Jim Collins’ Lynching at Sherman
The Hanging of Jim Collins
Jim Collins was a horse thief.
He was a Grant County boy and had grown to manhood on the neighborhood of Sherman and Mount Zion. Early in life he began to ply the nefarious calling of horse-stealing. His depredations extended over the north end of the county and through Kenton and Boone. His career was suddenly brought to an end at Decatur, Illinois, where he was arrested for stealing a buggy and lodged in jail. Then the Decatur authorities discovered he was wanted here for horse stealing, and the authorities here were notified. Extradition papers were obtained from Governor Brown for his return to Kentucky, and Louis Walden, who was the marshal of Williamstown, was appointed to go to that state and bring him to Williamstown for trial.
On the first day of May, 1893, Mr. Walden, in company with James Hutchinson and Louis Caldwell, departed for Illinois. They saw the governor, got a warrant for Collins’ arrest, went to Decatur and got their man and started with him for this place, arriving in Cincinnati on their way home on the third of May at nine o’clock. Wishing to have Collins identified at Bromley by the ferryman, where he crossed the river with stolen horses, Messrs. Hutchinson and Caldwell went down to the latter place, where they made arrangements with the ferry man to come to the Central Police Station at five o’clock in the afternoon, and they awaited him until that time. They were then compelled to depart for Williamstown on the commutation train, which stops at all the little stations along the road. Instead of taking the fast train, which makes but two or three stops from Cincinnati to Williamstown.
There was no indication of any trouble until the train reached Sherman. When the train drew into that station, a hundred masked men surrounded the cars and the engine. They seemed to emerge from every nook and corner, and all wore masks made out of thin black calico, and each man was armed with a pistol or a rifle. Four men boarded the engine, and told Engineer Lockwood not to pull out until they got their man. Dozens of others rushed into the cars and surrounded Louis Walden and demanded that he surrender his man. He declined to do so and stood the mob off with a revolver, and would have perhaps dispersed the mob had not some one seized his pistol arm from behind and disarmed him. The prisoner was chained to the marshal, and it took ten minutes to get the key from him and get the chain unlocked. When this was done the mob took their man and disappeared with him over the field above the Sherman lake.
About one hundred yards from the depot, in a locust grove, they stopped. On ordinary plow line was put around his neck, the end of the rope swung around him, and the body pulled up. The first limb to which the rope was attached broke, letting him fall to the ground, but it was quickly fastened to another and he was swung into eternity. The mob dispersed quietly, as they had gathered, leaving Collins swinging in midair. Feeling in Grant County was bitter against the mob, but no member of it was ever punished for participation in the crime.
Author unknown, from the papers of E. E. Barton, Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort.