Murder of St. Charles Officers David Lamb and John Blair, 1913, Part II

This is Part II of the Murder of St. Charles Officers David Lamb and John Blair
Read Part I here

The Negro’s Story

As the fleeing negros sped across the country, telephones were worked in every direction and a knowledge of their whereabouts was known almost every minute of the time. Henry Haggemeier telephoned the news from the Elm Point neighborhood and the two Richardson boys saw them cross over to the M. K. T. tracks at Cul de Sac.
The big negro who was left dead on the scene of the first encounter was Tom Allen. He carried a 4 calibre revolver. The negro who was hot up the worst at Machens was Harry Black and the third negro who received only minor gunshot wounds in the leg was Andrew Black. They each carried 38 calibre revolvers.
In a special edition of the sporting World of St. Louis, Sunday morning, Harry Black had a statement, which is on its face a most obvious deception. After receiving certain data regarding him and his brother in which he said the three of them had been working at the David Goldman Furniture Store at 3016 Easton Avenue, he says that they were unarmed when they came to St. Charles, but that a white man sold them a revolver which they bought because the man was broke, more to help the poor devil out than anything else. He does not attempt to account for the other two guns. He then goes on to say that he and his brothers were sitting peacefully on a lumber pile when the two policemen came along and at a distance of 20 feet drew their guns and commanded tem to hold up their hands. He says he and Andrew obeyed but that Tom used the revolver and killed the two policemen. He and Andrew were both wounded he says, but managed to run away. They had not been drinking, said Black.
The reporter who wrote the interview seemed inclined to give Black sympathy. Evidently this reporter did not lose any of his own relatives by this cold blooded murder or he would not be on such sympathetic terms.

Those Who Helped

Sheriff John Dierker(shot and killed April 5, 1916), who was on a hunting expedition in Pemiscot County, was sent a telegram Saturday night, and although 17 miles from the nearest railroad station he hurried away, and is now in town.

Sheriff John Dierker
Sheriff John Dierker
Sheriff Philip Rupp
Sheriff Philip Rupp

Others who were out on the job were Former Sheriff Hines and his posse. The latter was at once sworn in as a deputy and rendered invaluable service. He took to the work like an old blood hound and advised constantly with Prosecuting Daudt.
Bert Blessing , Fred Sheets and another young fellow were out armed to the teeth and had it been their fortune to have come across the fugitives there might have been no need of a jail to put them in.
Marshal Linnebur and Mayor Olson took full charge and directed all operations from the marshal’s office and outside in a masterly manner, and Prosecuting Attorney Daudt has hardly had time to sleep or eat so incessantly has he been on the job. Mayor Olson offered a reward of $200 for the capture of the two men.
Steve Hopkins and Bert Robinson made an excursion on a false clew to the St. Peter’s neighborhood.

Vacancies on Force

The vacancies on the police force have not yet been filled, hence the remaining ones are working overtime. Appointments may be made at the Council meeting to-night, Monday.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
December 18, 1913
St. Charles Weekly Banner News

Harry and Anthony Black confined in the St. Charles County jail on charge of murdering policemen Lamb & Blair are sons of old Bill Black, a well known negro of Green’s Bottom according to a confession which they made to Deputy Sheriff Rupp Thursday. Many of the citizens in that community can recall the old negro, the father who always enjoyed the reputation of being quite a decent and trustworthy colored man. Harry and Anthony Black are talking very little but Thursday Dep. Phil Rupp questioned them about the shooting. They put the entire blame upon Tom Allan, the dead man, claiming that he started the whole trouble. “We told him to be careful, but he was drunk and acted bad.” Deputy Rupp says that from what they told him they virtually confessed of having fired upon both of the officers, although they also tell another story about Tom Allan, who, they in second breath, declare did all the shooting.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
January 15, 1914
St. Charles Weekly Banner News

The three negroes who came to St. Charles and succeeded in murdering Officers Blair and Lamb had murder in their hearts and came here with malice aforethought, for the purpose of “getting even”. This is the rather drastic view that Policeman George Stuckey takes of the matter, and his personal investigations would seem to bear him out in that view.
Recently, Policeman Stuckey discovered that Harry Black, one of the prisoners now confined in the county jail, was the negro whom John Blair shot and wounded in the arm on the night of July 29, 1912.
At that time Mr. Blair told the story of the shooting about as follows: He said that he had been called to the Wabash Depot to expel some bums from the freight cars. He discovered a negro on one of the cars and ordered him off. The negro instead of obeying commands ran from one car to another and finally drew a revolver and fired upon Officer Blair. The latter returned the shot and the negro then got down and fled. Officer Blair followed and a running bullet fight began. Finally the officer “winged” him, that is, shot him in the arm, or at least that is what is supposed, as the man dropped a bundle, on the track, which Officer Blair afterward picked up, but made his escape.
Mrs. Smith who resides in St. Louis County, is authority for the statement that Harry Black is the man whom Blair shot. She says that for several months after that occurrence Black carried his arm in a sling. The identity is practically certain, and a motive for the murderous attack of him and his pals on Officer Blair, especially is thus plausibly established.
Mrs. Smith is a woman who resides in a shack near the east end of the Highway Bridge.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
May 14, 1914
St. Charles Weekly Banner News

THE DEATH PENALTY IS GIVEN NEGROES FOR KILLING POLICEMEN

Prisoners Are Reading New Testament and Getting Ready to Die. Case
Will Probably be Taken to Higher Courts in Event
Judge Woolfolk Refuses New Trial

The following is the verdict rendered by the jury in the Black murder case, after being out a little over two hours.
We, the jury find the defendants Harry Black and Andrew Black both guilty of murder in the first degree as charged, and we assess the punishment of the Defendant Harry Black therefore at death and we assess the punishment of defendant Andrew Black therefore at death. Henry T. Koch, Foreman
Although the verdict undoubtedly means hanging, that event is in the somewhat distant future. Attorney J. C. Crouch, whose office is at 1317 Market Street, St. Louis will first file a motion for a new trial.
After Judge Woolfolk takes the application under advisement, he will either grant another trial or refuse to grant it.
In the event he refuses to grant it Attorney Crouch will probably take the case to the higher courts who will give the final decision as to whether the negroes will be executed or given a new trial.
When Sheriff John Dierker telephoned to Attorney Crouch, Wednesday night, giving him the result of the decision Mr. Crouch exclaimed “I can take the case to the higher courts and have the decision reversed.
If the case is taken to the higher courts a way is provided by law for the case of paupers so that the county is forced to stand the expense.
The large crowd gathered in the court room when the verdict was read last night gazed anxiously at the faces of Harry and Andrew Black to see how they would be at the decision.
Neither of them showed any emotion.
On the way back to the jail they told Deputy Sheriff Heisler, of (unknown word), that they had expected that kind of a verdict. They further said that they had “been making peace with God” by reading the bibles which recently one of the ministers of St. Charles had left in their cell. They pointed to a passage in the scripture to Deputy Phil Rupp which said “Let not your hearts be worried” and said that they were not worrying.
That night they told Sheriff John Dierker that they had not gotten a fair trial. The Sheriff said they seemed to be nervous but ate their regular mean at supper and at breakfast this morning.
The verdict of the jury almost is (unknown word) pleasing to the majority of the people of St. Charles.

From Tuesday’s Daily:

Andrew and Harry Black, charged with the murder of David Lamb were put on trial in the court of Judge Woolfolk to-day, Tuesday. According to the best information at hand John Blair was shot by Tom Allan, the third negro charged has been brought against the two prisoners on the notion that they killed Officer Blair. They will be charged with a single charge of having shot and murdered Dave Lamb.
Prosecuting Attorney Daudt and assistant attorney, Judge (?) H. Dyer will attempt to (unknown word) the charge of murder (unknown word) first that Tom Allan had the revolver which shot 44 calibre bullets; that Andrew and Harry Black, the men on trial, each had guns shooting 38 calibre bullets and that the mortal wounds found on the body of Dave Lamb were inflicted by 38 calibre bullets, the same as those used by the two Defendants.
While Prosecuting Attorney Daudt recited the story of the killing to the jury Andrew Black seemed very nervous fingering one hand with the other and glancing restlessly back and forth. Harry Black remained more composed evincing no evidence of excitement and gazing in an expressionless manner. J. W. Crouch, the attorney defending the two men gave evidence of watchfulness.
Little difficulty was experienced in getting a jury. The trial was in full progress at 1:30 p.m.
The names of the jurors are: H. G. Bergfeld, Weldon Spring; Fred Mette, O’Fallon; W. F. Farris, Foristell; Henry Zollmann, New Melle; Alvin Almeling, New Melle; Charles Bellow, Wentzville, J. L. Edelen, Black Walnut; Henry Fisher, O’Fallon; Henry Giessmann, Foristell; H. D. Koch, O’Fallon; J. N. Morgan and Wm. F. Meyer, Wentzville.
Dr. Wentker testified that the bullet which passed through David Lamb’s body was found in his clothing where it had lodged. It was a 38 calibre.
The following witnesses testified: Mrs. Lamb, Dr. Wentker, Hy Ringe, Harry Caplan, Charles Kansteiner, Oscar Poll, C. B. Maddox and Gus Bloebaum.

From Wednesday’s Daily:

Self defense is the plea which attorney J. C. Crouch of St. Louis will make for the two negroes, Andrew and Harry Black, who are now being tried for the murder of Dave Lamb and John Blair.
The prisoners were put on the stand this morning and each confessed to having shot one of the officers.
Harry Black testified that he and his brother Andrew held up their hands when the command was given to that effect. He said that Tom Allen dropped back to the rear and began shooting. He and his brother still held their hands up until Tom Allen fell, when Dave Lamb pointed his gun toward him, whereat, he, Harry Black, grabbed Dave by the hand and in the scuffle that followed shot the officer in self defense.
He says that while they were struggling Officer Lamb aid “I’ll put your lights out,” and he confessed that when he shot he aimed straight at the Officer’s heart.
Andrew Black testified substantially the same as to how the fight started. He said he held his hands up until John Blair turned and aimed his gun at him. At that he grabbed John Blair’s hand. Instantly John’s gun was discharged, the bullet flying upward. Attorney Crouch offered a hat in evidence which he claimed had been worn by Andrew Black. The hat had a perforation in its rim which apparently had been made by a bullet.
Andrew Black testified that while scuffling with John Blair the officer called upon him to turn him loose. “I asked him what he would do, and he said “I’ll show you what I will do.”
He said that he poured six bullets into Officer Blair, aiming at his body. He says that this officer shot four or five times at Tom Allan, during which time he, Andrew, and his brother were holding up their hands.
At 3:30 p.m. the arguments of the attorneys were in progress, Attorney Crouch pleading self defense and arguing that the evidence proved the policemen did not wear stars.
Judge Dyer mad the first speech, Attorney Crouch the next one and Attorney Daudt followed.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Thursday, July 2, 1914
The St. Charles Weekly Banner News

BLACK BROTHERS SENTENCED TO HANG AUG. 21ST

Harry and Andrew Black, convicted of the murder of John Blair were brought before Judge Woolfolk this afternoon and were sentenced to die by being hung on Friday, August 21st. A new trial was refused by Judge Woolfolk.
Attorney Crouch, representing them, took an appeal of their case to Supreme Court. This will probably put off their hanging for a year of eighteen months and if the supreme court grants a new trial the case will worry along for years.

Continued in Part III
Back to Part I

Published in Vol. 28, No. 4, October 2010 Saint Charles County Heritage, The Bulletin of the St. Charles County Historical Society

Disclaimer:

These articles are taken verbatim from the noted St. Charles historical newspapers. Some of the language quoted are in this day and age considered “politically incorrect.” By quoting these articles, I am not condoning the use of any offensive terms and the usage only reflects the time period of the murders.

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