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Putnam County Indiana

Murders & Mysterious Deaths


Gov. Wright of Indiana, offers a reward of one hundred dollars for the arrest of Daniel Smick, who murdered Henry Roth in Greencastle, some days ago. [The Daily Dispatch. (Richmond [Va.]), January 23, 1854] (Submitted by KT)

Greencastle is certainly getting to be one of the towns. On last Thursday, a gentleman by the name of Smick, got into a difficulty with some Germans at the grocery and beer shop of Mr. Whetsel, on the south side of the square, in which Smick stabbed Henry Roth, a german, in the abdomen, which resulted in death last Saturday morning.--We give below the particulars as related to us. Smick & Gill, who have been working at the blacksmith business in partnership, went over to the grocery of Mr. Whetsel, for the purpose of having a settlement with him, he owing them for the ironing of a wagon. While in the house, Roth and a dutchman by the name of Charley Michael, commenced an attack upon them, resulting out of a difficulty that took place two or three days previous. Several weights, from one to four pounds, were thrown by Roth and Michael, but did not hit any person. Finally a scuffle ensued between Smick and these fellows, in which the former drew his knife and gave Roth the full benefit. If we have heard the straight of the story, Smick was perfectly justifiable, and Roth to blame.--There is probably more blame attached to one or two others than Roth, who were instrumental in getting up the difficulty, but as is always the case, got off unharmed. This community can spare one or two more very well, and our only regret is that another one engaged in the fuss, did not receive a similar stab to that given to Roth. We may be prejudiced against those fellows, if so, we can't help it. Men who will come in our midst, in defiance to law and public sentiment, and set up low flung bakeries and beer shops, behind which to deal out whiskey, we have no sympathy for whatever.--This community have been besmeared with viscous fecal, by foreigners, carrying out satan's hellish purposes, and now that the "rubbing in" process has commenced, we hope they may take courage and rid themselves of all such men and their unlawful dead falls.

Since writing the above, we have had several conversations with different persons in town, but we heard nothing to change our opinion as expressed above. A coroner's jury was held over the body on last Saturday, before whom several Germans testified as to the commencement of the fracas, one implicating Gill, while all swore that Smick made the attack by striking Roth in the face. This story don't seem to be likely. Smick went into the grocery to see Whetsel, not Roth. He had no business with the latter German, but it appears he (Roth) was kept there as a kind of a bully, kicking about men who might meet his master's displeasure, and that evening took it upon himself to whip Smick because he demanded the payment of a debt which should have been settled last spring. As soon as Smick and Gill entered the room, Roth locked the door!--Why did he do this? Does it not look if something was wrong? Roth certainly intended to raise a breeze. Circumstances would lead to such a belief. As to the door being locked, we have heard three credible witnesses state such was the fact, as they tried to get in when they first heard the fuss going on inside. The mere locking of the door, showing the least disposition afterwards to raise a muss, in our judgment, was sufficient to have justified Smick in killing the whole pack of them. (Putnam Banner., Greencastle, Indiana, December 28, 1853, vol. 2, no. 21; Transcribed by SallyH)


The grand jury have been industriously investigating the Marion township brush-heap horror this week and a large number of witnesses have been before that body. The evidences of the tragedy were discovered on the 3d of September. On the 27th of August, James Kibler and Alfred Bowen were arrested in Brazil on the charge of carrying concealed weapons. The marshal of Brazil was in the city Tuesday and was before the grand jury. The Brazil mayor's docket shows that Bowen had $8 on his person and Kibler $41. Bowen was fined $7 and the men were released. Kibler had two pen-knives and a tin box of ointment in his pockets.

Bowen has not been seen since his release at Brazil, reports to the contrary, notwithstanding, with possibly one exception. A son of Bob Rains says he saw him in this city at 10 o'clock, Aug 30, and will swear he did. Bowen has not been seen in the neighborhood of Mt. Meridian lately, and nobody there where he is well known, has seen him for several months.

On the night of Aug 29th a man entered Mr. Hurst's store in Mt. Meridian and purchased a lunch. From the description which Mr. Smith and others give of him, there is no doubt that this was Kibler. He left the store and has not been seen there since. On the night of Aug. 30, a bright light was seen by the people in the neighborhood of Mt. Meridian in the direction in which the corpse was found.

Upon searching the pile of ashes where the body was burned some knife blades and a tin box were found. They resemble very much the articles Kibler had when in jail in Brazil.

Mr. F.A. Kibler and J.D. Riley, his nephew, both of Newton, Jasper County, Ills. were in the city Tuesday. Mr. Kibler is the father of James Kibler, and in company with Sheriff Vestal he visited the scene of the fire on the Runyan farm, and also talked with Mr. Hurst, the Mt. Meridian store keeper. From the description given him he left town Tuesday evening well satisfied that the corpse found was the body of his son James.

The people in the neighborhood of where the deed was committed are assisting int he search for the murderer, and will leave nothing undone towards his apprehension. Mr. Kibler, who is a gentleman in comfortable circumstances, offers $100 reward for the apprehension of the murderer.

The grand jury will no doubt roughly sift the matter, but there is no doubt the bones found in that brush heap were those of either James Kibler or Alfred Bowen. Should either of them turn up at this stage it would be a hard matter to clear his skirts of the murder of the other. (The Greencastle Times, Greencastle, IN, September 26, 1889; Transcribed by K.T.; Many thanks to Dennis Miller for finding this data.)

Clew to the Jefferson Township Murder
A special from this city to the Indianapolis Journal of the 23rd says:
It is thought that a clew has been discovered to a supposed murder and cremation enacted in Jefferson township, six miles southeast of this city, three weeks or more ago. The bones of a man were found in a brush-heap that had been burned, together with four knife-blades, a tin box, such as druggists use for ointment, suspender buckles, buttons and other articles that escaped destruction by fire The officers of this city, in their investigations of the case, have learned that two men - Alfred Bowen and James Kibler - were arrested at Brazil on the 27th of August, just one week before the discovery of the crime, on the charge of carrying concealed weapons. On searching Bowen a revolver and $8 were found in his possession, and $41 was found on the person of Kibler. The officer on making the arrest also remembers finding two pen-knives and a box of ointment in Kibler's possession, the box found in the ruins being identified as similar to the one containing the medicine. Bowen was born and raised in Jefferson township, within a half mile of the ill-fated spot. He left there several months ago for Illinois. Kibler was employed in Jasper county, that State, where he was accused of the commission of a rape. Nothing can be learned of the present whereabouts of the two men, though diligent efforts have been made to discover them.

Additional light is being thrown on the mysterious murder and cremation, referred to above that points still more strongly to Alfred Bowen's connection with it. He was seen in this city on Thursday, the day of the old settlers' picnic, and the day following his discharge at Brazil. Thursday night he was seen at Mount Meridian, near the scene of the tragedy, by a shop-keeper, of whom he bought some crackers and cheese, and was heard in conversation with his supposed victim outside of the store immediately afterward. That was the night on which a fire was seen in the locality. The father of young Kibler is here from Jasper county, Ill., and from the description given of Bowen's associate, his appearance, size clothing, etc., is positive that the remains found in the ashes of the brush-heap are those of his son. He says the last he heard of him was at Springfield Ill., on the 10th of August. Nothing can be learned of Bowen's whereabouts, of his movements subsequent to the night of the 29th of August. (Greencastle Banner, September 26, 1889; Transcribed by K.T.)


GREENCASTLE, Ind., April 21--Coroner Kleinbub was called to a farm six miles west of the city to-day to examine a pile of burning clothes and human bones found in a hollow tree. The package had been carefully wedged into the trunk of the tree and fire applied. The find created excitement and the coroner thinks he has a clew to a mysterious crime. (Indiana Journal, April 28 ,1897)

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