Welcome to Tazewell County, Illinois – 1869!
Situated on the very edge of the western frontier, Tazewell County was the jumping off place for many pioneers.
As hundreds of wagon trains from the east rumbled westward over the vast prairies of Illinois, many families claimed homesteads along the Illinois River.
One such family to settle here was the Berry family, who homesteaded a few acres just outside of Circleville. Four brothers of this family, William, Isaac, Emanuel, and Simeon Berry, and their many cohorts became known as “the Berry Gang”.
This gang of horse-thieves, road agents, and killers terrorized the people of Tazewell County for years, despite the efforts of Pekin’s tough City Marshal Alfred Stone, Tazewell County Sheriff Edward Pratt, and his deputies. Then one day they made the fatal mistake of resisting the law once too often. Over the next few days, that resistance would result in murder, aggravated assault, mob action, suicide, and a lynching.
The authors, using all available official documents, newspaper accounts, and personal family records, documented and wrote this true story
Surnames & Locations
Some of the surnames (mostly from Tazewell County) mentioned in Lynch Law include Addington, Bailey, Barber, Barlow, Barnard, Barnes, Bassett, Berry, Bode, Boyle, Bradley, Briggs, Briscoe, Britton, Brown, Browner, Brownley, Burnham, Cass, Caswell, Chamberlain, Charlton, Charmus, Clary, Cohrs, Combs, Conner, Connett, Coombs, Copes, Crall, Cullon, Culver, Daly, Daughtery, Dawson, Delany, Ditmon, Eades, Edds, Edwards, Farr, Farrow, Finigan, Flemming, Frazer, Glasgow, Gordon, Green, Griffith, Grote, Hamilton, Hamson, Harriot, Hatfield, Hawley, Henry, Hinman, Hodges, Horn, Howard, Hyers, Jones, Kessler, Knott, Lacey, Laman, Lane, Larimore, Livingston, Mallingford, McCain, McClintock, McCook, McFarland, McKasson, McKean, McLaughlin, McLeese, Meyers, Michael, Miller, Milner, Montgomery, Morris, Mosher, Murphy, Nass, Newman, Olgesby, Orendorff, Orr, Orrel, Ott, Parks, Pepper, Pratt, Prettyman, Priddy, Reed, Reeves, Roberts, Rockhold, Rodecker, Saltonstall, Schafer, Sellers, Shaw, Shay, Shuttleworth, Sims, Spoonhoff, Stanford, Steele, Stephens, Stevens, Stickney, Still, Stone, Storm, Sutton, Terry, Thomas, Towner, Turner, Umdenstock, Underhill, Updike, Vanorstrand, Warburton, Watson, Welch, Whitney, Wilson, Wiseman, Woolford, and Yeoger.
Locations mentioned include Bath, Circleville, Delavan, Dillon, Hopedale, Jacksonville, Joliet, Mason City, Pekin, Peoria, San Jose, and Tremont – many are in Tazewell County.
About the Authors
Jim Conover (a TCGHS member) and James Brecher began research on the lynching incident several years ago, while they were both policemen with the Pekin Police Department. The research took them to several locations throughout the state and turned up many interesting events that led to the writing of this book.
Conover retired in 1994 to pursue a career as a writer and private detective. He retired from detective work around 2003 and now concentrates on writing books and screenplays. Besides Lynch Law, Jim has published four novels, Jim also wrote and produced a western movie, The Showdown, filmed entirely in Tazewell County. He has also produced a music video as well as a documentary on his true life crime book, Slayer of Innocence.
Brecher is also retired and is now an Associate Professor in the Department of Justice and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.