The 13-Year-Old Son Puts Rough on Rats Into Oatmeal


Ottawa, Kan., April 22---The 13-year-old adopted son of Henry Harford yesterday tried to poison the family of three.

The boy's father who is a butcher had some rough on rats at the shop and the boy knowing it stole some of the poison and concealed it until yesterday morning when opportunity came and he placed the poison in the dishes of oatmeal while his mother was preparing breakfast.

Upon sitting down to the table the mother noticed some foreign substance in the dish and called attention to it. Mr. Harford at once thought of the rough on rats and had an investigation made and it was pronounced to be poison. Later a quantity of rough on rats was found under the porch of the house.

The boy was confronted by the facts and finally acknowledged his intention was to poison the whole family, consisting of mother, father and a daughter. When asked why he did it, he could give no reasons. The boy has on several occasions stolen money, but has always been treated well and given a good home.
(Kansas Semi-Weekly Capital ~ April 23, 1897)

Ran Down A Murderer. Sheriff Elwell of Franklin County, Kan., Captures Charles Roberts in This City

Sheriff EIwell of Franklin County, Kan., Captures Charles Robert in This City.

Sheriff J. A. Elwell of Franklin county. Kansas, came to the city yesterday from Ottawa, Kan., and with the assistance of Ed Carroll, a passenger director at the Union depot, located and arrested in the West bottoms a colored man by the name of Charles Roberts. The sheriff departed for Ottawa last night with the prisoner. who is charged with the murder of Bookard Hilliard.

There are two others in custody at Ottawa charged with the crime. They are Catherine White and Charles Taylor, colored, also. Their victim, Bookard Hilliard, was a negro farm hand, 24 years of age, who was beaten to death on June 24. The motive for the crime is said to have been jealousy on the part of Taylor, who became possessed of the belief that Milliard was too familiar with Mrs. Taylor. Taylor is suspected of having planned the assassination, and induced Catherine White and Charles Roberts to assist him. The murdered man was attacked on the banks of a creek about one-half mile from Taylor's house and pounded over the head till he died, after which the body was carried to the track of the Missouri Pacific railroad, where it was left till it was run over and horribly mutilated by a train of cars. After killing Hilliard, his murderers used his coat and other garments to absorb the blood from the ground and these were found lying near where the deed was accomplished on Sunday last. After the crime Roberts disappeared from Ottawa, and has been in Kansas City for several weeks in the hopes of getting work in one of the packing houses. He was located by a letter he wrote to his wife. (Kansas City Times, October 9, 1895, submitted by Barbara Ziegenmeyer)


SCAPPOOSE, Or., May 17---Asa Holaday, whose death occurred here recently, had been a pioneer in a number of states. Born on the banks of the Wabash in 1828, he drove with ox teams to Sacramento in 1853, returning via Panama and New York to Indiana in 1856 or 1857, and going from there to Franklin County, Kansas, in 1857 and with his mother, four brothers and three sisters. They were a Quaker family and helped to establish the Quaker Church in Kansas.

Mr. Holaday again visited California in 1872. In July, 1873, he moved his family to Denver, where he remained until the Spring of 1883, driving from Colorado through Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and Washington in search of a permanent home. He arrived at Scappoose and for 29 years has made his home here. He is survived by one brother, four sons and 11 grandchildren.
(Oregonian ~ May 18, 1912)


LEAVENWORTH, KANS., Aug. 22---On the fiftieth anniversary of the Quantrell raid on Lawrence, Kans., Colonel Dan G. Scouten, a survivor of that historic raid of Civil War times, died here last night at the age of 73. He was a newspaper writer known in Missouri and Kansas and in the days of Horace Greeley was a printer for the New York Tribune.
(Times-Picayune ~ August 23, 1913)


Kansas Woman Condemned For Participation in Brutal Killing of Mother and Two Babes

Ottawa, Kas., July 11---Mrs. Millie Stewart was tonight found guilty of the murder of Mrs. Jane Schnelck and her punishment was assessed at life in the penitentiary.

The conviction of Mrs. Stewart follows that of Frank Schnelck, husband of the murdered woman, and marks the end of the prosecution for one of the most brutal murders ever committed in Kansas, the killing of Mrs. Schnelck and her little son and daughter on the night of February 3, 1907, in their home near Centropolis, Kas. The state proved that Frank Schnelck, who was tried first, and Mrs. Stewart who was the mother of a family drove from Ottawa to Centropolis, and that Schnelck there cut the throats of his wife and his two small children as they lay asleep. Schnelck was infatuated with Mrs. Stewart.
(Albuquerque Journal ~ July 12, 1908)


Freight Car Robbers Shot an Officer Who Died Without Making a Statement

Ottawa, Kas., Aug. 29 - O. G. Bodley, special officer on police duty in the Santa Fe yards, was shot and almost instantly killed this morning about 3 o'clock by two men whom he interrupted in the act of robbing a merchandise car. The men escaped. Bodley died just as help reached him from the freight depot and without being able to tell his story. Some merchandise had already been dumped from the car when Bodley reached it. Chief of Detectives Germaine of the Santa Fe and other officers are at work on the case. Bloodhounds may be secured. Bodley lived in Ottawa and was regarded as an excellent officer. (Kansas City Star, August 29, 1906, page 1)


Both Victims whose Homes were at Pittsburg Were on Road Near Ottawa

Ottawa, Nov. 11 - Mrs. Ralph Preston, 40 and Miss Margaret Mary Doyle, 35, Pittsburg, Kas., were killed yesterday in a collision between their automobile and a bus on Highway No. 73-2 ten miles north of Ottawa. Passengers in the bus said the automobile was sighted at the foot of a hill traveling at a rapid rate of speed on the left side of the slab. When the automobile driver saw the bus she pulled the car to the right side of the highway and then headed the car directly into the larger vehicle in attempting to regain control.

Both women died in an Ottawa hospital. Mrs. Preston was the daughter of James Hamilton, pioneer coal operator of Weir, Kans., Miss Doyle's home was in Kentucky. (The Hayes Daily News, November 11, 1929, page 2)


MERIDETH ROBBINS, 88-year-old resident of the Heritage, recalls a Kansas Christmas in 1870,
when he and his family lived in Franklin county, near Ottawa.


(Ed. Note---This story of a Kansas Christmas in 1870 was told to a Gazette reporter by Merideth Robbins, a Kansan since 1867 who arrived in this state in a covered wagon. Born in Indiana, July 4, 1862, Mr. Robbins has spent nearly all his life in this section of the state, living near Hartford for many years.)

Christmas Day, 1870, came white and cold to Kansas. Heavy snow had fallen over the rolling prairie land around Ottawa and only the faint imprints left by scurrying rabbits marred the whiteness. In the Robbins family farm yard there were other footprints left by the careful farmer as he carried feed to his livestock or left by the animals as they sought water and food.

The Robbinses lived in a tiny one-room home built of native wood. Doors and window casings were pine, but the remainder of the house had been hewd of tough oak and it stood sturdy against the high Kansas wind. In the center of the room sat a mammoth wood-burning stove, glowing red with the heat of the fire inside.

There were six Robbinses in 1870, two boys and two girls. The year behind had been one farmers dread; prices were low and crops had been poor. But the parents meant Christmas to be that special kind of day children wait for so, on Christmas eve, Merideth and Ed and Rosie Ann and Cora Christine had hung their knitted stockings carefully on the wall near their beds before burying themselves deep under heavy quilts for the night.

On Christmas morning the family was awakened by a roar from Father Robbins. "Look what Santa did to me," he shouted. "See what that old rascal left me," and he held up a heavy boot into which someone had inserted a stick of wood. The youngsters bounced out of bed and onto the icy floor, giggling merrily as they ran to the wall to look into their own stockings. No sticks of wood there; Santa had come during the night and stuffed each stocking with big, shiny red apples, with candy, and with peanuts and hazelnuts.

There were no toys for the Robbinses that year, but the children chirruped merrily as they shook out the loot from their stockings. Before the day ended most of sweets would have disappeared, victims of huge, childish appetites, but not there seemed more candy and nuts than anyone ever had owned before.

Merideth approached his father, a little puzzled that Santa should have treated him so well and left his Paw only a stick of wood, and that shoved into his boo. "Paw," he said, "If you want to, I'll let you have some of my candy," The man looked down at the boy, nine years old but not large for his age, then swept him up into his arms and wrapped him in a bone-cracking hug. "No," he said, "Santa meant you to have that candy. He was only playing a little trick on me because we're such old friends."

By this time the big stove was sending out waves of heat to warm the frosty room, and the Robbins children had crawled into their heavy clothing. Mother Robbins, busy over her breakfast making, was humming to herself as the spicy odor of frying griddlecakes rose from the stove. The family sat down to their Christmas breakfast; griddlecakes topped with sweet, dark molasses; milk and cornmeal mush, steaming, hot coffee; and apples from the stockings.

After breakfast the animals had to be tended, and Merideth followed his father into the yard. "This afternoon," said the farmer, "after we have dinner, we'll go over to the school and see the Christmas tree." The boy gulped, dropped the pail he had carried, and burst back into the house with the news. "We're going to see the Christmas tree," he whooped. "Paw says we can go to see the tree."

Later in the morning the boys took their sleds to the nearest hill while their sisters set up house with their dolls inside. The sleds were rough oak with wooden runners carved by hand, but they slipped down the hill with a rush and the two youngsters spent hours tugging the sleds up the hill, then swishing to the bottom, until their cheeks were burned red with cold and their eyes watered. Mother Robbins came to the door. "Dinner," she called, waving at her sons. "Come on in now. Dinner's ready."

Dinner was ready. There was Baked chicken crammed full of some dressing and topped with rich gravy. Hot biscuits were piled high on a plate and a big, yellow mound of butter waited to be smeared over them. Frosty milk had been poured into glasses and steaming coffee stood in the big pot on the stove. A dish of potatoes, mashed to a frothy white, was beside the chicken. And for desert Mother Robbins had opened a jar of canned blackberries. The Robbinses ate.

Father Robbins hitched the horses to wagon and the family bundled in, wrapped in quilts to keep warm. The school stood two and a half miles from their home, but to ride that far was nothing. It only seemed far when one had to walk against the wind. So the Robbinses joined their neighbors in Christmas celebrations, singing and playing games until late in the afternoon when they parted with joyful good wishes. And the Christmas tree had been a real success. It was a jack oak, cut big enough to reach to the ceiling of the schoolhouse, and it was decorated with pine cones and candles. A big, beautiful tree, declared Father Robbins, and "next year we'll have one of our own."

It was cold and dark by the time the family returned to their home, but the stove was still warm and roaring again in minutes after it had been filled with wood. Mother Robbins prepared supper from the cold chicken; the children were ravenous. Then it was bedtime and Christmas was over, but it had been a beautiful day.---G. B.
(Emporia Gazette ~ December 23, 1950 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


Body of Aged Man Discovered on Bed in Burned Farmhouse Near Ransomville

Ottawa, Kansas - When three neighbors reached the stone farmhouse of William Marks, near Ransomville, at 1:30 o'clock in the morning to check a fire which they had discovered there the body of Mr. Marks was found on the bare bedsprings, the bed clothing having been burned from under it. Mr. Marks, who was 76 years old lived alone in the house. A son and a daughter live within a few miles on other farms. The son, William Marks Jr., called on his father early in the evening and was the last one known to have seen his father.

The body was so badly burned that it is impossible to determine whether Mr. Marks may have been shot and the house set fire to cover the crime. (Wichita Searchlight, September 28, 1912, page 6)


Jack and Art Ferguson brothers who were arrested for running a joint, were convicted yesterday in the district court here and today sentenced to $100 fine and sixty days in jail each. (Kansas Semi Weekly Capital, April 23, 1897)


Miss Kate Deford Drowns Herself in the Marias Des Cygnes

Ottawa, Kansas, April 23---After a protracted search the body of Miss Kate Lee Deford was taken out of eight feet of water this evening in the Marias Des Cygnes, just at the edge Forest park. Miss Delford was the daughter of Colonel J. W. Deford, a well known lawyer of this city. She was a half sister to W. A. Deford who is also well known over the state. There is little question but that Miss Deford came to her death by her own act. Just two years ago today her mother died. Since that time the daughter has frequently been subject to spells of melancholia, and her friends noticed that yesterday she was very much so affected. She left home last evening at 5:30 o'clock and did not return.

Her absence did not arouse any uneasiness, as she often went to the home of some friend and spent the night. She did not return this morning and upon inquiry no friend could be found who had seen her. A search was instituted at once. As the day wore on and no trace could be found of the girl more searching parties were organized. District court was adjourned that her father and brother might assist. At 4 o'clock the fire bell rang and crowds of men were called to assist in the search. The river had been dragged with rakes and nothing was found. Some large hooks were produced and another party went to the river. Its efforts was rewarded by finding the body. Coroner Haggart was summoned and after an examination made a statement that the body had been in the water a number of hours and that death had come by drowning.

Miss Deford was about 20 years old well educated and prominent in Ottawa society. She had spent much of her life in the East.
(The Iolwa Register ~ Friday ~ April 25, 1902 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)



The Handsome Structure Had Just Been Completed at a Cost of $50,000 and Was to Be Dedicated Today---More Than 4,000 Books Burned

Ottawa, Kas., Sept. 10---The new building of Ottawa university burned this morning. The total loss is estimated at $50,000, with an insurance of $26,000. The university was to have opened at 10 o'clock this morning. Hundreds of new students were here ready to enter. The burned building was isolated from other buildings. It stood about 200 yards from the old building. There are no residences near and the roof had fallen before the fire was discovered.

The janitor, Mr. Mulkey, lives about two blocks away and at 4 o'clock this morning he was awakened by the crash of the falling roof. The fire department was notified, but the building was in ruins when it arrived. Only one stream of water could be used as the building is so far out. Everything in the building was lost except one typewriter, which Prof. G. H. Crane saved. The lost apparatus valued at $1,000.

The college library was destroyed and four pianos. Both society rooms were in the new building and all the property of the organizations was lost. The building was completed this summer and today was to have been the dedication.

Announcements have been distributed that the school will open as usual. The exercises will be in the first Baptist church. President Riggs said this morning that classes would be held in the old building, the gymnasium, the dormitory and in private residences, which citizens had offered to lend. The structure will be rebuilt at once. The building was built by Ottawa citizens.

There is no definite theory as to the origin of the fire. The janitor had a fire in the furnace yesterday, but said today that the fire had died out before he left the building. The first persons on the scene state that the fire seemed to have originated in the attic. There was a disposition this morning on the part of the new students to leave for other schools, but there was no concerted movement. The Ottawa university has more than 900 students. It was founded in 1863 and has been conducted in the interest of the Baptist church. The burned library contained more than 4,000 books, many of them valuable.
(Kansas City Star ~ September 10, 1902 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


A year ago the M.E. church at Wellsville was burned.  Dr. Martin, president of Baker University, ha just dedicated a new church there.  There was raised $2,000, $600 more than was required.  The church is of brick veneer, with furnace heat, class and study rooms and cost $7,000.
(Wichita Searchlight ~ Saturday ~ January 10, 1903 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


At Kansas City, Kansas, last Saturday, occurred one of the most daring deeds on the part of a desparado and crook by the name of James Smith, in which J. W. Gilley, brother of our esteemed townsman, Dr. H. W. Gilley, lost his life.  Smith had been arrested by Gilley for safe blowing and burglary.  When in the court room, where he was taken for a hearing, Smith was seated behind Gilley who was sitting at the judge's desk looking over papers, when Smith leaned forward and cut his throat.  The following taken from the Kansas City Times report of the crime will give some idea of the desperate struggle that ensued:

In Justice Lewis' little court room, across the line in Kansas, James Smith, accused of burglary, sat yesterday afternoon by a table, just behind detective J. W. Gilley.  Suddenly he leaned forward, his arm swept forward, and a knife gleamed in his hand.  It entered the detective's neck behind the right ear.  With all the strength of his right arm the burglar forced the keen blade through the detective's throat.  It cut a circle under the chin twenty inches long and three inches deep, severing all the muscles gashing the jugular artery and laying bare the carotid artery.  The detective's head fell heavily forward.  It was half cut off.

"You have killed me," he gasped as the blood spurted from the frightful wound.

Then by a superhuman effort, he staggered to his feet.  He drew his revolver, supported himself against the justice's desk and opened fire.  He shot four times.  Smith staggered to the open door leading to the rear room and fell stone dead.  The detective, with his life blood streaming from his ghastly wound, had put four bullets into his murderer.  Other officers had also opened fire.


When Smith was picked up there were five bullets in his body.  The four from the detective's revolver had struck him in the back as he was attempting to escape and a fifth penetrated his abdomen.  Another ball had grazed his side.  The detective, who had fallen to the floor, was picked up and laid on a table.  His wound was pronounced to be a mortal one.

It was the most exciting and sensational scene ever witnessed in a court room.  Gilley's throat was cut from ear to ear and the desperado was fighting his way out of the room almost before anyone realized what had happened.

In his efforts to get away, Smith also stabed Sol. Melony, a policeman (formerly of this city) in the thigh.  Then he broke from the officers, and forced his way to the center of the room.  Gilley, crimson with his own blood, supporting himself against the justice's desk, saw his opportunity, and his revolver cracked four times in as many seconds.  Meloney and Woodruff also began to shoot.  The court room was cleard in a twinkling, but the desperado's dead body lay on the floor before all the terror-stricken spectators had reached place of safety.

Gilley lived until Monday morning at 9:35, when he passed away.  His remains were brought to this city on the 12:10 train Tuesday and the funeral took place from the residence of Dr. Gilley, 615 South Hickory street and was largely attended by the friends of the family, also by the police force of this city.  Rev. Preston McKinney officiated and was assisted by Rev. J. G. Dougherty, formerly of this city but now of Kansas City, Kansas, the scene of the tragedy, who came down with the body.  There were also about twenty-five of the police force accompanied by Police Surgeon Stevens and wife, O. K. Serviss, P. M. and Ex-Chief of Police, and the four children of the deceased which he leaves to mourn his loss.  He was buried in Hope cemetery beside his wife and father.

Probably no recent event has aroused such general interest as the tragic end of a former citizen of Ottawa as Detective J. W. Gilley.  Here his early manhood days were passed and here he met and courted his wife and it was the home of his nearest relative and the birth place of his two oldest children, and the only surviving members of the Gilley family the doctor and his mother.  The most intense interest was manifested in every item regarding the circumstances of his death, and papers were eagerly sought for, and the wishes for his recovery and sympathy for his family and relatives was manifested in the most heartfelt degree.  For some years he was in business here for himself and also was employed by Messrs. Guy & Milner as a shoe clerk.  During this period he first displayed the traits of character which eventually shaped his carrer as a detective.  His ambition always was to be connected with the police force, even here in his home,.  He was noted for his jovial disposition and was a man of eminent personal courage.
(Ottawa Herald ~ Thursday ~ May 16, 1889 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


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