"The Holmes and Thurmond lynching resulted in destruction of two of the parks trees
and brought much undesirable notoriety to the city"
Clyde Arbuckle

E. Carlson, 1999

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#1 - Tarring & Feathering
In 1918 a German by the name of George Koetzer, an employee of the Fredricksburg brewery, was tarred, feathered, and chained to the brass cannon at the base of the McKinley statue.

He was suspected of being "pro German" by a secret organization called Knights of Liberty of San Jose and Oakland. The Knights, wearing black cowls over their heads with peep holes, removed Koetzer from his room in the Safe Deposit Bank building at the corner of First and Santa Clara Streets, and drove him to the corner of Penitencia Creek Road and Piedmont Road. His trail took place in the glare of automobile headlights. He was accused of making disloyal remarks, and sentenced to be tarred and feathered.

#2 - Brooke Hart Kidnapping & Public Lynching
On Nov 9, 1933, 22-year old Brooke Hart, of Hart Department Store fame, was kidnapped and held for $40,000 ransom. Brooke and his family were very popular in San Jose, which would not bode well for his kidnappers.

A massive manhunt, and some good breaks, led conclusively to Thomas Harold Thurmond. Thomas was rounded up and, after six hours of interrogation, named his accomplice, John M. Holmes. They fessed up to murdering Brooke with a piece of concrete, and indicated where they had dropped the body into the San Francisco Bay. The body was found seventeen days later.

The public, still outraged at the kidnap-murder of Charles Lindberg's baby a few months earlier, was crying for blood. On the evening of the 26th, a lynch mob broke into the Santa Clara County Jail behind the Courthouse, and dragged Holmes and Thurmond from their cells. They were hauled into St. James Park where 3000 onlookers from San Jose, and points beyond, chanted "String them up."

Clyde Arbuckle relates, in his great tome, History of San Jose,
"Thurmond was hung from the limb of a venerable mulberry tree, and, the limb of a great elm a few feet away served as Holmes' gallow a second or two later." Souvenir hunters so damaged the trees that they were cut down. Not a trace remains of them.

During this long day, Governor "Sunny Jim" Rolf publicized his refusal to call out the National Guard to protect the kidnappers, referring to the lynching as a "lesson."San Joseans were not terribly distraught over the lynching, the feeling was that Holmes and Thurmond got what they deserved.

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