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Capture of the Infamous Blinky Morgan Gang in Alpena, Michigan

Alpena Police Force (image0

It's not everyday your hometown makes national history! Back in 1887, this was no exception. Sheriff Charles L. Lynch of Alpena, MI heard the news that Blinky Morgan and his posse were stowed away in a local townhouse. Lynch and City Marshal Westrope kept a sharp watch on the men and just a few days later gathered the town's law enforcement team and they bombarded Morgan and his crew! If Lynch hadn't acted as quickly as he had upon entering the home and securing Morgan, it is speculated that Morgan could have shot many of the officers that were present that day.

Blinky Morgan and his gang were infamously known throughout the Midwestern region for murdering many police officers and innocent civilians. Having them holed up in Alpena was a huge ordeal that needed to be handled delicately as to not tip off the assailants and to not throw the town into an uproar. Sheriff Lynch and his team handled the situation seamlessly as they captured all three of the murderers.

Unfortunately, Lynch paid the ultimate price. In August of 1887, Lynch died of blood poisoning (complications of the bullet wound) while surrounded by family. He was honored greatly by the State of Michigan and the town of Alpena.

Capture of Three Murderers

Feb. 4th, 1887, Capt. Hoehn and detective Hulligan, of the Cleveland police force, were on the night train, leaving Alleghany City, Pa., having in charge a burglar, Mathew Kennedy alias McMunn. While the train stopped at Ravenna, Ohio, four men entered the car where the officers and prisoner were and began an assault on them, firing at them and seriously wounding both officers. Detective Hulligan died on February 8th, from his wounds.

A reward of $16,000 was offered for the arrest of the murderers.

A few days ago Sheriff Lynch and City Marshal Westrope got on track of certain men here who were supposed to be the murderers. A sharp watch was kept on the men, and at last the information gathered by the officers was such that they were certain the men were the right ones and their capture was determined upon.

On Monday evening last Sheriff Lynch, undersheriff Denton, deputy sheriff G. W. Jones, A.C. McDonald James Connors and Marshal Westrope and policeman A. E. Westrope began the work of arresting the murderers. Two of the miscreants had taken passage on the steamer Mackinac, for Oscoda. They were taken by surprise and escorted to the city cooler. The sheriff and party then proceeded to the residence of F. D. Williams, on Third Street, and surrounded it. Lynch, with some deputies entered from the front. Marshal Westrope and the others, except Denton, who had remained in charge of the two men captured, were on guard at other places about the house. As soon as Lynch had entered the house, he saw Morgan sitting in a chair. The man partly raided up, and reached for his two 44 caliber revolvers. Before he could draw them, Sheriff Lynch made a dash at him, grabbed and bent him partly back over the chair. The criminal then managed to get one of his revolvers out and discharged it, but the position he was in did not permit of accurate aim being taken. If Morgan could have had some five seconds more time, it is probable he would have killed several of the officers.

One ball entered Sheriff Lynch’s leg, in the thigh, penetrating the fleshy part 6 inches above the knee, and lodged back of the knee joint, making a painful wound. Connors then seized the man’s hand that held the revolver, and had a close call himself, his hand being slightly burned by the flash from the revolver. Two or three shots were fired. The revolver reports soon brought the other officers and Morgan was quickly ironed. He was then taken to the cooler and chained to the other two men who are supposed to be Billy Harrington and Pat Hanley. The men were searched and four revolvers, lots of cartridges, taken from them and among their goods were discovered dynamite cartridges, masks, dark lanterns and other burglar implements. Morgan, whose actions showed him to be a desperate and determined man, is about 45 or 50 years old, 5 feet 8 inches high, slightly bald on top of head, wore large black side whiskers, probably colored. The man is a brother-in-law of Mrs. Williams.

The affair caused considerable of a sensation, and the police court was crowded with citizens who went there to see the men. The prisoners were guarded all night. They refused to make any statement concerning themselves, and, as far as appearance went, did not seem to be much disturbed at the condition they were in.

The capture reflects much credit on those who managed it. Dr. Maiden extracted the bullet from Sheriff Lynch’s leg, and, unless inflammation sets in, there is no danger of serious results.

Capt. Hoehn and two other officers arrived from Cleveland last night, and the three prisoners were identified as Charles Conklin, alias Blinky Morgan, Pat Hanly and Billy Harrington. Morgan is said to have killed seven men.

All images credited to "The Town That Wouldn't Die" by Robert Haltiner.

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