Monday, April 30, 2012

Killings of Coffey County Kansas.

September, 1857, Dr. Hamilton Smith, committed suicide at Ottumwa, with a shot gun.

In the fall of 1858, Alexander Hamilton killed John Haney, in a shooting affray at Le Roy. Hamilton was examined before a Justice's Court and acquitted.

July 20, 1860, Victor Moquett, shot through the head by a rifle ball and killed, on South Big Creek. The fatal shot was fired by Dr. William Brown. The parties were deer hunting alone. The doctor claimed that the killing was an accident, the ball having struck a large stone, from which it glanced and lodged in Moquett's head. No coroner's inquest was held, nor did the doctor have a legal examination.

October, 1860, William Shaw and E. A. Green, of Burlington, murdered by Osage Indians, at a camp on the Cimmeron River. In the camp were William Shaw, A. E. Green, A. G. Holland, Andrew Franklin, Jr., Austin Higley and Isaac Yingling, all of Coffey County. They left Burlington October 15, 1860, with two wagons, each drawn by a span of horses, a supply of forage and provisions, and three extra horses. They were on a buffalo hunt. When the camp was attacked, all escaped and fled to another camp of white men, twenty miles distant, except Shaw and Green. The escaped party returned the next day, with assistance, but found nothing but the dead body of Shaw, whose head had been severed from the body and placed upright on his breast. Green and all the property were missing, and were never heard of since.

June 10, 1861, Mary Wiley and her son William, aged about six years, murdered in bed, during the night. Their bodies were hacked to pieces. The murdered parties lived in a small house on the farm of John Johnson, about two miles west of Le Roy, south of the river. Mr. Johnson's family lived in another house, on the same farm. Mrs. Wiley was supposed to be a mistress of the senior Johnson. William Harrison Johnson and Wesley Johnson, sons of John Johnson, of mature years, were missing after the murder. They were indicted by the Grand Jury of Coffey County, on the charge of being the murderers, and Matilda Johnson was also indicted on the charge of an accessory after the fact. Matilda appeared before the October term of the court, was tried and acquitted. Her brothers did not appear, having never been seen after the murder. Shortly after the trial of Matilda, the whole family disappeared.

September 25, 1862, William Hamilton killed Addison Vandever, near Le Roy, during a fight between the two parties at a horse race. Hamilton struck Vandever a fatal blow on the head with a board. August 22, 1864, Hamilton was convicted of manslaughter in the third degree, and sentenced to an imprisonment of three months in the County Jail.

September 17, 1864, a negro named Sam, disemboweled, by a negro named Smith, during a drunken frolic at a dance at Nichols' farmhouse in Neosho Township, five miles south of Burlington. Smith was then shot through the head and killed by another negro. Sam died the next day. All of the surviving parties were brought before Ahijah Jones, Justice of the Peace at Le Roy, on Monday, August 19, but owing to his inability to disentangle the evidence, the matter was referred to the people, who ordered the entire mob to leave the county. The order was obeyed.

February 2, 1865, William Hastings, of Franklin County, murdered by an Indian named Wa-tee-chee, near Pottawatomie Creek, Coffey County. Hastings was riding in a lumber wagon when he was shot by the Indian, who approached on horseback, in the rear. Hastings, after he was shot, went to place his wallet, containing $500 in money, under a bag of corn, when his murderer fled, supposing Hastings was reaching for a pistol. Hastings drove two miles to a farmhouse, where he died the following night. Money was the motive for the murder but the murderer did not get it. Wa-tee-chee was hanged for this murder at Lawrence, January 19, 1866.

April 13, 1865, the wife of Sam Bull, colored, shot through the head and killed by a ball fired through the window from the outside at the house of her brother-in-law, Rufus, in Neosho Township. The murderer was supposed to be her husband, with whom she would not live.

November 25, 2865, Lewis Clark, a white man, shot a negro woman named Curry, on his farm, three miles northwest of Le Roy, and then fired a shot at her son, John. Mrs. Curry and her son were attempting to release some hogs, owned by them, which Clark had confined in an enclosure on his premises. John returned the fire, which instantly killed Clark, and then ran away. A party of men and boys from Le Roy hanged John's wife to a tree, with the expectation of extracting from her information of the whereabouts of her husband, but she stoutly denied any knowledge of his hiding place. She was released without material injury. The elder Mrs. Curry recovered from her wounds. John subsequently returned and is now a respected farmer, living with his wife near Ottumwa.

April 5, 1867, an infant son of John Russell, in Avon Township, killed by a fall from a rocking chair.

August 29, 1869, Wilson Hamilton, shot and killed by Jack Taylor, in Burlington, during a family quarrel. Both were colored. Taylor was convicted of manslaughter in the second degree and sent to the penitentiary, where he died before the expiration of his sentence.

September 30, 1871, Timothy Pearson, stabbed Joseph M. Vetetoe in the neck, with a knife, causing death, at Le Roy. Pearson was sent to the penitentiary, but was soon afterwards pardoned.

December 23, 1871, Stephen Brown, murdered Harvey Deaver, at the residence of the later, (sic) near Ottumwa. The murder was committed with a pistol. The murderer was sentenced to the penitentiary for ten years.

March 5, 1872, Alexander Louther, a bachelor, aged forty years, blew the top of his head off by a charge from a gun fired by his own hands, during a fit of insanity, at his residence, in Rock Creek Township.

March 11, 1872, Frank Fearl, aged about six years, shot and killed his mother, Mrs. Silas Fearl, with a self-cocking revolver, with which he was playing, at the family residence in Burlington.

November 25, 1872, George W. Beard, aged fourteen, committed suicide by hanging, on account of reproof from his mother for not watering some calves, on Spring Creek.

December 5, 1873, M. C. Dow, of California Township, killed by the accidental discharge of his own gun, near Halftree, while rabbit-hunting.

August 29, 1874, William McDonald shot and killed Michael Pointing, in Key West Township. Pointing was at the head of a party which had been organized for the purpose of stampeding a herd of Southern cattle, under the charge of McDonald. After firing the fatal shot McDonald fled, but was afterward arrested in Texas in the spring of 1878, by Sheriff J. M. Lane, and taken back to Coffey County. He was convicted of manslaughter in the second degree, at the June term of the District Court, and sentenced to the penitentiary for a term of twenty years.

January 29, 1876, Albert Wetherby, whose home was one mile south of Burlington, killed by the accidental discharge of his own gun, on Fall River, while returning home in company with James Martindale.

June 11, 1877, S. M. Hedges murdered George S. Cook with an ax, while the latter was asleep, at the residence of Mr. Coy, in Pottawatomie Township. Both had previously kept an auction store at Burlington, and were on their way to Wyandotte, Kansas, at the time of the murder. Hedges was convicted of murder in the second degree and committed to the penitentiary for a term of twenty-one years. He was subsequently pardoned.

September 1877, E. M. Sharp, living on Big Creek, Neosho Township, blew the top of his head off by the accidental discharge of his gun.

April 8, 1878, Charles Best shot and killed Patrick Mahan, in a saloon broil, at Burlington, during the night of the celebration over the completion to Burlington of the Kansas City, Burlington & Santa Fe Railroad. Best was convicted of manslaughter in the third degree and sentenced to imprisonment for six months in the jail of Greenwood County.

May 26, 1880, Elisha Baldwin, aged 15 years, son of J. M. Baldwin, killed by lightning on Turkey Creek.

July 25, 1881, Leonidas Goodall, killed by a fall from the top of a load of hay, in Star Township.

June 23, 1882, William Olds, killed by the accidental discharge of his revolver, at the William Crotty Crossing of Big Creek. The revolver fell from his pocket while he was putting his head in the creek and the contents were discharged by the hammer striking a stone.

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