FROM THE MORGUE
Copyright 2007 by William A. Mays, Proprietor
January 6, 1883
A few years ago the Rev. James Rector created a furore of religious fervor in Dearborn county, Indiana, by his eloquence and saintliness. An inquiry was set on foot a few weeks ago by his old parishioners but little could be learned of him until a fortnight since, when a well-known commercial traveller, stopping at the old Indiana House in Aurora, Ind., related the story of his tragic ending near a little country village a short distance from Springfield, Missouri. The traveler stated that his knowledge of the affair was obtained by being in the neighborhood at the time the tragedy took place, about one year ago.
Rector had located there and engaged actively in ministerial work. His prepossessing manners and oratorial powers soon brought him into prominence and gained him great popularity as a preacher. His custom of boarding around among the members of his congregation had introduced him into a respectable family consisting of two grown sons and a daughter, the latter the acknowledged belle of that vicinity. The preacher soon professed to be enamored of the farmer's daughter, and Dame Rumor had it that a wedding would be the result of this acquaintance. A protracted meeting was shortly afterward begun in that circuit, and under the powerful preaching of Rector quite a revival had broken out. For days the religious excitement was kept up, the people flocking in crowds for miles around to listen to the impassioned eloquence of the famous preacher.
One night, after a sermon of unusual effect that had brought many converts to the cause of Christ, the congregation was dismissed and Rector started, as was his habit, to accompany to her home the girl it was supposed he intended to marry. A distance of over a mile had to be traveled. On the way, and while passing a lonely wood, he made indecent proposals to the girl which she resented. He attacked her with violence, overpowered and dragged her into the dark woods. The father and brothers, who had preceded her homeward, waited before retiring for her return. Minutes lengthened into hours, and still she did not arrive. Alarmed and anxious, they waited no longer, but started back to ascertain the cause of her delay. She was found wandering in the highway, crazed with excitement, almost denuded of clothing and bleeding from the injuries sustained in trying to protect her honor. The story was soon told, and while the father cared for the unfortunate girl the brothers mounted their horses and started to arouse the neighbors and avenge a sister's wrongs.
A force of pursuing men soon overtook the fleeing criminal and brought him back to the scene of his outrage. There sentence of death was pronounced, and preparations were made to hang him by the roadside. All being in readiness he begged for a few moments to pray. The privilege was granted, and there upon his knees, in the solemn hush of midnight, with the rope that was to launch him into eternity around his neck, and the flickering glare of the blazing torch in the hands of his enemies illuminating in all their dreadful terrors the murderous scowl of his executioners; with the shadows of expiring hope settling around him, this man weakened not in the strange power he possessed to move man with the winsome words of prayer. As his voice swelled out on the night air and broke the awful stillness of that weird scene the deep pathos and stirring sublimity of his earnest supplication began to exert a softening influence upon the group that grimly surrounded him. Fascinated by his power, one by one they sank upon their knees beside the wretched man, and the strong resolve to punish him was melting like wax away.
Suddenly the father, remembering the miseries of his blighted home, shouted to his sons to seize the rope that swung across the limb above their heads and "pull him up before he prays himself out." Willing hands and strong arms obeyed the command, and the body of James Rector dangled in the air. The next day his corpse was cut down and buried beneath the tree on which he was hung. The revival meeting was discontinued for the want of a minister.
|He Starts a Revival in Church and
Raises the Devil out of It.
|The Crooked Dominie Outrages one of His Congregation,
and his Beloved Brethren send Him to Glory.