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St. Louis Post Dispatch
St. Louis Post Dispatch
Contributed by Gigimo

Description: A Nevada Man's New Suit. How it Feels to Wear a Coat of Tar and Feathers Next to the Skin.

Date: December 19 1882

Newspaper published in: St. Louis, MO

(From the Virginia Chronicle.)

"Most people," said a prominent Renoite to a Chronicle reporter today, "don't know what a terrible punishment tarring and feathering really is. They suppose that it is nothing worse than a badge of infamy, rather uncomfortable, perhaps, but not painful unless the tar gets into the eyes. This is a great mistake. I helped to daub JONES. He was a disgrace to humanity and he deserved what he got. But I had no idea until I saw that fellow plastered what a tough deal the process is. We painted him all over pretty thick with a broom and some enthusiastic vigilante poured a few gallons of tar on his head. Then the feathers, taken from a big pillow, were dusted on him, and he stood out, white and fluffy, in the starlight, like some huge and grotesque looking bird. He had to put his clothes on over the whole mess, and then he was ridden on a rail for fifty yards or so,and we put him on board the West-bound train at midnight, with instructions not to come back on pain of being hanged.

"I saw him on the train. He was sitting with his head on his arms on the back on the seat in front of him. The tar was so thick on his head that it covered the hair out of sight, and his poll shone in the light of the car lamps like a black rubber ball just dipped in the water. The poor fellow was groaning, and I couldn't help feeling mean at having taken a hand in the job. You see the body is covered with short hair, and when tar hardens a little the slightest movement causes acute pain, as if one's beard were being pulled out with pincers, hair by hair. Then there is the stoppage of all perspiration, which would soon kill a man if he didn't make lively time in getting scrubbed.

"Besides, the smell of the tar turns the stomach, and about half an hour after a man has been coated he must feel mighty sorry he wasn't hanged. Then comes the scrubbing with oil. It took two Chinamen and a darkey three days in Truckee to reduce JONES to a mild brown. The rubbing makes the skin tender, and the body must be as sore as a boil for weeks.

Submitted: 05/22/10

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