Need help editing articles? Start out with the new Introduction to Editing Articles Video.
Cornelius "Crook" Mershon was a gang leader in the late 19th century who was eventually taken from the Monroe County Jail and lynched. Earlier, in the 1850s, he had been a slave-catcher and then a soldier in the Civil War, but afterwards he and his brothers were involved in many notorious crimes.
Apparently Mershon masterminded the killing a man named John Moore of McClean County, Illinois, while Moore was in Bloomington visiting his uncle, Rev. E. P. Farmer. The motive for the killing was money. At the trial, two men testified that they saw Crook knife Moore in Oscar Sowder's saloon and drag the body into an alley. At the time of the killing, Crook threatened he would hang them if they said anything. He later threatened them two more times and they both left the state in fear for their lives.
On February 8, 1876, during the very early morning hours, a group of masked men tied up the town marshall, stole the keys to the jail, and shot Crook three times, twice in the head and once in the chest. Then they hung him. Afterward the gang left a note with the sheriff indicating that if any prisoner even dared to hazard a guess as to the identity of the executioners, they would meet the same fate as had Crook. A copy of the note was published by an Indianapolis newspaper that week.
Seventeen days after Crook's execution, his brother Hoosier Mershon was acquitted for the murder and left Bloomington. In December of the following year, Cynthia Mershon, Crook's mother, filed a damage suit against the sheriff from her new residence in Louisville, Kentucky, but the suit never came to trial.