Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Who Killed George Bopp? 1890 Part 2

 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.  This is Part 2. 

Ott Rice Sworn
While at Sumner Hotel Thursday evening, George Bopp came to me and said he wanted a team and me to go with him and arrest Tom Palmer; that George Lee had received a letter that Palmer had a notion to run off, but said he did not intend to as no five men could take him.
There were four in the party, Bopp, Millard Jones, Sam Gould and myself. We went first to Frank Griggs’ as Bopp thought Palmer might be there. Bopp sent Jones and me in the house to see if Palmer was there but not finding him we went to Sam Palmer's. Bopp sent Gould and me to the north side of the house, while he and Jones went to the rear. Bopp then came to where I was and sent me to the east side and left Gould at north and told us to let no one come out. Saw Bopp and Jones go in the house from the west.
Shortly after the door opened and two girls came out on the side where I stood; did not know them certain but thought they were Sam Palmer's daughters. I told the girls they could not come out as I had orders not to let them leave the house; they then went back. Bopp came out and asked me where the girls wanted to go; I told him the barn. Bopp told me to get Gould  and go to the barn, which we did. After staying there a short time I told Gould to stay there and I would return to the house. When I got to the road I met Bopp, who said: "Listen! I hear someone running out in the road. There is my man. Come on.”
We then ran down the Road, Bopp pulled out his revolver and said: “I will fire it off and stop them” but his revolver snapped and would not fire. He then said to me “fire yours and see if the party will not stop,” which I did in the air twice. We continued to run down the road, Gould behind us, to where the road turns north down the hill, when we saw a crowd come toward us from the schoolhouse. Someone called out to me --I think it was Theodore Pepple – “what's the trouble?” Just then we met two men, Bopp caught the one in front and said to him “you are my prisoner.”  I went on to the crowd which was coming up and was talking to them when I heard a shot fired; I did not see it fired. I heard Bopp say, “I am shot,” there was but one shot fired then. I was about 15 feet off with back to Bopp when he was shot; several in the crowd were as close as I was. I heard no words except Bopp say “you are my prisoner” and after the shot was fired, “I am shot.”
I was then told to get my team and take Bopp home as he was badly shot; I could not tell who told me this, as I was excited. It was about 5 min. from the time I fired my pistol in the air until Bopp was shot. I could not say positively who shot Bopp. While coming home Bopp said Tom Palmer shot him. The man whom Bopp arrested was about the size and shape of Tom Palmer, but do not know for certain who it was, of my own knowledge cannot say who shot Bopp..

N. J. Pepple's Testimony
At the time of the first shots fired I was in the Spring Hill schoolhouse. A few minutes after hearing it a little girl came to the door, opened it, threw up her hands and said: “Oh Tommy! The officers are after you and will kill you!”  I think it was Tilly, daughter of Sam Palmer but am not positive. Sam Palmer, and others went to her; as she was so excited she could not talk and tell the cause of the disturbance. They talked with her not over 3 to 5 min. when Sam Palmer said to the girl, “Tilly, you come with me and go home.”
Part of the crowd then went  out – do not know for certain who went – after which the house was called to order and the speaking went on. I looked around to see who had gone – saw that Sam and Tom Palmer, Theodore Pepple, Link Piper, John Decker, John Adams, Will Pepple, and others whose names I cannot recall were gone. In a few minutes Theodore Pepple came back and wanted a lantern, saying that George Bopp was shot; he took a lantern and went out to where the shooting occurred. The meeting then adjourned and the crowd all went down there. Theodore Pepple was asked who did the shooting, and said he did not know. I asked Bopp who shot him. First he said Bobby, – John, – Tom Palmer. In a few minutes he said Tom Palmer and upon the question being repeating returned the same answer. He seemed to be in his right mind but was suffering very much. The distance from Palmer's house to the school house was about a quarter of a mile.
It was about nine o'clock when the shooting occurred. The girl could run from the house to the schoolhouse. I did not hear any other person named but Tom Palmer except that someone whose voice I did not recognize say someone in his own crowd shot Bopp. I did not see Tom Palmer after the shooting. When the first two shots were fired Sam and Tom Palmer were in the schoolhouse. There was an interval of three or 4 min. between the first two shots and the last one. The shooting was so near together that as well as I can remember the last shot was fired about the time the girl came to schoolhouse.

To the best of my knowledge Tom Palmer was in the schoolhouse when the fatal shot was fired. I asked Bopp how far he was away when shot, he said: “about 2 feet- I had my hands on him at the time. I told him, ‘you are my prisoner,’ and his only reply was, ‘you son of a b---h.’ The moon was almost down when the shooting took place; it was very dark but I think if I had my hand on a man I could recognize him. (continued tomorrow)