Scott Co, Iowa Crime Files - 1870
Contributed by Cathy Labath
Davenport, Scott, Iowa
Wednesday, August 3, 1870:
Tuesday, August 9, 1870:
John Lacy, colored, for promiscuous drinking in many places was fined $1 and costs, and after that $5 and costs for disturbing the public peace. One other gent was fined $5 and costs for transgressing the hog law.
Thursday, August 11, 1870:
Police Court. Justice Peters has been busy to-day receiving calls. First, John Gilte, who was found guilty of drunk in the first degree, and on being fined $1 costs departed to Schnitger’s .
John Ryan disturbed the public peace $5 worth and was retired to the invalid corps in the stone yard.
Trouble, the sufferer for his names sake, is in trouble again today for resisting an officer, and the case is progressing as we go to press.
Friday, August 12, 1870:
Trouble, after considerable law experience, has been discharged and now rests undisturbed. One S.D. Howard was fined $15 and costs for peddling needles and thread without a a license. Learn him to take a joke. Samuel Williams being very drunk was fined $1 and costs.
August 15, 1870
We learn the particulars to-day of a sad affair,
which transpired last evening in Pleasant Valley. Hiram Wooden, a young man
20 years of age has been employed for some time on the farm of Jas. W.
Means, Esq., who resides about seven miles from the city, is the central
figure in the tragedy. About ten days ago he was attacked with bilious
fever, not very severely but still sufficient to confine him to the house.
Dr. Peck was called and prescribed remedies. On Thursday and Saturday of
last week Mr. Means took out medicine for Wooden, and reported to the Dr.
that he was getting better fast. He seemed improving so much that it was
thought he would be entirely well by this week.
There was an affair with pistols out in Sheridan
township last Saturday. About a year and a half ago, one B.L. Seaman married
a daughter of Gilbert Wicks, all of that township. Both are farmers, living
about three miles apart. The marriage did not prove a happy one, for some
reason or other, and as a matter of course, the young wife's parents took
her part.- Last fall the quarrel became pretty hot, and the young wife took
her little child and went to her father's house to live; a suit for divorce
was commenced, but afterwards the difficulty was patched up in some way, and
she went home again and lived with her husband.
Tuesday, Aug 16, 1870:
Seaman-Wicks Shooting Affray
Yesterday’s Democrat contained a report of a case before Justice Dowd, in which Gilbert Wicks appeared as plaintiff, charging ________ Seaman, his son-in-law with shooting at him with intent to murder. The defendant was held to bail in $500, to appear at the next term of District Court.
Immediately Mr. Seaman takes the position of plaintiff, and brings suit against Mr. Wicks upon the same charge. It appears, as stated before, that after Seaman began firing at Wicks, then Wicks commenced. The case is pending as we go to press, and the case seems to be one that will figure pretty largely in the courts for some time to come. We understand that Mr. Seaman has no thought of so far harmonizing matters as that peace can be restored in the family, but there is a child in the case of which he is the father, which among other things will figure prominently as a bone of contention. How many more suits will grow out of the affair remains to be seen. It is unfortunate at the least.
The Wooden Suicide.
Coroner Tomson held an inquest over the dead body of Hiram Wooden, who committed suicide at the residence of J.W. Means, in Pleasant Valley, night before last. The verdict of the Jury was that the deceased came to his death by his own hand, while laboring under a temporary aberration of mind.
But very little is known of the deceased, save that his parents were near Rochester, N.Y. It seems that he left home when sixteen years of age, owing to some misunderstanding with his parents, since which time he has had no correspondence with them and seemed to have no desire to renew his filial intercourse. Last winter he lived in Nebraska, where he had made a purchase of some land, and returned here in the spring to work for Mr. Means for wages. His general character was good-was not addicted to bad habits. There is a wall of mystery hanging over the young man’s life, which when drawn aside, if it ever may be, will shed light upon the extremely painful circumstances.
August 22, 1870
A TRIPLE MURDER
It is, thankfully, but at long intervals that we
have to record circumstances so appalling as the one which took place in our
midst on Saturday night last, or to relate a deed of blood so surrounded with
apparently unpierceable mystery. On the evening of that day, the generally
quiet and peaceable portion of the city inhabited almost entirely by our
German fellow citizens, in the immediate vicinity of Warren and Second streets
were horrified by the rumor that a German woman who has but recently taken up
her residence in the neighborhood had destroyed the lives of two and
afterwards destroyed herself. On hastening to the spot we found the report too
true, for lying upon the bed in the cold embraces of Death were the bodies of
a little boy and girl, the latter about four years and the former but two
years of age. A visit to the yard discovered still another horror, for there,
in a well of not more than three feet in diameter, some eighteen feet deep,
and containing but a shallow accumulation of water, not more than two feet,
lay the body of the unfortunate mother, whose rash hand the evidence goes to
show had under the pressure of impending poverty, hurried herself and her
innocent children into the presence of God.
the following statement by the husband was received before the jury, which
was composed of Messrs. Tiechenor, Charles Eckhardt, and Jacob Grobe. Had been
uptown Saturday evening and returned to his home about 10 P.M., found the
lights out, and supposed his wife and children had gone to bed. He struck a
match and lighted a candle, and saw upon the floor his two children lying
dead. he picked them up and laid them upon the bed. He then passed into the
yard, and saw his wife sitting by the well. He went to her, and she told him
she had drowned the children in a bucket of water in the house, and intended
to drown herself as she had no desire to live, was discouraged and sick.
Koenig says he told his wife to come in the house, but she did not wish to. He
then led her in. Here she repeated what she had said at the well, and told her
husband it would be better if they both were dead, and proposed they drown
themselves in the well; that he consented to the proposition; that they both
went to the well and jumped in, but the depth of the water was not sufficient
to drown him (the well is about three feet and a half in diameter); that he
climbed out and went down the street to notify a friend. Not knowing what to
do, he called on Mr. Jacob Rolfs, tailor, Second street, near Ripley, told him
of the affair, and with Mr. R. returned to his home, where he remained until
taken into custody by Deputy Sheriff Feid.
Something more than average attendance of the
Monday morning gentry presented themselves at Justice Peter's today. There
were a long string of them all up for divers [sic-diverse] and sundry
offences, and one or two of an aggravating character.
Aug 23, 1870
The Koenig Tragedy.
Continuation of the Investigation.
The additional testimony in the3 case of Koenig, the unhappy husband and father, whose family were found dead in so mysterious a manner, taken after we went to press last evening, was as follows:
Mrs. Christina Peters sworn: - I know the family of Koenig; I visited her sometimes; Mrs. Koenig said to me once that she would like to go back to the old country: I was in there Saturday afternoon about 4 o’clock and asked her for her hatchet; she was laying in the bed; Mrs. Koenig told me I could have it if I could find it; I then asked her where her husband was ; she said he was at Rolfs’; about seven o’clock in the evening of the same say I saw a feather bed of hers in the yard; I took it into the house; Mrs. Koenig was in the bed sleeping; I woke her up: I told her that I had brought her bed in: she asked me if it was raining; I told her no; the little boy was laying by his mother; the little girl was laying on the bed in the back room; there was no light in the room; she never said she was tired of living; her husband was low spirited and she would try and cheer him up; I saw her in the yard about a month ago, but not since. [signed.] Christina Peters.
Catharine Bleik Sworn. - I have lived in the house next to Koenig 14 days; Saturday night sometime in the middle of the night, I was out in the yard; I heard a noise at the well, but did not go to see what it was; I have heard nearly every night some one in Koenig’s walking, but Saturday night I heard nothing. [Signed] Catharine Bleik.
Clause Miller Sworn - I live in the same house with the Koenig family. I did not know them. I helped get the woman out of the well. The water in the well was not clean; it was a little riled and muddy. I think it is impossible for two persons to fall into the well without injury to themselves. The woman lay with her face in the water. There was room enough in the well for a person as long as Mr. Koenig to lay down with the body that was there. [ Signed] Claus Miller.
Jacob Heidtmann, Sworn - I know nothing more than what has been said. Jacob Heidtmann.
John Eggers Sworn - I know Mrs. Koenig. Her husband I have known since they came to Davenport. John Koenig was at my place Saturday evening about two hours. He acted as though he wanted something of me, but did not like to ask for it. He did not talk like he did before when he had been at my place. About ¼ before 9 o’clock we got on the street car and went up to Mr. Senter’s house. [Signed] John Eggers.
Henry Wessel Sworn- I am a doctor; I attended Mrs. Koenig; I saw her last Saturday morning ; I have been attending her several weeks; her eyes were better; I had told her that they would never get well; she was in good humor all of the time; she could see enough to move around in the day-time, but not in the night; I think that she had not strength enough to hold the four-year old child in the water bucket until she drowned. [Signed] H. Wessel
At 6 o’clock the examination of witnesses terminated. The coroner inspected in company with the jury the well and its surroundings, and then adjourned until 9 o’clock A.M. to-day.
FURTHER EXAMINATION OF KOENIG.
Coroner Tomson and the jury appeared at the jail as agreed upon at adjournment last evening for a further and final examination of the father of the murdered children.
The prisoner was brought into the jail office by Deputy Sheriff Feid. Nothing in his manner indicated great grief, nor yet its opposite. He was comfortably dressed, and appeared in all things comfortable and contented with things as he found them.
Being seated, Coroner Tomson inquired now that he had time to reflect upon the matter by himself for some time, if he had anything farther to communicate to the jury.
Through the interpreter, Mr. Chas. Eckhard, the prisoner replied that he had nothing further to offer.
As questioned by the Coroner, the prisoner responded as follows:
My wife was not in the habit of walking out in the back yard alone; since her eyes got bad we would walk out together for the last time about a week ago; we usually walked in he evening-after supper-not after dark; sometimes we sat upon the yard steps in the evening; did not walk in the night time; might have done so, but not long; we walked but two or three times a week; never walked with her to the well; she went to the well for water until her eyes got bad; then I brought it; brought one bucket from the well and one from the river for her eyes. Don’t know how much water there was in the house on Saturday when I left to go out.; know there was some there.
Went out about 7 o’clock; wife and children were in the front room; can’t say if they were abed or not; think the oldest child was up; if my wife was up the little child was up with her; if she was abed the child was abed also; I took the silver ware to Rolf’s about 3 P.M. returning between 5 and 6 o’clock; had supper; no one in the house that afternoon but ourselves; we slept in the front room; the oldest child slept on a bed on chairs-not in the back room; I did not know that Mrs. Peters was in during the afternoon of last Saturday; did not lock the back door when I went out; think my wife could see well enough to go to the well.
When I got home at night I found my wife sitting alone by the well; I asked her how she could make up her mind to do such an awful thing as to kill her children; she told me we were very poor; that we had nothing to live on; it was not the first time she had talked about it; we had talked over our condition before, and had agreed to join the Amana Society; had talked it over last Saturday, and agreed that day upon joining that society; the silver ware I took to Rolf’s was most from my father; part of it we bought together; it was her mind to sell it.
I don’t remember the first thing I said when I came home and found my
wife at the well; I was down-hearted; carried her into the house; I went to
work to restore the children to life; my wife, the while declaring she would
drown herself, and ran away several times, but I brought her back. As I came
in that night I found the children dead; one in the back room upon the floor,
the other in the front room its head in the bucket. I thought it must have
been my wife who killed them. She was always kind to them yet I thought nobody
else could have killed them. I could not see my wife at the well from the back
door. Lighted a candle and went into the yard, and saw her at the well; do not
remember having heard any noise. The oldest child was in the back room; the
youngest in the front room in the bucket; I notice only one bucket; do not
know as the oldest was wet. From the fact that I found the youngest one in the
bucket I concluded the elder one must be drowned also. I did'nt pick them up
or try to bring them to until I had been out and found my wife and brought her
in. I struck a light when I first came in, saw the children as stated; went to
find my wife. Don’t know how long I was in the house before I went out to
find my wife; brought her into front room right away; she said “let us go
and drown ourselves”; I told her we must go to work to restore the children;
she said she would go and drown herself; Don’t know how long I at the
children; my wife kept trying all the while to get out. When I found that I
could not restore the children to life, we agreed to go and drown together in
the well. We went out at the back door together, hand in hand, and got over
the curb; can’t say which got over first; the bucket was up; did not take
the crank off; we took hold of each other’s hands, and together jumped into
the well. (This well is 18 feet deep by 2 ½ in diameter with 18 inches of
water - REP) The fall did not stun me; knew where I was when we struck the
bottom, and immediately tried to drown myself. My wife laid down in the water;
I laid down too; don’t know how long; stooped forward while standing on my
feet, and put my head in the water. It did not hurt me; felt strange; do not
know how I got out; don’t know why I took my head out of the water; thought
we laid down in the water; don’t remember feeling my wife in my way; there
was room enough. Then I though I would et out again and go into the house and
shoot myself. Had a single barrel gun and powder, and shot in the house. When
I got out of the well I went into the house and looked at the children, and
took hold of their hands, and then though I could not shoot myself. Then I
went back to Rolfs. When I first saw my children and knew my wife had killed
them I thought I will do nothing but drown myself; when I saw them again after
I got out of the well, I was too weak to reach up and take down my gun; that
it was best to see Rolf before I kill myself; told him all about the children
dead and my wife drowned herself and that I was willing to shoot myself. Rolfs
kept me from it. I took his word not to say anything about it till next
morning; and made up my mind to shoot myself before morning. Thought he
couldn't stop me anyhow. After that couldn't get a chance to kill myself.
Tuesday, August 25, 1870:
The Koenig Tragedy.
In Police Court yesterday, Mr. Koenig had a preliminary
examination; nothing new elicited. Quire Peters held the accused in the sum of
one thousand dollars to appear at the next term of District Court. Bail to
that amount was promptly furnished. J.B. Leake for prosecution; Ernst Claussen
for defense. It is thought that hereditary insanity on the part of Mrs.
Koenig’s family is susceptible of being clearly proven.
Fair but frail Lizzie Anderson, with a bad reputation and
a gold watch, was ushered into the presence of Magistrate Peters, to-day,
charged with keeping a house of questionable repute at the corner of Gaines
and Third Street. The law and the testimony were against the accused, and she
was fined $20 and costs. The gold watch and chain was pledged for the amount.
Hattie Hall, and inmate of the aforesaid baguio was
required to hand over $10 and costs, which she did reluctantly.
A young man of this city who gave his name a John Slider,
but that is not his name, was captured in the same den and paid over $10 and
costs for his crime.
The magistrate ordered the chief of police to dry up and
renovate the establishment, and to see that it be no more contaminated by the
John Slumm went and outflanked too much whisky straight,
wherefore he came to grief and was interviewed in open court on the strength
of the City Ordinances. One dollar and costs for John.
Monday, August 29, 1870:
There was the usual jubilee at Justice Peters office this
morning. The first victim was John Geiser, who had been out on a spree, which
caused him to be taxed one dollar and costs-$5.55. For another offence he came
down $6 and costs-$12.15-making in all $17.70 for John, which he paid into the
treasury, and went into training for another drunk.
Ed Billick- State case. Ed stole H. Bremer’s skiff, for
which eccentricity he was assessed $36 and costs-$42.00, and being short that
amount at his banker’s concluded to go and break rock for Sheriff Schnitger
at $1.50 per day-twenty eight days.
H. Bremers went after his skiff with angry heart, words
of startling profanity, and a double-barrel shot gun. He threatened
Billick’s life in the most enthusiastic spirit, and for this quiet Sabbath
day sport, was fined and paid three dollars costs.
A Douglas did beat, assault, macerate and whip into a
thousand minute fragments one Count de Barofsky, in the most chivalrous style;
for which pugilistic effort he purchased tickets to the amount of three
dollars and costs-$10.95 in jail and is still on the war path.
August 30, 1870:
Crime-carnival was abroad in full fury at the “beer
jerkers’ Hall known as the St. Louis in Metropolitan basement last night.
Cursing, fighting and plug-uglyism reigned rampant among patrons and
proprietors. This morning the revellers were in the police office to settle
the score. Bill Howell, Jim Gartland and John Smith were found guilty of
disturbing the public peace and fined each four dollars and costs.
Bill Howell prosecuted C.F. Spence, the proprietor of the
“St. Louis,” but reconsidered, withdrew, paid costs and quit.
H.H. Foot and Jas. Smith were fined for fighting with
Howell and Gartland.
Suits have been brought against Spence, the
proprietor-one for keeping a house of assignation and prostitution, and
another for keeping a disorderly den, in prosecution of which a large number
of citizens have been summoned. The trial has been set for Thursday morning at
9 o’clock. The people are waking up to their duty in this matter, and are
determined to know if these hideous immoralities can be continually practiced
with impurity in their midst. Bet it be fully and thoroughly tested; the city
is becoming rotten with these rascalities; now let me see if there is any
remedy for it.
J. Parsons was fined one dollar and costs for getting
drunk ; jailed and inside the bars made night hideous with howling ; some
little correction rather soothed him down, and another fine and costs for such
misconduct will make a further drain of his bank deposits.
August 31, 1870:
There was nothing before the Police Magistrate to-day, as
police magistrate; but as Justice of the Peace the following cases were in
The state prosecuted one man Cogan for assaulting J.C.
Patten and taking from his person one shirt stud and one pair sleeve buttons,
all valued at $20.; for which sleight of hand work the defendant was held to
bail in the sum of $150, which he readily furnished on the spot.
The State went for Thos. Gartland, on information of his
wife, for violent, drunken and disorderly conduct. The prosecuting witness
failing to appear, the case was dropped-defendant paying costs.
Sept 3, 1870:
Acting under instructions from the City Council, Marshall
Kauffman has locked up the “Shoo Fly” Saloon and the St. Louis Billiard
Hall for reasons heretofore alleged and at last we are rid of them.
F. Vogt for keeping a saloon without license, on Brady
St., above the Fair Grounds, was fined $20 and costs, which he paid.
H. Redwick was arrested as a common vagrant and ordered
to leave the city.
Sept 16, 1870:
The matinee at Justice Peters rooms opened this morning
to moderately full benches. Mattie Blair and A.Williams played to the tune of
about twenty-five dollars in the drama of immoral life.
T. Jackson and Jenny Watson also took active parts to the
same tune, but the latter pair being out of change, went to jail.
A.Miller got mixed up with too much benzine-was duly
fined and went out to take another load.
M. Crowley and T. Jackson were put through and jailed
September 20, 1870.
Elopement or drowning.
Rock Island has a conundrum on hand. There lived there a
short time since, one William Harrison, a carpenter by trade, a man of family
and much given to grief. His family relations somehow got out of gear and not
unfrequently when his poor wife had fits, which malady she was unfortunately
heir to, he would himself go into tantrums and allude obscurely to poisonous
drugs, villainous ammunition, chilling steel-even would make a cool
calculation of the probable time required by a given number of catfish to pick
the flesh from the bones of a full grown man. These ghastly hints at self
destruction became annoying, and his wife sought to unravel the mystery of the
dark worlds, through the help of a Davenport woman who claims to be hooked up
in the affairs of the future, having been there to see for herself. This
intelligent female told the wife that that kind of talk was a sure indication
that he husband was about to run away with another woman, and probably she
This morning Harrison’s clothes were found on a raft at
the lower part of the city, carefully piled up in a heap, and it is the
opinion of Mr. Carter at the Glass Works, where the missing man has been
working at his trade for the past two months, that he has, eloped with a
brevet wife to parts unknown. This conclusion, however, may do him great
injustice, though some days ago he painted his tool chest black, and sent it
to his mother in LaSalle, with instructions to sell the same, buy good clothes
with the proceeds as he should never use his tools any more. It is an open
question whether he has committed suicide or eloped.
Wednesday, September 28, 1870:
A servant girl named Mary Schluntz, aged 16, mysteriously
disappeared from Sheriff Schnitger’s son the evening of day before
yesterday. She had formerly worked in the family of W. Bach, and in August
last, went to work in the Sheriff’s family. Day before yesterday she was
arrested by Bach on charge of stealing some articles of wardrobe from his
wife. The testimony went to show that the things alleged to have been stolen
were found in the girl’s open trunk. She being a minor, was bound over to
appear at Circuit Court. So much did the girl take the accusation to heart,
that she disappeared last evening, leaving for Mrs. S. a note of a few
touching words, leading to the belief that she drowned herself in the river.
She was a girl of good character, much liked where she worked. Her parents
reside in the city, and are, of course, overwhelmed with grief over the sad
September 29, 1870:
The Missing Miss.
Yesterday evening’s Democrat
contained an item relative to the sudden disappearance of Miss Mary Schlurz,
from the family of Sheriff Schnitger, where she was employed. Though there was
a horrid impression in existence yesterday, that she had drowned herself in
consequence of a persecution by one Bach for petit larceny, we are informed
to-day upon authority that claims to be posted, that she is alive and well,
and within easy reach of her friends.
Wednesday, October 6, 1870:
Saturday October 8, 1870
Two Confidence Swindlers arrested.
On Thursday last, two river thieves or professional
confidence men, which is all the same thing, got hold of a green German on the
ferry boat and with some kind of a delusion in the shape of a mysterious
tobacco box, induced the aforesaid green one to bet a dollar that he could
open it. So he pulled out his money about forty five dollars to get out the
amount of the bet, when one of the scamps, named Steck, snatched the pile and
the boat being on this side broke for up-town. He was pursued by some of the
boat hands, was caught, got away, and was followed up to the vicinity of
“Flat Iron Square” When Officer Rohm hearing the calls for police made
after him and corralled him in a privy and soon had him under arrest.- Upon
search the sum of $211.55 was found on his person. He claimed that he won the
$45 in a fair bet with the German, that the money was put up in the hands of a
man named Hennessey, from whom he had taken it after the bet had been decided.
He was put in safe quarters last night had his examination this morning before
Squire Peters and was bound over in $500 bail to appear at District Court in
default of which went to jail.
The day after the stealing the man Hennessey was arrested
by officer Simms and was found to be the pal of Steck. He, too, will probably
have a hearing before the District Court and both a full term at Fort Madison.
Since writing the above Hennessey had been held to bail
in the sum of $250 as a vagrant and is to have a further trial before Justice
Dowd for assault and battery. He has a boy of about 16-will probably go to
Monday, October 10, 1870:
Chas. Kinsella, for disturbing the peace on Sunday, was
this day fined by Squire Peters $3 and costs, which was paid.
Wm. Traverse and Daniel Boone, for drunkardly conduct
were fined $3 and costs each. Boone was short and went to jail.
Case of State vs Stere & Miller, hotel keepers at
Maysville, charged with selling liquors contrary to the statute by James
Carlin, came up for trial before Squire Peters to-day. No appearance of
prosecuting witness-defendants discharged.
Hennessey, the boy who was on trial Saturday before
Squire Peters and turned over to Dowd for trial for gambling and assault and
batter y was discharged by Dowd on first charge, and fined $3 and costs on
second. He is in jail in default of $2.50 for vagrancy.
A case of cruelty to animals will be tried before Justice
Tuesday, October 11, 1870:
Friday, October 14, 1870:
A farmer giving his name as Altman, undertook to swindle Steffen out of the price of forty bushels of barley, yesterday afternoon. He had obtained one of Steffen’s tickets, such as are used by his grain buyers on the streets, and presented it at the office for the money. The endorsement was such as excited suspicion, and upon being asked where he unloaded, he gave a prompt answer, which proper inquiry proved to be false. He was followed up pretty closely, but in every point it appeared that he was on the swindle. Afterwards in the day he said he had sold the grain to Hass, and upon inquiring there it was found that he had done nothing of the sort. He was not prosecuted, but well deserved that kind of attention. There is occasionally a trick of this kind in the market, and a little salutary punishment would have a good effect. We were unable to ascertain where he came from, but at all events he had better keep scarce.