Sunday, May 20, 2012

Killings And Other Crimes Of Labette County Kansas.

On August 6, 1868, Charles Van Alstine killed J. C. Wheeler, near a saloon in Oswego, in which they had been drinking. Van Alstine was tried and convicted of murder, and sent to the penitentiary. This was the first murder trial in the county.

In the latter part of 1868 a half-breed Indian was intoxicated and making a disturbance on the streets of Chetopa. He was arrested by an officer, who asked him where he got his whisky; he told the officer if he would go with him he would show him. He went to a shanty on the outskirts of town, opened a door, and stooping down to his saddle-bags took there from a revolver, saying, "That is where I got my whisky," and fired, the ball striking the officer on the forehead, but glancing instead of penetrating the skull. The Indian was again arrested, and taken before the justice. A some what rough character called Bob Broadus told him he would be killed, and, if he had an opportunity, to run. The Indian soon started off, and was at once fired upon by a number of parties and killed.

In 1870 John D. Coulter was postmaster at Oswego, and also agent of all the express companies that did business at that place. In the latter part of November of that year, without giving notice of his intention so to do, he left town, and was never seen here thereafter.  He proved to be a defaulter to the Government and also the express companies in the sum of several hundred dollars.

Anthony Amend and John Pierce, living in Neosho township, had a difficulty over a child.  Pierce shot and killed Amend, and then attempted to hide in the woods and tall grass.  The grass was set on fire, and to escape, Pierce jumped into the Neosha and swam across. He was caught and taken to Jacksonville, where a vigilance committee hung him.  This hanging took place in Neosho county.
Several parties were arrested as being connected with it, but no one was ever convicted.

On October 3, 1874, on the fair grounds at Oswego, John Bagby stabbed William Hogsett and Charles H. Westfall, both of whom were special police. Hogsett soon died, while Westfall, after a protracted confinement, recovered. Bagby was sent to the penitentiary.

On November 2, 1870, Erastus E. and Liston P. Hopkins killed their brother-in-law, John M. May, by beating and wounding him with poles and clubs. In June, 1871, they were tried for this offense. The State was represented by Judge D. P. Lowe, M. V. Voss, and Jesse C. Harper, together with the county
attorney. The defense was principally conducted by M. V. B. Bennett and J. D. Gamble. The defendants were convicted of murder in the second degree, after a protracted trial. A notable incident of this trial was in reference to the court driving a witness named Chas. H. Butts from the witness stand during the giving of his testimony. It appears by the testimony of Butts that he was a dtective, and had been placed in the jail with the Hopkins brothers under the pretense of being guilty of some kind of a crime, for the real purpose of getting admissions from them to be of use on the trial. On these facts appearing, the presiding judge said that such a person was unworthy of credit, and should not be allowed to give testimony in his court ; he was directed to leave the stand, which he did.

On February 24, 1871, John Clark was killed at Chetopa by Frank Huber. Huber was tried, and convicted of murder in the first degree, and sentenced to be hung on September 1st; on August 31st a respite was granted until September 30th. Huber had been taken to Fort Scott after his trial for more safe confinement until the time of his execution. The last of August he was brought from Fort Scott to Oswego, where a gallows had been erected in front of the old jail, and where on the morrow he was to be hung. After the respite arrived, and before the time of his execution, as then fixed, the Supreme Court granted him a new trial because of a defect in the form of the verdict. Preferring not to undergo the excitement of another trial, Huber succeeded in removing some of the stones and other rubbish that separated him from the outside world, and on the night of November 23, 1871, made his escape from the county jail, since which time he has' never been heard of at this place.  His case was the nearest we have ever been to having a legal execution in this county.

On May 27, 1875, R. B. Myers absconded. It appeared from e:iamination made that for months he had been embezzling from the Adams Express Company, for whom he was agent. A statement was made by the general manager to the effect that as far back as December previous he had been detected in defalcation. In the fall of 1879 he was brought back from the west, where he was found, on requisition, and on examination was bound over to court. In proceedings pending the trial, it was developed that the company was defectively organized, its charter being imperfect; and there being no law punishing embezzlement by an agent of a joint-stock company, Myers was permitted to go at liberty.

On April 1, 1878, while Milton Engler and Samuel Clevinger were going to their homes in Cherokee county from Chetopa in a state of intoxication, they got into a quarrel ; the former stabbed the latter with a knife, from the effects of which he soon died.

On Sunday morning, August 25, 1878 R. H. Clift, who was marshal of Chetopa, was shot and killed near town by John Richmond, a horse thief whom he was attempting to arrest Richmond had passed through town a few days before with a stolen mule in his possession and was now returning to Missouri. Word having come that he was guilty of stealing the mule, parties in town who had seen him pass through informed the marshal of the circumstances, and he immediately started in pursuit. He soon overtijok Richmond and rdered him to  stop, telling him that he was under arrest. Richmond repHed that he would return with him, but at once drew a revolver and shot Clift through the neck; he died that night.

On the Wednesday following the Sunday on which Clift was shot, Richmond, having readied his home in Missouri near the village of White Hall, in Laurence county, was there arrested for stealing the mule at a camp meeting. The next morning, August 29th, he was being taken to Mount Vernon, when Bently came up and informed the officers that Richmond was guilty of ttie murder of Clift. This was the first that the shooting of Clift was known at the home of Richmond. Richmond was taken to Mount Vernon, where he was held until Bently could get a requisition, and as soon as the same could be obtained Bently and United States Deputy Marshal Graham secured his delivery to them, and at once started with him for this county. Instead of taking the train at Carthage to Oswego, they decided to go the route through the Indian Territory, transferring to the M., K. & T. Ry. at Vinita.

They arrived at Chetopa on the midnight train Thursday night, September 5th. Masked men appeared in the train as soon as it stopped at Chetopa, and compelled the officers to take Richmond out; they took him out and preceded to get into a bus. The mob surrounded the bus and train, took Richmond
from the officers, marched him a mile southwest of town, and strung him up to an old bridge, where he was left hanging until the next afternoon. The cold blooded murder of Richmond was without excuse. His crime was a terrible one, but there would have been no difficulty in convicting and punishing him for it.  No one except the participants know who were the criminals engaged in the second murder,and no effort was made to apprehend or punish them.

One of the most brutal murders ever committed took place in Canada township, about the last of October, 1878. Theodore Munsterman and William Hunt some time previous thereto had had difficulty over the entry of a claim. On the day of the murder Hunt and his wife had been to Oswego, and during their absence Munsterman had been seen around the premises. On their way home from Oswego, Hunt overtook Munsterman going in the direction of their home. He got in and rode with them. It was late in the evening when they arrived home. Hunt and Munsterman talked over their previous difficulty, and agreed to bury all differences. Munsterman was making his home with his sister several miles away, and it was suggested that he stay all night with Hunt.

They had but one bed and they made a pallet for him upon the floor in the same room in which they slept. During the night Mrs. Hunt awoke and found Munsterman at their bedside bending over her; she asked him what he wanted ; he said he wanted to kiss her. Later in the night Munsterman got up and shot both Mr. and Mrs. Hunt in the head. Hunt was evidently killed at once.  Probably Mrs. Hunt made some move, and to finish the job Munsterman took a hatchet and broke in her skull. He left them both in bed where they had slept, went out, locked the door, and took Hunt's team and moved off. He was seen the next day with the team, which he said he had borrowed and was going to the Territory for coal.

It turned out that he took the team and hitched it in a ravine, and himself went to Chetopa. That evening one of the neighbor boys went to the house, but could not get in. He heard a groaning inside, and went and told his inother. Several of the neighbors were aroused and came to the house and broke open the door. They found Hunt dead, and Mrs. Hunt unable to speak and nearly dead.  Munsterman was found, and at once arrested on suspicion that he had committed the murder. His account of having the team and of his whereabouts was entirely unsatisfactory, and he was placed in the county jail. By the time of the next term of court, when the case came up on trial, Mrs. Hunt had so far recovered as to be able to talk. She came upon the witness stand and identified Munsterman as the murderer, giving the story of the transaction substantially as here recorded. Munsterman was convicted of murder in the first degree. He died in the penitentiary, November 25, 1888.

On November 3, 1879, an obstruction in the shape of a hand-car, with old irons and other material, was placed on the Frisco Ry. near Big Hill station. A detective was employed to ascertain the guilty parties, and there after Albert C. Tolliver was arrested for the offense. Tolliver made confession and implicated James Henry Barnes, Sr., and his son in the crime. The old man Barnes was not found, but the younger Barnes was tried, and, by what is believed to be the most successfully planned and carried out conspiracy for perjury ever attempted in this court, participated in by a large number of his friends and neighbors, was accquitted.

On December 2, 1879, Ouincy Harris was arrested for operating an illicit distillery on Hackberry Creek, and John and Josiah Johnson for assisting by furnishing corn. Harris was taken in charge by the U. S. marshal.

On July 10, 1880, Daniel Tucker killed a colored man named William Dudley, near Mound Valley. Tucker had been lying around Chetopa for several days, and hired Dudley to take him to Neodesha with his team, on the pretense that he desired to bring back a load of goods. On Sunday, July 11th, parties passing west of Mound Valley saw where some one had encamped the night before, and noticed clots of blood and other evidences of a hard struggle. Physicians were called, and after examination pronounced the bloud and brains found to be those of a human being. That evening some one found the body of a colored man in a ravine some three miles away, and parties immediately started out to find the murderer, They soon found a wagon with a man and woman in it and the team was identified as the one which had encamped the night before where the body was found. . The man was arrested and proved to be Tucker, the murderer of the colored man, William Dudley. He was convicted of murder in the first degree.

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