Flygstad, Daniel (1840-1903)
Posted By: Debbie Greenfield (email)
Date: 9/13/2017 at 13:22:45
Daily Freeman Tribune, Webster City, Iowa, Tuesday, February 10, 1903
PATRICIDE COMMITTED FIVE MILES NORTH OF JEWELL!
Daniel Flygstad Came Home Drunk and Quarreled With Son - Words Came to Blows and Death is Result
SON BEAT HIS FATHER WITH TOWEL ROD
Coroner's Verdict Says he Came to his Death as a Result of Blows Administered by his son "Under Great Provocation."
Word reached this city this morning of the killing of Daniel Flygstad, near Jewell, committed by his son Bankie [article says Dankie but Bankie is correct]. Details of the deed are harrowing in the extreme and involve the curse of drink in its worst form together with the forced self defense of a son against his own father.
The deed was committed yesterday afternoon about 4:30 o'clock. The Flygstad's reside five miles north and a quarter of a mile west of Jewell, the second station south of this city. Daniel Flygstad, father of the family, was strongly addicted to the use of intoxicants. Beside this fault, a mild form of insanity or feeble mindedness is inherent in the family. One of the sons is now in an institution taking treatment for a defect of this sort, while Daniel Flygstad has not been out of the asylum but a couple of years. The family are well known in the territory of their vicinity and the father's failings toward drink have been the cause of more or less talk for some time. Drink made him angry, surly and extremely bad tempered.
Yesterday afternoon, according to the story revealed at the coroner's inquest, as young Bankie Flygstad - aged 16 years - came home from school and entered the farmyard he came upon his father, just driving in from a trip to Jewell. He was drunk and in a bad frame of mind. Bankie took the team and wagon from his care and attended to putting the horses in the barn while the elder Flygstad passed on into the house. After the boy had finished this chore he too went to the house. He met his mother on her way out to feed the hogs. She cautioned him to watch his father closely lest he should become violent. At certain times before he had become so violent as to need the attention of neighbors to keep him from doing harm to members of his family and others. Bankie passed into the house and sat down in the kitchen. His father in the bedroom adjoining was in a rage and swearing roundly at Mrs. Flygstad, whom he supposed was in the kitchen instead of the son. Hearing no answer from the kitchen the elder Flygstad came out. Enraged at not finding his wife he rushed upon his son and in his blind rage grasped him about the neck. A struggle then ensued between father and son which soon grew severe - each exerting his utmost strength against the other. Finally the son brought his father to his knees and after administering several hard kicks broke away. He ran behind the stove where he secured a towel rod. As the two again came together Bankie, in self defense, as is generally supposed, used the rod as a weapon upon his father. He rained blows upon him until the stick was broken into four pieces. Daniel Flygstad soon fell to the floor in a limp condition under this punishment.
Bankie ran out of the house and meeting his smaller brothers and sisters, together with his mother, told them not to enter the house as he feared he had killed his father. He took his mother and the children to the nearby farm house of Fred Rowe and then went himself to the A.A. Furman farm where he advised with Mr. Furman regarding the matter. The latter advised him to go to Jewell at once, inform the authorities and give himself up.
By this time several farmers had heard of the matter and arrived upon the scene of the awful tragedy where they found the dead body of Daniel Flygstad. Coroner O.A. Hall of this city was notified and authorized Justice J.R. King to go to the Flygstad farm and hold the inquest. Mr. King went to the farm, empaneled a jury and held an inquest lasting all night and until about 5 o'clock this morning. The justice and jury heard all the evidence available and rendered a verdict in accordance with the facts at hand. While this verdict is not yet public property it is understood upon the best of authority that the younger Flygstad is exonerated. A gentleman who had much to do with the taking of the evidence, stated to a Freeman-Tribune reporter this morning over the phone that the verdict stated that Daniel Flygstad came to his death as the result of blows administered to him by his son "under great provocation" - such as to constitute a justifiable homicide.
Daniel Flygstad was 63 years of age. For three weeks he had complained of his head and the family thought that he would have to be returned to the asylum soon. He leaves, beside a wife, a large number of children. The family are fairly well-to-do, having clear title to a hundred acres of farm land unencumbered and a good bank account. The harrowing tragedy has cast a gloom over the neighborhood. The general sympathy of all is with the family who are borne down heavily under the awful death of the father. Bankie Flygstad is not under arrest but is with his mother and the rest of the family.
County Attorney Blake went to Jewell this afternoon to make a further investigation of the matter.
Webster City Freeman, Webster City, Iowa, Tuesday, February 17, 1903
BANKIE FLYGSTAD NOT EXONERATED!
Fuller Details of Awful Tragedy are Nauseating - Justice J.R. King Gives out Statement
VARIOUS SENTIMENTS EXIST
Fuller details of Monday evening's awful tragedy near Jewell reached this city Wednesday. Justice J.R. King of Jewell, who held the inquest, came to Webster City Wednesday to file the evidence taken before the coroner's jury. Advised by County Attorney Blake to give a statement to the press in order that the matter before the public should be wholly correct, Mr. King gave out the following interview to the Freeman-Tribune:
"Yes, your story printed Tuesday was in the main correct. However, the jury did not exonerate Bankie Flygstad from the charge of murdering his father.
The jury I empaneled were, I. Igou, Ed Swift and Geo Foval. We went to the Flygstad home upon being informed of the killing of the elder Flygstad. Bankie, himself, accompanied by Bert Cole, brought the news to Jewell. When we put the boy on the stand he admitted readily to having killed his father. He stated that upon going into the house to watch his father, by order of his mother, the old gentleman was in an adjoining bedroom. He was swearing roundly at Mrs. Flygstad. Soon he came into the kitchen and angry at finding the son there, he attempted to make him sit in a chair. Bankie did not wish to sit in the chair and attempted to rise. His father forced him back three times, handling him rather roughly. Bankie then threw the old man to the floor, kicked him twice and then secured the cast iron towel rod with which he beat the elder Flygstad to death."
"The rod used by the boy," went on Mr. King, "was 19 3/4 inches long and weighs 18 ounces. The son broke this rod four times over the old man. When we got to the house the body lay in a pool of blood terribly mangled about the head. After committing the deed the boy took his mother and children away to Fred Rowe's and told of his crime. He took Rowe and a man named Holvorsen back to the scene of the tragedy and showed them the body. At this time he even coolly walked up to this dead father and straightened out one of his legs. Upon the advice of these gentlemen and A.A. Furman he came to Jewell and informed us of the situation."
"The verdict was a compromise. Part of the jury were in favor of acquitting the boy, while others were in favor of holding him guilty. The matter will probably be sifted in court."
County Attorney Blake was seen by a reporter Wednesday morning. Asked as to what he had to say of the case he replied that he had nothing for publication. To the query as to whether he would prosecute Bankie Flygstad, he replied that he did not know. He was busy at the time but stated that he would ask Mr. King to set the matter straight before the public.
The people in and about the Flygstad farm are in full sympathy with Bankie and the family. They believe that the boy was justified in killing his father. To them a prosecution would be distasteful. However, the matter can only be cleared up by an investigation. For that purpose, Mr. Blake will bring it to the attention of the grand jury when that body meets next Tuesday. While insanity is inherent in the Flygstad family, it is said that Bankie has never exhibited any sign of mental weakness. In the light of the evidence made public by the coroner's jury, the boy's deed is inexplicable.
Various sentiments as to the boy's responsibility in the matter are held by people both acquainted and unacquainted with the family. While people wholly unacquainted with the family - together with a few who are - are more or less inclined to condemn the boy's act, the fact still remains that many Jewell people and practically all who reside in the Flygstad neighborhood unite in standing by young Bankie and are of the belief that he was probably justified in what he did. At this distance, with the evidence at hand, it is difficult to say to how far a degree the boy may be responsible or indeed whether he is responsible at all or not.
A prominent gentleman from Jewell who was in the city Thursday morning shared in the belief of those who think the old man got his just deserts. He said: "Daniel Flygstad treated his family in such a cruel manner as hardly to deserve the name of father. No one but the family themselves will ever know how much suffering he imposed upon them. I went with the coroner's jury to the Flygstad home the night the inquest was held. I expected, of course, to find the house full of excited people waiting for us, as would ordinarily be the case. The murder was committed about 4:30 p.m. but by the time we got out to the place it was 11 p.m. The house was dark and dreary. Not a soul was about. Daniel Flygstad lay just as he had fallen in a pool of his own blood. Had the man been a citizen ordinarily respected by his fellows we would not have found the house deserted thus. I tell you, you and I don't know what beasts some men are. For my part I believe Bankie Flygstad was justified in killing his father."
"He may have been a beast as you say," responded a grain man in the group, "and cruel in the extreme to his family, but in my opinion even this would not justify murder." Among all who have discussed the tragedy a division of sentiment such as is indicated above is prevalent.
The funeral over the remains of Daniel Flygstad was held Wednesday from the family home north of Jewell. It was attended by but few. No women outside the wife and daughters attended. The funeral was held from the family home - deceased having threatened to come back to earth "and scratch the family's eyes out," should his body ever be carried into a church when he should die.
A neighbor residing upon a farm adjoining the Flygstad place was in the city Friday and cheerfully volunteered to the Freeman-Tribune some further information regarding the elder Flygstad's life and habits. "Daniel Flygstad has been bringing on his tragic ending for fifteen years," said this gentleman. "Only a few days ago, to my knowledge, he pointed a loaded revolver at his wife and threatened to kill her. After flourishing the weapon promiscuously about and frightening the family almost out of their senses he turned the gun upon himself, thrust it into his mouth and threatened to commit suicide. Of course he was drunk at the time. It was his habit at these times to lock all the doors so that the family could not run from him. At other times I have known of his locking them in, getting out a long butcher knife and coolly beginning to sharpen it with the remark, "I'm going to make it rough for you now." The very day he was killed he paid his grocery bill at the Lee store in Jewell and as he left remarked to the groceryman that he would never be back again. From this remark Jewell people supposed, when they heard of the murder, that the old man had attempted to kill all the family."
"Since the killing of her husband Mrs. Flygstad has slept but little and this last night, when she rested about an hour. The family are all back on the farm now. It is the first time they have been together for some time. Some of them have been away all the time because the father had driven them away by his cruel treatment and awful threats."
Webster City Freeman, Webster City, Iowa, Tuesday, March 3, 1903
Vote Was Four to Three
Stanhope Mail: Peter Hove and Christian Carlson returned Tuesday evening from Webster City, where they had been serving as members of the grand jury. The two gentlemen were not in favor of the course of the jury in the Flygstad case in failing to indict the boy. Messrs. Hove and Carlson felt that the evidence did not show that Flygstad acted in self defense, and they favored a more thorough investigation of the matter. The vote on returning no indictment was four to three.
[According to Bankie Flygstad's obituary his mother is Jorgina Mucklebust Flygstad and both of his parents - Daniel and Jorgina - are buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Jewell, Iowa]
Hamilton Obituaries maintained by Janelle Graham Martin.
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