A VERY OLD MURDER COLD CASE in 1896 Hawarden, Iowa
Hawarden Independent of July 30, 1896 page 5
About dusk last Sunday evening little Frank James, son of A. F. James, who resides on the bank of the Sioux river a mile southwest of town, discovered the lifeless form of an old man floating in the water. He went home and gave the alarm and Mr. James at once summoned O'Brien who had the body moved to town. Coroner Warnshuis, of Orange City, was notified and he arrived the next day to hold an inquest.
Investigation along the river the next morning was commenced and a coat, hat and one shoe were found a short distance above where the body was discovered. On the inside lapel of the coat was sewed a piece of paper upon which was written, in a ladies’ hand writing, "S. S. Dickman on his way to Hitchcock SD, to his son J. H. Dickson." Above this, in another hand writing, was the following: "Holds ticket form 5204-, No. 227.” No ticket, papers or money were found in the coat or clothing upon his person.
The weeds in the vicinity of where the coat was found were all trampled down as if a terrible struggle had taken place, and the river bank showed traces of the body having been shoved down into the stream. The post mortem conducted by Dr. De Bey disclosed marks upon the throat as if strangulation had taken place by twisting the large red bandanna handkerchief which he wore around his neck. The test of the lungs showed that they contained no water and that life must have been extinct when the body was placed in the river.
The finding of the coroner's jury was that the deceased met his death by strangulation from unknown hands. The last seen of him about town was on Wednesday. He got a lunch at Denton's restaurant about one o'clock and went out without paying for it, complaining of feeling very bad and thought that the tea he had drank would help him. Marshal O'Brien saw him sitting on the sidewalk the same day in conversation with a young man, but paid no particular attention to the fact. He was also at the mill and talked with L. T. Kenny. His clothes on one side were dusty and he wanted to know if Mr. Kenny had seen him fall from the wagon. He talked in such a rambling manner that Mr. Kenny thought him partially demented. Late Wednesday evening Samuel Heald saw him going across lots toward the river, and he disappeared in a cornfield west of town.
The same night A. F. James was awakened by the barking of his dogs and he heard loud voices in the direction of the river, but he did not go out to investigate. The general opinion is that he fell in with some tramps and they murdered him for the small amount of money he may have had upon his person and then threw the body into the river to cover up the crime. No clue has yet been found that will give the slightest trace as to the perpetrators of the deed.
John H. Dickson, of Hitchcock, son of the deceased, arrived Wednesday evening and from the description of the deceased and marks upon the clothing was enabled to positively identify him without examining the body, which had been interred in Grace Hill cemetery Monday. In conversation with the Independent reporter, Mr. Dickson stated that his father was 84 years of age, but with the strength and vigor of most persons at 60. He had received a letter from his sister that his father would start from Marion, Kansas, on Monday, July 20. Last Friday another letter was received stating that he had started on that date, and they had already begun to fear some accident had befallen him when they received Marshal O’Brien’s telegram apprising them of the awful facts. He was satisfied his father had some money on his person, but could in no way account for his stopping off here (Hawarden), as he had made the same trip several times before and always passed directly through.
He thinks he must have taken sick on the way which deranged him somewhat, thus becoming the easy victim of some vicious person. He was at much loss to account for the terrible crime as the local officials.
Marshal O’Brien received a telegram today saying he held a through ticket from Marion, Kansas, to Huron, SD, and as this is missing it may ultimately lead to the detection of the murderer. Every effort will be made to ferret out the criminal.
Dickson, S. S. - Samuel Scott Dickson 1811-1896 wife Regena Dixon 1814
Note: Further research by the submitter of this article, revealed a family report on ancestry.com (by others) Samuel Scott Dickson was born 1811 in Virginia, to James Dickson 1791-1869 and Jane Scott 1791-1828. He married Regena Dixon. They had four sons and three daughters. He had one brother. Regena Dixon was born 1814 in Virginia, no death date, apparently before 1896. Their children were John H. Dickson born Oct 20, 1835 in Owen Indiana, he died Jun 27, 1918 in Beadle SD; James Dickson born 1837 in Indiana, Joseph A. Dickson born 1843 in Indiana; Mary J. Dixon Dickson born 1845 Indiana, Sarah C. Dixon born 1850 Rachel Dickson born 1854 Indiana, a son Samuel S. born 1861 in Illinois. Samuel’s brother William Dickson 1816 – 1886 died in Moultrie Illinois.
The submitter of this ‘Old Cold Case’ did not find any reference to the Dickson Murder in the Hawarden papers from 1896-1910. The case of who murdered the old gentleman may well have gone unsolved and they did get away with murdering the old gentleman.
Submitted by Sioux County research volunteer, Wilma VandeBerg