The Sad Tale of James Murphy

Jan 31, 1875: Barlow Hall, which was located at the corner of Fifth Street and Pearl Street, hosted the wedding of August Scheckelhoff and Agnes Neehaber. August worked at The Champion Plow Work, along with Colonel William Dawson. Colonel Dawson volunteered to be the Master of Ceremonies for the wedding.

James Murphy, member of the notorious “chain-gang” and well-known hooligan, showed up with a few of his fellow gang members, wanting to get in. When Colonel Dawson turned them away at the door, they threatened him. Later that night, they attacked him. In the midst of the scuffle, Dawson was stabbed. He bled to death in the street before medical help could arrive.

Police could only find one clue, a cap near Dawson’s body. After a few hours, the cap led them to the home of James Murphy. Another man, Lewis Meyers, was arrested as an accomplice. The public was outraged; and the police had to get special guards to protect Murphy from a lynch mob. After his trial, Lewis Meyers was convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to two years in prison. But James Murphy was tried, convicted, and sentenced to hang.

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