Winfield Courier, January 25, 1883.
At two o'clock Tuesday the news was flashed across the wire that Sheriff Shenneman had been fatally shot by a murderer whom he was attempting to arrest, in Maple Township. As soon as the news was received, a COURIER reporter was dispatched to the scene of the tragedy with all possible haste to gather complete and accurate information. At the depot a crowd of excited men were gathered, some seeking news, others bound to go up and see and hear for themselves. Soon the train bore them on to Seeley, where the first reliable informant was found in the person of the son of the man at whose house the shooting occurred, and who had brought the dispatches to the office. Even his account was vague and uncertain but was eagerly devoured by the crowd of anxious listeners on the train. At Udall a lot of farmers' wagons were pressed into service and the physicians, the scribe, and others took their way across the prairies six miles into Maple Township to the residence of W. Jacobus, which was the scene of the terrible deed.
Arriving there we found the whole neighborhood gathered, most of them guarding the prisoner, who was securely bound. In a room just adjoining lay our Sheriff, with two bullets in his body, both close together in the lower right hand side of his stomach. Drs. Emerson and Green were bending over him, examining his wounds, while his heroic little wife, calm and collected in the midst of her terrible affliction, tried to cheer him up as much as possible.
Mrs. Ruth Jacobus gives the following account.
"The prisoner came to our house on Monday evening one week ago, and said he was hunting work, that he came up from Texas with a herd of cattle to Dodge City, rode over here, and wanted work till spring, when he would go home to Pennsylvania. He gave his name as Smith. We told him we did not want help then, when he asked if he could stay a week until he could look around, and would pay his board. We finally took him on these terms, and he paid a week's board. He brought with him a shot gun and we noticed he always had a revolver and slept with it under his pillow. We thought this simply his cowboy ways and let it pass.
"All went well until today. This morning his week's board was out
and we hired him to work. As we were all sitting at dinner, someone drove
up and called my husband out. He soon came back and said that Dr. Jones,
of Udall, was out there and would stop for dinner. He then went out and
soon returned with a man whom he introduced to me as Dr. Jones, the prisoner
all this time sitting at the table. My husband and the man introduced as
Dr. Jones passed through the kitchen and I noticed the doctor look very
sharply at the prisoner. They went into the room and the stranger pulled
off his overcoat and threw it on a chair. About this time the prisoner got
up from the table, took his hat and gloves, and started toward the door.
Mr. Shenneman then sprang upon him from behind, when a scuffle ensued during
which two shots were fired. My hustand then ran in and took the pistol away
from the prisoner and told him to give up or he'd kill him. The prisoner
then cried out that he would give
up, not to kill him. Mr. Shenneman then said, 'Hold him, he has killed me,' and went in and laid down on the bed. My husband and the school teacher then tied the prisoner."
Sheriff Shenneman, although suffering terrible pain, was able to talk. He said to the reporter, "Do you think I'll pull through?" And then said that he looked at him and thought that he wouldn't pull a revolver on such a mere boy, but would catch him and hold him while the other fellow disarmed him, but that he found after he got hold of him that he was a regular Hercules in strength and he couldn't handle him.
The prisoner is a boy about nineteen years of age, low, heavy-set with light hair and smooth face and is not a bad appearing lad. It is believed that he is the man who about three weeks ago killed a constable in Jefferson County, who went to arrest him for participating in a shooting scrape, and it is for this that Sheriff Shenneman wanted him. On the night of the eleventh, he stopped overnight near El Dorado and our Sheriff was notified that he was moving this way, so he got out posters and put everyone on their guard. Monday evening he informed the writer that he had located his man and in less than twenty-four hours would have him in hand. We then cautioned him to be careful as the boy was evidently a desperate character and would shoot to kill. He said he would go prepared and could shoot as quick as anyone. Tuesday morning about nine o'clock he put his Winchester in his buggy, strapped on his revolvers, and started out alone, went straight to the house of W. Jacobus and made what is in all probability his last arrest.
Mr. Jacobus said: "When Shenneman jumped on him, I followed up close and as soon as I could, I got hold of his revolver and held it on him until he said he would give up. I then called the teacher from the schoolhouse and we tied him."
The following account of the Jefferson County trouble appeared in last week's COURIER:
A constable in Jefferson county was shot and almost instantly killed last week while attempting to arrest a young man by the name of Charles Cobbs, who was wanted for promiscuously brandishing knife and revolver at a country dance. Instead of surrendering, he whipped out one of those deathly companions and used it with the above result. After the shooting, Cobbs mounted a horse and rode off in a southwesterly direction. It was supposed that he was making for Hunnewell, there to take the cattle trail for Texas. Sheriff Shenneman received a telegram, from the authorities who were in pursuit, that he would probably pass through or near Winfield, and to intercept him if possible. Shenneman circulated cards giving the desperado's description and offering the usual reward for his capture; but Coobs carried a Winchester rifle and numerous other weapons, and if anyone did see him they deferred the invitation to tackle a perambulating arsenal. A few cases like this would be apt to lessen the candidates for a constableship.
The doctors, after carefully examining the wounds, decided that Sheriff Shenneman could not be moved that evening. After the examination the doctors gave the reporter as their opinion that his recovery was hardly probable and that he had less than one chance in ten. Messrs. Asp and Jennings left there at ten o'clock Tuesday evening at which time Mr. Shenneman was resting easy and sent word to the boys that he would be all right in thirty days. He was under the influence of opiates.
The prisoner was brought to Winfield overland by Deputies Taylor and McIntire in the Sheriff's buggy and under his orders. The reporter and other Winfield folks returned by way of Udall, where the train was held for them. As the train pulled into the depot, an immense crowd which had gathered there expecting the prisoner to be brought in that way, made a rush for the coach and were with difficulty persuaded that the man was not there. It was not a crowd of howling rabble but an organized body of determined men who seemed bound to avenge the death of the brave officer to the last drop of blood. They then marched up the Main streets of the city and scattered guards out on the roads upon which they expected the prisoner to be brought in. Others shaded the jail while hundreds congregated on the streets in little knots and discussed plans for capturing the prisoner from the officers. One more venturesome than the rest went about with a large rope on his arm and blood in his eye. Thus the crowd surged too and fro until long after midnight when they began to thin out and under the influence of more sober-minded citizens give up their ideas of mob violence. About this time Deputies McIntire and Taylor appeared on the street and the few remaining citizens seemed eager to learn the whereabouts of the prisoner. But little was learned until morning and even then his whereabouts were known to but a few. Wednesday forenoon our reporter was informed of the prisoner's whereabouts and had an interview with him. Before the reporter went in, he copied the following description of the Jefferson County murderer, which was telegraphed to the Sheriff about a week ago.
"Charles Cobb, about nineteen or twenty years old; light complexion; no whiskers or mustache; blue eyes; a scar over eye or cheek, don't know which; height five to five feet three inches; weight 125 to 130 pounds; had black slouch hat, dark brown clothes, and wore large comforter; may have large white hat; was riding a black mare pony with roach mane, and carried a Winchester rifle and two revolvers; had downcast look."
The prisoner was found crouched in a corner of a small room. After introducing himself, the reporter asked the prisoner for his story of the trouble.
He said: "My name is George Smith, and I am about eighteen years old. I came up to Dodge City from Texas with a herd of cattle, in the employ of W. Wilson. Have been on the trail about a year. My parents reside in Pennsylvania. I was paid sixty dollars when the cattle were shipped. I then rode east, intending to work my way back, and on a week from last Monday, it being too cold to ride, I stopped at Jacobus' and tried to get work or to board until I could look around. On Tuesday as I was eating dinner, a man came in who was introduced as Dr. Jones. As I got up to go out, the Doctor jumped on me without saying a word. My first impression was that it was a conspiracy to rob me, and I wrestled to defend myself. I had a revolver on my person because I was among strangers, had some money, and was used to keeping it about me. If he had only told me he was an officer, and had put his gun on me as he ought to have done if he believed I was the desperate character I am credited with being, this business would never have happened. I am no criminal, and I am not afraid if the law is allowed to take its course. If a mob attacks me, all I ask is that the officers will do me the justice to allow me to defend myself. If they will take off these irons and put a six-shooter in my hand, I will take my chance against the kind of men who will come here to mob me. I am guilty only of defending myself, and I ask the law either to defend me or accord me the privilege of defending myself."
In personal appearance the prisoner looks to be a bright, healthy, smooth-faced boy, and has but few of the characteristics of a desperado. He is a perfect picture of robust health, muscular and compact as an athlete. His description tallies almost exactly with that of the Jefferson County murderer given aboveChaving a small scar above his lip on the right corner, and above his eye. In talking he uses excellent language, speaks grammatically, and shows evidence of good breeding.
LATER: The prisoner was taken to Wichita this (Wednesday) afternoon by Deputy Finch that he might be out of the way of violence in case of Sheriff Shenneman's death. As he was being brought in Tuesday evening, a lot of men in a wagon met them out about a mile from town, but the buggy in which he was being taken was lighter and the team faster, and the officers ran away from the pursuers. They came into town in a roundabout way and unloaded the prisoner just back of D. A. Millington's residence, ran him through the back yard into Rev. Platter's wood shed, where he was held by Deputy McIntire while the others scouted around. At the time he was put in the wood shed, the jail was surrounded by citizens, while others were patroling the alleys in the vicinity. Deputy McIntire says that during the time he held the prisoner in the wood shed footsteps could be heard prowling around, and that the prisoner wanted to be shackled to him, given a pistol, and he would go into the jail. When he found George wouldn't accede to that request, he hunted around and got a smooth stick of stove-wood. As soon as the crowd around the jail could be attracted to another part of town, the officers carried the prisoner over and put him in jail, where he was kept very quietly until taken away on the train Wednesday.
At ten o'clock today (Wednesday) Sheriff Shenneman was resting easy, and friends were more hopeful than before. The doctors, however, fail to give much encouragement.
If the shots prove fatal, Cowley County will lose one of the bravest officers and truest men that has ever resided within her borders. In the line of duty A. T. Shenneman never allowed his courage to falter, or his zeal to abate. In protecting the life and property of our citizens, and enforcing the laws of the state, he would go any length never considering the question of personal danger. He was brave to a fault. The evidence of true grit was his hanging on to his man until he was secured after being shot.
Winfield Courier, February 1, 1883.
Pleasant Valley Pencilings.
Our most excellent Sheriff's many warm friends in this community deeply
regret the terrible calamity that has befallen him. They are highly incensed
toward the heartless villain who so desperately attacked his life. It was
a thousand pities that this embryotic desperado was not given the benefit
of a neck-tie carnival. While we respect the law of the land, and believe
in maintaining its dignity; at the same time we think it a wholesome idea
to purify the country of atrocious, reckless, infamous dare-devils by summarily
dispatching several of them in a manner that would be a forcible reminder
and an impressive warning to bandits, outlaws, and vicious characters generally.
It is to be hoped that Cowley County will not be thus ruthlessly deprived
of her brave and noble Sheriff, and that the feelings of her honored citizens
may not be sorely grieved by any sad ending of this tragical affair.
Winfield Courier, February 1, 1883.
The noble, womanly manner with which Mrs. Shenneman has borne her terrible affliction, has won the admiration of every citizen. While suffering the most intense mental agony, she, calm and collected, assisting whenever she could, ministered to the wants of her husband until he breathed his last. Few delicate sensitive women could have borne up under it.
Winfield Courier, February 1, 1883.
DIED/EXPECTED TO DIE. During the week there have been three cases of accidental shooting in the county, and all will probably result fatally. A boy by the name of Alger, on Grouse Creek, while attempting to throw a pistol around by the guard, as he had seen the cowboys do, discharged it into his stomach, and will die. One of Mr. Burt's boys shot himself through the leg while playing with a loaded pistol, near Searing & Mead's Mill, at Arkansas City, inflicting a wound that will probably prove fatal. The third was Wm. Drury, formerly a police officer at Wellington, but latterly tending bar in a saloon at Geuda Springs. Someone in the saloon asked him to show his pistol, and while putting it back into the holster, it fell to the floor and was discharged, the ball taking effect in his groin, ranging upward, and producing death almost instantaneously. It is indeed a strange coincidence that all these tragedies should occur so near together.
Winfield Courier, February 1, 1883.
Mrs. H. P. Mansfield returned last Thursday from a four months tour in California, in good health and spirits. She has had a very enjoyable time, seen all the lions and learned all about California. That country she thinks has been overrated; the plains are dependent for fertility upon irrigation, the mountains are grand but barren, the flowers large but of little fragrance, the fruits magnifficent to the eye but almost tasteless, and the people are largely vicious and shiftless.
Winfield Courier, February 1, 1883.
The Wells Fargo Express Co., have put a magnificent wagon on the streets. It is a beauty, was built in Chicago, and is drawn by a magnificent pair of black draught horses. The outfit is first-class in every particular and Agent Allen is as proud of them as a baby with a new rattle-box. The outfit makes things look lively on the street when it is out.
Winfield Courier, February 1, 1883.
The champion mean man has been heard from, and he lives in Creswell Township. One night last week some being, erect upon two legs and bearing the outward resemblance of a man, entered the house of Mrs. Wintener, a poor widow with three small children, and stole a side of bacon. Comments are unnecessary.
Winfield Courier, February 1, 1883.
The sad sequel to the awful tragedy of last week is enacted, and as we
write young Cobb hangs stark and stiff from the K. C., L. & S. railroad
bridge. He was brought in from Wichita Wednesday evening by Deputy Taylor
and put in jail. Soon after Mrs. Shenneman went in and talked to him for
a few moments. As she looked into his eyes with her face bathed in tears,
the prisoner broke down completely and wept like a child. Soon after the
people began to gather and many citizens were allowed to see him. About
eleven o'clock he asked to see Mrs. Shenneman again, and when she went in,
confessed to her that he was Chas. Cobb and asked her to write to the wife
of the constable whom he had killed in Jefferson County and tell her he
was sorry he had killed him. He asked her to keep his revolver. Afterwards,
to Sheriff McIntire, he said he had been led off by reading the
exploits of Jesse James and other desperadoes.
About two o'clock in the morning everything was quiet about the jail and on the streets. Soon some few late pedestrians were startled by seeing a company of men, their faces covered with black masks and thoroughly organized, marching down Ninth Avenue toward the jail. They went on to Fuller Street, where the leader flashed a dark lantern. Then they turned back, filed into the courthouse yard, then into the sheriff's office in front of the jail. Here a short scuffle ensued and soon four of the black maskers came out with the prisoner between them.
The company then filed out, surrounded the prisoner, and marched down Ninth Avenue to Main, thence north to 8th, then out west to the railroad bridge. By this time quite a crowd had gathered and were following. Two of the squad were detailed and sent back and with drawn revolvers ordered the crowd to "keep their distance." When they got to the railroad bridge a rope, which had evidently been prepared beforehand, was placed about his [Cobb's] neck and tied to the bridge beam. The moon was just up and several boys who had followed along crept up in the brush on the river bank and saw the whole proceedings. When the rope was tied, he [Cobb] was asked by the leader in a gruff voice to say what he had to say quick. The boys in the brush heard him say, "Oh, don't boys!" and "Father have mercy on me!" Two of the maskers then took him up and dropped him through between the bridge railings. He fell about ten feet and rebounded half the distance. The black maskers then filed on across the bridge, leaving two of their number to guard. These stood until the others had gone on across, when they too retreated, and the crowd came up and looked at the victim. As we write, he is still hanging to the bridge and the scene is being visited by hundreds.
The Coroner is empanneling a jury, after which the body will be taken down.
Thus ends the life of a more than ordinarily bright, healthy, robust boy; one who might have done himself and his country honor. Instead, he dies like a dog, without friend or sympathizer to give him decent burial; his mind poisoned and his soul damned by the infernal thing known as "fiction." Let it be a lesson to all boys whose heroes live only between the leaves of a yellow-covered novel.
Winfield Courier, February 1, 1883.
The burial services and interment of Sheriff Shenneman, last Sunday,
were the most impressive and imposing ever yet held within the borders of
our county. The arrangements were in the hands of the Masonic fraternity,
and the services were held at the Baptist Church at 1:30 p.m. Early in the
morning the farmers from the surrounding country began pouring in; and at
eleven o'clock a special train from Arkansas City, bearing the Masonic fraternity
of that place and a large number of citizens, arrived. This was followed
by another special from Newton and Wichita, and soon another from Wellington.
By twelve o'clock the streets and hotels were thronged with people; many
gathered here and there in little knots, talking over the terrible occurrences
of the past week. Most noticeable among these groups were the Sheriffs who
had come in from other counties to pay a last tribute to their brave comrade
who had fallen in the line of duty. There was Sheriff Thralls, of Sumner,
with whom Sheriff
Shenneman had traveled thousands of miles, and through many dangerous ways in pursuit of criminals, and between whom there existed a personal friendship as strong as brotherhood. Also Sheriff Shadley, of Montgomery, who has the reputation of having handled more desperate criminals than any other officer in the State, and who captured Tom Quarles. Sheriff Watts, of Sedgwick, was precluded from being present by having the prisoner in charge. Sheriff Douglass, of Butler, was present; also Sheriff Thompson, of Elk, Sheriff Boyd, of Chautauqua, and Sheriff of _____.
At half-past twelve the church began filling, and before one o'clock every seat, except those reserved for the Fraternity, was filled, and the corrridors, vestibules, and aisles were crowded. At half-past one the coffin was carried up the aisle to the foot of the pulpit by six sheriffs, who acted as pall-bearers, and escorted by the Masonic Fraternities of Arkansas City, Wellington, Mulvane, Dexter, and Winfield, and the Select Knights of United Workmen.
The services were opened by a grand anthem from the choir, followed by Scriptural reading by Rev. Jones, and prayer by Rev. Friedley. Rev. Platter then delivered the funeral address. His manner was intensely earnest, and the immense audience seemed waiting to catch every word as it fell from his lips. He referred to the universal desire for vengeance on the murderer, and likened it to a higher law, which demanded that each should suffer for his own sins. He then referred to the kind and generous spirit of the dead Sheriff; how he would go almost any length, and imperil his own life, to save even the most hardened criminal from harm, and himself from shedding human blood; and how almost his last request was to protect his murderer from violence. The minister then put the question squarely to the people: Should they emulate the spirit and desire of their dead friend, or allow the spirit of vengeance to overcome them and resort to violence toward his murderer? The effect of the discourse was powerful; and strong men, who had gone there determined that, as soon as their honored friend was laid beneath the sod, his murderer should expiate the crime with his life, went away feeling that it was better to let the law takes its course.
At the conclusion of Rev. Platter's discourse, Rev. Canfield made a few remarks, and was followed by a prayer from Rev. Bicknell, Editor of the Chicago Advocate. Rev. Cairns made the closing prayer, after which the choir rendered that beautiful song, "In the Sweet Bye and Bye." The people then filed past the coffin and took a last look at the familiar features of the dead officer.
The procession was then formed, with the Masonic order leading. It was over a mile in length. At the grave the beautiful Masonic burial ceremonies were observed, and the mortal remains of Sheriff Shenneman were consigned to their final resting place amid the silent grief of a multitude of friends and kindred.
Before closing, the writer desires to add his personal tribute to the memory of a friend. Way back, in 1873, a mere stripling of a boy, we were working in a brick-yard near Winfield, when we first met A. T. Shenneman. The work then allotted to us was arduous, and more than we were physically able to perform. He noticed this one day, and, with that feeling for the welfare of others that always characterized him, induced the foreman to relieve us with an easier position. From that time on there grew up between us a bond of friendship which ended only with his death. Beneath that rough exterior was a heart as tender as a woman's, which went out in sympathy to the oppressed everywhere. Well might it be said of him: "Were everyone to whom he did some loving service to bring a blossom to his grave, he would sleep tonight beneath a wilderness of sweet flowers."
Since the excitement incident to the tragedy has worn away, new facts regarding it come to light. It is now learned that young Cobb was in Winfield during the forenoon of the Monday on which he went to Jacobus' house. He traveled up toward Udall, and was seen by a farmer to stop near the corner of Mr. Worden's farm in Vernon Township, and read the posters and description of himself which Sheriff Shenneman had circulated, one of which was posted there. He was afterwards met farther on, and it was observed that he carried a gun enclosed in a case under his coat. In the evening he turned up at Jacobus' house. On the Sunday before the shooting he was showing some boys his skill as a marksman, and would break bottles thrown into the air with a ball from his revolver.
During the week the schoolmaster, who boarded there, got one of the descriptions,
and on Monday evening came down and informed Mr. Shenneman of his suspicions.
He was instructed to go back, observe closely the marks on his face, and
return by midnight, when the Sheriff proposed to get a posse and go up and
surround the house before daylight. The schoolmaster did not return during
the night, and Mr. Shenneman began to doubt his being the man he wanted,
so he concluded to go alone and reconnoitre. As soon as he saw him sitting
at the table, he knew he was right, and also saw something in his eye that
said he would shoot; so, a favorable opportunity affording itself, he thought
to catch and hold him until disarmed. In this he mistook the strength of
the boy, who proved to be a young tiger. The circumstances seem to indicate
that Cobb had hold of his pistol when
he turned to go out. It also seems that he fired the shots after both had fallen in the scuffle. Shenneman held Cobb several minutes after he was shot. A rope was then put about Cobb's neck and he was choked down, but he continued to kick and fight until worn out.
Mr. Shenneman died at 9:45 on Thursday evening, two days and a half after he received the shots. His wife, brother, and other friends were present, together with Sheriff Thralls, of Sumner; Watt, of Sedgwick; and Brown, of Jefferson Counties. The body was brought down Friday morning, and was met at the depot by Masonic brothers who conveyed it to his residence, where it lay in state until Sunday afternoon.
The night of the shooting young Cobb was kept in jail here. The next afternoon he was taken to Sedgwick County and confined in the Wichita jail. Thursday morning the Sheriff of Jefferson County, accompanied by a farmer who lived near Cobb and knew him well, arrived and identified the prisoner. Cobb feigned not to know his old neighbor, and still stuck to his cowboy story. The people of Wichita were greatly excited, and said that he should never go in any other direction than to Cowley County. Saturday morning he was placed in a carriage and, in charge of Sheriffs Thralls and Watt and Deputy Taylor, was brought to Winfield overland.
News was received here that he had left Wichita in a carriage and parties on the train going north passed them between Mulvane and Udall. This news greatly excited the people. In the evening about two hundred determined men gathered at the crossing and boarded the incoming train, thinking that perhaps he might have been put aboard at some way station, but he was not found. They then repaired to the city and placed squads at each bridge and on streets surrounding the jail.
The carriage with the prisoner arrived at about eleven o'clock, but came by the ford and escaped the pickets. They drove to the crossing of Fuller Street and Eleventh Avenue and Taylor was sent over to the jail to see how the land lay. He arrived just after a squad had been searching the jail in quest of the prisoner, and returned with the news that it was certain death to put him there. Sheriff Thralls and Watt then took the prisoner out of the carriage and started south on foot with him, while Taylor was left to take the team out into the country. In going out of town he ran across a squad of vigilanters who brought him into town. Then occurred a scene that beggars description. From all parts of town men came running, wild with excitement. They formed in a dense mass around the Deputy, clamoring to know what had been done with the prisoner. As the crowd surged to and fro, it seemed as if the very air was ladened with cries of vengeance. Soon someone cried, "the Brettun," and to a man the crowd started in a run for the hotel. Here they found the door barred, but one of their number went inside and looked in Sheriff Douglass' room, and found nothing. The crowd then returned to Taylor and demanded vociferously that he tell where the murderer was.
Soon a crowd went again to the jail and searched it from top to bottom, then the Courthouse and outbuildings. The search being fruitless, they returned exasperated, and for a few moments it looked as if Taylor would be roughly used. He was finally compelled to tell where he had left the Sheriffs with the prisoner, and a rush was made for that part of townCTaylor being carried along to show the exact spot. Soon a vigorous search of barns and outbuildings in the vicinity was made, which was kept up the balance of the night.
During this time Sheriffs Thralls and Watt, with the prisoner, had traveled out the Badger Creek road to William Dunn's, where they brought up at two o'clock. Here they tried to get a conveyance to go to Douglass, but could not. They then went on and soon found a team, in which Sherriff Watt took the prisoner again to Wichita by way of Douglass, where he now is, and will probably remain for some time. Sheriff Thralls returned to town and remained to the funeral.
This is the first popular outbreak of the kind we have ever witnessed, and we hope never to see another. The passions of men when they become arounsed are as uncontrollable as a sea of tigers, and appall themselves with their own fierceness. There is one thing we wish to say right here, and that is this: Every citizen of Winfield may be thankful that there were no open saloons in this city that evening. With the demoniac effect of liquor added to the natural fierceness of unbridled passion, riot and ruin might have followed in the wake of such an outburst.
Winfield Courier, February 1, 1883.
Albert Taylor Shenneman was 37 years of age. He entered the army in the early days, joining Dan. Wilt's [?Witt's?] Co. "D," 7th Illinois Cavalry, while yet in his teens. He served with great credit in all the campaigns of Sturgis and Grierson, on the Mississippi. He came to Kansas and to Winfield in 1870 and was appointed City Marshal in 1875. He filled the position during the rough pioneer times, and filled it well. He resigned in 1876. In 1875 and 1877 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination for sheriff. In 1879 he received the nomination and was elected, getting over seven hundred majority. In 1881 he was renominated unanimously by the Republican convention and elected by an overwhelming majority. As an officer he was without a peer and is conceded by all his brother sheriffs to be one of the most efficient and capable in the state. Of untiring energy, courage, and indifference to personal danger when duty called, he has been more dreaded by the criminal classes than any other. Personally, he was not one of the "goody-goody" kind of men. What he had to say, he said, and stuck to it. While his feelings were averse to injuring anyone, he was yet firm in his convictions and assertions when in the right. To one who understood his nature, he was ever a kind, generous, and considerate friend.
Winfield Courier, February 1, 1883.
A gentleman received a letter from Cobb's father last week in which he said he heard the boy was hung, and seemed satisfied with the rumor, only wanting his body to be interred decently. His family is highly connected, and it has been rumored that he is a nephew of ex-Congressman Cobb.
Winfield Courier, February 8, 1883.
Sheriff A. T. Shenneman.
Sheriff A. T. Shenneman, of Cowley County, died at the residence of Walter Jacobus, where he was shot, last Thursday evening. He was buried in Winfield on Sunday with Masonic honors.
His funeral brought together the largest congregation of people ever seen on a like occasion in Southern Kansas. Trains were run to Winfield from all neighboring counties and his home people turned out en masse.
His funeral sermon was preached by Rev. J. E. Platter in the Baptist Church, which did not hold more than a moiety of the people present. The funeral procession required more than an hour to pass a given point and a large part of it did not reach the cemetery until after the services there were over.
These facts demonstrate the estimate placed upon Mr. Shenneman by those who knew him best. In his private and social life, he was a true and trustworthy friend, happy in his home, a man without personal enemies and always ready to help those about him.
As an officer he was without a superior. He was shrewd, always on the alert, and, in short, a natural detective. He was the most noted horse-thief catcher in Kansas. He knew all about a horse and never failed to identify a stolen animal months after he had read the description of it. If he had a fault, it was that of absolute lack of fear and a dread of killing. He had been constable, city marshal, and sheriff for years and always did the bulk of the dangerous official work. He was much respected by his fellow officers in surrounding counties for his ready and unselfish cooperation at all times. In his untimely death Cowley County loses a most valuable officer and the state one of its very best citizens.
Winfield Courier, February 8, 1883.
Robert Smalls, the colored man just placed on the naval retired list with the rank of captain, was one of the bravest men the world ever produced. He was a pilot on the rebel steamer, Planter, and taking advantage of the absence of the officers, he cut her loose at 3 o'clock in the morning, took his wife and children aboard, sailed under the guns of Fort Sumter, and in the face of death delivered the steamer and her cargo of guns and ammunition worth $70,000 to the federal fleet. He has earned his honors.
Winfield Courier, February 8, 1883.
The funeral of Sheriff Shenneman was the largest in the history of the state. Six sheriffs constituted the pall-bearers. An extra train left here Sunday morning and returned in the evening. Wichita Beacon.
Winfield Courier, February 8, 1883.
The coal men of Winfield have all made fortunes this winter and it is not over yet.
Charlie Shenneman returned Saturday to his post as keeper at the Kansas penitentiary.
Winfield Courier, February 8, 1883.
The investigation by the Coroner on the body of young Cobb was commenced Thursday morning and lasted until. Friday noon. The courtroom was constantly thronged with people during the inquest. The Coroner secured the services of Judge Tipton as attorney and David C. Beach as clerk. Below we give a synopsis of the evidence.
The first witness put upon the stand was Frank W. Finch, who knew nothing whatever of the occurrence until told in the morning, when he notified the Coroner, and they together repaired to the scene of the hanging.
Sheriff McIntire was the next witness called. He stated that the deceased was brought in the evening before and placed in his custody by Deputy Taylor. He made a bed and fixed him comfortably for the night, leaving on one pair of shackles. Mrs. Shenneman and several others were allowed to enter the jail and look at the prisoner. About ten o'clock the crowd in the office were requested to retire, and they did so. Mr. Wm. Shenneman and Deputy Taylor remained to assist the Sheriff, should anything occurr. Mr. Shenneman is a police officer in Bay City, Michigan, and though his feelings were not of the kindest toward the prisoner, he said he would do all in his power to protect him from violence.
The prisoner was taken from the jail about half past two o'clock in the morning, when all fear of such a visit had subsided, and Mr. Shenneman and Deputy Taylor had retired to the house, just across the walk. Sheriff McIntire was sitting by the stove, where he had been sitting for about a half an hour, when the front door was jimmied open and twelve or fourteen men appeared outside. Four of them, with revolvers drawn, rushed in and the leader ordered him to throw up his hands. The request was instantaneously complied with. The leader then said to the other three: "Keep your revolvers right on him! If he moves a hand, put a hole through him! Do only as I order!" He then asked where the keys were, and on the Sheriff hesitating to reply, said, "Blow him through if he don't answer!" McIntire said they were in his pocket, and the captain demanded their immediate delivery to him. The Sheriff took down his hands, but was ordered to again raise one of them; with the other, he took the keys out and handed them over. The captain then stepped forward, threw the jail door open, and said, "No. 1, 2, and 3 to your posts!" And three men came right in and walked into the jail. He then ordered, "Reserve, guard the door!" The three men soon came out leading the prisoner. The witness heard no words spoken in the jail.
The men in charge of the Sheriff and the captain stayed at the office door for about five minutes. The captain demanded: "Do you promise you won't follow us?" No answer was immediately given, and the captain shouted "Halt!" to the men on the sidewalk with the prisoner. He then turned to the Sheriff again and said, "Now say you won't follow us, and say it d_____d quick!" The other three left, but he stayed in the door, with revolver drawn, for a moment, when he again ordered, "Command halt! Send me two men!" The men came and the leader left. The two men guarded the Sheriff about five minutes, when they pulled the office door shut and left. The witness said the office door was not locked when the men came in, and that the first thing he heard on its being thrown open was, "Throw up your hands!" He made no resistance; did not think it policy to do so, though he had a revolver on his person. He was alarmed, for he had dispelled the expectation of any such visit at that late hour. The leader gave his commands in a loud but distinct voice, and the Sheriff could see the bullets in every revolver as it was pointed at him, and he instantly concluded that the men holding them meant business. He could not recognize a single man, black cloths being tied over their faces with only eye-holes cut therein. There seemed to be no attempt at disguising their clothing; some being dressed in dark and some light. He could not recognize the voice of the leader; the only one who spoke; but said it was rather a deep, coarse voice.
After the maskers had retired, Deputy Taylor came in, and the Sheriff put on an overcoat and said they would follow up if possible. The crowd with the prisoner was not visible in any direction when they started, but they succeeded in finding the place where the victim was hanging, but all was deathly stillness and not a living soul in any direction. After ascertaining that the man's life was entirely extinct, they returned to the jail and went to bed about five o'clock.
The Sheriff stated that he did not have the least apprehension when the prisoner was lodged in jail the evening before of his being taken by lynchers, and intended to take him before a magistrate the next morning for a preliminary examination.
Deputy Taylor took the stand at the conclusion of Mr. McIntire's testimony. He said he left Wichita with the prisoner in a carriage about 8 o'clock p.m., Tuesday evening, arriving at the jail in this city about the same hour Wednesday evening. The driver lost the road near El Paso and they wandered around on the prairie for some time, but struck the trail again and brought up at Mulvane just at daylight. His intention was to reach Winfield about 4 o'clock Tuesday morning, but their losing the way prevented it. Mr. Taylor's understanding of the situation was that everything had quieted down, and it was perfectly safe to bring him here. He had not the least intimation that a lynching would occur Wednesday night until, while in the house, he heard a noise and went out and discovered that the jail was being entered by masked men. He walked around in front of the office and was suddenly "held up" by two black maskers, who, with revolvers thrust in his face, ordered him to keep his mouth shut, and said, "You beat us Saturday night, but you can't do it this time! We're organized!" He offered no resistance, for he saw that they were determined, and thought that they would even disable him to accomplish their purpose. He had no idea as to the identity of the men who guarded him.
Marshal Herrod was next called, and stated that he had no knowledge whatever of any intention to lynch the prisoner, and knew nothing of his being hung until morning. He visited the jail on the evening before and saw the prisoner, but everything seemed so quiet and orderly that he went home about eleven o'clock and retired.
James A. Cairns then took the witness stand. He testified that he did not know the prisoner would be hung that night, but to satisfy his curiosity, stayed up with a number of others to see the performance, if it came off at all. He, as all others, recognized none of the maskers.
T. R. Timme, Joseph O'Hare, and John Hudson were put on the witness stand, but were only a few of the many persons who followed the procession as spectators, and their account of the affair was substantially the same as that contained in the COURIER's second edition last week and which appears on the fourth page in this issue.
Geo. Emerson, John Nicholas, J. P. Short, John Riley, and James Bethel were also called as witnesses, but were all enjoying peaceful slumber at the time of the lynching, and were merely at the jail to see the prisoner on the evening before.
The following is the verdict of the Coroner's jury.
"An investigation began at Winfield, in Cowley County, Kansas, on the first day of February, 1883, and continued to February second, before me, H. L. Wells, Coroner of said county, on the body of Charles Cobb, there lying dead, by the jurors whose names are hereunto subscribed. The said jurors, upon their oaths, do say, That the said Charles Cobb came to his death on the morning of February first, 1883, by being hung by the neck from the R. R. bridge of the K. C. L. and S. R. R. across the Walnut River, in Cowley County, Kansas, at the hands of parties unknown to the jury. In testimony whereof the said jurors have hereunto set their hands, this 2nd day of February, 1883. T. R. Bryan, A. E. Baird, James A. Cooper, S. C. Smith, Henry Brown, A. D. Hendricks.
"Attest: H. L. Wells, Coroner."
The following telegram was received from Cobb's father by Coroner Wells
in answer to a message informing
the father of his son's death.
"VALLEY FALLS, KANSAS, February 2nd, 1883.
"H. L. WELLS, Winfield, Kansas:
"Will you box my son and send him by express to this place? If not, hold him until I come. C. M. COBB."
The remains were placed in a casket and sent to Valley Falls on the Santa Fe train Friday afternoon.
Deputy Taylor informs us that the prisoner was quite talkative while he was being brought down from Wichita, and exceedingly abusive. He said Shenneman was the fifth man he had killed, and he was glad he had killed him. That he expected to get away, and wanted to kill five more men before he died, mentioning Jacobus, the school teacher, Frank Finch, and Taylor as four of them. He seemed to talk in the most cold blooded manner of murder and revenge. When Taylor examined his shackles before taking him from the Wichita jail, he found them cut, and put on two new pairs; but left the old ones on, saying nothing about his discovery. Several times on the road, the prisoner tried to get Taylor to take off the shackles on one pretext and another, but the Deputy kept him heavily ironed just the same. He showed no signs whatever of weakening during all his capitivity until he made the confession in the jail on Wednesday evening to Mrs. Shenneman.
[NOTE: ON PAGE FOUR THE ARTICLE FROM PREVIOUS WEEK RE HANGING WAS REPEATED.]
Winfield Courier, February 15, 1883.
Dick Glass, the noted desperado whom our late Sheriff Shenneman arrested here last fall and who escaped from him when he was being escorted to Fort Smith to be delivered up to the authorities for trial, is still at large and committing murders and depredations in the Territory. He was one of the leaders of the Speiche party in the late outbreak, and in the amnesty arrangement which followed, he was not included. Now both parties are agreed that he should be killed on sight.
Winfield Courier, February 15, 1883.
THE CREEK TROUBLES.
A dispatch from Muskogee, Indian Territory, says there are strong indications of a renewal of hostilities between the contending bands of Creeks. George Parker has been appointed commander of the Chicote faction, and has called in all available men, and, it is said, will attack the consolidated forces of the Speiche, now camped about fifteen miles from Okmulgee, as soon as the weather is favorable. Both parties are buying all the Winchester rifles and other weapons and ammunition they can obtain, and it looks as though trouble may result.
Winfield Courier, February 22, 1883.
The Taking Off of Cobb.
VERNON TOWNSHIP, February 14, 1883.
I have been waiting in vain for the papers of Winfield to endorse or condemn the hanging of young Cobb, several days ago. If it was right, why don't the press, the pulpit, and the people endorse it? Why don't the actors unmask in the presence of a grateful people? Why depend upon civil law to repress other mobs and punish criminals? Why not let these good men capture as well as hang their own prisoners? Why have we civil officers sworn to resist these right-doers? Why want these good men to imperil their lives, as they would have done had A. T. Shenneman commanded the fort that night? In a word, why all this clashing of rights, compelling these good men to kill a good officer (as they seemed ready to do) that they might kill a bad man who had killed another good officer?
On the other hand, if it was wrong, why did not the press, the pulpit, and the good people cry out boldly against it, before and after its commission, to prevent it and its repitition? Why did not your city and State officers arrest and punish all disturbers of the peace, and all incitors to mob violence if it took all the officers, good people, and militia of the State to do it? Why did the preacher barely wash his hands of this crime, and not improve the grandest opportunity, perhaps, of his life to do a lasting good? Why did he not tell them truthfully but kindly, before the deed was done, that the laws of God, of this and all civilized countries, would condemn such an act as cold, revengeful murder? [He did. ED.] That the pitiful cry of tht poor, doomed, God-forsaken wretch would ring in their ears through life? That a life of penitence could not repair the wrong they were about? That "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord?" That the sevenfold vengeance of the slayers of Cain would await them now and hence? That the spirit that animates the mob has no kinship with Deity, and that the tribute paid to the memory of the noble dead was a rebuke to the spirit of the mob?
I should like to know, further, why Cobb was brought to Winfield the second time, after he was known to be the Jefferson County criminal, when he had to be taken away for safety before that fact was known? And why brought the third time when he had to be taken away the second? Why did not the officers of the law show themselves worthy the dead chieftain by protecting his prisoner as he would have done? If they were unable to do so themselves, why did they not invoke "the powers that be" to help them? Could it be that they wanted Cobb killed because he wanted to kill them? Or could it be that Cobb should want to kill them because he saw that in their hands he was doomed? Don't it look strange that Cobb should want to kill them for saving him? Stranger still that he should ask the man to unbind him whom he told he wanted to kill? Was Cobb insane? What means that paternal letter setting forth strange paternal feelings? Did young Cobb inherit his vicious nature? What means many other stories afloat that would seem to extenuate the act of this mob? If it was right, does it need any bolstering? If wrong, who can bolster it?
I put the foregoing in the interrogatory style for two reasons: First, it is the shortest way of stating my convictions; second, it is the best way to get the facts I want. I write this in no spirit of ill-will toward anyone, and with a view to the future instead of the past. Personally, I am glad that Cobb is dead, but deplore the way he was killed. I hold this act up to the scorn of all good people, with no malice toward those who did it. Possibly some of them are my friends. I know that some, who were carried away by the excitement of Shenneman's sad fate, are such. It is time, I think that all good people passed a final judgment upon this question. I did so many years ago. With my notion of right I could not under any circumstances, in the presence of civil law, countenance, encourage, or engage in a mob. I conceive it to be the duty of a good citizen to help to resist one when called to do so by an officer. Even a life lost in such a cause would not be sacrificed in vain. It is useless to say that all men who sanction or engage in mob violence are cowards and bad men. This is not true. One must have deep settled convictions, indeed, to ithstand the impulse to avenge the death of a good man, a faithful officer, and a true friend, like A. T. Shenneman. I would not, for one moment, deny my own feelings in this case. I wish every man, woman, and child was anchored to the Rock in this matter. Our laws are, in the main, the reflex of the sober sense of the people. We mould them ourselves. No excitement should carry one beyond his cool convictions of right. The law that stands for protection when none assail, but fails to protect when assailed, is a fraud. Every violation of a law impairs the force and usefulness of all law. Hence I conclude that the highest duty of a citizen is to stand up boldly for the majesty of all laws at all times and under all circumstances. If wrong, who will correct me?
J. B. EVANS.
Winfield Courier, February 22, 1883.
THE COBB HANGING.
On another page we give a communication from Mr. Evans of Vernon, because it is well written and forcibly put, and contains a strong plea against violence and in favor of none but legal measures in dealing with criminals, which we heartily endorse. But at the same time many of its incisive questions tend to do injustice to some officers, clergymen, and other citizens. We have no more knowledge that he worked and talked to prevent the threatened hanging than he seems to have of such efforts on the part of officers, clergymen, and other citizens, yet we know that there was a great deal of such work and talking done by several though the act was very generally approved.
He seems to take it for granted that all the street rumors and stories favoring the prisoner were true and all those against him were false. There were a great many things said, no doubt, which had little or no foundation in fact.
The overwhelming public sentiment which demanded summary work, was not confined to Cowley County, but was nearly equally strong in adjoining counties and general throughout the state, compelling the officers to keep dodging about with the prisoner, to let him loose, or to jail him in Winfield. After the mob spirit had apparently subsided and all had been quiet for two days, they quietly confined him in the jail and watched him there. In all that long night there was not the slightest indication of a mob or any excitement. The streets were still and the opinion that no further effort to mob the prisoner would occur, seemed justified. It was not a mob which did the work. It was a band of thirteen masked men, perfectly organized under a thorough and skillful leader, and the work was done in the most quiet and perfect manner possible. If ever a work of the kind was done decently and in order, this was the time.
Again; it is not at all certain that any Cowley County man was in the
gang of thirteen. We know of no person in this county who has the experience
and skill shown by its leader. There is not the slightest evidence which
points to any Cowley County man as in any way mixed up with the matter.
Yet it cannot be denied that the overwhelming sentiment of the county, though
earnestly opposed to mob law, justifies this taking off. Nor can it be denied
that such is the sentiment of the state and the country generally. However
bad that sentiment may be, it has grown out of the necessities of the case.
Here was a young man seemingly destitute of conscience or human feeling;l
his brute nature corrupted by reading the exploits of desperadoes; his whole
ambition to rival Jesse James. He had started out on a mission of killing,
had been successful in two cases, or five as was believed, the
last of whom was the noble, respected, and accomplished sheriff of this county. It was believed that he was determined to kill several persons who had helped in his capture if he ever got loose; and his chances to get away during the course of law seemed as nine to one, from desperate attempts, insecure jails, the delays and quibbles of the law and various other means, against whom the public indignation was justly aroused to its highest pitch, and it was not strange that the public desired sure protection against him.
Then it will be remembered that but recently Dick Glass, the infamous murderer and outlaw, had escaped from this best of sheriffs; that Van Meter whom Shenneman had arrested at the risk of his life, a shot from the prisoner's revolver barely missing him, the proof of whose crime was perfect on his trial beyond a reasonable doubt, and yet he was acquitted by a jury; that Colegate was acquitted when from the evidence none doubted his guilt, and is it a wonder that the people desired some better security in the Cobb case than the legal course?
Moralize as we may, there is deep in the undercurrent of our natures a sentiment which asserts that a man has a right to protect himself and family even to the taking of life; that the community has a right to protect its members to the same extent, and that when the state has repeatedly failed to prevent known and hardened criminals when once in its hands, from repeating their murders and outrages, utterly failing in such cases to secure the citizens against them, the community will assert this right and it cannot be helped.
No more law abiding community than this can be found anywhere. Though cases have arisen in which the criminal would have been mobbed, even in staid old Massachusetts under similar circumstances, yet never before have the people attempted to take the law into their own hands.
Now while we agree with Mr. Evans in relation to the demoralizing effects of such performances in a community and the importance of a strict adherence to legal processes in such cases, we have no denuciations to make in this case.
To: Shenneman before 1883
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