Sinclair | Madison County, MO: John Sinclair – The Mob

I’m in the process of making the connection to this particular person as the last name in Madison County, Missouri fits in with my Sinclair/St. Clair line from Madison County, MO.

My Great(x5) Grandfather, William Ashley Sinclair/St. Clair (written both ways on census records; 1860 & 1870 Madison County, MO), was born in 1827 and lived in Madison County, Missouri. William Ashley Sinclair/St. Clair was the father of Rebecca Sinclair who married Henry F Frizzell.

John Sinclair could be William’s father. Other family historians have stated that he is. I have yet to confirm this connection:

First Source: 
ID: I50083

Name: John St Clair
Given Name: John
Surname: St Clair
Sex: M
Birth: 1753 in North Carolina
Death: Abt 1823 in Madison Co., MO
_UID: EA5546E8610B4997AE3BBCF5158247CF00DA
Change Date: 10 Jan 2009

Father: Charles Sinclair b: 1725
Mother: Nancy Ann Salling b: Abt 1758 in Scotland Or Orange Co, NC


Second Source: 
I’m new to this list and looking for help on my Sinclair/St. Clair family. I have the line quite a way back, but am not sure how much is correct. A good place to start is with John Sinclair married to Elizabeth Matthews. They had 4 children in Madison County, MO. Three of the children stayed in MO and kept the spelling Sinclair. One son moved to Texas and took the spelling St. Clair.

The children were:
Daniel Boone Sinclair (m. Melvina Graham)
William Ashley St. Clair (m. Wiley Ellen Johnson)
Margaret Rebecca Sinclair (m. Anthony Henderson Sharp)
Charles L. Sinclair

In Missouri, this family is connected to surnames Graham, Henderson, Sharp, Pruett and Matthews, among others. If this family hits home with anyone, I’d love to compare notes.

Karin Brown (Source)


In the meantime I wanted to document these newspaper articles as a reference/resource and also post it for those who may be researching this line in Madison County, Missouri.

Mob Law in Missouri

On the 5th inst. A mob at Fredericktown, Madison County, Missouri broke open the jail with axes, crowbars, & etc., took out a man  named Abraham Smith, under sentence of death for murder, and hung him to a tree near the jail.

The coroner’s jury found a true bill  against the murders, and several of them have been arrested and committed for trial.  Several have also made their escape.   We hope they will receive the punishment their guilt deserves.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer – August 22, 1844 |

Lynch Law  

We learn, says the St. Louis Evening Gazette, that in Fredericktown, Madison County, Missouri, on the evening of the election, a mob broke into the jail of that place, and forcibly seized upon the person of the convicted murderer, name A. W. Smith, took him to a walnut tree and hung him upon the spot.

 Three of the parties concerned in the jail breaking were arrested and held on bail in the sum of $500.

 None of those implicated in the hanging had been arrested.

 Source: Sun – August 23, 1844 |

More Mob Law   

A man named Abraham Smith was taken from jail by force, and executed by a lawless gang in Fredericktown, Missouri, on the 5th inst.

Smith had been convicted of murder, and sentenced lo be executed on the lat day of June. The sentence had been stayed until the 1st September.  An attempt was made to execute him by mob violence on the 1st of June, which was resisted by the assembled people.

On the day of the late election, a company of half intoxicated men succeeded in breaking open the jail with axes, crow-bars, etc. and hung the prisoner.

The following we copy from the St. Louis Republican.

One of the gang got down the cell where Smith was in irons, & tied a rope around his neck.  Those above hauled Smith up by the rope, dragged him down stairs, and about fifty yards from the jail, and notwithstanding he was apparently dead when they reached the tree, hung  him up, where he remained some minutes.  They then let him down , when one of the gang, suspecting life was not sufficiently extinct persisted that they should again hang him up, which was done accordingly.

Robert M. Friercoroner, issued process immediately for a jury and on Monday night held an inquest on the body of Smith, when the jury returned a verdict that Smith came to this death by the hand of Jones, Sinclair, Mayse, Pollis, Cox, Blackburn, Shetley and five others, the names of whom we have not learned.

On Thursday a states warrant was issued for the arrest pf the offenders, and on Wednesday the sheriff succeeded in arresting Cox. Shetley, Blackburn, Pollis and another man who were undergoing an examination before the Justices.

Sinclair and Mayse, two of the ringleaders had not been found, when this news left Fredericktown.

On Saturday, we understand, Mayse was at St. Mary’s Landing, waiting for the first opportunity afforded, to escape justice, and no doubt succeeded.

The parties arrested were committed to take their trial for murder.

Source: Easton Gazette – September 7, 1844 |

A Brace Of Murders Caged   

Smith, who shot Drown, the engineer of the  steamboat Chicago, a short time since, at Peoria, Illinois, is now confined in the jail at Princeton.  His trial will take place next week before the Circuit Court of Peoria County, for murder in the first degree.

John Sinclair, who was committed to jail in St. Louis upon a charge of being one of the ringleaders of the mob that hung Abraham Smith, in Madison County, Missouri, on the 5th of August has been taken back for trial.

Source: Sun – October 15, 1844 |

The Murder in Madison County   

Our readers will recollect the notice of the summary execution of a man named Abraham W. Smith by a mob, at Frederictown, in Madison County, Missouri, on the 6th day of August; that the ringleaders in this outrage escaped and were still at large.

Of the number was a man name John Sinclair, who was accidentally seen and recognized on the streets of St Louis lately.

A warrant was immediately procured for his arrest, and Justice Butler, on an examination of the case committed him to jail, where he will remain until he is removed to Madison County.

Sinclair as said to have been the principal in the affair — to have tied the rope around the man’s neck, and to have help to swing him up.

Eight or ten of the mob are now in jail, and if justice is done them, they will share the fate of the criminal whom they executed.

Source: New York Herald – October 16, 1844 | 



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3 Responses to Sinclair | Madison County, MO: John Sinclair – The Mob

  1. Dolores Shearon says:

    Just came across your Madison County postings and wanted to thank you for them. My g-g-grandmother was a half-sister of Elizabeth Matthews Sinclair, whose main paper trail I’ve found is limited to a mention in her father’s will. Many unsourced trees (except for citing other trees) are out there with her spouse’s name, marriage and death dates, and I have no reason to believe that any other man by the surname Sinclair other than John Sinclair was her husband. Wish I knew where the dates originated. Thank you for these “mob law” articles, which seem to indicate that John (if he’s the same one) may have been alive as of 1844, rather than the 1840 date I’ve seen elsewhere. Even though your blog isn’t up-to-date, I hope you are checking for messages!

    • TheySaid. says:

      You’re quite welcome 🙂 I have tons of other research, but nothing confirmed and I only post what I know to be accurate OR state that I believe it’s lead (i.e. John Sinclair). Unfortunately many people just post what they THINK is accurate and before too long it’s a mess of information. Madison County can be the easiest to research or the most complex — there is no in-between lol The State has a lot of their records, if helpful. They do charge a minimal fee to look up records & send them to you, but I’ve never had a bad experience in dealing with them. I have several lines from that area and it’s one of the ones I’m fascinated with as a direct result.

      I’m currently trying to locate more information on Rebecca Sinclair (also spelled St. Clair) who was married to Henry F Frizell, as I would like to confirm their date of marriage and her date of death. Looks like I’ll be making a trip to Fredericktown soon!

  2. Jim St.Clair says:

    I am a novice genealogist who is looking for contacts in the Madison county area to help me with my search for lost family members. My father was Alfred St. Clair b1917 d-, 2008. He was born in Madison County, Mo, the son of William C. St. Clair, and Grace M Hicks. My Great grandfather was Columbus St. Clair, also of Fredericktown. The name John Sinclair/St. Clair, Daniel Boone St. Clair, Robert St. Clair are names I have run across in my search. If anyone could help me, it would be great. Also, what did happen to John Sinclair?

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