Monday, November 5, 2012

G. Berry Ritch Hanging

Berry Ritch lived on a farm about 9 miles northeast of Marion, near the community of Mattoon.  Early on the morning of October 1st, 1894, he and his family were awakened from their sleep by a call from the front door.  The men at the front door told Ritch that they were in a hurry and wanted him to go with them to the cross lanes to meet Bill Goode, who wanted to see him.(note: tombstone says death was 1895, but the incident was recorded in the local paper in October 1894.)

 Ritch stepped out to go and several men came from around the house, and  Berry Ritch went to the public road with them never to return alive.

A lawless element that plagued the county during the late 1800's were groups of men that were called "White Capps or Regulators."   They took it upon themselves to be the judge and jury if someone in the county was doing wrong or what they considered wrong.  The crime might have been for stealing chickens, or even that a person was lazy and wasn't taking good care of their family  Women were also included in their judgements and punishments, for if they thought a woman had too many men on the string or simply living the wrong kind of life, they would be hunted down and punished.  The punishment was usually getting some licks with a pole or whip. 

In the case of Green Berry Ritch, his only known crime was the association with a man named Bill Goode, The mob believe that he knew where Goode was hiding and they wanted him to tell them where he was.  Goode was thought to be behind several barn burnings and stealing of hay and livestock in the area.  The mob's anger got out of control and Ritch was hung by the road.  

Ritch was a poor farmer and he and his family had only a small cabin for their home, and few necessities of life.  He has a very nice tombstone at Mt. Zion Cemetery, and I've often wondered how such a nice stone was provided for him.  Not that he didn't deserve the stone, but how such a stone was purchased.  He left a wife and 4 small children.

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