Clark County Clipper, March 5, 1885
Cold Blooded MURDER!!
On Tuesday morning Ashland was the scene of much excitement, the
report having gone abroad that a man had been shot over on Bluff Creek and that
Deputy Sheriff Mike Sughrue had been seriously injured by being thrown from a
buggy while on his way to the scene of the murder.
Monday night about 11 p.m. Alex, Borlander of the 76 ranch, rode into Ashland
and informed the sheriff that a man had been killed near the ranch. Sheriff
Sughrue in company with Dr. Parks, left immediately, in a light rig, for the
scene of the tragedy. They had proceeded to the junction of Dugout and Bluff
Creek when they met with an accident. It appears that the double tree broke
loose from the tongue and slid down against the horses legs which frightened
them and they sprang suddenly forward. This caused the tongue to drop from the
neck yoke and the end ran into the ground about three feet. They were driving
quite fast at the time and both occupants were thrown out. The sheriff was
driving and attempted to hold to the lines, but was jerked forward his shoulder
striking the ground with terrible force and effect. He appeared to be quite
seriously injured and was taken to the house of Joseph Weber which was near by.
Early Tuesday morning a team was sent from Ashland to bring the Sheriff to town
and also several horsemen who were prepared to pursue the murderer. Upon
arriving at Mr. Weber's house the sheriff was placed in the wagon and started
for Ashland while the horsemen of the party continued their course. At the 76
ranch some of the men changed horses and then went up the creek about to miles
to the house of J. H. Ames where the shooting had taken place. The body of the
victim lay in the center of the room having already been dressed by the aid of
the boys from the 76 Ranch. Oscar Birdell was in charge and gave in substance,
the following account of the direful calamity.
He together with James Hannaman, Fred Spencer and George Warwick, were living at
the house of Mr. Ames, who had gone to Harper county and is now on his way back.
On Monday afternoon Warwick and Hannaman left the house to get a buggy which
belonged to the Messing boys, who lived a few miles west, on the Bluff Creek.
Birdell and Spencer remained at the house and Spencer got the supper and left
the dishes unwashed. At dusk Hannaman and Warwick returned and asked Spencer if
he had supper ready for them. Spencer said no, that he supposed they would have
supper over to Messings. They then wanted to know if he wasn't going to wash up
the dishes, to which he answered, "no." Warwick said that was a poor way to
take care of the house. Spencer said that he was bossing that ranch. Warwick
answered that Mr. Ames had told him (Warwick) to take care of the place while he
was gone. Spencer called him a liar. A few like expressions passed between
them and Warwick started towards Spencer, but Hannaman came between them at this
point and the quarrel was apparently over. Warwick then went to the cupboard
and took out a pan preparatory to making bread. While he was doing this Spencer
crossed the room to where his belt and pistol were hanging on the wall, and the
first warning of the danger was the report of his revolver. Hannaman asked
Warwick if he was hit to which he replied, "yes." Spencer said, "yes G_d d___
you and I'll shoot you again," at the same time advancing, he fired again while
standing so close that the powder entered Warwick's face. The first ball took
effect in the left shoulder and the second between the nose and right eye. The
second shot was fatal. Spencer drew down on the other two boys who had started
towards him. While he kept them off in this way he asked them how far it was to
the Territory. Hannaman was near the door and went outside, he was followed by
Spencer and then Birdell. Spencer asked Hammon for some money and was told that
he did not have any, having given it to Warwick, Spencer said he must have some
and went into the house again. While he took the pocket book from the dead
man's person. He then left the house going down the creek.
Fred Spencer is the step son of Mr. Ames and from what can be learned was rather
wild. He is only nineteen years old, slender, about 5 ft. 8 in. tall and has a
boyish appearance. He has a light complexion, and two of his left upper front
teeth are out. When he left he had on a pair of no. 8 boots and a brown cap.
The revolver was a 44 Bulldog for which he had about 50 cartridges.
George Warwick, the deceased was 26 or 27 years old. He came to Clark county
two or three months ago from Harper county. He had been in Kansas about a year
and had worked for Mr. Ames near Anthony. His friends in Coldwater have been
informed of his sad end, and arrangements made for his burial there, but as we
go to press it is reported that an inquest is to be held and the interment made
It was found upon examining the sheriff's injuries, after arriving at Ashland,
that his shoulder was dislocated. It was soon brought back into place and he is
getting along finely considering that it was not set until fifteen hours after
Deputy U. S. Marshall J. W. Ivey, R. S. Howard and boys from the 76 Ranch have
been out searching for Spencer.
Contributed by ~Shirley Brier~ October 3, 2005.
to Kansas AHGP and ALHN