Saturday, November 14, 2015

December 31, 1894: Barrett Scott

Today we learn about a lynching in Nebraska. Our first article to inform us about the lynching of Barrett Scott comes to us through the pages of The Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois) dated January 2, 1895:


Masked Men Carry Off a Nebraska Defaulting County Treasurer.


Barrett Scott and His Niece Hit by Bullets from Ambush.


Searching Parties Find No Trace of the Missing Man.

Mr. Scott's Family and Driver Reach home After Being Roughly Treated by the Mob.

O' NEILL, Neb., Jan. 1.—Special Telegram.—Barrett Scott, defaulting ex-treasurer of this county, who, by various legal technicalities, has so far evaded punishment for his misdeeds, has been seized by masked men, and it is believed he has been made away with.

About a week ago in company with his wife, daughter, and niece, Miss McWhorter, and a hired man named John Schmidt, he went to the country about twenty miles to visit relatives. At 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon while returning to this city the party were met by a dozen masked men about  ten miles northeast of this city and told to stop or they would shoot. The masked men had been lying in ambush in the ruins of an old sod house about a hundred feet from the road. All were heavily armed.

Scott told the driver to whip up the horses, which he did. The mob then opened fire on the occupants of the buggy, killing both horses and wounding Scott and Miss McWhorter in the back. It is not known how badly Scott was hurt. miss McWhorter received only a slight wound.

Scott Carried Off by the Mob.

The masked men then bound and blindfolded Scott and Schmidt and threw them into a wagon which they had in waiting, part of the gang driving them northwest toward the Niobrara River.

A closed carriage then drove up and Mrs. Scott, her little daughter, and Miss McWhorter were put into the carriage. One of the bandits got in to drive and another rode along behind. They drove the ladies about ten miles from the place where they were captured.

As soon as it became dark they put the ladies out of the carriage and told them to follow the road for about a mile and they would come to a house where they would be taken care of. the ladies did as requested, after trying in vain to get the men to drive them there. When they reached the house they got the farmer residing there to drive them to this city, where they arrived last night about midnight.

At 1:30 this morning, Schmidt, who was taken with Scott, reached this city, he having walked about eighteen miles. He says that the men drove with him and Scott until dark and then halted. The prisoners were taken into an old stable and shortly afterward, probably about 7 o'clock, the gang took Schmidt to the road and taking the bandage off his eyes told him that was the road to O' Neill and to go. After walking about three miles he came to a house and asked the distance to O' Neill. He was then informed he was on the wrong road and upon being taken to the right road took it and reached the city as stated, worn out with fatigue after his long tramp.

Three Men Under Suspicion.

Scouting parties have been out from this city all day and think they have located three of the mob but are not certain of their men yet. the general opinion in this city is that Scott has been murdered and his body buried in one of the numerous caverns in that locality, and that unless the mob is captured the chances are that his body will never be found.

Barrett Scott was treasurer of this county four years. Shortly after his election for the second term the supervisors got into trouble with Scott, who was a Republican while a majority of the board were independents. The board tried to oust Scott from office and appointed -.-. Hayes, of this city, treasurer. This was early in 1892. Scott refused to vacate --- office and the board appealed to the Supreme Court. At various times during the next year the board tried to oust Scott, but failed.

By the failure of the Holt County Bank of this city in July, 1893, Scott lost some of the county money, which he had on deposit. This added to his troubles, the County Board continually hounding him. He then took what county money he could get and fled to Mexico. The County Board then offered a reward of $3,000 for his apprehension. He was arrested in Mexico and brought back to Holt County on the charge of embezzling $94,000 of the county funds.

Scott Was Released on Bail.

He had a hearing before the Judge in this  city and was bound over to the District Court in the sum of $17,000. This was afterwards raised to $70,000. Scott furnished the bond and was out on bail. His case came up in the District Court last March. A change of venue was asked for by Scott's attorney. The change of venue was granted, and the case was sent out of this judicial district to Antelope County., and was set for Sept. 12. In the meantime he was let out on $70,000 bail and stayed with his family in this city.

 The trial in September lasted a week, and after thirty-six hours deliberation the jury brought in a verdict of guilty. Scott was sentenced to the penitentiary for five years and to pay a fine of about $70,000. A motion for a new trial was refused. then Scott's attorneys took the case to the Supreme Court on error. The Judges on the Supreme Court admitted him to bail in the sum of $40,000, pending an investigation of the case. Scott gave a bond and on Dec. 16 he was released from custody and came to his home in this city.

Our next article comes to us through the January 21, 1895 edition of the same paper:


All Doubts as to His Disappearance Now Cleared Up.


 Shot, Hanged and Then Thrown Into the River.


Mullihan, Elliott, and Roy Named as the Murderers.

Warrants Sworn Out for Their Arrest—Belief That Prominent Citizens Will Be Implicated.

O' NEILL, Neb., Jan. 20.—Special Telegram.—The remains of Barrett Scott were brought to this city this afternoon about 2:30 o'clock. They were at once taken to the undertaking establishment of O. F. Biglin, where they were viewed by hundreds of people during the day.

The body was found in the Niobrara River, 120 feet east of Whiting's bridge and eighteen feet from the north bank in Boyd County, about thirty miles north of this city. The bullet wound in his neck was found to be as Mrs. Scott had described it, and a half-inch rope around his neck gave further evidence of the way in which he met his death. There was a bruise over his left eye and one a little to the right and above his right eye, as if he had been struck upon the head with the butt of a revolver. His face gives unmistakable evidence of his having been tortured before his cowardly assailants committed the culminating act of murder.

Saturday morning a posse started out from this city to continue the search for the missing man. They went to the Niobrara River well supplied with saws with which to cut the ice, and long grappling hooks with which to probe the bottom of the river. They commenced cutting the ice about 300 feet below the bridge and worked up stream. They cut the ice in strips about six feet wide, pushed them under the ice in the river, and let them float down stream.

First Found a Quilt.

They worked from 8 o'clock in the morning until 2 in the afternoon, when they found a quilt the murdered man had with him the day he was taken from the side of his family.

After finding the quilt which was identified as belonging to Scott a courier came to this city and others went to Spencer, Boyd County, which is six miles from where the body was found, for re-enforcements and food for the party searching the river.

About fifteen men went from Spencer and joined in the search, determined to find the body if it was in the river. They worked industriously until 9:15 o'clock, when a man named Hudson got his grappling hook fast in something. He at once told the other men who were working the south side of the river. The body was loosened from its resting place and when the sand was washed away the body shot up to the surface where it was quickly seized by the searchers and pulled out on the ice.

There was a small eddy where the body rested, and the whirling of the water kept it from going further down the stream. Had it not been for the eddy into which the body was sucked the probabilities are that it never would have been found, as the treacherous quicksands of the river would have buried it.

There was six feet of water where the body was found and on top of that eighteen inches of ice.

As soon as the body had been found a messenger started for this city to bring the news, and another started for Butte, the county seat of Boyd County, in which county the body was found, to notify the coroner to come and hold an inquest. Coroner Hoover arrived on the scene about 7 o'clock this morning. by this time about forty men arrived from this city, who left here about 1 o'clock last night.

The Coroner's Verdict.

The coroner immediately impaneled a jury who rendered the following verdict:

State of Nebraska, Boyd County. At an inquest held at Whiting's Bridge, on the Niobrara River, in Boyd County, on the 20th day of January, 1895, before me, J. B. Hoover, coroner of said county, upon the body of Barrett Scott lying dead, by the jurors whose names are hereunto subscribed. The said jurors upon their oaths do say that from the evidence adduced before them they find that on the 31st day of December, 1894, the said Scott came to his death by shooting, and by hanging with a rope by the neck until he was dead, in the county of Holt and State of Nebraska, and that George D. Mullihan, moses Elliott, and Mert Roy, and other citizens of Holt County, to the jurors unknown, were guilty of the killing. The jurors further believe from the evidence that the body was carried to the bridge and there thrown into the Niobrara River from which it was taken. The jurors further find from the evidence advanced that the killing was unlawful, maliciously, and feloniously done by the said George Mullihan, Moses Elliott, and Mert Roy, and sundry other persons to the jurors unknown. In testimony whereof the said jurors have hereunto set their hands this day and year aforesaid.
Attest:  J. B. HOOVER, Coroner.

It is not known what evidence was introduced before the jury which brought out the above verdict, but it is generally understood that all parties who were upon the scene knew more than they care to tell.

Warrants Sworn Out.

Immediately upon the arrival of the party in this city with the corpse warrants were sworn out for George D. Mullihan, Moses Elliott, and Mert Roy, charging them with the murder of Barrett Scott. Officers will start out tonight and rearrest the men.

It will be remembered that these men were arrested shortly after the disappearance of Scott and were released under $500 bonds. It is reported here that Mullihan has skipped the country, but the report cannot be verified.

Intense excitement prevails in this city tonight. Large crowds are in town from all parts of the county, and the whole topic of conversation is the cowardly murder of Scott.

Much indignation is expressed against the editor of the Populist paper published in this city, who came out in a lengthy article in Friday's paper denouncing the men who are trying to ferret out the mystery.

That the perpetrators of this dastardly outrage will be caught and punished there is no doubt, and the impression is here that the truth is known parties high in the councils of the Independent party in this county will be implicated.

Mrs. Scott is prostrated with grief, and has not been allowed to see the body yet.

The crime for which Barrett Scott paid with his life on New Year's Day of this year was the embezzlement of $70,000 of the funds of Holt County and the subsequent wrecking of the Holt County Bank, practically impoverishing nearly all the farmers and business men in Holt. The amounts stolen from these confiding people are variously estimated, but aggregated about $160,000.

Think His Friends Did It.

LINCOLN, Ne., Jan. 20.—Special Telegram.—Among the Holt County people in this city the subject is freely discussed and the individual opinions of each as to the cause of Scott's taking off and as to the persons responsible therefor are given without reserve. Representative Robertson, of Holt, said that he had, from the information received, been inclined to lean to the theory that Scott had been run out of the county by his friends or those who were intimately connected with him in business transactions. Since the finding of the body he is satisfied that those who did the deed are people who were afraid of being implicated by the confession of Scott, and who felt that their only safety was in fixing him so that he could not talk.

Representative Robertson does not believe that the vigilance committee had anything to do with the Scott case, from what he knows of the friendly relations which existed between those composing the vigilantes and Scott. He thinks from what he knows of the condition of affairs that there was no motive to cause the political enemies of Scott to do the deed. He calls attention to one point which he says seems suspicious to him and bears out his theory.This is that after the searchers, after looking all over the country, all of a sudden and with one impulse became convinced that the body would be found in the river.

H. M. Uttley, who was the attorney for Barrett Scott, is also in town tonight, and said there is only one conclusion as to the people engaged in the lynching, and that is that they are the enemies of Scott. Uttley believes that the vigilance committee was engaged in the business.

The men charged with the lynching were acquitted. Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.

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