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

This is the fourth and final installment of the story of the murder of St. Charles Officers David Lamb and John Blair in 1913.
Read Part I here
Read Part II here
Read Part III here

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Thursday, August 24, 1916
St. Charles Weekly Banner News

NEGROES PAY EXTREME PENALTY BOUYED UP BY RELIGIOUS EXCITEMENT

The Cleanest Job of Hanging Ever Performed In This State. Bodies Taken To St. Louis

      Amid the sounds of religious hymns which echoed and resounded through the corridor of the jail, Andrew and Harry Black, condemned murders of police officers Dave Lamb and John Blair, the extreme penalty for their crime between 5 and 6 o’clock Friday morning.
      Harry, the oldest of the two went to the scaffold first. At 5:22 o’clock Sheriff Philip Rupp came to the cell and told the condemned men to prepare themselves reading to them the (unknown word) day respite granted by Gov. (unknown word), and the rest you know, “so prepare yourselves”, added the sheriff, (unknown word) are ready”, they both answered a few minutes later Harry was taken to the scaffold, Sheriffs Rupp, Bode and Deputies Ollendorff, Schallenberg and Mennemeier, assisting in adjusting the strap to his wrist and other details.
     Sheriff Bode adjust the noose and Ollendorff drew down the black hood over his face. A second later he intimated that he wanted to make a statement. Olendorff withdrew the cap and the condemned man said: “I am going to heaven to be with Jesus. I pray that all within the sound of my voice may meet me in glory”. A few seconds later the hood was readjusted, the noose fastened by Bode and at 5:26 the trap was sprung by Sheriff Rupp. The man was dead instantly. He did not move a muscle. Thirteen minutes later the attending physicians, B. P. Wentker and A. A. (unknown word) permitted him removed. The body was removed to a cot nearby.
      Andrew, who had been singing continuously in the meantime, followed his brother to the scaffold a few minutes later. He was asked for a statement (unknown word) the adjusting of the black cap by Officer Edward Gruenewald. He spoke as follows: “My dear beloved (unknown word): I am going to the land of the (unknown word) God. I hope you all recognize (unknown word) for we all have to die. I pray for everybody.”
      A few seconds later, the cap was adjusted and at 5:47 o’clock the trap was sprung by Phil Rupp. Andrew, as the other man, went to his death without a struggle. Fourteen minutes later he was pronounced dead.
      There seems to be rather a (unknown word) of honors as to just who placed the rope about the neck of Andrew, the second negro to be hung. Bob Lamb, brother of Dave Lamb, put the rope over the head. Sheriff Rupp adjusted it and when Officer Gruenewald placed the black cap on his head, he says he run his finger around being sure the rope fit close under the chin.
August Bloebaum had been delegated to place the black cap on the head of Andrew, but was not at hand at the proper time, so the work was done by Gruenewald.
      The bodies were claimed by the family and were taken to St. Louis for burial, L. S. Williams of the undertaking firm of L. S. Williams and Son, taking charge of them.
      Sheriff Bode said that he had witnessed seven executions during his total career but that he had never seen a more perfect work than the (unknown word) this morning.
      The condemned men slept from 1 o’clock. They ate five meals during the night, in fact, they were given everything they wanted. At 3 o’clock the preachers, Reverends Parker of the colored Pleasant View Baptist Church, St. Louis; C. W. Miller Allexender returned to the cell of the men and sang and prayed with them until the minute of execution. Four ministers who spent some time with them were Reverends L. J. (unknown word) of the Fourth street Methodist Church; Father Hellreigel of the St. Peters Catholic Church, and Reverend G. N. Magruder, of the Second Street Baptist church.
      Constable Gustave Bloebaum, one of the men on the death scene said that Harry told him that he would not exchange positions with the man on the street. “I am close to the Lord”, and then the younger brother spoke up saying, “Me, too”.
      Those on the death watch besides Constable Block were Joe Ollendorff, John Schallenberg, Benjamin Mennemeier and Fred Ferber.
Deputy Ben Mennemeier who stayed with the men all night says that they and the preachers spent their time praying and singing hymns. He says when the call came for the gallows the negroes walked to their doom with no more concern than if they were walking up to the bar to get a glass of beer.
      Both beer and whiskey were furnished to the men in their cells, but they refused to take a drop of either. They drank coffee instead. Harry smoked a few cigarettes during the early part of the evening.
      Sheriff R. T. Bennett of Lincoln County, and Republican nominee for sheriff, John Grothe, were among those present. About thirty people from St. Charles and the adjoining community witnessed the execution. More than a hundred curious onlookers gathered around the jail, among them a number of negroes.
      The only disrupture of the whole affair was when Sheriff Rupp discovered that one of the spectators was drunk. The man was compelled to leave the premises.
      Coroner Belding reviewed the remains about 10 a.m.
      The names of the jurymen who convicted the Black Brothers and the verdict is as follows:
      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 F. Koch, Foreman. H. T. Bergeld, Fred Meetto, W. F. Farris, Henry Zollman, Alvin Almeling, Charles Bellow, J. L. Edelen, Henry Fischer, Henry Giessmann, H. F. Koch, J. N. Morgan, Wm. F. Meyer.

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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3 comments

  1. I am David Michael Lamb, 65 years old. I am proud to be Dave Lamb’s namesake. My Grandfather was Bob Lamb. I grew up hearing this story of Officer Lamb and Blair, and there heroics serving their community in the line of duty. My Grandfather, Bob Lamb, also on the police force, according to my Aunt Goldie Lamb, was troubled the remainder of his life, he died at 61. Putting a rope around one of the assailants neck for his brother Dave Lamb he did the right thing….Thank your for publishing this article.

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