Mob Justice

Max O'Rell

Max O’Rell

Snippets 121. Attitudes towards women, and their treatment by men, has been the source of concern and debate throughout history. The quote below illustrates how travel writer Max O’Rell felt that America was quite progressive in this respect at the latter part of the 19th Century. Regular readers will know that I often quote from Max O’Rell, one of my favourite authors who deserved to be celebrated and remembered far more than he is. The following is from Jonathan and His Continent (1889), a book about American life and customs from his own experiences touring there.

Whilst English justice gives merely one or two months’ imprisonment to the man who is found guilty of having almost kicked his wife to death, an American town is in arms at the mere rumour of a man having maltreated a woman.

Here are a few scenes which I have come across in America:

Elmore Creel, an inhabitant of Greeve’s Run, Wirt County, Virginia, had been known for some time to have subjected his wife and children to harsh treatment. The complaint became, at last, so general that an avenging mob took upon itself to chastise him. At midnight, Creel’s house was surrounded. Creel was in bed. A squad of masked men broke into the house, and, overcoming his struggles, tied his hands, took him to tlie yard, and gave him a fearful thrashing with cowhides and hickory withes. After whipping him, they untied him and let him go, with the warning that another visit from them might be looked for if he was not kinder to his wife.

The following I extract from a Pittsburg paper:

George Burton, a well-to-do man of Ohio, one day turned his wife out of the house and left for Pittsburg. Next day he returned, bringing with Iiirn a dashing widow, named Penton, whom he installed in his wife’s place. When Mrs. Burton applied for admittance, she was sent away, her husband saying that he had someone else to care for him now. The news spread, and the female neighbours decided to avenge the wife’s wrongs. After ten o’clock at night, three hundred women went to the house and beat the doors open. Burton and the dashing widow were dragged out, the man being chased several blocks, and pelted the while with rotten eggs. The widow was pounded and pummelled until the police rescued her. She and the man were locked up in safe keeping. The neighbours then ransacked the house, and when they left it the place looked as if a cyclone had struck it. It was with great difficulty that the objectionable widow was conveyed to the train in safety by the police next day, and despatched to Trenton, New Jersey, where she came from.

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About Roger Pocock

Co-writer on Author of Editor of
This entry was posted in 19th Century, Books, Crime, History, Memoirs, People, Travel, USA and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Mob Justice

  1. starrywazzoh says:

    Satisfying outcomes indeed. In today’s insular world, I wonder if examples exist of similar action, other than medieval stonings of course.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think these kinds of things were more likely to occur in isolated communities who dealt with their own issues themselves. If such a thing happens nowadays I would guess the same would apply. Thanks for your comment, and I’m glad you found the quote interesting!

      Liked by 1 person

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