If you’ve not seen it, you might browse through courthousehistory.com for some historic views of courthouses. I want to thank Keith Vincent not only for his website but for his generosity sharing with me his photo of the old Princess Anne, Maryland courthouse. You can find his bio on his website or click on the image here. He very graciously allowed me to include the postcard of the older courthouse in my upcoming book and to share its view with others.
I had known the current Somerset County courthouse in Princess Anne dated to about 1905, replacing an older one. Perhaps there was a photo out there of the old one out there that I missed seeing, but I am grateful for Keith’s love of collecting such postcards.
My purpose for including the photo in my upcoming book is because of some rather sad history associated with that building. On June 9th, 1897, William Andrews was lynched by a mob as he was being taken from the courthouse. He had been convicted and sentenced to die and authorities were attempting to walk Andrews from the courthouse to the jail, about a block away. The mob was not satisfied with the law taking its course and inflicted its vengeance on that day.
According to The Baltimore Sun (June 10, 1897) following the trial “the judge [Judge Henry Page] was notified that a mob surrounded the courthouse and that fears were entertained that violence would be resorted to when the sheriff sheriff should attempt to remove the prisoner to the jail. Leaving the bench he addressed the mob, urging all law-abiding citizens to remain quiet, as the law thus far had been permitted to take its course.”
However, when the sheriff and his deputies “appeared at the door of the private entrance to the court” with Andrews, the mob fought to seize the prisoner. A deputy “attempted to drag the prisoner across a small ravine which separated the courthouse yard from Church street” in an attempt to move towards the jail. But the mob attacked Andrews, seized him, wounded his thigh with a razor, dragged him to a walnut tree where he was hanged. The main entrance to the courthouse (the left building) was in the front; likely the private entrance was in the rear (the separate building on the right was the clerk office). The body was left at the walnut tree for hours after which Andrews was buried at the almshouse property outside of town.
A gruesome tale, my apologies, but viewing that photograph made the story more vivid for me, making something so unimaginable a bit more real. This older courthouse was built in 1833. Thank you Keith for sharing the postcard and all your postcards.
— Linda Duyer