The Coatesville lynching of 1911
Saturday, August 13, 2011
By jim zbick [email protected]
"At 6-3 and over 250 pounds, Coatesville Sheriff Charles Umsted had a reputation for being tough. On this day, he added fuel to a volatile situation. As the crowd outside grew larger, he told bystanders that Walker had boasted about killing Rice, but the sheriff made no mention of Walker's claim that it was in self-defense. He also made it known that he would not intervene if there was an attempted lynching."
"The town sheriff, Charles Umsted,
a big man of six foot three and over 250 pounds, was familiarly
known as 'Jumbo' or 'Jummy' and had a reputation for toughness
and a well-honed facility for surviving the fiercely contested
elections for town police chief. Umsted was up for re-election
in September, and on the night of August 13, as the crowd around
him grew, he saw a chance to earn a few votes. Taking care to
speak loudly enough for bystanders to eavesdrop, he avowed that
Walker had boasted about killing Rice, and he made no mention
of Walker's claim of self-defense. Before concluding his staged
monologue, with an increasingly roused crowd gathered around him,
Umsted virtually promised the mob that he would not intervene
in the event of a lynching. 'I would be the devil if somebody
should happen to go after that fellow -- Gentleman, allow me to
say that I am not going to get hurt.'"
"On September 20, 1911, eight men were indicted for murder in the lynching of Zachariah Walker. Included in this group were Police Chief Charles Umsted and officer Stanley Howe for involuntary manslaughter. Both officers, the report noted, were blatantly negligent in their duties and failed on several occasions to prevent the lynching."
"No one was ever convicted in the lynching of Zachariah
UMSTEAD, Charles E, 345 W Main, Coatesville, was listed in the Wilmer Atkinson Company 1914 Farm & Business Directory of Chester County, PA. http://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/pa/chester/directories/1914/umstead.txt
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Last updated 27 April 2017