Lynching of Abraham W. Smith
However, on August 5, a drunken mob broke into the county jail at Fredericktown with axes, crowbars, and other tools. One of the gang went down into the dungeon-like cell, where the prisoner was held in irons, and placed a rope around Smith's neck. The rest of the mob hauled him up by the rope and then dragged him down some stairs and outside to a walnut tree located about fifty yards from the jail. Notwithstanding the fact that he was apparently already dead by the time they reached the tree, the mob strung him up to the tree and let him hang for several minutes. They then let him down, but one of the gang, suspecting Smith might still be alive, insisted that they hang him again. The body was accordingly strung back up until the bloodthirsty mob was sufficiently convinced that life was extinct.
That very night, an inquest was held over Smith's body, and the jury returned a verdict that he had come to his death at the hands of a mob that included men named Jones, Sinclair, Mayse, Pollis, Cox, Blackburn, and Shetley, as well as five other men. Pollis, Cox, Blackburn, Shetley and one other man suspected in the vigilante execution were promptly arrested. Several days later Mayse was spotted at St. Mary's Landing, a small community on the Mississippi River in Ste. Genevieve County. It was presumed he was trying to catch a boat to make his escape. Around the first of October, John Sinclair was recognized on the streets of St. Louis and arrested. Accused of being the man who had placed the rope around Smith's neck, he was taken back to Madison County, where he and several of the other men involved in the lynching of Smith were indicted on charges of murder. However, I have so far been unable to determine the outcome of their cases.