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Pearl Bryan: chapter five continued

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Pearl Bryan
Secret London
Murder Ballads

Satisfied he'd got all he could from the ruse, Deitsch told his men to fetch Jackson and Walling from the cell, and load them in a wagon again for the last leg of their journey to Newport. There were still huge crowds waiting outside the police station when the big iron gates shot open again, and a police patrolwagon rushed into the courtyard. Plummer, Jackson, Walling, Crim and McDermott quickly bundled themselves inside.
"A wild drive to Newport was made," Barclay says. "East on Eighth Street to Broadway dashed the team of splendid police horses, down Broadway to Second and over the Central Bridge on a full run. Thence up York Street in Newport, up to Third and the jail.
"Everywhere, people stopped and stared at the strange chase, as patrol and vehicles containing press representatives galloped by, throwing mud and snow in all directions. [...] On the Central Bridge, the horses broke into a gallop, and everybody in sight began to run. Before the Newport end was reached, a surging crowd pushed up York and down Third Streets on both sides, but they were not fast enough for the horses."

Pearl's father hoped desperately the head could still be found, and buried with the rest of her

The jailers at Newport had been warned Jackson and Walling were on their way, but didn't expect them to make the journey so fast. The route Barclay describes covers about two miles - much of it through busy city streets - but the driver managed to complete it under 15 minutes. As the carriage approached, Police at Newport jail were already struggling to control a crowd there, which the papers guessed must contain at least a thousand people.
At about 4:00pm, a cry of "Here they come!" went up from the people on York Street, and a few seconds later the patrol burst round a corner into view of the jail. The crowd hurried after to try and halt it, and packed the street leading to the jail's entrance with a makeshift blockade of human flesh. Somehow, the carriage managed to fight its way through.
"Sheriff Plummer stepped from the wagon, and was closely followed by Walling, handcuffed to Detective McDermott, and Jackson, handcuffed to Detective Crim," Barclay reports. "Both prisoners were pale and trembling, evidently believing the crowd was there for reasons other than curiosity." In fact, the crowd just glared mutely at Jackson and Walling as they were hurried into the jail's admissions office and the door slammed behind them. Even the reporters who'd followed them all the way from Cincinnati were not allowed in.

As Jackson and Walling's mad dash over the bridge concluded, Pearl's parents were getting ready to cross a river of their own. They took her remains to Greencastle's Forest Hills cemetery on the same day her killers were moved to Newport, but Alexander Bryan couldn't quite face burying his daughter yet. He insisted she must be kept in an above-ground vault at the cemetery instead, hoping desperately that her head could still be found, and interred with the rest of the body. It took ten days of gentle persuasion for the family to change his mind.
Pearl was finally laid to rest on March 27. "Following the casket was one of the largest crowds ever seen at a funeral in Greencastle," Barclay tells us. "The headless body of Pearl Bryan, dressed in her magnificent white dress in which she graduated from the Greencastle High School, borne by the loving classmates in thet graduating class, was consigned to the earth from whence it came."
Soon after the funeral, visitors at Pearl's grave began the custom of leaving a Lincoln penny heads-up on her gravestone as a symbolic replacement for the head she'd otherwise be lacking on Judgement Day. Other visitors preferred to chip away a pebble or two from the gravestone itself to take away as their own personal souvenir. When I visited the grave myself in September 2010, the grounds keeper there told me Pearl's family had replaced the damaged stone at least once, but that the vandals attacking it proved so persistent that they were eventually forced to give up and have it interred with Pearl herself. There's just a bare foundation stone there now, and visitors have to be content with leaving their pennies on that instead.