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Murdered for Fifteen Cents


Posted By: JCGS Volunteer
Date: 8/25/2019 at 18:08:38

Murdered for Fifteen Cts
Another big temperance sermon was preached in Clear Creek Tp., in this county, last Wednesday evening – another stigma of disgrace added to our fair fame – and another big burden of expense put upon our tax-payers. Isaac Dean was shot and killed by Hoard Coon – and beer and fifteen cents is the cause. We had taken some pains to hunt up particulars, and friends in Clear Creek township had furnished items in regard to the terrible event, but finding the following in the Colfax Clipper, we give it as the best account we could obtain:
Last Thursday afternoon our community was shocked by the announcement that Isaac Dean, of Clear Creek township, had been shot and killed by Howard Coon, of the same neighborhood, about 8:00 p.m., Wednesday, in the saloon of Robert Miller on the north side of Clear Creek, near Seeley’s mill, and that the killing was the result of an altercation between Miller and Dean on one side, and Coon on the other, concerning a saloon bill of fifteen cents.
We have thoroughly investigated the terrible affair, have seen and conversed with the friends of the murdered man, with the accused himself and with the officer having him in charge, and we give below the facts as elicited at the preliminary examination.
Howard Coon, a wild, dissolute and desperate man, probably thirty-five years of age, has for years borne an unenviable reputation in the community where he lives – a community where desperadoes are not scarce. Always in readiness for a drink, a wrestle or a fight, he went always armed with a revolver, and but a few weeks ago we recorded his accidental shooting by his own revolver, which was exploded in his pocket by a kick from a man with whom he was scuffling at a dance. He has been living at his father’s, a mile and a quarter east of the scene of his terrible deed of last Wednesday, and has been a frequenter and patron of the Miller saloon ever since its establishment many months ago. He is about 6 feet in height, will weigh over 200 pounds, is a heavy-browed swarthy fellow, and in his shabby suit with his long unkempt hair straggling out under his rough hunting cap, down over his ears, which were adorned with a pair of earrings, we wonder if he is not strongly tinged with Indian blood
Source: The Journal (Newton, IA); Wednesday, March 15, 1882

Of Isaac Dean, the murdered man, we could only learn that for years he has been a member of the family of the Widow Miller in some capacity, and latterly that he has been tending bar for the widow’s son, Robert, at the locality above named. Dean has also borne the reputation of a desperate man – as he must have been to run a saloon on Clear Creek.
The saloon-keeper, Robert Miller, the son of Widow Miller, and the prosecuting witness in the case is hardly of sufficient importance in this case to demand especial notice here. His story of the killing is briefly:
“On Wednesday, March 8, 1882, Howard Coon was at my saloon all day imbibing freely of beer and shooting at a target with a target gun. In the afternoon he was somewhat intoxicated, but went away toward supper time and returned about half-past seven ‘clock. At that time Ike Dean, Mel. Cool and Perry Davis were in the saloon with me and Dean and I were behind the bar when Coon called for beer. When he drank the beer I asked him to pay fifteen cents still due for beer previously drank by him. He refused, saying that he had already paid that score. An altercation followed in which both of us got made and the lie passed between us two or three times, and Coon raised the beer glass and made a move like he was going to hit me with it. Then Dean reached under the bar and got a navy revolver and said: ‘Howard, don’t hit that boy with that glass – don’t you do it!’ But Coon still flourished the bear-glass. Ike then raised the revolver up on the bar, and Coon stepped past the stove like he was going out the door, but when he got behind the stove, and just as Ike had laid down the revolver, he stepped back to the end of the bar, pulled his pistol out of his coat pocket, and fired at Ike, who sank down over a chair and groaned. Coon then ran out of the saloon and got away. Davis had left the saloon when the fuss commenced, but Cool saw it all and helped me to raise Ike up to find how bad he was hurt When I raised his head I found a big hole in the middle of his forehead and half an inch above his nose. Then I said for somebody to go for the doctor”
After the shooting Coon ran over the bridge and stopped at the Seeley mil, where he told what he had done, and after a short time proceeded home to his father’s unmolested. Before morning he began to fear that he might be lynched, so he went to Squire Stanton, a mile and a half north of Clyde, and gave himself up. His preliminary examination was held Thursday, commencing at 11:00 a.m., and continuing until 5:00 p.m. and nothing materially differing from the saloon keeper’s story above was developed. Drs. Burnet and Hawk testified relative to the nature of the wound, and that Dean died from its effects at 10:00 a.m., on the trial. Cool and Davis corroborated the saloon keeper’s evidence and Coon was held without bail to await the action of the grand jury.
Yesterday Constable Cox, of Clyde, took him to Newton and lodged him in jail.
We saw Coon and conversed with him yesterday. He was cool and collected, claims that he did the shooting in self-defense, and appears indifferent as to results. He is the toughest specimen, in appearance, that we ever encountered.
The murdered man was buried on Thursday without the formality of an inquest.
Coroner’s Inquest – In accordance with the law in the matter, Coroner Newell held an inquest on the body of Isaac Dean on Saturday. The jurors were Wm. Byal, J. R. Witmer and Wm. Stanton, who after hearing the evidence returned a verdict that deceased, came to his death by a “bullet wound in his forehead fired from the hands of Hoard Koon,” and that the crime was committed feloniously.”
The wound was nearly the size of a dollar, and was fired from so short a distance that the face of the deceased was marked in several places with burned powder. Below we give the evidence of Robert Miller, which was corroborated by the others, as follows:
My age, 20 years; my residence, Clear Creek township; occupation, farming; for the past several months have been running a saloon; on the 8th day of March, in the evening at the saloon, in Clear Creek township.
It was just about dark when I got there to the saloon; Howard Koon was there when I got there; and Isaac Dean, and Wilson Cool; there was a dispute arose between Isaac Dean, and (Koon) Howard Koon, about a settlement of fifteen cents, (which he paid before I got there.) Koon asked me if I wrote down the 15 cents on the slip of paper; I answered that I only wrote down the 5 cents, that there were already 10 cents on the slip; Koon was not satisfied he took up the slip of paper, and asked another man what he would call it, 5 cents or 50 cents; he replied that he would call it 5 cents; then Koon laid the slip of paper on the counter and Dean put it in the drawer; then Koon wanted to see the paper again; then Dean took the paper out of the drawer again and gave it to Koon; then Koon said he would never drink any more beer in the saloon; Dean then offered to refund him his fifteen cents if he was not satisfied, and he (Koon) would not receive it; Koon was acting mad, and dissatisfied about the matter; Koon knocked the 15 cents off of the counter on to the floor; then Dean Picked it up and put it in the drawer; Dean set up the beer to the house to make good friends; Koon took the beer in his hands, while the rest drank theirs, then Koon says to Dean, you pretend to be an honest man; Dean said he always tried to be an honest man; Koon said is you guarantee anything to be all right you will stand it, Dean said he would; Koon said you are a G__d liar, when you sold that rendering tank to Godfrey & Nichols you warranted it all right, but it was not; I said it was all right as far as Mr. Dean knew; then Koon said that I am a G__d liar; I said that he lied, when he said that I lied, Koon still held his beer in his hand, then emptied the glass and threw his arm back as to strike me with the glass; Dean picked up a revolver from the shelf under the counter, and told him not to strike the boy, (witness); Koon set the glass on the counter and did not strike, at about the same time Dean cocked his revolver and immediately un-cocked the revolver, but kept it in his hand; Dean set the glass away; Koon told Dean several times to put his revolver away; Dean said nothing; Dean still held the revolver in his hand: Dean was behind the counter and Koon on the front of the counter, close together; Koon put his right hand in his right hand side pocket, while both were moving towards the door at the end of the counter; then Koon drew up his hand with a pistol and fired at Dean; Dean fell on his left side; Koon turned and went out of the door; this occurred at about 7 or 8 o’clock p.m. Prior to the 15 cent dispute Howard Koon told Dean that he (Koon) would bet Dean a keg of beer that he would never leave Jasper county; Dean had contemplated going to Dakota this spring, which gave rise to such remarks b Koon; after he fired and run outdoors: then I went and looked after Dean, who was then laying on the floor, behind the counter; I spoke to him but got no answer; he appeared to be dead, then picked up the revolver which was laying on his right hand side, where he stood and laid it on the shelf; the revolver was not cocked at the time; I then seen that he was wounded in his forehead, and bleeding from the wound; Melvin Cool had just started out the door as Koon fired; I then went to the door and called Cool several times; I was all alone with the deceased; Cool or no other one came; then I locked the door and went up home and sent my brother for the doctor; then I went back to the saloon, and just as I came there Melvin Cool arrived there also, and soon after Amos Wright, H. Conley, and P. Davis; they picked up Dean, and laid him on a couch in the saloon; when I and Mr. Cool went in he was breathing; he continued his irregular breathing until the next day, the 9th of March, at about two o’clock a.m., when he expired.
Doctors Burnett and Edgar arrived there at about 9 or 10 o’clock, that night; I was watching both Dean and Koon all the time during the evening fracas, and after Koon set the beer glass down on the counter and Dean set it back, then Dean still held his revolver in his hand, but held it down-like beside him; Dean made no other remarks, or threats during the evening, except the one time alluded to heretofore. Robert Miller
Source: The Journal (Newton, IA); Wednesday, March 15, 1882

Mrs. Susan Bender sworn: Age 35; residence in Clear Creek township, Jasper county, Iowa; occupation, housekeeping; I am personally acquainted with Isaac Dean and Howard Koon; on the 7th day of march, 1882, at 4 o’clock p.m., I met Koon on the public highway about one mile east of the saloon; Koon said to me: “I have a notion to shoot you,” having his revolver in his hand, and repeated it saying: “I will shoot you” and pointed the revolver at me; I said, “shoot me if you want to,” then Koon remarked there would be a man and a boy disappear, and I asked him “what was that;” Koon said: “Jesus Christ, I will shoot both Ike Dean and Rob Miller before two months;” at about this time a stranger came riding along the road, and Koon ran away, but Koon followed me, and as I was going toward home, and soon felt something on my shoulder. Koon came up from behind, laid his revolver on my shoulder and said he had a notion to shoot me anyway, if it was not for just two things; but I did not ask him what he meant by the two things; at this time Koon turned around and went back toward his home; then I turned and looked at him; and he said: “you can go home and mind your business, I won’t bother you now. Susannah Bender
Source: The Journal (Newton, IA); Wednesday, March 15, 1882


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