Tracker Pixel for Entry

If the walls could talk

by Sabrina Hornung | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Culture | July 19th, 2017

Photo by Sabrina Hornung

Surrounded by a tumbleweed-ridden wood fence, the Schafer jail is a small structure in rural McKenzie County built of native fieldstone and concrete. It was built in 1910 and is one of very few structures that remain in the former county seat. Outside of the building is a weathered metal sign that notes that it served McKenzie county for 31 years and “it was from this jail that Charles Bannon, the confessed murderer of the six members of the Albert E. Haven family, was taken by an angry mob and lynched off a bridge, half a mile east of the jail.”

The interior of the jail structure is sparse--more than likely a shell of what it once was, with it’s cold clammy concrete interior and small barred windows. Though the cells are no longer intact, one of the walls still boasts writing from a former inmate dated 1923. Now serene on the January day I visited, the Schafer jail is the site of North Dakota’s last lynching on that cold fateful night in January of 1931.

No names of the 70-plus men, who took the law into their own hands in an act of frontier justice, have ever publicly surfaced, nor has anyone ever confessed while the lynching was under investigation.

Charles Bannon worked as a hired hand for the nearby Haven family. The Havens were considered to be fairly well off, with a fair amount of livestock and machinery.

One day the neighbors started to question the family’s whereabouts. Albert, 50, Lulia, 39, Daniel, 18, Leland, 14, Charles, 2, and Mary, 2 months, had not been seen since early February in 1930. Neighbors further questioned Bannon’s intentions when he claimed that the Havens left the area and in their absence he was renting out their farm. His father James helped him care for the land and livestock.

The last straw for the Havens’ neighbors was when Charles started to sell off the Havens’ livestock, crops, and machinery that fall. He claimed the family left for Oregon. James left the farm to head west, to supposedly seek out the missing family.

Bannon soon caved and confessed that it all started with the accidental shooting of the eldest son--he then admitted to killing the remainder of the family out of fear.

According to N.D. Courts, he was originally held at the larger and more secure jail in Williston in Ward county, but was then moved to Schafer so he could be tried in McKenzie county. His father James Bannon was named an accomplice, and was extradited from Oregon back to North Dakota and was also held at the Schafer jail.

To a large number of locals, justice couldn’t come swiftly enough for young Bannon. More than 75 men in up to 15 cars pulled up to the jail in the wee hours of January 29.

The mob made their way into the jail, knocking the door down. Sheriff and Deputy tried to intervene but were gingerly escorted away from the premises once they refused to hand over the keys to Bannon’s cell. The mob proceeded to attempt to break into the steel doors, but were met with such difficulty that they almost abandoned their efforts until the lock was successfully broken.

According to Fred Maike, who was being held on theft charges, the mob was surprisingly focused and well orchestrated. The mob then placed the sheriff and deputy in the broken cell along with James Bannon and Maike, blocking the door with a broken timber.

The mob then led young Bannon out of the jail with a hemp noose. They planned to take Bannon out to the site of the Haven farm to hang him where the grisly crimes were committed. The caretaker wanted none of it and threatened to open fire if the mob did not disperse.

The mob relocated a half mile east, to the newly constructed bridge over Cherry Creek. The rope was still tied around Bannon’s neck. Someone tied the other end to the rail of the bridge. According to the January 31, 1931 edition of The Bismarck Tribune, The hangman’s knot was tied by someone with "expert knowledge."

Charles Bannon became the last man to die by lynching, once he was pushed off the bridge.

Recently in:

News

​Man and the moon

by C.S. Hagen

VALLEY CITY – Lowell Busching shuffled into The Vault, pointed to the staff-less counter featuring self-serve sandwiches, Kuchen, and coffee before launching into a history of the building, once a bank. Books and magazines are…

You probably won’t be connecting an Ethernet cable to your smartphone anytime soon. But it’s usually worth running Ethernet cables to the devices that matter, if you can—gaming and media PCs (or consoles), backup devices, and…

Thursday, July 25, 6:30-8:30 p.m.Zandbroz, 420 N Broadway, FargoAuthor Sarah Coomber will be making an appearance at Zandbroz for a reading and signing of her recently released memoir, "The Same Moon." Recently wed and soon…

It’s no secret Theodore Roosevelt loved North Dakota. It’s also no secret North Dakotans love Teddy. He left us with a legendary legacy and it’s no wonder that the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library will be in the…

Gadfly

​Freedom???

by Ed Raymond

There Seems To Be A Lot Of Confusion About What Freedom Is!At a recent conference of the evangelical Christian’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, Chairman Ralph Reed, long a hard worker for the Moral Majority’s Jerry Falwell, had…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

By Teresa Farrelltara.Ekren@essentiahealth.orgLove it or hate it, it’s rhubarb season! Rhubarb brings back good memories for me.Growing up on the family farm, my siblings and I would head outside with a bowl of sugar, snap off…

High Plains Reader had the opportunity to catch up with Sarah Shook, front woman of the North Carolina based punk country band Sarah Shook and the Disarmers. We had a chance to talk about life and love from the road, where she…

Legendary British skipper Tracy Edwards, who in 1989 led the first all-female crew of sailors to compete in the tough-as-nails, 33,000-mile Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race, makes for a convincing heroine in filmmaker Alex…

Arts

‘Local American epics’

by Sabrina Hornung

The US Postal Service recently released a set of stamps celebrating the New Deal era post office murals that were federally commissioned during the Roosevelt administration, though the mural that graces the walls of the New…

The annual mainstage summer musical, produced by Trollwood Performing Arts School and sponsored by Bell Bank, opens Thursday, July 11. This year’s performance is Disney’s “Freaky Friday.” Trollwood Performing Arts…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

If you’re from the region you may have sipped, sampled or caught word of a libation often referred to as “red eye” or “wedding whiskey” at some point. In fact some of our friends of German Russia descent swear by it. If…

Wellness

Yoga on the Farm

by Ryan Janke

Every Thursday evening during the month of June, Mara Solberg is inviting people to come out and try Yoga on the Farm. It is a unique yoga experience that was born from an idea that was proposed to Solberg.“I’ve been with Red…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

Woman is born free and lives equal to man in her rights…The purpose of any political association is the conservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of woman and man; these rights are liberty, property, security, and…