Saved By A Lightning-stroke

There was rough justice in the West in the old days. It had to be dealt

severely and quickly, for it was administered to a kind of men that

became dangerous if they saw any advantage or any superiority in their

strength or numbers over the decent people with whom they were cast. They

were uncivilized foreigners and native renegades, for the most part, who

had drifted to the frontier in the hope of making a living without work

more easily than in the cities. As there were no lawyers or courts and

few recognized laws, the whole people constituted themselves a jury, and

if a man were known to be guilty it was foolishness for any one to waste

logic on his case. And there is almost no record of an innocent man being

hanged by lynchers in the West. For minor offences the penalty was to be

marched out of camp, with a warning to be very cautious about coming that

way again, but for graver ones it was death.

In 1840 a number of desperate fellows had settled along Cedar River, near

its confluence with the Iowa, who subsisted by means of theft from the

frugal and industrious. Some of these men applied themselves especially

to horse-stealing, and in thinly settled countries, where a man has often

to go twenty or thirty miles for supplies, or his mail, or medical

attendance, it is thought to be a calamity to be without a horse.

At last the people organized themselves into a vigilance committee and

ran down the thieves. As the latter were a conscienceless gang of

rascals, it was resolved that the only effectual way of reforming them

would be by hanging. One man of the nine, it is true, was supposed before

his arrest to be a respectable citizen, but his evil communications

closed the ears of his neighbors to his appeals, and it was resolved that

he, too, should hang.

Not far away stood an oak with nine stout branches, and to this natural

gallows the rogues were taken. As a squall was coming up the ceremonies

were short, and presently every limb was weighted with the form of a

captive. The formerly respectable citizen was the last one to be drawn

up, and hardly had his halter been secured before the storm burst and a

bolt of lightning ripped off the limb on which he hung. During the delay

caused by this accident the unhappy man pleaded so earnestly for a

rehearing that it was decided to give it to him, and when he had secured

it he conclusively proved his innocence and was set free. The tree is

still standing. To the ruffians it was a warning and they went away. Even

the providential saving of one man did not detract from the value of the

lesson to avoid bad company.

Satan Taking Possession Of A Man Who Fished On Sunday Saved By His Tail facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail