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A Mob Visits The Jennings County Jail
August 21, 1878, Vernon Banner
    On last Thursday night, the people of Vernon were startled from their slumbers by heavy sledge hammer blows, reports of firearms and ringing of church bells. It was at once discovered that the Courthouse was the center of the disturbance, and the first comers arrived just in time to see the last of a mob dissapearing on Brown St., in the direction of the railroad bridges. The mob came quietly into town from the east, about one o'clock in the night, and began business by ringing Sheriff Dixon's door bell. That official at once suspected the nature of the summons, and demanded what was wanting. He was answered by a single man, desiring to see him just a minute. Harmon felt no desire to see his visitor at that time, so he refused his request. The mob now began to show themselves, and rudely ordered Dixon to open the door. Soon they told him that they asked him "the last time" and would smash things if he did not open the door, and give up the jail keys. Dixon is full of grit and would not scare, so the mob gave him up, and proceeded to bring a sledge-hammer to bear on the jail doors, evidently intending to hang John Shaffer, and possibly Sade Jackson. One blow served to burst the outer door, which is of wood, but the iron door proved to be good metal, and resisted the thundering blows dealt on it by a large burly man, who appeared to be the leader. During this part of the proceedings Sheriff Dixon jumped out of one of the west windows of his house, with a revolver in each hand. Three men faced him and essayed to seize him, but he shot plump at them, and two of them thought discretion the better part of valor and showed their heels; the third man being more gritty made a grab at Dixon whose revolver refused to turn and he was obliged to run, but the gritty man concluded to run in the other direction at the same time, so Dixon stopped and commenced shooting. At this juncture Tom Dowd, the jailer brought his revolver to bear from his window upstairs, directly over the mob. Citizens in the nearest houses were now wide awake and beginning to appear. The mob discovering that it would soon be overcome, ran for their horses and wagons, and beat a hasty retreat, one of them starting so furiously that his horse tumbled down with him. His comrades lifted him in a spring wagon, and hurried off. The mob was not well organized and were probably unused to such business. They all wore their coats turned inside out. Some of them were game men and had an abundance of good pluck, but others were decidedly panicky, and ran for dear life, and bellowed for fear in the manner of Sir John Falstaff. We have no sympathy for Shaffer, but are in favor of the law being maintained at all hazards. In a Democratic county, like Jackson, where justice becomes a mere mockery, a vigilance committee has some foundation for excuse, but in Republican Jennings, not the slightest taint of corruption has ever appeared to stain the fair name of justice, and the law has been fully meted to all her criminals. This being the case we must condem all resort to mob violence, and insist that the law must have free course, that the guilt or innocence of all prisoners may be proven in open day and just punishment meted out to all offenders of the law. On Friday morning Sheriff Dixon removed Shaffer to the jail at Columbus, for safer keeping.

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