BOUND OVER FOR TRIAL
Preliminary Examination of One of the Caney Bank
Independence, Kas., June 29 - The preliminary examination
of Elijah Higgins, charged with being one of the men who robbed the Caney Valley Bank on March 27 of last year
was held Wednesday at Caney, the scene of the robbery. All of the employees of the bank and several other persons
who witnessed the robbery or who had/seen the robbers, were put upon the stand and all thought Higgins was one
of the robbers. Accordingly he was bound over to the district court for trial and his bail fixed at $800 which
was promptly given. (Topeka Weekly Capital, July 5, 1894)
THE BENDER BAND
More Facts Concerning the Horrible Tragedy in Kansas
A reporter of the Kansas City Times, who returned from the scene of the murders on Monday night, makes the following
statement, which contains many facts of interest in addition to those already published:
The devil's kitchen, otherwise the Bender house, is a small, rude frame shanty, without lath or plaster or intervening
substance between its floor and the rafters of the pointed roof. In size it is 16 by 24 feet. Small uprights 2
by 4 inches are set to mark the house into two compartments, but no wall had ever been made other than a white
cotton cloth hung in the rear apartment and against these uprights. The front apartment had in it a counter over
which the butchers once pretended to sell groceries. In the rear room was a rude bed, a table, a stove, and three
The table to which the guests of the fiends were seated, was placed directly over the trap door so that the guest's
back was to and against the white curtain. In this position it was an easy thing for the male villains in the front
apartment to strike the form clearly lined and resting against the white cloth and when the blows of the sledge
and the hammer had knocked the victim, with a crushed and broken skull, senseless and helpless to the floor, for
the female fiends in the back room to cut their throat. The execution was as simple as it was dreadful, but, though
it would seem resistance to such well planned murder of the trusting and unsuspecting was impossible, the walls
gave silent evidence that some of the murdered ones had not been sent to their doom without an effort to defend
themselves. No less than a dozen bullet holes in the sides and roof of the house attest that armed men, when struck
down so relentlessly, had attempted to shoot their murderers, but, unfortunately, the aims had been wild and the
murderers are reserved for the hempen halter.
This building is located just on the rising edge of a beautiful narrow valley, circled on the south, east and west
by a range of mounds of the valley. The hills are distant from the house from a half mile to a mile, the closest
being on the south to the rear. The house fronted to the road just in the bend, sitting back about its own length
from the roadway. From this point of the road can be had a full view of everything for half a mile in every direction,
but not another house is within sight. It is about seven miles from Cherryvale, ten miles from Thayer, eight miles
from Ladore, and two miles from Morehead, and just in the northwest corner of Labette county.
PISTOLS AND KNIVES FOR A SUPPER
One of the most marvelous stories ever heard, but which is vouched for by reliable men is the following: One evening
about three months ago, a poor woman, footsore and weary, traveling to Independence, without money, stopped at
the Bender den and asked for some supper, and for the privilege of resting awhile. She was invited in and being
nearly exhausted she took her shoes and scanty wrappings off and lay down on the bed in the back room. She soon
fell into a troubled doze, from which she was awakened by the "touch of the old hag of the den, who pointing
to an array of pistols and double edged knives of various sizes, lying on the table, said in the spirit of bellish
malignity: "there, your supper is ready." The woman was motionless and breathless with terror, and as
she sank back on the bed, the devil dame picked up the knives one by one and drew her finger along the sharpened
blades at the same time glancing fiendishly at her intended victim. How this terror lasted the woman could not
tell but at last she in the very desperation of fear, arose, as though not alarmed and made a private excuse for
going out. She was permitted to do so and moving around to the shelter of the stable, barefooted and scarce half
clad, she darted off on the wings of fear and ran two miles to the house of one who protected her and gave her
shelter. As she was running away, she turned frequently to see if she was pursued but no one followed her, though
she saw the light from the opened doorway several times, as though the devils inside were awaiting her return.
Even this story seems not have aroused more than the before existing suspicion that the Benders were not exactly
the right kind of people.
A BUNGLING BUSINESS
Although for the past three years this section has been infested with horse thieves and murders, and this known
to every one about the country, it is probable the same state of affairs might have continued for an indefinite
period had not the murder of Dr. York, a man of family, friends and reputation, led to the exposure. Men have been
missed and bodies found of murdered men for three years past, and vigilance committees have hunted and driven some
men from the country but it would now seem as though the leaders of these "regulators" were themselves
the villains and honest men had been falsely and foully suspected and driven from their homes. Known villains have
for that time been sent to the Penitentiary only to be pardoned out by Governors.
And even the band of seventy-five armed and honest men who scoured the country in search of Dr. York when it was
learned that he was missing seem to have had very little judgment or discretion.
On the 28th of March last, Col. York and Mr. Johnson visited the Bender House, to which place they had tracked
Dr. York, and endeavored to coax some information from them, but they would tell nothing. On the 3d of April, this
armed band visited the house with the sole object of finding the murderers of Dr. York, yet they did not notice
the bullet holes in the house, and allowed themselves to be fooled by an assumed stupidity which was the disguise
of most hellish cunning. The old hag sat mum and gloomy, pretending she could not understand or speak English,
old Bender said nothing; Kate, she of the evil eye, denied all knowledge of the lost, and the younger male villain
fooled them with a well made up story. He said that at about the time they said Dr. York was missed, he, Bender,
HAD BEEN SHOT AT
In a lonesome place near Drum Creek, one evening, and it must have been by those who killed the doctor. He described
the place minutely and then took them to it, and it was found as he said, and they half believed his story, and
returned with him. Col. York repeated the story given above, of supper and pistols and knives offered to the lone
woman, when the old hag soon found her sense of the English language improved. She understood all that had been
said, and flew into a violent passion. She denied the story of the supper, but said that that was a bad and wicked
woman whom she would kill if she ever came near them again; that the woman was a witch and had bewitched Kate's
coffee, and then she ordered the whole band away. While going and coming from the creek John told Col. York that
his sister Kate could do anything, that she could control the devil, and that the devil did her bidding. When they
returned to the house Col. York tried to induce this wonderful mistress of the devil to reveal where the body of
his brother was. She positively and persistently refused her Satanic aid at this time, giving as her reason therefor
that she could not do so in the daytime and while there were so many men and so much noise about.
This pretended sorceress and real fiend then told Col. York privately that if he would come the next night, Friday
- when best she worked her spells - and bring only one man with him, she would take him to the grave of his murdered
brother. Had the Colonel been so foolish as to believe this mysterious power of the creature there is no doubt
she would have proved her promise good. The whole band then left the house. They visited the houses of Roach, and
Smith and Harness at Ladore, and made many threats, but accomplished nothing. Their intent was good, but they lacked
an experienced detective for a leader. So strong was their conviction, however, of the guilt of the Roach's and
the Benders that they would have hung them then if it had not been for the persuation of Col. York and a few others,
who were determined that none but the known guilty should suffer. Of course this visit alarmed the Benders, and
they fled. How, has been published in the Times.
It seems strange that no watch was put upon the suspected Benders and still more strange that they should have
been gone three weeks before anyone knew of it. When they went to Thayer they left their team and wagon and dog
on the public street of the town. On the street the team and wagon remained for two days without a claimant when
they were taken charge of by a livery firm there - Bears & Wheeler. No notice, other than a notice in the Head
Light, the local journal, was given of the finding of the team and no description of the horses published, though
they were peculiarly and similarly marked. Had such description been given, it must have led to the speedy pursuit
of the fleeing criminals. It is not suspected that there was any guilt in this neglect, but only carelessness.
THERE MUST BE A GANG
No doubt is entertained that the Benders have not been alone in their damnable villainy. They must have had confederates
to dispose of the stock and clothes of the murdered men, and suspicion has readily pointed to a number of men,
living throughout that section, in different directions, and to none with more evidence of justice than to one.
This fellow lives about three miles south of Parsons, and when Col. York was making search for his brother he tried
to influence the Colonel to employ him as a detective. Luckily the Colonel would have nothing to do with him. This
man, it is said by two men who are generally credited, at different places and times, and separately, told him
he was a member of a band of "Regulators" in the county, and that when they found a criminal they never
troubled him with the law, or put the county to any expense about him; that the band always knew their own work
when they saw it, for every man they put out of the way laid with his throat cut, his left arm across his breast,
and his right by his side. In all such condition and position were found nearly all the Bender victims. As a further
evidence against this fellow, it is known that soon after McCrotty's disappearance was known, and when there was
about to be some action taken to look for him, he pretended to have a letter from McCrotty, telling of his safe
arrival in Illinois, at his intended destination.
The other suspected parties who have been arrested are men of bad repute in general and believed for some time
to be horse thieves, if nothing worse. On Sunday Sheriff Stone brought into Independence, under arrest, Addison
Roach, of Ladore, and William Buxton, a son-in-law of the elder Roach, both fond near Cedarvale. This makes the
number under arrest now on suspicion, so far as known, twelve. The names of the others have been published in the
LAST SUNDAY AT THE GRAVES
On last Sunday there were about one thousand men, women and children at the Bender grounds, gazing with mingled
emotions of horror and curiosity. The graves even yet sent forth a sickening stench, and women held their noses
as they peered down into the now tenantless holes. Two special trains were run, one from Independence and one from
Coffeyville, to a point on the railway line about two miles from the house and teams were busy running to and from
the grounds, while the greater portion of the crowd were compelled to walk. The trains brought three hundred persons
there from all parts of the surrounding country, in wagons, carriages and on horseback.
The curiosity of many seemed to master their repulsion and hundred brought away some memento of the dreadful place.
The bloodstained bedstead was smashed to pieces and divided in the crowd, all the shrubbery and the young trees
were broken or torn up and carried away and pieces of the house borne off by the curious. Such another raid would
not leave much of the shanty. It was supposed that the grounds would be plowed and scraped again this day to search
for other bodies but the intent was abandoned and it is not probably that any further search will be made until
it is done regularly by the county authorities.
Rewards to the amount of $5,000 have been offered for the capture of the murderers, and there is not the slightest
doubt that they will be recovered. On last Saturday the detectives were on the trail of the Benders, with the expressed
certainty of effecting their speedy capture and it is more than probable they are already taken. With the number
under arrest and the others watched, no doubt someone will reveal the whole truth, when Kansas will be rid of the
worst scoundrels that ever infested and cursed this country.
THE BAND FORMERLY FROM INDIANA
From the New Albany Ledger-Standard
The sickening details of the terrible Bender murders in Kansas, come to us with fearful emphasis in view of our
discovery, of the fact that the inhuman murderers were probably for some time residents of the neighborhood of
this city, and that circumstances in connection with the recent developments in Kansas, strongly point them out
as the authors of a mysterious murder, which happened in our midst some year and a half ago.
Our readers will remember the circumstances attending the murder of a German and his wife by the name of Bandle,
and the burning of the house over their bodies. The mystery has never been removed from that terrible tragedy and
up to this time no person has ever been accused, or even suspected, of the commission of that crime. We believe
that the bloody trail leads us to the Kansas fiends. At the time of the Bandle tragedy, there was resident, near
this city a family by the name of Bender.
The family consisted of two men and two women. The men were employed on the McCulloch farm on Silver Creek at the
time of the Bandle murder, and it will be remembered that this identical farm was the scene of that homicide. Soon
after the occurrence of that shocking affair, the Benders left and went to Kansas. It seems that on reaching Kansas
they entered upon a career of crime which is without parallel in the history of our times.
Taking up their residence near Cherryvale, Kansas in an unfinished house, standing on the roadside and out of view
of any other human habitation, they constructed, with devilish ingenuity a regular trap for any traveler whom they
could inveigle into their den. They placed the table from which their meals were taken near a curtain of cotton
cloth, so that the victim would sit with his back against the curtain. A candle placed on the table, would of course,
shadow the form of the person sitting against it on the cloth and a blow with an ax or hammer given by a man on
the opposite side of the curtain would fell the sitter to the floor, and then the cutting of his throat could be
easily accomplished. The number of their victims is as yet unknown. Eight bodies have already been disinterred
and recognized by their clothing or by marks upon their persons. These monsters had buried their victims in the
garden attached to their premises. In one instance they had buried a man and in the same grave was found the dead
body of his infant child, with every evidence of its having been buried alive. The circumstantial evidence which
connects them with the murder of Bandle and his wife may be summed up thus:
1. The identity of the names.
2. The description of the Kansas murderers answers exactly to the Benders who lived here.
3. Their manner of living in Kansas - the two men and the two women living as one family, is exactly as they lived
4. The Benders left this city for Kansas, the place we find them now.
5. The time of their departure from this point corresponds with the time of their arrival in Kansas.
6. The residence of the Benders on the farm on which Bandle and his wife were murdered, and their immediate departure
from the scene.
The Benders fled from Kansas when they discovered the suspicions of the people there; but we are informed by telegraph
that the entire brood of devils were arrested this morning near Dallas, Texas. We predict that before they all
swing from the scaffold, some one of them will confess their complicity with the Bandle tragedy near this city.
(Cincinnati Daily Gazette, May 17, 1873, page 2)
FOURTH SON OF LOCAL FAMILY SOON TO ENTER U.S. ARMED FORCES
With the entrance of Glenn Alloway, 18, into military service, Mr. and Mrs. Hugh V. Alloway, 106 Glenwood, will
have four sons and a son-in-law engaged in the fight against the Axis. Glenn, a student at Field Kindley high school
the first part of this school year, enlisted in the navy and is to report June 3 for final examination.
Two other sons, Harold (Jay), 22, and LeRoy, 17, are in the navy. Harold, a graduate of Coffeyville high school
and junior college, is an aviation metalsmith 2-c, stationed at Corpus Christi, Tex., and the latter, who enlisted
in the navy while attending Field Kindley high school, left for service May 8, and is stationed at Farragut, Ida.
Another son, Ralph H., 20, who chose the army air corps, is the fourth son who is doing his part for his country.
He arrived home the first of the week from the Army Air Forces Advanced Flying School, Williams Field, Chandler,
Ariz., where he won his wings as pilot and received his commission as second lieutenant. He is a Field Kindley
high school graduate and attended junior college one year. He joined the National Guard in 1940 and went with them
to Camp Robinson, Ark. From there to Ft. Ord, Calif., where he transferred from the field asrtillery to the air
corps. He was among the graduates of Class 43-E in March at the Marana Basic Flying school, Tucson, Ariz., prior
to going to Williams Field. "I have only seen three rains in the last five months in Arizona," Lt. Alloway
remarked when discussing the abundance of rainfall and the recent floods in this part of the country.
The navy claiming two members of the Alloway family, a third hoping to join his brothers soon and one son being
in the air corps, the army is not left out of the picture as that is the branch of service chosen by their son-in-law,
Pvt. William Dillon, who is in the armored division stationed at Camp Polk, La. His wife, the former Miss Lorene
Alloway, will spend a two weeks' vacation from her duties at the telephone office here. She is making her home
with her parents wile Pvt. Dillon is in service."
Submitted by Juanita Alloway
FIND BOY'S BODY IN CISTERN
Mexican and Wife, Arrested at Cherryvale, Suspected
CHERRYVALE, KAS., July 19---The body of Manuel
Garcia, a 9-year-old Spanish boy, was found in a cistern at the home of a Mexican here early today. The Mexican
and his wife are held on suspicion of murder. The coroner's inquest returned a verdict of death by drowning, cause
(Kansas City Star ~ July 20, 1914)
INDEPENDENCE, KAN., June 5---Last night James Pennington,
a farmer living about three miles west of here, went fishing and did not return. A search was made this morning
and his body was found inthe stream. His head had been crushed. A neighbor, who had made threats against the murdered
man, is suspected and will be arrested.
(Emporia Gazette ~ June 5, 1897)
KANSAS LYNCHERS FRUSTRATED
Sheriff Saves the Neck of a Man Who Murdered His
Cherryvale, Kan., Nov. 17---A German named Breckman
has been hurried to the Oswego jail from the Bender settlement, north of here, to prevent his being lynched for
having ruined and murdered his 18-year-old daughter.
The neighbors yesterday found the girl in the Breckman
barn, unconscious and nearly dead. Her father, it is alleged, had ruined her and then beaten her into insensibility.
Later i the day she died, and, the facts becoming
known, an angry mob sought to lynch Breckman. The sheriff took him from the town lock-up, where he had been temporarily
placed, and hurried to Oswego with the prisoner.
Breckman has a hard name, and during the Benders
horrors, in 1873, he was charged with being implicated in several murders committed by that gang. On one occasion
he was strung up several times, but would not confess, and was finally liberated.
(Inter Ocean ~ November 18, 1896)
ANOTHER KANSAS TORNADO
KILLS THREE AND WOUNDS SIX PERSONS
INDEPENDENCE, KAN., May 31---The two-story house
of James Sullivan, near here, was demolished by a tornado last night, two people being killed and six others slightly
(Salt Lake Tribune ~ June 2, 1892)
NINE OTHERS INJURED AT
KANSAS OIL PLANT
Coffeyville, Kans., April 23---Nine persons lost
their lives in an oil refinery explosion that wrecked a still and barrel house of the Co-operative Refinery today.
Nine more were injured, six of them so severely
as to require hospitalization.
Refinery officials were unable to say immediately
whether more men might be trapped in the wreckage and a thorough search was impossible immediately because of fire
and steam which still filled the affected area. The fire was believed under control,. however, and all danger of
involvement of other portions of the huge plant, recently greatly enlarged, appeared past.
Cause of the explosion was not immediately available.
The only identified dead was Lawrence Pollett,
who succumbed in a hospital several hours after the blast.
Russell Hamlin, an undertaker, said the bodies
of the victims were burned beyond recognition and that names of the dead probably would not be determined until
after the refinery could check its pay rolls against the list of the known survivors. Even then, he said, the only
possibility of final identification would be through possible dental records.
The injured, all of Coffeyville, include B. F.
McKay, John Nallinger, B. W. La Favor, H. C. Ousler, John Coop and Homer Sparks. Three other persons, slightly
burned, were givn emergency treatment and returned to their homes.
The first explosion came at 1:45 o'clock. Two hours
later city firemen and plant workers reported they had the fire under control and they believed there was no danger
of further spread of the fire.
Smoke and steam delayed examination of the plant
and officials were unable to say how seriously operations would be interrupted.
The barrel house is a storage unit for containers,
both empty and filled. Considerable gasoline was believed to have been in the building.
Coffeyville's three hospitals already were filled
to capacity and had difficulty finding accommodations for the injured. Ambulances and medical personnel from the
nearby army air base assisted civilian authorities.
(Times-Picayune ~ April 24, 1944)
A KANSAN DROWNS HIMSELF
Independence, Kas., Aug. 5---Ira Parey, recently
in the railroad business at Monett, Mo., where he was injured in an accident, committed suicide here Wednesday
night by jumping into the river after mailing a note to his father making known his purpose. His father has lived
here many years. He leaves a wife and family of small children. He carried a $2,000 life insurance policy.
(Kansas City Star ~ August 5, 1898)
BABY DROWNS IN A JAR
Looking at Crawfish, Kansas Child Fell Into Water
CHERRYVALE, KAS., May 8---Attracted by a number
of crawfish which her older brother had confined in a 5-gallon jar, Thelma, the 16-month-old baby of Mr. and Mrs.
Fred Mott, fell into the four inches of water which the jar contained and was drowned early today.
(Kansas City Star ~ May 8, 1916)
NOTE: Thelma is buried in Fairview Cemetery, Cherryvale
ANOTHER KANSAS MURDER CONVICTION
Independence, Kan.—William LIpsey was found guilty
of murder In the first degree Friday afternoon on a charge of aiding and abetting Henry Behner, who was Thursday
found guilty of murdering Tobe Sawyer, Pearl Behner, the murderer's 16-year-old daughter, was living with Sawyer.
Lipsey, a former convict, was Infatuated with her. It was asserted that Sawyer had ruined the girl. Lipsey was
charged with planning the murder and of arousing Behner, whom he drove In his carriage to Sawyer's farm, where
Behner shot Sawyer to death. Both men will be taken to Lansing. (Alma, Wabaunsee County, Kansas, October 23, 1908,
page 1, submitted by Barbara Ziegenmeyer)
Independence, Kan.—The case of Henry Behner, charged
with the murder of Tobias Sawyer, whom he suspected of the ruin of his daughter, went to the jury Wednesday night
at five o'clock. (Alma, Wabaunsee County, Kansas October 23, 1908 Page 2, submitted by Barbara Ziegenmeyer)
KANSAS SLAYER CONVICTED
Henry Behner's Unwritten Law Plea Falls
Independence, Kansas.—The Jury took the case of
Henry Behner, tried for murder of Tobias Sawyer last spring, at 4:30 o'clock Wednesday evening and wrestled with
It until 11:30 o'clock Thursday morning when a verdict of murder In the first degree was returned. Behner's wife
and the daughter. Pearl, whom Sawyer was accused of assaulting, did not move a muscle as the verdict was read.
Not a change of expression could be detected on any of their faces during the trying ordeal, but that this was
a mask for deep emotions was shown a few minutes after the adjournment of court when Behner fainted, and physicians
had to do some hard work to restore him. A now trial will be applied for. On the stand Behner's wife was compelled
to admit that a letter sent to Sawyer's hired hand, in which a demand was made that money he sent for the care
of Pearl Behner, was apparently her daughter's work. This indicated to the Jury that Sawyer might have been the
victim of a plot. Behner's defense, ostensibly one of Insanity, was really based on the "unwritten law."
(Alma, Wabaunsee County, Kansas October 23, 1908 Page 2, submitted by Barbara Ziegenmeyer)
A KANSAS PIPE LINE BLEW
One of the large pipe lines of the Kansas Natural
Gas company blew up near Graham station, five miles south of Independence. Service on the Union Traction company
was stopped until the track was repaired. The line ran under the car line. The explosion occurred within a few
hundred feet of the big pumping station now nearing completion. The gas became Ignited and the flames could be
seen a long distance. A car had passed over the spot a few moments before the explosion. (Alma, Wabaunsee County,
Kansas, October 23, 1908, page 3, submitted by Barbara Ziegenmeyer)
ACCIDENT IN KANSAS
Independence, Kan., Jan. 11---The northbound Missouri
Pacific passenger train stuck a freight train just getting onto the switch at Lehunt, four miles north of here,
this afternoon, and the chair car was ripped from the track and badly smashed. W. T. Mosby, a traveling man, was
severely injured and a man named Walter of this city and unidentified persons from Fredonia and Coffeyville were
hurt to some extent. A train was made up here and taken on into Kansas City.
(Dallas Morning News ~ January 15, 1909)
A KANSAS GIRL DROWNED
Postponement of Wedding Causes Coffeyville Girl's
Independence, July 12---Miss Ida Ostrander, the
daughter of Mrs. J. H. Buckmaster, met death by drowning in the Verdigris river. The circumstances surrounding
the unfortunate affair are such as to leave some doubt as to whether Miss Ostrander accientally fell in the river
and was drowned before help could reach her or whether she had premeditate suicide. The members of her family take
the latter view as of late she had given expression to the thought that she was tired of life and might put an
end to it.
Two other persons, Miss Ada Ostrander, the dead
girl's sister, and Gus Hintz, a young man who had been keeping company with Ida Ostrander for nearly a year, were
with the girl a few moments before she fell in the water, but neither saw her fall and neither was able to say
whether it was accidental or intentional.
Heintz was calling on Ida Ostrander. Her sister,
Ada, and her mother were up town shopping and when they returned, Ida asked her sister to go walking with her and
Heintz. The three sat down on a fallen log and talked for some time. It seems that the two girls had quarrelled
and Ida kissed her sister and said they would not quarrel any more. She then walked away about a half block to
a place near the bank where there were some high weeds. The next that was known Heintz heard a splash in the water.
Ada says she heard her sister cry, "My God,
Gus, save me!" Heintz says he heard nothing but the splash and the gurgle of the water where the girl went
down. Both ran to the bank and Heintz plunged in and tried to locate the place where the girl had went down.
The bank were Miss Ostrander was standing before
she slipped into the water is precipitous and about ten feet high and the water at this point is about thirty feet
deep. At the point where she went over are grooves in the bank where she clutched and tried to save herself, but
the earth was so soft that she could get no hold. The weeds grew over the edge of the bank about a foot so that
it could easily have been an accident.
Mrs. Buckmaster, mother of Miss Ostrander, thinks
her daughter premeditated death. It was all over him," she said pointing to Heintz. "Ida just worshiped
him and she thought he did not care for her as much as she did for him and this worried her. She cried Saturday
morning and said she was discouraged. She frequently spoke of drowning herself and I think she planned to jump
into the river."
Miss Ostrander and Heintz were engaged to be married,
and she wished the marriage to take place this summer while he wanted to postpone it until later. Her sister, Ada,
thinks she merely wanted to pretend that she would jump into the river to scare them and slipped and fell in.
The dead girl was 22 years of age.22 years of age.
(Emporia Gazette ~ July 12, 1906)
DEAD IN THEIR HOME
A Mysterious Tragedy at Independence, Kansas
CAUSE OF DEATH UNKNOWN
The Members of the Household Found Dead or Dying---Poisoning
KANSAS CITY, Jan. 1---A special to the Times from Independence, Kansas, says: One of the most horrifying discoveries was made this
morning when Al Brown, son-in-law of Geo. W. Read, manager of the Long Bell Lumber company, broke into the house
of the latter and found Read, clad only in his night clothes, sitting dead in a chair before a hot stove fed by
natural gas. The body was in an advanced state of decomposition. Edith Scott, a domestic of the family, was lying
dead on the floor of her room, and Mrs. Read and her 5 year old son were in bed, the boy dying and the mother unconscious.
The terrible tragedy is shrouded in mystery. Many
theories are current as to the cause, one being asphyxiation, another accidental poisoning, another foul play.
The fact that two gas stoves in the house were burning at full force practically expodes the theory of asphyxiation,
and the fact that no bruises were found on either of their persons renders the murder theory almost incredible,
leaving accidental poisoning as the most probable cause. None of the family had been seen later than Saturday evening,
leaving no doubt Read and the domestic had been dead 36 hours before being discovered. Every room in the house
was intensely hot and, there being no ventilation, the fumes from the badly decomposed bodies of the dead were
An autopsy was held today but nothing definite
can be ascertained until an analysis of the stomachs can be completed. The coroner will hold an inquest tomorrow
LATER---The doctors, after an examination, decided
the family had been poisoned by strychnine which had probably gotten into their food. Mrs. Read is still unconscious
but the doctors have hope of her recovery. The boy will probably die.
(Idaho Statesman ~ January 2, 1894)
WIFE MURDERER PARDONED
After Fouteen Years Evidence Is Deemed Insufficient
Topeka, Kan., Nov. 2---Governor Morrill today granted
a pardon to Alfred Harding, a colored man of Independence, Montgomery county, who is serving a life sentence in
the penitentiary for the murder of his wife. The Governor acted upon the recommendation of the board of pardons,
which reported that there was no evidence against the prisoner. The report shows that Harding was convicted by
public sentiment. His wife died suddenly March 15, 1881. He was arrested March 16, found guilty and sentenced
March 22, and taken to the penitentiary March 23. It was supposed that Mrs. Harding was poisoned, but the board
of pardons was unable to find that any evidence of poison was introduced at the trial of the case.
A pardon was also granted to Morgan Strickney of
Nemaha county, who is serving a term in the penitentiary for burglary. The board of pardons found that the prisoner
was the victim of a plot by personal enemies, who were anxious to get him out of the way. Daniel Berchfield, the
prosecuting witness, was a personal enemy of the Stickney family, and it has been shown, to the satisfaction of
the board, that he conspired to get young Stickney into his store at night to make a case of burglary.
(Kansas City Times ~ November 3, 1895)