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The Crooked Creek Gang


Two More of Western Iowa's Desperadoes Dead - A suggestion to "Border Desperadoes" who Curse Iowa with their Presence.

The following additional particulars of the killing of two more of the Troublesome Creek Crowd, or the western Iowa desperadoes, are from the Atlantic Telegraph, and will be read with interest by all who realize the fact that rowdyism and wild-western despotism is not tolerated in Iowa:

Saturday night, about 9:30 or 10 o'clock, Frank Brown and John Anderson, two of the "Troublesome Creek Crowd," were riddled with buckshot on a public street in the village of Wiota, situated in Franklin township, six miles east of Atlantic on the C., R. I. & P.R.R. The shots were in the dark and were from a shotgun. Several balls entered the bodies of both men, and both fell instantly and writhed in agony in their own blood. Both were carried into the Whitney house, situated near by, and Dr. Pogue, of Wiota, and Dr. Emmert, of Atlantic, were summoned. The doctors probed for the balls and extracted a number. Anderson was in terrible agony and an opiate was administered. He never rallied again, but died at 4 A. M., Sunday.


Brown and Anderson were members of the "Troublesome Creek crowd," who have been engaged in various kinds of outlawry for the past two years. Brown was about 23 years of age, slender and boyish looking; Anderson was 39 years of age. Brown is a son of James Brown, a well-to-do farmer of Benton township, who has lived there 20 years. Anderson is a son of old 'Squire D. L. Anderson, who lived in Exira a quarter of a century, and who used to carry the mail from Atlantic to Exira ten years ago. The old 'Squire is a clever man, and his sons, John and "Del" have given him much trouble. They have been constantly in the courts for some sort of crime. "Del" has often been in jail and has served a term at Ft. Madison. John, the one now dead, was under indictment for burning a building in Brayton, and was out on bail.


The men who were shot, Brown and Anderson, were in Atlantic on Saturday, all day, drinking and playing pool, etc. In one or two saloons in this city they displayed their revolvers, but did no shooting. It can be said of their whole crowd that they avoided making any disturbance in Atlantic. In Dowd's saloon on Saturday they flourished their shooting irons around, but one of their own friends, Lloyd Hinkle, got them to be quiet. After putting in the day here in carousing they took an evening freight train


where they arrived at about 8 or 8:30 P. M. They alighted from the train and at once started up the hill from the depot, shouting and shooting. They then crossed the track southward to Stoodt's saloon where they announced that they were going to play a game of pool and would shoot the s- of a -- who would interfere. No one interfered. Nat Yates, a justice of the peace of Benton township, who had had the boys before him in a legal way, was in the saloon and was only saved from being shot by the intervention of Lloyd Hinkle. They left the saloon and went up the hill into the business part of town, shooting off their revolvers, hallooing all manner of evil things, when they had reached a point on the old scale platform, in front of the barber shop, they were fired upon from two directions and both men fell mortally wounded.
Anderson was shot in the back, and Brown in the hips and side. The ball was very large. Anderson's lungs were pierced and when the dying man breathed, the air came out through the wound. Brown's body was pierced lower down - about the hips and abdomen. Anderson was shot first, but there was but a moment between the volleys. One of the balls from the discharge from the north lodged in a hitching post shown in the diagram.


The two fatal discharges were so loud that the whole village was aroused and all knew that something had happened. An Odd Fellows' lodge was in progress and Tan Bruyn, among others, was there. He thought Bob Young was celebrating his victory at the democratic county convention, by firing an anvil, but all soon learned the truth. The wounded men were carried into the Whitney house and laid on the floor. Dr. J. I. Pogue, of Wiota, was summoned and came at once. Dr. J. M. Emmert of this city, was telegraphed for. The telephone was out of order and could not be used. Dr. Emmert received the telegram at about 11:30 P.M., after he had retired. He hastened to the depot and was just in time to catch the special train which was going through to carry the Theodore Thomas concert company to Des Moines. The run to Wiota was very brief and Dr. Emmet was on the scene to help probe for the bullets. The physicians could not save the men. Anderson died at 4 A.M. Sunday morning.


Couriers were dispatched to the residence of the Browns, a few miles northeast from Wiota, and messages were sent to Anderson's friends at Exira, informing them of what had happened. In a short time Frank Brown's father and other relatives arrived. James Brown, the father, took a philosophical view of the tragedy and said he had often warned the boys that some such fate would overtake them. He said he would have long ago driven John Anderson from his house had he not feared his vengeance. Anderson was the kind of a man who would poison stock and set fire to barns and dwellings. Frank Brown was removed to his father's yesterday, and today the body of John Anderson was taken to Exira.


All kinds of rumors can be heard, the most of them untrue. It is reported that Lloyd Hinkle was in a barn in Wiota getting the team out preparatory to taking Brown and Anderson home when the tragedy took place.


Frank Brown, along with John Hall and Thomas Quinn, were indicted at the February term of the district court for assault with intent to commit murder. The indictment read as follows:
"The said John Hall, Thomas Quinn and Frank Brown, on the 5th day of February 1883, did with their hands and with deadly weapons, to wit; revolvers, attempt to kill Thomas Winger; that they did feloniously shoot said revolvers at and towards said Winger, etc."
The shooting was done in Wiota, and the indictment was found on the evidence of Winger and five prominent citizens of Wiota. On Saturday Frank Brown and John Anderson called at the county clerk's office in this city and asked Frank Daly, the deputy, to read the indictment to them. He did so, and they both departed in great rage.


It is reported that Anderson came to Atlantic on Saturday to kill Sam Howlett, and he went to the Widow Strahl's in this city to try to find him. Howlett had accused John Anderson of stealing a jug of whiskey.


No one knows who fired the fatal shots. Frank Brown has said that he believed parties from Atlantic did it, and that they followed them to Wiota for that purpose. That is the generally accepted theory. Old James Brown says he does not know who did it, and that he does not want to know.


Dr. J. M. Emmert was out to see Brown to-day and reports that he will die. He has seven large bullet holes in his body. Only two of the bullets have been gotten out. John Milhollen visited Brown today. John is able to go about. He lost one eye by George Hallock's marksmanship.


was held by Coroner B. A. Wilder, of this city, at Wiota. The jury was composed of W. W. Jameson, Joseph Turner, and Marion Brooks. The verdict was that the deceased man came to his death by a gun shot fired by some person or persons to the jury unknown.


generally regrets the killing was necessary, but endorses it emphatically. The belief is general that a few more deaths in the same direction would insure tranquility on the Troublesome and Crooked creeks, and make farm lands in that part of the county more valuable and desirable.


There are now dead of the troublesome creek gang: Carl Strahl, Roll Strahl and John Anderson. Wounded: Frank Brown and John Millhoilen. The latter it will be remembered, was shot by a boy of eighteen, Geo Hallock, who also killed Carl Strahl. There are absent from these parts, Bill Northgraves and Robert Van Winkle, who were accused of the robbery of Dr. Ballard, and who fled the country. They are counted in the same gang, and it has been whispered that they would return for revenge when the trees were thick upon the trees.

Contributed by Kathy Cardoza, November 2016. Transcribed from "The Crooked Creek Gang", The Daily Nonpareil, Council Bluffs, Iowa, Thursday, June 7, 1883, Page 8.

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