The Decatur County Journal
Davis City, Decatur County, Iowa
September 30, 1909


Trouble Starting in a Game of Cards in Davis City Park Last Monday Evening
Terminated in a Tragedy.
Francis Hamilton, who did the Shooting,
is in Custody and Confined in the County Jail.

SAM HAMILTON was shot by his cousin, FRANCIS HAMILTON, at Davis City Monday evening just a few minutes after six o'clock and so badly wounded that death resulted Tuesday, shortly after noon.

The two men had engaged in a quarrel while they, with a number of other men, were playing poker in the park north of the wagon bridge over Grand River. They became involved in a dispute over the money staked upon the game and SAM HAMILTON is said to have hooked one arm around FRANCIS HAMILTON's neck and struck him a number of blows about the face. FRANCIS broke away from him and ran to town in a rage. He went direct to A. Fulton's hardware and grocery store where he purchased a 38 caliber revolver, paying therefore $5. He was unable to obtain cartridges for the weapon at Mr. Fulton's place so he made his way from there to the store of I.N. Jeffries where he purchased twenty cents worth of 38 caliber cartridges. He stepped outside the store and while standing near the entrance, loaded the gun. He then started to retrace his steps towards the park. As he neared the bridge, SAM HAMILTON, accompanied by Sherman Wheeler, emerged from the park and walked towards the bridge and the business section of Davis City. he two HAMILTONS met a few feet north of the bridge. Reports as to what words passed between them differ but in a very few seconds FRANCIS grasped his revolver in both hands to steady it and fired. The first shot missed his intended victim but the second shot struck him in the forehead a little to the right and passed through the head, tearing out near the base of the left ear. A number of people, on the streets at the time, heard the shots and were soon on the scene. FRANCIS HAMILTON hurried to his home and SAM HAMILTON was taken to the home of his father, JOHN HAMILTON, and physicians summoned. Upon the arrival of the doctors they found that the wound was of such nature that it was sure to terminate fatally. They did all that could possibly be done for the dying man, until death resulted just a few moments after the noon hour on the day following the tragedy.

Wm. McIntosh, Constable and City Marshal of Davis City, deputized H.L. Osborne and they arrested HAMILTON at his home. Deputy Sheriff F.L. Lorey, who had been attending the sale at the R.M. Black farm near Davis City, reached the city shortly after HAMILTON was placed under arrest and he was turned over to him. He was taken before Justice J.H. Farris, after being placed in custody, for a preliminary examination upon a charge of assault with intent to kill. He was then brought to Leon and placed in the county jail by Deputy Sheriff Lorey. The death of HAMILTON since the first charge was lodged against FRANCIS will probably result in another hearing upon a more serious charge before the matter goes to the grand jury. He did not resist arrest and made no effort to escape after shooting down his cousin. After being placed in the custody of Deputy Sheriff Lorey, he seemed anxious to get out of Davis City and be brought to Leon.

The funeral of the dead man is to be held this (Wednesday) afternoon at Davis City.

A. Fulton, at whose store the revolver was purchased by FRANCIS HAMILTON, was in Leon Monday morning and, in speaking of the affair, said that HAMILTON had entered his store about six o'clock while a number of customers were in his place of business and asked if he had a revolver in stock. Mr. Fulton replied that he had just the one and told him he could look it over while he was waiting upon other customers. Mr. Fulton says that it was beginning to grow dark in the store and being very busy anyway, did not notice anything unusual in the manner of HAMILTON. As he got the opportunity he asked the price, which Mr. Fulton informed him was $5. He said he would take it and tendered the money which Mr. Fulton took. HAMILTON then asked for cartridges but on finding that Mr. Fulton had none, passed on down the street to the Jeffries store. A few moments afterwards someone came in Mr. Fulton's store and told him that the HAMILTON boys were having trouble and them Mr. Fulton told them that he had just sold FRANCIS HAMILTON a revolver and suggested that an effort be made to stop further trouble. He made his way to the front of the store and was preparing to close the front door and hurry towards the park, when the two shots rang out at the north end of the bridge.

The Journal Editor visited FRANCIS HAMILTON in his cell at the County Jail after he was brought to Leon. His face bears a number of cuts and bruises sustained in the fight with his cousin in the Davis City park previous to the shooting.

His version of the unfortunate affair is that he purchased a gun as a means of protection and that he killed his cousin in self defense. He says that when they met at the north end of the bridge, SAM HAMILTON threatened his life and that, fearing his cousin was about to attempt his life, he fired. In the park, MR. HAMILTON claims, that his cousin, after grasping him by the neck with one hand, attempted to open the blade of his pocket knife with his teeth with the intention of stabbing him. He managed to free himself and hurried to town, so he states, and armed himself to protect his life. FRANCIS HAMILTON and SAM HAMILTON are second cousins.

MRS. FRANCIS HAMILTON came up from Davis City Wednesday morning and visited her husband at the jail. Deputy Sheriff Snethen, of Ringgold County, a friend of MR. HAMILTON, also visited him at the jail on Wednesday morning.

Copied by Nancee (McMurtrey) Seifert, September 17, 2001

The Lamoni Chronicle
Lamoni, Decatur County, Iowa
December 2, 1909


France HAMILTON, who was indicted for murder in the second degree for the shooting of Sam HAMILTON at Davis City, was arraigned and entered a plea of not guilty. His trial was postponed until the January term of court.

Copied by Stacey McDowell Dietiker, April 23, 2003
The Leon Reporter
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
Thursday, September 16, 1897

The notorious SAM HAMILTON, of Davis City, who was confined for a number of months in the Leon jail for stabbing ROBERT HARVEY two years ago, and who has been involved in several other scrapes is again an inmate of the Leon jail, having been arrested yesterday morning at Pleasanton by Constable Gibson, and Sheriff Walker from Bethany. He is charged with stabbing a man at Cainsville, and is held here on an information filed before Justice Brooks, charging him with being a fugitive from justice until the Bethany Sheriff can obtain requisition papers. The Cainsville News of Tuesday gives the following account of the stabbing:

On last Saturday Geo. R. Smith and wife, of Des Moines, Iowa, who are traveling overland to Kansas City, were camping for the day and resting their team in uncle JIM MOSS' pasture just west of town. A picnic was being held in a grove just across the road from them.

About 1:30 SAM HAMILTON and Jake Oxford went over to them and made some insulting remarks. Mr. Smith explained the situation and asked the boys to go away and let them alone, but they refused. Smith told them repeatedly they were mistaken in them and asked them to go away as they did not want any trouble.

Smith's attention was called to his horses a short distance away, when HAMILTON started towards Mrs. Smith with an insulting remark. She screamed and started toward her husband who quickly came back, when HAMILTON drew a dirk knife and stabbed Smith in the right breast, inflicting a dangerous if not fatal, wound. Mrs. Smith started screaming toward the crowd when HAMILTON put his hand to his hip pocket and with a vile remark ordered her to come back or he would kill her too. HAMILTON and Oxford then left and the wounded man and wife were brought to town by S.P. Davisson, and Dr. Stoner dressed the wound, since which time they have been occupying rooms in the Commercial Hotel.

The Leon Reporter
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
Thursday, February 3, 1898

'Sam Hamilton Gets Three Years in the Missouri Penitentiary.'

The notorious SAM HAMILTON, of Davis City, who has several times been an inmate of the Leon jail, once for stabbing ROBERT HARVEY at Davis City a few years ago, and for which crime he escaped going to prison through a technicality, has at last received his desserts and was sentenced to three years in the Missouri Penitentiary by the Court at Bethany last week. The Bethany Republican says:

The jury in the case of State vs. SAMUEL HAMILTON, who was tried last Saturday on the charge of felonious assault on a mover near Cainsville, on the 13th of Sept. last, and sentenced to three years in the penitentiary, did a mighty good act for the county. The only improvement they could have made would have been in giving him the extent of the law -- 5 years -- and this the jury no doubt would have done had they been familiar with his antecedents. For several years, HAMILTON has been known as a "holy terror" in Decatur County, Iowa. He was always in trouble but in some way seemed to escape and evade punishment. The officers in Iowa were wanting him at the time he committed the assault at Cainsville, and although after the assault he fled to and was arrested in Iowa, yet it was deemed best that he be brought to Bethany and get a taste of Missouri Justice. When the case came up for trial last week, for some reason the main prosecuting witness failed to put in an appearance, and HAMILTON was congratulating himself that his absence would insure his acquittal. But prosecuting Attorney Frisby, even without the main witness, presented a very strong case, and although HAMILTON's Attorneys (Walton & Reeves) made a good defense as possible in the case, yet the jury on the first ballot were unanimous as to his guilt. The verdict seemed somewhat of a surprise to HAMILTON, and although he later declared that he was a b-a-d man and that it would need sixteen of the best men in Bethany to take him to the pen, yet shortly after giving him a good meal, Sunday noon, Sheriff Walker adorned his arms and legs with appropriate jewelry, and got him over to the depot and on the train with no trouble whatever, and about midnight landed him safely in the pen.

Sometime after HAMILTON was sentenced he remarked that if he "had had a good revolver with him, he would have killed ever ----- ------- ------ ------ of a juryman who convicted him." Before reaching Jefferson City, however, he told Sheriff Walker to tell the jurymen who might hear, he made the remark, that he asked their pardon for speaking so, and that he had come to the determination to thoroughly reform himself while in the pen, and come out a changed man. It is to be hoped that he was sincere in this statement.

Copied by Cordelia Suzann
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