Hugh Hicks Siverd was born December 28, 1849, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He enlisted as a private in Co. H 1 st Ohio Infantry, on April 17, 1861, and mustered out in August 1861. He immediately re-enlisted in Co. H, 1st Ohio Cavalry, as a private.For gallantry on the field of battle, he was promoted to sergeant major. He continued to receive promotions:second lieutenant in 1862, first lieutenant in 1863 and Captain in 1864. He mustered out September 12, 1865.
He married Alice Atkinson, who was born in England, and they had one child. His name was John William Siverd and he was born in Winfield May 9, 1893 and died in Arkansas City on April 5, 1932 in Arkansas City where he is buried.
Captain Siverd first lived near Rock, Kansas.He moved to Winfield in 1878. He was appointed as jailor for Sheriff Shenneman during his first term (1880 - 1882). Siverd won election as constable of Winfield in 1884 and held that office until his death in 1893.
During his tenure as constable, Siverd made some bitter enemies while actively engaged in prosecuting those engaged in the liquor traffic in Winfield. Some say that his murder was the direct result of his fight against the liquor trade.
On Wednesday, October 25,1893, Wilbur Norton and Morgan Wright were drinking together at Frank Mannys bar in Winfield. Wilbur Norton made several gun plays there and threatened to shoot any officer who tried to arrest him. Marshall Douglass and Deputy Sheriff Rothrock were summoned.Morgan Wright kept out of the way of the officers.Douglass tried to quiet Norton while Rothrock searched him, but they found no gun upon him. Norton told Marshall Douglass that he
wanted permission to carry a gun for he wanted to kill a s-n of a b---h. They refused permission, released him and returned to their duties.
About 2 oclock in the afternoon of the same day, Constable Siverd arrested Frank Thorp, Mannys cork-puller, and took him to jail. He heard of the trouble the officers had encountered earlier in the day, and understood that Norton and Wright had come in from Joplin, Missouri. He thought they intended to kill him and the business manager of the Winfield Courier.
Siverd hoped to get them into jail before they made any trouble.He returned to Main Street and found them standing in front of Ed Coles drugstore.Wilbur Norton, who had been a sort of a boot-leg-whisky seller, was arrested on a warrant sworn out by County Attorney Scott.Norton was in a vicious mood and resisted the officer.He became abusive and refused to go and fought like a tiger to get away from the officer.
Constable Siverd hesitated to strike Norton and tried to get him to go along quietly. It soon became clear that Norton had decided to create trouble.Several bystanders aided in getting him under control. Norton, a very strong man, fought his way out of the crowd and succeeded in knocking down several people before being subdued.Constable Siverd ordered the crowd to stand back and let him take Norton to jail. George Sanderson persuaded young Norton to go with Siverd and all thought the trouble was over.
Norton and the officer walked across Main Street until they reached the northeast corner of Main and Ninth, directly in front of the Cowley County National Bank.
Morgan Wright (son of former Winfield resident Tom Wright), who had been following the crowd, stepped forward and said, You had better let him go.At this Norton jumped back, and said Shoot the S-n of a B---h., and Wright aimed a 38 Harrington and Richardson revolver at Constable Siverd and fired the fatal shot, striking Siverd over the heart.
The constable clasped his hands against his side and partly turned around and fell to the sidewalk.He did not utter a word after receiving the fatal shot.
In a moment Drs. Emory and Hornaday were at Siverds side.The blood was gushing from the wound in his breast and it was soon announced that he could not live but a few minutes. Kind and tender hands lified him up and conveyed him to the editorial rooms of the Winfield Courier, where he died at 4 oclock, October 25th.
After the shooting, Wright ran down the alley west of the Winfield National Bank with his smoking revolver in his hand. He was followed by a large crowd of people. As he was going through the alley he snapped his revolver at one of the colored employees of the St. James Hotel. He ran on until he came to the paint shop of Reed & Oliver. He hid his gun and coat under the building and went into the shop. In a moment Marshal Douglass and Charles Schmidt, Jr., arrived.They arrested Wright and started for the jail. The marshal tried to hurry Wright, fearing that the citizens who were following, would lynch him.Wright stated that he would be dammed if he would hurry and that if they wanted to hang him, let them do so. He was lodged safely in jail.
Young Norton ran down the alley east of the First National Bank and hid himself in the vault behind Osterhouts bakery.He was captured by Assistant Marshal Archie Brown and the bookkeeper of the Wells Fargo Express Company.Norton was anxious to get to jail as he feared that the excited people would string him up.A telegram was sent to Sheriff Nipp, who lived in Arkansas City, to come to their assistance and he arrived on the evening train.During the evening many threats were made about lynching.The sheriff had ten men sworn in as deputies and the jail was guarded all night. About 2 oclock in the morning a crowd of men, fifty in number, came to the jail but did not try to enter.
On Thursday morning County Attorney Scott issued warrants charging Wright and Norton with murder in the first degree. The sheriff became convinced it was necessary, in order to protect the prisoners, to get them out of town as he feared there might be a lynching. Sheriff Nipp had the prisoners taken to Wichita in a boomers wagon that was passing through Winfield.
On Sunday evening Sheriff Nipp, Deputy Sheriff Rothrock, and a Courier reporter boarded the north bound Santa Fe tram for Wichita.They planned to return the prisoners toWinfield for then preliminary examination.They arrived in Wichita at 9:30 p.m., and immediately went to the jail. Sedgwick County Sheriff Ault met them and showed them through the jail.
The Courier reporter requested that he be allowed to interview the murderers of Constable Siverd. Sheriff Ault readily consented, and the Courier man and Deputy Sheriff Rothrock had the following conversation with them.Norton and Wright were in bed, but upon being greeted by the Courier man and Rothrock, they came to the cell door and talked freely.
Norton said that he and Morgan Wright came to Joplin (Wrights home town) from Santa Fe, New Mexico.While in Joplin, they got into a fight at a bawdy house. Both were arrested and laid in the Joplin jail for a couple of days and then paid their fines and were let out.When he and Wright left Santa Fe, they had $500 between them.After paying their Joplin fine, they blowed in the balance of the money against a fare game.When they landed in Wintield on the day of the shooting, they had only a few cents between them.
They were asked how the trouble started that led to the murder of Constable
Siverd, Norton stated that as soon as he and Wright landed in Winfield,
they proceeded to Frank Mannys joint on North Main Street and began
to fill up.A short time after they had been there, Marshall Douglass and
Deputy SheriffRothrock came and searched them. Norton saw them coming and
slipped the gun out of his pocket and hid it between a couple of bales of
hay.Norton and Wright separated and Norton went down the street.In the meantime
Constable Siverd had arrested Frank Thorp and taken him to jail.The constable
then left the jail and walked up to Main Street.Norton stated that Siverd
stepped up to him in front of Coles Drug Store and demanded that he
go with him because he had a warrant for his arrest.Norton stated that he
refused to go on account of the way Siverd talked to him, and that he did
not mean to let Siverd land him in jail.When they reached the corner of
Main and Ninth where the murder occurred, Norton saw Wright coming and called
on him to help him and told him to shoot the s-n of a b---h and that the
kid done as he told him to do.He said that he had
helped the kid out of several scrapes and had saved his life a few weeks before at Perry, Indian Territory, when a gambler had got the drop on him.
Norton first stated that the revolver with which the shooting was done was purchased at Joplin. The Courier reporter told him that Jennie Lloyd, a lewd woman of Winfield, had squealed. Norton thereupon acknowledged that he and Wright had traded some bedding and a couple of hats to her for the gun.Norton said he knew that Constable Siverd had a warrant for him, but commented that the officer did not read it to him.
Wright was not quite so communicative as Norton, but finally said that he and Norton chummed together in the strip and he proposed to stay by him,He said that he had left his wife in Joplin, Missouri, a few days before the opening of the Cherokee strip and went to the border and entered the Cherokee strip when it was open.He said that he got into a row with a gambler at Perry, in the Indian Territory, and shot at the gambler-bitting a girl.He immediately left Perry and went to Santa Fe, where he and Norton had trouble with a nigger over a claim.He also said that he had been arrested a number of times.
He told the reporter that about a year or so before at Oklahoma City he had been in a fight over a girl at a camp-meeting in which he got cut fearfully across the back and laid in bed three months and in jail three months.He also informed the reporter about an incident that had occurred in July, 1893, at Independence, Kansas, in which Melt Cannon was murdered and the people were going to lynch him for the murder, but he did not have a hand in it and they let him go.
Wright stated that when he and Norton landed in Joplin, they had $500 but they spent it bucking faro and paying fines in order to get out ofjail.He also stated that he and Norton had been drinking in Frank Mannys joint when the Marshall came up to search Norton.He picked up the gun from between the hay bales and put it into his pocket.When asked where he got the gun, he said he had traded Jennie Lloyd some bedding and other things and she gave him $200 and the gun. When Norton was in trouble, he wanted to help him.When Norton told me to shoot, I did it. He said he had no trouble with OfEcer Siverd, but that he did not propose to see Norton beat up any by the constable.
Wright told the reporter a strange story.About 5 oclock the next morning after the murder, I saw a face of fire covered with red whiskers come into my cell in the jail and with wide open mouth come toward me.I pointed my finger at the face, but it still came toward me.I then raised up and grasped the face by its long red whiskers and said, You s-n of a b---h, get out of here, d--m you. The face disappeared and did not return.
When asked if he was frightened, when arrested, at the thought of the people lynching him, he said that he did not care a d--m if they wanted to string him up, and that all he wanted was a fair show.
On the way home from Wichita Monday morning the boys did not seem in the least concerned, but sat in the railroad car seat and told of the many tough scrapes they had been in and smoked cigarettes.They said that ifthe people of Winfield attempted to lynch them at the depot, all they wanted was to be turned loose and they would take care of themselves.Tom Wright, the father of Morgan Wright, accompanied the boys from Wichita.He stated that he felt terrible over the sad affair.
Upon arriving in Winfield the prisoners were taken before Judge Ingman for a hearing. The case was postponed until November 9th at 9 oclock.Wall and OBrien of Wichita were engaged to defend the murderers.Sheriff Nipp decided to keep the prisoners in the Winfield jail.Should an attempt to lynch them be made, he planned to take them back to Wichita.
The preliminary hearing of Morgan Wright and Wilbur Norton was held before Judge Ingman in the city building November 9,1893. 0. M. Soward appeared for the defense and County Attorney Scott and W. P. Hackney for the State.
In the case of Morgan Wright, there were about thirty witnesses examined. He was committed to jail to await trial in the district court, without bail.
Wilbur Norton appeared and waived examination and was bound over to district court, without bail.
On Wednesday, December 20,1893, the trial of Morgan Wright began.On Friday, December 22, 1893, the case was given to the jury at 2:30 p.m.
The trial of Wilbur Norton began immediately but was interrupted at 2:55 p.m. by the jury of the Wright case returning with a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree.On Saturday, December 23rd, the Norton case was given to the jury, which was out only 30 minutes.They also returned a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree.
On Wednesday, December 27, 1893, Judge Jackson pronounced sentence on both men.It will therefore be the judgment of the court that each of you be conveyed from here to the county jail of this county and from there, without unnecessary delay, you be conveyed by the sheriff of this county to the penitentiary of the state of Kansas and be delivered to the warden thereof, where you will remain in confinement until upon proper legal authority and in manner and form provided by law, you, and each of you, be executed by being hung by the neck until you are dead, and may God have mercy on your souls.
The legal documents in the courthouse say that they should serve one year at hard labor and then be hanged. They were also ordered to pay the costs of this action of $5 11.90.
Both men were promptly transported to the Kansas State Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas, to begin their sentences.Pursuant to the court judgment, after confinement the Governor of the State of Kansas was either to sign a warrant ordering the hanging or suspend the death sentence and impose a life sentence.
According to a 1966 report by the Director of Kansas Penal Institutions, there were no hangings in Kansas between November 22,1888, and March 9, 1944, inasmuch as the Governors during this period refused to sign death warrants.
Wlbur Nortons penitentiary records are incomplete and contlicting. We do know that Sheriff Nipp and Undersheriff Rothrock, on December 27,1893, took three prisoners to Leavenworth. The prisoners, Wilbur Norton, Morgan Wright, and Charles Roberts were delivered.
Norton was first assigned to work in the coal mine and later in the penitentiarys tailor shop. In 1899 he knifed a fellow inmate, who survived. His sentence was commuted at a later date to 19 years; and he was paroled on March 18, 1909. Norton broke his parole and was returned to prison. There is a later notation in one prison record that Norton hung himself with wire.There is no record of a final release for Wilbur Norton from prison.
Upon their arrival at the penitentiary, Morgan Wright and Charles Roberts (sentenced to two years for larceny) switched identities.This scheme would allow Charles Roberts to demand release after Wright had left prison on the grounds that he had been wrongfully incarcerated as Wright and at this point proving his true identity.This charade went on for several months, until two Winfield men arrived to see Wright and Norton.They exposed the hoax and both men lost all their good time and Wright was sent to work in the coal mine.
Over the years many attempts were made by Violet Bishop of 503 North Fifth Street, Arkansas City, Kansas, to secure a parole for Morgan Wright.She had promised Morgan Wrights mother to look after the case after Mrs. Wrights death.Governor Walter Stubbs commuted Morgan Wrights sentence to 25 years less good time, and he was released from the penitentiary on May 15, 1913. Morgan Wright learned the tinners trade in prison and upon release he joined his father in California. On October 18, 1921 Morgan Wright was arrested in Ponca City, Oklahoma for bootlegging whiskey.
A bronze star was implanted in the sidewalk where Constable Hugh H. Siverd fell. It has the Letter S cast in it.According to the Western Veteran newspaper of April, 1898 and the Burden Eagle of June 2,1894 the metal of this star is made from badges contributed by twenty six members of the various orders to which he belonged. There are gold Odd Fellows, Masonic and AOUW badges and Grand Army of the Republic badges. This bronze star is two inches thick and seven and one half in diameter.It was made by the Danks Brothers of Arkansas City. It was embedded in the sidewalk on May 21, 1894 by J. W. Conner. It is still to be found in the sidewalk where Constable Siverd was killed.
In 1941 Hugh H. Siverd (grandson of Constable Siverd) was manager of the Regent and Zimm theaters in Winfreld.