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RINGGOLD COUNTY CRIME STORIES

THE DEATH of MR. DRIGGS

During the latter part of August, 1855, two brothers-in-law, remembered to history only as [David] HALE and [Absalom] DRIGGS, settled with their families near the Union County line. Then men went out one morning to hunt along the banks of the Grand River. Around about noon, HALE burst through a neighbor's cabin door, proclaiming that DRIGGS had been killed by Indians and that he himself had barely escaped the attack with his life. Calling upon the assistance of a company of militia out of Chariton, the settlers surrounded a camp of Indians located on Twelve Mile Creek in Pleasant Township of Union County. The Indians surrendered and stacked their guns. Later, upon recovering the ball from DRIGGS' body, it was determined that it could not have been fired from any of the Indians' guns. It did, however, seem to be compatible with what might have been fired from HALE's gun.

Wanwoxen, an elderly Indian, noted in broken English that DRIGGS had been shot at close range, pointed out that the area around the hole in DRIGGS' shirt was burnt and blacked by gunpowder. Wanwoxen declared, "Indian never shoot when he can strike!" Then, throwing off his blanket, he said, "Indian no shoot DRIGGS. Shoot Indian if you want to."

All eyes turned back to HALE who was questioned once again. HALE admitted that he had heard the shot and seen DRIGGS fall, he had not seen any Indians. The guns were restored to the Indians and let go. However, with the pioneers growing uneasy, the Indians were forced to go back to the reservation in Kansas. They exonerated the Indians which was later acknowledged by the Order of Red Man in 1908 with the tribe re-named Wanwoxan Tribe No. 133 in honor of their wise elder who understood forensics over a half a century before white men.

Iowa

FOUR COUNTY JUSTICE

In November of 1856, Silas RUDE, who lived in the northwestern corner of Decatur County, shot and killed his neighbor, Ed McMANIGAL. When shot, Ed was on the RUDE property and driving his livestock, which had strayed, back to his farm. Outraged, a posse respresenting men from Decatur, Ringgold, Union, and Clarke counties was formed with the sole purpose of hunting down Silas RUDE. Two men and a thirteen-year-old- boy, James FULLERTON, stood guard at the RUDE home should the he return for his saddle horse, a fine animal. The other posse members combed the countryside.

Meanwhile, Silas RUDE had concealed himself in the hayloft of Farmer LAMB of Union County. Upon revealing himself and begging LAMB for food, the farmer duly alerted the posse. RUDE was captured and bound.

Without a court system to address the issue and unsure exactly where to incarcerate the prisoner, the posse escorted RUDE to a cornerstone which marked the location where all four counties touched. The posse was instructed to load seven guns and stack them behind a clump of bushes. Then seven volunteers from the posse claimed one of the guns. They positioned themselves in a circle around RUDE who stood by the cornerstone. Taking care that they wouldn't shoot another posse member, the men waited for the signal. Then they fired upon RUDE. When it was all over, no one knew from which county RUDE had been shot or by whom.

A NEAR TRAGEDY

In 1876, Dave ALDRICH, who lived north of the future site of Redding, mounted his horse and left home without telling anyone where he was going. When ALDRICH did not return after a week's absence, a posse was gathered and started out to search for him. They found some of ALDRICH's clothing near Herman POTTER's cabin. Combing the nearby timber, the posse found a pool of blood. Circumstantial evidence indicated that Herman POTTER had murdered Dave ALDRICH. Preparing to hang POTTER on the spot, the posse was convinced by John D. CARTER to bring POTTER in and let the law take its course in the matter. To Herman POTTER's relief, Dave ALRICH returned home a few days later, healthy and very much alive.

ANTI-HORSE-THIEF ASSOCIATION

Beleagured by an outbreak of horses vanishing from the barns and pastures, a group of Missouri men organized the "Anti-Horse-Thief Association" at LuRay of Clark County in September of 1863. Several Iowa counties sent delegates to the association's second meeting held in Millsport of Knox County, Missouri. Inspired and fostering a deeply embedded hatred of horse thieves, the men returned home and founded similar associations within their own counties. Members of these organizations were expected to assist law officers in the capture of criminals of all kinds, but in particular horse thieves. The members were also directed to not take the law into their own hands but to deliver any suspects into the custody of law officers. The Ringgold County chapter of the Anti-Horse-Thief Association was founded in the early 1870's. By the 1890's, approximately 2,000 associations had been founded across the nation in many states.

Team.jpg

TO CATCH A THIEF

In the summer of 1902, residents of Ringgold County were alerted to be on the look-out for a horse thief who had stolen an outfit consisting of a wagon, horses, and harness in Cass County, Iowa. It was believed that the thief headed south. When a stranger drove into Kellerton with his rig and a mule tied behind the wagon, the suspicious residents alerted the Ringgold County sheriff. The sheriff trailed the alleged thief, assisted in his pursuit by alert citizens calling in reports to the sheriff's office. Eventually the thief realized that he was headed into a trap set by the sheriff and deputies. Cutting the mule free from the wagon, the thief whipped the team into a gallop with the posse in hot pursuit. Realizing that the wagon was slowing him down, the thief jerked one horse free from the harness and rode off. He abandoned the horse and fled the scene on foot, using cornfields to conceal himself. The thief eventually made his way to a farmhouse and stated that he was attempting to get to Grand River so he could catch a train and get to his sick mother's bedside. Unaware of what was unfolding around him, the farmer instructed his son to take the stranger to the train station. Thus, the thief escaped capture. The team, mule, wagon, and harness however was recovered and returned to the rightful owner.

SOURCES:

Ringgold County History Complied and written by the Iowa Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Iowa, Sponsored by Ringgold County Superintendent of Schools, Mount Ayr, Iowa. 1942.

Written & Submitted by Sharon R. Becker, 2007


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