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History and Genealogy
Van Buren County, Iowa



Samuel Woodruff, alias "Tom Logan," alias, "Tom Johnson."


Several days ago Charles A. Hawley, deputy sheriff at Denver and a member of the Rocky Mountain Detective Agency arrived in Council Bluffs. The object of his visit was known to but few until yesterday when he brought in from Big Grove, this county, a man named Samuel Woodruff, alias "Tom Logan," alias Tom Johnson." This man is charged with murder. He is a brother of James Woodruff, a well-to-do farmer living near Big Grove, and for some time past has been residing with him, working as a farm laborer.

On the 10th day of September last an old man named E.H. Haywood, who resided about ten miles from Denver was found murdered. It seems from the confession of one Joel Saint Clare, that the man Woodruff, Saint Clare and a man named Bill Johnson hired Haywood to convey them to a ranch some distance up the mountains, and while on the road there, Haywood and Woodruff got into a dispute which resulted in the killing of the former. The three men then put Haywood's body under a bridge on the road, and it was not found until some three weeks afterwards. The three then drove Haywood's mule team into Denver where they sold it for $190, and then hired a livery team and drove off towards the Niobrara regions.

Mr. Hawley captured "Bill" Johnson at McCann's ranch on the Niobrara River and succeeded in capturing Joel Saint Clare at Pine Ridge Indian Agency.

As stated, the man Woodruff was arrested yesterday a Big Grove, and in securing him some fine and daring detective work was exhibited. A day or two since, Mr. Hawley, the gentleman who made the arrest, rigged up as a professional "corn husker" and farm roustabout, and in this disguise rode out to Samuel Woodruff's farm near Big Grove, halting there about dusk. He was met by Mr. Woodruff and asked him if he could get work at corn husking. The farmer stated that the work f husking was about done and casually remarked that his brother had been helping him. He, however, invited the detective and "professional corn husker" to remain over night, as he said in the morning he thought he would be able to direct him to a place where he could get work. The anxious husker of the golden ears at once accepted the proffered hospitality and was put to bed with his intended victim, Samuel Woodruff. In the morning, the farmer directed him to an adjoining farm where he was sure work could be got, and with the assurance that he would do his best to get a job, Mr. Hawley rode off in the direction indicated, but soon took another road for the city.

After reaching here he made preparations to go and get his man, and secured the services of constable Theo. Guittar. At an early hour yesterday morning, the two men set out on what they knew to be a desperate errand, and one which, as the detective afterwards remarked, would be the death of himself if Woodruff "got the drop" on him first. The two went in a buggy, and when they reached Big Grove, drove up to the store of Mr. Freeman. They announced that they were going hunting, and both got out and entered the store. Mr. Hawley secured from Mr. Freeman a double barreled shot gun, and going to the back door discharged both barrels. He then deliberately proceeded to reload it, putting in each barrel a heavy charge of buckshot. He then walked to the front door and stood for a few moments when he suddenly espied his man coming down the street with his brother, and when the two neared the store, Hawley cocked both barrels of his gun, and leveling the weapon at his man ordered him to throw up his hands.

The fellow glanced quickly at Hawley and looked into the gun, and seeing no hope of escape or a "drop," complied with the request and his hands went up in good western style. While Hawley covered his man with the gun, Guittar walked up to him and took charge of his revolver, a desperate looking weapon about a foot in length. The desperate man was then securely ironed, placed in the buggy and driven off before the crowd could recover from their astonishment. He was brought into the city about noon and taken before Justice Baird, who made out the necessary papers, and the man was then taken to our neighboring city for safe keeping. He will be taken west today on the noon train.

The case and arrest were certainly well worked up and carried out, and if Woodruff is the guilty party, as it seems from Saint Clare's confession he is, it will go hard with him.

[Council Bluffs, Iowa, Nonpareil, published November 27, 1879, submitted by Ann]

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The man, Samuel Woodruff, who was arrested at Big Grove on the charge of committing a murder near Denver on the 10th of September, was born and raised at Bentonsport, Van Buren County, this state. He was an old schoolmate of our Deputy Marshal James Twombly. In the year 1865 Woodruff was arrested and convicted for the murder of a man at Cheyenne, and after serving two years in the penitentiary was pardoned out through the influence of his friends. He has a wife and family living at Bentonsport. When arrested at Big Grove last Wednesday he told his brother James to write to his wife that he was was again "in the toils," but instructed him not to say what the charge was. He was taken west by officer Hawley on Thursday noon over the Union Pacific road.

[Council Bluffs, Iowa, Nonpareil, published November 29, 1879, submitted by Ann]

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It seems Samuel Woodruff, the man arrested at Big Grove, this county, on Wednesday last is charged with three murders and also with horse stealing. A gentleman in our neighboring city stated that Woodruff murdered a man near the old Creighton Ranch on Horse Creek, Wyoming, and burned his victim. He was convicted of the murder and sentenced for ten years, and pardoned out by Gov. Thayer. Detective Hawley had never seen Woodruff until he visited his brother's house last week, but identified him from the description given.

[Council Bluffs, Iowa, Nonpareil, published November 30, 1879, submitted by Ann]

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Word was received in this city yesterday that Samuel Woodruff, the man arrested at Big Grove, this county, some weeks ago for murdering a man named Haywood near Denver, was hanged at Golden, Colorado, on Saturday night last. He died game, a victim of the lynch law. It seems after Woodruff was identified as one of the murderers of Haywood he was taken to Golden for safe keeping, and on Saturday night last a mob surrounded the jail and securing the prisoner took him out and hanged him on a bridge. No particulars of the affair, other than the fact of the lynching could be learned. Woodruff's brother lives at Big Grove for whom he was working when he was arrested by the Denver detective.

[Council Bluffs, Iowa, Nonpareil, published December 30, 1879, submitted by Ann]

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