Thursday, June 12, 2014

Eli Blackwell's Mad Escape, Err... Escapes

Detroit Free Press, September 8, 1871
Back in the day nothing excited police or the general populace more than a black man on the run. Mobs would gather to harness or put down the law breaker. Apparently this scenario extended to the insane population, assuming that Eli Blackwell was actually mad and not just another case of a besotted fool or petty criminal adjudged insane instead of being properly labelled a reprobate. No matter, he tried to escape the custody of lawman O'Neil at the Grand Trunk Junction--while en route to the asylum--and was wrested back into custody with the help of several unnamed Detroiters.

His capture was short-lived as Blackwell escaped once more upon arrival at the Wayne station. He darted off into the woods under hot pursuit by lawmen. Certainly he was eventually captured but it wasn't on that fine day in September of 1871. Nor the following morning lest the news of his escape wouldn't have been news any longer.

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