Deadly Riot at High Bridge Station
West Liberty Borough - May 31, 1903

Newspaper Clippings about High Bridge Station

High Bridge Station - The Monte Carlo of Allegheny County
Years of Illegal Gaming Culminate in Bloody Riot at West Liberty

West Liberty Borough was formed in 1876, a small municipality south of the city of Pittsburgh, just beyond the southern slopes of Mount Washington. Unlike the bustling urban atmosphere and abundant factories in the city, life in West Liberty took had a more rural quality. Marked by gently rolling hills and free of the noise and soot of the nearby city, the days and nights were rather peaceful in what many considered a suburban paradise.

In a picturesque hollow near High Bridge Station, a passenger stop along the Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Railroad, that rural country atmosphere soon changed, leading years later to an incident so horrifying in nature that it would forever stain the otherwise gleaming history of West Liberty Borough.

Around 1890, the large open field that lay below the McKinley High Bridge along Saw Mill Run became something more than a quaint hollow with a gently rolling stream and an occasional locomotive passing by. This area was located near a crease in the border with four other independent municipalities (Montooth, Beltzhoover, Knoxville, Baldwin) and just outside the jurisdiction of the Pittsburgh Police.

This made an ideal location for professional gamblers and con-artists. Soon excessive liquor consumption and other illegal gaming activities turned the hollow into what became known around the region as the Monte Carlo of Allegheny County, a tempting yet dangerous place where only the strong survived.

High Bridge Station - 1896

An 1896 map and 2016 aerial image showing the location of Monte Carlo activities around the turn of the 20th Century
along the Saw Mill Run valley. The Monte Carlo area is outlined in red. At times, the unofficial boundaries extended
all the way along the forested valley from near
Bell's Tavern on Warrington Avenue to outskirts of the Township
Road (Edgebrook Avenue) in
Reflectorville, a small village in Baldwin Township.

High Bridge Station - 1896

As the notoriety of the festivities grew, people from all over the region began to descend upon High Bridge Station on Sunday afternoons to participate in "Monte Carlo II." Nearby residents feared for their safety while gambling of all kinds, vice, prize fighting, cock fighting, dog fighting, horse racing, and illegal liquor sales attracted thousands, many on foot passing through nearby neighborhoods and engaging in other criminal activity along their path.

It was like the Wild West. Borough officials were coerced into silence with threats of violence, leaving no law enforcement agencies other than the occasional Allegheny County sheriff to protect the peace. During the afternoons and evenings, nearby residents like John Schafer, who owned a dairy and poultry farm along Timberland Avenue near High Bridge, learned to lock their doors and wait for the coming darkness for the wild throng of alcohol-fueled gamers, sharpers and thugs to leave the area.

♦ West Liberty - The Monte Carlo of Allegheny County ♦
* Click here to view newspaper articles on the subject *

Despite the efforts of concerned citizens and promised legal action, along with token raids by county detectives, nothing much was done to stop the Monte Carlo activities until the turn of the century.

By 1900 the population of West Liberty Borough and the nearby independent municipalities began to grow. Promised transportation improvements and residential development brought investment, and this progress increased concern over the illegal weekend activities that had been transpiring nearly unchecked now for nearly a decade.

In the spring of 1901, the West Liberty Street Railway Company laid an electrified traction line along West Liberty Avenue to Mount Lebanon, part of the larger Charleroi interurban railway project. County officials cracked down on the gaming activities that spring and, for a while, the weekend affairs came to an end.

The games began again in earnest the following year, and with the traction line providing quick and reliable access to Bell's Tavern from points across the city, the crowds swelled.

By this time residents had endured enough, and decided to take a stand. Without a municipal police presence to call upon, the boroughs began deputizing citizens. This allowed residents the power to police the illegal gambling activities themselves to ensure the peace. It was a toxic solution to a difficult problem and, in the end, it led to disaster.

This 1909 image shows the Saw Mill Run valley at the McKinley High Bridge. It was in this
valley that the Sunday "Monte Carlo" activities took place.

Murder and Bloodshed Mark the End of an Era

By the spring of 1903, times were changing in West Liberty Borough. The Mount Lebanon traction line spurred investment, residential and commercial development, and a population surge. In addition, heightened concerns and pressure from the borough officials on Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh for more policing of the area were gaining momentum. Despite these calls for attention, the prevailing attitude was still that it was the borough's responsibility to protect the peace in their own back yard.

To this end the borough's began to use their power to deputize residents in order for the citizens themselves to make arrests and bring about a semblance of control in the High Bridge area. Borough officials also put pressure on legal gaming activities that took place on the ball fields therein.

For instance, if a baseball team requested to play at the High Bridge ball field on a Sunday afternoon, an activity otherwise prohibited on the Sabbath, they would be granted permission, providing that they policed the area and kept any illegal gamers away. This policy was an inherently dangerous attempt to quell a long-standing problem that had frustrated residents for years. It was bound to have serious consequences.

These concerns played out on Sunday, May 31, when a baseball team from Beltzhoover reserved the ballfield for a game. As was feared, a five-man gambling crew from the city came to the area to set up camp. When the ball players attempted to evict the gamblers a melee broke out. This soon escalated into a running gun fight along the West Side Belt Railway tracks and finally a pitched battle around the unsuspecting home of William B. Hays, who lived with his wife and son at 508 Lester (Leavitt) Avenue in the Boggs Place Plan.

During the bloody affair, two men were killed and several suffered gunshot wounds. In a ghastly display of mob violence, one of the wounded gamblers, after giving himself up, was nearly hanged.

The horrifying experience is a permanent dark stain on the history of the independent municipalities involved (West Liberty, Montooth, Beltzhoover, Knoxville, Baldwin), the City of Pittsburgh and the County of Allegheny. Each of those governmental entities failed in the handling of this long-standing issue, and their lack of action was, in the end, disastrous.

In addition to being a case study on how not to police a village it is a dreadful reminder of how quickly the mob mentality can take hold and turn otherwise friendly neighbors into frenzied killers.

The deadly incident on May 31, 1903 marked the end of the Monte Carlo era in West Liberty. The various municipalities, together with city and county authorities, combined efforts to ensure that good order was maintained in the former illegal gambling and sporting mecca.

Soon, residential and commercial development moved into the valley, altering the landscape and obscuring many of the earthly reminders of that time period. Memories of that fateful spring day in 1903 have long since faded with the march of time. But the yellowing newsprint that shocked the city remains as a grotesque reminder of the darker side of human behavior.

Below are several articles that appeared in the Pittsburgh Daily Post, Press and Weekly Gazette following the riot at High Bridge Station and the Battle of West Liberty on May 31, 1903. There are no photos from that time period so we have included a few from the years that followed.

Be forewarned that the material presented here is quite sensitive and considered racially provocative in both the storyline and the verbage intentionally used by the authors of the articles, which are presented as they appeared, over a century ago, with only minor modifications to the printed text.

* Click on images for larger pictures or readable newsprint *

Pittsburg Daily Post - June 1, 1903

Pittsburg Daily Post - June 1, 1903

Pittsburg Daily Post - June 1, 1903

* Articles Reprinted Below *

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Pittsburg Daily Post - June 1, 1903

Trouble Starts When Infuriated Mob of Residents, Headed
by Baseball Players, Attempts to Expel Promoters of
Games of Chance According to a Local Order


Row Starts Over Efforts to Stop Crap Shooting and Other Gambling
Which Has Held Residents of High Bridge District in Terror for
Months - Attempt to Cremate Two in Chicken Coop


Injured and Dead Are Hauled From the Scene in Morgue Ambulance to Hospital, While
the Spectators Become Excited Trying to Get a Glimpse of the Sufferers
as They Were Placed in the Covered Wagon


Infuriated past all control of their emotions over the shooting of "Sandy" Garrett, negro mascot of the Beltzhoover baseball team, a crowd of a thousand men and boys wreaked their vengeance on a crowd of negro crapshooters and chuck-a-luck men in West Liberty Borough, back of the South Side, yesterday afternoon by killing one, nearly adding the stain of lynching to the crime record of the county by dragging the bullet-pierced and mauled body of another by a rope about his neck over a four-acre field, and sent others scurrying in all directions with broken heads and shot wounds, partly describes the situation.

The district of the county about a half mile back of the city line, near the Mt. Lebanon streetcar line, and not far from the Castle Shannon Incline (South), was the scene of a reign of terror in Allegheny County, probably never before paralleled. The attempt of Pittsburg negroes to disregard an order of the borough officials permitting baseball to be played on Sundays within a prescribed district, providing gambling of all kinds was eliminated, led to the bloodshed of yesterday.

The negro gamblers showed up early in the afternoon, and the baseballists, upon whom devolved the duty of enforcing the borough law with respect to gambling, sought to stop it. "Sandy" Garrett was the leader in the attempt to drive the gamblers away. The two forces clashed. According to eye-witnesses first blood was drawn by the gamblers when Garrett was shot. There was an immediate cry for vengeance. The ball players and their followers returned the fire with stones. The second victim to fall was a boy in the crowd.

The battle raged hotly through three-quarters of an hour. Two of the gamblers fortified themselves in a chicken coop on the William Hays farm. One was left dead inside. Attempts were made to burn them out. While the negroes shot through the walls at the crowd a rain of bullets was sent from all sides at the insecure shelter.

Ammunition exhausted, the living negro, as a sign of surrender, threw his smoking weapon out. The crowd swarmed in on him and pounded him with clubs. He was dragged forth and a noose placed around his throat. Almost insensible, he was dragged about. Men intervened, and the reluctance of anyone to make himself so consipcuous as to climb a tree with the end of the rope saved a lynching.

District Attorney John C. Haymaker, Coroner McGeary, city and county authorities are making a searching investigation. Three arrests have been made, and others will be today.

The locality where the riot took place is commonly designated as High Bridge, and has had an unpleasant notoriety for several years as a resort for gamblers on Sunday afternoons in summer. The trouble started about 3:30 o'clock.


There are few more attractive spots in Allegheny County, from a natural scenic point of view, than that in which the desperate and frenzied crowd wreaked its vengeance yesterday afternoon. It is a portion of Saw Mill Run, which crosses the Mt. Lebanon streetcar line, after that traction road passes down on the rear end of Mt. Washington.

The run crosses the Lebanon road at the Bell House, a tavern along the road side. A turn at right angles and to the south takes one through a narrow valley on one side, and far up on the hill runs the old Castle Shannon Railroad and on the other runs the Saw Mill Run railroad, now called the West Side Belt Line. About a mile through this narrow run brings the visitor to a broad, smooth and level park, divided by a pretty running stream, which is bridged by a rustic structure.

On the side of this bridge and stream is a ball grounds, used by smaller clubs for baseball contests. On the other side a larger park is used by men in similar games, and Sundays these two places are favorite spots for hundreds of people. Yesterday there were probably 2,000 persons, men, boys, girls, and some women congregating about. The games between the clubs had not started, but the players were batting the balls and calling to each other. One of the clubs in the grounds is called the Beltzhoovers. With this club was a large negro called "Sandy" Garrett, whom the members say is their mascot.

The Dairy Farm of John Schafer on Timberland Avenue, shown here in 1909, was situated just
across the creek from the Monte Carlo ball fields at High Bridge Station.


It is said that he discovered first the presence in the immediate vicinity of a gang of negro crap shooters and gamblers. There were five of them in all, and they had quietly entered the grounds, carrying a chuck-a-luck board and dice, which they prepared to do business with, with the evident intention of attracting some customers from the vast throng of people about the place.

"Sandy" objected to the presence of these men, because the township officials had said gambling was not to be permitted, and went to where they were located and demanded that they pick up their traps and get out. He was backed by a number of the Beltzhoover men and other rooters of the clubs. The crap shooters, seeing that the crowd was determined there would be no gambling, did as requested, gathering up their outfit and moving away from the immediate vicinity of the ball grounds, down the ravine about 200 yards, where, screened by some trees and directly under the hill on which the West Side Belt Line runs, they again set up the paraphernalia and started to play. "Sandy" is a big man, and plenty of white men were his friends. They followed him and were equally as demonstrative against the gamblers, whom they did not want near their games.


A dozen of them stood about the negroes declaring that they would have to move further, or in fact clear off the grounds altogether. At first the crap shooters decided to quit, but after taking down their tables for a second time, they changed their minds. It was a fatal mistake. They declared emphatically that they would not stir, and that the crowd could not drive them off. To prove their assertion each produced a brace of revolvers and showed the ball players that they were ready for a row of any kind.

The ball players, with "Sandy" at their head, drew back from the crowd and climbed the hill side, overlooking the crap players, where they again stood, shouting back at the gamblers, and warning them that they would stone them. With drawn revolvers, the negroes started up the hill after the ball players. The latter turned and ran, shouting as they went so as to attract the attention of the greater crowds in the ball grounds.

By the time the negroes had reached the level of the railroad, the ball players were running ahead of them and stones were flying at the gamblers while they in turn began to shoot. Prior to the shooting, however, and during the altercation between the negroes and "Sandy," one of the gamblers struck the latter over the head with a club, partially stunning him. He sat down on the railroad track faint and sick. Then the others, incensed at the blow he had received, started after the gamblers with renewed vigor and the war continued.


The negroes started to run finally until they were in a small stone quarry, which had been used at one time to take stone for the railroad company. Here they were partically penned in by the crowd which had grown in numbers from the spectators below. In order to get out, the negroes again pulled their revolvers and began to fire. They still declared that they would not leave the grounds and this, with the fact that they had shot several times into the crowd, incensed the men to a high state of passion. While the negroes fired, the crowd scattered, and at that moment, they broke for the track again and started up the road, running further up the run.

The constantly increasing crowd followed, shouting. One of the negroes turned and fired point blank at "Sandy" who was in the lead of the ball players. The bullet struck "Sandy" in the arm. He shouted that he had been hit. With renewed fury, the crowd went after the fleeing men. They fired again, and then a scream of pain came from Leo Kerin, about 14 years old, who turned from the pursuing crowd and ran down the hill crying, "I'm shot, I'm shot." Blood was flowing from a wound in the groin, and he was soon surrounded by friends and hurried away. The crowd had by this time increased to over 1,000, and its passion for vengeance was correspondingly increased. On ran the crowd shouting and cursing the negroes.

Homes along Cadet and Linial Avenues in October 1909. Leavitt Avenue is to the right. Rioters swarmed over the
Timberland Bridge and on to the Hays home on Lester (Leavitt) Avenue in pursuite of the fugitives.


One of the gang of negroes, Nelson Foster, had, during the chase, eluded the pursuers by turning back when unseen and, going to the place where the gambling outfit had been left, started to gather it together and take it away. He was discovered and driven off, while the crowd turned and smashed the outfit into kindling wood. Two other negroes, who had managed to keep out of sight when the trouble began, also cleared from the scene, and had done so before much of the serious row began. This left but two men for the mob to deal with. They ran along the tracks of the West Side Belt Line until they reached a bridge that carries a road over the railroad and up a hill onto a plateau sloping gently upward for a mile or so. They started toward a house occupied by W. B. Hays, standing about a half mile away and surrounded by sheds and chicken coops.

The two negroes, Kelly and Davis, continued their journey. They were firing freely from their revolvers, and as bullets flew there came a number of cries of pain from different portions of the crowd. It was apparent that some had been struck by flying bullets, but in the running excitement few thought to learn who was suffereing and the injured ones dropped from the race and disappeared to have their injuries attended to and leaving the fate of the negroes in the hands of the furious and frenzied crowd.


Finally the two negroes passed the house toward which they were running, and turning aside ran to a chicken coop. They were so plainly seen by the mob that there was no escape, and soon a howling and determined crowd surrounded them. None of the crowd had a gun and the negroes inside had at least four, so that there was more or less caution approaching them.

The first of the mob to reach the door of the coop was the ball players' mascot, Sandy. He was suffering from the blow on the head and also the wound in the arm, but he rushed at the door, and then suddenly one of the men inside threw it open and fired point blank at the man. With a groan the big negro staggered back, clutching his breast under his heart. There was a wild shout from the crowd and a pole was secured. The negro who had fired the first shot jumped back into the coop and fired through the thin walls, and bullets passed near some of the first, or leading men. One of them struck Joseph Tumetha, standing several hundred feet away, and he ran screaming down the hill. The bullet had passed through his nose and mouth, making an ugly but not fatal wound.


In the meantime, some of the crowd had rushed into the house near the coop and had secured a rifle from the wall. The family inside were so terror stricken that they could offer no protest. With this rifle one of the crowd ran around to the coop where he fired through the wall. Whether this bullet did mischief or not is not known; some say that it wounded one of those inside. They both held under cover, however, and finding that they would not come out, the crowd began to build fires around the outside of the shed. While engaged in this occupation, the negroes inside would suddenly open the door and fire into the mob and them slam it shut again. "Angel Dave" Cawley promised protection if the negroes would surrender.

One of the mob, then seeing a chance to get at the fugitives, took some rocks and climbed quietly to the roof of the shed, and standing right over the door, held aloft a huge rock, at the same time the pole being used as a battering ram. The next time the negro inside opened the door to fire, the rock fell and landed on Kelly's head. There was a shout of delight from the hundreds. The negro fell forward, his body half way out of the door, and at the same instant both arms went out and from his hands flew two revolvers. There was a rush at the prostrate form, and the crowd soon was on him. Clubs and stones were used, and he was literally pounded to death. When his body was finally dragged out of the door and the way cleared so that the second negro, Davis, could be reached, the man was dead.


Still thirsting for vengeance, the men rushed into the coop and in a few moments, amid muffled shouts and curses, they emerged dragging Davis with them. Someone had a ball bat and stuck the man on the head, while others watched their chance and hurled rocks at him. Then a shout came: "Get a rope! Get a rope!" This cry was met by some of the throng of men, and in a few moments a stout rope was fastened about the neck of the now half-dead negro. All the while this proceeding was taking place, the great mob that was surrounding the chicken coop was making the place ring with shouts and cries of "Lynch him! Lynch him!."

A tremendous frenzy seemed to seize the crowd. All thought of law and order was lost. There was one object only in view. Revenge for the shooting of Sandy, and the people in the crowd. Many of those who witnessed the frenzy of the crowd said that it was appalling and more terrifying than the crime itself. With shouts of glee, the rope was tightened about the half-dead negro and a dozen men at the other end of it started down the hill, for a distance of at least 300 yards. The negro was bleeding from a dozen cuts and bruises, and bullet wounds, and was apparently more than half dead.


Over the rough ground, with his head coming in contact with every boulder, rock and other object, the victim of the mob's fury was dragged. They headed for a large tree, standing close to the precipitous bank, from which could be viewed the entire ball grounds below, with the hundreds of spectators looking up at the infuriated men. At the tree, the crowd stopped and some one shouted" "Get up there one of you and take this rope, so that we can haul him on to that branch."

Some one of the crowd started to obey this order. They would have gone up the tree, a big one, with generous branches, had not Cawley shouted:

"Let him alone, fellers! Let the law deal with him. Can't you see that he's about all in?"

"Wait a minute men, There are courts for such fellows. Give the man a show," he cried.

These were the first words spoken tending to arrest the murderous movement of the crowd that was dragging an unfortunate negro to a tree to be lynched. It was enough to cause a halt. Before further action could be taken the wisdom of coolness pervaded the excited minds of a few of the mob. The doomed negro was kicked about the ground, but was saved from immediate death.

The crowd came to its senses apparently at that moment. Then some one called out, "Officers are coming." And this settled the lynching, the negro lying still and apparently dead, while the crowd walked away slowly. If there had been any officers coming, they were not seen for a long time. Word had been telephoned to the city, and the police on the South Side were hurried to the spot. County Detective Robert Robinson also hunted up and with some local detectives, hurried out. By the time the officers came, the crowds had come and gone for an hour or more, and it was difficult to find a man who would admit that he had taken part in the affair or who knew any one who had.


For three hours or more the half-dead negro laid under the tree, from which it was intended to hang him. A few gathered about him, and finally a doctor was summoned, who came and did what he could do for him. The dead negro was pulled away from the house and left exposed to view. He was apparently avoided by the crowds, who had by this time climbed the hill in thousands and had inspected the battlefield. News of the riot and death spread to Pittsburg and hundreds more hurried to the scene. The quiet hills and runs were black with moving masses, and the police seemed lost in turning to investigate the whole affair.

Witnessed by probably 2,000 people no one could, or at least would not, tell who was responsible for Kelly's death. Detectives and policemen reached the scene shortly after it occurred, but no arrests were made. The sympathy of the crowd was with the rioters. Not until the sympathy of deputy coroners was aroused were the wounded men taken care of. In the same morgue ambulance with the dead man the two suffering victims were hauled from the scene of the battle.


News of the murder, assault and attempted lynching spread rapidly. It brought to the scene thousands of men, women and children, who gazed in silent curiousity at the work of the frenzied people. There was no recognition of the seriousness of the affair and it was not until officers arrived that the people stopped joking about the pleading fear of the injured men. The entire proceeding had the appearance of a holiday crowd, with the usual sale of sandwiches to add to the picturesqueness of the unlawful proceeding.

The entire fight, from the quarrel between the gamblers and the ball players, was witnessed by scores of families. On the porches of hundreds of homes, clinging to the hill tops in the boroughs of Montooth, West Liberty and Knoxville, whose families sat enthralled during the bloody battle which ended with such fatal seriousness. Directly on the scene were at different times probably 2,500 people.


The trouble that ended in the unparalleled lawlessness is the outcome of months of dispute between the ball players and negro gamblers. The negroes followed the crowd that attended the Sunday ball games in the little valley. Fights have been frequent between the two forces. Less than a month ago the players were told that if the games continued, then the gambling must cease. The order resulted in the gamblers being driven from their location.

Louden Campbell was one of the first to rush to the front door. "Stand back, give the man a show. Don't all pitch on to him," he cried. But his advice fell on deaf ears.

"Lynch him. Kill the gambler," came in a chorus, and no one man living could hve held them back. Davis was grabbed by many hands and jerked onto the ground.

The rope which was placed about Davis was secured from a well nearby. On one end of it was a large iron hook and ring. The hook was thrown over the rope and the noose swung about his shoulders. Fighting with the desperation of death the negro battled with his captors. The noose slipped to his feet. An impatient pull sent him to the ground. In this position he was dragged.

With no resistance from the helpless man, his body was swung against the corner of the house and a portion of the rain pipe was loosened. Another jolt and a tub of water was upset. But every jerk on the rope carried that man farther. The noose was finally raised about his neck. The battling of the mob could not keep the arm of the negro from slipping between his neck and the rope. It saved his life.


Down through the field, with his hands clutching the noose, the negro was dragged as fast as the many feet could move. Under a large tree swinging its branches out over the ravine, the procession stopped. "Climb the tree," came the order. Before the order could be obeyed, a real hero took prominence.

Charles Wagner stepped into the circle of waiting men and demanded that fair play be shown. "Who are you," he was asked, as rough hands jostled him. "I'm only a man, but he has as much right to a chance as anybody else," he replied.

"Boys, I'm an old man," cried a gray haired man as he stepped on the branch of a fallen tree. "Listen to me. There will be no more ball games here if this goes on." David Cawley, known as "Angel Dave." a well-known character, then made himself heard above the din. "I know him, boys. He's not a bad man. Let's give him a chance to run."

Those crude but brave utterances turned the tide of conditions in favor of the prisoner. One by one the feeling of remorse controlled them. The negro was allowed to fall unconscious to the ground. As the crowd fell back, Wagner went to him and released the noose.


At the chicken coop those who had remained behind dragged the body of the lifeless negro out onto open ground. There the footmark of more than one boot was left on his body. The crowd in its anger swarmed over and about the body until it was a mass of cuts and bruises and the clothes were almost torn away.

Over to the right of this action Foster was battling for his life. With his revolver empty, he sought refuge behind the house of William Kircher. There he was found by a detached crowd of fifteen men. After beating him into insensibility and staining the grass with his blood, he was tossed over a hill and then robbed of his revolver, watch, money, knife, papers and books. After the crowd had left he revived and asked Mrs. Kircher for a pail of water. After bathing his head he tied a handkerchief about his wounds and made his way to the streetcar line, and then to the city.

First to recover from the scenes of horror, riot and bloodshed which had just been enacted before their eyes were a score of athletic youths, some of whom were clad in baseball togs donned for the afternoon and in which their interest was uppermost. While bullet-pierced bodies of men were lying about on the hillside, surrounded by open-mouthed spectators, these boys dismissed the horrors from their minds temporarily and led themselves to one of the baseball diamonds and started a game.

The McKinley Railroad Bridge at Bausman Street.
The P&CSRR McKinley High Bridge on August 24, 1912. The ballfields were located in the valley near the span.


Those who wore the customary players' garb were from the Astor nine, composed of boys 15 to 17 years old. They were pitted against a scrub team picked from among the spectators about their own size and age. Dismissing all thoughts of what had but recently transpired and in which many of them were participants, they went at the sport before them with a zest that attracted others from the groups standing about the injured and dying men. The game was one of the most interested amateur contests ever seen, as every player seemed inspired with some strange influence which had likely come from their participation in the excitement of the preceding hour.

The 50 to 100 men gathered about on the hillside watching the earnest struggle, for the time being, had their thoughts diverted from the spectacle in which some were not unimportant players.

One of the most noticeable features about the whole afternoon's tragedy was the number of boys, big and little, who had been attracted to the place and who, it is said, are to be found there every Sunday playing on the grounds. The boys belonged to families all over the countryside, and as the news of the startling nature of the affair spread, women rushed in from all quarters, crying, in search of their children. The agony these mothers suffered until they found their boys unharmed was one of the truly touching features of the whole occurrence. Their agony was quickly suppressed by wrath when they found them, and every guilty one of them located was led away home with his ears burning from the torrent of scolding that was heaped on him.


Mothers and daughters, the poorly clad and the gorgeously attired, struggled among themselves for a sight of the distorted corpse and the writhing bodies of the dying, much as they would fight for a sight of a passing parade or some peaceful curiosity of the streets. Jostling shoulder to shoulder with the rougher class of men, and those who had dragged the negro toward the tree that was meant for his scaffold, were to be found the sweet faces of young girlhood and the mother and father who had brought their children to the scene.

During the two hours from the time of the shooting to the arrival of the black wagon of the morgue, there was a steady pouring of streams of humanity over all the paths leading from the settlements around about and from the streetcar stations.

Arriving on the scene the greatest press "was about the negro William Davis, who had come so near being hanged. Almost trampling upon him the crowd jostled for a view, while the man lay upon his side, the marks of the assault plainly showing upon the side of his head upturned. No feminine shrieks of pity or hysteria were produced by the sight, and if any expressions of pity were made they were too low and timorous to attract any notice in the crowd, which was not backwards at any time in expressing its feelings of hatred against the negro in general and the bleeding captive in particular.


The dead body of Charles Kelly, lying on the hillside near the shed where the fight had occurred, was even more gruesome than the bruised and bleeding Davis several hundred yards away down the hill. The crowd was as eager for a sight of the dead as they were of the dying, but after the arrival of the police they were kept away. Every vantage point was gained, however, by those anxious to see all there was to be seen. The sufferings of "Sandy" Garrett, the negro whose efforts to dislodge the crap players started the trouble, were safe from the gaze of the curious, as he was within the house.

The eager crowd found its last chance when the dead and the dying were placed in the morgue wagon. As each was carried in the basket stretcher the crowd pressed closely around and hampered the work of those who were removing the bodies. As the living Davis was placed in the wagon with the dead body of his companion and the still breathing Garrett, the excited spectators surged so closely that they had to be forced back. The general remark was heard on all sides, "Well, I guess that is all we can see," and the crowd poured down the hill in the wake of the morgue wagon, which was piloted carefully over the rough hill side and down the steep road, with thought for the injured men inside.

The sufferings of the negroes nor the seriousness of the affair seemed to little impress the people gathered about, and on every hand were heard vengeful threats of the fate that should be meted out to all such rough and dangerous representatitives of their kind, while the loud-mouthed boasting of the younger men and boys on every hand told of what they would have done if they had had guns in their hands. The most remarkable feature of the whole affair was the lightness with which the crowd treated it, and if one had not known of the shooting it would have been hard to gather from the aspect of the crowd that there had been murder and death within their midst during the afternoon or that men on every hand were in the shadow of the law.


All of the negroes interested in the affair are well known to the police. Each of them have before been involved in shooting affairs of different nature. At least two of them carry scars received in brawls where the services of the police were needed.

William Davis, who is one of the most seriously injured, formerly conducted a pool room at 70 Fulton Street. He is a brother of Charles Davis, who was hanged at the county jail, June 26, for the murder of his wife, who he shot and beat to death. He is known as a gambler and has been under arrest for minor offenses. He was released from the workhouse only recently where he served a year on a charge of felonious cutting. He stabbed another negro during a fight which started in the pool room.

Charles Kelly, the dead man, worked as a coachman in Graham's stables on Dinwiddie Street. He had a cab stand on Sixth Street and is well known to people who frequent that thoroughfare. He was once under arrest in connection with the robbery of William Thomas, of Cleveland, who alleged that he lost $200 while being driven about in Kelly's cab.

Garrett was regularly employed by the Beltzhoover baseball team. He is said to have been sworn in as an officer. He came to Pittsburg from Darlington, S. C., to work on the Wabash railroad improvements. About six months ago he was engaged in a brawl at the Wabash camp when Charles Moran shot him. The bullet he received in the left breast yesterday entered within an inch of the scar left by the former wound.


Foster was the man who ran the gaming tables. He had the money and paid the losses. He was the only one of the men who was well dressed. The fact that he separated from his companions saved his life. He is a large negro, light skinned, and of good appearance. County Detective Robinson says he knows Foster as a gambler.

Ex-Detective George Waggoner witnessed a part of the affair. With a friend he had strolled from his home for a walk and was attracted by the crowd in the valley. He had hardly reached the place when the riot started. In speaking of it he said:

"The negroes had their outfit standing under a tree, just a few steps from the old Bell Tavern. Samuel Garrett went to them, I supposed from his action that he was talking to them. Two of the men pulled guns and stuck them in the negroes face. He said "I'll make you eat them guns before I'm through with you."


"After this, the guns were put away and stones and clubs were used on the fellow. He retreated a few steps, but being joined by a number of other men they again returned to the gaming tables. The gamblers were preparing to pack their belongings. It was a battle of fists at first, but stones and clubs were soon in use, then revolvers were pulled. I saw the men start up over the hill with an ever increasing crowd after them. When the firing began I knew some one would be killed, and I left the place. Not desiring to be interested in the fight, I waited some time on a hill some distance away."

"While standing there I saw a young fellow run into a house, and when he came out he carried a double-barreled gun. In a short time I heard the firing being renewed. I think that boy could be found and he can give some good information. I did not go to the scene of the shooting until after the battle was over."

One of the many eyewitnesses to the affair, who declared that he had not been on the grounds more than a few moments when he noticed the wordy altercation between the Beltzhoovers' mascot, "Sandy," and the negro gamblers, said:


"There were only four of the crap shooters in the crowd, and they were all big men. Sandy told them they couldn't play around the ball games. The gamblers seemed to be more wrathy at 'Sandy,' who was of their own race. When the gamblers moved from their first position down the run some distance and got behind some trees with their outfit, Sandy was watching them. He was a big man, too."

"The dozen or so of ball players and rooters who went with him when "Sandy" demanded that the gamblers move again looked earnest in their demand, saying that they did not want crap shooting or fighting on the grounds which would give the authorities excuse for stopping their games in the future. The first shot I heard was when the crap shooters started along the railroad, followed by the crowd of a dozen or fifteen men. Sandy was the one aimed at and he was struck on the head with a club. Boys and men took up the chase as soon as they heard the first shot fired, and we could see them running along the railroad, which is half way up the hillside. Many joined the chase but many others ran the other way, not caring to get close enough to bullets to get hit."

High Bridge Station - 1896


"When the gamblers were first cornered in the stone quarry on the railroad, I heard more shooting than usual. It came from the negroes, and each of them had two guns. I heard a number of people crying out that they were shot during the fusilade, but was so intent in watching the chase that I did not pay much attention to them. The splitting up of the negroes when the chase became fierce saved one of their lives in my opinion. When two took the course up the hill towards the hen coop, the other went in the opposite direction and after he had been captured and pounded badly he was tossed over the hill and left to care for himself. The way the crowd pressed on after the other two was thrilling. It seemed as if every moment more were added to the pursuers, and every time the negroes fired back at them, they grew more intense in their anger and desire to capture them."

"I did not see a single gun or revolver in the crowd until after it had reached the hen house and had surrounded it. When this occurred, some guns appeared, but where they came from I did not learn. The shooting became furious while the mob stood about the house. They were dodging the bullets from the negroes inside and taking advantage of every unguarded moment to advance on the shed. The first one I saw struck with a bullet was a small boy, who had followed the crowd up the hill and to a point about fifteen feet from the hen coop."

"Some one of the bullets fired by either Kelly or Davis stuck the boy and he went running down the hill and over the railroad, crying with pain and blood was running from wounds in his body. He was taken to a house near by, and later I heard they sent him to his home."


"I counted shots fired for a time, but they came so fast toward the last that I gave it up. I supposed 100 shots were fired in all, and smoke coming from the guns and revolvers, combined with the shouts of the mob and the negroes, made the whole scene, enacted along the hill side, like a theatrical display, only there was too much of the reality in it to make it pleasant."

"When the mob broke into the hen house after Kelly had been killed and his body lay in the doorway I thought there was to be more killing, for there was a thinking that bullets were coming. Then the crowd came out, dragging that man Davis with them. He made no resistance and I took it that he was dead. Of course there was plenty of chance to kill him there, but the call for a rope brought that method more to the minds of the maddened men and they got the rope. They dragged the negro in his prostrate form by the neck and apparently lifeless from the hen house to the big tree at the brow of the hill. I thought that the crowd would never get tired trying to hit him with stones and sticks as he was pulled through the grass and over the knolls toward what I supposed would be his death."

"I didn't get very close to the tree, but from where I was standing I could hear the argument going on there and see the final move of the crowd leaving the man apparently dead lying where they had dragged him. No one went near him for a while, and he was apparently forgotten until the crowds began to arrive from the city, attracted by the rumors of the shooting. I do not know a single man implicated, for I had never been out there before and only went this time out of curiosity and to take the walk during the afternoon.

Pittsburg Daily Post - June 1, 1903


"On my return trip to the city one of the negroes who had been wounded by the mob attempted to get on the car I was on. The fellow's head was bandaged up and he looked much the worse for rough handling. The motorman of the car wouldn't stop for him because the car was crowded, but he managed to take a second car that followed us. This man left the car at Smithfield Street and Second Avenue. I am positive he was one of the gang who escaped from the mob early in the fight, and made a circuitous trip from the ball grounds to the Lebanon car line."


William Davis and Sandy Garrett told their stories to Coroner Jesse McGeary last night, under oath. The coroner, County Detective Robinson and Alderman D. J. McGarey went to the hospital about ten o'clock. Davis, while badly injured, was able to talk. Garrett is seriously wounded and was not questioned closely. He was dazed and several times while he was telling his story, Davis corrected him. He could not tell definitely at what spot he was shot or tell who shot him.

The story of Davis is one of the most thrilling ever told under similar circumstances. He says Kelly, the negro, who was killed, shot Garrett. He denies that he fired any shots himself, although he frankly admitted that he tried to fire his revolver, but after it snapped twice, he gave up the attempt. The story of his capture by the mob and the saving of his life follows:

"When Kelly and I ran into the chicken coop, we did not expect that there would be any serious trouble. Suddenly the crowd commenced to throw stones and clubs at the coop and then some person commenced to shoot. We both pulled our guns. The crowd pressed closer to the coop and suddenly a man, Dave Cawley, came up and yelled to the crowd to stop. At this time a big black fellow was trying to break into the coop with a scantling. The door was forced open and then Cawley yelled, "Throw out your guns and I'll see that you are protected."

"Before we could come out of the coop Kelly cried, "I'm shot." "No you ain't," I answered. "Some person hit you with a stone." When Kelly first yelled that he was shot he poked his gun out through the door and fired, this shot hit Garrett. Before we could get out of the coop Kelly was shot again and dropped. Then Cawley yelled for us to throw out our guns and I did so. He picked them up. I tried to fire my gun twice, but it snapped."


"As I came out of the door some white man on top of the coop hit me over the head with a baseball bat and knocked me senseless. The next thing I knew I was being dragged down the hill with a rope around my neck. Every person was crying to hang me. I could not defend myself or make an outcry. A dozen men had hold of the rope. Then somebody brought a chain. They took the rope off my neck and tied my feet with it. They they placed the chain around my neck and with the rope and chain dragged me to a tree. They would have hanged me if it had not been for 'Angel Dave.' He made a speech to the crowd. He told them that he knew me and that I was not a bad man and for God's sake not to kill me for a little bit of gambling, and that no white man had been killed. Cawley saved my life by his speech, because a lot of other men sided with him and they did not hang me."

Davis also was not questioned much as to the events that led up to the shooting. The coroner and county detective are trying to secure witnesses to the affair and they were after names. Davis said that two of his companions were Kelly and Nelson Foster. He did not know the names of the others, who escaped with Foster.

Garrett's story was told with much difficulty. He is shot in the left side just above the heart and the bullet is in his lung. He spoke with difficulty and then could not tell a straight story. First he said that he was shot while chasing the gamblers up the hill.

"No you were not," corrected Davis, "you was shot right at the door of the chicken coop."


To this Garrett assented. He could not tell who shot him, and had no idea who did. He said that he lived in a stable on South Eighth Street, and that the ball clubs had hired him to keep gamblers off the grounds. Most of his answers were in monosyllables and were given in answer to leading questions put by the officers.

The officers wanted to talk to young Joseph Tumetha, but he was in no condition to talk at all. When he was brought to the hospital he was given an anesthetic and had not recovered from its effects. The wound in his nose also prevented him from talking. The doctors were unable to locate the bullet. Although they probed for it for almost an hour.

Later in the evening Mrs. Davis called. She said that she lived on Tunnel Street. She had heard that her husband was badly wounded and was going to die. She was not allowed to see him, but gave orders that he be given every attention. Mrs. Davis said that her husband left her four weeks ago, after they had lived together for seven years. While he lived with her she said he never gambled. but she understood that he had gambled since then.

Davis was placed under arrest by Robinson, and as soon as he is able to leave the hospital he will be taken to jail.


"My wife and I were some distance away from the house when the riot started," said W. B. Hays, near whose house the affair occurred, in speaking of the affair. "When my wife saw them coming she became frightened. She is an invalid, anyway, and the awful sight of a mob of hundreds excited her. She stood wringing her hands. I called to her to go to the house. She seemed dazed."

"I ran to her side and placed my arms about her. I almost had to drag her to the house. With each step the crowd came nearer to us. My wife and I fell in the open door, just as a volley of stones and rocks poured against the house. I was excited some myself by this time, and I was afraid my wife had died from the shock."

"I carried her to a bench by the window and laid her down. Then I ran to the door to fasten it. By this time the wire fencing had been tramped down and the hundreds of men were swarming about the place. I ran and got my gun. Josephy Reisfor, my brother-in-law, was in the house. He took the gun from me and stood by the door. I placed myself beside my wife."

"A score or more of men burst upon the door and grabbed the weapon from him. I was too anxious about the condition of my wife to pay much attention to the fight going on outside. I heard the shots and, not knowing what it was all about, I feared that we were to be attacked. My wife has not recovered from the shock."

William B. Hays - circa 1930
William B. Hays, circa 1930.


"The county will have to pay for this. The shock to my wife cannot be compensated. Her condition is now serious. But aside from that, my property has been damaged. The windows and doors in my house are broken, my fence torn down, my garden and yard destroyed, and everything about the place wrecked."

"In the front room, where that injured man Garrett lay, much damage was done to carpet and furniture. It will all have to be settled for."

Probably for the first time in the history of the morgue, one of its ambulances was used to carry injured with the dead. The new ambulances were built along lines originated by Coroner Jesse M. McGeary. He made provision for emergency cases. After enduring the ridicule of many people, yesterday an event proved the occasion when the worth of his suggestions were shown. The ambulances besides being large enough for four bodies, also carry a stretcher and a case of bandages, splints, ropes, straps and medicine.

No message was sent to the morgue until an hour after the riot had quelled itself. The Deputy, Edward Edmundson, made a record-breaking run to the scene. They reached the placed with the horses in a lather, but the sight of the big black vehicle was a most welcome one to those who had been disgusted at the display of carelessness which allowed dead and dying to strew the field.


Davis was first loaded into a basket and pushed into the ambulance. Then seeing the two injured men lying about and learning that no hospital ambulance was coming the deputies volunteered to carry the two men to the South Side hospital The stretcher was taken into the houses and on it Garrett was carried out and placed beside the basket holding the corpse.

The ambulance was driven to where Davis lay suffering. He was placed in a basket and pushed inside. It was necessary to place Garrett on top of the dead man. Although suffering intense pain his superstitions overcome him and it was necessary to deny that he was traveling in a hearse to get him to remain quiet.

Aside from the deplorable affair which made such a condition necessary there was an element of humor crept into the proceeding as Davis was placed inside. Garrett raised his head and he could not but smile when he saw Davis gazing at him.

"You got it, too, did you, Bill?" Garrett inquired.

Davis made no reply to the question but asked where he was being taken. When told he was on his way to a hospital, he said:

"I guess a negro can get assistance at a hospital, if he can't over here."

Carefully the wagon was driven down the steep roads and to the hospital. Every few squares the morgue officials stopped and opened the doors to see that the injured men were riding all right. When taken out of the ambulace, Garrett said:

"So help me, if I'd known that the dead man was in there, I'd walked."

Location of High Bridge Station event, shown here in 1925.
The grounds near High Bridge Station, shown here in 1925, where the chase occurred. The deadly battle
took place in the cluster of homes above atop the hill to the right.


Idle curious, which controlled the majority of the people forming the crowd that visited the scene, was shown in their hunt for curios. Although the rope used in the attempted lynching of Davis was more than an inch thick it was literally hacked to pieces and carried away.

Small pieces of the rope were eagerly sought as keepsakes. One man carried away the big heavy iron hook which was attached to the end of the rope. Pieces of the men's hats, pieces of their clothes, their handerchiefs were taken possession of.

On the body of Kelly were found four dice, some money and buttons. These also found their way into the pockets of the curio seekers. When such small articles had been taken, pieces of wire and boards were gathered up.

The Pittsburg police were very active in the case and received great assistance from one of the men who had been through the fight. Early last evening Jack Goldman came into police headquarters. He said he had been in the crowd but had taken no part in the fight except to run away. As he had committed no wrong he did not want to get into trouble with the police, so he came down to explain. Detective George Cole got all the information out of him he could and then locked him up. Goldman lives in Yellow Row.


An hour later Detectives Cole and Leff arrested Nelson Foster at his home in the rear of 44 Chatham Street. He had cuts on his head and hand and was in bad condition. His story was that after the fight he had dropped unconscious on the road. A white man picked him up, took him to his home and bathed his wounds. Foster managed to get to town and went to the Homeopathic hospital, where he got medical attention. He went to his home and was just getting into bed when the detectives arrested him.

After examing him at the Central station he was taken back to the Homeopathic hospital to be kept overnight. It is said he was in charge of the game. Foster is a hack driver. Last night two women claimed him as a husband.

The fifth man of the crowd is said to be Bert Mayher, a carpenter living in the Hill District. The police are hunting for him.

Kelly, the dead man, lived on Pasture Street. He did not work and is said to have made a living by gambling. Fully 500 persons, all colored, tried to get into the morgue to see him last night, but none was admitted.


Dr. J. D. Criss, of 26 Washington Avenue, was the first physician to be called. He gave all the wounded temporary relief. Young Tumetha was the worst of the whites injured. The bullet in his nose may end in serious consequences. Dr. Criss attended to him at once and turned him over to two friends, with orders to take him at once to the South Side hospital. He also attended to young Kerin.

Dr. Criss did all he coule for the wounded negroes and stayed with them until the arrival of the morgue wagon. He had the men placed in it with the body of Kelly and rode on the ambulance with them to the South Side hospital. His prompt work saved the life of Garrett.

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Pittsburg Daily Post - June 1, 1903

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Pittsburg Daily Post - June 1, 1903


District Attorney Haymaker Will Take Steps
Today to See That No Repetition of Riot
at West Liberty Occurs.


County Detective Has Names of Eight Participants and Arrests Are
Likely to Be Made at Once - Coroner and His Officers
Are Giving Earnest Co-Operation


District Attorney John C. Haymaker did not have full details regarding the riot at West Liberty Borough when he was seen last night by a reporter for "The Post," but did not think there was anything about the affair which called for immediate action in his part. He will consult with the judges and the county commissioners today and take measures for the preservation of the peace in the future if he finds that any are necessary.

Mr. Haymaker was invited to decide the question whether or not the affair puts the county in the position of having had a lynching upon its soil, but declined to settle it positively until he should be more fully informed. Upon this point the district attorney said:

"There is no such crime as lynching in law, and as that crime is popularly understood this case does not appear to me to have been a lynching."


"Whether the victim or victims of the affair were shot and killed by individuals or by a mob in pursuit of vengeance will, however, make some difference from the standpoint of the authorities who will be charged with the duty of bringing the guilty parties to justice. If the killing was the work of individuals it will not be necessary to make so many arrests as if they were perpetrated by a mob and especialy if there were a hanging."

"I do not see that there is anything for me to do tonight. I understand that Mr. Robinson is on the ground and I shall no doubt have a full report of it tomorrow. The arrest of the parties concerned will be the work of the county detectives, the officers of the coroner and the local authorities. There is nothing for the sheriff to do in the premises as the disturbance is all over and there was no call made upon him by the authorities of West Liberty Borogh to preserve the peace.


"I shall see the commissioners and the courts tomorrow and if it is necessary a sufficient number of special officers will be employed and sent to West Liberty and kept there to prevent a recurrance of the affair. I have four such officers now at Clairton where we have frequently had trouble of this kind. It is not practicable to keep county officers at every point where there is likely to be a disturbance, although the authorities of some of the boroughs appear to expect it as they seemingly take no measures to preserve the peace themselves."

"Under my instructions the county detective has had his eye on this borough of West Liberty for some time, but we had no reason to anticipate an outbreak such as this. The place has been a favorite resort for young men of sporting proclivities for several years. It is located conveniently near the city line, so that many of them can reach it on the streetcars, and, being outside of the jurisdiction of the Pittsburg police, and the borough being practically without police protection, they were not likely to be disturbed in the pastimes."

"Some three weeks ago I sent Mr. Robinson to see what was going on out there of a Sunday. Summer weather was commencing to make itself felt, and I thought it was about time to hear something of the place. He reported to me that the amusements practiced consisted of ball gaming, with a little crap shooting and card playing under the trees."


"I decided that it was not necessary for me to interfere. The district attorney, with one county detective, cannot undertake to enforce the observance of the Sabbath all over this county, and if the borough authorities of West Liberty saw fit to allow baseball games within their jurisdiction, while card playing and crap shooting went on under their shade trees, I did not feel called upon to put a stop to it. They are, in my opinion, the parties responsible for the bloody outcome."

"The laws of the State give borough councils the power to deputize as many of their citizens as they may consider necessary to preserve good order within the borough limits. There is never any difficulty to get officers of too many boroughs to keep their money, and when there is trouble to set up a yell for the district attorney and the county detectives."


"When the boroughs are located near the city line they are exposed to an influx on Sundays of a disorderly population with which there is no means at hand to cope. The police of Pittsburg have no authority to interfere and it is not their business to do so if they had."

"The remedy for the trouble lies with the authorities of the boroughs. Let them provide officers at their own expense in sufficient number to keep down disorder. The county cannot be expected to do it for them at all times, though of course upon occasions like this the county will see that force sufficient is provided to suppress the disorder and keep it down for the time being."

"Another remedy for the trouble would be the Greater Pittsburg. If the fringe of boroughs surrounding the city were annexed to and made part of it the police of the city would, of course, prevent the creation of conditions which are likely to give rise to riots, the same as is done within the present city limits. If these boroughs such as West Liberty feel that they are not able to govern themselves and to preserve the peace, the wisdom of becoming part of the city of Pittsburg is apparent. At any rate they cannot expect the county detective to be on hand constantly to keep order for them."


Deputy Sheriff James F. Richards, who is acting as sheriff in the absence of Sheriff William McKinley, who is at Mt. Clemens for treatment of rheumatism, was seen and said that he die not see that there was anything for him to do as the riot was over the the services of the sheriff had not been called for. Mr. Richards obtained his first information of the trouble at his house about ten o'clock from a reporter for "The Post" who called to learn what he was doing in the premises.

Mr. Richards immediately came downtown to learn details of the riot and give what assistance he could in the making of arrests by the county detectives. The latter, however, had not thought it necessary to consult with him, nor for that matter with the district attorney, who at a late hour had received no report from Mr. Robinson of any kind.


"We can not stand for any lynching in Allegheny County," said County Detective Robert G. Robinson last night. "I have the names of eight people who will be charged with murder and arrested today. Dave Cawley gave me the guns. We do not know who shot Kelly, but we mean to find out. It was a riot and every participant on both sides is guilty. It was the hardest place that I ever struck to get names or witnesses. As soon as the seriousness of the affair became known every person left or kept quiet. We will make them talk, if we have to send them to jail. If we can find out who fired the fatal shot we will charge the others with riot. I will have a conference with the district attorney in the morning and then we will begin work in earnest."

"There is no objection to the boys playing ball. I would rather know that 500 young men were out at High Bridge playing ball on Sunday than know that they were drinking at clubs or speakeasies. But there must be no gambling. We will not allow it."

"One Sunday a lot of professional gamblers went to High Bridge and reaped a harvest. They were notified that they must not go out there again; that we would not stand for it. Since then they have stayed away. These negroes are not professional gamblers. They are crap players and cheap ones at that. The boys can play ball as long as they do not become disorderly."

Robinson arrived on the scene of the affair less than an hour after it started. he made an investigation and solicited the aid of the police and detectives in searching out the responsible party. In speaking further of the affair last evening, he said:


"During the week I had received information that a carnival was to be held at Millvale where beer and gambling were to be features. During the morning I went to Millvale with the intention of stopping this affair. I spent some time in trying to locate the scene, but found there was nothing of the kind there."

"I had just returned to my home and was eating dinner when I was called to the telephone. A man who lives in Montooth told me that a mob had killed two negroes and was lynching another. Thinking that it was more of a joke than a serious report I replied that it wasn't unusual to kill them but they must cut out the lynching. Finally I saw that the affair was serious. Without waiting to finish my meal I hurried to a streetcar."

"When I reached the scene there were still hundreds of people there. The crowd seemed so like a good-natured gathering that I at first thought the report had been exaggerated. Finally, I saw evidence of the work. It was like hunting for a needle in a hay stack, but I set to work."


"But from my information I understand that a double-barreled rifle and a revolver were used by someone in the crowd. Just who had them is yet to be determined. Although I do not know the name of the man who used the rifle, which seemed to be a deadly weapon, I have a description of him. He is a young man, and I expect to locate him tomorrow."

"I have asked the assistance of the police and detectives in helping land the guilty parties, and I think a few hours will suffice to clear up the case."

"These men who started the trouble are all well known negroes. It was only the negroes and the young fellows that gambled over there. Previous to yesterday there had been no disorder in this place. The High Bridge has been synonymous for Sunday gambling for some time, but many of the reports were exaggerated. Recently no reports had reached me of the gambling going on."


Coroner McGeary will work in conjuction with the district attorney in the case. The coroner will make preparations for the inquest as soon as witnesses can be secured. Any arrests or principals wanted on a charge of murder will be made on his warrant.

Coroner McGeary last night summoned a jury to inquire into the origin of the trouble and to fix responsibility, the members of which are Eli Benner, 909 Rebecca Street; Peter Bolster, 1012 Lowrie Street; and John H. Wettach, 241 Spring Garden Avenue, all of Allegheny; Charles M. Love, 118 Walter Street; and Robert Mathews, 165 Forty-third Street, Pittsburg, and John L. Reno, Bellevue.

Hopkins Map - 1910
Map showing the path of the 1910 census taker and the location of the William B. Hays home (#172).

Pittsburg Press - June 1, 1903

Pittsburg Daily Post - June 1, 1903

Pittsburg Daily Post - June 1, 1903

Pittsburg Daily Post - June 1, 1903

Pittsburg Press - June 1, 1903

Pittsburg Press - June 1, 1903

* Article Reprinted Below *

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Pittsburg Press - June 1, 1903


County Officials Investigating Sunday
Riot and Murder at West Liberty and
Number of Arrests Are Expected


District Attorney John C. Haymaker and County Detective Robert G. Robinson today commenced an official investigation of the riot and murder at West Liberty Borough yesterday afternoon. A number of the prominent residents of the vicinity of the battle and the local officials have been sent for, and they will be asked for full information as to the terrible affray and all the incidents leading up to it.

Officers have already been placed at work to secure evidence, and many arrests are expected soon. All the wounded whose injuries are prima facia evidence that they took part in the battle, are practically under arrest now, and it is but a matter of time until the issuing of a large number of warrants is commenced.

The bloody outcome of the Sunday gambling and ball playing will also stir the county officials to vigorous action in the matter of putting an end to this form of Sunday law-breaking, and a general cleaning out of places that have been popular Sunday resorts is expected.

Inspector Kelly left the South Side police station early this morning for the purpose of trying to effect the arrest of some of the colored gamblers engaged in yesterday's affair. He had received word that one of the colored men who had been hurt with a bullet had been located behind Mt. Washington, and he went to investigate. The police patrolling the South Side and neighoring districts were notified to arrest all colored people who might be acting suspiciously. During the morning, however, no additional arrests had been made.

Justice of the Peace Mulholland, of West Liberty, has taken the matter up and has announced that he will have arrested every gambler, as well as all alleged to be connected with any of these disorderly gangs. In this he stated this morning he will be assisted by the people of his borough, as well as those of neighboring districts.

The exact result of the race riot and attempted lynching will not be known for some days. The body of the one negro shot down by the frenzied mob when he was fighting at bay in a chicken house, which had been fired to smoke him and his companion out, will probably not be the only one to go to the morgue as the result of the battle, for four other victims of the affray have not passed the danger line at the hospitals. One of the negroes who was at first able to walk away from the scene is now known to have a fractured skull and may die, while the other two negroes and two white youths are hovering between life and death.

The dead man was:

CHARLES KELLY, 25 years old, Sachem Alley, a well-known character among the police, employed irregularly as a hostler. Body now at the morgue.

The worst wounded are:

WILLIAM DAVIS, of 70 Fulton Street, proprietor of a pool room at that number; well known to the police and recently discharged from the Allegheny County workhouse after serving a year for felonious cutting. Now at the South Side Hospital; condition critical.

"SANDY" GARRETT, well known in West Liberty, where he makes a precarious living by doing odd jobs and sleeps in stables and out houses. In the South Side Hostpital; likely to die.

The seriously wounded are:

JOSEPH TUMETHA, 17 years old, lives at 159 Plus Street, South Side; shot through the mouth during the chase, the bullet tearing away one side of his nose in its course. In the South Side Hospital; will recover.

LEO KERIN, 14 years old, lives at 140 Meredith Street, shot in each leg and once in groin. Condition serious.

Others who were injured and suffered as a result of the riot were:

MRS. WILLIAM B. HAYS, of 508 Lester Avenue, West Liberty; around whose house the fatal shooting took place. Fainted from shock and excitement.

MRS. MARY REID, a cripple; fainted from exhaustion after excitement had died down.

JOHN PIERCE, Western Union telegraph operator, fingers of one hand grazed by bullet while watching the pursuit.

NELSON FOSTER, colored, a hack driver, of 44 Chatham Street; one of the gamblers. Skull fractured. At Homeopathic Hospital.

The battle which resulted in the death of Charles Kelly, colored, the attempted lynching of his companion, William Davis, and the wounding of at least twenty other persons, was probably as spectacular as any of the Southern lynching bees that have stirred up the country from time to time. There are many versions of how the trouble started, but all are similar from the beginning of the pursuit of the five negro gamblers who were chased by a mob of several hundred persons from the spot where they had been running a gambling game all afternoon.

The gamblers have been in the habit of taking their stand some distance from the ball grounds in the hollow near High Bridge, West Liberty Borough, just beyond the Thirty-eighth Ward, and the ball players have tried to keep them from the neighborhood as they anticipated the police stopping the Sunday games if the gambling continued. Sunday, a week ago, the negroes left without putting up a fight, but yesterday, about three o'clock, when they were asked to leave they refused.

A view towards the Timberland Avenue Bridge and the Saw Mill Run valley where the Monte Carlo
activities took place. The photo was taken from Cadet Avenue in September 1918.

"Sandy" Garrett, a well known character about the West End, who has acted as mascot for the Beltzhoover baseball team, was acting as spokesman for the crowd that attempted to eject the gamblers, who are now said to have been Kelly, Davis, John Goldman, Nelson Foster and Burt Mayher. The men refused to move and Garrett struck one of them in the face.

There were about fifty persons accompanying Garrett and when the trouble was in sight, the gamblers packed their outfit and started over the creek that follows the West Side Belt Line Railroad. Some distance up the side of a hill, the negroes are said to have drawn revolvers and the cry that they were armed spread like wildfire.

Hundreds flocked to the assistance of the first mob and in a few minutes fully 2,000 persons were pouring over the little wooden bridge after the fleeing negroes, who turned at times to fire into the crowd and keep it at bay. Garrett was shot through the arm during this chase and this seemed to anger the crowd which sent volleys of stones and clubs after the fugitives. By that time the negroes saw that they were greatly outnumbered and Goldman and Mayher left their companions.

The wooden bridge over the West Side Belt railroad where rioters crossed in their pursuit of the fleeing gamblers.

Goldman and Mayher at this point of the disturbance took to their heels and escaped to the city, but the other three remained to walk leisurely from the borough. Soon Foster was knocked down with a club and was left lying on the ground. The other two started to run at breakneck speed then, and were unable to reload their revolvers for any more fusilades. The crowd seemed to have gained courage and a continual rain of missles was kept up.

The two fleeing gamblers went past several houses and tried to gain admittance at the home of William B. Hays, several hundred yards from any other house, but the family had heard the shots and barricaded the doors. The negroes ran to a long, low chicken house and barricaded the door of that place. They would open the door at the end and fire volleys into the crowd, which stood some distance away for a while.

Then a few bold spirits crawled upon the roof of the shed and as the negroes would open the door to fire, would hurl stones upon the outstretched hands. A lot of brush was piled up against the side of the chicken house, a newspaper pushed beneath it and a match applied, it being planned to smoke the two refugees out. But impatient members of the mob secured a long fence rail which they used as a battering ram and knocked a long, jagged hole in the shed. Through this opening the desperate negroes fired into the crowd and one of the first bullets struck Leo Kerin, aged fourteen years, of 140 Meredith Street, in the groin. He was also shot in each leg and is not expected to recover.

This raised the ire of the crowd to even a greater pitch and volley after volley of bullets was poured into the chicken house. Many members of the mob had produced revolvers by this time and were allowed to take places in the front ranks of the crowd. Others had hastened to nearby houses and borrowed shotguns and rifles of all descriptions with as much ammunition as was at hand.

Hays refused to lend a rifle he had in the house and it was wrested from him. The crowd at first had supposed the negroes had taken refuge in the house and stormed it with clubs and stones. Mrs. Hays fainted and was so badly frightened that she is still in a serious condition. She did not recover until long after the crowd had done its terrible work and as Hays was busy caring for his wife he die not see any of the fight.

The terrible volley that followed the wounding of the boy must have killed Kelly, for he did not shoot any more and later his body was pulled from the burning structure with three gaping wounds in the chest. Davis fired into the crowd from the hole in the side and the door until his ammunition was exhausted, even firing the remaining shots from his dead companion's revolver, and then stepping to the door threw two weapons to the ground and stepped forth to face the fury of the mob.

The last shot to be fired, almost, will probably cause the death of Garrett. The latter had been in the front ranks of the crowd at all times and had stepped forward during a lull to command the two cornered negroes to surrender when he received a bullet through the left lung above the heart. He was carried into the Hays' home and laid on the parlor floor until nearly evening, when he was taken to the South Side Hospital.

Cries of "lynch them" had been started long before the last shot was fired, and all through the noise of the melee, which resembled in many ways, old soldiers say, a pitched battle between armies, these calls could be heard above the shots. Men and children were running about calling to each other, but no one was paying any attention to any one else and no one seems to remember much about the details of the fight.

As Davis stepped to the door he was struck on the arm with a large rock that knocked the member limp and helpless, and then one of the youths on the roof of the shed brought a baseball bat down over his head with terrific force, knocking him to the ground unconscious. A long rope that had been torn from the neck of a cow and a post to which the animal had been tethered, was being held in waiting and was quickly attached to the feet of Kelly, but as he was dragged over the ground he was found to be dead and was left lying in a trampled potato patch.

The noose was placed around the neck of Davis, who was coming to his senses by this time, and a hundred willing hands dragged him over the ground. The frenzied crowd seemed hungry for blood and, as the form of the helpless negro went past it, was stuck with stones and kicked. Davis soon lost consciousness, and even his piteous moans for mercy were utered no longer. It was then that some cruel member of the crowd said "Maybe he's playing possum, let's make sure," and with that he brought a baseball bat down with all his strength over the unfortunate man's head.

The rope was hauled 200 yards by fully 300 people, the limp body being dragged over a fence that was in the path to a large tree, where it was intended to lynch the injured man. Under the tree no one seemed willing to take the end of the rope over a limb, and the lack of a leader was all that probably prevented a fatal termination of the attempted lynching. Just at this juncture a cry of "police" was started and the crowd dispersed, leaving the injured man with his pain-drawn face upturned in the sun, lying in his own blood.

This 1925 image shows the wooden bridge over the railroad and the homes atop the hill where the chase took place.

The crowd wreaked no more havoc, but all afternoon hundreds of people, including many girls and women who had been unwilling witnesses of the affair, viewed the body of the dead man left in the garden and fought for a sight of the injured as they were being carried to houses in the community. The rope by which Davis was dragged was cut into many pieces and divided among spectators as souvenirs.

Captain J. N. Frederick, of the South Side; County Detective Robert G. Robinson and Policeman Louis Beiler were in charge of the dead man's body and the injured. The coroner was notified by telephone and the morgue ambulance was hurried to the scene, as the first reports were that five men had been killed outright. The injured were put in the morgue ambulance with the body of Kelly and later, inside the city line, the living were transfered to the patrol wagon from the West End police station. At the hospital this morning it was said Garrett, Tumetha and Davis will probably recover, but it is impossible to state with any degree of certainty, as blood poison may cause their deaths.

Spectators in describing the chase and the scenes about the Hays home, say the mob's frenzy knew no bounds. When Garrett, who was a favorite with the West Liberty and Beltzhoover youths, was wounded they would not have stopped at any vengeance, and then when Joseph Tumetha, 17 years old, of 150 Plus Street, South Side, was shot through the face and part of his nose carried away by the bullet, the pursuers grew frantic. The fences about the Hays home were battered down, and the garden, which was quite a large one, was trampled under foot as though the crowd was unaware of its presence. The ground and premises are a total wreck, and the place resembles, in many respects, a battlefield. The house is dented with rocks and clubs that were thrown at it when it was first supposed that the negroes had been given shelter within, and vines about the porch and all the shrubbery were ruined.

Foster had been carried into a house by a woman, he says, and his wounds temporarily dressed. He made his way to the city after dark and had his cuts and bruises again attended to at the Homeopathic Hospital. The physicians at the hospital wanted him to remain there, but he would not stay, and left without telling how he had been injured. Later he was found by Detectives George Cole and Luis Leff at 44 Chatham Street, just as he was going to bed. He was placed under arrest as a witness, and when found to be wounded was sent back to the Homeopathic Hospital, where it was discovered that his skull was fractured. He will be kept at the hospital under surveillance, and will be held until the inquest.

Goldman, one of the gamblers who escaped injury, walked into police headquarters last night about nine o'clock and gave himself up, saying he wanted the police to understand that he was willing to tell what he knew of the fight. He was kept at the police station over night and was today committed to jail by Coroner Jesse M. McGeary on a charge of being a witness to a murder. He told that Mayher was the other one with him, and the police immediately started to hunt for Mayher.

Mrs. Hays had fainted when she first heard the shots and the rumbling noise of the approaching mob, and was just recovering when the house was attacked. She again succumbed to her fear, and the fight her husband had to retain his rifle is also said to have contributed to her illness. She was attended by physicians all night, and this morning is still in a precarious condition.

Davis was left lying in the hot sun for nearly two hours without even a handkerchief to cover the wounds on his face, which were covered with flies, and the crowd pressed so closely about him that he could hardly breathe, Dr. J. D. Criss, who was attending Mrs. Hays, dressed a wound on his shoulder temporarily, but that was all the attention he received except that members of the crowd passed a glass of water to him several times. As he was put in the morgue ambulance, beside Kelly's dead body and Garrett, the latter said, "Is that the man who shot me? and then rolled over on his side."

At the South Side Hospital Davis was placed under arrest, but that was a mere formality on the part of Detective Robinson, as the man is too weak to move, and has to be lifted about by attendants. He was questioned closely by Detective Robinson while lying under a tree waiting for the ambulance, but could give very little connected information. He is from Louisiana, and said he never expected to live after he felt the rope about his neck. He says he knows what mob violence is, and when the noose on the end of the rope tightened, he uttered a prayer after he made a first appeal for mercy. He said he felt that his time had come, and that he would be dead in a few minutes. At the hospital he spoke feelingly of being spared, and thinks he will get well. The hospital physicians, however, have little hope of his recovering.

The rope had been around Davis' feet until the mob came to a tall fence on the Hays farm and then a halt was made. The noose was taken from his feet and thrown over his head. The negro involuntarily threw his hand up and probably saved his own life. His arm was caught in the noose and was jammed against his head. He was the next instant drawn over the fance and his neck would undoubtedly have been broken but for the brace afforded by his arm. While the negro was being dragged and during the halt members of the crowd made appeals to the mab to stop the violence and let the law take its course. "What! And let them kill our children," cried some member of the surging mob, and the rope was hauled with renewed energy.

Under the tree, when on one would take the rope over the limb, appeals were made to the mob by Charles Waggoner and Charles McMurty, of the South Side, and it was the cry raised by McMurty that the police were coming that dispersed the mob. The men who had been trying to stop the proceedings then took charge of Davis and removed the rope from his neck. When found under the tree later, Davis was too weak to even tell his name. He rallied under proper treatment at the hospital and told his story. He said he had not fired a shot from the chicken house because his revolver would not explode, and said Kelly had fired the shot that felled Garrett and the boy. He said the reason he surrendered was because he heard "Angel Dave" Cawley shout to him to surrender and that he, Cawley, would see that he got fair play. Davis said he knew Cawley meant what he said and had then stepped out of the door and surrendered.

Davis said Garrett had a grudge against the gamblers because they would not conduct the games as he wanted them run and for that reason had bargained with the ball players to keep the gamblers away from the park. Lying in the hospital he blamed Garrett for all the trouble. He said he was sure Kelly shot Garrett and then fell to the floor of the chicken house, saying he was struck with a stone. Davis says he thinks Kelly was shot at this time through the opening made by the battering ram.

Friends of Kelly gathered about the morgue last night and clamored to see the body, his wife being the first to view the remains. She wept pitifully when shown the body and was hardly able to swear to his identitiy. A post-mortem examination was held on the body and for that reason it was not put in the view case until after midnight, but the people waited until then to catch a glimpse of Kelly's battered corpse.

The police and detectives who hurried to West Liberty were unable to obtain any names last night of persons who took part in the chase and fight, as everybody became very uncommunicative about the battle.

A view towards the Timberland Avenue Bridge and the Saw Mill Run valley where the Monte Carlo
activities took place. The photo was taken from Cadet Avenue in September 1918.

Pittsburg Press - June 1, 1903

Pittsburg Press - June 1, 1903

Pittsburg Daily Post - June 2, 1903

Man With Rifle Says He Took It
to Protect His House and Is Released


Wholesale arrests of ball players and spectators in the crowd of 2,000 at Sunday's riot in West Liberty Borough beyond the South Side will be made by the authorities at the insistance of District Attorney John C. Haymaker if witnesses persist in their silence regarding the participants in the rioting and bloodshed. The charge of murder will be made against all those who rushed upon the negro, Charles Kelly, killed at the chicken coop on Willian B. Hays' place. Attempted Murder will be charged against all who stoned and clubbed the negro, William Davis, dragging him from the coop with a rope around his neck and on the point of lynching him when "Angel Dave" Cawley's plea for mercy saved the man's life.

When Constable John Patterson, of West Liberty Borough, appeared before Judge J. R. MacFarlane, in criminal court yesterday, to make his annual report on the preservation of order in his borough he declared that he had been threatened over the telephone that he would be killed if he interfered with the gambling at High Bridge. The court rebuked him, and commanded that he act regardless of alleged intimidation.


Aside from Nelson Foster, negro, who was taken to the Homeopathic Hospital, as reported yesterday, and others in the South Side hospital, to be held as witnesses upon their recovery, and John Golden, negro, who was sent to jail by Coroner McGeary as a witness, no other prisoners were held. County Detective Robinson went before Alderman John Groetzinger in the afternoon to have warrants issued for four players of the Beltzhoover ball team and spectators whose names had been obtained as witnesses of the rioting.

"Angel Dave" Cawley, of McKean Street, and Frank Cunningham, of Brownsville Avenue, were examined by District Attorney Haymaker yesterday morning. Cawley told of his efforts to save the negro Davis from lynching. He said he asked Davis to give him his weapons, which the negro surrendered. Cawley brought the two revolvers and rifle into the district attorney's office.


Constable Cavanaugh arrested William Reisfar, who lives in the house of W. B. Hays. Cawley identified Reisfar as the man he had seen with the rifle. Reisfar said that he had taken the gun from its resting place in the house, but added that three men rushed in and snatched the rifle from him. He testified that he had procured the gun to protect the house. District Attorney Haymaker considered that he was justified in doing this, and Riesfar was released.

The inquest over Kelly will be held as soon as those in the hospital recover sufficiently to testify.

At the South Side hospital last night it was said that Samuel Garrett, who was not expected to live through the night, is much improved and will recover. He was shot through the side and arm. Edward Reed, brother-in-law of W. B. Hays, said that he saw Davis, the negro who was almost lynched, shoot Garrett as the "mascot" led the rush upon the chicken coop.


The third patient at the South Side hospital who was shot in the rioting, Joseph Tumetha, was reported last night as in a serious condition, but is expected to recover.

The two others injured in the rioting were said to be recovering last night.

"Borough officials are constantly sending to me when there are violations of the law which is their business to suppress," said District Attorney Haymaker last evening. "We cannot interfere with Sunday ball playing, which is for borough officials to suppress. We will suppress gambling wherever found. The sheriff will not go to High Bridge next Sunday to stop ball playing. He is sent only where there is an outbreak. The affair on Sunday was of that accidental sort which grew suddenly from lesser circumstance."

High Bridge Station - 1910
1910 map showing the location of the Monte Carlo activities around the
turn-of-the-century along the Saw Mill Run valley.

Pittsburg Press - June 5, 1903

Pittsburg Press - June 5, 1903

Pittsburg Weekly Gazette - June 5, 1903

Pittsburg Weekly Gazette - June 5, 1903

Pittsburg Daily Post - June 5, 1903

Pittsburg Daily Post - June 5, 1903

Pittsburg Daily Post - June 7, 1903

Pittsburg Daily Post - June 7, 1903

Pittsburg Daily Post - June 8, 1903

Pittsburg Daily Post - June 8, 1903

Pittsburg Press - June 8, 1903

Pittsburg Press - June 8, 1903

Pittsburg Daily Post - June 25, 1903

Pittsburg Daily Post - June 25, 1903

* Article Reprinted Below *

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Pittsburg Daily Post - June 25, 1903




Davis, Who Has Close Call, Is Charged
With Killing the Baseball Mascot


Responsibility for the deaths following the riots between negro gamblers and ball players at West Liberty Sunday, May 31, was placed yesterday by a coroner's jury. William G. Rees was charged with the murder of Charles Kelly. Edward M. Reed was held as an accessory before and after the fact. William Davis, negro, who barely escaped being killed, was charged with the murder of "Sandy" Garrett, the baseball "mascot." Jack Goldman and Albert Pogaski were held as witnesses.

Five witnesses were examined before the coroner. The evidence showed that there were other persons directly interested in the affair who are not yet under arrest. The dozen or more under arrest, charged with rioting, will have a hearing before Alderman John Groetzinger this week.

More than a score of witnesses attended the inquest before Coroner Jesse M. McGeary yesterday afternoon. Many persons were present merely through curiosity. District Attorney John C. Haymaker and County Detective Robert G. Robinson took an active interest in the hearing. Attorneys James Burke and W. J. Brennen represented Davis and Nelson Foster, one of the gamblers who was injured.

The first witness was Edward M. Reed, of 18 Tustin Street. Reed is a brother-in-law of William B. Hays, on whose property the affair occurred. He said he was watching the ball game and saw the spectators and players assault the camp of gamblers. He then told the story of the riots.

Philip Bahr, of Eighteenth and Thomas Streets, also was a witness of the fights. He said the man who got the gun from the Hays house was wearing gold glasses and a panama hat. Afterwards another young man wearing a cap got it. Garrett had a stick and was trying to open the door to the chicken coop when Davis shot him. Reed, he said, furnished a lot of ammunition for the men who were using the gun.

Dennis Crotty, of Coal Street, East Wilkinsburg, saw Rees have the rifle in his hands. David Cawley, of 114 McCain Street, testified: "After the men in the coop threw their weapons out I got Davis out and put a rope around his neck. We dragged him some distance, and then I made a speech. Some of the crowd said I was right, and I took the rope off the fellow's neck. The crowd was too much excited for me to get them to settle down and save the men's lives."

Drs. Walter C. McCandless and J. D. Criss read the report of the autopsies on the bodies of the two victims*.

* Note: Charles Kelly died of a gunshot wound at the scene of the riot on May 31. "Sandy" Garrett, shot through the arm and lung, died in the hospital three days later at the South Side Hospital.

Pittsburg Weekly Gazette - June 25, 1903

Pittsburg Weekly Gazette - June 25, 1903

* Article Reprinted Below *

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Pittsburg Weekly Gazette - June 25, 1903


Story of Riot Told at Inquest
Into Deaths of Garrett and Kelly


Edward M. Reed, Held on Murder Charge,
Attempted to Leave Coroner's Office
Before Verdict Was Returned but
Was Detained by a Deputy

Three men held for murder, and two men held as witnesses, is the result of the coronail inquest into the deathe of Charles Kelly and "Sandy" Garrett, the two negroes who were killed in the riot between the baseball players and the crap shooters at High Bridge, near West Liberty, on the afternoon of Sunday, May 31.

William Davis is held for the murder of Garrett, William G. Rees for the murder of Kelly and Edward M. Reed is held as accessory before and after the fact for the murder of Kelly. John Goldman and Albert Pogoski are the witnesses held. Davis, Rees, Goldman and Pogoski have been in jail for some time and Coroner Jesse M. McGeary committed Reed to jail with the other four.

The deaths of the two colored men resulted from an attempt to break up a gambling game near where a game of baseball was being played. the baseball crowd raided the gambling game, stones were thrown, shots fired, and a general fight followed. Kelly and William Davis, both colored, were in charge of the gambling game and were pursued by the crowd. They took refuge in a chicken house on the property of William B. Hays and were there besieged.


A shot was fired from the place of refuge and "Sandy" Garrett, colored, one of the crowd, fell. Later some one of the crowd fell. Later some one in the crowd fired a shot and killed Kelly. It is alleged that William G. Rees fired the shot that caused the death of Garrett. Davis surrendered after Kelly was killed and was almost lynched by the crowd. A rope was placed about his neck and he was being dragged to a tree when cooler heads interfered and he was saved. He was also shot and after leaving the South Side hospital was placed in jail. Rees and Davis are represented by Attorney James Francis Burke.

District Attorney John C. Haymaker and County Detective Robert G. Robinson were at the inquest, as was also Attorney W. J. Brennen, representing Louden Campbell and Nelson Foster, two witnesses who were arrested.

The inquest began with the calling of Edward M. Reed, who lives at 82 Tustin Street, Pittsburgh. He stated that he was present at the shooting of both Kelly and Garrett. He was at the home of W. B. Hays, a relative. Reed saw the mob coming toward the house and ran into the house to protect his family.

Location of High Bridge Station event, shown here in 1925.
The grounds near High Bridge Station, shown here in 1925, where the chase occurred. The deadly battle
took place in the cluster of homes above atop the hill to the right.


Reed identified William Davis as the man who was in the chicken coop with Kelly, and said a man who looked like Davis opened the door of the coop and shot Garrett. He could not say who shot Kelly. He took a good look at Rees and said he did not think he was the man who had the rifle.

Philip Bahr of South Eighteenth Street, described the trouble up to the time when Kelly was killed. He said the people in Hays house would not give up the gun, but after a boy was shot, some one, the witness did not know who, went into the house and came out with the gun. He said that Edward M. Reed, the former witness furnished cartridges to the man who had the rifle. Bahr said he was in the house and saw Reed hand some cartridges to the person who had the gun. He could not identify anyone in the room as that person.

Dennis Cratty identified Rees as the man who had the gun. David Cawley testified that he saw Kelly shoot and then run into the chicken home. He said that he knew Kelly and Davis and asked them to give up their guns, which they did. The witness stated that he was the man who stayed the crowd from lynching Davis.


After Dr. Walter G. McCandless described the wounds on the bodies of Garrett and Kelly, the case was given to the jury, who brought in the verdict holding Davis, Rees and Reed on a charge of murder, and Goldman and Pogoski as witnesses.

Attorney Burke will this morning make application for the release of Reed on bail. After the testimony had been closed Reed started to leave the coroner's office but was stopped by a deputy who had orders to see that no one left the room until the verdict was returned. Reed seemed greatly astonished when he was compelled to remain in the room.

The jury empaneled were Eli Brenner, 909 Rebecca Street, Allegheny; Peter Bolster, 1612 Lowrie Street, Allegheny; Charles H. Lowe, 118 Walter Street, Pittsburgh; John L. Reno, Belle Vernon; Robert Matthews Sr., 165 43rd Street, Pittsburgh; and John H. Wettach, 241 Spring Garden Avenue, Allegheny.

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A small bridge over a creek coming down through McKinley Park and under the McKinley High Bridge in October 1909.


No further information of newsprint has been located regarding this incident, the fate of the
other victims or the outcome of the legal proceedings against the accused.

* Compiled by Clint Burton - March 2021 *

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