Cincinnati (OH) Post
September 26, 1887
Horrible Fate of Informer Bunch
Shot to Death and Burned in a Log Pile
Paoli, Indiana, September 26 – [Special] When one meets so many people down here who take pride in the criminal history of the community they live in, one is only surprised that there are so few organizations like whitecaps. Still, it is a criminal record to be proud of—from a criminal standpoint. The acts of the desperadoes and the punishment meted out to them by the regulators have always been on a big scale. If theft was committed, murder was frequently a concomitant and accompanying part of it. If vengeance was taken, frequently nothing less than the stoutest rope on the highest limb of the nearest tree would satisfy the avengers. Commence first with the KNIGHTS OF THE GOLDEN CIRCLE.
The Knights always had a warm welcome and a helping hand for friends of the Confederate cause, and every Federal soldier who deserted from the Union ranks to join the rebel army was met with open arms and open pocketbooks. This detestable society held Orange County absolutely under control for months. They were under the leadership of such men as BOWLES, MILLEGAN [consider MILLIGAN a spelling variant], HORSEY and QUANTRELL, most of whom, I believe, were condemned to death but paroled by Gov. Morton and subsequently pardoned by President Johnson. How many murders are attributable to this organization can never be accurately estimated but it wasn't called murder in those days. Then, about 1875, nine of the RENO gang were lynched. Four at Ewing and five at New Albany, besides one or two killed at Scottsburg. Others are now in the penitentiary. As is well known, they were the greatest train and express robbers this country ever knew.
The Archer gang, of which much less is known, were exterminated not many months ago. Three—Martin, Thomas and John—were lynched at Shoals. Sam dangled from a tree in Orange County, and those who did not escape are now serving terms in the penitentiary. This gang absolutely controlled Southern Indiana for nearly 20 years. I saw Sam Archer's old home today. The logs are rotting and an oppressive air of desolation hangs over all. No one lives in the old log house. It is the only monument left—and a fitting one it is—that is suggestive of the deeds and death of SAM ARCHER. There is one act in the career of the ARCHERS that has always been misconstrued. This is the killing of BUNCH who betrayed the gang. Bunch was taken to a thicket about two miles from French Lick Springs, seated on a stone at the entrance of a cave and shot eighteen times. A few days after, the Archer boys rolled his body, putrefied into a pulpy mass, into a log trough, carried it to a burning pile of logs and completely incinerated it.
Among the many noted marauding gangs, murders and lynchings of late years in Southern Indiana, I will here mention a few, and a very few when the whole is considered, of the most notorious: two unknown men in Orange County, three negroes at Evansville, a colored school teacher for stealing a cow in Orange County, a murderer in Crawford, two at North Vernon, one in Decatur, nine in Jackson, five in Martin, two in Ripley, three in Clark, three in Lawrence, five in Floyd, two in Washington and three in Vanderburg, are all lynchings within the memory of the present generation. The killing of three men at Tunnelton by a so-called vigilance committee is yet warm. The murder of the marshal of Bedford and nine other assassinations by desperadoes for robbery or revenge, and at least 20 more unprovoked killings in about a decade is the record. Then there were the desperate RODMAN gang of Jennings County, horse thieves and murderers, the BASS gang, afterward so notorious in Texas, the LEVIS of Ripley and the YARNALDS [difficult to read], the UNDERWOODS and others who have left this country the unenviable name it bears. These facts are given to show that the whitecaps are but the progeny of lawlessness.
And crime. A French Lick townshiper has just brought in word that Squire CROW [consider Crowe a spelling variant], a justice of the peace, has been whipped because he would not pay a debt. This is verified in my mind only to the extent that I knew he received notification recently that a whipping was in store for him.
FRANK SMITH, son of a saddler of English, has just been through the whitecap threshing machine (and he looked like it), because he didn't work to suit them. WILLIAM LANDRESS [difficult to read], a commissioner of Crawford County, was notified to change his course in a certain way. Like the man of sense he is, he changed it.
JOE MCDONALD didn't find a farm to suit him and moved several times in a year. He will not move again until he recovers from a whitecap whipping, and probably not then, as he has been notified to stay in the house. BUD BROWN, Valeene, stands up and eats his meals off the wall bracket. He doesn't know why he was whipped, but he is painfully conscious that he was. I met a man today moving his family in a big wagon and asked where he was going. He said, "I'm going to get out of this all-fired rotten country. Can't raise anything but h-ll down here."
I heard since from reliable authority that he was a class leader in a church somewhere down on the river, and his name is BOSWICK. He was profane and wicked out of church but a saint in. So one night the whitecaps caught him and made him pray from dark to daylight. Then they whipped him, shaved his head of all hair and with a knife cut a cross in his bare scalp. It is no wonder that he wanted to leave the country.
J. A. T.
Typed and donated by Randi Richardson.
Webmaster notes: Although this article doesn't deal specifically with Lawrence county, I thought it would provide good background and context for other articles you might read.