Jackson County, Iowa

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Crime and Punishment


Correspondence of the N. Y. Tribune.
JACKSON COUNTY, Iowa, May 29, 1857.

You may have learned through the papers of the operations of Judge Lynch in our hitherto quiet and peaceful county; but the late outrages and shocking proceedings which have taken place here deserve something more than passing comment. The country at large is not aware, I presume, that a Vigilance Committee has been organized in Jackson County, Iowa - exercising powers as did the world-renowned Vigilance Committee of San Francisco, yet without the redeeming trait of seeming necessity that called that Committee into being. It is so. A band of 300 or 400 men have organized, and in a defiant and pompous way have published to the world their declaration and in its framing have impiously parodied the Declaration of Independence, its first sentence being "A decent respect for the "opinions of mankind!" This Committee have bound themselves by the severest and most sanguinary penalties to stand by each other, to visit with death any one who shall enter their band as a spy, who shall oppose their action by force, or who shall attempt to inquire into their proceedings in any legal manner. This band of men claim that our criminal laws are not enforced with efficiency; that through the ingenuity of lawyers, the connivance of officials, and the corrupt administration of the law, murders, thieves and counterfeiters escape the penalties due their crimes and go unwhipped of justice that the county is heavily taxed to support the Court, and that criminals are lying in jail from year to year, and that by manifold delays in criminal cases the civil docket is constantly increasing, without any prospect of those cases being adjudicated. I have been this particular in stating their pretended cause of grievance that this account may be impartial. To fully understand the present action of this Committee, I make a digression. More than two years ago, a man by the name of Barger shot his wife in the village of Bellevue, the county seat of this county. He had had previous difficulty with Mrs. Barger, had accused her of infidelity, and she, just before her murder, had sued for a divorce, on the ground of ill treatment and abuse. Mrs. Barger was living, at the time of her death, with a relation in Bellevue. Barger lay in wait for her during the night in the weeds before the house where she was residing, cut notches in the edges of the fence boards, through which he might protrude his rifle barrel, and as she made her appearance at the door in the morning, deliberately shot her down! Since that time, he has had two trials for that murder - defense, insanity! On one trial, the Jury disagreed; on the other brought in a verdict of guilty. A motion for a new trial was granted, and he was to have been tried in September next. Last summer, one Michael Carroll, an Irishman, killed a German in his harvest-field by stabbing him with a large knife, and in the presence of a number of workmen who were engaged in threshing for Carroll.

Carroll had ordered the German to do some work, which he refused to do; whereupon the Irishman commenced pounding the German on his head with the knife handle and ended by repeatedly plunging the murderous instrument in his body. The threshers were amazed at the unexpected scene, and became so enraged in the deed, that, as I am informed, they were on the point of tearing Carroll in pieces, by throwing him into the thresher, and were dissuaded from the design by the timely arrival of a number of other persons. Much indignation has been manifested throughout the county at these murders and, for safe keeping, the murderers were put in the jail of an adjoining county.

About two months ago a man named Ingalls, residing in the center of the county, was suddenly missing. On search, he was found in the woods shot dead. Suspicion pointed to one Grifford, who had been seen recently in the woods with the murdered man. An examination took place before a magistrate, and he was lodged in jail to await his trial at Andrew, in this county. A few days after, our whole community was astonished and shocked, this Vigilance Committee had organized. They went to the jail, all armed, demanded admittance, and on refusal proceeded to pound the door with a sledge hammer. After repeated blows the door and casing gave way; they drew Grifford out, took him to a tree near by, put a rope around his neck, and asked him if he had anything to say. The poor wretch, no doubt in hope that confession might save his life, made a speech, implicating two other men, and said that they had mutually agreed to kill Ingalls; that the man who did the deed was to be paid $150 by the others and in case of arrest helped to escape.

They told him they were going to hang him. He called for a priest. A Methodist minister prayed with him, and then they strung him up to the tree. Some twenty men had hold of the rope and drew him up, while the remainder of the Committee stood guard with loaded arms. They suffered his corpse to dangle in the air for several hours, then buried him in a course coffin.

For the last week or two, rumors have been afloat that this Vigilance Committee intended to take Barger from the jail where he was confined and hang him. Our citizens generally thought there was no foundation for the rumors; but last night several wagon-loads of men, all armed to the teeth, went to Dewitt, where Barger and Carroll were in custody took them from the jail and, as I am informed without any resistance on the part of the authorities, proceeded to Andrew this morning and hung Barger to the tree on which they had before hung Grifford.

A large concourse of people were present - some estimate the number at not less than one thousand - and I blush to relate it

a portion of the crowd were women. The prisoner Barger was very much affected, but said but few words. The gaping multitude stood there with the utmost indifference, and suffered fifty men (for that was about the number of the Committee present) to commit this horrible murder. A part of the Committee were boys not more than sixteen years of age, armed with cocked revolvers in both hands. At a signal given by their captain whose name was Jacob Landis, the present Postmaster at Iron Hill, in this county, they drew him up in the air to die like a dog.

When my informant left the spot, the body was still suspended and the Committee had adjourned to dinner! After the execution of Barger, a vote was taken with reference to Carroll. The Committee voted to put him in jail, to take his trial in July next; with the proviso that if he was not convicted and executed according to law at that time, they would take and hang him themselves at all hazards.

So closed this awful tragedy, this crime, the equal to which our State has never before witnessed. Our law-abiding citizens are alarmed; we know not how soon this self-styled Vigilance Committee may attempt violence toward those who abhor their course and freely express their sentiments. A cloud hangs over our fair fame. We are unwilling that a gang of 400 or 500, some of them whose names have stood coupled with indictments and hitherto more notorious, if not as black in the annals of crime, than their victims, should blacken the reputation of our county and State by such outrageous and high-handed proceedings.
[New York Tribune - New York, New York, Monday, June 8, 1857, submitted by Mary Kay Krogman]

. . . related news:


About the hour of ten o'clock, on Thursday last, an armed body of men, numbering from forty to sixty persons, passed through Maquoketa on their way to Dewitt, for the purpose of obtaining the murders, Barger and the Irishman (Carroll). Arriving in Dewitt, but little resistance was shown by the officials, and the two Jackson County prisoners, consequently, were taken from the Clinton County Jail and brought back to Andrew.

The fact of there being so small a number comprising the Vigilance Committee, and their passing in broad daylight through the most populous portion of Jackson and Clinton Counties, must evidence sufficient that the people have but little confidence in the administration of our laws. That Barger was a most consummate black-hearted, murderous fiend in human shape, is clearly shown in the skulking, sneaking, dastardly manner in which he killed his wife, the facts of which are well known to our readers.

Arriving in Andrew, he was taken to the same tree that Grifford was executed upon. He was asked if he had anything to say why he should not suffer for the crime of which he was guilty when he produced the following letter, which was handed to the Captain of the Band of Lynchers, and by him read. The letter is from Barger to his attorney, Hon. W. E. Leffingwell, and is as follows:


In Dewitt Jail, May 14th, '57
Mr. Leffingwell - Sir: I undertake to name a few circumstances, whether to any advantage or not you are to judge. - It has appeared to me I could see dishonorable advantages taken against me, that ought not to have been allowed. In regard to testimony, for instance, David McDonald states that I told him in March that my wife was going to swear her life, against me, when she had done it in the winter. When he swore I said I had ought to have killed her before she went to Bellevue, a thing I never said. - Smith McKinlay swore false when he said I told him if I got justice done me it would go hard with me. I never told him such a thing, reason answers to the contrary. - Jim Cox swore false in different particulars, as I can prove. I never told him, that I lay in the bushes watching for them to come along, as he swore. I never bit his thumb. Besides swearing false in various instances, of his treatment to me he swore false before John Means, on whose docket the record of it can be proved. He is perjured. John Foley swore false I can prove. Mr. Pierce swore he seen smoke rise from where I was, but had to go the length of his porch before he knew where I was. John Dirkpatrick's testimony did not agree with Mrs. Farrell's. Some say my wife died in one minute or less. Samuel Reed swore she lived until he went after the Doctor, and got back in ten minutes. The most conflicting testimony, as I thought it required proof positive, as nobody saw me shoot. It all looked circumstantial to me, though you are to act your pleasure and I am content.

In regard to this last Court, I have seen it all winter that they meant to decide my case in spite of your efforts. Cook has threatened me with his influence, as I can prove to you. He had his doctor who volunteered to come and see me under pretence and ask me questions unbecoming a gentleman, you know how he swore. That jury I know was Cook's friends. It was a mobocracy jury. - Whenever a community will join in mobocracy, in defiance to the laws of the land, so far as to disregard perjury, merely to carry out their designs against a man who has ever endeavored to live uprightly and honestly and peaceably. That you may know in truth a part of the circumstances which has led to this combined prejudice and partiality against me, I say to you that my wife lived with me under as good a character until I came home and found that she had forfeited the bands of matrimony. This dissatisfied me and made a public talk, rendered me unhappy. She acknowledged her guilt and cause of all trouble, and after that she told that I was jealous of her, and abused her without grounds, which was false. I never was of a jealous disposition.

She then imposed the most contemptible falsehoods on me, to gain her former character. She having plenty of friends disposed to believe I did mistrust her without a cause, which was wrong. - She left me without just cause for good, and went to Spurr and Bangs who stood over ready to shield the woman, under that all availing sympathy for women, and to crush an innocent husband and father to distraction. I have a copy of her first affidavit against me, which is false, as I could and did prove it. It was couched in language she never could have uttered, had she not been put up to it by Spurr and Bangs, who meant to put me to State's prison, on falsehoods, through prejudice. I spent all I was worth endeavoring to get my rights by law, which I could not get under that conspiracy. Spurr told me at one time in Jenkins' presence that if I opened my mouth in my own defence he would put me to jail. Bangs could do as he pleased with her for the sake of his services in her behalf against me, knowing her to be a loose character. But it hurts my feelings to know she was the mother of my children, and that I have loved her with the right sort of affection, to thus speak of her. Therefore I say to your if I could once have my liberty, I would like to talk a long talk to you as you are the only man now I would like to talk to. I want to talk with you in regard to many things. Your vigilance in my behalf merits my warmest affection, and it seems I want to talk to no one else. As to further testimony, I know of none unless Samuel McKinlay and old man Cobb in Andrew, and perhaps John Means and his wife might say I was not in my right mind.

John Kirkpatrick and wife know I did not sleep whole nights I was at his house. There has been three nights together I did not sleep any, but no one to know it but myself. Christian knows I never slept like I used to do. My own trouble I considered as much as I could. It is evidently plain I was imposed on in Bellevue in the worst way. John Foley holding me there, for them to go and rob me of my children and goods. They went prepared with pistols, knowing that I knew the unjustness of their right to my children, knowing I would protect my own rights, and I believe the law ought to protect me in it. I have endeavored in all cases to throw a fee in your hands every opportunity. I say to you be careful of Pierce and get your pay before hand, as he is an unprincipled man. As to the falsehood you hear against me, I can only say they are such as other, for the sake of favors for themselves, will back Cook in anything - and him being a two-faced man and me his principal object, makes it harder with me. Carrol is the main cause of it here. If I could have a satisfactory talk with you, I could convince you, as I know you could subtract the truth from the falsehoods of the whole matter. John Quinn's sentence is a just one. You have had a good deal of abuse here in jail. I shall want some clothes before court again, and no one here will get them. I would be glad you would have Joshua Seamonds to attend to it. I would be glad you would see to and give me some satisfaction about my children's land. I ask pardon for asking so many favors. My being deprived of liberty so long will partly excuse me.
Yours in due respect,

After the letter was read, the arms of Barger were pinioned, a handkerchief tied over his face, the rope was adjusted round his neck, the end thrown over the limb, the word given by the Captain, and as many as could get hold of the rope drew the unhappy wretch from his mother earth, and thus he was launched into eternity, in the presence of three or four hundred spectators. We are informed there was not one to plead for his life. All looked on with that cold indifference, indicative of the feeling fully expressed "he deserves it."

That we deplore nay, deprecate, the causes that have led to this, we may almost say, ineffaceable stain upon the fair escutcheon of our county, is already known. That the law was sluggish is evidenced in the time that Barger has been suffered to lay in jail at the expense of the County, even when it was adjudged and positively known that he was guilty.

After the hanging of Barger, it was put to vote whether Carroll (the Irishman) should be hung or handed over to the Andrew jailor, to await his trial at the next term of the District Court, when the latter was adopted without a dissenting voice. There was also a fast youth confined in the Andrew Jail for stealing a watch some seven months ago who was taken from the jail, and advised by the Committee to leave the County where-upon he "took up his line of march." The house thief broke jail on Thursday even'g last, and was not turned lose as reported.

We have thus endeavored to give a brief sketch of this much-to-be-regretted occurrence. We had no reporter upon the ground, consequently are unable to give the particulars in detail. We earnestly trust and hope that this may be the last case of lynching in Jackson County and God grant, the last murder.
[Jackson Sentinel - Maquoketa, Iowa, Thursday, June 4, 1857, submitted by Mary Kay Krogman]


A Heinous Offense.

In the second story of C. M. Sanborn & Co's, warehouse lives a widow woman, Mrs. Sadie Stine and her several children. She is poor and works at the Decker Douse - going to service at a 6 o'clock in the morning and returning home at 8 o'clock p.m. During the winter she has had an old man past 65 years of age named Jeff Bentley, do her wood sawing. He is the fifer in the G. A. R. martial band and was a 'buglar' through the war. However honorably he may have conducted himself as a soldier he spoiled his good name Saturday morning by entering the house of Mrs. Stine and, as alleged, assaulted her thirteen year old daughter who had not yet risen from the bed. Mrs. Stine had the old man arrested charged with the crime of attempting to commit rape and after due hearing of testimony before Justice Ralston, he was bound over in the sum of $500 to appear before the grand jury, B. P. Thomas, Jos. Hodowal and F.W. Moffatt qualifying as bondsmen. Though the prisoner touched the person of the girl with his hands no rape was committed and legal opinion is that the prisoner will not be punished under the charge made.

[Jackson Sentinel, Maquoketa, Iowa, January 26, 1893, submitted by Mary Kay Krogman]

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RIOT AND MURDER IN BELLEVUE, IOWA. - The St. Louis Bulletin of the 6th inst. Gives the particulars of a most bloody and desperate outrage which occurred in the town of Bellevue, Iowa territory, on the 1st inst., as brought by a steamboat which had just arrived at that city. The history of the affair up to the time of the leaving of the boat, at four o'clock on the evening of the 1st, is briefly as follows:

A. Mr. Wm. W. Brown, the keeper of a public house in Bellevue, has for a long time been suspected of harboring a gang of horse-thieves, counterfeiters, and villains in general, but no legal measures could be effectually taken against any of the gang, on account of the difficulty of procuring direct testimony The sheriff of the county, however, having on this occasion, determined to execute a writ upon Brown, in regard to a stolen horse, which he was known to have in his possession, Brown proclaimed that he would not be taken, and threatened to shoot any one who attempted to enforce the writ. Upon this, the sheriff, by the advice of some of the most respectable citizens, summoned a posse, and proceeded to the house, whereupon Brown was formally demanded to give himself up. - This he peremptorily refused, and defied them to do their worst. The sheriff then warned all strangers and honest men to quit the house, as he was determined to execute the writ at all hazards. Three strangers immediately left, whereupon Brown and his gang, each being well armed, fired upon the citizens, killing, at the first round, Mr. Farmer, and wounding several others. The fire was returned by the posse, and after a desperate and bloody conflict, during which the voice of Mrs. Brown was incessantly heard, cheering and urging on her husband's gang, Brown was shot dead, the front door of the house burst open, and the gang made prisoners, with the exception of two or three who had escaped during the fight. Upon reviewing the scene, it appeared that two citizens were killed, (Mr. Palmer and Mr. Vaughn,) and one (Mr. Brink) mortally wounded. Then were taken prisoners, and were to be tried the same evening by a justice.

The St. Louis Republican adds that, of the thieves, W. W. Brown, and Thos. Farley were killed. An old man named Batty, a man by the name of Welsh, and several others were seriously wounded. A man named Filler, and another of Brown's party, died before the steamboat left. Of the sheriff's party, there were killed, Mr. H. Palmer, Mr. Maxwell, and Mr. Vaughn. Mr. E. Day, and Mr. John Brinker, were mortally wounded, and the latter was reported to be dead before the boat left, having been shot through the body. Mr. Welsh, Col. Collins, Mr. Beaty, Gen. J. G. McDonald, and several others were slightly wounded. Those defending the house, had the doors fastened, and defended it from the windows and other apertures, chiefly from the upper story; each man having a table before him on which he had four or five loaded rifles. The assailants forced open the doors and succeeded in capturing a number of the men in the house. When the boat left, they had in custody eight or ten prisoners, whom they intended to try and punish by lynch law, that evening. The following are the names of some of those arrested: Trask, Fax, Coy, Stower, and Thomas Welsh. Between two and three thousand of the citizens of the surrounding country had collected on the ground, very much excited. Thomas Farley, noticed in the above, as one of those killed in Brown's house, is supposed not to have been of his party, but to be a traveler, who, in company with two or three others, had stopped at the tavern, and were in the house at the time of assault.

The scene inside of Brown's house, where the dead and wounded men were yet lying on the floor, and the exasperated crown walking about amongst them, the floor covered with blood, is represented as being truly appalling.
[The Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, Friday, April 17, 1840]


MURDER CHARGE - Clayton Clark

Clayton Clark Being Held In County Jail

Francis Clayton Clark, 43, was being held Thursday morning on a second degree murder charge following the death of his father, Richard D. Clark, 68, of Maquoketa.

A coroner's jury composed of Herman Stange and John Blessing of Maquoketa and Henry Wiedner, Bellevue, heard testimony in the case Thursday morning, but failed to release their verdict.

Testimony at the inquest revealed that the elder Poole, the son Clayton, another son Ray, and two grandsons, Wayne 16 and Donald 14, sons of Ray went to the Verdun Poole home Sunday at the insistence of Richard Clark to get a plow said to belong to him and to collect for 76 days labor at $6 per day, which the latter alleged was due him.

Wayne testified that an argument developed between his grandfather and Poole, with name calling on the part of Poole, who insisted he was unable to pay the bill at that time.

He said his grandfather prepared to leave and that Clayton pushed him against a wall and said: "Six dollars a day is too much for an old age pensioner to charge."

Shortly after that Clayton struck his father above the left eye and knocked him through a door and onto a sidewalk where he is said to have struck the back of his head.

Testimony further revealed that cold water was used to wash off the face of the injured man who was bleeding from the nose and eye. The affair happened about 1:00 p.m., and as near as could be determined it was after 7:00 p.m. before a physician and ambulance were summoned. He was removed to a Clinton hospital where he died.

Ray testified that his brother said after striking the father "He always sleeps off a drunk and that's what he is doing now." Clayton testified he thought he was 43 years old and that eight or nine years ago he spent three months at Independence state hospital because "he got riled up" and thought that was the best thing to do.

He also testified that all four had been drinking and that he had "Five real small drinks of whiskey" while his father apparently had more. Wayne testified that he and his younger brother had only one drink of liquor while the older men drank more.

Ray and his two sons testified that they were at the scene when the father was struck, Ray reporting that he attempted to step between the two men and stop the trouble. Both Clayton and Poole are reported to have told that Ray and the two sons were not in the house when the blow was struck.

Testimony tended to substantiate the fact that Clayton was quick-tempered and had been in trouble in the past because of his temper.

Death was due to a fractured skull it was reported. The deceased is survived by three sons, Joseph, a patient at Knoxville Veterans Hospital, Ray and Clayton, and two daughters, Mrs. Bertha Smith of Clinton and Mrs. Myrtle Caven of Miles. Funeral service will be held Friday at 10:00 a.m. at Buchner chapel with burial in Streets Cemetery.

(Jackson Sentinel, Maquoketa, Jackson County, Iowa, April 19, 1946) Submitted by Ken Wright

CHESTER CORRELL - MAN THREATENING MOTHER-IN-LAW IS ON HUNGER STRIKE Maquoketa, Iowa, May 12-Chester Correll, jailed here after threatening to kill his mother-in-law, entered on the fourteenth day of a hunger strike Wednesday. He has refused to eat anything as a protest against his incarceration, as he believes that any remark a man makes about his mother-in-law is legitimate.

[Source: Denver Post (Denver, CO) Wednesday, May 12, 1920]


Special Dispatch to the World-Herald.
Maquoketa, Ia., April 30.-Chester Correll, 40, committed suicide here this morning after shooting is divorced wife and her mother, Mrs. George Gibson, at the latter's home.

Correll went to the house and was met in the yard by his former mother-in-law. He fired one shot at her with a revolver, the bullet entering her temple. Going into the house, he shot his wife in the jaw and sent a bullet through his head, dying instantly.

Mrs. Gibson is not expected to live. Mrs. Correll will recover.

[Source: Omaha World Herald (Omaha, NE) Tuesday, May 1, 1923]


NOTE: Zwingle is located on the Jackson County:Dubuque County border, this crime was prosecuted by Dubuque County.

Wealthy Woman is Victim

(By Associated Press)
DUBUQUE, Ia., Nov. 3. - Mystery surrounding the slaying of Mrs. Elizabeth McKitrick, found dead yesterday in her home at Zwingle, Iowa, was being investigated from several angles tonight by Sheriff F. J. Kennedy.

Although his clues are believed to be faint, Sheriff Kennedy has refused to discuss the case. The room in which the victim's body was found and which had been ransacked evidently in search of hidden money, is kept locked and guarded until a finger print expert from Waterloo arrives.

Emil A. Steffen, Waterloo finger print expert, has been asked to come here tomorrow to take photographs of fingerprints found in the ransacked bedroom.
[Morning Star, Rockford, Illinois, Friday, November 4, 1927]

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Aged Iowa Woman Slain and $27,000 in Cash Is Secured From Her Home

St. Louis, Nov. 8. - (AP) - The brutal robbery and murder of an aged woman recluse of Zwingle, Iowa, was solved here late today, police believed, with arrest of two nattily dressed youths who said they were Leonard Cota, 18, of Bennettsville, Iowa, and Harold Kramer, 19, of Great Falls, Mont. Police found $27,000 in cash and a large amount of securities in their hotel room.

The youths admitted, police said, that they slugged, bound and gagged a Mrs. McKittrick, 73, Cota's grandmother, and robbed her of the cash and securities on the night of November 1.
[Greensboro Daily News, Greensboro, North Carolina, Wednesday, November 9, 1927]

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Youths Charged With Murdering Aged Dubuque Woman Must Answer For Crime

Dubuque, Iowa, Nov. 10 - (AP) - The death penalty will be asked for Leonard Cota, confessed slayer of his grandmother, Mrs. Elizabeth McKitrick, of Zwingle, Iowa, and his alleged accomplice, Harold Kramer, Great Falls, Montana, youth, "Unless strong mitigating evidence develops."

This declaration was made last night by county attorney Allan J. Kane, while awaiting the return here of the youths, who were arressted in St. Louis, Tuesday night. They were expected there today.

The father of the confessed slayer, F. C. Cota, formerly of Altoona, Wis., with tears streaming down his face, declared that he would not provide money for Leonard's defense, "if he is guilty of this terrible crime."

Young Cota, who is said by St. Louis police to have confessed striking down his aged grandmother, and binding and gagging her with the aid of Kramer, had approximately $27,500 in cash and $30,000 in securities in his hotel room, said to have been loot taken from the McKitrick home the night of November 1. He and his companion planned to use the money to study for grand opera careers, he said.
[Aberdeen Daily News, Aberdeen, South Dakota, Thursday, November 10, 1927]

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No Remorse for Death of Aged Woman

(By Associated Press)
Dubuque, Iowa, Nov. 12 - Although they face prosecution on a first degree murder charge for the slaying of Mrs. Elizabeth McKitrick, 73-year-old Zwingle recluse, the greatest concern of Leonard Cota, 18-year-old grandson of the dead woman, and Harold Kramer, 19, of Malta, Mont., is whether they will get enough to eat in jail here.

The youths, said to have confessed striking down Mrs. McKitrick before taking $23,000 in cash and $30,000 in securities, hidden in her home take the view that "We are too smart to be hung. They couldnt hang Loeb and Leopold and Bernard Grant and they can't hang us," according to county officers who returned them here from St. Louis, where they were arrested Tuesday night.

During the return trip the boys showed no remorse for the crime, Sheriff Frank Kennedy declared, and Cota maintained his skepticism that his grandmother was dead. "You've got to show me." the sheriff quoted him as saying.

When Cota and Kramer will be arraigned has not been determined.

None of Cota's family, who have taken up their residence in the house once occupied by Mrs. McKitrick, have as yet visited the youths at the jail.
[Daily Register Gazette, Rockford, Illinois, Saturday, November 12, 1927i]

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DUBUQUE, Iowa, Jan. 19. - (AP) - Leonard Cota, 18 of Altoona, Wis., and Howard Kramer, 19 of Malta, Ont., [sic] were sentenced to life imprisonment today for killing Cota's maternal grand-mother, Mrs. Elizabeth McKitrick, wealthy Zwingle, Iowa, recluse.
[Tampa Tribune, Tampa, Florida, Friday, January 20, 1928]

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Boys Who Killed Aged Recluse to Obtain Money for Opera Careers Sentenced

Dubuque, Iowa, Jan. 21 - (AP) - Two youths who visioned a life of bright lights and fame as opera singers after gaining possession of the $43,000 hoard of an aged woman recluse at Zwingle, Iowa by slaying her, today saw their dreams fade before the encroaching walls of Fort Madison state prison, where they must spend the remainder of their lives at hard labor.

Arrested in St. Louis some two months ago, six days after the robbery and murder of Mrs. Elizabeth McKitrick, 73, Leonard Cota, 18 of Altoona, Wis., and Howard Kramer, 19, of Malta, Mont., shuffled into district court here yesterday and heard life sentences passed after they had entered pleas of guilty to first degree murder charges.

Surprise Hearing
Their appearance in court was a surprise, as their trial had been set for next Monday.

Tears streamed down Kramer's cheeks during the half hour's proceedings, but Cota, grandson of the slain woman, held up until after sentence was passed, when he too slumped into a chair, buried his face in his hands and cried softly.

The boys were alone before the court, except for their attorneys. Kramer had made no attempt to communicate with his family, nor they with him, and while some of Cota's family visitied him in jail here, none attended the final act.
[Aberdeen Daily News, Aberdeen, South Dakota, Saturday, January 21, 1928, transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman.]

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Sheriff of Jackson County, Iowa, Takes Two Men Into Custody.

Dubuque, Iowa, July 8. - The sheriff of Jackson County this afternoon arrested two young men named Milburg and Eckerlebe on suspicion of being the murderers of Minnie Keil, whose body was found in pasture near Bellevue Saturday. There is intense excitement at Bellevue during the preliminary examination. The streets are crowded and there are threats of lynching. The prisoners told contradictory stories and their attempt to prove an alibi failed.
[Daily Inter Ocean - Chicago, Illinois, Thursday, July 9, 1896]

. . . related news:

Preliminary Hearing of Christ Eckerlebe, Charged with Murder.

Bellevue, Iowa, July 17. - The preliminary hearing of Christ Eckerlebe, charged with murdering Mina Keil, commenced today. The prosecution occupied the entire day and had not concluded when adjournment was had until next Wednesday. The evidence against the accused is strong. It was shown the girl was shot and her head pounded to pieces after. The bullet in her head was of the same caliber as cartridges in the revolver found on Eckerlebe's premises. The defense expects to prove an alibi. The tramp to whom Eckerlebe is said to have made a partial confession is a detective who, it is said, secured admissions enough to convict the accused. The streets of Bellevue where crowded, large numbers of farmers coming to town. There was so much excitement that the saloons were closed by the mayor and the sheriff swore in thirty deputies to protect the prisoner. The hearing was stopped several times to allow the justice of the peace to talk to the crowd outside to keep it quiet. The crowd was sullen and at times it was feared that if a leader could be had an attack on the prisoner would have been made. After the adjournment of the hearing excitement cooled down, and it is not thought there is any danger tonight.
[Daily Inter Ocean - Chicago, Illinois, Saturday, July 18, 1896]

. . . related news:

The Preliminary Examination

Large Crowd at Bellevue - All Saloons Closed - The Mob Makes a Demonstration - Prisoner is Removed to Anamosa

Friday will long be remembered in Bellevue as the day when a few words from a resolute leader would have caused the death of some of its citizens and probably resulted in the lynching of Chris Eckerlebe for the diabolical murder of Mina Keil. Fortunately, that leader was not in the crowd and the law was allowed to take its course without incident, save for one exception.

Never in the history of Jackson County, the state, was a more foul murder committed and while it was at first shrouded in mystery, the officers are now in the possession of evidence which apparently weaves a hempen noose about the neck of Chris Eckerlebe, evidence which can scarcely be successfully controverted by his attorneys. The motive for the commission of so dastardly a crime is now the great mystery, although the victim's contempt for the prisoner, her failure to requite his love, and the development of an insane jealousy which culminated in her slaughter, constitute the generally accepted one.

The town of Bellevue was crowded Friday, the country people having abandoned their pursuits for the day to hear the evidence which would be offered at the preliminary examination of the accused. Many came from Sabula, LaMotte, Dubuque, Preston and there were present at least forty from this city. All the saloons were closed early in the day, by order of Mayor Bittner, and a posse of about twenty-five special deputies was sworn in as a safeguard against any violence and as a result of these precautions the crowd was held well in hand. Sheriff Mitchell took the prisoner in from Andrew early in the day, and from the time he arrived until he left in the evening Eckerlebe never left Justice Campbell's office.

The hearing was held before Justice J. C. Campbell, the state being represented by County Attorney Keck and D. A. Wynkoop and Longville and McCarthy of Dubuque looking after the prisoner's interests. The defense demanded the exclusion of all but those interested in the case and the members of the press, much to the disgust of the crowd, and at 1 o'clock the examination of the witnesses began.

The first two witnesses were the little brothers of Eckerlebe by whom it was shown that he possessed a self-cocking nickel plated revolver and that he had left home on the morning of the Fourth at 9 o'clock with the avowed intention of going to Bellevue to attend the dance at Harmony Park.

Sophia Keil, mother of Mina, told of the relative position of the Eckerlebe home, of a mysterious man seen dodging in the trees near her house, of Eckerlebe striking at her daughter for refusing to dance with him at Hamarand's in May, of Mina finding the poison on the gate, of Mina's complaint that Eckerlebe had insulted her, etc.

Henry Keil, brother of the deceased, told of her failure to come to the party at Guenther's and the dance at Hoff's on the afternoon of the Fourth, of the search for her on the 5th, the finding of the body, of the finding of the flint rock (identified the stone) and the removal of the body.

Wm. Hennegar, deputy sheriff told of finding the several parts of the revolver, box of cartridges and the box of salve (which proves to be rat poison) in accordance with the directions furnished by a certain communication received. (Identified revolver)

At 5:30 o'clock the case was adjourned to Wednesday and the prisoner was hustled back to Andrew. The prisoner sat smiling all the afternoon, save when a mob of three or four hundred insisted on gaining an entrance to the court room about 3 o'clock. Somebody yelled "Hang him!" and but for the presence of the deputies and a nervy address by Justice Campbell, the trick would have been attempted, undoubtedly. He merely looked out of the window and resumed his seat with a smile. When the pistol was produced for identification by Hennegar, Eckerlebe flinched and his attornies turned pale. The communication alluded to by the last witness is but one of several written by the tramp Murphy, who carved a fellow tramp with a razor at Bellevue early in the Spring. He is also an inmate of the steel cage in the Andrew jail and pumped the whole story out of Eckerlebe. He would write what he learned on pieces of common wrapping paper and smuggle it to the jailer wrapped up in a dirty "sheet," etc. and there is enough of it to show that the murder of Catherine Ging, Pearl Bryan and the Sa Francisco girls were refined affairs in comparison.

It was the intention of the people who live in the vicinity of the scene of the murder to take Eckerlebe Friday to that place and hang him. Failing in this, some thirty or more assembled at the county jail about one o'clock Saturday morning, but again they lacked a leader and Jailer Tubbs retained his prisoner. That day, however, he received reliable information that the jail would be visited by a determined mob Saturday night, so he brought the prisoner to town in the afternoon and Deputy Sheriff Gurius and Fred Fischer conveyed him to the Anamosa Penitentiary that evening. Should he be taken back to Bellevue tomorrow trouble should surely ensue. It is believed now that he will waive further examination.

Eckerlebe told Murphy that he intended to commit suicide after killing the girl, but he hammered her head with the revolver until it was utterly destroyed for shooting purposes the more is the pity. He is a conundrum. When the girl's body was found he helped load it into the wagon and drove the team that drew it home., her feet lying between his. At the trial he was the calmest person in the room. He has either a wonderful nerve or else a total lack of realization of the terrible crime of which he is accused.

Much sympathy is felt for the prisoner's father and the dead girl's mother. Both broke down and wepy piteously in the courtroom. The father is an honest, hardworking, respected farmer, who says that his boy has ever been an industrious, dutiful son and he feels it is his duty to defend him; that if he is guilty he should be punished. The poor old man is almost heart broken.

Later-This morning's mail brought to County Attorney Keck notice from Eckerlebe's attorneys that they had concluded to waive further examination of evidence and that one of them will appear in Justice Campbell's court tomorrow morning to enter a formal waiver. Therefore the prisoner will not be seen again in Bellevue before his trial occurs, and in all probability he will never be seen there again.

Maquoketa Excelsior, Maquoketa, Iowa, July 21, 1896 Submitted by Ken Wright

(Written by J. W. Ellis for the Jackson County Historical Society.)

On the morning or the 11th day of September, 1859, the steamer Pembino pulled up at the Golding wood yard between Sabula and Bellevue, to take on a supply of wood. While the deck hands were carrying the wood on the boat, the Second Mate, Calvin C. Edgar, objected to the way one of the hands, Michael Reating, carried the wood. Reating, as it appeared afterwards, had a weak chest and could not carry wood in his arms but instead placed it on his shoulder. The Mate ordered him to grab up the wood inhis arms and go. Reating insisted that he could carry as much wood as the others and carry it in his own way.

While Reating was picking up a load the Mate kicked him and told him he would have it carried as he wanted it done. Reating said, "I want no man to kick me," and after throwing down his load on the boat repeated, "I want no man to kick me." While he was stooped over picking up another load, the Mate according to several witnesses picked up a stick of wood in both hands and struck Reating across the chest. Reating dropped the wood and clinched the Mate, but the blow seemed to have weakened him. The Mate knocked him down and kicked him, and Reating lay there on his face until turned over by another deck hand who said that he was frothing at the mouth, and had the death rattle in his throat. The Captain ordered four men to carry Reating onto the boat where he ceased to breathe in three or four minutes.

The boat landed at Sabula and an inquest was held over the body on board the boat by Justice Morris S. Allen, acting as Coroner, there being no Coroner. The jurors were C. F. Fairbanks, J. Johnston and O. H. Risley. The verdict of the jury was that deceased came to his death from blows from a stick of wood in the hands of Calvin C. Edgar, Second Mate of the steamboat Pembino. The post mortem showed that the left lung of Reating was ruptured, and that the whole cavity or the chest on that side was filled with blood. The Mate was indicted at the December term of court by the grand jury of Jackson county, of which Shepherd Cavin was foreman, and Henry O'Connor was district attorney. The case came up for trial at the April term of court, and a jury was empanelled, composed of men with whom the writer in most part was very intimately acquainted, and in whom he would have implicit confidence but who after bearing the evidence and argument of the ablest counsel the country could produce at that time, found the defendant not guilty.

[Source: Annals of Jackson County Iowa, Reprinted from the Maquoketa Record, published by the Jackson County Historical Society 1907]


Last Saturday Wm. Woods a resident of this timber [Maquoketa] swore out a warrant of arrest before Justice Farr against L. M. Edwards charging the latter with adultery committed May 29th. The woman in the case is Wood's wife Vina. Edwards was arrested Monday and brought before Justice Farr. A. J. House, his attorney asked that the case be continued to Saturday at 9 o'clock and placing the prisoner under $300 bond the court granted a continuance.
[Jackson Sentinel, June 3, 1885]


Shooting at Bellevue, Iowa, Rouses Ire of the People

Dubuque, Ia., Sept. 6.-Albert Ellinghouse, a young man of Bellevue, was shot and perhaps fatally wounded by a disreputable woman named Cook and so much feeling has been engendered that friends of the young man threaten to storm the Maquoketa jail, where she is confined, to lynch her. When the woman and the male accomplice were arraigned in court this afternoon an immense crowd gathered and the prisoners were hurriedly escorted to a carriage and taken back to Maquoketa. The horses were driven at breakneck speed and a crowd of more than 100 men followed, threatening to lynch the occupants of the buggy.
[Daily Illinois State Journal-Springfield, Illinois, Monday, September 7, 1903]


From the Dubuque Herald, April 14.
Hanging by Judge Lynch, at Andrew, Jackson Co., Iowa.
Murder at Iron Hill, P. O. - Horrible Confession of the Murderer. - Two other Men to be Hung by the Citizens.
We have just learned from Mr. Black, of Andrew, the old county seat of Jackson Co., twenty-five miles south of Dubuque, the particulars of the hanging at that place by a mob, on Saturday last, the 11th inst., of Eli Grifford, a half breed. Grifford had murdered a man named John Ingalls, about the 25th of March. He was arrested and lodged in jail at Andrew on the 31st of march, and was taken from the jail on Saturday last, at about 2 o'clock, P. M., by a mob of twenty four of the citizens of the vicinity where the murder was perpetrated, Iron Hill Post Office, in the same county, and about fourteen miles from Andrew. The jail was entered by force, the door being broken open with a sledge. The jailor made no resistance, nor called on the citizens for help, to protect the prisoner or defend the jail. The whole of the murderer had a few moments before rode into town and warned the jailor of the approach of the mob.

The mob was headed by Jacob Landis of Iron Hill, and on arriving in town proceeded at once to the jail and assailed the door with a heavy sledge. The door of the cell was a strong one, and did not yield until near two hundred blows had been struck. There were four other prisoners in the jail, who, with the assistance of Grifford, barricaded the door. The prisoner on finding himself in the power of the mob, showed much alarm and asserted, on being told it was their intention to hang him, that "if you hang me, you hang an innocent man." From the jail the mob took Grifford to a tree just south of the school house, between that building and the cemetery, when a rope was put around his neck and thrown over a limb projecting over the pathway.

When Grifford found that the citizens were determined upon hanging him, and there was no probability of escape, he made a clean breast of it, confessing that he shot Ingalls on Friday the 27th, in the woods, where his body was found. The weapon used was the rifle, and he approached his victim from behind to within 15 feet and shot him in the head, the ball passing through and lodging against the skull over the left eye. The skull in front was fractured, and the ball found to have split in two parts, or the gun must have contained more than one ball. At the time Ingalls, the murdered man was walking with an axe upon his left shoulder, and on receiving the fatal ball fell upon his right side. A dog that was with him returned to the house the second day, after, having in the interval nestled closely to his master's person.

Grifford says that he was instigated to the murder, and paid for doing it by his uncle, a man named Jarett, and another named David McDonald, neighbors of Ingalls. An old grudge existed between them which had been fostered from time to time by hostile acts from both sides. Ingalls threatened to burn Jarett's house, for this he had been arrested. Ingalls was a large and powerful man, and in personal encounters was too much for any of his opponents. For this he was doomed to death and the confederates, Jerrett, McDonald and Grifford, determined that the deed should be done by the latter, - the two former agreeing to pay him a certain sum and help him to leave the State. Grifford is a native of Missouri, where his mother resides now.

The murderer sought an early opportunity of effecting his purpose, which was but too easily found. Iron Hill is situated in the midst of a heavy body of timber which stretches away for miles in all directions and it consequently afforded concealment to accomplish the deed.

Grifford also confessed that he had attempted to kill two other persons in the same vicinity, one a man at whom he shot three times, and the other a woman.

When told the fatal moment was approaching, he acknowledged the justice of his punishment, but said his "uncle ought to suffer also."

From 300 to 500 persons witnessed the hanging. A prayer was offered up by a Methodist clergyman, Rev. Mr. Babcock, the guilty wretch kneeling and crossing himself; the surrounding crowd standing in respectful silence. There was no disturbance, no tumult, and a legal execution could not have passed off in a more orderly manner. No one attempted to interfere, the people of the county, having, it seems, come to the conclusion that murderers cannot be punished if left to the due course of law.

When the last moment arrived, the leader of the party tied a handkerchief over the eyes of Grifford, who remained standing, and every man of the 24 took hold of the rope. At a signal they pulled upon the rope together, suspending him in the air about eight feet from the earth. His irons had not been taken off and his arms being pinioned there was but little struggling as his guilty soul took its flight. His body was allowed to remain on the gibbet tree for something over an hour when it was taken down and placed in a rude box and interred in a field belonging to Dr. Cowden. During the whole of this time and until the body was buried the crowd remained upon the ground silently witnessing the various occurrences.
[Plain Dealer - Cleveland, Ohio - Monday, April 20, 1857]

. . . related news:


As soon as the execution was over, two men were dispatched in pursuit of Jarrett, the uncle, and McDonald his accomplice, and it is said to be the determination of the neighbor to hang them both if taken. - McDonald has not been seen since the murder, but is supposed to be secreted in the ndighborhood. Jarrett left town before the arrival of the mob, or it is probable they would have made short work with him also. They are now in hot pursuit, and it will be strange if they are not soon captured.

Grifford was a man about five feet eight inched high, stoutly mad. He was dark complexioned and had not a very bad looking countenance. His age was about 25 years and a single man.
Jarrett is a short and not heavy made man, with a decided French cast of countenance, and not prepossessing.
McDonald is a short, stout builtman with a fresh ruddy complexion, and withal a very good looking fellow. He had been a Mormon and has a family.
The murdered man was also a man of family.
[Madison State Journal - Madison, Wisconsin, April 21, 1857, submitted by Mary Kay Krogman]
NOTE: The Vigilance Committee did capture Jarrett but didn't lynch him as some rumors were saying. He was then transferred to the Scott county jail for safe keeping until the trial, which was scheduled for May.


Charged With Serious Offense

The January Grand Jury, with Charles Stoltz as foreman, completed their investigation today and returned indictments against Gilbert Hayes and Charles Fuller of near Andrew, who are charged with assault with intent to commit great bodily injury against Chris and Henry Rommert, who are neighbors of the accused. The facts and circumstances surrounding the case seem to be about as follows:-
That on the 29th day of December, 1919, Henry Rommert and his son. Chris, were repairing a telephone wire near their home, which had been cut by Hayes, who is a farm hand employed by Chas. Fuller. It is claimed by, Hayes that he cut the wire under the direction of his said employer, and while the wire was subsequently being repaired by the Rommerts, it is alleged that they were attacked by Hayes and Fuller, and that Hayes struck the Rommerts with a pitchfork and as a result the younger Rommert was rendered unconscious and Henry Rommert the father, badly cut about the head.

The crime with which Messrs Hayes and Fuller are charged is quite serious, as under our law, one who is convicted of the offense or attack with intent to, commit great bodily injury may be punished by one year in the penitentiary.

The case will be prosecuted by County Attorney Ely among the first cases tried at the January term of the Petit jury which convenes on the 20th day of January, 1920. We understand that other indictments were returned by the Grand Jury, but as the men who are charged with crimes in the same have not been arrested as yet, the indictments are not made public.
[Jackson Sentinel, Maquoketa, Iowa, January 9, 1920]


Injunction Obtained Against Law Violators

Two permanent injunctions against violators of intoxicating liquor law were obtained last week by County Attorney F. E. Thomas, Judge House signed the decrees in both cases, and the defendants paid the costs.

The enjoined persons are William H. Hayes and Walter Hayes, of near Lamotte, father and son, and Mike Scholtes, of near Springbrook. In both cases the defendants were enjoined from further manufacturing or trafficing in intoxicating liquors, and violation of the injunction will result in action for contempt of court. The same parties are now under bond in Federal Court, charges having been filed against them for violation of the Volstead act.

Walter Hayes, one of the above defendants, is at the present time a thirty-day visitor at Sheriff Dallager's hostelry. He and Theodore Mootz, son of Jacob Mootz of near Bellevue, were arrested last week on information filed by Peter Koos of Prairie Springs township, charging them with the larceny of domestic poultry. They were alleged to have invaded the Koos chicken yard at night and to have taken thirteen chickens, which were sold the next day in Dubuque for $9.85. In Justice Ralston's court they pleaded guilty to the charge, and were bound over to the district court, but on County Attorney's information were taken before Judge House for an immediate hearing and sentence. Each was sentenced to thirty days in jail and to pay a fine of $100, but because of his youth and certain family conditions the judge paroled the Mootz boy to the custody of his father, with orders that he should sell his automobile and be restrained from joyriding in any other, and be kept at home at work until the parole is discharged.
[Jackson Sentinel - Maquoketa, Iowa, Tuesday, August 16, 1921]

JACOB HEINS, the man arrested for disturbing religious services a the Catholic church in Bellevue, and insulting and threatening the priest, has been fined $50 and costs, the whole amounting to $75. Heins took an appeal to the district court, but failing to get bondsmen, paid the bill.
[The Wyoming Journal (Wyoming, IA) Jan. 6, 1871, page 3, transcribed by Robin Line]


Shooting Affray

It will be remembered that some three, weeks ago a Samuel Hicks, living some three or four miles from Sabula, was arrested and brought before Justice Herbeling, charged with beating his wife, and he then promised or did rather sign papers, pertaining to give his wife a divorce and so much property, and also promised and gave bail for his good behavior, upon which he was released. On Wednesday last he was again arranged before the same Justice charged with a more hideous crime that of attempting to take the life of his wife.

It appears that after the first altercation they temporarily separated until the necessary legal papers could be obtained for the permanent desolution the wife going to Mr. Miles to live and the husband remaining on the farm.

On last Wednesday morning matters came to a crisis. Hicks went over to Miles' and asked his wife if she would come back and live with him, on her replying in the negative to his answer he there said he would kill her, and forthwith drew a revolver from his pocket and fired, the ball grazing her dress on the shoulder, she then started and run out the back door into the orchard closely followed by the infuriated husband who fired five more shots, another which passed through the lower part of her dress, without doing any harm, whatever.-Her screams attracted the attention of the neighboring farmers and Mr. Miles to her relief. They rescued her, took the pistol from Hicks, brought him to town and placed him in the hands of the proper authorities here. He had a hearing before Justice Heberling who placed his bail at ten thousand dollars, which it is hoped he cannot procure for let the country be rid of such scamps. It is believed by those who witnessed the affair, that it was his intention to kill his wife and then take his own life. The penitentiary is his destination without a doubt. Sabula Gazette.
[Maquoketa Sentinel - Maquoketa, Iowa, July 21, 1868]


On Monday morning John Hinton was arrested on the charge of assault and battery on the person of Mrs. Emma Miller, wife of Chas. Miller. He was brought before Justice Henry to answer for it. The Hinton and Miller families live in the brick block over the Hamley meat market. Last Saturday night Mrs. Miller went to the Salvation meeting and left her baby in charge of Dolly Hinton a daughter of John Hinton. Mrs. Miller did not get home until after 10 o'clock and was passing through the dark hall for her child when John Hinton met her, threw his arms about her person and it frightened her so that she screamed. John testified that he had no bad intentions and had played similar capers with Emma when she was in the presence of his family. The court however considered it worth a $5.00 fine and costs which he laid upon defendant.
[Jackson Sentinel, June 3, 1885]


Another Murder in Iowa
At Bellevue, a station about twenty-five miles south of Dubuque, David Seeley, a stage driver between Bellevue and Maquoketa, entered a saloon and tavern kept by a Mrs. Anna Scheider. While hitching the horses before entering, some hard words were exchanged between him and a fellow named Billy Horin, which was the outcome of an old feud. The two entered the tavern, continuing their threatening language. While they were eating supper the conversation grew too hot for the landlady, and she ordered them out. Seeley was the first to go and was closely followed by Horin who evidently wanted to force the fighting. Scarcely had they stepped from the door when they became engaged in a rough and tumble fight, during the course of which Seeley drew a revolver and fired the bullet going completely through his opponents heart and lodging in his clothing. He fell to the ground and died instantly. As soon as Seeley realized what he had done he fled. Horin was known as a man about town. He was bold, careless and frequently drank to excess. He was thirty-five years old and single. The murderer was generally regarded as a peaceful man. He has a wife and children living in Bellevue.

[Northern Pacific Farmer (Wadena, MN) April 30, 1885]

Jackson Executed

Execution. - A man named Jackson, who murdered a Mr. Perkins, was hung pursuant to sentence, in Jackson county, Iowa territory, on the 15th ultimo. He was resigned to his fate, made a confession, and said it was true, just before he was executed.
[Source: Boston Post (MA) Aug. 12, 1842]

Fred Kelsall, a merchant of Canton, Jackson county, Iowa, has been indicted for arson.
[Source: The Guthrie Daily Leader (OK) February 8, 1894, transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman]

The following week:
The Jackson county, Iowa, grand jury indicted Fred Kelsall, the Canton merchant and justice of the peace, who proves to be the leader of a gang of bandits.
[Source: The Pioneer Express (Pembina, ND) February 16, 1894]


MAQUOKETA, IA.-The Jackson county grand jury returned six indictments against Joseph Kelso, president of the defunct J. Kelso bank at Bellevue, charging embezzlement and accepting deposits when he knew the bank was insolvent.
[Source: Daily Register Gazette (Rockford, IL) Wednesday, September 26, 1923, transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman]

Maquoketa, Ia., April 26.-The jury in the case of J. Kelso, charged with embezzlement in connection with the wrecking of the Kelso Savings bank here, failed to reach an agreement after deliberating all night, and were discharged this morning. Five other indictments are pending against Kelso.
[Source: Omaha World Herald (Omaha, NE) Sunday, April 27, 1924]

(Compiled for the Jackson County Historical Society by J. W. Ellis, Curator.)

One of the most brutal and revolting murders which it has been our lot to write of, was committed in Prairie Creek township, Dubuque county, on the evening or the 12th day or February, 1864.

Patrick McArdle, wife and three grown up sons lived In Prairie Creek township some 18 or 20 miles southwest of Dubuque, and according to evidence of neighbors, had lived there since 1848. The old man reasonably well off, had 200 acres of land, but the home life was unpleasant. The old man told some of the neighbors that he believed the old woman and boys would kill him. They frequently beat him. On one occasion it came out in evidence that Patrick, Jr. beat his father terribly and would have killed him if one of the others boys had not Interfered.

On the evening of February 12th, Mrs. McArdle claimed that the three boys had gone to a debate at a school house in the neighborhood, and that shortly after the boys left two drunken men came and called for whiskey which the old man refused them. This she heard from the outside and went into the house and found the old man down and went to him to protect him at the same time telling the men they could have all the whiskey they wanted. She said the men threw her out of the house and she went to Collins, the nearest neighbors, and told Collins her story and asked Collins to go to the school house for the boys, which he, Collins did, going on horse back, and calling the boys out told them what their mother had told him. The boys went home and got some of the neighbors to go. When the neighbors came they found the house dark. A candle was procured and lighted, and on going upstairs the old man McArdle was found lying on the floor dead with many wounds about his head and face, and brains oozing from his skull and pools of blood on the floor, and blood on the stove wood in lower story where it had leaked through.

An Inquest was held and the verdict of the Coroner's jury was that deceased was killed by parties to them unknown. But a day or two later Mrs. McArdle confessed to having killed the old man, although it was believed the sons were also guilty. Mrs. Catherine McArdle and the three sons were held for the murder but at an examination before Judge Stephen S. Hemstead on the 23rd, 24th and 25th of the same month, James and John McArdle were released from custody and Catherine and Patrick Jr. were held. Mrs. McArdle took a change of venue to Jackson county, but Patrick took his chances with his neighbors and was tried In Dubuque county, his mother, Catherine McArdle, appearing as a witness for him and testifying that she killed the old man and that Patrick did not know of it until after the murder, and Patrick was acquitted. Catherine was tried at the October term of the District Court of Jackson county, convicted and sentenced to be hanged on the 9th of December, 1864, but before that date Governor Stone commuted the sentence to imprisonment for life, and a few years later, Governor Samuel Merrill pardoned her out. Of course this was not a Jackson county crime, but I mention it because It was tried in Jackson county.

[Source: Annals of Jackson County Iowa, Reprinted from the Maquoketa Record, published by the Jackson County Historical Society 1907] mkk


One of the most atrocious and cold-blooded murders we have for a long time heard of, was committed near the village of Maquoketa, in Jackson county, on Friday the 30th ult.

The particulars, as we have learned them, are of the most heart sickening character, and all the more so from having occurred in one of the most quiet and peaceable neighborhoods with which we are acquainted. The cause of the difficulty which ended in this tragedy, was the entry of a land claim - that fruitful source of quarrel in the western country.

Henry Brown, the murdered man, was the son-in-law of Mr. Rhodes, who had entered a piece of land claimed by Abaslom Montgomery, the murderer. Threats, in the form of anonymous letters were made, that if the land was not given up, the most summary vengeance would be visited upon Mr. Rhodes, his family and his property. No attention was paid to those threats, and on the afternoon of Friday last, while engaged in hauling wood from the disputed premises, Brown was met by Montgomery, armed with a rifle. A few words of altercation passed between them, when Montgomery raised his rifle and deliberately shot Brown through the body, the ball entering at the lower end of the breast bone and lodging in the spine. Brown fell to the ground and Montgomery immediately fled. They were alone, and half a mile from any house at the time, and had the victim expired immediately, the murderer might possible have escaped. He, however, revived sufficiently to enable him to get to the nearest house, and to relate the affair to persons who had been sent for from the town, and who saw him expire.

The murderer, Montgomery, was found some miles distant from the scene of his crime, and is now in custody to await the just retribution of the law.

Mr. Brown was a man of high respectability, and leaves a wife and child and numerous friends to mourn his loss. - Dubuque Herald.
[Source: Wisconsin Tribune (Mineral Point WI) May 13, 1852] mkk


Murder. - The Dubuque (Iowa Herald says that a man named Henry Brown was murdered by one Absolom Montgomery, on the 7th inst., near the village of Maquoketa, Jackson county, Iowa. The cause of the murder, which was a cold-blooded and cowardly one, was the entry of a land claim. Brown's father-in-law had entered a piece of land claimed by the murderer.
[Times-Picayune - New Orleans, Louisiana, Sunday, May 23, 1852] mkk


New Trial of the Accused Murderer to Be Held Next Month.

Maquoketa, Oct. 13.-After being out twenty-four hours and not being able to reach a decision the jury, which has been hearing the trial of George Morehead was discharged by Judge Brannan.

Morehead has been on trial since September 21 charged with the murder of Albert Rowland, whose body was found lying in the road near his home, some eight miles northwest of here, on the morning of April 8. Morehead was a neighbor with whom the deceased had had some trouble. The evidence in the case was wholly circumstantial.

The jury stood nine for conviction and three for acquittal. The failure of the jury to agree will necessitate another trial at the November term. The present trial has cost more than $3,000.

[Sioux City Journal (Sioux City, IA) Thursday, October 14, 1897]

HUSBAND, 72, SHOOTS 70-YEAR-OLD WIFE [Ferdinand Mueller]

BELLEVUE, Ia., Aug. 21.-Ferdinand Mueller, 72 years old, is in jail at Maquoketa because he shot his 70-year-old wife and mother of sixteen children after a quarrel. She is in a critical condition from wounds in the head.

Mueller said he and his wife had been estranged for two years, and upon meeting her he became enraged and quarreled. He is held without charge pending determination of his wife's injuries.

[Source: Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, NJ) Saturday, August, 21, 1926]

Under the supervision of County Attorney Keeley, Sheriff Dye and Deputy Sheriff McElroy, a roundup of bootleggers has been begun in our city and community which promises to be one of the biggest cleanup campaigns staged here in many moons. This morning the officers raided the John Edwards home in this city and uncovered a ten gallon still together with a quantity of hootch and material for making still more. Search of the A. McPeak house was made where a supply of the "pizen" was uncovered. Both Edwards and McPeak were placed under arrest as was also William Jankins, Glen Davis and Wayne Gibson, the last three named being charged with bootlegging. The quintet was escorted to the county jail where they now await arraignment before justice court the time set for such hearing being Thursday morning. Officials intimate that it is quite probable that the number of boarders at hotel de Dye will materially increase before the next few days come to a close as it is intended to make the cleanup thorough and without discrimination.

Earl Nims who had for several weeks been at liberty on bond on bond and charged with bootlegging, plead guilty this morning and was sentenced to ninety days in the county jail.
[Source: Jackson Sentinel (Maquoketa, IA) February 9, 1926; Submitted by Ken Wright]


George Patterson, who has been here for several days, has been arrested by Sheriff Truax, of Jackson county, for the robbery of a watch from a jeweler of Maquoketa, Ia., named Charles Gallagher. The sheriff returned with his prisoner to Maquoketa.

[Source: Omaha Daily Bee (Omaha, NE) May 28, 1887]


Tuesday night about 10 o'clock Sheriff Regenwether received a telephone message from Baldwin that a man had been shot, whereupon the officer left at once for the scene of the crime. The details of the affair as accurately as we can learn at this writing are as follows:

An entertainment was given in the opera house in Baldwin on Tuesday evening, the talent comprising of Van Teeple, Tom Carson and a number of other lesser lights. It seems that a crowd of boys or young men who attended the play created a series of disturbances and after its close the mischievous lads were taken to task by members of the theatrical company. Numbered among the former was August Pickett and in the melee which followed the exchange of words he was shot, we are informed, by Van Teeple, who with his partners was immediately arrested and escorted to jail. A hearing was given Teeple at Baldwin and he was bound over to await action by the Grand Jury and was then brought to Maquoketa and committed to the county jail. Mr. Pickett's condition is said to be very critical, the bullet piercing his right lung and small hopes are entertained for his recovery. Teeple is well known here as "Buster" Van and for some time has been one of the owners of the Van & Van Stock Co., this aggregation being the one which gave the entertainment which led to the above tragedy.
[Jackson Sentinel - Maquoketa, Iowa, March 5, 1914, submitted by Ken Wright]


The four-year-old child of a man named Piser, living near Maquoketa, Iowa, died the other night from want, exposure, and abuse. Piser went to town borrowed fifty cents, got drunk, returned home, beat his wife terribly and with child dead, wife senseless, and himself stupid, lay down behind the stove in the same room, and slept till neighbors came in the next morning.
[Jackson Citizen - Jackson, Michigan, Tuesday, March 28, 1871]


Jack Preston and Elam Rulston Plead Guilty to Burglary.
DUBUQUE, Iowa, Jan. 25.-Special Telegram.-Jack Preston and Elam Rulston pleaded guilty of burglary in the district Court at Maquoketa, Jackson County, yesterday and were sentenced to five years in the penitentiary. They have been for years at the head of a gang of thieves and counterfeiters who created a reign of terror in Brandon Township. They were also accused of incendiarism which caused the cancellation of all fire insurance policies in the township and reduced property to a nominal value. They have turned State's evidence against Fred Kelsall, the leading merchant of Canton, whom they charged with having planned the burglaries, and John Holub, a "fence." Bothe are in jail awaiting the grand jury's action. Ralston says Kelsall offered him $300 to kill Chairman Lon Templeton, of the county board of supervisors. [Source: Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, IL) Friday, January 26, 1894]

Another Article:

Prominent Jackson County Man Indicted
MAQUOKETA, Ia., Jan. 27.-The Jackson county grand jury indicted Fred Ketsall for arson. He is a young and wealthy merchant and formerly was justice of the peace. He was the leader of a gang which burned barns and hay stacks as revenge for personal grievances. Two members of the gang, Elmer Rolston and Jack Preston, peached on Ketsall.
[Source: Omaha World Herald (Omaha, NE) Sunday, January 28, 1894]



Club Used With Fatal Effect Upon Liquor-Crazed Parent.
Dubuque, Iowa. Oct. 4. - Henry Schaffer, aged 60, frenzied with liquor Friday night, attempted to kill his wife and daughter near Lamotte, Jackson county, 17 miles from Dubuque. While defending her mother the daughter struck her father with a club, killing him. Mrs. Schaffer drove to Bellevue and notified the authorities, returning Saturday night with the coroner, who found Schaffer's body still lying in the barnyard, where he had died. The coroner's jury exonerated the daughter.
[Jackson Citizen - Jackson, Michigan, Friday, October 5, 1900]

- - 1872 - - HORRIBLE CONDUCT [J. M. Schuller]

Dubuque, Iowa, August 19.-The Herald of this morning publishes a long account of what it characterizes as the most horrible crime that has come to light in Northern Iowa for years, at Andrew, the county seat of Jackson county. Twenty-five miles south of this city is a private Orphan Asylum, established in 1864, for the reception of orphans and destitute children not over twelve years of age, to give them a Christian home until they are of age. It has been under the charge of the Lutherians, and its head officer or Warden was Rev. I. M. Schuller, a German. He has always stood high, and engaged the united confidence of the whole community. About five years ago his wife died, and it seems that not long after that event he commenced a systematic seduction of the little girls under his charge. The first victim, so far as known, was a little girl 12 or 14 years of age, who had been driven to the Asylum by the unhappy domestic relations of her parents. For a cause not assigned by Schuller she was turned out of the institution and taken to live with some very respectable people in the country, near Andrew, to whom she told her story. The people she lived with expressed great indignation, and mad considerable talk against Schuller in Andrew, but the citizens generally maintained that the man had too high a morality and was innocent of such a thing, and not attention was paid to the talk. This was about four years ago. Delia is now living with her parents in Des Moines. The Herald then mentions another case with great particularity, similar in character to the other, but the horrible and final denouncement came about three weeks ago. One of the little girls, named Bertha Netess, 15 years old, went to the Matron and said she wanted to leave the Asylum but refused to assign any reason. On being closely pressed and threatened with punishment if she did not give her reason, she finally confessed that it was on account of Mr. Schuller's conduct towards the girls. She then related how he had seduced several of the little girls, and that he made several attempts upon her, but had so far failed. The Matron promised to inquire about the matter, but the Warden, the Rev. Schuller, was absent and on his return the Matron asked for her pay as she proposed to leave. On asking her reasons she frankly told him what she had heard. He was dumb for a moment but finally recovered, confessed all and promised if she would stay to take care of the children he would himself leave at once. By her advice he went at once to Galena and sought an interview with the Rev. Mr. Klentwood, a Lutheran Minister, at that place and President of the Asylum Directory, and to him confessed all. This gentleman was horrified at the revelations. He demanded at once that Schuller should resign and leave. This he did, and the Rev. Mr. Rembold, of Bellevue, one of the Directory, took charge of the Institution. Schuller left Andrew at 4 o'clock on Monday morning a week ago in company with his daughter direct for New York, and thence to Europe and is probably on the ocean at this time. The victims of Schuller's perfidy, so far as ascertained at present, are six little girls ranging from eight to fourteen years of age. Schuller is a man of fine personal appearance, of unusual education acquirements and great natural ability. What will be the final result is not known, but all regret that Schuller has escaped the clutches of the law.

[Source: Atchison Daily Patriot (KS) August 20, 1873]



Wm. Schweidderson Flies a Heavy Charge of Shot Into the Face of His Wife - Her Condition Critical - The Brute Behind the Bars Waiting the Result.

Sunday night sheriff McCaffrey received word that Wm. Schweidderson, a farmer living northeast of town about three miles, had again made a brutal attack upon his wife who refused to release him from a bond he was recently compelled to give to keep the peace. With murder in his heart he drew his shot gun and fired a heavy charge full in the face of the woman he should love and protect. Upon the aarrival of the sheriff and constable Smola, Schweidderson was placed under arrest and brought to town, but the officers were obliged to force their entrance to the house and take the prisoner who was armed with a double barrel shot gun and showed considerable resistance. Mrs. Schweidderson, who was in a bleeding and suffering condition was brought to Dr. Bowen for surgical attendance. He found the jaw badly fractured, shot had even penetrated the tongue and a handful of broken bone and some teeth were removed. The injured woman was nursed at the Central House until Tuesday evening when she was taken to the home of Geo. Hyde for more quiet care. Her condition is considered critical.

Mrs. Schweidderson is a woman aged about 40 years, has three children, two by a former husband and one by her present husband who is a man much older and of a very vicious and irritable disposition.

A preliminary hearing was given the prisoner before Justice House Monday afternoon and he was committed to the county jail to await the result of his wife's condition. In any event he will likely get a term in the pen.

[Jackson Sentinel, Maquoketa, Iowa, published Thursday October 15, 1891]


Lawyer Arrested in Maquoketa

A correspondent of the Clinton Herald, writing from Delmar says:

Again we have to record a failure in Delmar-this time a law firm. A young man by the name of Thomas came here and hung out his shingle at the Riggs House. His business not being very flourishing, he would take a drink occasionally. But too many drinks got the better of him and he neglected his business, got entirely discouraged and concluded to pull up stakes and go further west. He went to Parker's Hardware Store, bought a $4.50 revolver, loaded up with shot and whiskey, and procured a ticket as far west as Maquoketa, where he concluded to stop overnight and rest. Maquoketa being something of a "hub", a number of bus drivers and hotel runners were about the depot waiting for the train to come in, and as soon as our legal chap alighted from the cars, these bummers of course went for him, some taking hold of his satchel, some his arms, and all trying to have him come to his or their respective hotels. He being somewhat under the influence of Delmar "incorporation," thought they were trying to rob him, so he brought out his $4.50 shooter and blazed away, hit or miss. The way these bummers scattered was a sight. He held the field for a few minutes, when the marshal took him in charge and locked him in the calaboose over night. We heard since that his mother is a widow in Pennsylvania, and very wealthy, and sent her boy out here to keep from drinking. Selecting Delmar as the proper place, she told him to drive his peg here, but "alas, poor York," it was a miss.

Thomas was arrested here, and taken before the police justice, who bound him over to appear next day, in the sum of $100. He deposited that sum, and upon conviction was fined $5 and costs. This with attorney fees, and other etceteras, nearly used up his stamps, and he left town a sadder, wiser, and poorer man. If Delmar has any more pilgrims of that kind they had better give Maquoketa a wide birth. It costs strangers big money to raise Ned in this neck o' the woods.

Jackson Sentinel, Maquoketa, Jackson County, Iowa, February 24, 1876 Submitted by Ken Wright


- - 1887 - -


Disgraceful Proceedings in an Iowa Court.
Cruel Sentence to the Penitentiary Without the Prisoner Seeing the Jury.

Startling developments come to light in Maquoketa, a few miles back of Davenport, and if the story of a devilish plot which has been partially carried into execution by the aid of the court were written by Victor Hugo, it would be quite as pathetic as "Jean Valjean," or "Claude Geneux." A correspondent in Jackson county, Iowa, where the disgraceful farce is alleged to have occurred, writes as follows:

A deep laid plot is being discovered that was laid to ruin an honest hardworking young man of this town, Chester Turney by name. He was inveighed through his enemies-enemies through jealously-to buy, at a trifling cost, a watch and chain of some stranger during a circus procession. The next day he was arrested for having stolen goods in his possession, and not being able to pay the ten dollars fine against him, was sentenced to three days imprisonment in the county jail. At the end of that time he was released, but feeling deeply the disgrace and that everybody believed him guilty, and having no money or friends and hearing that his mother was dead, he fled to the woods, not caring whether he lived or died.

He lived five days without food and on the sixth, rendered almost crazy with hunger, he stole a loaf of bread, etc. As the nights were chilly, he stole a buffalo robe to protect him from the cold, and as his sufferings rendered him desperate he stole some other small things, afraid to ask for fear of betraying himself and feeling that he had no friends. He finally stole an old shot gun and some shot and knives to kill game and was detected. His enemies were watching for him, and organizing a mob surrounded the wood, hunted him down like a dog, shot him in the leg and finally put a rope around his neck and dragged him through the streets preparatory to lynching him, which would have been done twice had not two citizens interfered and stopped the proceedings, pistol in hand.

He was taken to jail, had a brief sham trial, without appearing in court, and sentenced in less than an hour to seventeen and a half years hard labor in the penitentiary. Who ever in all our law courts heard of such an unjust, shameful proceeding? Even had the lad been a criminal of the deepest dye he should have had a fair trial, for that even Guiteau had! But this boy, guilty of nothing but petty larceny, and that of almost worthless old things that in all did not amount to $50, and under most extenuating circumstances.

His poor mother all this time lay sick and helpless in another town where a surgical operation had been performed upon her knee. When she returned to her home she found her son suffering under this terrible sentence. Crippled as she was, she went on crutches to some of the citizens to see if something could not be done for her boy-her only son and support in her old age, and she a widow. She had no money, and consequently little influence to bring to bear against the court and lawyers that would naturally oppose her.

She went her weary rounds, till some one suggested that perhaps Gov. Larrabee would pardon her son out of prison. She finally succeeded in reaching Des Moines, and had an interview with him. He listened kindly to her story, but advised her to try and get a new trial, as that would vindicate her son's honor better than a pardon. So she has been from house to house in Des Moines and is still going. Some kind hearts have listened and been prompted to give her money to succeed in raising a fund necessary for a new trial, which will be fully $75.
[Source: The Rock Island Daily Argus (IL) August 24, 1887] mkk

- - 1888 - -

Sad Storey of a Boy in an Iowa Penitentiary.

How Chester Turney Was Given A mock Trial For a Trifling Theft and Sentenced to Seventeen Years.

Des Moines, Ia., Dec. 25.-[Special to The Bee.]-In Oswego, N. Y., about twenty years ago was born a boy whose life for the past five years has been one unbroken series of misfortunes, such as even in this world of sorrow are seldom experienced. This boy, Chester Turney, became fatherless at the age of three years. His mother, being poor, was compelled to be separated from her boy in order to make a living for herself and him. She engaged in teaching, and, following the custom of the time and place, boarded around among the patrons of the school. The boy Chester was adopted by Rev. James and Mrs. Beecher. Rev. James Beecher was the youngest brother of the late Henry Ward Beecher, and at that time pastor of a church in Oswego. For several years the little fellow remained in their home, where he was carefully trained and cared for. After a while it became necessary for Mrs. Turney to go west to the home of her parents, and wishing to take Chester with her, the Beechers gave him up. In their new home Mrs. Turney and her boy found many hardships, but managed to live, the mother teaching, sewing, caring for the sick, and doing whatever she could find to do. One day while engaged in her household work she accidentally stepped through a trap-door and broke her leg. This was indeed a terrible blow to the poor woman. She had by industry and the strictest economy managed to accumulate about $300, but this sum was soon gone, used to pay for board, lodging, and doctors' bills. Chester at this time was employed on a farm near the little town of Preston, in Jackson county, Iowa. He had contracted for a year, and notwithstanding the illness of his mother and her straightened pecuniary circumstances, his employer refused to pay him until the time had expired. The poor boy worked hard and faithfully, eagerly looking forward to the time when he could collect his wages and contribute his little store to the support of his mother, who in the meantime had been compelled to accept aid from the town of Sabula, in which she was living.

This humiliating circumstance was keenly felt by the proud and sensitive boy, and the mental worry it occasioned, combined with the hard physical labor, rapidly destroyed his health. When his term of service ended he was still unable to collect his wages, his employer pleading inability to pay. The disappointed boy went to visit his mother, and found her unable to leave her bed and the forced recipient of public charity, while he, who through long, weary months had toiled early and late, was unable to aid her. The sick mother bravely endeavored to hide her own anguish and comfort her child, but it may be well believed that it was a difficult task. Knowing that the employer was soon to receive a large sum of money, Chester returned to Preston, thinking that if he were present when the money was received, he would surely get his pay. While waiting for it he worked around the town wherever he could find anything to do, but the severe physical and mental strain proved too much for him, and a long lingering fever was the consequence. For days he raved in delirium, and weeks passed away before he could leave his room. At this time came the shocking intelligence that his mother had been sent to Michigan a pauper, and died on the way. This was the climax of his woe. No light penetrated the gloom surrounding him. His star of hope seemed set in endless night. During his illness a great deal of expense had necessarily been incurred, and he now endeavored to get work in order to pay the proprietor of the hotel where he had been during his sickness.

One day about this time a young man approached him, and requested him to buy a revolver and watch chain of him, claiming to be far from home and without money. Chester explained to him that he did not wish the articles, but if it would help him he would take them, as the young man offered them very cheap. In a short time Turney, was arrested for stealing. It seems that some parties in Preston whom he had offended in some way had induced the young man to get those stolen articles into Turney's possession. He was taken before a justice and fined $10 and costs, which made the sum total $30. Not having the money he was sent to jail for ten days. After three days' imprisonment, however, the jailor released him, telling him that his imprisonment was unlawful. Sick and weary, and burdened by this new sense of disgrace, the poor boy wandered about dreading to meet anyone who knew him. Near Preston lived a farmer who had been a friend to his mother. He resolved to see him and explain his case, thinking the man would believe him. But approaching the house in the early morning he found the farmer was not at home and his wife out doing chores. At first he thought he would tell her, but concluded he couldn't and after talking with her a while passed on. Though the lady kindly invited him into the house, he was determined not to enter it without a full explanation of his late terrible experience. Grief for his mother and his own sickness and trouble had completely crushed the boy, and at length in a state of despair and, it may reasonably be believed, temporary insanity, Chester fled from the haunts of men and sought refuge in the woods. For days he lived on nuts, resolving never to go near a human habitation again, but finally the gnawing's of hunger overcame his resolution, and forced him to seek food. He left his retreat, went near the house of a former employer and watched for an opportunity to get into the house unobserved. At length it came. He went in, and finding the table set for a meal, he took something to eat, and the very revolver, for buying which he had been sent to jail. Passing out of the house he concealed himself in some shrubbery in the garden until dark, and then went to the barn, where he stayed all night. On leaving in the morning he took with him an old Buffalo robe to wrap himself up. About this time he also entered a hardware store through an open window, and took some bags of shot in order to kill game to support himself in the woods. Not being strong enough to carry it all, he left I at the rear door of the store, and returned for it on the following night. During the nezxt day parties had been notified to be on watch and shoot at sight. So when he appeared, he received a shot in his leg, but managed to escape to the woods, only be captured the next day. When found, he was handcuffed and dragged through the streets of Preston with a rope around his neck, and a drunken, infuriated mob howling around him and threatening to lynch him. A gentleman made his way through the brutal crowd, and, with revolver in hand, rescued the boy from mob violence. But for this timely aid he would probably have been hanged. He was immediately taken to jail, and while awaiting trial, received a letter from his mother, whose supposed death and the sad circumstances attending it, had driven him to desperation. Previous to this he had been in a listless, apathetic condition, evincing no emotion at his fate. But his mother's letter aroused him and he now desired to be free. In due time his so-called trial came off. His persecutors selected the jury. He was not allowed in the court room. The mob, terrified at the idea of justice being visited on them in case of his acquittal, resorted to the most dastardly means to secure his conviction. His attorney, in a weak, half-hearted way, entered a plea of not guilty, and the whole proceedings were conducted in the plainest violation of the law and the constitution of the state. The result of this miserable farce was a sentence of seventeen and one-half years in the penitentiary at hard labor, and in less than three hours after the court convened, Chester Turney was on the road to Anamosa to be incarcerated in a dungeon for seventeen and one-half years for taking something to eat, when grief, sickness, inability to obtain work, or collect pay for work already done, and urgent imprisonment had driven him to starvation an insanity.

This poor innocent boy has now been wearing the garb of a convict for nearly three years, in an Iowa penitentiary. Had his mother really died, it is very probable that his sad story would never have been told. During the three years of his imprisonment, this heart-broken woman has been traveling over the state, telling her sorrows and endeavoring to enlist sympathy for her boy. Her story seemed so strange that many pronounced it a fiction and heeded it no further. Some, however, impressed by her intelligence, refined manner, and the air of truthfulness with which she related this awful tale of woe, investigated the case, and found her statements absolutely correct in every particular. There is now no doubt existing in the minds of any who desires to know the truth of the case. The railroads of Iowa have, at the solicitation of Mrs. Turney's friends, recently given her passes over the principal lines, and she now goes over the state at will, ever pleading for her son. Mrs. Turney has in her possession letters from Chester, all breathing a spirit of filial devotion and displaying a remarkably calm, philosophical mind. All who have visited the penitentiary are impressed with his manly appearance and brave endeavor to bear up under this terrible fate, but the trials of his young life are rapidly exhausting his vital energy, and it is probably that only a speedy release will prevent his early death.
[Source: Omaha Daily Bee (NE) December 26, 1888] mkk

- - 1889 - -

Governor Larrabee's Letter Highly Satisfactory to Preston Citizens

PRESTON, Jan. 3.-[Special Telegram to The Bee.]-A letter was received here yesterday by Hon. A. L. Bartholamew from Governor Larrabee, stating that the people of Preston need not have any fears of Chester Turney being pardoned or receiving a pardon from him at present, as he had not allowed the press or the people to make any decisions for him. The governor's position is the all-absorbing topic, and is satisfactory to the people who are opposed to Turney's release.
[Source: Omaha Daily Bee (NE) January 4, 1889] mkk

DES MOINES, Ia., Jan. 31.-Something of a sensation was made to-day when it was found that Mrs. Gillette, wife of the former Greenback Congressman, had gone before the grand jury to try and procure the indictment of Governor Larrabee for criminal libel. She is a friend of the notorious Chester Turney, who was sent to the penitentiary for seventeen years for larceny. Turney's mother sought to secure his pardon. The governor refused to grant the request, and prepared a circular setting for the charges against the boy. It is claimed that the circular contains false statements concerning the mother and her friends are endeavoring to bring Governor Larrabee to task for the alleged libel.
[Source: The Indianapolis Journal (IN) February 1, 1889] mkk

DES MOINES, Ia., Feb. 12.-[Special Telegram to The Bee.]-The supreme court heard oral argument to-day in the celebrated Chester Turney case. His counsel asked the court to grant a new trial, claiming that he had not been fairly tried in the lower courts. The principal speaker for Turney was a young lawyer named Deman, of this city, and after wearying the court for some time by a good deal of general assertion, the court sat down upon him by telling him that he must confine his remarks to matters of record and facts, not opinion. Judge Cole, of this city, said a few words in favor of having the court reduce the boy's sentence to three years and a half, which would about expire at this time. Attorney Bishop spoke for the state, saying that nothing had been shown to prove that Turney had not had a fair trial or was entitled to any special mercy from the court. The case was taken under advisement.
[Source: Omaha Daily Bee (NE) February 13, 1889] mkk

A Letter from One of His Counsel Makes Things a Little Embarrassing.

DES MOINES, Ia., Feb. 23.-In the trial of Governor Larrabee yesterday, only two witnesses were examined-Private Secretary Hossfeld and Chief Clerk Bristow, of the executive office. Both testified that the governor ordered the printing of the pamphlet containing the alleged libelous matter.

A letter written by Judge Cole, one of the governor's counsel in this case and dated Sept. 28, 1888, was introduced by the prosecution. It states that the writer had thoroughly examined the Chester Turney case and was convinced beyond a doubt that a young man had been sentenced to the penitentiary for the aggregate term of seventeen and a half years without any trial by the jury or by the court; that the proceedings connected with his alleged conviction and actual sentence were merely formal and in his absence had without the calling of any witnesses whatever. It proceeds: "I entertain no doubt that Chester Turney is suffering punishment without any proof of his guilt, and that his further confinement as well as that hitherto is a travesty on justice and a positive outrage on both law and humanity.

The letter was objected to for the reason that it was addressed "To Whom It May Concern," and, therefore, was not properly an official document, but the objection was over ruled.
[Source: Rock Island Daily Argus (IL) February 23, 1889.] mkk

The Iowa Supreme Court Affirms Turney's Sentence.

DES MOINES, Io., May 9.-The Iowa Supreme court to-day decided that the sentence of Chester Turney must stand. Turney was a youth sentenced to seventeen and one-half years imprisonment for burglary, because it is alleged his release, or a short term might lead to the conviction of prominent citizens for various illegal acts. The case has been made the subject for long continued agitation in Iowa, one phase culminating in the indictment and trial of Gov. Larrabee for criminal libel.
[Source: St. Paul Daily Globe (MN) May 10, 1889] mkk

- - 1890 - -

End of A Cause Celebre in the Criminal Annals of Iowa-Pardoned Monday.
DES MOINES, Ia., Jan. 15.-[Special.]-The end of the Chester Turney case has come. Gov. Larrabee pardoned him Monday and he was released from prison yesterday, though the fact was not made public til today. Turney was sent to Anamosa Prison Dec. 10, 1885, for seventeen and a half years, on a charge of burglary and arson, on twelve indictments. The young man's mother claimed that he had been convicted without a fair trial and a great effort was made to secure a new trial. The Governor did not act so promptly in the case as the friends of young Turney desired. He was bitterly assailed in the press. In defense of his action he printed a circular giving copies of some of the remonstrances filed in his offices. One of these contained reflections on Mrs. Turney's character. Her friends had the Governor indicted and tried for libel. He was acquitted after a sensational trial.
[Source: Chicago Tribune (IL) January 16, 1890] mkk

DES MOINES, Ia., May 11.-[Special.]-Mrs. Harriet Turney, the unfortunate mother of Chester Turney, was before the insane commissioners yesterday. She demanded a lawyer, and being entitled by law to legal advice the inquiry was postponed until Monday. The inquiry was begun upon complaint of City Physician Matthews, who took the action at the request of Mrs. Turney's neighbors. There is perhaps little doubt that what her mind has been unbalanced for months. The case has many pathetic features, not the least of which is found in a remark made by Mrs. Turney yesterday, "I worked night and day for years to get Chester out of the penitentiary and now he wants me locked up." The poor woman imagines that her son is in league with her enemies to send her to an asylum.
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (NE) Monday, May 12, 1890.] mkk


CHESTER A. TURNEY was pardoned on the 15th by Governor Larrabee, of Iowa, on the condition that he would not drink liquors nor frequent saloons. He had nearly twelve years of a seventeen years sentence to serve.
[Source: Mower County Transcript (Lansing, MN) January 22, 1890] mkk

- - 1891 - -

Iowa Ex-Congressman's Wife Takes Up With Ingrate Turney.

Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 24.-[Special.]-Chester Turney, the young convict who caused Governor Larrabee so much trouble, has now brought about the separation of ex-Congressman C. H. Gillette and wife. Turney was convicted several years ago of larceny, and sentenced for a long term in the state prison. Mrs. Turney demanded of Governor Larabee a full, free and unconditional pardon of her son. The governor agreed to do so if she could get the necessary petition. She succeeded in doing this, and soon had a formidable list. Then the governor refused the pardon, and became involved in a controversy with Mrs. Turney, in the course of which he published his record in the case. She then had him arrested on a charge of libel, and after two trials the governor was acquitted.

Among the women most interested in the case of young Turney was Mrs. C. H. Gillette whose husband is brother to the famous dramatist. She gave him a home when he was released from prison, and placed him in the office of the Iowa Tribune of which Gillette was part owner. He refused to share his earnings with his mother by the advice of Mrs. Gillette, and her son's ingratitude almost drove Mrs. Turney crazy. Encouraged by Mrs. Gillette, young Turney endeavored to have his mother adjudged insane, but was defeated by the evidence of Gillette, who had tired of the fellow. So strong was the attachment between Mrs. Gillette and the ex-convict that Gillette expelled Turney from his house, quit his wife, and is now arranging for a separation. Mrs. Gillette is a brilliant woman, and was instrumental in securing her husband's election to congress.
[Source: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer (WA) January 25, 1891.] mkk

- - 1893 - -

Pitiable Plight of an Iowa Woman With a Wayward son.

A question as to the sanity of Mrs. Harriet Clark Turney has been raised and Dr. Wollway and Marchand, who have been appointed by the probate court for the purpose, are considering her ailments. They went to the Home for the Friendless yesterday and made an examination, and will make further investigations as to her condition tomorrow and report to the probate court what action they deem advisable. Mrs. Turney came to this city recently from Des Moines, Io., and, because of delusions and eccentricities, was taken to the Home for the Friendless on Collins street. Her mind is supposed to be affected by troubles some years ago with her son, Chester Clark Turney, who was sentenced to the Iowa penitentiary for seventeen and a half years for larceny, but was pardoned by the governor of Iowa after serving a little over four years of his term. Mrs. Turney says she came to this city to secure a publisher for a book she has prepared showing the conduct of prisons. She tells a weird story as to the persecution of her son, whom she declares was railroaded into the penitentiary. Her story is to the effect that her son was sentenced without the formality of a jury trial. The judge who sentenced him was afterwards impeached by the legislature for his course in the trial of her son. She says that the boy was attached to the Iowa Tribune when it was run as a greenback organ by ex-Congressman Gillette. While there the wife of the proprietor became infatuated with him to such an extent that it caused the separation of Mr. and Mrs. Gillette. This infatuation lasted while the boy was in prison, and after his release he was given a position in the composing room of the Tribune. While in this position the persecution of the boy continued, and he was sent to a lonely cabin on a farm belonging to Mrs. Gillette, where he is still staying and not permitted to leave.
[Source: St. Paul Daily Globe (MN) August 20, 1893.] mkk

- - 1895 - -

Clinton Police Believe Him to Be a Firebug.

CLINTON, July 31.-Chester Turney is once more a much wanted man, the police here being of the opinion that it was he who fired the barn of William Reed a few nights since. They have evolved a strong chain of evidence against him from these facts: J. E. Reed, who lives but a few doors from Wm. Reed, and whose barn is just across the alley from the other Reed's was one of the leading business men of Preston at the time Turney was systematically plundering the town, and Reed was one of the men who hunted down the criminal. After his capture, Turney swore he would get even with his captors, if it took fifty years. Turney when seen in Clinton was loitering about in the vicinity of the residences of the two Reeds. It is believed the near proximity of the two barns mixed him up, and with the intention of firing J. E. Reed's he applied the match to Wm. Reed's. He has not been seen in Clinton since the day before the fire occurred.
[Source: Iowa State Bystander (Des Moines, IA) August 2, 1895]

Reports sent out from Clinton some days ago connecting the name of Chester Turney with the burning of a barn in that county and other crimes, have done him a grievous wrong if the statements of his mother are true. She declares that she has positive evidence that her son has not been away from central Iowa a single night since the 1st of March, and she also has affidavits of associates of Chester Turney showing him to be a man of exemplary habits. Turney was the cause of a good deal of trouble during Gov. Larrabee's administration, through the efforts of his mother to get him out of the penitentiary, but if he is in fact living a good life his name should not be dragged into the newspapers needlessly.
[Source: Sioux City Journal (IA) Saturday, August 10, 1895.] mkk

- - 1897 - -

Mrs. Turney, mother of Chester Turney, will file a petition with the legislature asking indemnity amounting to $10,000 for the alleged unlawful conviction and wrongful imprisonment of her son in Anamosa penitentiary. She is said to be hard at work among the legislators seeking support for the claim.
[Source: Iowa State Bystander (Des Moines, IA) January 22, 1897] mkk

- - 1902 - -

. . . Epilog
Note: After the death of the presiding judge, William F. Conrad, for governor William Larrabee's libel case, the history of the case was again brought up in the media. Following are excerpts from one of the articles.

[in response to Mrs. Turney's travels around Iowa for support of a pardon] . . . About this time Governor Larrabee collected the information on the other side and printed it in a circular intended to be sent out to inquirers as to the status of the case. This included a statement from a weekly newspaper, including an address prepared by residents of Jackson county protesting against the pardon. It contained also a statement to the effect that Mrs. Turney had two husbands living, one in Wisconsin and one in New York, from neither of which had she been divorced. The friends of Mrs. Turney were furious and threatened the governor with dire consequences. They went before a grand jury and quoting this one statement from the circular caused him to be indicted for circulating a libel. . .

[after Turney's release] . . . Chester Turney lived for a time on the Gillette farm near Des Moines and later drifted westward. Mrs. Gillette secured a divorce from her husband and is living quietly here in Des Moines, while Mr. Gillette and his daughter live on their farm near Valley Junction. Mrs. Turney still lives here in Des Moines. In her testimony she had stated that she was married in 1862 to Turney and two years later he went to the war and was not heard of again. She got one letter from him and heard afterwards that he had been killed while foraging, but never had any positive proof of his death. She was later married to a Mr. McGlone. An effort was made at one time, when she was pushing the case against the governor, to have her declared insane, but this failed. Turney never returned to Jackson county, where the feeling against him was intense because of his numerous thefts and his threats against the lives of many citizens.
[Source: Omaha Daily Bee (NE) January 6, 1902] mkk


Stabbing Affray
Saturday night last after the young men left the Otter Creek church fair, two sons of Mrs. Ruben Wagoner aged 16 and 18 years, got into an alteration with Jimmy Stokesbury a young man of about 21 years and the latter received knife stabs in both right and left sides which prostrated him. Passers by assisted him home and Dr. D. N. Loose was called Sunday. The doctor found the wound in the left side had penetrated the pleural cavity, making it dangerous. Sheriff McCaffrey and County Attorney Kelsey went to Otter Creek, investigated the case and the two Wagoner boys were arrested and taken to Andrew to be held to appear before the grand jury in February.

(Jackson Sentinel, January 15, 1891) Submitted by Kenneth E. Wright


A Deputy Sheriff Killed for Fifty Dollars.

From the Dubuque Times, Jan, 26.
The most brutal murder ever perpetrated in this portion of Iowa, wet the northern portion of Jackson county wild with excitement on Wednesday last. - The victim was Mr. Samuel Cronk, Deputy Sheriff of Jackson county, a young man who was highly esteemed by all who knew him, and his acquaintance was very extensive.

On Tuesday last, young Cronk left Andrew for La Motte on official business. - Arriving at Cottonville, some army comrades persuaded him to stay over night, for the purpose of attending a ball in the neighborhood. Wednesday forenoon he proceeded to La Motte, served several notices and subpoenas, and returned to Cottonville, arriving there towards evening. He spent nearly an hour at the place, received $50 from Mr. L. Abbey for the Treasurer of Jackson county, and started for Andrew. Nothing more was seen of him until Thursday morning at half past eight o'clock, when some children, who were on their way to school, nearly a mile south of Cottonville, saw blood in the road. They traced it to a clump of trees a few rods distant, when they were horrified by finding the body of a man partially concealed under some lumber. They gave the alarm, and in twenty minutes almost the entire population of Cottonville was upon the ground. The clothing upon the body enabled them to recognize it as the corpse of young Cronk, otherwise the body was hardly recognizable. The head, from the eyes to the crown, was smashed in, they eyes were horribly swollen, and the flesh of the cheeks lacerated. Two fingers of the right hand were broken and the arm above the elbow was black and blue. The skull at the back of the head was also broken in. It is supposed he was murdered for money, but how much more than the $50 mentioned above, he had with him, is not known. The horse which he rode a dark mare has not been found.

Young Cronk had resided for several years before joining the army, with Mr. B. Whipley, of Andrew, who had the affection of a father for him. Mrs. John Pearce, who resides near west Dubuque, is a sister of the murdered man.

It is hardly possible that the murderers can long escape detection. They are now being hunted for in every direction.
[Jackson Citizen Patriot - Jackson, Michigan, Friday, February 1, 1867]

. . . related news:

Exciting Murder Trial in Iowa - Fifty Men Ready to Lynch the Murderer if Acquitted.
The Dubuque (Iowa) Times, of December 25th, has the following: The trial of Samuel P. Watkins, for the murder of Samuel S. Crone, perpetrated near Cottonville, Jackson county on the night of the 21st of last January, at Andrew, terminated last Tuesday. It commenced on Thursday, the 19th inst. The jury were out sixteen hours, and returned a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree. At ten o'clock Tuesday night Judge Richman pronounced the sentence of death upon the prisoner - the time for the execution being set for the 21st day of February, 1868. The trial of John B. Bucklin and Calvin Nelson, indicted for the same murder, was postponed til next term. Our Andrew correspondent writes us as follows concerning the trial and the murder: The facts are as follows: on the 21st of January last Cronk started for Lamotte to serve a subpoena at Cottonville. He fell in with Watkins and others, old companions in arms of the Thirty-first Iowa, who persuaded him to accompany them to a party at Purdy's that night. After the party Cronk proceeded to Lamotte, returning to Cottonville next day about ten A. M., where he met Watkins, who solicited him to go to George Nelson's, a distance of about three miles and a half, so spend the day with the family. Between four and five P. M. Cronk spoke of starting for home, but was dissuaded by Watkins, who insisted that he should stay that evening. About eight P. M. Cronk and Watkins left Nelson's together for home. At 11:30 that night Watkins was seen thirty or forty rods south of Cottonville on his way home. The next morning the dead body of Cronk, minus his pants, was found by some school children about two miles west of Nelson's, in a field near the road, his skull broken in three or four places. There were two or three tracks in the snow in the road near the body, showing that more than one man participated in the crime. About the 1st of April the body of Cronk's horse was accidently discovered tied to a tree within one hundred rods of Cottonville, with two tracks leading to the tree, and then from it, corresponding in size to the defendant's boots.

About the same time, and near the house the pocketbook of Cronk was found, as were also the pants, in some brush near Bucklin's house. Watkins lived with Bucklin. A few days after a piece of clevis was found near the scene of the murder, the other part of which was found at Bucklin's, and with which the deed was evidently committed, as it fitted exactly to the wound on the forehead. When the discovery of Cronk's horse was made known to Watkins, he staggered forward, leaned against a table for support, and said, "I am sorry! I am Sorry!" The trial was a long one, occupying twelve days. The case was submitted to the jury at 11:30 p.m., on the 23d inst. At 1:30 p.m. on the 24th they returned a verdict of "guilty of murder in the first degree" upon the first count in the indictment, which was, as the Court in passing sentence stated, supported by the law and the facts. A stranger case of circumstantial evidence was never presented to a jury for conviction. The trial passed off quietly, and although the people manifested a deep interest in the result, no undue excitement or manifestation of violence to the prisoner was at any time manifested.

Opposed to the correspondent's statement in regard to the strength of the evidence is that of another party, who says that Watkins was not convicted by the evidence, but by public excitement, and it would seem that the jury had hard work to agree upon a verdict. There was a band of fifty men present at the trial, who had sworn to lynch Watkins of the jury did not convict him. Forty witnesses were examined on the part of the State, and forty-eight for the defence.
[Patriot - Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Tuesday, January 7, 1868]

. . . related news:

SAMUEL P. WATKINS, the murderer of Deputy Sheriff Cronk, of Jackson county, is to be hung at Andrew, in the aforesaid county, on the 21st of February
[Daily Iowa State Register - Des Moines, Iowa, Sunday, January 26, 1868]


Son Charged in Slaying

An 18 year old Oxford Junction youth has been arrested in connection with the shooting death of his father earlier this month in Oxford Junction. Jones County authorities said Nathan Blake Watson, 18, was arrested Friday afternoon, January 23, in Manchester and charged with first degree murder in connection with the January 16 shooting of his father, Craig "Rocky" Chase, 42, of Oxford Junction. Chase's body was found in the school bus in which he lived during the earl morning hours of Friday January 16, following a 911 call received by the Jones County Sheriff's Department reporting a shooting.

Watson, who turned 18 the day after the shooting, apparently was living in the school bus with his father at the time of the shooting, a sheriff's spokesman said. His mother lives in Manchester, where he was arrested. Watson made a preliminary appearance in Jones County District Court on Monday, January 26, and was being held in the Jones County Detention Center in Anamosa in lieu of $1 million bond pending his next court appearance, scheduled for Wednesday, January 28. No further information about the details of the incident were being made available by the sheriff's department or the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation, which is assisting with the case.

See Craig Donald Chase Obit

[Jackson Sentinel, Published January 28, 1998, submitted by Ken Wright]


Investigating an Iowa Tragedy Reported to Have Been Justifiable Homicide.
DUBUQUE, Iowa, Jan. 24.-Special Telegram.-On petition of twenty-five citizens of Bellevue the grand jury at Maquoketa, Jackson County has begun an investigation of the tragedy at Bellevue New Year's eve. Town Marshal Weston killed Hiram Hoover at a dance by shooting him in the back and the coroner's jury composed of Weston's friends, returned a verdict of "justifiable homicide." Hoover was a friendless woodchopper with whose divorced wife Weston was suspected of intimacy.

[Source: Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, IL) Thursday, January 25, 1894]


Maquoketa, Iowa, Aug. 31.-Guy Wilford, it was announced today, confessed last night to County Attorney C. L. Ely and Sheriff Justin McCarthy that he murdered his wife early Wednesday morning and that his story of a struggle with burglars, during which the fatal shots were fired, was false.
[Source: Grand Forks Daily Herald (Grand Forks, ND) Sunday, September 1, 1918]

W. R. Williams

W. R. Williams, a dry goods merchant at Maquoketa, Iowa, met a traveling man named S. E. Germand on the street, and shot at him four times, one of the shots taking effect in Germands shoulder. It is stated that the commercial tourist had been too intimate with the merchants wife.

[The Canton Advocate (Canton, SD) March 5, 1885]

Articles transcribed and submitted by Mary Kay Krogman unless otherwise indicated.

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