Jewell County, Kansas Criminal Matters

In 1871 Guy Whitmore and Jake Hanes, noted horse-thieves, were arrested at Grand Island, Neb., by William Stone, the Sheriff of Jewell County. When taken, they had eleven stolen horses in their possession. When the Sheriff reached his home near Salem, in Jewell County, he remained over night with the prisoners. Leaving them with his Deputy he went out on an errand, and during his absence a mob overpowered the deputy, and hung the prisoners to a tree. Efforts were made to discover the perpetrators, but without success. The Sheriff never received his pay for the capture, as the County Commissioners claimed that he did not “produce the prisoners dead or alive.”

The most noted murder trial in the county was that of Daniel Davidson, a Swede, for the murder of his wife, November 29, 1878. The first trial resulted in conviction; but in the second he was acquitted, by the disappearance, it is claimed, of a part of the evidence found by the coroner’s jury. The circumstantial evidence was strongly against the accused. He had been separated from his wife for some time; she refusing to live with him, and receiving marked and suspicious attentions from a man named Swartz.

For some weeks previous to her death she had been ill, and her husband had remained with her during the time. On Friday, the 29th of November, 1878, having recovered sufficiently to attend to her family – a girl of twelve and a child of one and a half years – she told her husband she had no further use for him, and that he could go to his own home, which was a mile and a half distant. She further told him that he must pay for the divorce which she had applied for, and that she intended to marry Swartz as soon as it was obtained.

He returned home, and that night she was shot through the window while undressing to retire. The two children were in bed asleep, and Mrs. Davidson was near the foot of the bed, facing the window, when the shot was fired, which took effect in her breast close to the heart, and must have killed her instantly. The concussion blew out the lamp and awoke the children. The younger began to cry, and the older calling to her mother, and receiving no reply, arose, and in going to the bureau to light the lamp, stumbled over the dead body of her mother.

Toward morning the frightened, lonely and weary children fell asleep, and slept until a neighbor coming to the house on an errand, discovered the awful and touching situation. Fresh footprints of a horse going and coming between the house of Davidson and that of Mrs. Davidson through the fields were traced the next morning, the horse having been fastened at a spot where none had been seen for several weeks, according to the recollection of the little girl and the neighbors. This testimony, although strong against the prisoner, being circumstantial, was not deemed by the jury sufficient for conviction.


Source: Jewell County, Cutlers History of Kansas, 1883

1 thought on “Jewell County, Kansas Criminal Matters”

  1. A few errors here. First the man’s name was Danalson (or Danielson) not Davidson. The young girl in the article (who is my great grandmother) was 8 years old and not 12. The original article can be found on in the Jewell County Monitor.

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