Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chet. Van Meter.

This news story has been published a number of times in books and Historical works, however there are a few folks working on this line who have not heard or read the story. So I have reprinted it here so they may have a chance to do so.

The Caldwell JOURNAL, November 22, 1883, reported:

A Man For Supper
Killed Because He Would Not Surrender.

On Wednesday, November 21, 1883, about supper time, C. M. Hollister and Ben. Wheeler drove up to the Leland Hotel in a spring wagon and lifted out the body of a man deposited it on one of the tables in the front basement of that house. When the body was laid out, we found it to be that of a young man apparently about 23 or 24 years of age, about five feet seven inches in height; dark complexion, smooth face, except a brown mustache, black hair, high forehead, narrow between the temples, a long straight nose, something after the Grecian style, with large nostrils; mouth fair size, with thin compressed lips. It was the body of Chet. Van Meter, son of S. H. Van Meter living near Fall Creek, in this township, about seven miles northwest of this city.

T. H. B. Ross, Justice of the Peace, immediately telegraphed for Coroner Stevenson and County Attorney Herrick. The former was out of town, but the latter came down on the night train, and this morning a corner’s jury was summoned, consisting of D. Leahy, Wm. Morris, S. Swayer, Wm. Corzine, John Phillips, E. H. Beals, and an inquest was held before Squire Ross.

We cannot give the testimony in detail, but the substance of it was to the effect that Chet. Van Meter had married the daughter of Gerard Banks, a widower living on a farm in Chikaskia township, about nine miles from town; that he was living with his father-in-law, and that on the night of the 20th he beat his wife. That he also, on that same night fired at J. W. Loverton and Miss Doty, threatening to kill them, and on the following morning had beaten his brother-in-law, Albert Banks, a boy about fifteen or sixteen years of age, and made threats that he would kill half a dozen of them in that neighborhood before he got through. Young Banks and Loverton came in on Wednesday and swore out a warrant for the arrest of Van Meter, before Squire Ross, stating the above facts, and the Justice deputized C. M. Hollister to serve it, at the same time telling him to get some one to go with him, and to go well armed, as, from the statement of the complainants, Van Meter was a dangerous man, and would likely resist a peaceable arrest.

With this understanding, Mr. Hollister requested Ben. Wheeler to accompany him, and about four o’clock in the afternoon the party started for the home of Mr. Banks. Arriving there it was ascertained that Chat had gone to his father’s, about five miles south. Driving over to Van Meter’s, they found Chet standing near the southeast corner of the house, with a Winchester in his hands. Wheeler and Hollister jumped out of the wagon, and the former ordered Chet to throw up his hands, and he did so, but he brought up his gun at the same time, and fired, apparently at Hollister, as near as the evidence went to show. Wheeler and Hollister fired almost simultaneously, but as Chet did not fall and attempted to fire again, they both shot the second time and he fell, dead. They then, with the assistance of Loverton and young Banks, loaded the body into the wagon, and brought it to town.

An examination of the body this morning by Dr. Noble disclosed the fact that it had seven bullet holes in it, one evidently made by a large ball, entering the right side between the second and third ribs, passing through the lungs and liver and coming out between the ninth and tenth ribs. The other shots entered his chest, and one penetrated the abdomen just above the navel. There were also two gun shot wounds on each hand. The Winchester he had also showed marks where the buckshot from Hollister’s gun had struck it.

The examination of the witnesses closed at 3 o’clock, when the jury retired, and after a short absence returned a verdict to the effect that the deceased came to his death from gunshot wounds at the hands of C. M. Hollister and Ben. Wheeler, while in the discharge of their duties as officers of the law, and that the killing was not felonious.

After the verdict was rendered the body was turned over to S. M. Van Meter, father of the deceased, who had it encased in a coffin and took home for burial.

And thus the latest, and we trust the last, sensation incident to border life in the Souther Kansas has ended.

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