Famous Crimes Of Rock Island County
Since the mills of justice have been established in this County there have been numerous murders committed. For most of the cases the guilty parties were punished, six men in all having been hung for four separate crimes. Some served terms in the penitentiary, and one cheated the gallows by committing suicide. Of course there have been a number of mysterious murders for which the guilt was never placed. From an historical standpoint, the most conspicuous crime committed in the County was the murder of Colonel George Davenport, which occurred July 4, 1845, on the Island of Rock Island; a record of which will be found in his biography in this book. The most revolting series of crimes committed by one man in the county’s history is also the most recent, the public being doubt-less still familiar with the revelations concerning his career and his self inflicted expiation when confronted with exposure of his bloody deeds. Henry Bastian, a farmer living two miles south of Milan, in March, 1896, was suspected of having caused the death of Fred Kuschmann, a young man who had been working for him and who was found dead beside the road on the night of February 29. Seeing that he would soon be arrested he committed suicide by hanging. Since that time the remains of two men, supposed to be those of John Lauderbach and Fred Kreinsen, who were at one time employed by Bastian, have been found on the place. Five others of his hired men disappeared mysteriously and it is believed that they were all murdered. Bastian’s plan was to employ a man till the unpaid wages due had reached a considerable sum, and then murder them. The first murder committed in the county was that of Lawyer Philleo, of Port Byron, who was shot and killed by John McKinley in 1843. The latter served a term in prison for the deed. December 17, 1856, Samuel Ingram shot and killed his wife, the crime being committed a short distance east of Joslin, in Zuma Township. The murderer was tried, convicted and hung upon a scaffold east of the Henry Case residence in South Rock Island. David Stoddard, in the Spring of 1854, killed his wife with an axe, the deed being committed at the home of the couple at the present southeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Twenty-third Street. He escaped from the city and remained at large for some time. Upon being arrested he was tried and convicted of the crime, paying the full penalty. William Heilwagon murdered the wife of his son at her home in Hampton Township, the crime being committed in the Fall of 1881. The weapon used was a corn knife, and the body was hidden in a shock of corn. He was hanged for the crime in the jail yard March 24, 1882. Frank Anderson, of Moline, on November 21, 1897, made an attempt upon the life of Charles Condo, a fellow workman, and was sent to the penitentiary for five years. W. J. Evans, Paul Lohrman, H. H. Blohm and W. R. Carlson, all of Moline, were held for the murder of Charles Minne, of that city, September 26, 1901, but were acquitted the following December. On April 7, 1876, John B. Stayback was killed by being stabbed in the head with a knife. David J. VanMeter was held for the murder, but was acquitted May 13 of the same year. A case which attracted a great deal of attention was the grave robbery committed at Rapids City, January 19, 1900. Arthur D. Farber, Charles Donahoo and Charles Jasperson were indicted for robbing the grave of Mrs. Christine Maurer, Farber pleaded guilty and turned state’s evidence, going to the penitentiary, but was afterwards paroled. Donahoo was acquitted and Jasperson was sent to the penitentiary. Carl Wendt, a fisherman, was found dead in his boat near Cordova during the Summer of 1901. The Stiles brothers, also fishermen, of Princeton, were held for the murder but were acquitted. Alfelia Boetjer was thrown into the Mississippi River from the Rock Island bridge in the Summer of 1886, after being choked. Her husband, James Boetjer, was arrested and indicted for the crime, but was acquitted at the January term of Court following. In September, 1867, David Edgington shot and killed Hiram Reynolds. He was tried and convicted the following October and received a life sentence. September, 1859, Jesse W. Ballard was struck on the head with a club and killed. Jesse Farrell was convicted of the crime but was never apprehended. Patrick Ganey, James McCormack and Patrick Grogan killed Conrad Whittick November 14, 1879, on the Ninth Street Road, outside the city limits, by striking him with a stone. Grogan went to prison for life, Caney got fourteen years and McCormack was acquitted. William Dolan, Nicolas Schlitz, William Blair, John Looney, _____ Lynch, Timothy Butler, Halsey Hammond, John Galagher, John Campbell, Oliver Chandanais and James Cronan killed William Armstead, alias Arm-strong, on board the steamer Dubuque, with sticks of wood and pieces of coal, July 29, 1869. The accused took a change of venue to Henry County, where they were convicted. John Kavanaugh, Bernard Heeney, Charles Ross and Pat Heeney killed Joseph Rosen-field, a policeman, March 12, 1879, on the streets of Rock Island. John Kavanaugh was sentenced for life, Pat Heeney for four-teen years. Other cases of less sensational character were: Alexander Abbott; charged with the murder of Patrick McGurtry, June 24, 1860. The defendant was found not guilty January 14, 1865. Jasper Hampton, Turner Hampton and Joseph Langley were indicted for the murder of Charles S. Bean July 9, 1859, but were found not guilty. Harry Brookman was indicted for the murder of Grant Buffum at Andalusia in May, 1886, but was acquitted. Mable Lagrange and Elsa M. Boyer were indicted in May, 1893, for throwing a child in the river, but insane, and the case was nolle prossed as to Elsa Boyer. James Berry and Leslie Barker were indicted, in March, 1880, for killing Anthony Evans, but were acquitted. Andrew G. Johnson was indicted in September 1863, for the murder of Lorona Roe; a change a venue was taken and the case tried in Henry County. At the September term of Court; 1875, John Martens was tried for the murder of John Brace; he was found guilty and sentenced to ten years in the penitentiary. George Erbst, was indicted January 7 for killing James Jackson on Market Square with a knife; he was found guilty and was sentenced to the penitentiary for seventeen and a half years. Joseph McIntyre was indicted January 7, 1871, for the murder of Andrew J. Harris, but was acquitted. George W. Janes was found guilty of the murder of Robert McClusky in May, 1867, and was sentenced to the penitentiary for three years. Britta Nelson, of Rapids City, was indicted May 5, 1876, for the murder of Peter Nelson, the weapon used being an axe. She was found guilty, but insane. Samuel Robertson was indicted January 22, 1886, for. the murder of Hans Timmerman, but was acquitted February 6, 1886. Benjamin Thompson, Adam Reiling, William Patterson and Mary Patter-son were indicted at the September term of Court, 1859, for the murder of a male child by crushing its head; they were acquitted at the January term, 1860. June, 1905, a very sensational murder occurred at a cabin boat on Island B, when either Josephine Collet or William Nagel shot Carl August Brady, to gain possession of his little boat house, for which they were arrested. From the story of the accused the two sat on the porch of the house boat, and Brady entering the cabin to get some provisions, one of the two shot him, while he was leaning over a stove in the opposite end of the boat. In a valise was found a hammer, which Josephine Collet said Nagel struck Brady. The body was found in a cave near by. He had some money and other effects, which they disposed of, mostly in Muscatine. Josephine Collet was released on technicalities, while Nagel was consigned to the penitentiary for life.
Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908