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The Chariton Leader
Chariton, Lucas County, Iowa
Saturday, June 26, 1880

SHOOTING AFFRAY at MOUNT AYR

News of a terrible shooting affray at Mt. Ayr reached us on Wednesday morning, and during the afternoon three prisoners were placed in the charge of Sheriff LANDES for safe keeping. It was the intention of the Sheriff from Mt. Ayr to take them to Afton, but before reaching this place he received a dispatch stating that a mob of nearly one hundred had started across the country to lynch the prisoners. Two of the parties in the affray, we hear, are dead and another has had his hand amputated. The prisoners' names are Thos. GOLDEN, Wm. FITZIMMONS and Barny FITZIMMONS; the first being a half-brother to the others. The following account of the affray we clip from the Mt. Ayr Journal:

Last Tuesday is a day long to be remembered by the people of this place as the date of one of the most brutal murders ever perpetrated. The victim was Wm. MILLS, of Grant Township, a man well known and respected; industrious, energetic and esteemed by all. The murderer is Wm. FITZIMMONS, one of the keepers of the Golden Saloon, and a half-brother to the GOLDEN boys. MILLS, together with the HOOKER boys, "Lant" BENSON, Tom CONLEY, Geo. DOBBINS and Wm. CYPHERS went up into the saloon and MILLS called for a beer, and was refused by one of the boys. He remarked that he always paid for what he got, but they refused to let him have it. MILLS then turned around and said no more. Lant BENSON then placed a couple of pool balls upon the table and told the boys when he had played a nickel's worth to tell him and he would quit. Tom GOLDEN came at him with a large lamp and struck him. The row commenced then, the other two boys, Barny and Wm. FITZIMMONS coming from behind the counter with revolvers.

At sight of the revolvers BENSON and CONLEY ran down the front stairway, and were fired after by Barny when near the bottom but not struck. Wm. FITZIMMONS placed a revolver at CYPHER's breast, but just as he pulled trigger DOBBINS knocked it aside, the ball merely grazing CYPHER's side, and through the hand of a young man named McDONALD. DOBBINS was struck a fearful blow on the head and somewhat stunned. MILLS then ran down the back stairway, and started across the street towards Wall's Grocery, and Wm. FITZIMMONS after him, shooting as he ran. He fired three shots, all of them hitting MILLS in the back, the last of which is supposed to have been the fatal one, as he was noticed to drop. He staggered into Misses BUCK and MERRILL's Milliner Shop and dropped dead.

He was removed in a short time to the Odd Fellow's Hall, where Drs. BAILEY and WILEY extracted a ball from his breast.

The Coroner held an inquest, and the verdict of the jury was that Wm. MILLS had met his death by a revolver, fired in the hands of Wm. FITZIMMONS.

Mrs. MILLS was sent for and arrived about sundown. The body was conveyed to his home in Grant Township, the procession leaving town about half past nine.

Terrible excitement prevails, and Capt. ASKERN has guarded the jail ever since the arrests with a body of militia; to protect the prisoners from a rumored mob. The prisoners were taken away on Wednesday to the Afton Jail. At this movement Wm. BROWN, Jim FARRIS and others became indignant and proceeding to the depot, an attempt was made to get the prisoners and bring them back to jail, but when Capt. ASKERN, the Sheriff and Marshal drew their revolvers, the crowd quieted down and maintained order. Some thought it safest to take the prisoners away, while others thought they should be kept where they were.

Tom CONLEY and HOOKER's boys were the only boys in the row that came out uninjured. The prisoners' version of the case is that MILLS had threatened to clean them out on that day, and that they were knocked down the stairs before they made any resistance. They plead self defense.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2009

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