Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Who Killed George Bopp? 1890 Part 3

 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.

Millard Jones’ Testimony (Sumner City Marshall)
I went to Sam Palmer's with Bopp, Gould and Rice to help arrest Tom Palmer. We had a warrant – I have the warrant now. Bopp and I went into the house, asked Mrs. Palmer, “where is Tommy?” She answered, “probably in Kansas.”  Bopp said to her, “we ask or demand”, I am not certain which- “permission to search the house.”  She replied,  “I did say no one should search the house but you may.”  She picked up the lamp, went upstairs, I followed her, while Bopp went outdoors. After looking through several rooms and being satisfied Tom was not in the house, I told Mrs. Palmer I was satisfied and left the house, but on going out could find no one. I whistled.
Just then I heard someone call my name, but could not tell who it was. I started down the road and met, I think Dolly Pepple, who when stopped  said, “George Bopp has shot himself.”  Did not hear the shooting as I was in the house at the time. I ran down the road to the turn, – found the crowd, and Bopp laying up against the bank, someone having remarked that Bopp shot himself. I said let us look at his revolver and see if any of the chambers are empty. Gould  took it out of Bopp's pocket John Decker and others looked at it and saw that every chamber was full – it was my revolver – I had loaned it to him.
I asked Bob if he shot himself. He said “no, Tom Palmer shot me.” Thinking there might be a dispute as to who shot Bopp I got all four of the pistols and brought them home with me. Rice’s pistol had two empty chambers; his pistol was caliber 38. Ghoul’s revolver had one empty chamber; I loaned him the pistol; the chamber was empty when I gave it to him. I had fired it off Christmas morning. The caliber of my pistol was 38; Bppp's pistol was caliber 41.

Drury Gowin Sworn
Was at the schoolhouse, – heard two shots fired. About 3 min. after the girl rushed in another shot was fired. Some five or six got out of the school house before I did. I went south after them to a culvert down the road. Saw a man standing there and the crowd going up the hill. I went up to the man, saw it was Bopp. I spoke to him and said “hello George!” I looked at him but could not understand what he said. Smelt his breath – saw he had been drinking. I suppose he was there to attend the Lodge, he being a member. Had turned away when I saw the crowd coming back; saw Ott Rice, who asked “where is Bopp?”
Just then Bopp started up the hill, he said he was a dead man. He had been shot through – did not say who shot him. When he got to the top of the hill, he wheeled around and fell against the bank. Just then Millard Jones came  to him and asked him who shot him. Bopp answered Bob Palmer. Some one suggested Bopp had shot himself. Jones, Gould, and John Decker took Bopp's revolver, they found no empty chambers. Bopp was put in the wagon and taken to foot of the hill when Sam Gowin  suggested that the  posse show their revolvers to the crowd. This was done – Bopp and Jones’ were full, Rice’s had two empty chambers and Gould’s one.
I could not say positively whether Tom Palmer was in the house when the last shot was fired or not. It was not so dark but I could recognize anyone if very close to them. Several had gone out of the house after the girl came in before the last shot was fired. I do not think there was time to have  gone from that house to the bridge between the time the girl came to the house and the firing of the shot. Am positive Tom Palmer was in the house when his sister came to the door. I could not say whether a man had time to run from the house to the bridge or not – the distance was about 75 yards. Among the first persons who left the schoolhouse were Dolly and Theodore Pepple; think it was about 1 min. after the girl came to the house until Bopp was shot. (continued tomorrow)