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William E. Stafford (1911)


Posted By: Treva Patterson (email)
Date: 2/28/2007 at 12:46:31

Winterset Madisonian
Winterset, Iowa
Thursday, January 26, 1911

W. E. Stafford is Dead

A telegram to Porter Rollstin received yesterday announces the death of W. E. Stafford of Lamar, Colo. The telegram was brief, stating that the family would start for Winterset on Friday and would wire later as to what train they would arrive on. This is a deep shock to Mr. Stafford's friends here. Only last week, a letter from Mr. Stafford was published in the Madisonian, telling of the general prosperity of that country and of himself in particular.

The Winterset News
Winterset, Iowa
Thursday, February 2, 1911
Page 1, Column 1


Former City Marshal Killed by His Tenant


Mrs. Stafford Only Witness "of Her Husband's Death. Murderer Shoots Stafford Through the body. Death Almost Instant. Funeral in Winterset.

Wm. Stafford, former city marshal of Winterset, whose death was reported last week, was murdered at his ranch sixteen miles from Lamar, Colorado, where he has lived the past seven years. The following account is taken from the Denver Post.

Lamar, Colo., Jan. 25.óW. E. Stafford, aged 65, a retired farmer of Lamar, was shot and instantly killed yesterday afternoon by Thomas Hutchinson, a farmer, on a ranch they jointly owned sixteen miles northwest of Lamar. The tragedy followed a violent quarrel over rent matters, and was witnessed by the wife of the slain man, who had previously prevented Hutchinson from assaulting her husband with a hammer.

After killing Stafford, Hutchinson went to a neighbor's ranch and notified the sheriff at Las Animas by telephone of the shooting and said he was willing to surrender to any officer that might be sent for him. Stafford and Hutchinson had been on bad terms for some time regarding the manner in which Hutchinson was operating the farm and also because the former claimed the rent on his half had not been paid promptly. The men met recently in Lamar and were prevented from engaging in a fist fight by friends.

Yesterday Stafford and his wife drove to the ranch in an effort to reach a settlement with Hutchinson. Both men possessed quick tempers and they became involved in a quarrel almost immediately. Hutchinson grabbed a hammer and started toward Stafford, when Mrs. Stafford stepped between the men. Hutchinson then went into another room, secured a loaded double-barreled shotgun and returned and fired two shots point blank at Stafford, who dropped dead.

Stafford's body was brought to Lamar last night by his widow. A coroner's inquest was held over the body and Hutchinson was charged with the killing.

Stafford leaves a widow and grown daughter living at Lamar. He came to this place from Winterset, Iowa, about eight years ago and was favorably known. Hutchinson has resided in this vicinity for two years, coming here from Oklahoma. He is past 50 years of age, a widower and has a large family of children. The Post's account of the murder differs from Mrs. Stafford's account only in details. Mrs. Stafford says they had talked quietly for an hour about business matters but when they attempted to leave Hutchinson demanded an immediate settlement, threatening to kill Stafford unless it was done. He grabbed a hammer and struck at Stafford over her head. In the attempt to keep him from striking Stafford Mrs. Stafford tore Hutchinson's suspenders off and then Hutchinson knocked her down. Reaching into the sitting room Hutchinson grabbed a double barreled shotgun and sent a load of Number 3 shot crashing through Stafford's thigh, almost tearing the leg off. The second shot struck him in the abdomen. Stafford spoke but once afterward and died in a few minutes. The murderer made no attempt to escape but remained on the ranch until a passing automobile came to Mrs. Stafford's assistance.

Stafford was 67 years old and grew to manhood in Winterset. His wife was Emma Betts, daughter of one of our oldest families. They had one child, Wilda, now Mrs. T. Brewer. Stafford was city marshal of Winterset several years. The body was brought to Winterset for burial, the funeral occurring at the residence of Porter K. Rollstin.

Link to Gravestone Photo

Madison Obituaries maintained by Kent Transier.
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