Tama County, Iowa
Sherman Wilcox Murdered John Kosina

This is the story of a murder that took place near Chelsea, Tama County, Iowa, in 1898. The first newspaper accounts appeared in early August. The blue boxes below contain transcribed newspaper articles about the case.

Back to Tama County Murder Cases.

The Decatur Herald (Decatur, Illinois) Tue, Aug 9, 1898, page 1


Cedar Rapids, Iowa, August 8 —Sherman Wilcox shot and instantly killed John Kosina last evening at the former's home near Chelsea. Wilcox was captured and held for murder in the first degree. He will have a preliminary hearing tomorrow. Threats of lynching are made.

The Independent (Hawarden, Iowa) Thu, Aug 11, 1898, page 2

Murder at Chelsea.

Belle Plaine, Aug. 10. — Report comes from Chelsea that Sherman Wilcox shot and killed a Bohemian citizen north of that town yesterday at a picnic, supposed to have been a drunken row. No particulars as yet. Inquest to be held today. Tom H. Milner and J.J. Masnab will defend the murderer.

The Humboldt Independent (Humboldt, Iowa) Thu, Aug 11, 1898, page 1

Murder at Cedar Rapids.

CEDAR RAPIDS, August 10. — Sherman Wilcox shot and instantly killed John Kosina at the former's home, two and a half miles northwest of Chelsea. Wislon has been captured and is held for murder in the first degree.

There is a gravestone in the National Cemetery in Vining, Tama, Iowa, for Frantisek Kosina, age 46, died 7 Aug 1898. This must be the same person. Perhaps John was a nickname, or middle name. So he was born between 7 Aug 1851 and 7 Aug 1852.

Estherville Daily News (Estherville, Iowa) Thum Aug 25, 1898, page 22

Sherman Wilcox, an ex-school teacher of Toledo, charged with murder of Frank Kasina on August 7, has been indicted by the grand jury.

The Fredericksburg News (Fredericksburg, Iowa) Thu, Aug 25, 1898, page 1

In the preliminary examination of Sherman Wilcox for the murder of John Kasina at Chelsea a few days ago the defendant was committed to jail under the charge of murder. The examination was held in Tama, because it was not deemed advisable to take Wilcox to Chelsea while the people are wrought up. The evidence against Wilcox was of a damaging nature.

The Fredericksburg News (Fredericksburg, Iowa) Thu, Sep 1, 1898, page 1

At Toledo a few days ago Sherman Wilcox, ex-school teacher, after an exhaustive preliminary examination, covering two entire days, was bound over to the grand jury by Justice Fowler on the charge of murder. Owing to the intense feeling against the prisoner entertained by the friends of the murdered man, the examination was conducted behind closed doors, and Sheriff Todt took his prisoner back to Marshalltown immediately after the hearing. The crime with which Wilcox is charged is the murder of Frank Kasina, a prosperous Bohemian farmer, near Chelsea, August 7. The state contends that the shooting was willful and unprovoked, and that Kasina was shot because Wilcox resented being told to discontinue his boisterous conduct. The defense, which is conducted by Attorney Milner, is self-defense.

The Red Cloud Chief (Red Cloud, Nebraska) Fri, Sep 16, 1898


While John Casiner of Chelsea, one of the best known men in Iowa, was protesting against the boisterousness of Sherman Wilcox the other night, and with the aid of Wilcox's mother was seeking to persude the young man to go home, Wilcox drew a revolver and shot Casiner dead. Wilcox fled, but was captured by those who witnessed the murder. As soon as the details of the killing became known crowds began to assemble, and there were mutterings of summary vengeance. The local officals, however, hurried the murderer to the jail, and a strong guard is placed.

The victim was John or Frank (Frantisek), Kosina, Kasina or Casiner. And he was one of the best known men in Iowa? He may be the father of Jerry Kosina.

It is unfortunate, but perhaps typical, that history seems to remember more about the murderer than the victim.

Estherville Daily News (Estherville, Iowa) Thu, Feb 16, 1899, page 10

Wilcox Sentence Pronounced.

At Toledo, the motion for a new trial in the case of Wilcox, convicted of murder in the second degree for the killing of Kosina at Chelsea, has been overruled and sentence pronounced. The penalty decreed is twelve years in the penitentiary and payment of the costs of prosecution.

United States Census, 1900

Event Type: Census
Event Year: 1900
Event Place: Iowa State Penitentiary In Anamosa, Jones, Iowa, United States
Gender: Male
Age: 36
Marital Status: Single
Race: White
Relationship to Head of Household: Prisoner
Birth Date: Dec 1864
Birthplace: Iowa
Father's Birthplace: New York
Mother's Birthplace: New York

District: 150
Sheet Number and Letter: 5A
Line Number: 49
Affiliate Name: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
Affiliate Publ. Number: 1240440
Digital Folder Number: 004120103
Image Number: 00675

Legislative Documents Submitted to the General Assembly of the State of Iowa. Vol. 1, 1902


SHERMAN WILCOX, Tama county sentenced at December term, 1898, for twelve years for murder in second degree. Suspended December 10, 1901. Judge in his recommendation for parole writes "He is not a criminal, comes from a good family, and I believe will make a good citizen if paroled." County attorney makes no objection. There are also numerous letters on file recommending parole.

[Transcribed by Marilyn Holmes, 2015]

A History of Tama County Iowa (1910), J.R. Caldwell, Vol. 1, page 255

On the 20th day of October, A.D. 1898, the grand jury returned an indictment against Sherman Wilcox for murder of Frank Kosina, committed on the 7th day of August, 1898. Mr. Kosina was a Bohemian farmer, living two and one half miles north of Chelsea. Wilcox had sold a binder to Kosina, and it was claimed that the farmer had guaranteed the machine to do good work. Kosina claimed that it did not do good work and there was a difference between the parties concerning the payment for the machine. Wilcox took a keg of beer out to Kosina's Sunday afternoon. His mother was with him. Under the mellowing influence of the beer, the difficulties in the matter of settlement disappeared and the purchase price for the machine was paid. Later, under the influence of the liquor the question arose as to the payment for the beer. After some controversy, Wilcox shot Kosina, who died almost instantly. The shooting took place between 5 and 6 o'clock. The indictment was returned by the grand jury while Mr. A.K. Hitchcock was county attorney. At the time of the trial the state was represented by Mr. C.E. Walters, county attorney, and Struble & Stier. The defense by Tom H. Milner and J.J. Masnab, of Belle Plaine. The judge presiding was Obed Caswell. The jurors were J.T. Lowery, C. Brandau, Andrew Sloss, Henry Judge, Julius Rehder, John I. Stirk, James McTurk, J.T. Wrage, J.H. Giger, Neal McCarrell, C.T. Wiliams and David Rosenberger. The defendant was found guilty of murder in the second degree and sentenced to the penitentiary for twelve years. The sentence was suspended December 10, 1901, by Governor Cummins. Wilcox was a single man of about thirty-five years of age. Frank Kosina, deceased, was forty-six years of age. He left a wife and a number of children.

[Transcribed by Marilyn Holmes, 2015]

This page was last revised on 7 Sep 2015 by William Haloupek.