Archer Gang - Shoals, Martin county, Indiana - 1880's

Joined: 26 Oct 2008, 13:54

27 Oct 2008, 23:11 #1

I shop at e-bay and I found a 1910 pamphlet on the Archer Gang in French Lick, Indiana and it sold for abt $151.00.

I am a Hoosier and I did not know anything about this gang. So, I went looking and found through Google News several articles on the gang. I
am going to transcribe them and then post the articles on this thread. If anyone is familiar with Southern Indiana, it is much like the hills of KY. Not all of
Indiana is flat, the southern is very hilly and especially the counties of Orange, Martin and Dubois where the gang lived and committed their

For those who can not wait, just do Google News search.

There are 13 articles I found through the NYTimes. I will be posting the articles over the coming weeks.

Here is a synopsis of the Gang.

Archer Brothers (1880's)
- Much like the Reno Brothers had operated two decades earlier, the
Archer brothers -- Thomas, Mort, John, and Sam, raided Orange and Marion Counties in Indiana for several years. Though to the outside community, they were seen
as respectable farmers and shopkeepers, when their funds ran low they turned "bandit." Regularly robbing stagecoaches, trains, and road travelers,
their friends and family often protected them against arrest. However, their gig was finally up in March, 1886 when the law found out about their outlaw
activities, chased them down, and arrested them. However, before Thomas, Mort, and John could go to trial, vigilantes hanged them. The youngest brother, Sam
Archer did go to trial and was found guilty of robbery and murder. He was legally hanged on July 10,1886.

Last edited by Totie on 27 Oct 2008, 23:26, edited 1 time in total.
"These puzzles are from life, with all the ambiguity of life's complications. They are never so easy as to insult us." - Ruth L. Douthit

Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 18:03

28 Oct 2008, 12:02 #2

Great stuff, Totie! I love history, so this really captures me. Image

Joined: 26 Oct 2008, 13:54

28 Oct 2008, 14:02 #3

My first installment in a series of article about this gang.

The articles are transcribed as read;


SHOALS, Ind., Dec. 30-John B.

who is charged with the murder of John B.
four years ago, was captured by a posse of 12 men at the farm of Leroy Boyd, five miles south of Vincennes, and brought to the
Martin County Jail yesterday by Sheriff Podegett. David Craine, another of the gang, has been arrested here and lodged in
jail. Both of these men state that Bunch was killed by the Archer gang in July, 1882, because he had aided a
farm band named Marley in escaping from the country. Marley, it appears, had killed one of the Archers in a row, and when
Marley got away the Archers set to work to kill Farmer Bunch for aiding him to escape from their clutches.
Craine has acknowledged that the Archers compelled him to go Bunch's house and decoy him out. Then,
Craine says, the gang ordered him to go home, which he did, when they killed Bunch and threw his body into the river.
John Archer says he was placed on watch while the others did the killing. It was the most cold-blooded murder ever committed in this county. A
large crowd met Archer one the arrival of the train, and loud cries of "Hang him" were heard on all sides. Archer
and Craine are very badly frightened and fear that they will be lynched.

The New York Times

Published: December 31, 1885
Last edited by Totie on 28 Oct 2008, 14:07, edited 1 time in total.
"These puzzles are from life, with all the ambiguity of life's complications. They are never so easy as to insult us." - Ruth L. Douthit

Joined: 26 Oct 2008, 13:54

28 Oct 2008, 16:36 #4


VINCENNES, Ind., Jan. 25.-Martin County

Officers succeeded in quietly removing to the jail at Washington to-day John Lynch and John
, two of the gang of outlaws who for the past three days have been narrowly watched by vigilantes in the town of Shoals.
Sheriff believes the law will be allowed to take its course.

The New York Times

Published: January 26, 1886

Washington, Daviess County, Indiana
"These puzzles are from life, with all the ambiguity of life's complications. They are never so easy as to insult us." - Ruth L. Douthit

Joined: 26 Oct 2008, 13:54

28 Oct 2008, 16:37 #5




INDIANAPOLIS, MARCH 10-A special form Shoals, Martin County, gives the details of the triple lynching there a little after
midnight this morning. Precisely at 11:30 o'clock a Vigilance Committee of about 100, composed of men from Martin and
Orange Counties, surrounded the jail. The lynches were very quiet and orderly, and the Sheriff was first aroused by the
barking of his dog, followed by a knock on the door. He asked who was there, and the answer was a crashing in of the front door, followed by heavy blows which
completely demolished it. The mob then went to the jail door and knocked off the lock and were dismayed to find another which would not yield to blows. After
about 20 minutes a man in the crowd was found who understood opening the cell door. It yielded to his effort and the lynches rushed in and grabbed all three of
the intended victims, Thomas, Martin, and John Archer, the latter the son of Thomas, the ringleaders of what
is known as the Archer gang. The mob was provided with the necessary tools both to get in and to capture them if they made any resistance.
Several of them had long iron hooks with which to grab the prisoners around the neck if they resisted without endangering their own lives.

When the Archer gang saw the lynches they offered not resistance, and when asked if they had anything to say they refused
to speak. Their hands were tied behind their backs, and they were taken over to the Court House yard. They were again asked if they had any confession to make,
and, still no reply being given by any of them, they were unceremoniously strung up to young maple trees. Tom Archer, the oldest one of the
gang, about 60 years of age, was hanged first, Martin Archer, brother to Tom, aged about 45 years, was suspended next.
John Archer, son of Tom Archer, who was about 30 years old, was hanged to a tree with hands tied behind him, about 30 feet
from his father.

The crimes for which the three men were hanged comprised almost everything in the criminal calendar from murder to petty thieving. For 25
years they had been reigning terror both in Martin and Orange Counties, and had terrorized the community in
which they lived until the people did now know when they went to bed at night whether they would be murdered before morning or their houses burned down. They
never failed to visit vengeance for a fancied slight, and many farmer in Orange and Martin Counties has lost considerable sum
of money by daring robbery, the theft of cattle, or the burning down of barns and houses. Martin Archer had a family living in
Southwest Township, Orange County, who are well thought of. Two of his children are young ladies teaching school in that
section of the country. Old Tom Archer, as he was called, lived in Martin County, Columbia Township, and had a large family,
every on of who are under indictments for larceny, arson and murder, and bear a bad name generally. John Archer formerly lived in
Columbia Township, and in the pas year had been living in adultery with a woman named Holt, seven miles east of
Vincennes, where he was captured two months ago and brought to this town by Sheriff Padgett. The chief cause for their being
hanged this morning was the confession of John Lynch, another member of the gang, who is in the Washington (Daviess County)
. He made confession and told where the bones of a man name Bunch, one of the victims, were. They were found in two different
graves, the body having been cut lengthwise and each piece being buried separate. It seems that unknown parties followed the officials yesterday when they went
to the place where Bunch was buried and saw them exhume the remains. Word was immediately spread over the country, and the vigilants prepared
themselves accordingly.

Excitements is running high and the sudden migration of several people is looked for at once, as the confession of Lynch
implicates about 30 or 40 person in the vicinity. The vigilants were well armed and had another rope with them, as they supposed that John
Lynch, the man who made the confession, was also in the jail, and they intended to make a complete job of it. Old Tom Archer
has a half-inch hempen cord around his neck, while Martin and John, father and son, have a three-quarter inch cotton cord
under their chins. This morning their bodies were swinging gently to and fro be the slight western wind that was blowing through the trees in the Court House

The mob left all their tools and mask behind them and Sheriff Padgett has them under lock and key for future remembrances.
The Coroner was called and went over to the place but did not cut the bodies down. Word has already been sent in from the country not to cut them down but to
let them hang, as the country people wanted to see them hanging and great crowds of people are crowding into the Court House yard, which is in West
, across White River, one-half mile from the main part of the town.

The New York Times

Published: March 11, 1886
"These puzzles are from life, with all the ambiguity of life's complications. They are never so easy as to insult us." - Ruth L. Douthit

Joined: 26 Oct 2008, 13:54

02 Nov 2008, 15:00 #6




INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., July 9 - With the hanging of Sam Archer to-day at Shoals, Martin County, ended the career of as lawless a gang of
ruffians as ever inflicted any community or county. The story of their breaking up is a romance. The gang proper consisted of Mart Archer, the Captain, age 40;
his brother, Thomas, aged 60; John Archer, son of Thomas, all of whom were hanged at Shoals; Sam and Thomas Archer, also sons of old Thomas, the latter a mere
boy, and Mart Archer, a nephew of Thomas. There were associated with them John Lynch, Sam Morley, John Johnson, Mack Holt, Nathan Holt, Wild Tom Archer, son of
James Archer, a reputable resident of Martin County; Webb Lynch, William Ross, and Off Minton.

The Archers were ostensibly small farmer, whetstone makers and millers, but they lived mainly by plunder and cowardly murder. It was not
long after Mart revisited the scenes of his birth before a reign of terror was on in Orange and Martin counties. Horse and stock of all kinds were driven away
and never heard of again. Strangers and peddlers were missed, as well as several citizens, and no trace of their bodies were ever discovered. "Little
Mart" Archer, the nephew of Thomas and Sam Morley, stole a log raft and quarreled over the division of the money they received for it. Mart was not
satisfied over the division and swore he would "blow" on Morley. Morley shot him to death and was helped to escape from the county by one Sam Bunch.
A few days afterward Bunch was captured by the gang and taken to a cave two and half miles from French Lick Springs. He pleaded hard for his life, but the
scoundrels were obdurate and poared 16 bullets into his body, leaving it in the cave, where the body was afterward found.

Shortly afterward Stanford Freeman, 60 years old a cousin of Bunch was called to his door at midnight and murdered in cold blood. A man
named McCormack, a Bunch sympathizer, was also shot from ambush and killed, and thus matters went on from bad to worse. The whole county was terrorized. About
four months ago the blacksmith's shop of old Joe Wells, situated a short distance fro the French Lick store, was broken open and robbed of a lot of drills,
drill bits, saws, squares, and four guns. They were worth $50, and belonged to a very old man with a large family, who worked for old Joe. The village
blacksmith was wroth when he saw how matters were, and he declared to himself that he would bring the marauders to terms. He accordingly went to Paoli, and
secured to the authority to make arrests. He then took two neighbors, and called at Mart Archer's house in the hills, about a mile distant. Mart was not at
home. The same night, about 12 o'clock, old Joe heard a tapping on his window, and on going out found Mart Archer, who said he had come to see what the old
man's visit meant. The blacksmith dressed himself, and the two walked around the hills talking. Joe explained that he needed help in capturing the men who
had robbed his shop, and that he would give the right sort of man $300 to aid him. Finally a bargain was truck with Mart, the agreement being that he was to
show old Joe where the gang was. They met again the next night at 10 o'clock and proceeded to a hut in the hill a mile west of the Licks. The plan was for
Mart to go ahead and mingle with his friends. When Joe entered he was to surrender and be afterward paroled. The plan worked like a charm, and a few minutes
after midnight with John Johnson, Mack Holt, Nathan Holt, Granville Lynch, and young Tom Archer all marching at the muzzle of a Winchester rifle. They were
taken to the hotel at French Lick and guarded until morning, when they were jailed at Paoli. They were tried a week later, and all except young Tom were
sentenced to three years each in the penitentiary. Young Tom was sent to the House of Refuge until he should reach his majority.

After this the Archers became divided against themselves and began peaching on each other, and I a short time John Lynch, old Tom Archer,
and John and Mart were all in jail together. Lynch at once turned State's evidence and divulged so much about the gang that the lives of the men were
threatened. They were removed from Paoli to the jail at Shoals for safe keeping. The citizens were not to be cheated, however, and a few nights after the
scoundrels had been taken to Shoals the jail was broken open, the three principals were taken out, and strung up without mercy. It was only a week afterward
when Sam Archer was arrested in the Fountain County for the murder of Sam Bunch. He was quickly tried and sentenced to be hanged at Paoli on July 9.

With four of the principals hanged, five in the penitentiary, Wild Tom Archer on trial for burglary, Webb and John Lynch, William Ross, and
Off Minton out on bail, charged with various offenses, the Archer gang is about subdued. Old Joe Wells, the hero of Orange County, is 64 years old, and was
born near where he now lives. He is a rugged specimen of the Hoosier rustic, with a wrinkled, beardless face, slender, wiry body, and about 5 feet 11 inches in

The New York Times

Published: July 10, 1886
"These puzzles are from life, with all the ambiguity of life's complications. They are never so easy as to insult us." - Ruth L. Douthit

Joined: 26 Oct 2008, 13:54

08 Nov 2008, 13:14 #7


INDIANAPOLIS, March 11.- Bearing on the recent lynching in Martin County, Gov. Gray to-day addressed the following letter to the Sheriff of
Daviess County:

Dear Sir,- I understand that Lynch, one of the prisoners charged with murder of Bunch, in connection with the Archers, who were hanged
Tuesday night at Shoals by a mob, is contined in the Daviess County Jail. The frequent lynching in Indiana of persons charged with crime is bringing the State
into public disgrace, and I sincerely hope you will take such precautionary measures as will enable you to uphold and maintain the majesty of the law. Any
attempt by persons to take the law in their own hands must be resisted to the fullest extent, and if it becomes necessary you shall have all the assistance
required to maintain the supremacy of the law, and insure its due enforcement. Very respectfully,


Governor of Indiana

The New York Times

Published: March 12, 1886



Danville, Ill., March 13.-Samuel Archer,

Another member of the notorious outlaw family of Archers, three of whom were lynched at Shoals, Ind., Tuesday night, was arrested late last
night near Covington, Ind. The prisoner was brought to this city, and will be taken to Shoals to-day. There are three indictments against him for murder in the
first degree. He had been in hiding for some months, and when arrested was working in the timber. He was heavily armed but the officer took him unawares. He is
a son of Tom Archer, one of the brothers hanged, and is 25 years of age.

The New York Times

Published: March 14, 1886
"These puzzles are from life, with all the ambiguity of life's complications. They are never so easy as to insult us." - Ruth L. Douthit

Joined: 26 Oct 2008, 13:54

10 Nov 2008, 14:51 #8



INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., March 16.- A Shoals (Martin County) special to the Journal says: Much violence seem to have spread to adjoining
counties. A report was current here today for the first time that a bold attempt at lynching was made on Friday night last near French Lick, Orange County.
This was not generally known until to-day. The victim was Kinder Smith, a nephew of the late Thomas and Mart Archer, who expiated their crimes more fully.
Smith was a desperate character, and was supposed to be implicated in the horrible crimes perpetrated by the family in this county. The mob captured their
victim at the house of Bennett Grigsbey. The lynchers, about 35 in number, surrounded the house and demanded the surrender of Smith, who was soon in their
possesson. They then marched him in their midst to a dark woods near by, where a rope was in readiness. A noose was hastily made and placed over his neck. The
spokesman then ordered the lynchers to make ready. He placed one end of the rope over a limb of a tree and the mob pulled up Smith's body, leaving him
dangling in the air for a few moments, when, fearing death would free their victim, he was lowered to the ground. After recovering consciousness he was again
swung in midair until he began to turn black, whe he was again lowered and asked to tell what he knew of the Archer gang and their crimes. He said he knew
nothing. He was then raise by the rope and lowered again. This time he was almost past saving, but after a short time revived sufficiently to speak, when he
was again asked what he knew of the Archer gang, and if he was a member, and, receiving no answer, they decided to try the whipping post. A large bunch of
hickory switches were obtained and he was given 40 lashes. When he was again asked for the desired information he said he was innocent, and begged for mercy,
when they agreed to free him on the condition that he would leave that section of the State and never again return. He accepted the proposition, and they told
him that if he were seen here again a like punishment would be inflicted. The people in that section of the country are determined to protect themselves and
property at all hazards, and mob law is the last resort, and they claim it is justifiable in this case, believing that there are some persons yet at large who
are as deeply implicated as those already dealt with.

The New York Times

Published: March 17, 1886
"These puzzles are from life, with all the ambiguity of life's complications. They are never so easy as to insult us." - Ruth L. Douthit

Joined: 26 Oct 2008, 13:54

12 Nov 2008, 23:27 #9



JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind., March 24.-Samuel Archer and John Lynch, the Martin County murderers, who have been in the Indiana Southern Prison here
for safe keeping for three or four weeks, were taken to Shoals for trial this morning by Sheriffs John A Padgett, Frank Dobbins and Esquire Very. They were met
by the militia at Seymour. In answer to questions as to whether he was afraid to go back to Shoals, Lynch said: "No, Sir; I would just as soon go back by
myself as with the militia. I'll tell the truth when I get there, if they hang me in the court room. I was led into his thing, and I know the people
won't hang me. Sam Archer says he can prove an alibi does he? Well, he'll have a hard time proving it. He was with me in the cave, just as I told

"Do you think you will get a fair trial in Martin?" asked the reporter. "Fair!" said Lynch. " I would not be tried
in that county for stealing a duck. Will the military be sufficient to protect us from any mob? Why, I could take five men and whip the whole county. Yes,
Archer is a tough citizen. About two years ago he got drunk and went to the drug store of Dr. Ritter at West Baden, and shot the show window full of holes. On
another occasion he set fire to a house and an indictment was entered against him but he was acquitted."

Archer was asked what he thought of returning to Martin County. "I feel sort of uneasy," said he, turning pale. "I am afraid
they won't give me a chance to prove my innocence, but if they do, I am sure to be acquitted, because I did not murder nor help murder Bunch. I was sick
that night. I know there is a feeling against me out there, but the stories about me have been greatly exaggerated. Lynch has talked too much, and has injured
both of us by being too free with the reporters. We will ask for a change of venue."

Sheriff Padgett told a reporter that Lynch was one of the most reckless dare devils in the county and had very bad reputation. Archer, he
said, was also a bad man, and had been engaged in numerous affrays. Calling the reporter aside, he said: "I don't like to talk to newspaper men about
this. They have caused most of the trouble. Why, I wouldn't give 10 cents for the lives of these men after the militia leaves. Should either of them be
acquitted he will be mobbed 10 hours after being released. The people are terribly excited out there. I think they will both be convicted, but whether they are
or not will make little difference as to their final fate. They will both be hanged, whether acquitted or convicted."

The New York Times

Published: March 25, 1886
"These puzzles are from life, with all the ambiguity of life's complications. They are never so easy as to insult us." - Ruth L. Douthit

Joined: 26 Oct 2008, 13:54

12 Nov 2008, 23:28 #10


Shoals, Ind., March 26.-The interest in the Archer murder trial increases. The special feature of yesterday's proceedings was the
quashing of the indictments against David Crane and John Lynch, accomplices of the Archer gang. Mrs. Bunch, wife of the murdered man, testifed that young Mart
Archer was killed on July 9, 1882, by Tom Morley, an employe of her husband. The killing maddened the entire Archer gang against Bunch. David Crane, the second
witness, swore that the Archers compelled him by threats to assist them. Six witnesses were examined yesterday, among them John Lynch, who helped to murder
Bunch, and who turned State's evidence. Some very damaging and sensational testimony was elicited against the outlaw. The military escort the prisoners to
and from the court room. Everybody believes that Archer will be sentenced to death. He has expressed the feeling that he does not care whether he is hanged or
not. He says that all the "boys"- the gang, are gone and he is willing to go too.

The New York Times

Published: March 27, 1886
"These puzzles are from life, with all the ambiguity of life's complications. They are never so easy as to insult us." - Ruth L. Douthit