FRANKLIN STICHLER – AGE 19 – THE RUFFIAN
FROM THE BOOK “BLUE EYED SIX” BY Wayne H. Anspach: (A true story from the late 19th century about four men who insured the town hobo and then hired a humble butcher and local ruffian to murder him so they could collect the insurance money…. all six having blue eyes!)
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: “Brandt said they had the plan ready and if I didn’t kill him they would shoot me, so to save my life I promised. I knew not what to do, my life was in danger. I then asked Frank Stichler to do it because I could not. Stichler said he didn’t care, he could kill anyone but bargained I should go along which I promised but declared I would not touch Raber.” (from Charles Drews Confession)
IN THEIR OWN WORDS #2: “We went to the creek, Drews leading off and I in the rear. We persuaded Raber to go with us under the pretext of getting meat at J. Kreisers. When we were all on the plank I took Raber by the legs and threw him into the water, and I jumped in on top of Raber and got him by the hair, and in order to keep his head underwater, Drews, who remained on the plank, pressed upon me. Our combined force keeping him down, we held him down for five to ten minutes, then I went to Drews house and he went to Brandt’s. I don’t pretend to be innocent, I did the deed, and Drews helped me. I was to get $100 and Drews $300” (from Franklin Stichler’s confession)
FRANKLIN STICHLER – This boy was born at Indiantown Gap about one half mile from the scene of the tragedy. His parents were identified with those who labor for their daily bread as Frank’s father was engaged in the business of charcoal burning for a livelihood. Franklin was identified from childhood with the wild and irregular life incumbent on those who engage in this precarious vocation. At the age of nine years he first went to school only in the fall and winter since his father needed his services in order to keep the wolf from the door. He went to school only two years and said he didn’t gleam much benefit as he was too full of fun and childish pranks that he paid more attention to making jokes on the other boys than heeding the precepts of the country schoolmaster. So we find him with little or no education, compelled to associate with the rough crowd that inhabited the region where he lived. He had few advantages to cultivate the more desireable traits of character. He was unmarried, but always quite a favorite with the fair sex at the Gap, presuming he would have soon entered his chances in the matrimonial lottery, had not the lust of gain obscured his better nature and caused him to commit and act which the laws of his country declare he shall atone for with his life. He spent his time in prison reading his Bible and singing hymns, confident in propitiating the Supreme Being to whom alone he looks for mercy. He it was by his own confession who murdered old Joseph Raber at Indiantown Gap by throwing him into the creek, off a plank, and holding him under water until life was extinct.
LOBO COMMENTS: My Uncle Wayne Anspach (author of “Blue Eyed Six”) told me that Franklin’s parents John & Elizabeth Stichler were God fearing and good Christian people. How much of a heartbreak it must have been for them to see the wild side of Franklin on display as he approached manhood! How they must have prayed for their young son. But those prayers seemed to bounce off the proverbial ceiling as Franklin was involved in scores of robberies in the neighborhood in order to supply Israel Brandt (the ringleader of the Six) with meat for his hotel customers. One night he even stole all the money his father had in his pockets and took a train car for Tower City and from there to the cities of Lykens, Harrisburg and Philadelphia staying several days then coming back to Lebanon. He was arrested, thrown in jail and when his father came and took him home he only had five cents left. Then he moved from home and started rooming in Israel Brandt’s hotel. After the murder and while in jail, Franklin’s parents visited him frequently, especially his mother. He was so attached to his mother, and the scenes of her visiting Franklin were heartwarming. He spoke in the warmest manner of his love and devotion for her while in prison. After his execution it is said that no cemetery officials would take his body so his mother drove her horse and buggy to Lebanon and retrieved her son’s body. Can you imagine that long, sad trip? She took him home and buried him in her backyard garden. Then she heaped a pile of stones over the grave so grave robbers could not easily take him and planted a snowball bush beside him to decorate the spot. Thanks to her and that pile of stones, the grave site was kept from being swallowed up by the mountain in the ensuing years. You can still visit the site today.
THE BIBLE: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Next up: “The Story”