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1890 Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Story County, Iowa

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consin, to which he was returning from the mines in Colorado. It transpired that Townsend had picked up his murderer as a fellow-traveler, and in return for his kindness met the fate mentioned. In addition to the brutality of the murder there were elements of treachery and ingratitude in the crime that made it most inhuman and revolting. When the case came to trial, the attorney for the State was induced to accept the plea of guilty of murder in the second degree. There was profound feeling when the judge; John Porter, sentenced McMullen to ten years' imprisonment. At the expiration of this time, less the commutation for good behavior as a convict, McMullen went free.

June 14, 1870, south of the grade of the Chicago & North-Western Railway, on the bottom west of Skunk River, a man was seen running through the tall grass toward the main highway. Afterward the body of a man was found on the track of the railway in the cut west of the grade. The bullet of the assassin had done its work. William Patterson, a foreman of the laborers, had been murdered. In a nook at the roadside were evidences of the deliberation with which the murderer had waited for his prey. He had taken food with him, and for more than one day, apparently, had held watch and guard over his intended victim. The circumstances preceding the homicide, a quarrel, threats, etc., all pointed to George Stanley, who had been one of the laborers, as the man of blood. He was captured, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death at the hands of the hangman.

There was soon a great clamor over the fate of this murderer. The governor was urged to extend executive clemency, and to commute the capital sentence to life imprisonment. A reprieve was granted, which gave time to urge the matter upon the General Assembly. A bill was introduced, and capital punishment was abolished. The governor then changed the sentence of George Stanley, and he was sent to the penitentiary at Fort Madison. The death penalty has since been restored.

May 9, 1875, one of the pioneers, known personally to all the early citizens of the county, and heretofore named with credit, George N. Kirkman, of Indian Creek Township, was taken from his bed under cover of darkness and slain. The prominence of the murdered man, former family jars of some notoriety, a separation and supposed reconciliation of husband and wife, all tended to excite interest. The manner of the death, the body being found suspended on a small tree, indicated that several persons were concerned in his foul taking-off. The investigation made by the coroner, who examined about seventy-five witnesses, resulted in holding a son and a son-in-law of the murdered man, a former employe, and two neighbors to answer for the crime. The wife was also arrested. All the suspected parties were liberated, and to the general public the matter is still wrapped in mystery.

All these homicides, though occurring within the limits of Story County, were known or strongly suspected to have been committed by those who lived elsewhere, and are in no sense to be considered a stain upon the fair fame of our own people. The same is true of the killing of Mr. J. O. French, the mayor of Maxwell, October 22, 1887. His death at the hands of Perry Ackers, who also killed himself before he could be arrested, appears to have been simply the wild freak of an insane man. It was a very sad tragedy, but if done under the mad pulse of insanity cannot be called a crime.

The famous homicide by the notorious Barnabas Lowell may also be properly classed among those committed by non-citizens. He

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