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 1853 Riot at the LaSalle  

1935 LaSalle County Bank Robbers Captured or Killed Near Magnolia - Tragic Deaths of Marshall and LaSalle County Men


Attempted Murder of James Clark (1840)

The Illinois Free Trader, Ottawa, Ill, June 19, 1840
Examination of Munsell for an Attempt to Murder Clark


The following is a summary of the facts touching the attempt to murder James Clark, on Tuesday, the 9th instant, as taken at the examination before Esquires Link and Fitch.

"Clark occupies a farm, about eight miles from Ottawa, on the road to Indian Creek, the fee of which is in W. T. S. Lavinia, of this place. Clark holds the premises under a lease from Lavinia, of seven years, which has several years to run; has been in possession about three years and made considerable improvements; Lavinia receiving, as rent, one half the products of the farm, he (L.) finding seed, implements of husbandry, &c.

"Lavinia, sometime last winter, became anxious, for some reason, to rout Clark from the premises; and for the purpose of effecting it, instigated the two men who have been committed with him for the attempt on Clark's life, Timothy Munsell and John East, who live near Clark's place, to a series of outrages against Clark, his family and his property. He commenced, by causing a fraudulent judgment to be entered against himself, before a Justice of the Peace, procured an individual to swear out immediate execution against himself and sent the officer, having the process, to Clark's place, to levy on the property there. This was accordingly done; the officer proceeding to Clark's place, broke into his house with the assistance of Munsell, East and others, and levied upon all, or nearly all the property he could find there. The same thing was substantially repeated soon afterwards, by another execution, similarly obtained. These measures failing to effect the object, Lavinia next instigated Munsell to make a complaint against Clark and his whole family, for larceny, and have them taken before Esquire Sutphin, and, that during their absence, East should break up their house, all of which was done.

However, Clark repaired and re-entered his house and showed a disposition to remain there. Munsell and East then ploughed his farm, though forbidden by Clark; repaired his barn and commenced thrashing his grain. Clark being about to seek legal redress, it is supposed means were adopted to prevent him, by taking more decisive measures. Accordingly, Munsell and East repaired to Clark's barn, each with fire arms, well loaded; upon the approach of Clark, Munsell drew up his rifle, with a menace of shooting at Clark, but, upon the remonstrance of a Mr. Scott, a friend of Clark's, who was standing by, he lowered his rifle, set it by, took up a piece of chain about three free long, struck Clark with it, knocked down Scott, then struck Clark twice again with the chain - the last time bringing him to the ground: he then directed his son, a lad about fourteen years of age, to hand him his rifle: drew it up and deliberately shot Clark, at the distance of about eight feet, while he was lying upon the ground: the ball passed through the left arm, entered the side, and has not yet been extracted.

"Clark's situation is critical and doubtful. East was standing near at the time, and after Clark was shot, and while his family and Scott were bearing him to the house, drew up his gun and snapped it three times, with the intention of discharging it at those who were bearing away Clark; as he afterwards declared, that "if it had gone off at that time, he would have killed the whole of them." He also said afterwards to a neighbor, that "Munsell had shot Clark through his arm," he "wished to God it had been his heart."

"After the act had been done, Munsell came to town, consulted with Lavinia, and procured a State's warrant to be issued for the arrest of Clark. News of the above tragic event arriving in town however, a few minutes after the officer received the process, he instantly seized Munsell, and placed him in custody. East and Lavinia were arrested soon after. After the arrest of the defendants, Lavinia and Munsell endeavored to procure one of the witnesses to swear that Munsell took his gun down there to shoot deer, &c.

"The counsel for the defendants, endeavored to prove that the guns were taken to Clark's barn, for a different purpose from that for which one of them was used: and it may not be improper to add, that one of Munsell's boys, a lad of about twelve years of age, who, however, was contradicted in every material point of his testimony, by other witnesses, and by the necessary deductions from his own story, actually did swear, that he suggested to his father to take his gun there to kill deer."

Such, it is believed, was substantially the testimony given on the examination. Munsell, East and Lavinia, were committed for trial.

A public meeting of the citizens of Ottawa, for the purpose of relieving the distressed situation of the family of Mr. Clark, took place at the Court House on Saturday evening last, M. E. Hollister was called to the Chair and Michael Ryan appointed Secretary.

A Committee, consisting of the following gentlemen, was then appointed for the purpose of receiving subscriptions: W. F. Walker, J. Y. Sanger, George Armour, Wm. Reddick and L. W. Link.

The committee procured from those in attendance, between one and two hundred dollars, and others who feel disposed to assist, can do so by calling on either of the committee.

We are pleased to see our citizens manifest so much liberality in this matter. It is just as it should be: it is the duty of every man to contribute his mite, on an occasion like this. We hope the citizens generally throughout the county will bear this in mind, and anything they may feel able to contribute, will be thankfully received by the suffering family.



Anthony Wolf Murders Jacob Back
The Illinois Free Trader, Ottawa, Ill, December 18, 1840
Horrible Murder at Peru, in this county. The Ninawah Gazette says: "Last evening, (Sunday Dec. 13,) a most horrible murder was committed in Peru, on the person of Jacob Back, by one Anthony Wolf. The circumstances are briefly as follows: Wolf had been in the employ of the deceased one or two days. On Sunday he got intoxicated, after which he became noisy and abusive, so much so that the deceased, after a scuffle, put him out of the house and locked the door. The deceased to avert further difficulty, dispatched his wife and a boarder of theirs for assistance. Before their return, Wolf broke the lock of the door, and entering, met the deceased, and without warning, stabbed him in the left breast with a knife about four inches in length. Soon after, Mrs. Back returned, and found her husband standing in the kitchen; she had been in but a moment, when he gave alarming signs of distress. Mrs. B. immediately ran for help, which was obtained without delay. The deceased was placed upon a bed, but expired in about ten minutes after. On post mortem examination it was ascertained that the knife penetrated the left lobe of the lungs."



James Phillips Tried From Murder

The Ottawa Free Trader, April 5, 1844
The trial of James M. Phillips for the murder of Lowell Morse about one year ago, is now going on before the circuit court in this place. Great difficulty is found in selecting the jury and we believe but ten have been retained, thus far, out of a large number summoned. The jury will probably be complete today and the examination of witnessed commenced tomorrow. The counsel engaged are - for the state, Prosecuting Attorney Fridley, assisted by S. P. Shope, Esq., of this place. For the prisoner, T. L. Dickey, Esq., of this place and N. H. Purple, Esq. of Peoria.



Thomas Tracy's Home is Robbed
The Ottawa Free Trader, September 5, 1845
Robbery
As horse stealing is getting to be dangerous business, our thieves are beginning on a new tack. The house of Mr. Thomas Tracy, on Covel creek, three miles south of this place, was entered on Sunday last, while the family was at church, by raising a window, and a number of articles abstracted, besides beaking the hands and pendulum of a clock standing on the mantel. Among the articles missing are a silver watch, a clarinet, two razors, a penknife, a box of percussion caps, a quantity of fine shot, some thread, a needle case full of needles and a pair of woolen stockings.



John Anderson Arrested for Tracy Home Robbery
The Ottawa Free Trader, September 12, 1845
We understand a part of the property stolen from the house of Mr. Thomas Tracy a week ago on Sunday was found a few days ago in the possession of one John Anderson, living some 4 miles from the residence of Mr. Tracy. He was arrested and taken before Esq. Crook, of South Ottawa, by whom, after an examination, in de (?) of bail, he was committed to our county jail to wait his trial for larceny.



Renselaer Woodruff Arrested for Mail Robbery

The Ottawa Free Trader, Ottawa, Illinois, September 26, 1845
Arrest of a Mail Robber

On Sunday morning last our village was thrown into much excitement by the arrest of Mr. Renselaer Woodruff, assistant deputy postmaster at this place, for robbing the mail at this office. The particulars are, as near as we can ascertain them as follows:

For the last 7 months it has been known by the proper officers that depredations were committed on the mail bags somewhere between Springfield and Chicago, and various other points to the north. By careful vigilance on the part of Gen. Stewart, the postmaster at Chicago and his energetic clerks, they were finally convinced that the robberies were committed somewhere between Hennepin and Chicago and from continued exertions and examinations were led to strongly suspicion the office at this place. Accordingly the most cautious and effective means were used to ferret out the villain and bring him to justice. Several traps were set by the post office at Chicago, but they all failed except the last one, which led to the discovery and arrest on Sunday morning last.

The department had employed Mr. Larabee, of Chicago, as a special agent to watch the postmasters in the suspected quarter, and he accordingly accompanied the mail and made examinations. On Saturday afternoon last, after the mail left this office, he found that the "bait" was gone and that the post office here had taken it, but yet was not satisfied that any guilt could be established unless further examination would prove it. He accordingly had the necessary papers prepared on Saturday evening for the arrest on the morning, should the circumstances warrant. The sheriff and his deputy were notified, the papers placed in their possession, and everything in readiness.

Early on Sunday morning Mr. Larabee repaired to the post office, the sheriff and his deputy keeping at the proper distance so as not to cause suspicion and to prevent escape. The agent entered the bed chamber of Woodruff, found him in bed, informed him that he was a post office agent, enquired about the management of the office and also those in the neighborhood, all of which were propounded by the agent for the purpose of fully ascertaining the fastening the robbery on him. After the conversation ended Woodruff remained unconscious of anything being suspected. The agent became satisfied of his guilt, gave the proper signal to the sheriff, who at once arrested him.

During the excitement attending the arrest, Mr. Alson Woodruff, who is postmaster and lives some distance from the office, came in the room and invited the agent to make a thorough examination and fully satisfy himself on the subject. During the search the wife of the prisoner manifested much uneasiness and several times ascended and descended the stairs leading from the post office to the second story. Her movements were closely watched by the officers and she was finally seen by the deputy sheriff gathering up some paper, going out the back door and entering the privy.
The deputy sheriff pursed her, accused her of having the "missed package," &c., all of which she denied. The agent was informed of the (..?...), who immediately ordered the floor of the privy to be taken up and search to made in the vault, where the package, containing six letters and $40 in money was found, thus placing the guilt beyond question.

The prisoner was then taken before Judge Caton, who after hearing the evidence, held him to bail in the sum of $2,500, for his appearance at the December term of the U.S. Circuit Court to be held at Springfield, in default of which he was committed to the county jail, where he now remains.

It is proper for us to say in this connection that Mr. Alson Woodruff, the postmaster, is in nowise implicated in this dreadful transaction. The offender is a brother, and who heretofore bore a good character amongst our citizens. The b? falls heavily on the family and many sympathize with them, but the requirements of justice demand that the offender suffer the penalty of the law, which is not less than ten years in the state's prison.



Horse Stolen from Frink, Walker & Co.
The Ottawa Free Trader, Ottawa, Illinois, November 28, 1845
Quick Work
About eight o'clock on Friday evening last a horse was stolen out of the barn of Frink, Walker & Co. at Peru and the thief, or one of the thieves, rode him as far as Ottawa, where he stopped at the Fox River House, at about three o'clock in the morning. While there, he heard some persons speaking of a horse that had been stolen, stating that the thief was closely pursued &c., which so alarmed the customer, that he went out and slipped the bridle off the horse and let him run, himself shortly after going to the sheriff and giving himself up. The horse went to Frink, Walker & Co.'s stable at this place, where he was at once recognized and taken care of and the thief was put to jail. On Monday morning Judge Caton ordered a special grand jury to be summoned, who found a bill against the prisoner; whereupon he was immediately arraigned for trial. He plead guilty to the indictment and was sentenced to the state's prison for six years. It appears by the evidence taken before the grand jury that his real name was Lawrence Dorsey, though he had gone under the assumed name of Wilson and that he was a old offender.



James Levens Home Robbed
The Ottawa Free Trader, Ottawa, Illinois, April 3, 1846
Robbery
The house of Mr. James Levens teamster of this place, was entered by two men last night and robbed of about $60 in specie. Mr. L. was asleep when the robbery was committed, and only waked up in time to see the thieves escape from the house. He was unable to form any conjecture as to who they were, but they appear to be pretty well acquainted about the premises and with Mr. L.'s affairs.



George Good Breaks Out of Jail
The Ottawa Free Trader, Ottawa, Illinois, April 24, 1846
Geo. W. Good, the negro who has been confined in our jail for the last 10 months for stealing, broke jail last night and has left for part unknown. He is a shrewd, keen fellow, a consummate villain and can finger other people's property as adroitly as the most finished financier. So look out for your horses and hen-roosts!



Timothy Thompson Attacks Family
The Ottawa Free Trader, Ottawa, Illinois, May 15, 1846
Unfortunate Occurrence
We have the particulars of a most unfortunate occurrence at Troy Grove, in this county, on Friday morning last. Mr. Timothy Thompson, a respectable citizen, had for several weeks previous been slightly deranged, and had a presentiment that an attack was to be made on his family. To defend himself in this event, he every night on going to bed placed an axe and razor by his side. On Thursday evening he was more deranged than usual and the family took the precaution to remove the axe and the razor he he had fortunately placed by mistake between the feather and straw beds. During the night, imagining the enemy had come, he rose and not finding the axe or razor, he procured a flat iron and dealt his wife and child each such a blow that both were stunned. By this time a brother, who was sleeping in the same room, awoke, and guessing what was going on, sprang and seized him. A fierce struggle ensued which lasted over an hour, during which the brother received a blow on the side of the head with the flat iron that stunned him so that for a minute he was nearly helpless. Finally the man was subdued, and some children were sent to a neighbor's for help; but before help came the man had sunk on the floor and died. He received no violence during the struggle, except what was the result of hos own almost superhuman exertion to overcome his brother, who was greatly his superior in strength.
The wife and child, we are happy to learn have fully recovered. A coroner's inquest was held and a verdict returned in accordance with the above facts.


Van Antrap Arrested for Horse Stealing
The Ottawa Free Trader, Ottawa, Illinois, September 4, 1846
Horse Thief Taken - A person who has went by the name of Wilson, but whose real name is J. Q. Van Antrap was arrested at A. Keefer's tavern, about nine miles from this place on the Chicago road about three weeks since for stealing a horse belonging to Mr. Vermet and a sale and bridle belonging to Mr. Keefer. He is now in jail at this place and as he has confessed his guilt, he will doubtless take up his quarters at Alton for a time. The horse, saddle and bridle have been recovered. Since his arrest and confinement it has been ascertained that the has left a horse on the Vermillion, about 12 miles from this place and circumstances lead to the opinion that it is one which he has stolen. The horse is a gray. He says he purchased the horse at Galena or near that place of a Mr. Lockwood. Should the horse be stolen, the owner can call at this office and receive information of his whereabouts.



Van Antrap Escapes from Jail
The Ottawa Free Trader, Ottawa, Illinois, October 2, 1846
The horse thief arrested a short time since by Mr. Keefer and who stole the gray horse we advertised made his escape from our county jail a few nights since. We believe he made his escape through the aperture made by the negro who escaped not long since. Had not the county commissioners better vacate the jail and let it out for some other purpose? It appears to be perfectly useless for the purpose it was intended.



H. Higby Assaulted and Injured
The Ottawa Free Trader, Ottawa, January 29, 1847
A few days since an affray occurred a few miles from this place between H. Higby and several persons engaged cutting timber on his land. Mr. H. was brutally assaulted and had one of his feet nearly cut off by an axe, which was thrown at him by one of the parties.


Wm. Osborne Stabs De Long
The Ottawa Free Trader, Ottawa, January 29, 1847
A bloody affray occurred at Peru, a few days since. A man by the name of De Long was severely stabbed by a person named Wm. Osborne, which caused his death on yesterday. We refrain from giving the particulars. De Long has been arrested and is now confined in our county jail.



D.L. Hough Shoots Col. Avery in Arm
The Ottawa Free Trader, Ottawa, Illinois, April 30, 1847
Disgraceful Affray
On Tuesday last, a most disgraceful affray occurred in this place between Mr. D. L. Hough, Land Agent and Col. Avery, in which the latter was shot by the former in the arm, so as to disable him for some time, if not to destroy to use of the limb. Mr. Hough, we are informed, fired three different times at him with a revolving pistol, but only one shot took effect. The affray took place at the dwelling house of Col. Avery, as we believe within a few paces of his own door.
We are not sufficiently acquainted with the nature of the misunderstanding between the parties to give the particulars, even if we wished to do so. As is usual in such cases, it is hard to arrive at a just conclusion without a legal investigation of the matter, and we therefore refrain, hoping that the matter will be fully examined into by the proper authorities.

Mr. Hough Found Not Guilty
The Ottawa Free Trader, Ottawa, Illinois, November 19, 1847
The trial of Mr. Hough, canal land agent, for shooting Mr. Avery, of this place, last spring, came off in our court on Tuesday. The jury, after fighting over the matter to the loss of a night's sleep, finally on Wednesday morning, brought in a verdict of acquittal. The main ground relied on, and upon which the jury acquitted Mr. H., was, we believe, that he had acted in self-defense.



Mr. Monroe Attacked
The Ottawa Free Trader, Ottawa, Illinois,
April 13, 1849
Daring Attempt to Rob.
About 11 o'clock last Wednesday night a villainous attempt was made to rob Mr. Monroe, who keeps the Union House, in this place. He had been in Hopper's ball alley and having something to pay for at the county took out his pocket book, thus exhibiting a large roll of bank bills. On leaving the place shortly after, before he got a rod from the house, he was struck over the head with a bludgeon, and an attempt made to rob him, but Mr. M. not having even by repeated blows been struck insensible, made such a noise, that persons soon rushed to his aid, and the robbers were obliged to run. They failed to get any of his money, although in their attempt to get his pocket book they tore off nearly all his clothes. Two men, one a negro, have been arrested and lodged in jail, on suspicion of being the perpetrators of the outrage. Mr. Monroe is dangerously hurt.
April 20, 1849
Several corrections are due from us in reference to the assault on Mr. Monroe, which we notices in our last. It was not in front, or near Mr. Hopper's ball alley that the affair took place, but at the Buena Vista House. Mr. Hopper, we believe no longer keeps the alley. Nor is there any evidence, we are told by good authority, to show that there was any intention to rob Mr. Monroe.


William Songer Convicted of Horse Theft
The Ottawa Free Trader, Ottawa, Illinois, April 13, 1849
William Songer, of whom we spoke in our last as having been arrested for stealing a horse, has been tried, found guilty and the Judge sentenced him to one month's imprisonment in the county jail. It is necessary to be acquainted with all the circumstances to be able to appreciate the justness of so slight a punishment for so serious a crim. Songer is a poor, single boy and committed the crime under very peculiar circumstances.


Kelly is Arrested for Stealing Wife and Money
The Ottawa Free Trader, Ottawa, Illinois, April 13, 1849
A man named Kelly some four weeks ago persuaded the wife of a respectable citizen of this place to run away with him, while the husband was absent to Chicago. They took with them some $150 belonging to the absent husband and went as far as Peru, where Kelley got the money in his own possession and abandoned the woman, who returned to this place, sufficiently sick of her bargain. The wronged husband followed the rascal until he finally overhauled him at Galena, in the Mayor's or some other court where he was being tried for some petty crime and acquitted. So the customer was immediately taken in charge and brought to this place, where he is in durance, awaiting his trial. Some $60 of the money was found on his person.



Baker Kills Casey
The Ottawa Free Trader, Ottawa, Illinois February 2, 1850
Peoria, Feb. 1, 7 p.m.
On Wednesday evening, two men - one named Casey and the other Baker - got into some difficulty at the Monterey Coffee House on Water Street when both displayed pistols. Baker stepped outside and fired through he sash door. The ball striking the sash, breaking a pain of glass, passed through Casey's heart, killing him instantly. Baker has fled.



Trial of George Gates for Daniel Liley Murder

Taken From the Alton Daily Telegraph (Alton, Illinois)
June 10, 1853

The trial of George Gates for the murder of Daniel Liley, in Lasalle county last November came off at Ottawa last week, and resulted in the conviction of the accused. The case involved many circumstances of peculiar hardship and atrocity and elicited a very general interest during the nine days of its continuance. The proof of the prisoner's guilt, from the testimony published in the Ottawa Free Trader seemed to be overwhelming. That paper described Gates as a young man, not more than 25 years old, handsome and of very gentlemanly address and appearance. His hands are small and soft, his complexion fair, and his hair glossy; and in every respect looks like a most harmless man. He bore himself however, throughout the whole of his trial, with the utmost unconcern and indifference, and manifested the appearance of a most hardened wretch. But upon being taken back to his prison, his spirit seemed to sink within in, and he wept like a child.



John Thorn Kills Considine in Laborer Dispute

Alton Daily Telegraph (Alton, Illinois)
July 4, 1853

A fracas occurred at the bridge building for the Illinois Central Railroad opposite Lasalle, on the 28th, between a party of laborers. During the Melee, a man named John Thorn drew a pistol and shot a fellow laborer named Michael Considine, killing him almost instantly. Nine of them were arrested soon after by Sheriff Thorne, and lodged in jail at Ottawa.



John Soter Sentenced to be Hung
SENTENCED TO BE HUNG

John Soter, formerly a resident of the town of Deer Park, in this county, but for the last few years a resident of Livingston County, has just been tried for murder at Pontiac, found guilty, and sentenced to be hung. We gave the circumstances of the murder a month or two ago. We had known John well for many years, and in his sober senses always found him well behaved, kind and open hearted. But he had contracted the morbid appetite for strong drink and when under its influence, like so many other good men, was a demon. The evidence showed that when he committed the horrible crime which he will probably expiate on the gallows, he was under the influence of "fire water." [The Ottawa Free Trader, Volume 32, Number 44, 8 June 1872; Sub. by Pam Haag Geyer]

JOHN SOTER.
We find in the Pontiac Meteor the details making intelligible the despatch published in the Chicago papers a week ago stating that Mr. John Soter, a former resident of this county and well known in Ottawa, but for the last few years residing in Livingston county, had been placed in limbo at Pontiac on the charge of murder. It seems Soter, a few years ago, married a widow lady named Thompson, residing near Pontiac, upon a fine farm, of which she had come in possession by the death of her former husband. It turned out subsequently, however, that the said "former husband" had another wife living in England, who, on hearing of his (Thompson's) death, came to this country and claimed his property, a claim which she succeeded in making good in the courts, and the other widow, with her new husband, Soter, was dispossessed of the property. The new owner placed a Mr. Rollins upon the property, and this Mr. Rollins Soter is accused of having deliberately shot dead while playing a violin at a little party at Soter's own house. The facts as stated in the Meteor look bad for John. [The Ottawa Free Trader, Volume 32, Number 37, 20 April 1872; Sub. by Pam Haag Geyer]




Henry Chapman Arrested for Theft
Henry Republican, Henry IL, August 14, 1879

State News

Herman B. Chapman, the LaSalle express driver, has been rearrested, and the evidence is conclusive that he is the one who stole the $14,000 lost by the company some tiem ago. James W. Duncan of LaSalle, a young attorney has the credit of working up the case.



Hiram Reed Trial for Attempted Murder of Iola Bradford

Decatur Evening Herald (Decatur, Illinois) February 20, 1928

Counsel Seeks to Have Confession of Youth Barred
Ottawa, Feb. 20
Attorneys for Hiram Reed, charged with attempting to slay his sweetheart by placing dynamite in the stove of the school house where she was a teacher, filed a motion in LaSalle county court Monday morning to bar from Reed’s trail a confession he was alleged to have made last summer. Jude Frank S. Hayes, Morrison, Ill., called the case to order at 1:30 p.m. More than half of the panel of 50 jurors called were excused from duty on grounds of business and physical disability. Miss Bradford was in court. The scars on her face inflicted by the explosion, still were apparent. The state charges Reed sought to kill her to avoid marrying her and assuming responsibility of their unborn child.

The Edwardsville Intelligencer 6 Feb 1929

Springfield, Ill., Feb. 5 – The February term of the Illinois Supreme court which will consider several cases of state-wide interest opened here today.

The Tiram Reed case again will come before the state tribunal. Reed, more than a year ago, is said to have placed dynamite in a school house stove in an effort to destroy his sweetheart, Iola Bradford, teacher of the school. Miss Bradford was injured critically in the resultant explosion and the LaSalle County trial court, in which county the “love bombing” occurred, sentenced Reed to Joliet penitentiary. Attorneys for Reed appealed to the state supreme court and the high tribunal at its December term held with the trial court. Reed now seeks a rehearing of this decision.

 

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