|Harrison County Iowa Genealogy|
|Murders and Assorted Mayhem
In the county since the first settlement made therein, while not as numerous as in many other places, still present a record, showing that the spirit which actuated Cain to kill his brother has been by far too often practiced.
The first person murdered in the county, so far as the recollection of man runneth, was one of the wives of a certain Frenchman, by the name of Charles La'Ponteur, who at the time referred to, viz.: 1850, resided at a place near the prosperous village of Little Sioux, on a tract of land which was by him subsequently laid off into a town, and called Fontainebleau, and now owned and used by Mr. Michael Murray as a cornfield.
This mail La'Ponteur, was an Indian trader, and had married, previous to this time, two Omaha squaws, and both were living with him at the time of the occurrence of which I am about to relate.
The Omahas and Sioux Indians were at this time at war with each other, and in the spring of 1850, while these squaws or wives of La'Ponteur were out on a little strip of plowed ground planting corn, the Sioux, numbering a score of warriors, secretly stole upon them, and before they were within shooting distance of these defenseless beings, they well knew the fate that awaited them. One of the wives had a daughter not quite fourteen years of age, and while the bloodthirsty Sioux were advancing, the mother of the girl told the daughter that as soon as the advancing party would shoot, for her to fall instanter to the ground and feign death, and remain in that condition until an opportunity would offer by which she could escape, and that she, the mother, would run for the river, and possibly might escape, " for," said she, " the Indians will shoot at me, and the possibility is that I may only be wounded, and if you fall, they will think that they missed me and shot you." Scarcely had this direction been given, when the shots were fired, and the girl, true to the orders given her, fell prone to the earth, but the mother, wounded, as full well knew she would be, like the mother bird, when molested at the coveted nest, ran and partly flew so as to call the attention of the invader to her, and save the young; but by the time she reached the Little Sioux river, was captured, tomahawked and scalped, the girl in the meantime making good her escape.
The next Indian murdered was in the winter of 1864, in Clay township, in the belt of timber that skirts the Missouri river, and was as follows: A band of Omahas, or Pawnees, were at work in the timber cutting saw logs and cordwood, and this being so very close to the time of the brutal massacres in Minnesota and Northern Iowa, the settlers had much to say concerning Indian cruelty and perfidy, which conversation was usually more or less had before the children of the family or neighborhood. In the many families in which these stories were constantly dwelt upon, none more fully discussed the situation than the families of Horatio Caywood and James Mathers, and the latter having a step-son named William Brown, a lad of eighteen summers, and withal brutal as well as cowardly, being educated by the expressions of the home, and supposing that he would make himself famous, deliberately took a rifle and quietly stole near where a party of young Indian men were at their work, and without any cause or justification shot one of the young men aged about twenty-three, whereof he immediately died.
This act of cowardice and cruelty passed quite unnoticed from the fact that the public mind at this time was constantly being fed on news from the battle-fields in the South, and the reading or recital of a battle, unless the killed exceeded ten or fifteen thousand, was scarcely worth mention. This, chinked by the murder of Provost and Deputy-Marshals in many parts of the State, to which add the Indian massacres as before stated, left the assessment on a poor Indian's life scarcely worth the paper on which the mention thereof was made by the public press.
Then followed the cold blooded murder of an old Omaha Chief by the name of Yellow Smoke, at Dunlap in 1869.
Many of the men now, who were boys in the last half of the '60 decade, well remember old Yellow Smoke as the old "Injun" who would visit the schools in the east half of the county while the schools were in session and ask the teacher for something to eat, and point at the dinner baskets of the different pupils which contained the commissary of the pupils, as they hung suspended on nails along the walls of the school room.
This old beggar once or more times entering a school room where Prof. S. G. Rogers was teaching, would make his hungry condition known to the teacher, who would donate his dinner to this "dusky son of the forest," and as soon as this was eaten he would signify to the teacher and scholars that he had not been furnished half a meal, and the children, with one hand on the top of their heads to still keep possession of their scalps, would immediately donate all the commissary stores to him in order to save Mr. Injun the trouble of taking a patch out of the top of their heads, as they supposed he would, as an ornament to his belt.
Yellow Smoke was an expert gambler, and in the year above named while at Dunlap one night taking a hand in a game, and being somewhat more successful than they who were at the board with him, a quarrel arose, as is usually the case in such entertainments, and from a quarrel the feud ripened into murder, for on the following morning old Yellow Smoke was found dead near the depot grounds, his skull being broken in two or more places,, and every indication in the near proximity where the dead Indian was found showed that a fierce struggle had taken place, and that the old Chief had died game.
This was an act of white men, but by whom committed, the Grand Jury or others never knew, and to this day the murder of old Yellow Smoke is still shrouded in mystery.
The first term of District Court held in the county was in November, 1855, being presided over by Samuel Riddle, of Council Bluffs, at which time the first grand jury in the county was empaneled, the names of whom are as follows: Creed Saunders, James Gamet, John Conyers, Chester Staley, H. H. Locklin, Thomas Meadows, P. R. Shupe, Thomas Sellers, S. A. Lyman, Solomon Barnett, John Deal, J. H. Holton, Solomon Gamet, and, two others failing to appear, Silas Rice and D. E. Brainard were taken from the bystanders to fill up the panel. These, being organized, sworn and charged by the court, remained in session until noon of the following day, when they reported to the court that there were no indictable offenses committed within the county, and asked to be discharged, as they accordingly were.
The first criminal case tried was that of the State vs. Aaron Earnest, charged with larceny; and the first petit jury in the county, in a court of record, was had in this case, and were the following persons: Isaac Ellison, Thomas B. Neely, Jacob Minturn, George W. White, H. H. Locklin, James Hendrixon, Geo. Thorpe, Warren White, Eli Coon, G. Feril, Andrew Allen and E. T. Hardin. These, after being duly sworn, and after hearing the evidence, argument of counsel, and being duly instructed by the court, retired, and in a short time returned into court with a verdict of " not guilty."
The next term that convened here was on the 5th of May, 1856, at which there was tried a cause from Woodbury county, entitled, The State of Iowa vs. W. B. Thompson. This man was charged with the murder of an Indian agent near Sioux City, by the name of Norwood. A jury was empaneled the first day of court, and in two days thereafter the farce of a trial was ended by the jury acquitting the defendant of the crime charged in the indictment.
At the same term another case was brought to this county from the same place on change of venue, and entitled as follows: The State of Iowa vs. Elias Shook. This case was the same as the one last above, being that of murder, and the killing was brought about in this way: Shook was a man of considerable property, and was holding down more acres than the law allowed him for a claim; and the man murdered had attempted to exercise his rights to a portion of the land by squatting on part of that claimed by Shook. Shook notified him to abandon the premises by a week, and if the party jumping his claim did not leave by that time he would eject him. To this threat the party claiming the rights of settlement paid no attention, and as a sequence, Shook, at the expiration of the week, loaded his gun, walked deliberately over to the place where the party had built his shanty, and without word or remark coolly shot him dead. In the trial of the last named case the defendant admitted the facts as above stated; admitted that he killed the party who attempted to jump what he called his claim, and his attorneys put in a plea of self-defense; that the defendant had the unqualified right to defend his property, and especially his castle.
The attempt at this time to jump another's claim was considered, the unpardonable sin, "the sin not to be repented of," and any person who would attempt to do so great a wrong to another was worthy of death. "Squatters' Rights" was the entire burden of the arguments of the defendant's counsel, and with results that fully warranted the plea, for scarcely had the jury been out a half hour when they had formulated a verdict and returned into open court with the old stereotyped verdict, "We the jury find the defendant not guilty."
The first case tried in the county on charge of murder committed therein, was that of The State of Iowa vs. James E. Triplett. This was a cause which at the time of the origin and time of trial, perhaps caused as much comment, division or clustering of political lines as any one case in the entire State.
The defendant was indicted for the murder of his wife by the use of poisons, administered by his own hand while she was sick and under the guise of medicines. Of the numerous neighbor women who attended her during the time of her sickness and all through the time that the woman was gradually dying under the broken doses of strychnia said to have been given her by the defendant, none thought or even suspected that the deceased had died by violence; and though fourteen months after she had been buried, grave suspicions began to have being in consequence of the conduct of the defendant. This conduct revealed the facts that for a long time prior to the death of the wife, the defendant and the daughter of his employer, Lewis S. Snyder, had been practicing assignations, and that at the very time the wife of the defendant was dying, the victim of the defendant's lusts, Miss Maggie Snyder, was enciente [pregnant] together with other conduct which I have not the time to fully set forth herein, and this suspicion ripening into action, was followed by the following named persons, viz.: Dr. J. H. Rice, Geo. G. Downs, Nathaniel McKimmey, Isaac Bedsaul and Joe. H. Smith repairing to the graveyard at Magnolia at the noon of night and exhuming the corpse of the deceased wife and after taking therefrom the stomach, placing the same in a jar and sealing the same, then returning the corpse back to the resting place in the grave, and taking the stomach to Omaha and having a chemist analyze the same, upon which analysis there was sufficient strychnia found to poison a half dozen of persons. This being reported to those above named, caused a warrant of arrest to be issued charging the defendant with the murder of his wife Phebe Triplett. The murdered wife had lain in the grave for fourteen months and so effecually had her system taken up the strychnia, that at this period, there was not the least noticeable decay of the body. The defendant after arrest was bound over to appear before the District Court at the following session, which convened in May, 1864, at which term he was indicted and the trial was begun on the 11th of said month, with the following named persons, residents in the county, as jurors, viz.:
James Ervin, Elijah Hedgecock, Lysander Crane, A. N. Warren, C. S. Way, Wm. N. Fouts, James S. McElroy, W. L. Jones, Joseph Deal, Isaac Skelton, J. T. Roberts and Sol. J. Imlay. The trial lasted until the fifth day, when the District Attorney on the morning of that day filed a motion to discharge the jury and order a new panel, based on the gound that several of the jury, without authority of the court and unaccompanied by the attorney for the State or other person, visited the cell where the defendant was confined and had secretly held divers communications with the defendant, and that one juror especially, who, on his voir dire, had sworn that he neither had formed or expressed any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the defendant, had, in fact, on numerous occasions, expressed unqualified opinions as to the innocence of the prisoner at the bar, and these facts being shown to the court to a satisfactory conclusion, the court sustained the aforesaid motion and discharged the jury, at the same time giving the offending jurors a terrible reprimand.
A venire was issued and on the 18th of July, 1864, the trial began de novo, with the following jurors, viz.:
N. B. Smothers, O. P. Reel, Wm. Tucker, J. W. Henderson, E. T. McKenney, Thomas Hunter, R. N Day, J. P. Rowe, Wm. Evans, Thos. McKenney, Isaac Childs and Ephraim Strauss.
The following witnesses were examined on part of the State, viz.:
Dr. J. H. Rice, G. F. Waterman, G. G. Downs, Isaac Bedsaul, Mrs. S. E. Hillas, Lizzie Mahoney, Margaret Snyder, Mr. and Mrs. L. S. Snyder and Harriet Scoville. These proved to any reasonable mind that the deceased, Phebe Triplett, came to her death by strychnia, administered to her by the defendant.
In connection with the above named witnesses, the chemist from Omaha, in company with others, at and during the retrial, repaired to the cemetery and again exhumed the body of the deceased, and from or upon parts of the viscera, in open court, and as part of his evidence, made chemical analysis thereof, and showed to the jury and bystanders portions of strychnia, which he then and there collected and separated therefrom.
Notwithstanding this pyramid of testimony, viz.: that the deceased had died of poison; that the defendant at and prior to the time of the death of decedent had been guilty of adultery and had very strong reasons to believe that he would be prosecuted therefor, and that his paramour was then enciente; that he wished to marry the unfortunate girl because of her father's wealth, the jury, after deliberating for nearly one day, returned with a verdict of "not guilty," stating that there might be a possibility that the deceased had been given the strychnia through mistake.
I will further add that the defendant having been refused the hand of his victim, soon remarried, and she who was his wife at and during the trial last named, in one decade after the happening of the above, died as died the former wife, and that the defendant living a half score more years, from the death of the latter, in misery, died a terrible death, uncared for and deserted by all.
The courts were not again burdened by a murder trial until in July, 1868, at which time a case was brought from Shelby county to this place on change of venue, the same being the somewhat notorious case of The State of Iowa vs. James M. Long. The defendant in this case was charged in the indictment with the murder of Adam Cuppy, at the town of Harlan, in said county, aboat six months previous to the time the case was brought here on change of venue as aforesaid. At or on the day prior to the time of the killing of Cuppy, a young man had been having a preliminary hearing before a county justice on the charge of horse stealing, and Cuppy having gone on the bail bond of the criminal, and the bond of very meager amount, and Cuppy having paid the bond when the prisoner had skipped the county, so incensed the people of the community that on the following night, as before stated, Cuppy was taken out into a by part of the town and on the next morning was found with the smallest spark of life in him, having been riddled with bullets. The defendant Long, though the father-in-law of Bill Cuppy, son of the murdered man, was charged with the shooting of the old man Cuppy, and on the application of the defendant, the case was sent by the court to this county for trial. The case being called on the 16th of July, 1868, a jury was soon obtained, and consisted of the following named persons, viz.: W. B. Copeland, Geo. G. Downs, Samuel Moore, Isaac Bedsaul, Sr., Orrin Simons, L. V. Stewart, James Boies, O. M. Bedsaul, Charles Wheelock, and ____ ____ and ____ ____. Tlie case occupied the attention of the court until the 28th day of July, of the same year, when the jury retired to their room and in less than one hour returned into court with a verdict of not guilty. The case might have been adorned with a somewhat different finding by the jury had it not been from the fact that Cuppy was shown to have been connected with some agency in the "horse business," and had on repeated cases, for a long time prior to the case which brought about his death, shielded numerous horse thieves in the same manner as he did in this, and there could be no convictions because of this interference by Cuppy, and who was at the same time a very lawless person and set at defiance all law. No one could from the evidence say that Long, the defendant, fired the fatal shot or any shot which penetrated the body of the deceased, but that he was in the company which unquestionably did shoot Cuppy none had any doubt. The defendant was one of the most influential men in the county and a man of excellent reputation; the jury could not find him guilty unless on the most positive testimony.
The State of Iowa vs. John W. Mecham was the next case which came before the court for trial, the facts being as follows: From the time of the earliest settlement to the date of the killing of Geo. W. Mefford, the man killed by defendant, there was a custom of the country which had been indulged in so long that it had had become lex non scripta of every locality, and was this: At the beginning of haying time any person wishing to cut the grass growing on speculators' land (the three-fourths of the land being such) would take a mowing machine or scythe and cut around the parcel selected, and this was notice to the world that such grass was taken and claimed by another, and the deceased having cut around a certain tract in the near proximity to the residence of Mecham, he would not recognize the aforesaid right, and when he got ready for haying, took his scythe and went upon this claim of Mefford's and cut a considerable quantity of this grass unbeknown to the Meffbrds, and they, when discovering what had been done by Mecham, went in force and began tossing the grass cut by the prisoner and placing the same in cocks. This was witnessed by Mecham, who was watching the doings of the Meffords, and while he was lone-handed and there were three of the Meffords, he, the defendant, went to his house, took his No. 2 Colt's navy, deliberately cleaned and oiled the same, and discharged one round so as to feel sure that there would be no failure when firing, then reloading the same, went deliberately to the hay field where the Meffords were putting up the grass which he had cut, forbade them of taking his hay, and soon the altercation ripened into a fight, and Geo. W. Mefford was shot by Mecham directly through the heart. It consumed two days in selecting a jury, and when accepted the following named persons constituted the same: W. S. Meech, Seth Palmer, Silas Cook, Lowry Wilson, Stephen Mahoney, E. R. Wills, F. T. Hill, E. H. Morton, Alex. Johnson, Curtis Baxter, John R. Clark, and John G. Downs. It took ten days to try this case, at the end of which time the evidence is all heard, arguments made and the jury properly instructed and placed in their room for deliberation, where remaining for the period of twelve hours, return into court with the stereotyped verdict of not guilty. This man Mecham was not an angel by any means, and without doubt went to the hay field with the full purpose and intent of clearing the premises, if at the cost of taking the lives of all whom he thought were invading his rights.
Mr. Geo. W. Mefford was a promising young man, at the age of twenty-three, when murdered, and this unfortunate circumstance fell like a crushing weight upon his parents.
Mecham was a daredevil; had enlisted in company C of the 29th Iowa, had gone with the company to Sioux City at the time this company was ordered to that place, and on the return of the company and the same having gone into barracks at Council Bluffs, and upon the regiment being ordered South, three days were given each man to go home and set his business in order. Mecham accepted this furlough, and while on his way to or at his home, having tired of the military, deliberately shot off the first two fingers of his right hand in order to be discharged, but the reported accident was really too transparent, and he was ordered to accompany the regiment when it would start for the South. During all the time of his service (six months) he was of such a disposition that he set at defiance all orders he did not feel like obeying, and was constantly in trouble because of his wayward disposition, and finally was transferred to the invalid corps.
The first person convicted in this county for the crime of bigamy was one Henry Ackerman, who in 1871 came to Magnolia and resided with wife No. 2 for nearly a year, when to the surprise of the good people of that vicinage, wife No. 1 put in an appearance, had the unfaithful muchly married husband brought up on charge as before stated and convicted. The sentence of the court only had him forfeit for the benefit of the state and society, one year, which had he stolen a horse or had he driven away a cow of the value of twenty-one dollars, the sentence would have been lengthened out to three years and considered a very mild one. This trial was had in the month of March, 1872.
The bloodiest page in the entire record of crime in this county, is that wherein mention is made of the murder of Stephen Ide by Louis W. Weirich, which took place in the town of Logan at the noon of day, and about the middle of the year 1872. Stephen Ide was a large, rough, overbearing, lawless, desperate man; had made a record of such character as entitled him to the position of an outlaw, and Weirich had already killed his man and on many occasions previous to the murder of Ide, had shown a disposition to glory in the act of taking the life of his fellow. Weirich was at the time of the murder running a butcher shop in Logan, and on the day on which the murder took place, Ide came into town and the two adjourned to some neighboring hayloft and engaged in a game of poker, at which sitting Ide won a dollar's worth of beef from Weirich. When they had arrived at the butcher shop of the latter, a quarrel was had over the weight and hot words ensued, when Ide, being a large, muscular man, took hold of Weirich and gave him quite a severe choking, whereat the parties were separated. During this armistice some of the bystanders knowing the disposition of Weirich, hid, as was supposed, all the butcher knives in the shop, and again Ide returning into the butcher shop, proceeded to chastise Weirich the second time, and while in the act of carrying his purpose into execution Weirich grasped a large butcher knife which he had previously secreted, and thrust the same directly into the heart of Ide.
Ide at the time of the stroke by Weirich with the knife as aforesaid, had Weirich by the throat, and when thus struck by Weirich, thrust the latter to the floor and fell immediately upon Weirich, and while the life-blood was dashing from the very heart of Ide into the face and nostrils of Weirich, the dying man never relinquished his hold until the arm was palsied by death.
On March 7th, 1873, a jury was selected and accepted by both the State and the defendant, and in the short space of one day the entire evidence in the case was heard, the witnesses for the State being the following: George Musgrave, George M. Kerns, W. J. Rudd, B. F. La Porte and Thomas J. Acrea. These all testified to the killing; and that when they came to the place where the murder was committed, they found Mr. Ide still astride of Weirich, the nostrils and mouth of Weirich so filled with the blood of Mr. Ide that he was nearly strangled from the current that flowed directly from the heart of Ide. The jury were only absent deliberating for about one hour, when they returned into court with a verdict of: "We, the jury, find the defendant, Louis W. Weirich, guilty of murder as charged in the indictment." At the expiration of three days the court sentenced the defendant to the Penitentiary at Ft. Madison for life.
Unquestionably, no criminal cause in the county, from the time of the organization of the county up to and until the present, has occasioned more comment than the one last named, from the fact that within ten years from the time the jury found the defendant guilty of murder in the first degree, efforts were made for the pardon of the defendant; and more especially from the fact that one of the attorneys who prosecuted the case, and the principal in having the defendant convicted, swung around the circle, so that when, being a member of the popular branch of the Legislature, he threw his whole soul into the effort of procuring a pardon for the man he had strained every effort to convict, and had taken a good round fee from the relatives of the murdered man to prosecute the case.
Whatever may have changed the mind of the attorney so that he became the mouth-piece for the pardon of the man he had convicted, I will not attempt to say, but unquestionably there were many circumstances, which if urged, would in a great measure palliate the crime (if there could be palliation for murder). Ide was a bully, robust, lawless, vengeful, and, so far as physical strength was concerned, greatly the superior of Weirich; the latter wicked, stealthy, loved and lived to kill.
About the middle of the year 1873, a perambulating show came to Magnolia and gave what was called a day and evening entertainment, the whole crew being made up of the worst and most desperate characters possible. After the evening entertainment was over the different persons attending the same started for their homes, among whom was Jerome B. Hardy, then a young man just blooming into manhood. He brought a young lady from the country to see the sights, and these, while on their way home, were set upon by one James A. Bonnell, alias "Big Jim," at the grave yard just west of the town. This fellow was the wagon master for the outfit and was a man of great muscular powers, aad withal a very desperate character. He having noticed this young couple during the entertainment had spotted the girl as his victim and therefore followed them, as before stated, to the place last mentioned, where he attacked the young man and by reason of his size and bullying so effectually frightened Hardy that he, like a very coward, fled and left the young lady he was escorting to the cruel mercies of this most dastardly ruffian, but while the altercation was in being between this brute and Hardy, the young lady jumped over the grave yard fence and sought safety in flight. No sooner had Hardy fled when this demon followed his victim, caught up with her in the grave yard and from every indication of the surface of the soil and especially at and about a fresh grave, there was a most desperate struggle between the parties, the one struggling for that which is most highly prized by woman, the other for the gratification of a beastly and sensual lust. The escort of the young lady fled without having a bruise on his person or a hair ruffled and reported what had taken place. No sooner was the news of this dastardly act known, than an information was filed and a warrant issued for the arrest of the criminal, who was recognized by Hardy, and the warrant being at once placed in the hands of the Sheriff, he immediately set out for the town of Little Sioux, where the show was to exhibit on the following day. "Big Jim," as soon as he had accomplished his purpose, fled, leaving all his train behind, and supposing that he was not recognized, went directly to Little Sioux, where he, by the breaking of daylight next morning, was arrested, and was at once brought to Magnolia for preliminary examination. Court convened at 2 o'clock, P. M., and continued in session until 9, when an adjournment was had until next morning. While the prisoner was being taken from the old court house to the Bates Hotel, where he was guarded, a crowd of forty or more persons forcibly took him from the custody of the Deputy Sheriff, threw a rope over his neck and ran for the nearest tree, intending to administer justice then and there, but the lynchers being unorganized, and not acting in concert, the fellow, as aforesaid, being a very muscular man, freed his neck from the rope and gave tongue to the most inhuman cries possible. When the excited company who were dealing out justice in this speedy way returned they were compelled to knock the fiend down in order to readjust the rope, during which time the criminal gave such unearthly cries that it brought the citizens to his rescue and therefore saved a very worthless life.
Never were such inhuman cries uttered or heard, and scarce did ever human arm put forth such energies for self-protection as did this brute on this occasion. Despair lent him a power equal to a score of men, and he fought with the desperation worthy of a much better cause. Being rescued by the citizens, he was at once taken to the room in the hotel where he was being guarded, and on arriving there presented a spectacle the most horrible, as well as the most filthy, that the imagination of man could possibly conjecture, for a new suit of clothes had to be furnished him at once, so that the guards could, with any comfort, remain within protecting and restraining distance of his vile and filthy person. The court on the following day ordered that he appear before the District Court on the first day of the next session; and the prisoner, in default of bail, was sent to Boone jail for safe keeping, where he remained until in February, 1874, when he was brought back, indicted, tried and convicted of the offense of rape, and by the court sentenced to the penitentiary for the period of ten years. The most unreasonable and unexplained part of this case was in the sequel which followed; for scarcely had the defendant been incarcerated in the penitentiary five years when the person outraged, as well as her parents, signed a petition addressed to the Governor of this State praying for the pardon of this miserable brute, who would have sacrificed life for the purpose of gratifying a hellish and damnable lust.
Charity may cover a multitude of sins, but mercy for a villain who is unfit to run at large, and whose incarceration is demanded for the protection of society, is, to say the least, far fetched. The penitentiary or the rope should furnish protection in such cases, else the daughters of the land are not highly prized, and virtue without protection.
In the summer of the year 1873, one Charley C. Clifford becoming somewhat provoked at some conduct of a certain gentleman by the name of Edmondson, respecting the wife and sister-in-law of the former, took upon himself the enforcement of the law, and in manner as follows: loaded his double-barrelled shotgun with duck shot and went directly to the house of Edmondson, and when coming within sight of his supposed foe, he discharged one barrel of his gun, which took effect in the hip of the person last named. This brought about his arrest, indictment and conviction for assault with intent to inflict great bodily injury, and he was sentenced to the penitentiary at Ft. Madison for the term of two years. Tried and sentenced in February, 1874.
The State of Iowa vs. Artemus Baker was the last murder case tried in the courts of this county, and was based on the killing of a young Mr. Crow, son of Stephen Crow, an old resident of the vicinity of Woodbine. The killing was accomplished by the use of a pistol fired by the defendant, and death was instantaneous. The altercation took place in the barn of Mr. Stephen €row, and to the present day but one side of the affair has been told, from the fact that there was no person present except the two engaged in the quarrel. The death of the young man forever sealed his lips, and the murderer put the fairest coating possible to his statements.
This unfortunate and unhappy ending of the promising life of the murdered man took place some time in the latter part of the year 1875. The defendant being indicted, was tried at the January term of the District Court of this county in 1876, the trial being had in the M. E. Church building at Logan, the present court house at that time not being built.
The jury in this case was composed of the following persons: Stephen Mahoney, B. E. Vaughn, Albert Massingal, Lloyd Jenkins, B. Parker, James Mitchell, James Ervin, Matthew Hall, George Blackman, J. Nichols, O. W. Locklin and Peter Henderson. In this case the defense was that the defendant acted in self-defense; and so thoroughly was this fact impressed on the minds of the jury, that though the case was only four days in being tried, the jury very promptly returned into court a verdict of not guilty.
Many have passed the opinion that had Mr. Crow killed the defendant, and had he been permitted to have told his story, the verdict of the jury would have been "not guilty," even though submitted to the same jury for consideration and finding.
The State of Iowa vs. William Sloan was a case wherein the defendant was charged with the crime of bigamy, committed as follows: That at some time during the early part of the sixties, the defendant had married a lady by the name of Coonrod, in Williams county, in the State of Ohio; that from the time of the inter-marriage of the defendant with the said Miss Coonrod, there were born to these parties three children; that at and about the year 1868, this wife of the defendant had become blind, and that at and about the year 1870 the defendant had gone to Chicago, and from that city to Nebraska, and had after leaving Nebraska settled in the vicinity of Magnolia, in this county. That at and about the month of June, 1872, the defendant at his own instance, aided by his father, had procured a "patent divorce," through the guiles and wiles of one Goodrich, an expert divorce attorney of Chicago and in the courts of the place last named, and as stated by the wife of defendant, without her knowledge or consent. That the defendant at and during the former part of the year 1872 had married a very estimable lady in the vicinity of Magnolia, with whom he had lived quite happily until his arrest in 1879.
In the August term of the District Court of 1879, the defendant was indicted and trial was demanded immediately, he being ably defended by learned counsel from Ohio, as well as securing the foremost members of the local board at the place where indicted. The Ohio wife was promptly on hand, and told to the jury the story of her desertion and wrongs, and this, together with the fact that she was totally blind and had the charge, maintenance and support of two of the children, which she had borne to the defendant, and that during the entire time of her desertion the defendant had failed to furnish her any support whatever, and that she had, until within a few months prior to the date of trial, supposed that the defendant, her husband, was still unmarried. To this statement the defendant, both by himself and father, attempted to show that wife No. 1 was fully cognizant of the procurement of the Chicago divorce; that she had even acknowledged service of the notice of the commencement of the action, as well as being party to an agreement of separation, and had in fact taken part of the consideration on which the agreement of separation was based, and that she well knew of the pendency of the divorce proceedings and had signed and acknowledged a power of attorney by which she empowered the said Groodrich to appear for her and thereby permit the defendant to have ordered in court at Chicago a decree granting the divorce. This power of attorney was produced and introduced in evidence, when the prosecutrix in the way of rebuttal, stated that at the time the said paper was executed, if executed at all, she was entirely blind, and that the defendant's father had procured her signature thereto by fraud and misrepresentation, by having her believe that she was signing something else.
This case occupied the attention of the court for more than an entire week, when the same was submitted to the jury, and they being in their room a half a day, brought into court a verdict of "we, the jury, find the defendant guilty as charged in the indictment."
On Saturday, the 13th of September, 1879, the verdict last referred to was returned into court and the day of sentence fixed on the following Tuesday. Scarcely had the sun risen on the Sabbath morning of the l4th until there was a most unusual stir in the circle of the defendant's friends, caused by the presence of numerous petitions directed to the court, praying for the leniency of the court at the pronouncement of sentence. These all through the entire Sabbath were carried to nearly every nook and corner of the county and were signed by many who knew nothing of the merits of the case, and at the same time scarcely knew the defendant or either of the wives, and when the day for sentence arrived were tumbled in one conglomerate mass at the feet of the court with the hope of, as a last resort, saving the defendant.
Notwithstanding a verdict of "guilty," the court, whether influenced by the petitions last named or in vindication of the majesty of the law, sentenced the defendant to pay a fine of $300 to the county for the benefit of the school fund and be imprisoned in the jail of the county for the period of six months. An appeal was taken by the defendant to the Supreme Court by his attorney, and upon hearing there the case was reversed because of an erroneous instruction of the court to the jury upon the doctrine of "reasonable doubt," and remanded back for another trial. The prosecutrix being of infirm health and without means to further carry on the case, the same died at this period for want of prosecution.
The incidents that have taken place respecting the characters in this drama, though only nine years have intervened, are worthy of contemplation. Death has claimed a pro rata - others are scattered, and few are left of all who participated.
The State of Iowa vs. Stephen A. Broadwell. This case, though having its origin in this county, was not prosecuted herein to final verdict. The crime charged in the indictment, found and reported to the court hy the Grand Jury of this county, in September, 1883, was that of "obtaining money under false pretenses" or "cheating by false pretenses." This man, Stephen A. Broadwell, though arriving in this village three years prior to the date of his indictment, penniless, unheralded, without friends save his cheek and pen, in the incredible short period of three years had so ingratiated himself into the confidence of the public that he was selected at the end of the second year as the Chairman of the Republican delegates to the State Convention, and Chairman of the Republican County Central Committee. All persons seemed anxious to do him homage; all were aware that he lived like a prince and threw his money to the public like a millionaire. The Governor of the great State of Iowa came from the very capital of the State to partake of his hospitality, honor his person and seek his advice, and not alone was His Excellency charmed by the apparent richness of mind of this adventurer, but very many other men of high standing in office and finance were captivated by the suavity of manners and purported financial worth of this "meteoric" loan agent. Money rolled into his office seeking investment, and scarcely was an investment deemed safe unless he was consulted. He sought to carry the political elements of the county in his vest pocket, and dictated terms of capitulation to the "Old Hickory" Democracy. The ordinary traveling car was soon deemed beneath his superior dignity, and a chartered car, furnished sumptuously with the choicest and rarest of the land, in edibles and wines, were furnished at his orders.
A mansion, such as would have graced the frontage of Fifth Avenue, New York, was put up under contract for building in Logan and nearly approximated completion, when, to the utter amazement of his satellites, he took a tumble like the falling of a financial star of the first magnitude, lighting in the middle of the grand jury room in Logan, never to rise until his pride, arroganee aad dishonesty were somewhat curbed by a three years' discipline in the State Penitentiary at Fort Madison, Iowa.
At first, upon the finding of the indictment, he fled, but upon reflection returned and surrendered his person to the officer, and demanded a change of venue, which, conforming to the law in such cases made and provided, was by the court granted, and the cause sent to Pottawattamie county for trial. Here the case lingered on the dockets of that court until the December term, 1885, when the same was brought to trial and the defendant was convicted, found guilty of the ofiense charged in the indictment, and sentenced to the penitentiary for the term of three years. Then an appeal was taken by his attorneys to the Supreme Court of the State of Iowa, which laid in a hibernated status until in December, 1887, when this court of last resort affirmed the finding of the court below and sealed a three years' destiny for this pauper, prince and fool.
The State of Iowa vs. Alex Smith, tried in the August term of 1886, being one in which the defendant was indicted for the crime of assault with the intent to commit rape, unquestionably elicited as much merriment during the hearing as any case ever tried in the county.
The defendant was a young man with the animal propensities much more developed than the moral or intellectual, and as gleaned from the evidence introduced in the case the fact was divulged that as soon as he had approached the bedside of the assaulted party, she gave the alarm by crying out vigorously, when the defendant ran out through an adjoining door, upon the commons, and the time of the occurrence being the 1st of July and the crime being committed in the Missouri bottom, took place at a season of the year when the mosquitos were very bad.
At the time the defendant fled from the presence of the prosecutrix, he was scantily clad, being only robed in a night shirt of very brief dimensions and when exposing his person to the tender mercies of the cruel and ever attacking mosquito, the punishment then was like the punshment of Cain, "greater than he could bear;" when he sought protection by again entering the house which he so recently had abandoned.
Upon re-entering the house, he crawled stealthily to bed and on the following morning the husband of the prosecutrix having come to the house, was informed by the wife of the treatment she had received at the hands of the defendant, which so angered the husband that he selected a nice club from the wood-box and on entering the room of the defendant found him under the bed in a semi-naked condition, and dragging him therefrom proceeded to administer a chastisement such as he deemed equal to the insult offered. At the next term of the District Court he was indicted for the crime above named, and when on trial his counsel, after the above facts had been elicited, attempted to show that in that neigborhood it was the custom of the country for young men at that season of the year, when the mosquitos were so very bad, to run out of their rooms, deshabille, in order to free themselves from the attacking insects, and that more especially on the Sabbath morning all young men in that neighborhood were in the habit of crawling under the bed and taking a morning nap in order to restore the lost energies caused by the restlessness of the preceding night. However, as ingenious as was the defense, the jury could not see the point in that light, and the defendant was convicted of a simple assault and sentenced to the county jail for thirty days and to be fed on bread and water. From that day to the present the defendant has been more circumspect and is wholly free from somnambulistic attacks.
The Most Notorious Civil Cases
Tried in the county are headed by the case of Cornelius Dunham vs. T. A. Dennis. This cause had its origin in the "hard" winter of 1856 and 1857, and arose out of the following circumstances: During this winter the plaintiff had three or four hundred head of cattle wintering on the rushes along the Missouri River bottoms, and when the great snow storm, lasting three days in succession, had come, and the fall of snow had aggregated the depth of four feet, placed Dunham's cattle at the mercy of the storm, wolves and Indians. The snow was so deep that the cattle could not pass beyond their paths occasioned by the great depth of snow and the crust thereon, and were in fact dying by starvation when rescued by the defendant. The condition of the roads was such that it was impossible for any person for two or three weeks to accomplish any travel whatever, and the defendant taking pity on the perishing brutes, broke paths for them to his home, and in order to keep them from dying, fed them liberally on corn, which at that time was worth one dollar per bushel.
Dunham, when able to pass from his home to the place where they had been left, found them as before stated in the custody of Dennis, and when so found by him refused to pay for the care they had received and grain they had eaten, and brought replevin for the cattle. The case was tried in this county once and the jury disagreeing, the case was transferred to Cass county and tried there, when Dunham was cast in the case and appealed to the Supreme Court, and on trial there of errors, was affirmed, giving to the defendant the full amount claimed by him at the time of the demand. The loss to the plaintiff in this case was quite considerable, but there was no other man in the county at that time more able to pay an honest debt than he.
Dunham was a great cattle man, and withal one of the most eccentric men in the entire State, for at and during the pendency of this case he, while his men were in his hay field, laboring at the price of $1.25 per day, would organize them into a petit jury, then relate to them all the evidence which he anticipated producing, then argue the case on his own behalf, as his own attorney, give them instructions, and when the case was submitted, order them to proceed to the shady side of a great haystack to deliberate on their verdict. I may say of these moot trials, Dunham invariably won his case, irrespective of the foolish finding of the Cass county jury, whom he used to say did not possess sufficient brains to serve the purpose of his lead steers.
The first case to be taken io the Supreme Court of this State, from this county, was that of Robert Hall vs. John Mathers. This involved the title to an eighty acre tract of land on Allen Creek valley. Hall having obtained a decree quieting the title thereto in him, gave the defendant the thought that the court had erred in judgment, and therefore the case found a temporary home in the Supreme Court only until trial there which resulted in an affirmance of the decree below.
J. R. Zuver vs. Mary I. Zuver. This case obtained as much notoriety as any cause that ever had place on the docket, from the fact that the citizens of Missouri Valley seemed to take sides with the defendant, and express opinions that she was greatly wronged by the conduct of the plaintiff, perhaps looking to the separation of the husband and wife, and the disintegration of the entire family.
"Cruel and inhuman treatment, such as to endanger the life of the husband," was the grounds of the application, which being referred to a referee of Missouri Valley, who, after taking the testimony and reporting his finding of fact to the Court, the same was affirmed and the divorce granted, in which there was a division of the property and a semi-annual payment provided for, to be paid the defendant for the support of the three children yet so small as to be deemed by the Circuit Court unfit to pass from the mother's care. This separation tinged of the barbarisms of the dark ages, for it being grounded on a few thoughtless words, spoken on strong provocation, was adjudged to be sufficient to sever the family ties and send the members adrift on the cold charities of a heartless and unfriendly world. Soon after decree of divorce, application was made by plaintiff for the custody of the children; one of the causes being that the mother was not suffieiently educated so as to be capable of taking charge of their education; and by way of illustration, charged that in writing to him, made use of the little "i " instead of using the capital. If such was the case, there was but little difference in the educational attainments of the parties, and he who would set up such preposterous cause, should have been left in the condition in which found, for if the defendant was the embodiment of perfection at the marriage altar, there certainly was but little change since.
John A. Forgeus vs. Henry Herring. Damages for personal injuries. This was an action having its origin in Little Sioux, and had existence from the following cause, viz.:
The defendant is a man of very considerable property, and the plaintiff was a tenth rate scrub justice court pettifogger, who, having hectored defendant by instituting numerous petty cases against him in these inferior courts, was about to bring another, which so angered defendant that when he met plaintiff, and plaintiff, having emptied on him a car load of the vilest language he could command, Herring adjourned to a little thicket near at hand, and cut an ironwood "gad" equal to a fishing rod in size, and proceeded to find the plaintiff, which, when found, he administered to plaintiff such a "licking" as would offset the trouble formerly endured, as well as leaving a balance for future use. The place of meeting was on the streets of Little Sioux, near a box-alder tree; the time, the heat of a summer's day; and it is said that Forgeus ran around this tree with Herring after him, during such period of time that the soil was worn into a circle, such as that made by circus steeds at the country shows, and that when Herring had exhausted all his energy in plying the "gad" to the person of Forgeus, the latter was suffering not only the bitterness of a defeat, but his shirt was glued to his person by blood which had exuded from great incisions made in his persou by the ironwood fish-pole, while held in the hand of Herring. Both these parties were cripples, the former using crutches, while the latter could scarcely get beyond a respectable walk: Forgeus at once cast his crutches to the dogs and ran as for life, while Herring out-generaled his foe by starting around the alder-bush so that his (defendant's) short leg was nearest the center of the circle, for, had Forgeus ran the circle in the opposite direction, Herring's long leg would have been on the inside, which, under the powerful speed he was making, would have caused his body to have tipped over or started off in a tangent, and could not have stopped until he had reached the bluffs of the Missouri river.
After two years of visiting of courts, the plaintiff recovered a judgment against the defendant for the sum of one dollar and costs - say $100. This occurred in 1874, and trial was had during Centennial year at Council Bluffs.
Subsequent to this event, Forgeus was treated to a gratuitous coat of tar and feathers, while on his way from River Sioux to Little Sioux, at a place midway between these points, but by whom it is not known to this day; however, it has been stated that while this veneering was being removed from his person by case knives, that Forgeus loudly objected to the reckless and careless manner in which these instruments were used on certain parts of his person.
This was the second and last person tarred and feathered in the county; the first being one Samuel Cokely; time, 1860, place, Woodbine. In the latter, the forces were under the command of Michael Rogers, who in February, 1868, burglarized the county safe and fled the county.
H. C. Gillingham vs. Maud Gillingham was an action filed for divorce in the office of the Clerk of the Court preceding the January term, 1887, by the plaintiff, based on the ground of "cruel and inhuman treatment by the defendant, upon the person of plaintiff, to such a degree as to endanger his life." This was by the defendant denied, and in addition thereto set up a cross bill, alleging cruel and inhuman treatment by the plaintiff to the defendant; and this in turn was denied by plaintiff in reply. There is not time or space herein to set forth the particular acts minutely set forth in the pleadings in the case, nor do I think that if the same were so incorporated herein the book would be fit for reading in a moderately respectable family. This case came to trial at the August term of the District Court, and the Court after exhibiting a degree of patience worthy of a martyr, refused the plaintiff's prayer, and granted a divorce to the defendant for cruel and inhuman treatment, occasioned by the false, scandalous and scurrilous matter set up in the plaintiff 's reply.
This cause being wholly grounded upon the acts and conduct of the respective parties during their short marital life, which had not exceeded five months, brought to the surface those secrets which but few, for shame, would have even lisped to the truest bosom friend.
The plaintiff seemed to glory in dealing out slanders against the young wife, whom, not a half year last past he had promised at the marriage altar to love, cherish and maintain, both in and out of court, wherever he could secure an audience, whether aged men or boys, elders of churches or hostlers of livery barns, would tell in glowing speeches the imagined defects in the qualities of his girl wife. The defendant, on the contrary, who was the embodiment of that which constitutes the lady, acted with a degree of circumspection worthy of one of much riper years and experience, and during all the time of this terrible ordeal bore her part with a fortitude and wisdom scarcely equalled.
The plaintiff at the time of instituting this action was the pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Logan, had graduated in an eastern college with honors, passed the usual course of study in theology, and so far as a knowledge of the books were conoerned, was possessed of an excellent education. In the pulpit he was brilliant, persuasive, convincing, terse, logical and forceful, but upon the street was of bad example, boorish, scarcely truthful and semi-idiotic.
Notwithstanding that last said as to the plaintiff, much should be permitted in the way of mitigation, for in the bringing of the action, he was the dupe of two designing men who so thoroughly poisoned his mind that where there was formerly naught but a love bordering on adoration, and service not less than idolatry for the young wife, these were, by these persons, out of desire to crush a family whose good will they had forfeited, transformed into a hate strong as the former were forceful and intense.
The plaintiff should have been indulgent, loving, persuasive, generous, honest and affectionate, but instead thereof was overbearing, vengeful, profane and hypocritical. The defendant soon discovered the transparency of plaintiff's pretensions and crystalized for him a hatred, such that she could not possibly endure his presence nor take him to her bosom. Hence the separation, for which the morals of a community were damaged, the cause of religion made to blush and the profession which had been selected by plaintiff disgraced.
Sarah A. Pate vs. Rudolph Pate was an action for divorce, and was brought by the plaintiff through the agency of her attorney, J. R. Zuver (subsequently a Judge of the Circuit Court), and based on the first subdivision of section 2534 of the Revision of 1860, which provided that a divorce should be granted when it was made to appear to the Court that the defendant at the time of the marriage was "impotent."
The defendant was represented by his attorney, P. D. Mickel, who misconceived the proper legal interpretation of the word "impotent," and construed the verbiage of the section to be "impudent," for no sooner had the plaintiff given her testimony and been turned over to him for cross-examination, than he interrogated her, "When and where did you first discover that this defendant was impudent? What did he do and say that led you to believe lie was impudent? Is it not a fact that Rudolph Pate is not 'impudent' now and never was? What did the defendant do or say to you that led you to form the conclusion that he was 'impudent?' "
The attorney, after a somewhat more careful research, came to the conclusion that a simple denial that the defendant was "impudent" did not correspond with the true meaning and intent of the statute, and permitted the plaintiff to take a decree, because the statements in the petition of plaintiff were true, the defendant having been, when young, unfortunate.
Five or ten years last past, the vicinity of Dunlap was cursed, or blessed (the reader can take either opinion), with the presence and ability of an attorney by the name of George Washington Makepeace (or piece), who for originality could be scarcely excelled in Philadelphia. This man's early education had been sadly neglected, and the sequence was that in his professional life he perpetrated many murders in the manner in which he slaughtered the Eaglish language. Illustrative of this, I call to mind an instance or two which I deem worthy of notice, viz.: In drawing a petition or answer in a certain cause, then being brought or pending in the Circuit Court of the county, he was necessitated to use the word "also," but ye gods! the orthography! for upon an inspection of the pleading, the sentence read as follows: "And the said defendant did 'awl sow' then and there," etc., etc.
On another occasion he was consulted by a client who was a young married man, who having some domestic trouble, the wife, either as a matter of protection or to free herself of the presence of the man she hated, took their only child and went to her mother's, abandoning home and husband. How can I recover my child? was the inquiry of the much-injured husband, of this limb of the law. "Just you wait and I'll bring that woman and child of yours to the front," was the response of the attorney. "How?" was the excited question of the client. Come with me to the office o� the Justice of the Peace, and I'll show you," replied the would-be lawyer. When these persons had arrived at the office of the Justice, Mr. M. sat down and prepared and had filed in the office of this court a petition in replevin, and had a writ of replevin issued commanding the constable to take and deliver the aforesaid child to the client. " But," says the Court, "how about the bond? The law requires you to file with me a bond not less than double the value of the property sought to be replevined. What is the value of this child?" Here was an insuperable barrier. "For," says the Court, "sir, since the days of universal freedom, it would be hard for either you or me or the client to approximate to the value of a child two years old, nor can I find any quotations in any of the market reports for such commodity ; my impression is that they often cost more than they are worth, and as often could not be purchased at any price."
Shortly after this occurrence, a farmer living in the vicinity of Dunlap called on this attorney and stated a case to him and wished legal advice, the burden of the client's wrongs being that one of his neighbors and he had a dispute over the identity of a three-year-old colt, the property being in the possession of the absent party. The attorney prepared a petition such as is usually used iu cases where prayer is made for issuance of a writ of habeas corpus, and when issued orders the party who holds another in his custody illegally to bring up the body of the individual, in order that the illegal detention may be inquired of, and if the party is illegally restrained of his liberty to order his discharge. This attorney contended that the colt was illegally restrained of his liberty, and that the statute in such cases applied to horses as well as human beings, provided they were illegally restrained.
An attorney near Missouri Valley, on a certain occasion, after having defended a youth of fifteen summers for breaking into the shop of an old gentlemaa by the name of Carver, of Logan, and extracting from a safe therein the sum of forty-five dollars, and after a verdict of a jury of guilty as charged, drew an affidavit setting forth the following facts, for the purpose of having the court send the prisoner to the Reform School, viz.: That the defendant was "a poor orphan boy, under the age of sixteen, and had only one father, who resided in Dakota." The court caught the phraseology of the affidavit, and quietly queried in his own mind this thought: If the prisoner at the bar had only one father in Dakota, where in the name of kind Providence were the remainder of his fathers? Notwithstanding this slip of the brain, the boy was regularly marked and shipped to the Reform School at Eldora.
This brings to mind a circumstance which happened at the first or second term of court held by the Hon. Samuel Riddle, at Magnolia, in the year 1855 or 1856, at which time two gentlemen, named James M. Butler and S. J. Comfort, made application for examination and admission to the bar of this county. The motion having been filed, the court appointed a committee, consisting of N. G. Wyatt, Robert Douglas, A. C. Ford and Judge Street, to examine the applicants in open court. The committee at once set about the duty thus imposed by the court, and while Bob Douglas was interrogating Mr. Butler as to the different kinds of property, the following questions were asked and answered as herein stated, viz.:
Mr. D. - Mr. Butler, how many kinds of property are there known to the law?
Mr. B. - Well, I should say about three.
Mr. D. - Mr. B., will you tell me the different kinds of property?
Mr. B. - There is land, and real estate, and town lots, and swamp land, and seminary land, and school land, and governmenb
land, you know; and then there are horses and cows, and sich.
Mr, D. - Now, Mr. B., come right to time, and tell me the different kinds of property, by the names known to the books?
Mr. B. - There is real property.
Mr. D. - Go on and tell me the other kinds?
Mr. B. - Well, there is personal property, which is horses and cattle, and town lots and rails, and county orders and swamp land
Mr. D. - Do not the books speak of a certain kind of property that is known as mixed property?
Mr. B. - Yes, sir.
Mr. D. - Mr. B., give me the definition of mixed property?
Mr. B. - By the Eternal, Douglas, I think you have got me treed this time, because I don't really know that I ever seed any of this kind or not.
Mr. D. - You need not confine yourself to the very words of the books, but just give us a definition as your recollection best prompts you.
Mr. B. - Well, Douglas, I think that mixed property is a - a - a - m = mules, by the Eternal, for if they are not well mixed, I do not know of any that is.
Lawyers of the County
The first lawyer who settled in this county was one Richard Humphrey, who dropped into Magnolia shortly after the "seat of justice" was located at that place, and remained there until 1855, at which time he took his departure for the State of Missouri, and in two years after locating in that State began practicing slack and tight rope performances in public, at one of which entertainments he was so unsuccessful that he lost his life. The sequel of the story is, that about fifty men of the neighborhood were at one end of the rope and Mr. Humphrey at the other, and by reason of the disparity of numbers the motions and demurrers of the minority were not heard or passed upon by Judge Lynch.
The next attorney to locate in the county was one N. G. Wyatt, who put in an appearance in 1856 at Magnolia and tarried there until in February, 1859, at which time he, in company with many others of Harrison county, went to Pike's Peak, to better their financial conditions in the reported regions of inexhaustible fields of gold. Once there he never returned, but is at the present nicely located in the State of California, having taken to himself a wife, and is surrounded by loving wife and happy family. Mr. Wyatt was a Representative from this county in the Sixth General Assembly, and was a man of more than ordinary brain power. He made one mistake in this county which
forever ruined his political aspirations, and it was this: In 1858, while he was attending the Methodist church at Magnolia, the church being held in a log house which was owned by him, and as is usual on all occasions now of a church character, the "hat" was passed and Wyatt failed to place the usual quarter therein, saying that they might consider him as putting therein a half a dollar, as he would apply that or double that amount on the rent for the building. This was caught up as a "dun" in public for rent, and in the services for the afternoon, the minister, one Mr. Guylee, took occasion to most unmercifully abuse friend Wyatt for making a dun in so public a manner, and after exhausting the force of the English language by way of denunciation, wound up by calling Wyatt a most accomplished scoundrel. This coming to the ears of Wyatt on the following Monday morning, somewhat ruffled a temper which at other times was not easily provoked, and on meeting Mr. Guylee on the street, proceeded to and did take his change by administering to the fool minister such a "drubbing" as in his mind satisfied all damages for wrongs inflicted in his absence on the preceding Sabbath. This act of lawlessness was taken up and howled at by every Methodist and every son of a Methodist in the entire county, and the result was that there was such a furore against Mr. Wyatt, that he deemed this climate too cool for him to try to become a millionaire in, and as a result he shook the dust of the county from his feet as a memorial against those who took exceptions to his applying the rent on the Sabbath day as part and parcel of public donations for the support of the church.
Joe H. Smith located in Magnolia on the 1st day of June, 1856. He is still in the flesh, and some other person may place on paper his evil as well as good deeds.
Then in 1859 came W. W. Fuller and Jno. K. L. Maynard. These formed a partnership, and continued to practice until in July of 1860, at which time a dissolution was had, and W. W. Fuller continued in the practice, who soon entered into a partnership with Joe H. Smith, which continued until August, 1862.
At this time Company C of the Twenty-Ninth Iowa was formed, both entering the service, and Captain Fuller dying at Greenwood, in the State of Mississippi, on the 14th of March, 1863, surrendered back to God a life which few in all this grand land possessed of greater promise.
Here permit me to digress a little, because of the unconquerable and unmeasured love I had and have for this noble specimen of manhood. Fuller was an able and learned lawyer, a patriot beyond reach of suspicion, and a citizen above reproach, an honest man, and a friend whom adversity did not frighten. His friends increased with his years, and while time served to multiply their numbers, death alone could thin their ranks. The sunshine of life seemed to be in his keeping, and in every company in which he formed a part, he dispensed its light and warmth with a hand as lavishly generous as its sources were inexhaustible.
In 1860, came the Hon. Henry Ford and the Hon. Alexander Brown. These two were the products of the Hon. George G. Wright, formerly one of the Judges of the Supreme Court of the State of Iowa. Lawyer Alexander Brown enlisted in November, 1861, in the Fifteenth Regiment Iowa Infantry, was wounded in the battle of Shiloh, from which to this day he has never recovered, and never will as long as life shall last. Henry Ford remained at home, and took upon himself the duties of District Attorney for the Fourth Judicial District of this State, and after having held this position for four years, while the attorneys were in the field, was elected to the position of Judge thereof, with what credit to himself, each person knowing his habits is left to form his or her own conclusions.
I should have said, heretofore, that Mr. Geo. S. Bacon was a lawyer at the time he settled in Iowa, in 1857, but through neglect it was not mentioned, from the fact that Captain Bacon never made a specialty of the law, or ever appeared in the saw dust before a court in the trial of a cause. The Captain found a more genial atmosphere in the vocation of trading in real estate, selling of goods and holding county office, than in the arena before the court, measuring intellect on intricate law points with an antagonist worthy of his steel.
In 1865, Philip D. Mickel located at Magnolia, and remained there until the winter of 1866, at which time he removed to Missouri Valley, and there began the practice of law. The subject of this sketch was a man of greater energy than fine discrimination; but notwithstanding his bad orthography and frequent bulges on doubtful propositions of law, succeeded well in the profession. His untiring energy and apparent earnestness more than balanced the former. He is now in Colorado, and succeeding in his profession.
T. E. Brannon located in Magnolia in 1867, and in the spring of 1869 removed his office to Missouri Valley. Mr. Brannon was a brother of the Hon. William Brannon of Muscatine, Iowa, and a man of excellent education and of extensive learning in the law. Somehow he had formed an opinion by which he attached but little value to his life, and while in the whirlpool of legal foray, manifested all the superior qualities of the lawyer, fought his cases to a finish, ever being gentlemanly, honest, fair and straightforward. The conditions of bodily infirmities, the loss of one of his arms, and added to this a part of each of his feet, created a despondency by which he in the year of 1878 took upon himself the disposition of his own life, and died by his own hand at Missouri Valley in the year last named. Mr. Brannon was honorable and generous, and as brave as magnanimous, and now that the grave possesses all that we formerly called the embodiment of a gentleman and scholar, I can only say, judge him with the same measure by which we ourselves would wish to be judged.
Time and space forbid that mention should here be made of all who belonged to the legal fraternity who have attempted to practice law in the county, from the fact that many have been birds of passage, and some scavengers.
One Frank Wolf, who located at Woodbine, kept this part of the legal vineyard in a continual uproar during the time of his stay in the place, and finally by his rascality called down the vengeance of the court upon his head and was disbarred, leaving this county in unmagnified disgrace.
Frank Griffin, of Dunlap, was of the order of the gentleman last named as of Woodbine, and during his professional life in the county had his shingle floating in the breeze at the town of Dunlap. This person being somewhat disgusted with the practice of the law in the county, departed hence, without giving his clients notice of his departure, leaving the town which had given him more than merited support, solitary and alone on horseback.
G. W. Thompson, of Dunlap, was never sufficiently informed in the merits and philosophy of legal intricacies as to be of any advantage to himself or disadvantage to others; never ventured out into the current so as to be beyond his depth. This personage left Dunlap in 1885 and since that time has been a resident of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The Hon. L. R. Bolter became a member of the bar of this county as early as 1865, and from that date to the present has ever upheld the reputation and glory of the profession. With the exception of Joe. H. Smith, Mr. Bolter is the oldest practitioner at the bar of this county. Mr. Bolter was, in his younger days, a student of Hillsdale College, Michigan, and studied law under the Hon. Salathiel C. Coffinbury at Constantine in the last named State, at which place he was admitted to the bar. Coming to Iowa in 1865, he immediately entered the arena as a legal gladiator and from that to the present has studiously prosecuted or defended all causes intrusted to his management, with a devotion worthy of the profession to which he has the honor to belong.
J. W. Barnhart is the next oldest attorney in the county; he is now 50 years of age and a graduate of the University of Michigan. He was admitted to the bar as a practicing attorney in 1865, in Boone county, Iowa. He was actively engaged in the practice of his profession at that place until 1878, when he relocated at Logan, and from that day to the present he has been among the foremost members of the bar. Mr. Barnhart is a man of sterling qualities and though not among the first to unravel the mysteries and intricacies of law to court and jury, in the county, yet during his stay among the people of the county he has won a reputation in the Supreme Court which is both enviable to attorneys and an honor to the profession of which he is an honored member.
Major Charles MacKenzie is 44 years old, and a bachelor. He served for three years in the late rebellion, under the title of Major, in the Ninth Iowa regiment of Iowa Volunteers, and, when the war was over he read law under D. E. Lyon, of Dubuque, Iowa, and was admitted to the bar in 1867. Following his admission, he practiced his profession at Dubuque, Eldora, Mason City, Sioux City, and last, but not least, at Dunlap, in this county. The Major is a lawyer of ripe mind, of unquestioned integrity, commanding appearance, and an excellent student. He is in the prime of manhood as a lawyer, and merits a top round in the ladder of professional standing.
H. Roadifer is an academic graduate of Mt. Vernon, Illinois. He read law in the office of Hon. T. Lyle Dickey, one of the Judges of the Supreme Court of Illinois. He was admitted to the bar in that State in the year 1875. Coming to Iowa immediately following his admission to the bar, he located at Emerson, Iowa, and was Principal of the High School at that place for the period of one year and a half. He afterward located at Logan and began to practice his profession in 1878.
Mr. Roadifer has been among the most successful lawyers of this county since his location here, and has an excellent record, not only at the local bar of the county, but also in the Supreme Court, to which many of the cases in which he has been interested have found final adjudication.
Mr. S. I. King is nearly to the manner born, being only two years old at the time of the settlement of his parents in this county. I might say that he is as near being an Iowa lawyer as the present age of this State will warrant, for he informs me that he cannot recollect whether he was born in the State of Iowa or in the State of New York. Being educated in the best schools of the county, and, after taking a course at the State University, at Iowa City, he acted as Principal of the High School at Magnolia for the term of one year, and then being under the especial tutelage of the Law School of Judge C. C. Cole and Hon. George G. Wright, at Des Moines, and having received his diploma at this school, he came to Logan and began the practice of his profession in 1877, since which time he has kept up his well deserved honors and to-day stands in the front rank.
A. L. Harvey (the banker) was admitted to the practice in 1868, while Judge Ford was on the bench. Mr. Harvey does not give much time to the law, his whole attention being devoted to real estate and banking. It could not be expected that they who do not spend their time and entire energies in storing their minds with fine distinctions, now made by our Judges, could successfully compete with those who make this profession their whole study and devote an undivided life in mastering the philosophy of legal principles and the rules of practice.
Captain W. M. Magden, of Woodbine, follows as next in the list. This veteran, when entering the army in 1861, was the embodiment of physical manhood, but the rebel bullets and fatigue of marches, and disease of southern swamps, have only left a remnant of former perfection. In the business of the profession, the Captain keeps up his whiffletree, and by all is regarded as an honest lawyer.
J. A. Phillips, our present County Attorney, is a graduate of Westminster College, of Lawrence county, Pennsylvania. Mr. Phillips resides at Dunlap, and was elected to the above named position at the fall election of 1886, and will hold over until the 1st of January, 1889. The personage last named was admitted to the bar at Newcastle, Lawrence county, in 1873, and soon thereafter located at the town of Dunlap. Since that time until election as County Attorney, was attorney for the bank at that place. Mr. Phillips is a very careful, conscientious man, and a member of the Congregational Church at the place of his residence.
C. R. Bolter first took lessons in educational archery under Prof. J. D. Hornby, at the High School at Magnolia, and from this last named place went to the Iowa State University at Iowa City, and when quitting this took up the study of law in his father's office, and, together with his brother, C. A., was, after a very severe examination by the local bar of Harrison county, in 1883, admitted to practice. Mr. Bolter is still young, and with half of the energy of the father would soon stand at the front of the local law class.
C. A. Bolter, the younger brother, is partly the product of Prof. S. G. Rogers, formerly of Logan School. After graduating in Logan School, he attended Tabor College, and from there to his father's office, where, under the tutelage of the parent, after a rigid examination by a committee appointed by Judge Lewis, was, in 1883, given a certificate, which examination showed he was richly entitled to.
Lafayette Brown, of Missouri Valley, is a graduate of the Law Class of 1879, of the Iowa State University. Located in Missouri Valley when first unfurling his legal banner to the breeze, and from that time to the present has been actively engaged in the practice, yet the greater part of his time is taken up now with real estate and agency business.
Marcellus Holbrook, the banker at Missouri Valley, began the practice of his profession at Magnolia in 1865, and remained there until about 1873, at which time he removed to Missouri Valley, and began the banking business, in which he has been quite successful, so much so that the business of the law is by him left to others.
J. S. Dewell and John S. McGavren constitute the law firm of Dewell & McGavren, of Missouri Valley. These are graduates of the Law Department of 1883. The senior member of the firm is a graduate of Ames College, and the latter of Tabor. These young men possess sterling qualities, and have met with a success far beyond that of young men just starting in the practice. This success is partly attributable to their learning in the law, the honesty they so rigorously practice, and the assistance of friends they are so fortunate to possess in such copious quantities.
S. H. Cochran, of Logan, was once a cadet at the West Point Military Academy, and from that place to Iowa City, where he graduated in the Law Department of the State University in 1868, when in 1869 he located at Missouri Valley and began the practice of law. Mr. Cochran was for a term of years the law partner of Mr. J. C. Rhodabeck, and then formed a partnership with one Hart. This was soon dissolved, and then a partnership was formed of Cochran & Baily; this in turn was dispensed with, and Mr. Cochran moved to Logan in 1882, since which time he has devoted his entire energies to the practice of his profession. Mr. Cochran is energetic and daring, and works for the client as long as there is hope for success for attorney or client.
Cyrus Arndt, Esq., of Missouri Valley, was the law student of Mr. S. H. Cochran, and was addmitted to the bar prior to the passage of the statute requiring examination in the Supreme Court. Mr. Arndt has been crowned the ''great pardon lawyer" of the mighty West, from the fact that during the last half year of the administration of Buren R. Sherman as Governor of this State, he, by reason of his good standing with said gubernator, procured the free, full and unconditional pardon of all the saloonists of Missouri Valley who had been tried, found guilty and fined in Judge Lewis' court in this county. No other person had the fertility of brain to originate, nor the cheek to present, such a request to a Governor of a Northern State; and no other Executive ever lived who would have disgraced the exalted position of Chief Magistrate by even entertaining, much less granting, the pardons.
John A. Berry was the student of Mr. John V. Evans, and through his instrumentality was admitted to the bar at Logan, Iowa, in 1879. The gentleman last named, as some seem to think, is the protege of the court, but whether this is true, I have neither knowledge nor information sufficient to form a belief, only this far, that if partiality has been by any courts shown this attorney, it must have been in the absence of the author.
F. M. Dance, of Missouri Valley, is a graduate of Ann Arbor, Michigan, of the class of 1876. He located in Missouri Valley in May, 1868, and for the past twenty years has labored hard in the legal vineyard, with flattering reslilts, both professionally and financially.
Minor B. Baily, of Dunlap, is a promising young attorney, and will in the near future rise in the profession. His present knowledge of the law, coupled with his untiring energy, will not fail to merit the hoped-for recognition, the objective point of the real lawyer.
Thomas Arthur graduated in the class of 1881 at the State University at Iowa City, is a young man of excellent habits, good education and an excellent clerk. Up to the present date, he has not launched out into the wide expanse of law on his own hook, but for the past five years, has been constantly employed in the Clerk's office, either as deputy or principal Clerk of the District Court. It is fortunate that for the past ten years this office has been filled by those conversant with the law and the legal forms of such business. This opinion would be the more readily formed by an inspection of some of the records now extant at the Clerk's office. To a casual observer twenty years ago, but little of the proceedings of the Courts were spread upon the record, and much that does so appear is so unintelligible that in order to obtain a translation thereof lessons must be taken on the hieroglyphics of the China tea chests in order to accomplish a faithful rendering of the matter.
P. W. Cain, of Dunlap, now a young man of 27, bids fair to become a lawyer of note, some time in the near future. He was educated at Bloomfield, Tabor and Keokuk; when from these places of learning, he entered the Des Moines University, where he was admitted to the practice of the law in 1886, settled in Dunlap, where he has magnified the profession by a faithful adherence to legitimate business. For him, as is the case with all young attorneys, there is much to learn it and can only be accomplished by diligence and perseverance.
Col. F. W. Hart, who is at the present time one of Gov. Larrabee's staff officers, was admitted to the bar in Cedar Rapids, Linn county, Iowa, and located in this county in 1881, since which time he has devoted a greater portion of his time to the land and loan agency business than to the law; yet whenever he has sufficient time, is always at hand in court settling some estate or arranging for the trial of some case. The Colonel does not make the law a specialty, but only takes a hand when imperatively necessary.
Mr. Linus Bassett, of Little Sioux, is a graduate of the Law Department of Iowa State University, does not enjoy a very rugged constitution, and hence does not give his undivided energies to the practice. Mr. Bassett is of that straightforward school that permits no crookedness, and has a reputation for honesty, which is the basis for a lucrative practice.
John A. Traver and S. E. Wilmot are both of Dunlap, are each young in the practice, and possessed of that material which in time, by proper application, will place them well to the front at the bar of their adopted home.
There are twenty-two attorneys of local residence in the county, which if the population of the county was divided up equally between these, each attorney would have 1,136 and 4-11 of a populatioa from which to draw his nourishment.
Of these twenty-two, eight firms do nearly all the business in the courts, occasioned by reason of the fact that many of those who hold certificates of admission have studied the law more for their own protection than for profits arising from the practice. Perhaps no profession is so universally berated as that of the lawyer, and upon his defenseless head are emptied all the woes of an ignorant, selfish and prejudiced people.
To be a lawyer is the acquirement of something that passes not by inheritance, or purchased alone by bank accounts or high social standing. A law-trained mind is a mine of wealth to the possessor, and obtained by him by hard, persistent, continuous individual effort. It is not the result of the labor of a day, month or year, but that of a whole life time.
At Oxford, one hundred and thirty years ago, it was truly stated ia a lecture by one well informed in the law, ''that a competent knowledge of the laws of that society in which we live, is the proper accomplishment of every gentleman." How, many of those who so unmercifully criticise, condemn and slander the real lawyer, can tell what the laws of the land are in which they live?
Right here permit me to say that those who seem to have the most to say against the attorneys are those who are the first to call into active being the services of an attorney.
Has the attorney ever manifested the want of ordinary discretion that many of the would-be honest farmers do, in matters pertaining to their ordinary business? Let a lightning rod squad come into a community, or a cloth, or tree, or cultivator, or plow peddler strike a community, and in less than one week, the lawyer's office will be flooded with disgruntled farmers, who, by the flattery and deceit of those last above named, have been duped and magnificently bled out of their honest earnings.
The only way by which the services of an attorney can reasonably be dispensed with is for all men to deal justly one with the other, and let the promise be equally as binding as the written contract; for, rest assured, that as long as there is a determination to take advantage, to get something for nothing, to take advantage of the necessities of the unfortunate, to grind the poor by unconscionably overstepping their power to accomplish and then, when the day arrives for payment, to take all the crystalizations of the last year's toil for a pittance, will call for the services of one knowing the law.
If there were no violations of the last five precepts of the Decalogue, there would be no lawyers to present a cause, there being no cause to present; but as long as mankind dishonor parents, kill each other, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness and covet and carry into existence this coveteous disposition, so long will there be courts to punish criminals and lawyers to prosecute and defend these forbidden acts.
A man may be a physician and not be possessed of sufficient professional knowledge to distinguish one disease from another, nor to know what remedy to apply, if the disease was properly guessed at, and community call him a great healer.
The minister of the Gospel may stand in the sanctified pulpit from Sabbath to Sabbath, and on every such occasion be guilty of plagiarism, and sell to his hearers these second class sermons, or give utterances to such dogmas that none but the most credulous would, for a moment think of giving place to, and he be called the embodiment of theology simply because there is none to meet him at the end and then and there refute the propositions.
Were the doctors and ministers placed in the arena and compelled to produce the authority and philosophy of each statement, when the same originated and under what circumstances, together with the wear and tear of the same from the time of the enunciation of such doctrine down to the present, there would be somewhat of a different judgment passed on the ability of the different classes.
The lawyer's position is met step by step, and every inch of advancement is met with a degree of earnestness and learning which calls for the time, place, person and all the circumstances by which such finding was reached, under what statute this or that decision was made, and the changes which may have taken place since the first rule, and woe be to the lawyer who cannot produce "thus saith the court" for a position contended for, unless the position is based on the uncertainties of statutes which neither court nor attorney can form any adequate idea as to the thought of the lawmaking power at the time of its creation. The judges soon measure the depth of learning of the lawyer, but who are the judges for the physician and minister? Few of those who attend church can remember the subject of the sermon ten minutes after the same is delivered, and so many are so intently thinking of their various trades, that they never hear the text or the sermon.
From History of Harrison County, Iowa 1888 by Joe H. Smith