THE CRIME AND HANGING OF "BUD" ISBELL (1871)
On the 19th of June in this year ( 1871 ), a young negro, aged about 21, named Isbell, commonly called "Bud" Isbell went to the house of Peter A. Christian, a laborer, who lived near the old fort in Springfield, and asked Mrs. Christian for a drink of water. Mrs. C. was alone and handing the negro a cup, she directed him to the well nearby. The negro returned from the well in a few moments, and confronting Mrs. Christian, knowing that she was alone and unprotected, made to her an outrageous proposal. The lady refused, but being a small and frail woman, and no help being near, she was wholly at the brute's mercy, and of course he rendered her none. The tale is best told briefly.
As soon as possible Mrs. Christian gave an alarm, but the negro had fled. A reward was offered for his apprehension, parties went in pursuit, and telegrams were sent to other points. Five days later, on Saturday, June 19th, two men from Newton county, came into Springfield with Isbell, whom they had captured near Newtonia . He was taken into the presence of Mrs. Christian and conclusively identified. He was then brought to the public square, and an excited crowd soon gathered about him. After a noisy and violent discussion for half an hour, the crowd decided to hang the black-skinned and black-hearted ravisher, and he was speedily trotted off to the northwest across "Jordan," and to near the spot where, twelve years before, Mart. Danforth was hung for a similar offense. Arriving at a suitable tree the negro was placed on a horse. Then one end of a rope was fastened about his neck, and the other tied to the limb of a tree. The horse was then led away, and "Bud" dropped so low that his feet touched the ground, and he had to be lifted up and the rope shortened, before he would swing clear. After hanging a short time some one in the crowd fired a shot into him, and he was soon after a corpse. After he was dead the crowd dispersed. The coroner soon arrived and took charge of the remains. The jury returned a verdict that the deceased had come to his death by being both hung and shot by three men (whom they named), assisted by many other,.
There was no effort on the part of the officers of the law to interfere with the lynching. It was stated that the sheriff of the county and the mayor and marshal of the city were on the public square when the crowd was considering what action to take in the premises. At the place of hanging Maj. R. B. Chappel addressed the crowd, advising the members thereof to make full and careful investigation of the prisoner's guilt before proceeding to extremes, and if it should be determined that he was guilty and ought to be hung, then let him be taken out of town, and so disposed of. But the major's motives were misconstrued, and several revolvers were drawn on him with the admonition to "dry up."
Isbell seemed little concerned. As stated, he was about 21 years of age and was ignorant and brutal. There was no doubt of his guilt in the particular case mentioned, and he was accused of having perpetrated the same crime on a young colored girl a short time previously.
(History of Greene County, Westerm Historical Company, 1883)