Leon Reporter, Leon, Iowa
Thursday, July 9, l903

'Frank Thompson Killed at Davis City by a Blow from Enoch Burrell's Fist -- Had Been Playing Poker and when Thompson was Caught Cheating, a Fight Followed Ending in Murder.'

One man dead, one under arrest charged with manslaughter, four homes darkened with an ever blighting shadow, all the result of a quarrel over 30 cents in a poker game.

The above tells the story in a few words of a tragedy which was enacted in the woods just north of the Park at Davis City Monday evening, which resulted in the killing of FRANK THOMPSON by ENOCH BURRELL. The story as gathered from eye witnesses and a personal observation is a sad one, but one that is too often the result of gambling. At Davis City it has been a common occurrence for a crowd of men to go out in the woods north of the City Park to play poker. Monday afternoon a party composed of ENOCH BURRELL, FRANK THOMPSON, WM. KIMBALL, GEORGE MARTIN, JAMES BARNES and DAVIS BURRELL, were playing cards. There was a thirty cent jack pot, which was opened and when the cards were shown THOMPSON had four deuces, but one of the players noticed the backs were not the same color as the cards they were playing with, THOMPSON having slipped in a hand from another deck, concealing his real hand under his leg. THOMPSON picked up the money and ENOCH BURRELL demanded that he give him the 30 cents, claiming it was his money. THOMPSON laughed at him and said he would not give up the money. BURRELL again demanded it, and THOMPSON said for him to get it, if he could, at the same time clenching his fist and starting to get up from where he was sitting on the ground. Just as he was getting up BURRELL struck him full in the face, knocking him over on his back, his head and shoulders falling under the lower wire of a fence. THOMPSON pulled himself on under the fence, and was almost on his feet when BURRELL who had stepped between the wires and was also on the other side, struck him again and THOMPSON fell over and partly through the fence, his body resting on the wire with his head hanging down to the ground. He fell limp and motionless, and never moved or uttered a sound after being struck. The other parties saw that THOMPSON was badly hurt, and as BURRELL started to walk away one of them told him he had hurt him pretty bad, and he had better take care of him. At this BURRELL came back and THOMPSON was lifted through the fence and stretched out on the ground, but he was to all appearances dead. BURRELL sent one of the men for a doctor, and worked in vain to bring THOMPSON to, his grief being intense when he realized that THOMPSON was dead. When Dr. Reed arrived he found no pulse at the wrist, but his heart beat for a minute or two.

The news was soon spread in Davis City, and hundreds of people went over to see the dead man. BURRELL went up town after THOMPSON was pronounced dead, and went to the livery barn run by his father, and a few minutes later in company with his father left town in a buggy saying they were coming to Leon to give him up. The father returned to town about eight o'clock, and when it was learned that young BURRELL had not appeared at Leon to give himself up there were many who expressed the opinion he had skipped to Missouri to avoid arrest. As soon as the news of the murder was phoned to Leon, Sheriff Martin and Coroner Layton drove to Davis City. The elder BURRELL as soon as Sheriff Martin appeared told him that ENOCH was out east of Davis City about three miles and was ready to give himself up. That he had not run him off from the law, but had merely taken him away so that any possible trouble might be avoided during the excitement. In company with MR. BURRELL, Sheriff Martin went out and arrested ENOCH BURRELL, and brought him to Leon and lodged him in jail about 2 o'clock in the morning.

Dr. Layton upon arriving at Davis City, held an inquest, the jury being composed of Geo. P. Campbell, Geo. W. Shoemaker and F.M. Freeman, and all the witnesses who were present at the time of the killing were examined and also Dr. Reed, who was called to attend THOMPSON, the following being in substance the evidence submitted at the inquest:

WILLIAM KIMBALL: Was the first witness called, being sworn testified as follows: My name is WILLIAM KIMBALL. Reside at Davis City. I was over north of the park yesterday evening about 5 o'clock, playing cards. All there were playing but one. ENOCH BURRELL and FRANK THOMPSON were among the players. They got into a dispute over the card game after we quit. THOMPSON had taken 30 cents from BURRELL, and they got to quarreling and fighting. THOMPSON laughed when BURRELL asked for his 30 cents; told him he wouldn't give it to him and started to raise up and BURRELL hit him. There was no blow before this. THOMPSON did not hit BURRELL. BURRELL struck two blows. I saw him hit him and then hit him again. He hit him the second time in the face and kicked him once when he was under the fence. THOMPSON never said anything or made a sound after being hit. DAVIS BURRELL and I took him off the fence and laid him down. BURRELL had nothing in his hand when he hit THOMPSON. I think THOMPSON denied taking the money. All the parties there were sober and there was no whiskey there. There was no dispute until the game closed.

WILLIAM M'INTOSH: being sworn, testified in substance: I was over north of the park about 5 o'clock. There were five or six there. ENOCH BURRELL, FRANK THOMPSON, JAMES BARNES, GEORGE MARTIN, DAVIS BURRELL and myself. We were having a game of cards, playing poker. There had been no trouble until they got into the trouble that caused the fight, after the game. I heard ENOCH tell THOMPSON to give him 30 cents. THOMPSON answered but I can't tell just what he said, but he told him he wouldn't give it to him. The next thing I saw was BURRELL hit him with his fist clenched. I am sure he had nothing in his hand. He struck him on the left cheek near the eye. He struck him twice. THOMPSON was still on the ground, just raising up prepared to fight, but was not standing on his feet when BURRELL struck him. BURRELL knocked him down the first time he hit him, under the wire fence, and THOMPSON pulled himself through and got up on his feet. BURRELL went through the fence and hit him again before THOMPSON was entirely on his feet, just raising up. He hit him on the right side of the head and THOMPSON fell through the fence and lodged. I was about ten or twelve feet away. I wasn't interested and stood back. Nobody tried to stop them. Did not hear THOMPSON say anything. In answer to a question as to whether he was playing in the game the witness declined to answer, saying the question had nothing to do with the case. I think BURRELL kicked THOMPSON. I could not hear the licks very plain. The witness also testified that BURRELL was not quarrelsome, but that THOMPSON was very bad. There was no drinking going on.

JAMES BARNES: being sworn, testified: Reside in Davis City and was over north of the park about 5 o'clock. With me were FRANK THOMPSON, ENOCH BURRELL, GEORGE MARTIN, WM. MCINTOSH, DAVIS BURRELL and one of the ROBINS boys, but don't know whether he was there at the time or not. They were playing cards. I was looking on. I saw THOMPSON and BURRELL quarreling. Heard BURRELL tell THOMPSON to give him 30 cents, and THOMPSON said he wouldn't give it to him. That was about all I heard until THOMPSON raised up as I supposed to hit BURRELL. BURRELL hit him before he got up; over left eye, which was the only lick I saw, and knocked him back under the fence. Don't know whether he hit him any more or not. Didn't see him until Dr. Reed came over. One of the fellows went after the doctor. THOMPSON acted like he had been drinking.

GEORGE T. MARTIN: being sworn, testified: I live a mile and a half south of Pleasanton. Was over north of the park about 5 o'clock. Had been playing cards for money. I'd started to come to town and was a steppin' along from them and I heerd a lick struck and looked around and saw THOMPSON kinder roll and go under the fence. I started on walking and when I looked back, THOMPSON was lying across the wire fence. Did not hear any more licks, never went back. I just thought a little racket didn't 'mount to nothin'. DAVIS BURRELL and I went over to the well and got a bucket of water and when we got back ENOCH BURRELL said "George, go over and get Doc. He's pretty bad hurt." When THOMPSON kinder laughed at BURRELL when he asked him for his money, BURRELL again said "You'd better give me my 30 cents." Did not see anything in BURRELL's hands. Did not see any liquor. Two of the fellows there had not been playing.

DAVIS BURRELL: A cousin of ENOCH BURRELL, testified after being sworn: The crowd was across the park playing poker for money. ROBBINS and BARNES were not playing. They got into trouble over money THOMPSON took from BURRELL by raising a hand of four deuces out of another deck. BURRELL asked THOMPSON two or three times to give his money back. THOMPSON said he wouldn't give it up. Then they got up to fight. THOMPSON had his arm drawn back and fist clenched. Didn't see ENOCH strike but one lick. Saw him strike as THOMPSON was on the fence. I suppose he hit him before because THOMPSON was hanging on the fence. BILL KIMBALL and I took THOMPSON off the fence. Never saw ENOCH kick him, and only saw one blow. The money they were quarreling over was stake money. It was a jack pot opened for a quarter.

DR. REED: being sworn, testified: I was called to the scene by one of the former witnesses. They gave me a history of how he received his injury about ten minutes before I arrived. When I examined him he had no pulse at the wrist, nor could I detect any breathing. I heard the heart sound. Don't think it was an affection of the heart. So far as I could tell the heart kept up action about three minutes after I got there. The cause of his death was a rupture of a blood vessel in the brain. In reply to the question as to whether he noticed any marks of violence about the head or body, the witness said he did, around the orbit. Ecchymosi--no laceration to amount to anything. Was also a bruise on right cheek I believe, but am not sure where that one was. I gave him a hypodermic stimulant. Did not see him move his head or limbs after I saw him. In my opinion his death was due to a jar or blow. I don't think he could have died from heart failure, and my reason for so thinking is because the heart beat for three or four minutes longer than any other symptoms of life.

Dr. Reed's testimony concluded the examination, and the Coroner's Jury retired to make up their verdict. After being out about two hours they returned a verdict that the deceased came to his death from blows on the head delivered by ENOCH BURRELL in a felonious manner, the verdict in full being as follows:


An inquisition holden at Davis City in Decatur County, Iowa, on the 6th day of July A.D., l903, before H.R. Layton, Coroner of said county, upon the body of FRANK THOMPSON there lying dead; by the Jurors whose names are hereunto subscribed.

The said Jurors upon their oaths do say, that during the afternoon of July 6th, A.D. l903, at or near to the Davis City Park, in said county and State, the deceased FRANK THOMPSON came to his death by blows upon the head and face delivered by one ENOCH BURRELL in a felonious manner.

At the request of the family of THOMPSON and also the attorneys of BURRELL, an autopsy was held Tuesday afternoon to determine the exact cause of death. Drs. A. Brown, H.R. Layton, J.W. Wales and R.G. Reed performed the operation. The left eye was badly discolored, there being a slight abrasion on the lid, also the mark of a blow on the right cheek, but no other mark of violence was found on the body, there being no mark from any kick. At the base of the brain a small blood vessel was ruptured which caused a clot of blood to form which resulted in death, the rupture being the result of a contussion.

Both of the participants in the fight are young married men. FRANK THOMPSON was 26 years old, the son of LUTHER THOMPSON and lived for several years in Leon, moving from here to Davis City. He had been an extensive traveler, having visited nearly every State in the Union while employed with different circuses. He was a powerful fellow, six feet or over and weighed about 200 pounds. He was inclined to be quarrelsome, especially when under the influence of liquor, and had been in numerous fights. He leaves a wife and little son four months old. His wife was MARY JONES, daughter of JAMES JONES, to whom he was married March 3, l90l.

ENOCH BURRELL who did the killing is also a resident of Davis City, being engaged in the livery business with his father, and was formerly a brakeman on the Q Railroad. He has the reputation of being a quiet and peaceable man. He is 25 years old and rather slight in build weighing l45 pounds. He was married December 23, l900, to MISS NELLIE FULTON, daughter of T.P. FULTON, of Davis City, and they have two little children, both girls.

Some three or four years ago THOMPSON and BURRELL had a fight only a short distance from the scene of this one, but neither apparently had the best of it. This quarrel also started over cards, an old deck of cards being the cause of it.

The funeral of FRANK THOMPSON was held from his home at four o'clock Tuesday afternoon, there being short services conducted by Rev. Knoll, Pastor of the Davis City M.E. Church, the interment being in the Davis City Cemetery.

'Burrell Gives $l,000 Bond and is Released From Jail.'

An information was filed before Justice Beck Tuesday evening by LUTHER THOMPSON, charging ENOCH BURRELL with manslaughter. BURRELL had retained Hoffman & Jackson, Geo. W. Baker and Frank J. Horton as his attorneys, and waived preliminary examination. Justice Beck bound him over to the Grand Jury under $l,000 bonds, which he gave and was released from custody the same evening. The bond is signed by E.S. BURRELL, THOMAS RAINS, JOHN BURRELL, DAVIS BURRELL, T.P. FULTON, ROBERT KIZZIRE, L.T. HILL, L.Q.C. PRYOR and A. FULTON.

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