them. Barracks
> were arranged for the militia and they were quartered at the old
> House Hall, at the Court House and in a North Main Street livery
> Business was practically suspended in the downtown stores and offices
> all day of the 23d. The riot was the one theme of conversation
> everywhere. A constant stream of people kept moving all day long
> the ruins of Columbia Hall and the City ,Building. No crowds were
> allowed to congregate. The soldiers kept everyone moving; a good
> for the police, don't you think? These latter moved about town in
> companies of two and three. When night came many people were
> apprehensive that more trouble would take place. Many rumors had
> heard during the day that another attack would be made. Many persons
> remained down street rather expecting excitement of some sort, but
> were disappointed, and the soldiers had no other duty than the weary
> work of sentry posting.
> On Friday business
was resumed and the marching of the soldiers
> was the only incident different from the ordinary routine of Akron
> affairs. In the middle of the afternoon those in charge of
> startled the whole community by an act of exceeding daring. It was
> successful and can be called daring; if it had failed, it would have
> been termed foolhardy. This coup de'etat was no less a feat than
> bringing the rapist Peck back to Akron for trial. It happened
> A meeting of the
officials was held Friday morning to determine
> the course to pursue in regard to Peck. The crime was committed
> Summit County and he would have to be brought back here for
> arraignment. Why was it not better to bring him back while
> were here to protect him and prevent additional rioting? The stay
> soldiers must, of necessity, be brief, hence, the sooner action was
> taken, the better. The very audacity of the thing, too, would
> its successful prosecution. The people would be far from expecting
> move of this kind and the rioters would not be prepared to take
> advantage of their opportunity. John F. Washer, the prison-keeper,
> still weak from the effect of the blow on his head, but it was decided
> that he was the best man to go to Cleveland for Peck, who was still
> confined in the Cuyahoga County jail. Dr. A. K. Fouser was engaged
> accompany Mr. Washer and give him such medical attention as he might
> require. Driving to a Valley train in a cab, they succeeded in getting
> out of town unobserved.
> In Cleveland they
were not so fortunate. They had been in the
> jail hut a few moments when the news spread fast that they had come
> Peck and, when they were ready to depart, a large crowd surrounded
> carriage in front of the jail and filled the street. It was a crowd
> disposed to make trouble, too. What was to be done? The afternoon
> passing and whatever was to be done must be decided upon quickly.
> special train on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad had been engaged
> Summit County authorities and was waiting at the station to take
> party to Howard Street, without any stops. Colonel Potter had detailed
> company of soldiers to meet the train upon its arrival. Sheriff Barry
> was to telephone from Cleveland as soon as the party started. Judge
> David J. Nye had been called over from Elyria to hold a special session
> of Common Pleas Court. A special Grand Jury had been empaneled at
> o'clock that afternoon. One witness had been heard and a true bill
> against Lewis Peck. It was understood that he would plead guilty
> indictment. He would then be taken to Columbus on the afternoon train
> and the cause of the riot would be safely out of the jurisdiction.
> were the plans and they were carefully laid. But in the crowd outside
> the Cleveland jail, and constantly growing larger and more restless,
> an obstacle not considered by the plotters. What was to be
> much time had been lost that it was nearly time for the Columbus
> to start the one upon which it was planned to carry Peck to the
> penitentiary. Washer and Barry got their heads together and planned
> neat trick upon the crowd. They telephoned for another closed carriage
> to be driven to the rear door of the jail. Washer, Fouser and, the
> prisoner, the latter manacled to Washer, were all ready to enter
> as it drove up. As it appeared in sight, Sheriff Barry went to the
> door and thus engaged the attention of the crowd, which pressed forward,
> expecting the prisoner next. Giving his party time to enter
> carriage, he re-ntered the jail, as if he had forgotten some-thing,
> joined them. The horses were whipped up and a wild race started
> Union depot to catch the Columbus train. The Baltimore & Ohio
> was left standing at the Water street depot.
> A few who had observed
the ruse gave an alarm and the crowd
> started after the carriage. Most gave up the chase after running
> block, but a few newspaper reporters reached the station nearly as
> as the officials, one or two hanging onto the carriage, which they
> overtaken. They rushed by the ticket inspector at the gates and the
> party was soon safe within the railway car. The newspaper men followed
> and the whole party were scarce-ly seated when the train pulled out.
> Sheriff Barry ordered the conductor to lock the doors of the car
> this was done. As the train neared Euclid Avenue, the reporters
> prepared notes to be thrown out and carried to their papers. The
> were all put down and, upon Washer's threat to shoot the man who
> a window, no effort was made to throw out notes at Euclid station.
> Sheriff Barry left the train there and Mr. Washer and Dr. Fouser
> proceeded alone, with the cringing negro on his knees, on the floor
> between them, imploring Washer to shoot him. The newspaper men were
> carried along, although some of them had no money to pay their fares.
> Sheriff Barry telephoned
the change of plans from Cleveland and
> a carriage was waiting at the Union depot in Akron. There was no
> at the station and no guard but two soldiers and one policeman, who
> on duty there. Arrangements had been made to hold the train for thirty
> minutes at the station. It arrived at 3:20. The employees of the
> Rice & Co. saw Peck taken into the Court House and swarmed out
> street. In the court room the judge was waiting and all the
> requisites of a criminal action at law were ready. The judge cleared
> .the room of soldiers, ordered Washer to put up his pistol and remove
> the manacles from the prisoner. Peck waived the reading of the
> indictment. Upon being asked whether he wished to plead guilty or
> guilty to the charge of rape he replied, "Guilty." Thereupon
> inquired if he had anything to say before sentence should be pronounced
> upon him. His answer was no. The court then imposed a sentence of
> imprisonment in the penitentiary at Columbus, the first thirty days
> which were to he passed in solitary confinement. Peck was visibly
> frightened throughout the whole proceedings. He was again manacled,
> trembling like a leaf. A guard of twenty militiamen surrounded him
> Sheriff Kelley as they started for the train. In the meantime the
> conductor of the train had been ordered by telephone to bring his
> up to Center Street. As the little party moved out into Broadway
> Center the crowd of workingmen surged about and tried to seize Peck.
> soldiers fixed bayonets and met the new rioters with sharp steel.
> desisted their attempts only when the prisoner was safely within
> train. The sheriff was waiting for it as it drew up. It did
not come to
> a full stop, but the prisoner was hustled aboard, the sheriff followed,
> and Peck was on his way to the only spot that will again know him
> earth. He was arraigned, pleaded guilty, was sentenced, and on his
> to prison all within twenty minutes. Just four days after his crime
> committed he had commenced to serve his sentence. Justice can move
> quickly when it has' to.
> These things happened
on Friday, August 24, 1900. Justice in
> this case was fully done. It was not overdone as some very interested
> parties would have you believe. Peck richly deserved his sentence.
> more heinous crime was ever committed in Summit County. It was revolting
> and repulsive in the extreme. The public has never learned the details
> and it never will, for they are too loathsome to publish. Unspeakable
> cruelty was practiced by that black ravisher upon that innocent little
> baby. Not only that, but Peck's record was a bad one before
> Akron. The New York Tribune printed a list of the crimes for which
> was wanted at Patterson, New Jersey. It is far better for him and
> society that he be denied his liberty until Death shall free him,
> his shriveled .soul shall pass on for the sentence of the Great Judge.
> No maudlin sentimentality should be allowed to interfere with the
> complete execution of this just sentence. The pleas of lawyers engaged
> by his friends to obtain his release are mercenary and should fall
> deaf ears.
> The Aftermath Of The Riot.
> With Louis Peck safely
in the penitentiary, the members of the
> military forces began to think of discharge from the irksome duties
> which had been unexpectedly imposed upon them. The Fourth Regiment
> lost a large part of the benefit of their annual encampment and they
> longed to return to Minerva Park. Colonels Adams and Potter desired
> leave Akron with their commands on Friday night. The city authorities
> were apprehensive of trouble to come on Saturday night. The mayor
> the colonels to remain until Monday morning. Saturday brought with
> half-holiday and most of the shops and factories paid their men off
> day. Hence, it was thought that if new trouble were to arise it was
> probable that it would come Saturday night. The militia officers
> reluctantly complied with the wishes of the mayor. Saturday and Sunday
> passed without extraordinary incident. If anything, the city
> orderly than usual.
> On Saturday afternoon
the mayor held the first session of Police
> Court since Wednesday morning. By consent of the county officials,
> was held in the Court House. The city government was without
a home of
> any kind. On Monday, August 27, at an early hour in the morning,
> military companies took their departure and the city was left to
> care of itself. The city commissioners had leased for one year
> substantial stone office building of the American Cereal Company,
> corner of Mill and Broadway. This had been abandoned by the company
> its principal offices had been moved to Chicago. The postoffice
> department of the federal government had occupied it for a while
> site of the Akron postoffice while the government building was being
> completed. It had been vacant several years and was the only available
> location for the purposes of the city. The Board of City Commissioners
> met here on Monday morning and transacted their first real business
> subsequent to the riot. Their first business was to act upon the
> of Chief of Police H. H. Harrison for a leave of absence for ten
> It was granted and lie left for Chicago to attend the annual reunion
> the Grand Army. of the Republic, of which he is a member. The coroner,
> E. O. Leberman announced that he would hold his inquest over the
> of the shooting during the latter part of the week, as evidence was
> rapidly being secured. The public authorities, both city and county,
> already taken steps to bring about the arrest of all parties who
> been active in the lawless proceedings of Wednesday night.
> from Cleveland and Pittsburgh were on the scene by Thursday and were
> fast securing evidence against the guilty ones. By Tuesday, the 28th,
> the authorities began to suffer from a perfect deluge of anonymous
> letters, threatening them all with death if any arrests were made.
> paid no attention to these threats, but persevered in the task of
> running down the criminals. Many of the rioters were strangers in
> city and many others had left upon learning that they were likely
> brought to justice. Hence, the work was very difficult. Finally a.
> special grand jury was impaneled and J. Park Alexander was made foreman
> of it The county prosecutor, who had been indefatigable in the work,
> laid before it the evidence he had secured. True bills were returned
> against forty-one men and boys who had been the leaders of the mob.
> the county jail was filled with the accused persons. Officer John
> Washer arrested one man, Vernand Kempf, down in Tennessee, and brought
> him safely back to Akron. Upon his trial for shooting with intent
> kll, he was found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment in the
> penitentiary for eighteen months. The other cases were disposed
> State of Ohio vs.
William Hunt, George Brodt and James
> McNaughton--Charge, rioting. Hunt retracts his plea of not
> enters plea of guilty, and is sentenced to pay a fine of $25 and
> Defendant McNaughton plead guilty; sentence, $20 and costs.
> State of Ohio vs.
Harry Earle, Jr., Claude Bender, Andrew
> Morgan, Andrew Wilburn--Charge, rioting. Defendant Bender pleads
> guilty, sentenced to workhouse for thirty days and pay $10 fine and
> costs. Nolle entered as to all the defendants except Bender.
> State of Ohio vs.
Walter Wingerter, Arthur Sprague, Frank
> Sickles, William Henry--Charge, burglary and larceny. Wingerter
> sentenced to the reformatory. Same as to defendants Sickles and Henry.
> State of Ohio vs.
Frank Bisson--Shooting with intent to kill or
> wound. Sentenced to Boys' Industrial School.
> State of Ohio vs.
Howard McClelland. Shooting with intent to
> kill or wound. Sentenced to penitentiary for one year.
> State of Ohio vs.
John Rhoden. Shooting with intent to kill or
> wound. Sentenced to penitentiary for one year.
> State of Ohio. vs.
Charles Timmerman, David Spellman, Frank
> Wheeler, Joseph Higy--Charge, rioting. Defendant Wheeler plead
> sentence, thirty days in jail and pay the costs. Defendant Spellman,
> and costs. Dismissed as to Higy.
> State of Ohio vs.
Walter Wingerter, Frank Sickles. and William
> Crile--Charge, rioting. Defendant Crile sentenced to pay $20 and
> State of Ohio vs.
Arthur Sprague, Norman Breckenridge and Edward
> Eppley--Charge rioting. Breckenridge, thirty days in jail and $25
> and costs. Sprague the same. Eppley, no trial.
> State of Ohio vs.
Sandy Coppard, William Henry and Edward
> Henry-- Charge, rioting. All sentenced to thirty days in jail and
> fine and costs.
> State of ,Ohio vs.
William Averill, Andrew B. Halter and Frank
> Bisson--Charge, rioting,:. Halter and Averill fined $50 and costs.
> Bisson dropped from the docket.
> State of Ohio vs.
Charles Timmerman--Charge, breaking into
> prison and attacking officer for the purpose of lynching. Sentenced
> penitentiary for one year.
> State of Ohio vs.
Edward Eppley, Harry Earle, Jr., and Oliver
> Morgan--Charge, unlawful possession and use of dynamite. All sentenced
> to reformatory and to pay costs.
> State of Ohio vs.
William AverillóCharge, shooting, with intent
> to kill or wound. Sentenced to reformatory.
> State of Ohio vs.
Vernando Kempf--Charge, shooting with intent
> to kill or wound. Sentenced to penitentiary for eighteen months.
> State of Ohio vs.
Charles Fink and David Snyder Charge, rioting.
> Defendant Fink pleads guilty; sentence, thirty days in jail, $25
> costs. Defendant Snyder plead guilty sentenced to pay $20 and
> State of Ohio vs.
Frank Viall, Lovell Nigh and August
> Simmonet--Charge, rioting. Nigh sentenced thirty days in jail, $25
> costs Simmonette, thirty days in jail, $25 and costs. Viall
> costs and thirty days in jail.
> Thus it will be seen there were thirty convictions in the cases
> resulting from the riot. When one reflects upon the amount of work
> necessary to prepare for and conduct one important criminal action
> law, he will readily appreciate the titanic labor performed by the
> public authorities. Able counsel ,had been secured to defend
> the accused men, and the trials were hotly contested. The result
> reflects every credit upon R. M. Wanamaker the prosecuting attorney.
> is hardly possible to bestow too much praise upon the energy and
> he devoted to his work in bringing retribution upon those guilty
> causing so much shame to the fair city of Akron.
> There was one glaring
miscarriage of justice. The public felt
> keenly that the menber of the city council, of whom mention was in
> last chapter, and who was one of the leaders of the mob, should have
> been punished for his misdeeds that night. He escaped free. It was
> regretted by many that the court, in passing sentence upon those
> convicted, did not impose heavier sentences because of the heinousness
> of the offenses. There is this to be said in extenuation, that many
> them, it was a first offense; that excitement of the moment carried
> them off their feet; that some up to this had borne good reputations
> the community; that some had families dependent upon them for support,
> and that the sentences, such as they were, would be a sufficient
> deterrent from future violation of law.
> Thus justice emerged
triumphant, as she always will. Law and
> Order were fully restored and affairs moved along in orderly
> procession. The citizens began to take an account of their
> City Building was but a heap of bricks, stones and twisted iron.
> Columbia Hall, one of the chief meeting-places of the city, was the
> same. The buildings on the opposite side of Main Street had been
> by flames and the violence of the mob. One of the stores there
> looted. The stores south of Columbia Hall had been damaged by fire
> smoke. The Standard Hardware Company had lost its entire stock of
> fire-arms. For all this loss not one cent of fire insurance could
> collected Several cases brought to collect insurance dragged their
> lengths through the various counts for several years afterward, but
> was uniformly decided that the companies were not liable for loss
> occasioned by the mob. The loss in money was about a quarter
> million dollars. A whole regiment of soldiers was quartered
> a week. The city and county had large bills to pay for detective
> and the expense of the trials. Many citizens received serious injuries
> from bullets end flying missiles of all kinds. Among them the
> newspapers mentioned the following: Fred Vorwerk, W. H. Dussel, Park
> Stair, Arthur E. Sprague, John Ahern, E. Chemelitzki, Albert Grant,
> Frank Sours, E. Shelby and Albert Stevens, of the citizens; L.
> Manchester, W. Roepke, Minor Fritz, John Denious, A. Eberle and David
> Phillips, of the firemen, and John E. Washer, Alva Greenlese, John
> and Edward Dunn, of the police force.
> Although seven years
have passed since that momentous time, the
> city is still occupying the old office of the American Cereal Company
> a City Hall. Three different administrations have conducted the city's
> affairs within its walls. They are still called "temporary quarters,"
> but there is no prospect of anything more permanent for years to
> The city is so busy building viaducts and paving streets and expending
> so much. money for such purposes and the present quarters are so
> adapted for the present needs that it is probable that Akron will
> no City Hall of her own for many years to come. In spite of some
> objections on ,the part of some officials, it must be admitted that
> present building makes a very good housing for the conduct of municipal
> affairs, and that the rent is not unreasonable for such a structure.
> City Council has a room large enough for its deliberations; the Mayor's
> Court is well provided for; the Board of Health, the Auditor, the
> Solicitor and the Police Department, all have separate and commodious
> The main damage caused
by the riot was that done to the hitherto
> fair reputation of the city. In the heart of the cultured Western
> Reserve of Ohio, it was not thought possible that such an outbreak
> lawlessness could occur. The other cities of the Western Reserve
> for us. The great state of Ohio was ashamed of us. We had brought
> discredit upon the great state of which we are so proud. Our
> abroad throughout the land--throughout the world., The great newspapers
> sent special correspondents to Akron and covered their front pages
> great, blac,k headlines to publish to the world our disgrace. As
> example, the Pittsburgh Dispatch of August 24, 1900, bore across
> entire front page in startling type, this inscription: "National
> Preserves Order in Ashamed Akron." This shame, this disgrace, this
> damage to a splendid reputation, was our greatest loss
> If the cause of it
all can be said to belong to those who might
> have averted it, then there is no difficulty in putting the blame
> it belongs--at the door of incompetent public officials. The errors
> judgment on their part. were so numerous that, it will not be possible
> to mention them here. Even when the riot was at its height, a dozen
> determined policemen could have put the entire mob to rout. Many
> that night it happened, that some one would cry, "The Police are
> Out," and the entire crowd would take to their heels and scatter
> directions. It is to be feared that downright cowardice, as well
> of judgment, was one of the prominent characteristics of those now
> From the black picture
let us turn to a bright one. Letters of
> shining gold, should be used to tell of the deeds of Akron's fire
> who played so noble a part in that night's doings. From, its
> beginning, Akron's fire department has never been found wanting in
> emergency, but on this occasion, it covered itself with everlasting
> glory The prison-keeper and a few of the policemen proved also that
> night that they were brave men. These, with the county prosecutor,
> the members of the Grand and Petit juries who dealt with the riot
> are they who emerged with credit from the Riot of 1900.