Scott Co, Iowa Crime Files - 1870

Contributed by Cathy Labath

Davenport Democrat
Davenport, Scott, Iowa

Tuesday, November 1, 1870:

Mysterious Disappearance of a Wife and Mother.

For some twenty years past Mr. Folser and Ann his devoted wife, lived together happily, and in apparent contentment, as becomes the married state. He was a blacksmith, formerly residing in this city, but for a long time past has swung his heavy hammer in the quiet village of Blue Grass, in this county, where he lived some dozen or more years since. About eighteen years ago, then, and when he had already wrought out full forty-five years of his existence, he married Ann, then a girl of some nineteen or twenty summers. But disparity in age created no outward signs of discontent. Children were born unto them-five or more. They were poor, indeed, but by hard and honest toil-he at the forge, she at her own housework and that of her neighbors, obtained a good living .

For some little time past there has been talk among the neighbors of some discontent on the part of the wife, but not so marked as to create any fixed impression. She had spoken to some of them about going to Illinois to visit some relatives, and had quite recently hinted at the gloomy prospects of the future-her husband being old and no longer able to work, the entire burden of supporting him and four dependent children, resting upon her shoulders.

On Sunday evening last, which as will be remembered, was quite cold and blustering. She put on her shawl and bonnet and remarked to her family that she was going to run into Mrs. Hogan’s and would return in a little while. The family waited her coming an unusual time, but she came not; inquiries were made but now Mrs. H. nor any other person could be found that had seen her, nor has she been heard of since by any one now known to her people or neighbors. Surmises are numerous of course, and with some it is feared that she in that cold night went to the river, four miles away and buried her weight of trouble far beneath its deep waters, forever. This is only a surmise and yet she may be heard from elsewhere, as after she had gone it was found that her clothing had all been packed up and unbeknown to the family, taken away, undoubtedly before the evening in question. Time will develop this sad mystery.

Tuesday, November 8, 1870:

District Court.
The following prisoners were brought in:

For grand larceny, Thos. Grady, B.A. Albright, Chas. Baker, Chas. Clark, Isaac Henderson James Depro, James Waterford; for robbery, Wm. Sanders and Pat Stake, and G.T. Cook, for house stealing, Joseph Baker, burglary, E. Henneway, assault with intent to rob, Thos Tenneally and Chas. Nugent, for assault with intent to murder; T.W. Jurgen, cheating by false pretenses, and James Murphy and George Wilson for assault with intent to steal.

Also, three females, Mollie Hill, known as “Dutch Moll”, Lavina Colliers and her daughter Sarah, are in jail awaiting the action of the Court. No challenge being made by the prisoners, the Grand Jury were instructed and retired to their new apartment on the second floor of the Court House Jr.

Wednesday, November 9, 1870:

Final Settlement.

The noted slander case of Fejervary vs. Renwick, which for a year past has attracted so much attention in our social circles has been finally settled-the defendant confessing judgment and paying the costs, as will be seen by the more complete report in another column. It is well that it is settled in this way would have been settled had it so terminated long since-even without any trial as might have been.

Fluke Trial again.

The tolerably well advertised trial of the county of Scott vs Thos K Fluke Ex-county Treasurer will be further agitated in the District Court to-morrow. Little less than one year ago the question of the indebtedness of Mr. Fluke to the county, on account of certain embezzlements and shortages that occurred in treasury matters during his term of office, was by consent of parties referred to Hon. A.H. Bennet for hearing. To this matter Judge Bennett, the able counsel on either side, and a broad cloud of witnesses, paid unwearied attention for full forty days, which resulted in the finding of better than two thousand dollars as due the county from the defendant, in addition to one thousand dollars already paid over. The finding of the referee had never been affirmed or reversed by the District Court, as would be necessarily required. The question comes up to-morrow, we believe, upon motion of defendant’s counsel to set aside the finding of the referee. There is room for discussion upon that point, and there is a possibility that there will be a spirited confab over it.

Thursday, November 10, 1870:

District Court.

Sharlow vs Lancaster. These two persons live in Princeton, in this county, are neighbors, fell out by the wayside, fought each other after the manner of wild beasts, had a law-suit in Justice’s court, ten dollars and costs; damaged character; damaged countenance; $6000 damages sought for.

Sharlow, the plaintiff, in this action has a stone quarry; Lancaster, the defendant, had a crow bar. It is set up in the proceedings that defendant lost his crow bar; that he went to plaintiff’s quarry to find it; did find a bar there, upon the hardened countenance of which he thought he traced unmistakable traces of ownership so informed plaintiff. Plaintiff asked defendant if he thought that he (plaintiff) had stolen his (defendant’s ) crow bar. Defendant answering ,said that he did not know what he (plaintiff) would do. Indignant at this ironical remark, a human bear fight originated on the spot, resulting in a complete disarrangement of defendant’s countenance and in the further result of prosecuting and fining Mr. Sharlow the sum of $10 and costs.

Still more indignant than before, Sharlow sues Lancaster for slander-setting forth that on sundry times and often occasions, he (Lancaster) had accused him (Sharlow), directly and by indirection of stealing his (Lancaster’s ) tools, and placing the measure of his damages of character, good name, fame, et cetera, at $6000 in the currency of the realm. Trial by jury this day. Davison for plaintiff; Hubbell for defendant.

Friday, November 11, 1870:

District Court. November Term.

The hearing of the Sharlow-Lancaster slander case taken up yesterday morning, was given to the Jury at noon to-day; at 3 o’clock the jury returned a verdict for the defendant, where upon plaintiff’s counsel gave notice of motion for a new trial.

Medical Misery
Four Months Jail for 55 Cents

     About four months ago, thinking to better his fortune, at least to provide sustenance for himself and two dear little motherless children, who were as dear to his heart as his won soul, came to this city one Doctor T.W. Jurgen, from Chicago. he left his children there in rather dubious circumstances, hoping with a fond father's hope that in a short time at last, he should be able to make a remittance in their behalfs. He came to this city as we have said, and commenced practicing the noble art of healing the sick. He was a follower of Hahnemann, practicing in the sometimes traduced homeopathic school. About the first patient who applied for his aid was one Hans Lerch. Hans was the unfortunate proprietor of a sore toe and would have it cured. The doctor took the case in hand, prescribed, went to a druggist and procured the necessary medicines and delivered him the same, charging for the service the enormous sum of sixty five cents! Whether the patient was cured or not, we can not say, but at all events, he became immediately dissatisfied at the enormity of the bill charged and paid. He hunted up the druggist who sold the medicine and found that it cost the doctor ten cents. Considering the charge of fifty-five cents for advice and going for drugs, and outrage, he immediately commenced action against the Doctor for obtaining money under false pretenses. The trial came on, witnesses testified, lawyers locked horns and Jurgen was bound over to Squire Peters to appear at the next term of the district Court. Unable to furnish bond, he went to jail and has been there ever since-until yesterday, when the papers in the case were brought before the Grand Jury. They were examined; the Grand Jury was disgusted that a man should be imprisoned on so trivial a matter, and very properly threw the case out, refusing to find a bill.
     That a man should be deprived of his liberty as a common felon for a quarter of a year in so small a matter, was bad enough, but while in jail the Doctor was unable, of course, to provide for his little ones in Chicago, and, alas for the rarity of Christian charity, they were bundled off to the Poor House ,where they have been for some time. The safety of society, the sanctity of the law may require that such hardships may be imposed, but it is intensely difficult to see it. Lerch, the prosecuting witness, left the city long ago, the case was a perfect vacuum, and yet this man and his dependent children were left to suffer on unheeded. Sheriff Schnitger gave the Doctor the best accommodations he had, reports him as a gentleman and a man who most keenly felt his situation and that of his little ones. Unless we have been misinformed, there is a screw loose in this case somewhere that needs tightening.

Tuesday, November 15, 1870:

     Business at Justice Peters’ office is decidedly lively today. No less than three inebriated specimens have been brought up this morning for the usual intoxication in which they were found.-The usual fines,&c. were assessed. This is no doubt brought on by the "unliveable” and thoroughly disagreeable state in which the weather has kept for the past twenty-four hours. The names of the offenders are Roderick Roming, Patrick McMahon and John Tobin.

Grand Jury.
     True bills were this day reported against Jas. Baker, G.F. Cook, Chas. Hann and Thos. Farrell for larceny, and Thos. Fannelly for assault with intent to kill.

Tichenor vs Tichenor.
     Action of Enos Tischenor against his wife, for maintenance. The court held that plaintiff was the head of he family, and entitled to support. Notice for supplemental answer. Davison for Plff. Lane deft.

Wednesday, November 16, 1870:

Police Court.
     The case of Robert Stephenson , arrested for passing counterfeit money, has occupied the attention of Justice Peters this afternoon, and is in progress as we go to press.

 Tuesday, November 17, 1870:

     Settled. The Tichenor case has been settled, by selling the Tichenor real estate, in this city, to French and Davies for $6000-and turning over $2000 of the proceeds to Mr. T., the balance to be retained by Mrs. T., against whom action was brought for his maintenance.

Counterfeiter Arrested.
     We noticed yesterday in our columns the arrest of Robert Stevenson for passing counterfeit money, the trial of whom was then in progress.
     It seems there were two involved in the crime, Stephenson having an accomplice named Alexis Faland, both of whom were arrested and committed before Justice Peters yesterday. It appeared at the trial that on Tuesday evening they attempted to pass a $20 counterfeit National Bank note at several places in the city, and were told several times that the bill was a counterfeit, whereupon the accused left in great haste. The police were at once put upon their track, and by keeping up the search during the night and the next morning, they were at last found. Gen J.B. Leake appeared for the prosecution, E. Claussen and W. T. Dittoe for the defence.
     Freeland was tried an held in $250 for his appearance and was sent to jail in default. Stephenson waived an examination, and gave $250 bail for his appearance.

 [Note that different spellings of surnames occurred in the above item and were not typos.]

Wednesday, November 18, 1870:

     This morning several prisoners-Hennessey, Waterford, Wilson, Murphy, Barker, and three boys, Chas. Depro, aged 10, Chas. Henn, aged 11, and Thos. Tennett, aged 11, were brought into court.-The former plead not guilty, and were assigned attorneys. The boys, though arraigned for states prison offences, will be dealt with as circumstances demand. Wm Humphrey and C.F. Spence, the St. Louis and Shoo Fly beer jerkers, forfeited their bail of $100 and will probably be scarce hereafter. 

Monday, November 21, 1870:

Not Heard From.
     Some three weeks ago we itemized the sudden departure for her bed, board and family of Mrs. Fowler, of Blue Grass . Though four weeks have elapsed since her mysterious disappearance, not a word has been heard of or concerning her. The family has broken up-Fowler sold out what he had in Blue Grass, and has gone to live with his children.

Criminal Docket.

     State vs. James and John Owens. In this case it is alleged that defendants beat, bruised, and severely maltreated one Lawrence Kearns, a neighbor with intent to commit great bodily injury. The parties reside in Blue Grass-they have not been on good terms for some time-were living a sort of cat and dog life, which resulted in the fight in April last. Ellis and Foster for State, John Gallagher and Parker and Twomey for defendants.

Tuesday, November 22, 1870:

District Court.
     State vs. Humphrey and Spence-for keeping houses of outrageous repute. Defendants absconded, forfeiting $100 bail, which inures to the school fund. In case they return, the Sheriff has instructions to invite them to his fire proof residence.

State vs. Welker-assault and abuse of his daughter. Dismissed with costs.

State vs Murphy and Wilson-assault with intent to rob. Plea of guilty as to assault. Thirty days in county jail or $100 fine.

State vs Chas. Depro-larceny. Defendant 11 years old. Has already been arraigned three times-once for stealing a horse. On application of his mother, who declares her son incorrigible, an order was issued for sending him to the State reform school. 

State vs Lavina and Sarah Collers-mother and daughter. Vagrants. The former to be discharged from jail Dec. 1st , the latter 15 days later. 

State vs Watson. The defendant stands accused of the seduction, under promise of marriage, of a Miss Foster, of Lincoln township. Trial by Jury this day.

     The Grand Jury returned true bills this day against Chas Parker and Ben Albright for stealing $11.50 from J. Stutt in May last; Wm. Sanders for stealing $215 from Swan Johnson in July last and against Isaac Henderson for stealing a watch from David Gooding in Sept. last.

November 23, 1870.

Police Court.

But few cases were before Justice Peters today. James Miller for being drunk, was fined $5 and costs, and for disturbing the public peace, $5 and costs. James Kent was arrested for threatening to kill a negro. Discharged. 

District Court.
      The seduction case of State vs Watson commenced yesterday, occupied the afternoon of the court to-day and probably will for a day or so to come. The principal part of yesterday afternoon was spent in the examination of Miss Martha Foster, the prosecuting witness. During the forenoon of today the witness stand was occupied by Mrs. Watson, the wife of the defendant. From the testimony developed thus far it seems that the defendant entertained intimate relations with two marriageable young ladies for a long time previous to his marriage, which took place in December, 1869. His wife testifies that she was engaged to be married to the defendant seven years before the marriage took place. It also appears that the parents of the young lady were opposed to the match and that a good deal of the house of his intended-considerable at the house of Mr. Foster, the father of the prosecuting witness. It also appears from the testimony that while engaged to his present wife he also paid his addresses to Miss Foster, and that under promise of marriage succeeded in ruining her character and blasting her reputation forever. At all events such is the testimony. A considerable number of witnesses have been examined by the defense this afternoon.
     P.S. The testimony closed this afternoon at 4 o’clock; argument commenced by W.A. Foster, Esq, to be followed by J.W. Thompson, Esq., and J.P. Campbell, Esq, on part of defense; and close-probably about 10 o'clock, by Lyman A. Ellis, Esq.

November 25, 1870


Found Guilty

     The seduction case of the State vs. James Watson, was given to the Jury at midnight on Wednesday. The closing arguments of J.P. Campbell for the defense, and Lyman A. Ellis for prosecution, occupied from 8 P.M. until nearly midnight-the former speaking about an hour and a half, and the latter more than two hours. Both gentlemen made very able and eloquent addresses to the Jury. Judge Richman delivered his charge, and the crowd dispersed about fifteen minutes after midnight. The trial was one of great interest among the neighbors of the family of the prosecuting witness, Miss Martha Foster, and that of the defendant, who resided in Lincoln township. A considerable number of people of that place were present during the entire trial, and many of them remained until the Court was dismissed, as above stated.
     The Jury was not long in finding the verdict-in fact, upon the first ballot-an informal one, the vote was unanimously "guilty" - and those who paid attention to the trial must be convinced that the verdict is  according to the law and the testimony. The sentence of the Court is not yet delivered.
     It is a most unfortunate affair, one that blights the life of the excellent young lady who prosecuted the case; and not only that but renders almost equally unhappy the confiding and amiable young wife whom the defendant married less than a year ago-even after he knew of the damning consequences of his criminal intercourse with Mrs. Foster, whom also, he had promised to wed. Both of these young ladies, are deserving of the deepest sympathy. Their confiding love in one totally unworthy of any pure woman's affections has proved their ruin. Whether it would be better to be the one or the other, under the circumstances, is hard to determine. Both loved the same man-"not wisely, but too well"-the hearts of both are crushed forever.
     May not this, in some measure, serve a useful purpose in warning the young, as to their conduct. For good reason the parents of this young wife ever discountenanced the attentions of Watson upon their daughter. All through their seven years' engagement, even up to their nuptial day-even since their marriage has the bride's parents refused to recognize him. The result shows all too plainly, the force of this deep seated and persistent objections. Parents may not be in the right upon these questions, young folks are still more liable to be in the wrong.
     Mr. Henry Gast, who became bail for Watson's appearance, this morning surrendered himself to the Sheriff. The wife decided to go to jail with him, and together were imprisoned. At noon the wife, at her solicitation, was permitted to depart.

     State vs. Waterford-defendant, upon the Fourth of July last, when he should have been gloriously enthusiastic over the anniversary of our country's natal day, went, instead, and most unpatriotically stole a trunk. The trunk and contents were worth some ten or twelve dollars, and he stole the whole kit nevertheless much to the disgust of the American Eagle, who was soaring aloft at the time.- Defendant went to jail, of course; has been there ever since, and being found guilty of petit larceny to-day, was sentenced to remain twenty days longer- Five months in jail will probably disgust him everlastingly with stealing- as an honest means of getting a living. Hubbell for State, Foster for defendant.

     State vs. Cook for horse stealing. The defendant and Joseph Herron, the prosecuting witness, are horse dealers in an indifferent way. The latter being likely to get snatched by the police one day last September, entered into an arrangement with Cook, and one Trevor, of Rock Island, to get Herron's stock-four trading horses, from the Sigel stables into Rock Island, via a rip to Dempster's in North Davenport. One of the horses, a gray, valued at $65, got unmixed from the rest, and Cook, acting as a friend, took him to his place in East Davenport, and afterwards to Princeton, and then back to LeClaire, in which place he offered to sell or swap him. At LeClaire he was overhauled by Herron and officer Niles, and in due time held to appear. Defendant claim that he did not wish to sell the property as his own, but was bantering; that he took the horse to Princeton with his own in order that he might have one to take him back should he make a sale of his own horse. Trial pending. Hubbell for State, Foster and Myton for defendant.

SAD- W.H. Jenkins, formerly of Des Moines, and more recently of Moline, attempted to kill his family day before yesterday, while laboring under an attack of temporary insanity. He is now in jail in Rock Island. His trial will take place next week before the Probate Court.

 November 26, 1870


     The alleged horse stealing case was terminated yesterday evening rather unceremoniously. The testimony having been heard, Prosecuting Attorney Ellis, stated that the State had failed to make a case and that he could ask no verdict of the jury, in behalf thereof. The jury rendered a verdict of "not guilty," and the prisoner was set at liberty. The case is an aggravated one. There was no testimony to show any intention to steal the horse. It was taken to Princeton without the knowledge to the owner, to be sure, but not to do him any injury, and was on his way home again when arrested. The Defendant Cook, not being a man of means or possessed of influential friends, went to jail in September last, and has remained there ever since. During his imprisonment one of his children was taken sick, and died, right here in the city-the father not being permitted to see the little one in sickness, nor could he attend the funeral. It is all legal, we suppose, thus, upon mere suspicion-very unworthy suspicion at that, to take a man from his family and keep him for months in jail without the slightest chance to visit his distressed family; to come to the bedside of a dying child; to pay the last sad offices at the dead darling's grave-it may be glorious law-just such as should be meted out to people who rest under suspicion, but its recital of these aggravated cases would probably cause a full blooded savage to blush for the degeneracy of his thoroughly enlightened liberty loving and oppression defying, white brethren.


     Watson, found guilty of the seduction of Martha Foster, was, this morning, sentenced to thirty days' imprisonment in the county jail, and to pay three hundred dollars fine. In his behalf the Judge tempered his decision with much mercy.- The time of imprisonment will be soon over. Many years of upright life and conduct will it require to wipe out the stain thus fixed upon his character by his own act.


     The young men, Baker and Albright, found guilty of stealing some dozen dollars, were sentenced to serve on year each ast the State Prison. With this decision it is probable that the past bad record had more to do with the sentence than the mere theft upon which they were arrested.

     Isaac Henderson, who stole $250 form a bedfellow at a Danish boarding house on Second street, sentenced one year in States Prison. Upon his first trial he cleared for want of testimony. It was afterwards found that he had money on deposit in a certain alley, was re-arrested and found guilty.

     Ed. Hennessy, one of the scamps who played at the delusive tobacco-box game on the ferry boat some weeks since, and robbed a German of about $40, sentenced to six months in State Prison. He is a lad about 12 years old, and has made a big start for the gallows.


     Henry Schoening-keeper of a house of ill-fame, fined $250 and costs. The wife is acquitted.


     Robt. Stephenson, and A.M. Freeland-true bill on charge of attempting to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. Trial next term.

     Chas. Nugent, a river roustabout. Assault with intent to murder-indicted. Trial next term.

     Wm. C. Koenig, whose two children were found drowned in his house in August last, and who, with his wife, jumped into a well, that they might drown, was examined and acquitted.

The Tichenor Case.
After selling her property to M.S. Snyder, Esq, and turning over one-third of the proceeds, ($2000), to her husband for his maintenance, Mrs. T. was granted a divorce from the chains and fetters of matrimony.

 Tues. , Nov. 29, 1870:

Sad Case. The Argus of last evening says: we reported last week the case of insanity of Mr. W.H. Jenkins, and also his arrest. He in now under confinement. It seems that the malady is hereditary, having shown itself at three different times in his family. He has been afflicted for some time, but never as badly as at this time. It first made its appearance while he was at Des Moines, caused by the excitement of reporting for the Iowa legislature, and publishing his paper there, but no serious result followed. For two years he has been out of business and this has probably been the cause of this last attack, at which time he tried to kill his family. He did shoot twice, but they finally escaped, his wife by flying out of the door with the children, while one boy jumped out of the window. He is at times perfectly rational, and when so, no man is a better or more affectionate husband and father. He will be allowed to make a statement before the jury at the Court House to-morrow.

Later we learn that Mr. Jenkins has concluded not to have any examination, but will go to Batavia in this State, where he will have the benefit of a private asylum. H will probably leave this evening with proper attendants, in case he should have another attack.

 Nov 30, 1870:

Police Court Two or three benzine cases were up before Justice Peters to-day. Geo H Price, intoxicated; John Wiley, disturbing the public peace, and Ed. Boerich, “intox.” They were appropriately fined and retired into private life.

 A Wife Whipper-John Wiley is a wife whipper, and a wife whipper is a low, detestable brute, whom it were flattery to call a scoundrel. He has been in the habit, we are informed, of whipping his wife and children unmercifully. This outrage was proven on him in court today, and Squire Peters fined him $15 and costs-$21.85; payment secured. The next offence of this kind will be followed up with more severe punishment.

Monday, Dec 5, 1870:

Police Court.

On Saturday a notorious woman of the town named Sarah Caullers, with another associate, called Sadie Goesch, were brought in charged with vagrancy and locked up. This same woman Caullers was released from jail only a day or two since, and seems anxious for the “business” as she said she thought it a “nice place to live.” She is the direct cause of more misery of this character than any other of that ilk in the city; is a noted procuress, and should be kept in durance vile for the natural term of her worthless life or until she is brought to some kind of decency. She and her associate were fined each $10 and costs.

To-day two inebriated specimens named L. Connell and F.L. Mead were brought up before Justice Peters for “lying around loose" and fined $1 each and costs. Also Henry Frarik was fined $4 and costs for disturbing the public peace.

Saturday, Dec 17, 1870:

Saloon Broke Up. The citizens of Dixon took the case of Henry Weise in hand yesterday, and made it uncomfortable for him. Henry kept a saloon there and dispensed benzine. They broke up his den, took out a search warrant, found his liquors and confiscated them, had him bound over in penal sum of $100 for selling whisky, and he now sojourns in the county jail. Saloon keeping is at a discount in Dixon.