Lewis Bloomfield had lived in Winfield for a short time.While a Winfield resident, he had been a foreman, a watchman and a private detective. He made himself obnoxious to many people of Winfield by always being armed.Bloomfields working as a detective led to his arrest on the charge of disturbing the peace of Mrs. Frank Walck. His sentence was ten days in the county jail. Wintield citizens thought he was single, but while under arrest his wife and baby came to Winfield from Leon in Butler County.
Lewis Bloomfield was released from Cowley County jail on September 6, 1906, and the family returned to Leon, where he went to work in a restaurant. Shortly afterward he was arrested on a charge of carrying concealed weapons and served a short term in the county jail at El Dorado. While in jail Lewis Bloomfield learned that a young man Jesse Stesser (aged 27), was paying attention to his wife. Jesse Stesser was the son of A. M. Stesser, a prominent Leon real estate dealer of that time. When Bloomfreld was released from jail, he went to young Stesser and threatened to kill him.
Jesse Stesser became worried and swore out a peace warrant against Lewis Bloomfield. Mr. Bloomfield was taken into custody September 28, 1906, by Constable Lee Kyser, who searched Bloomfield at that time for weapons. He found none on him.
Lewis Bloomfield asked permission to go and see his wife before going to jail and Constable Kyser agreed, accompanying the prisoner to his residence. While they were in the house, Mr. Bloomfield was out of sight of the officer for a few minutes. We assume that Lewis Bloomfield seized that opportunity to get his pistol.
Constable Kyser and Lewis started walking along the street and met Jesse Stesser on the principal comer of Leon.As they passed Stesser, Bloomfield drew his revolver from his hip pocket and shot Stesser in the chest.Stesser staggered and gained control of himself Bloomfield fired again. The second bullet struck below Stessers shoulder blade and exited near his heart. Jesse Stesser staggered a short distance, fell to the ground, and expired.
Bloomfield then turned toward Constable Kyser and before the officer could draw, shot him through the arm. Mr. Bloomfield tried to fire again but the cartridge misfired and did not explode. Bloomfield then sprinted away and although pursued, made his escape.Several shots rang out as he crossed an open field, but Bloomfield got to the timber and disappeared. Citizens put bloodhounds on his trail but to no avail.
During the next few days Bloomfield was reported being seen several times, but all of these sightings turned out to be false alarms. He disappeared for several weeks and during that time the Governor of Kansas offered a $300 reward for his arrest.
Sheriff A. 0. Welfelt (who had lost his bid for reelection but was still in office) developed some leads to the location of Bloomfield.Gn Saturday morning, December 1, 1906, Welfelt and his deputy, Mr. Reeves, boarded the early morning train to Ponca City, Oklahoma.Sheriff Welfelt borrowed a pistol from John Beatty before leaving Winfield: a short-barreled Colt, carrying a 38 caliber bullet in a bottleneck cartridge.
A deputy sheriff of Kay County got on the train at Newkirk, and Sheriff Welfelt explained his errand to him. The deputy said he would be near to help out if needed, but would not mix in.
After arriving at Ponca City, Sheriff Welfelt and his deputy began to look for Lewis Bloomfield.They received a tip that Bloomfield was at a pool hall run by Ora Gunsaullus (formerly of Winfield). Sending Reeves to the rear to head off any retreat that way, the Sheriff Welfelt went to the front of the pool hall.Satisfied that Reeves was in place, Welfelt entered with his pistol in hand within his overcoat pocket. Welfelt said Good morning, gentlemen. Bloomfield was leaning against a pool table talking to someone, but at once straightened up and said: Well, I must be going.
Sheriff Welfelt did not realize that the rear spring of the borrowed revolver was fixed so the least touch on the trigger would trip the hammer. As the sheriff pulled the gun from his pocket, the revolver discharged and a bullet tore a gash about a foot long in the fleshy part of his right leg. The bullet entered his right thigh about ten inches below the hip bone, and passed out at the side of his knee. In spite of his wound, Sheriff Welfelt covered Bloomfield and commanded him to surrender, which he did.
At the time that the revolver was discharged, Deputy Sheriff Reeves was attempting to open the back door and found that it was locked.He swung his weight against the door, broke it, and entered. He saw the cause of the shooting and found his vision of a fight, with probably a murder occurring, was groundless. This shot scared several habitues of the pool room out of a years growth. Bloomfield commented to someone at the Winfield jail: one of the boys jumped nearly to the ceiling, and then turned in mid air and dove over one of the pool tables. He all but flew in his panic.
The officers searched Bloomfield and found no weapon. After being handcuffed they went to the station to wait for a train.Bloomfield declared that he would not come without a requisition. Sheriff Welfelt told Bloomfield that he would be taken back, that the papers would be obtained if he persisted, and that he could not escape.Bloomfield finally consented to boarding the train and they arrived at Winfield on the one oclock train from the south.After getting Bloomfield locked up, Sheriff Welfelt had his wound dressed. Although he was sore, the sheriff attended to his duties.
Interviewed by a Courier reporter, Bloomfield was cheerful. He had changed little in appearance since he lefl Winfield on September 10th except that he had grown a sparse beard. His clothing showed that he had roughed it. He did not tell where he had been, saying merely that he had been traveling most of the time.Asked about being in hiding in the Flint Hills, he denied it.The nearest he had been to Winfreld was four miles south of Leon.
On Sunday Morning, December 2, 1906, Sheriff Young of Butler County returned
Bloomfield to El Dorado to stand trial.
A few days before Sheriff Welfelt arrested him in Ponca City, Bloomfield got drunk in that city. A Ponca City police officer arrested Bloomfield and held him in jail overnight, releasing him the next day without any suspicion that he had $300 in his hands.At the time the police officer arrested Lewis Bloomlield, he had a picture of the wanted man in his pocket, but it had such little resemblance to Bloomfield that the officer did not recognize him. After the capture, the police officer came to the train to take a look at the prisoner. He discovered how close he had been to the $300 reward.
On January 6,1907, Louis Bloomtield and another prisoner escaped from the El Dorado jail. They dug through the brick walls and then disappeared without a trace.
On Friday, January 25,1907, Louis Bloomfield was captured in Oklahoma City in a pool hall. The tip leading to his arrest came from a traveling man who had seen Bloomfield while he was under arrest in Ponca City.
A. 0. Welfelt (who had gone out of office) died on Monday afternoon, January 27,1907, after suffering for a week or more. His wife and children were present at his death bed. The direct cause of his death was attributed to gallstones. The wound received from the accidental discharge of the borrowed revolver had by this time nearly healed.
On Saturday, November 23, 1907, Louis Bloomfield was sentenced to the penitentiary for life, with close confinement and hard labor, and ordered to pay the costs of the trial. Bloomfield maintained silence throughout the case until afler sentence was pronounced.Then he said to newly elected Sheriff Joliffe: It is best to look on the bright side although it seems very dark. I gave the officers a merry chase and think anyone who was in my place would try to get away too if they could.
He sought permission from Sheriff Joliffe to see his wife and child before he was taken to the penitentiary. His wish was granted.