The 1876 Lacon Shooting

Taken From the Henry Republican
A Tragedy at Lacon (The shooting attack on Mrs. Locke and her family)

August 17, 1876

A terrible tragedy was enacted at Lacon, about nine o’clock Tuesday night, the results of which will probably occasion the death of three men, who were fired upon by a mob of six men, through a window, all armed with guns or revolvers, all desperate characters, and who had gone there to do deadly work, regardless of consequences. To get a full understanding of the case, we shall have to go back to the tragedy of two weeks ago, given by our Lacon correspondent in these columns.

In "Sebastopol" (a name given to the lower portion of Lacon) is a one story, one room house, kept by a Mrs. Locke, a woman of easy virtue. A young man named Powers attempted an entrance, but because she had other visitors, he was warned from the premises, and because he refused to go, Mrs. Locke fired a gun at him, the ball taking effect just above the root of the nose, in his forehead, but up to his writing, the victim has not suffered material harm from it. No doubt the attack of Tuesday night was an outcome of this shooting, instigated by Powers himself, or by his brother Lawrence, who was with the gang who made the attack.

On the fatal night the house was occupied by Mrs. Locke; Robert Iliff of Caledonia, a son-in-law, his wife and children; William Way, a brother-in-law, his wife and children; and Henry Locke, the occupants of the one room consisting of three men, three women and six children, 12 souls in all. The attacking party consisted of Dennis Hagerty, William Beebe, Reddan Ames, Lawrence Powers, and two others whose names we failed to ascertain, the first three being now under arrest and in jail, awaiting the results of the shooting upon their victims and examination. The parties arrested show no signs of remorse for this dastardly work, but boast that they meant to do it and were not ashamed of it.

At the time they visited the house, the gang demanded that the occupants come out, but before their request was complied with they commenced firing into the house. The women and children fled through the back door and down a cellar way and were not hurt, while the men, who were unable to get away, were all hit and it is feared fatally. Iliff received five buckshot through his eyes and lower portion of the head, and though he was living at five o’clock last night, it was believed he could not survive the night. Locke was shot in the abdomen and left side, and was still alive, though there was no chance of his recovery. Way received several buck shot along his left arm, and one bullet pierced his bowels, the latter wound, the physicians assured him, would surely prove fatal. He was sitting up when we visited the premises, and was able to walk about the room, and talked glibly to the throng who visited the scene of the tragedy during the day and evening.

The house was riddled with the shot and bullets of the conflict, which shows the desperate men had been engaged in it. The window was completely shattered, and the walls of the house, the pictures, and ceiling, were peppered with the leaden hail. Some of the shot went through the wall at the further end of the room, and fell down on the outside. In fact the shanty is completely riddled with small shot and bullets. The door had been also broken and partly beaten down with stone.

To murder the inmates, deliberately, men, women and children, was the intention of the attacking party, and if their work was not effectually accomplished, it was no blame of theirs. The three persons who are yet at liberty are diligently sought after, and it is likely will be found and secured ere this goes to press. Surely it is a clear case of deliberate murder, and that Marshall county will have the spectacle of a wholesale hanging scene, at no future day, we have no doubt if sheriff, judge and jury do their duty, and these parties get their just deserts.

August 24, 1876

Local Correspondence - Lacon

Lacon is still all excitement over the shooting affray which occurred here on Tuesday night of last week, and although the matter is a very serious one, there is some sport had in consequence at the expense of the Lacon folks, as Powers, the first man shot, is still walking about town with a bullet in his brain, while Iliff, who was shot last week is still living, an conscious much of the time, but has five or six bullets in his brain. Our physicians think that there is something peculiar about the anatomy of the Lacon people and express a doubt as to whether their brains lie in their head. The parties who were shot are all likely to recover except Iliff, who cannot possibly live long.

Dennis Haggerty who appears to have been the leader in the riot, and Thad. Powers and Chas. O'Hara who were with him, are now having their cases, investigated before Ira Norris, Esq. The investigation has lasted two days, and does not appear to be half completed. It appears from the testimony that Dennis Haggerty, Redan Ames, Lawrence Powers, Chas. O'Hara, Chas. Haws, and perhaps tow or three others were there with guns. That Haggerty ordered them to leave the house in two minutes, and within a minute, two or three shots were fired in at the window, and were immediately followed by a volley from the remainder of the guns. Iliff fell at the first shot, and Locke and Way were wounded by the first volley. Three vollies were fired into the house, besides a shower of stones. No persons except Powers, Haggerty and O'Hara are under arrest.

There were a few errors in you report of the of the matter last week. Instead of six men, there was a crowd of 30 or 40 men and boys. The inmates of the house were Mr. and Mrs. Lock. Mrs. L.'s brother-in-law (Robert Iliff), her brother, and three small children, all in one room, there being but one room in the house. A cross fire was made through the house, leaving only a small space behind the door unexposed to the shot and bullets, rendering escape form injury impossible.

Evidently an intention to injure some one was what took those there who had loaded guns, or at best there was a criminal indifference as to what the result might be, for which the leader at least should be held to an account, but it is quite as evident that a large proportion of those who were there had no intention of assisting in committing the outrage which was perpetrated, but should be taught to keep out of such crowds, and in the futre to discountenance such riotous conduct. If reports are true, some who claim respectability and who could have prevented the tragedy, did not attempt to do so, but gave a tacit approval of the plan of "cleaning them out" as it was expressed.

October 26, 1876

Local Correspondence - Lacon

After one full week of hard fighting over the trail of Dennis Haggerty, Thaddeus Powers and Charles O'Hara for murder, the case was submitted to the jury on Friday evening which, after considering of their verdict for about an hour, returned a verdict of "not guilty" as to Charles O'Hara which was just what was expected by all who had heard the testimony through, as there was nothing in the testimony which would have justified any other verdict.

The jury immediately proceeded to the consideration of the cases of Haggerty and Powers which resulted on Saturday morning by their agreeing to a verdict of not guilty as to both of the last named defendants, thus putting an end to the notorious case known as the "Lock tragedy," but by no means putting an end to the excitement about the matter, in fact it is said that some of the jurors made it convenient to leave town without unnecessary delay, as there is a feeling here that the jury did not do their duty in this matter, as it is thought that the testimony against a part of the persons indicted for this crime utterly failed to warrant any such verdict.

The case was well tried throughout, and although defeated, Mr. Potter deserves credit for his spirited prosecution of the case against the united efforts of Messrs. Shaw, Edwards and O'Hara on the part of O'Hara: Messrs. Ong & Laws on the part of Powers and Messrs. Barnes & Muir on the part of Haggerty; all of whom tried their side of the case in an able manner, and Mr. Muir's effort on the part of Haggerty deserves especial notice, more particularly his closing argument which would have done credit to an older head. He and Mr. Edward having never been engaged in a murder trail before, gave evidence of the latent power that is within them, and which by their efforts are rapidly developing, while the other attorneys in the case, who are older in the practice, sustained the reputations they have already established.

As it may be a great convenience to the people of this county to know where to find such a jury as the one which decided this case I give the names; they are Albert Beckwith, Wm. Koch, Wm. Ball, Martin V. Wilson, Wesley Horrom, R. H. Dodge, Albert Swartz, Lee Frazeee, Wm. Tarbill, John Byron, and Wm. Head. Had not the witness Reddan Ames (who turned states evidence), been so anxious to appear "smart" upon the witness stand, his testimony would not have been utterly disregarded by the jury as it was. Had he given his testimony in a straight forward manner, the jury, with ever so strong prejudices, could not have avoided finding a verdict of guilty against at least one of the defendants.

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