Posted By:roy bearden-white
Subject:John M. Becker 1898 Great Bend, Barton County, Kansas
Post Date:February 19, 2005 at 20:50:13
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Forum:Barton County, KS Genealogy Forum
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I am researching an ancestor that lived in Rawlins County and/or Barton County from at least 1895 to 1898. His name is John Matthias Becker, b.13 Sep 1854 -d.13 Jun 1898, and from what I understand was the second documented lynching in Great Bend, Kansas. I have collected a good amount of information about him, but I have some gaps I would like to fill. His parents migrated from Hesse Darmstadt in 1850, settled in Lake Creek Township (now Johnston City), Illinois in 1853 and John was born the following year. John left Illinois sometime between 1883 (date estimated from a newspaper article) and 1890 (I have a signature on a land sale that may be his). I also have a picture of him taken in a studio in Nebraska City, Nebraska. He is listed on the 1895 census of Driftwood Township, Rawlins County, Kansas. In 1898, he was working for a Mr. Hoffmeister in Barton County. For the rest of the details I have an Illinois newspaper article which follows at the end of this post. Any information, such as marriages, land sales, etc would be most appreciated.

article from the Egyptian Press, 14 Jun 1898

Lynched by a Mob

A telegram reached this city, Tuesday, that J.M. Becker, formerly of Lake Creek, but for the last fifteen years a resident of Kansas, was hanged by a mob about 5 o'clock Wednesday evening at Great Bend, Kansas.
The crime, horrible in itself, and so horribly avenged, was the killing of a young lady. It is supposed that Becker became infatuated with the young lady, wished her to become his wife, and upon her refusal he became insanely despondent and resolved to take her life. He fired several shots at her and she ran to her mother's arms where she soon expired. This happened on Easter Sunday last.
It is also stated that Becker started the fire which consumed the father's barn, and contents including horses. He then fled to the woods, where he eluded capture for five days and was without food except one ear of corn.
Whe finally he was captured he was taken to a distant jail to avoid lynching. His relatives in this county, who are most highly respected and are wealthy, prominent farmers, were notified and the services of Judge W.W. Duncan were engaged for $200 to defend him. Judge Duncan left for Great Bend, June 3, and entered upon his all but hopeless task of saving Becker's neck. Monday was set for hearing arguments for a change of venue, and Duncan was successful in his first move.
When court adjourned after granting a change of venue, the people began to fear that Duncan would succeed in saving Becker from the extreme penalty of the law, so they resolved to take the law into their own hands and mete out justice as they thought it should be done.
An orderly mob was quickly organized and in broad day light as the sherriff and deputys were attempting to take Becker away, the mob overpowered them and taking Becker to a tree in the court house yard, hanged him until he was dead in the presence of his mother, brothers and attorney, who were doing all in their power to save him.
His body was brought to the old home in Lake for burial.
Sincerest sympathy is felt for the highly respected family.