The Berry Gang

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Welcome to Tazewell County, Illinois – 1869!

Situated on the very edge of the western frontier, Tazewell County was the jumping off place for many pioneers.

As hundreds of wagon trains from the east rumbled westward over the vast prairies of Illinois, many families claimed homesteads along the Illinois River.

One such family to settle here was the Berry family, who homesteaded a few acres just outside of Circleville. Four brothers of this family, William, Isaac, Emanuel, and Simeon Berry, and their many cohorts became known as "the Berry Gang".

This gang of horse-thieves, road agents, and killers terrorized the people of Tazewell County for years, despite the efforts of Pekin’s tough City Marshal Alfred Stone, Tazewell County Sheriff Edward Pratt, and his deputies. Then one day they made the fatal mistake of resisting the law once too often. Over the next few days, that resistance would result in murder, aggravated assault, mob action, suicide, and a lynching.

The authors, using all available official documents, newspaper accounts, and personal family records, documented and wrote this true story.

Surnames & Locations

Some of the surnames (mostly from Tazewell County) mentioned in Lynch Law include Addington, Bailey, Barber, Barlow, Barnard, Barnes, Bassett, Berry, Bode, Boyle, Bradley, Briggs, Briscoe, Britton, Brown, Browner, Brownley, Burnham, Cass, Caswell, Chamberlain, Charlton, Charmus, Clary, Cohrs, Combs, Conner, Connett, Coombs, Copes, Crall, Cullon, Culver, Daly, Daughtery, Dawson, Delany, Ditmon, Eades, Edds, Edwards, Farr, Farrow, Finigan, Flemming, Frazer, Glasgow, Gordon, Green, Griffith, Grote, Hamilton, Hamson, Harriot, Hatfield, Hawley, Henry, Hinman, Hodges, Horn, Howard, Hyers, Jones, Kessler, Knott, Lacey, Laman, Lane, Larimore, Livingston, Mallingford, McCain, McClintock, McCook, McFarland, McKasson, McKean, McLaughlin, McLeese, Meyers, Michael, Miller, Milner, Montgomery, Morris, Mosher, Murphy, Nass, Newman, Olgesby, Orendorff, Orr, Orrel, Ott, Parks, Pepper, Pratt, Prettyman, Priddy, Reed, Reeves, Roberts, Rockhold, Rodecker, Saltonstall, Schafer, Sellers, Shaw, Shay, Shuttleworth, Sims, Spoonhoff, Stanford, Steele, Stephens, Stevens, Stickney, Still, Stone, Storm, Sutton, Terry, Thomas, Towner, Turner, Umdenstock, Underhill, Updike, Vanorstrand, Warburton, Watson, Welch, Whitney, Wilson, Wiseman, Woolford, and Yeoger.

Locations mentioned include Bath, Circleville, Delavan, Dillon, Hopedale, Jacksonville, Joliet, Mason City, Pekin, Peoria, San Jose, and Tremont - many are in Tazewell County.

About the Authors

Jim Conover (a TCGHS member) and James Brecher began research on the lynching incident several years ago, while they were both policemen with the Pekin Police Department. The research took them to several locations throughout the state and turned up many interesting events that led to the writing of this book.

Conover retired in 1994 to pursue a career as a writer. He is also a Private Detective. Brecher is still an active policeman. He is currently a lieutenant.

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Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society © 1999-2016
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Pekin, Illinois 61555-0312
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