Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Features

October 22, 2013

Five suspended from The Hanging Tree

(Continued)

“When word got out, people got upset.” They were later caught, and the sheriff “brought them to the courthouse, but they said they didn’t do it, so he had to let them go.”

About a month later, a shootout was held in Correct, just south of Versailles. The sheriff was shot in the hand and two gang members were also wounded. Those two got away, but were later apprehended and jailed at Versailles.

On that September day 116 years ago, “a vigilante group was meeting east of Napoleon .... About 10 p.m., they were going to Versailles and do justice.” By the time they arrived there, about 200 people had accumulated. “I don’t know how the word got out,” Abplanalp revealed.

“They took off their coats and everything that would identify them, and put red or blue handkerchiefs around their faces. It was the first quarter of the moon, so you couldn’t see them well.”

The mob went to the jail and demanded the release of five prisoners, including Levi, Bert Andrews, Cliff Gordon, Henry Shuter and Bill Jenkins. Ropes were put around them and they were “dragging them like a boy dragging a toy.

“They went until they found an elm tree on the banks of Laughery Creek .... put the ropes up (to hang the men) and disappeared the same as they came in.”

Abplanalp added, “A man who lived along the path said he heard and saw the whole deal and recognized one of the men giving orders as a prominent man in Versailles.” When questioned later, the witness maintained, “‘I’m not saying anything.’”

The coroner was called and he “ordered the bodies be cut down .... It was said the bodies were facing four different directions of the globe.

“By that time, it was getting to be morning, so the bodies were drug up and put in a tent. Water was carried in, and the bodies were scrubbed up the best they could and the next of kin were called.

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