Researched by : Tina Easley

Typed by article below clipping : Becky Roberts

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MARCH 17, 1899



Dreadful Result of an Arkansas Election Riot



Bad Feeling Growing Out of a Mayoralty Contest Brought Together Two Factions, In Which the Sheriff, Chief of Police and Other High Officials Were Badly Mixed.


Hot Springs, Ark., March 17 – Six men were killed and one fatally injured in a shooting affray which occurred here during the progress of an election. The killed are: Thomas Toler, Chief of Police; J.F. Hart, city detective; Thomas F. Goslee, Police sergeant; John Williams, son of Sheriff Williams; Louis Hinkle, driver of a brewery wagon; Jim Hart, detective, Ed Spears was shot in the neck and may die.

The shooting was the result of feeling growing out of the mayoralty contest, which was under way here. The sheriff was a warm supporter of the regular Democratic nominee, while Toler, Hart and Goslee were supporting an opposition candidate.

Feeling ran high and early in the afternoon shooting was exchanged between the sheriff and his son, John, in front of the City Hall, on one side, and Sergeant Goslee on the other, but no one was injured. After this both parties determined to have it out.

Toler, Hart and Goslee were walking together two hours later, when they met Sheriff Williams and his two sons, John and Coffey, and Ed Spears, a deputy sheriff. The quarrel was renewed. No one can tell who fired the first shot, but in a moment there was a general fusillade, forty or fifty shots being exchanged. When it was over Toler, Hart, Goslee and Hinkle, a non-combatant, was dead and John Williams mortally wounded. He died about an hour later. Louis Hinkle attempted to separate the combatants at the commencement and was shot in the head and died instantly.

About twenty minutes after the main battle another affray occurred in which four or five shots were fired. This occurred on the sidewalk a little below where the other dead bodies lay. A great multitude which had gathered stampeded in the wildest excitement tumbling over each other in every direction. In this fusillade Detective Jim Hart was shot down with the whole of his skull blown off.

Pandemonium reigned for a time. Finally Constable Sam Late and Deputy Jack Archer succeeded in quelling the excitement to some extent and clearing the street in the vicinity of the scene. A big freight wagon was ordered up and the bodies loaded in it and taken to an undertaking establishment.

            When the news of the tragedy was conveyed to the homes of the dead men, the shrieks and anguish from wives, mothers and sisters were heartrending. .

            Sheriff Williams said that there was an attempt made to assassinate him by a policeman on account of his friendship for Belging, the popular candidate for mayor.