News in Rooks County


Crime News

Promiment People of Webster Caught Stealing
Word comes to us that 2 very prominent people west of Webster were caught stealing wheat from a man named Dancer last week. We withhold names from publication. The same parties are suspicioned of stealing grain from another man in that neighborhood. No arrests have yet been made, but may soon follow. - Stockton News.
Source: The Alton Empire, Sep 25, 1902 -Transcribed by J.S.

FOUR HORSE - THIEVES LYNCHED
Rooks County, Kansas, the Scene of the Hanging
Max Alwens, the traveling salesman for the well known grocery house of Julius Kuhn, brings the information of a quadruple execution of horse-thieves by a vigilance committee of Rooks County. For notorious desperadoes named Cos, Hutchinson and Ed and Jack Connaughty are the men who were thus summarily disposed of, and they have made a reputation and name for themselves that will at least prevent any great expenditure for mourning purposes. For a long time they held supreme sway in Southwestern Kansas and were a terror to all the surrounding country. Horse-thieving, burglary and robbery was their forte, and they carried on their depredations everywhere. Eventually they were driven from the country and they took refuge in Rooks County, in the Northwestern part of the State, pre-empting a quarter section of land, and building them a cabin. From this time commenced a series of thieving and robbery such as Rooks County had never before suffered from and suspicion naturally fell on these newcomers. A vigilance committee was organized among the farmers and citizens of the village, and a minor committee traced two of the thieves into Nebraska with a wagon load of goods and several head of stock. The Committee returned to Stockton and preparations were begun to arrest the entire gang upon the return of the other two. One night, about two years ago the cabin in which the thieves lodged was surrounded by about twenty excited and enraged men, and the gang taken therefrom as they sat by the fireside. A court was organized, a short trial had, and the verdict of guilty of horsestealing and other crimes was found and the sentence of death pronounced upon the four men. Thereupon a rude scaffold was erected and amid the shrieks and groans and bitter imprecations, curses and oaths, mingled at times with prayer and beggings for mercy that sounded upon the midnight air, the men, one by one were hurled into fearful eternity. There ended the career of four desperate characters, who depended solely on their success in thieving to make a living. While we always deprecate mob law, the sudden demise of these men can certainly prove of no disaster to the county, and it may do great good. (Inter Ocean, February 4, 1876, Page 2)

TERRIFIC FIGHT
The Sheriff of Ellis County, Kansas, Killed by a Horse Thief
He succeeds in Killing the Thief, Before Giving up the Fight
His Remains Taken Back to Hays City, for Interment


From a gentleman who came in on this Kansas Pacific road yesterday afternoon, we learned the following particulars of a desparate fight which occurred near Stockton, Rooks County, Kansas, between Mr. Alexander Ramsey, of Ellis County and a horse thief whose name was not known, and which resulted in the death of both the sheriff and the thief.

It appears that Mr. Ramsey, accompanied by his deputy, Mr. Frank Shepherd, were en route from Hays City to Rooks County, to take possession of some goods which had been captured from car thieves on the 19th of May. While on their way they struck the trail of some horse thieves, who had twenty ponies. The sheriff overtook two of the thieves on the 7th, in the vicinity of Stockton, where part of the stock had been sold, and riding up, demanded of one of them to throw up his hands. On the other hand the thief commenced to make preparations for battle. The sheriff, who was an excellent shot, and a man of great nerve, opened fire, and hit his man. The thief returned the fire, his shot striking Mr. Ramsey in  a vital spot and then dropped behind his horse to protect himself, but not in time to evade bullets, three in number, which were sent with unerring aim for the sheriff's pistol. The smoke from Ramsey's pistol had not vanished when both parties fell, the sheriff from loss of blood and mortally wounded, while the thief fell from his horse.

The other thief had started rapidly away when the fight opened, hotly pursued by Mr. Shepherd, who, at last accounts was on his trial and still pursuing. Mr. Ramsey lived about an hour after being wounded, and yesterday was taken back to his home at Hays City, where he has a wife and child residing.

The sheriff was a young man, about twenty-eight years of age, and has been holding his office since he was twenty-one.

He was a terror to marauders and thieves, having killed quite a number during his term of office. He is said to have been a man of great nerve, and was greatly beloved by the law abiding people of his county. In his death, Ellis county has lost a faithful and brave official, whose place it will be hard to fill.

A number of railroad officials and friends of the deceased have started on the track, and there is no doubt but that the rogue who made his escape will yet be captured.

These two men belonged to a large and well organized band of desperate thieves, who have for a long time been committing their depredations in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri. It is to be hoped the respective States will take some interest in the matter and make it an object of parties to pursue the marauders to their death, and thus rid the country of a class of men who are worse than the wolves that roam the prairires.
The Weekly Commonweatlh (Topeka, Kansas) 17 Jun 1875

ALLEN PETTIJOHN INTO TROUBLE
Allen Pettijohn is sixteen years old and a resident of Rooks County. He got into trouble in Phillips County a short time ago, the Herald tells by taking a watch that did not belong to him. Justice Hickenlooper ordered him to jail for thirty days and fined him ten dollars. (Westerns Kansas World, September 26, 1885)

DISTILLER CAUGHT
A Rooks County Distiller caught, Hays City, Kan., Aug. 20 - United States Marshal Howard captured a man named Martin, who is a veritable "moonshiner" and his distillery apparatus near Twin Mound in Rooks County today, and brought the whole outfit to this city with him tonight. (Western Kansas World, August 27, 1887)

ADMITS HE BURNED ELEVATOR TO HIDE HIS WHEAT THEFTS
SOLD MUCH WHEAT TO COVER LOSSES IN SPECULATION, THEN TRIED TO HIDE THEFT
Clears His Partner
George Biggs tried to guess the wheat market, backing his guesses with heavy purchases on the board of trade. When the market went against him, he resorted to desperate measures to cover his losses. He's in jail now, charged with setting fire to his own elevator.

HAYS, KAN., Oct. 22---Heavy losses through speculation in grain, on the board of trade, was followed by crime to recoup his losses, George Bigge, prominent Stockton, Kan., grain dealer, confessed last night to W. A. Elston, chief deputy state fire marshal.

Elston said today that Bigge confessed to him and Deputy Fire Marshal Victo Eaton that he burned his elevator, at Stockton, September 22, to cover the theft of wheat.

Shortly before the burning of the elevator, according to Elston, Bigge lost $22,000 in grain speculation. To cover the loss, Bigge is alleged to have said he sold several thousand bushels of wheat, owned by Joe Sutton, which was stored in the elevator.

Knowing the deal would be discovered, Bigge is quoted as saying he planned to burn the elevator September 21, he went to Kansas City, where he disposed of a car of cattle, and then returned to Phillipsburg. At Phillipsburg the grain dealer hired a taxi and went to Stockton. While the driver waited, Bigge, about 3:30 in the mornign of September 22, set fire to the elevator and returned to Phillipsburg in the same taxi. Elston said the grain dealer confessed. From Phillipsburg he went to Lincoln, Kan., to visit the family.

The investigation which led to Bigge's arrest, was started when the taxi driver, who was required to wait with lights out, became suspicious of the grain man's actions and informed the state fire marshal's office.

The elevator was owned by the firm of Bigge and Graham, but Bigge said Graham was in no way implicated. Both the elevator and the grain were heavily insured against fire.
(Wichita Eagle ~ Friday ~ October 23, 1925)

SHOOTING AT STOCKTON
Trouble Over Sending a Mother to an Insane Asylum Becomes Serious
Atchison, Kan., Feb. 15---There is a good deal of excitement at Stockton over a shooting affair which occurred Saturday night. Two brothers named Wells and their brother-in-law, named Alfred, recently decided to have the mother of the Wells brothers sent to the insane asylum. A third brother of the two Wells brothers, the youngest, objected to his mother being sent to an asylum, and went to the probate court on the date set for the trial with a Winchester rifle. The trial was not held, and Mrs. Wells was taken back to her home.

Friday night young Wells attended a literary society near Stockton, and while returning home he was pounced upon and shot three times and stabbed. Alfred, his brother-in-law, is under arrest, and other arrests may follow. Young Wells was still alive today, but not expected to live. He was married only a few weeks ago.(Kansas Semi-Weekly Capital ~ Tuesday ~ February 16, 1897)

STOCKTON AFTER LIQUOR MEN
Stockton, Kan., July 16---On July 7, 1896, complaint was entered in the police court of this city against E. Powell a drayman, charging him with violating a city ordinance which prohibits the sale of intoxicating liquors within the city limits. The defendant plead not guilty and asked for a continuance until July 13, which was granted. On July 13, the defendant appeared and demanded a jury trial which was granted. Almost a day was consumed in the selection of a jury. The case was stubbornly fought on both sides by the best legal talent in the city. The jury was out eight hours at the end of which time they rendered a verdict of "guilty as charged," and Police Judge Young fined Powell in the sum of $100, this being the minimum fine allowed by the ordinance.(Kansas Semi-Weekly ~ Friday ~ July 17, 1896)

Indians Robbed Train
Source: Weekly Times, Debuque, Iowa Jan 13, 1859
Three hundred miles above Fort Yuma, it was reported that the Indians had robbed an emigrant train, and forced the stage, en route from Stockton to Kansas City, to return.

Premature Escape
In Rooks county, Kan., 30 years ago a man was charged with murder. The evidence was all in, the attorneys had made their pleas, an dthe jury was out deliberating. The man gave the sheriff the slip and has never been seen to this day. Five minutes after his escape the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. -Kansas City Journal.
Source Sauslaito News, Vol 28, No. 13, Mar 23, 1912

A Shocking Crime
Atchison, Kan., Mar 22. Details have been received here of a tragedy near Hookton, Rooks county, Kan. Yesterday about dark 2 children of Taylor Cook, a farmer, when returning home from school found the furniture in the house broken and everything in confusion and the dead body of their mother lying between two feather beds. Her head was beaten into a jelly. A club was lying on the floor, stained with blood and her hair. Their father is not to be found, and is the man who committed the murder, as he frequently threatened to kill his wife. He has disappeared.
Source: Daily Alta California, Vol 80, No 82, Mar 23, 1889

Terrific Fight
The sheriff of Ellis County, Kansas, killed by a horse-thief, he kills the thief before giving up the fight.
From a gentleman who came in on the Kansas Pacific road yesterday afternoon, we learn the following particulars of a desperate fight which occurred near Stockton, Rooks county, Kansas, between Alexander Ramsey, Sheriff of Ellis county and a horse-thief whose name was not known, and which resulted in the death of both the Sheriff and the thief:

It appears that Mr. Ramsey, accompanied by his deputy, Frank Shepherd, were en route from Hays City to Rooks County to take possession of some goods which had been captured from car-thieves on the 19th of May. While on their way they struck the trail of some horse-thieves, who had about 20 ponies. The Sheriff overtook 2 of the thieves on the afternoon of the 7th, in the vicinity of Stockton, where part of the stock had been sold, and riding up demanded of one of them to throw up his hands. The demand was not heeded. On the other hand, the thief commenced making preparations for battle. The Sheriff, who was an excellent shot and a man of great nerve, opened fire and got his man.

The thief returned the fire, his shot striking Mr. Ramsey in a vital spot, and then dropped behind  his horse to protect himself, but not in time to evade the bullets, 3 in number, which were sent with unerring aim from the Sheriff's pistol. The smoke from Ramsey's pistol had not cleared away ere both parties fell-the Sheriff from loss of blood and mortally wounded, while the thief fell from his horse. a dead man.

The other thief, who had started rapidly away when the fight opened, was hotly pursued by Mr. Shepherd, who was on his trail at last accounts and is still pursuing. Mr. Ramsey lived about an hour after being wounded, and yesterday his remains were taken back to his home at Hays City, were he has a wife and child residing.  The Sheriff was a young man, about 28 years of age and has been holding his office since he was 21. He was a terror to marauders and thieves, having killed quite a number during his terms of office. He is said to have been a man of great nerve and was greatly beloved by the law-abiding people of his county. In his death, Ellis county has lost a faithful and brave official, whose place it will be difficult to fill. A number of railroad officials and friends of the deceased have started on the track, and there is no doubt but that the rogue who made his escape will yet be captured.

This fellow gave his name as Stanley, and is described as being about 6 feet in height, sharp featured, with dark complexion and small black whiskers and moustache. These 2 men belonged to a large and well organized band of desperate thieves, who have for a long time been committing their depredations in Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri. It is to be hoped that the respective States will take some interest in the matter and make it an object to parites to pursue the marauders to their death and thus rid the country of a class of men who are worse than the wolves that roam the praries.
Source: Los Angeles Herald, Vol 4, No 73, Jun 19, 1875

Another Black Hill's Invasion
Source: Memphis Daily Appeal, Feb 19, 1880
Stockton Kansas News: "The Kansas City Times, of the 7th, gives a map of the Indian Territory, in which is pictured the proposed Territory and capital of Oklahoma. The Times gives a history of the Territory and shows that there are 14,000,000 acres there open to homestead entry. The indications are that there will be a grand rush of immigrants into that country during the coming year. There promises to be another Black Hills invasion, this time into  territory not owned, claimed nor occupied by and Indian Tribe. There is no doubt that this Territory is the garden spot of the continent."

Fears His Wealthy Uncle Has Met with Foul Play
Kansas Man Seeks News of a Doctor Who Had Office in Lick House Years Ago.
News of Dr. Herman Swartsfager is wanted by his nephew, W.E. Near, a butcher of Stockton, Kansas. In a letter received yesterday by County Clerk Mulcrevy the nephew expresses fear that the doctor has met with foul play. He last heard of him 18 years ago, at which time Dr. Swartsfager had an office in the Lick house. "If I am not mistaken", says Near in his letter,  "he wrote that he owned the building. He had no relations there and it looks as if there had been foul play that he should disappear suddenly and myteriously." The nephews expresses the opinion that his uncle wa wealthy and promised to give County Clerk Mulcrevy a liberal reward for information of his wherebouts. Dr. Swartsfager, if alive, is nearly 70 years of age.
Source: San Francisco Call, Vol 102, No 26, Jun 16, 1907

Prisoners to Send Address
All Andersonville prisoners are requested to send their addresses to Nat. Mullin, Plainsville, Rooks county, Kansas, with a statement of the time they were held prisoners, with home, company and regiment. This is desired for the purpose of arranging a reunion.
Source: Huntington Journal, May 23, 1879

Webster Bank Robbed
The bank of Webster, Kansas was robbed recently and the robbers made good their getaway. They picked up all their tools and took them along. It is tthought the robbers were scared away as they did not gain entrance to the inner vault. The loss was confined to change and some valuables left outside the vault.
Source: Portis Independent Jul 13, 1922

Has a Sister at St. Johns
Source: The Salt Lake Herald, Mar 3, 1894
A.J. Cross, the double-dyed murderer, who was recently captured in Idaho, says he was born in Cloud county, Kansas; is 28 years of age, and the only relaties[sic] he has are two sisters, one living in Webster, Kansas, and the other in St. Johns, Tooele county, Utah. All he wants, he says, is a fair trial.

Source: Western Kansas World, Jan 30, 1892
Plainville Times: A load of wheat was stolen some time last week, probably on Friday night, from the Pryor farm, north of town. The wheat, which belonged to F.B. Gardner, had been stored for some time in an old granary. On Saturday it was discovered that a hole had been made in the north side of the building, through which a quantity of wheat had run onto the gorund. Afterward it had evidently been shoveled into baskets and carried to the road, where there was evidence of a team and wagon having been stationed.

A Kansas Sheriff in Jail
Topeka, Kansas
Word was received here by the state board of control that Sheriff S.N. Manaugh of Rooks county, Kansas, is in jail at Nebraska City, Nebraska, and will be released when a satisfactory bond for $500 is given.  Sheriff Manaugh took an insane pauper to Nebraska City, the man's home. It is understood he is charged with violating a Nebraska law for doing this. He was acting under instructions from the state board of control.
Humboldt Union (Humboldt, Kansas) 24 Jul 1909

Where Did the Aid Committee Go.
Downs Times
A postal card from D., at Plainville, Rooks county, Kansas, asks us to correct the statement that a Plainvillian stole a ear of aid corn. He says they have enough corn without stealing corn. It is said that a man south of Stockton got the car of corn. Plenty of snow and wheat are reported in Rooks.
The Leavenworth Weekly Times (Leavenworth, Kansas) 3 Mar 1881

BELIEVES BROTHER INNOCENT
George Farris Accompanied Accused Man to Stockton

Kansas City, Kansas. Oct 17
George Farris, elder brother of Elmer Farris, who was arrested on the charge of having murdered his brother in Rooks county, Kansas while working in the harvest there a year ago in August, believes in the innocence of his brother. He accompanied him and Detective Darnall to Stockton last night. He is positive of his brother's innocence, and scoffs at the theory that Elmer killed John because of rivalry in a love affair.

"I know the police are working on the theory that Elmer killed John because they both loved the same woman" he said, "John never was interested in that woman, and he and Elmer never quarreled about her so far as I can find out. I want Elmer to go to Stockton though and stand trial. I know he will come clear and perhaps the trial may bring out something that will result in finding the real murderer. I am going to stay with him through it all."
The Saline Evening Journal (Salina, Kansas) 17 Oct 1911





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