Monday, July 8, 2013

Who Killed George Bopp? 1890 Part 1

Murder of Christy Township Constable 1890
 The Sumner Press published in 1890 a lengthy account of the murder of George Bopp, the constable.  Before he died , Bopp told  the Coroner the name of the man who  shot him.  Yet at the Coroner’s inquest the dying man’s declaration was not enough to have the alleged murderer arrested.  All testimony of witnesses will be presented over the next week, and at the end we ask you the readers to consider the evidence, and tell us who you think shot George Bopp.

MURDER of George Bopp Sumner Press January 2, 1890

MURDER! Constable George Bopp Shot While Making An Arrest!
 The Evidence As Noted By The Press Scribe At The Coroners Inquest.
George Bopp, a Constable of Christy Township, was shot Thursday night at Spring Hill schoolhouse, 3 miles Northeast under the following circumstances: Miss Mary Lee, aged about 18, daughter of George Lee, entered a bastardy suit against Tom Palmer, son of Sam Palmer, one of our leading farmers. A warrant for Palmer's arrest was placed in the hands of Constable Bopp. Being told that Palmer had said he would not be arrested, he summoned to his aid Millard Jones, our city Marshall, Sam Gould and Ott Rice. The story of the killing is involved in some mystery. Bopp, in his ante-mortem statement before Coroner French, said positively Tom Palmer shot him.  This, with the threats made by Palmer, is all the evidence there is against him. After patiently hearing all the evidence the coroner's jury decided that Bopp came to his death at the hands of parties unknown. Bopp leaves a wife and six children in rather needy circumstances. We give below a verbatim report of the testimony before the Coroner's jury in order that our readers may be fully posted.

Constable Bopp was shot about 9 PM. The ball passing through both lobes of the liver and the left lung and was taken out near the back; he was put in a wagon and brought to the residence of Millard Jones in the city, where surrounded by his stricken family, at 5 AM Friday he expired. After a short funeral discourse by Rev. Schaeffer his remains were followed to the (Sumner)cemetery Saturday by the largest number of conveyances we have seen at a funeral during our residence here. In regard to the murder the greater portion of the citizens think that Tom Palmer committed it. There is a goodly number who think perhaps three others could tell who fired the shot; while on the other hand Palmer's neighbors nearly unanimously contend he is not the murderer. In our mind there is no question that Palmer has injured his side by not coming in and giving himself up. If he is innocent, as his friends claim him to be, he could have easily compromised the bastardy case, and should have faced the music like a man. Keeping out of the way has not helped him any.

Sam Gould Testifies
I was standing about six or eight rods from where the shooting occurred. Saw the flash of a pistol and two men on the bridge. At the time could not distinguish who they were; I was running in that direction. When I came up George Bopp was there and said he was shot, could not recognize the man who did the shooting. Bopp turned and went 6 rods South and lay down, the man who did the shooting having disappeared. Went to Bopp, struck a light and found he was shot.
We went there to arrest Tom Palmer, having a warrant. I heard Bob tell tell the man who shot him,”You are my prisoner,” at the same time putting his hand on his shoulder. The man made no answer that I could hear. I did not take more than two or three steps afterwards before the shot was fired; but one shot was fired at Bopp. About 5 min. previous to this,  two shots were fired about 40 rods back; think they were fired by Ott Rice but am not certain. The two shots were fired upward at an angle of 45°; I was but a short distance away.

When I got to Bopp I asked him who did the shooting. He answered Tom Palmer. There was but one man with him. I was no nearer the schoolhouse than the bridge; of my own positive knowledge did not see anyone leave the Sam Palmer House. When Millard Jones gave me the revolver when we started he said there was one empty chamber; I did not look at the pistol myself.   (continued tomorrow)