Clark County Clipper, November 27, 1884


Two Men And A Girl Shot In Cold Blood!

One of the Murders Captured and Hung.

Ashland has since Friday last been the scene of mush excitement, which culminated Wednesday evening in the murder of Commodore Boggs and Daniel Adams, and the wounding of Miss Fannie Hankins.  The circumstances connected with the affair, as nearly as can be ascertained at this time, are as follows:

The men who did the shooting were Joe Mitchell and Nels Matthews.  Joe Mitchell came to this country about two weeks ago, being reported that he had gotten into difficulty near Hazelton and was compelled to leave there.  Nels Matthews had been about here for some three or four months and had no occupation during that time.  They, together with two or three other, rode into town Friday afternoon and shot a fine gray hound, belonging to Ad Powers, they also shot out several window lights and broke the door of Roby & Lyon's grocery.

The weather was quite severe Saturday and Sunday and they did not put in an appearance.  Monday afternoon they came down from the saloon at Clark and commenced shooting at dogs.  They then rode into many of the business houses with drawn revolvers.  Did considerable shooting.  Some shots were fired at our citizens.  They roped and threw a pony several times and also roped a man from his mule he was riding.  They constantly became more bold in their depredations.  The next object of their cruelty was a man and boy who were riding out of town on a wagon.  They roped them several times but were unable to drag them from their wagon.  Some words passed between them and Matthews beat both man and boy with his six shooter.  Shortly after this they attempted to take a shotgun from a young man named Frank Gage who objected, jumped back and drew down on Matthews, who then run into Roby's store, loading his six shooter and followed Gage, but did not get an opportunity to shoot him.  That evening they confined themselves to tearing down houses.

Tuesday only three men were in the gang, there having been five the night before, Matthews followed by Mitchell rode into Lee's restaurant and then shot through the door and front of the building while several persons were at dinner.  Fortunately no one was injured.  By this time the citizens had made up their minds to take the matter into their own hands, there being no officer nearer than Dodge City, many shot guns and arms were in readiness that evening but the desperadoes had been warned and did not come into town, but rode over ___ and contented themselves with firing a few shots.  Watch was kept in town until a late hour.  One man who, it is said had been trying to keep Matthews and Mitchell from continuing their spree, left them in the afternoon.

Nothing occurred in town Wednesday to arouse suspicion until about half past five o'clock p.m., when a certain individual rode into town from the north and back again so quickly as to arouse the distrust of the poor fellows who so shortly after, met their untimely end.  Those very boys gave the alarm and in a few minutes their suspicion was verified.

Matthews and Mitchell rode into the post office and Matthews mailed a letter.  They then rode through town and over the bluff where the trail comes in from the East.  They tied their horses in the clump of trees between Mr. Lowery's and Bear Creek and went upon the hill between the dug out and town.  When Adams and Boggs passed and went down into Lowery's dug out, where they were boarding, Mitchell and Matthews followed them.  The dug out had only two rooms, a main room and an ante room.  Supper was spread and the table full of boarders.  The victims were standing in the anteroom together with Mrs. Woods, Fannie Hankins and a little girl.  Mitchell and Matthews stopped to the entrance and Mitchell, addressing Boggs, said; "here pard, we want to speak to you."  He answered that he would not step out with them.  Mitchell then grabbed him by the coat collar with one hand and raising his six shooter with the other shot him in the stomach.  At the same time Matthews shot Adams in the breast.  Both boys probably made efforts to draw their revolvers, as one was found drawn and cocked, and the other partially drawn.  Three or four shots fired, one of which struck Fannie Hankins in the arm, inflicting only a flesh wound.  It is thought that the shot was intended for her.

Immediately after the shooting the murderers took to their horses and rode rapidly toward Clark.  Deputy Sughrue, who had been informed of the trouble, left Dodge at 11 a.m. and as good fortune would have it rode into Clark shortly after the shooting was done, and made for the saloon, thinking there was where he would find the men he was after.  No one was there however, but as he passed out Mitchell rode up and Mr. Sughrue arrested him upon suspicion.  This was hardly done when Matthews rode up, having left a poor horse of his own and taken one belonging to Mr. Griffin.  Matthews called to Mitchell to come on and Mitchell answered; "I can't, I'm arrested."  Sughrue then commanded Matthews to halt, but he fired at him in reply upon which they exchanged three shots, and Matthews galloped away in the night.  The deputies, Sughrue and Thompson, then brought their prisoner to Ashland, where they were met by an excited throng.  The extraordinary bravery and determination of the deputies is all that prevented Mitchell being taken from them and dealt with summarily. After the prisoner was secured, deputy Sughrue with a large force started in search of Matthews.

Everything had quieted down by midnight and the streets were deserted.  A strong force guarded the prisoner and it was little thought that the people would take justice into their own hands.  About three o'clock however, the room quickly filled with men and before there was any chance to resist, deputy Thompson and his assistants were over powered.  The prisoner was snatched out during the disturbance, and daylight Thursday morning disclosed his lifeless body suspended from a beam of Bullen & Averill's lumber shed.  He was cut down at 10:25 o'clock a.m. and an inquest was held as follows:


An inquisition holden at Ashland in Ford county, State of Kansas, on the 27th day of November, A. D., 1884, before me. Cleo A. Exline, a Notary Public in and for said county, (such inquisition being held by me at the request of William Thompson, Deputy Sheriff of said county, on account of the great distance to the Coroner, or a Justice of the Peace) acting as Coroner on the body of Joe Mitchell there lying dead, by the jurors whose names are hereunto subscribed.

The said jurors upon their oaths do say:  That the person now here lying dead was known by the name of Joe Mitchell; that he came to his death on the night of November 26th, A. D., 1884, at Ashland, Ford county State of Kansas, by being hanged by the neck, by persons unknown to the jury.

H. B. Wakefield
C. M. Brush
J. R. Glen
F. D. Webster
C. E. Rhodes
J. L. Blackford

Attest: Geo. A. Exline, Notary Public and acting Coroner of Ford county, Kansas.

The victims of this cold blood murder were both men of families and were here to make homes for themselves.  They were very quiet peaceable and law abiding citizens.  Daniel Adams was twenty three years old, he leaves a wife and one child.  C. P. Boggs was twenty four years old and also leaves a wife and one child.

B. W. Burchett accompanied the remains to Mt. Savage, Center county, Ky., where their families are for interment.

For want of space the finding of the Coroner's inquest is omitted.  The verdict however, was that they came to their deaths by pistols in the hands of Joe Mitchell and Nels Matthews.

Other facts connected with this foul tragedy may be expected next week.
Deputy Sheriff Michael Sughrue, will remain with us.  With him here we will have no further occasion for coroner's inquests.
Sheriff, Pat Sughrue whose brother has rendered us such efficient service arrived Thursday night.

Matthews is still at large.


Clark County Clipper, October 14, 1884

The Arrest

After the excitement incident to the killing of Adams and Boggs, had partially subsided, Sheriff Sughrue arrested Norval Dudley, D. W. Wood, Calvin Ward, Dr. W. F. Davis and J. E. Church, upon suspicion of being party to the hanging of Joe Mitchell.

Why the above persons should have been selected may be a matter of curiosity to some; it has been intimated however, that they were selected on account of good looks.

Norval Dudley is honored with being the first settler in this part of the country.  He is also President of the late Clark City Town Company and a man who is looked up to and respected by the people of this community.

Mr. Wood came here recently.  he is a contractor and builder, and is superintendent the work on the new hotel.

Calvin Ward had lived here for some time engaged in different occupations and is known by the people to be an industrious and peaceable citizen.

Dr. Davis came to Clark county some four months since, from Iowa and is a practicing physician.  He came here partially on account of his health and has made many friends.  His age ia about 65, he is too old to receive many hard knocks.

James E. Church was one of the first to come to this county early in the Spring.  He is editor and Proprietor of the Clipper, also a surveyor and member of the land firm of Church & Myers, at Ashland.

The sheriff together with his deputies, prisoners and a large delegation of representative men of Ashland, left for Dodge City Saturday afternoon. All stopped at Bluff Creek for the night, Dodge City was reached about 2 o'clock Sunday afternoon.  Several business men of Dodge greeted the party upon their arrival.  It being Sunday it was impossible to give bail and after a good dinner, given by Mr. Averill, of the firm of Bullen & Averill at the Great Western Hotel, the prisoners were taken to the county jail.  Sheriff Sughrue was very obliging so that the prisoners had good quarters, and, so far as practicable, every thing to make them comfortable.

Monday afternoon a hearing was called before R. G. Cook, a justice of the peace.  In the absence of Prosecuting attorney Whitelaw, the justice stated that if would be impossible to proceed with the case.  J. W. Ivey and R. B. Likes, attorneys for the defense, then asked fro bail which request was granted.  The bail bond was fixed at Three Thousand Dollars for each defendant, making a total of Fifteen Thousand Dollars.  The bonds were soon made out and there is reason to believe that no better were ever given in Ford County.  The sureties in addition to the defendants, were the Ashland Town Company, R. M. Wright, H. B. Bell and S. Garland.

The preliminary hearing is called for the 10th. inst., at the office of Justice Cook.  Every thing was found quiet at Dodge and all returned to Ashland Tuesday morning well pleased with the result of the trip.


More About the Tragedy.


In last week's Clipper we stated that B. W. Burchett had started to Kentucky with the remains of Daniel Adams and C. P. Boggs, the victims of the late murder.  It was his intent to take them to their old homes.  Temporary coffins were made, the inquest held, the bodies dressed and in six hours after they had started to supper their lifeless forms were in charge of Messrs. Burchett, Powers and Henderson, being conveyed to Dodge City where Mr. Burchett intended to encase them in suitable caskets and take then onward, but on arrival there he concluded to interr them, for the present, in the cemetery at that place which was done on Friday.  They were both young and strong; and above the average size, being about six feet in height and weighing about 175 lbs. each.  They were of good families and relatives of Capt. Nipp and J. J. Kennedy of this place.  Each had married the other's sisters.  The only reason that can be described why these two men should be the victims of such direful deeds is that they were willing to stand by the citizens in the protection of their lives and property.


Matthews is still at large.  Various reports are afloat to his escape when he is, and has been.  Just before Deputy Sughrue encountered him in Clark he had cut the saddle off the horse on which he had fled from Ashland, it being the property of the saloon keeper in Clark, threw it upon one of W. Griffins horses, tied near the house.  Mrs. Griffin saw him take the horse and supposing it was her brother, said; " that you Harry?" and the answer came back "yes."  He seated himself in the unfastened saddle and the next minute, Sughrue, who could have shot him had he known what had had happened.  Mr. Griffin recovered his horse Tuesday at the K ranch, 14 miles northwest of here.  Parties there informed him that Matthews was at the ranch and changed horses at 8 o'clock, an hour after the murder.  We also learn from a credible source that Matthews, as he rode up to the ranch said, "halloo" and on being answered asked, "is there anything up," he was told there was not, he then said he had gotten into trouble at Ashland and the only thing he cared for was that he was afraid he had hurt a woman.  He then asked for a horse but was told that they were all rode down, but another party spoke up and told him there was one out there he could have.  Mr. Griffins horse bears evidence of desperate riding.

Nels Matthews was born and raised in Texas.  He is about twenty five years old, 5 ft. 10 in. tall, weight 145 -150 pounds, hair almost black with hazel eyes and smooth shaven face.  He always dresses neatly and on the day of the murder wore a new coat and vest of a black color and a broad brimmed white hat, though he usually wore a black felt.  He talks but little and rarely laughs.


He is also a native of Texas.  His mother, a Mrs. _aiue, lives near Hazelton this state.  A statement of his hanging was given last week.

After being cut down at 10:25 a.m. Thursday, he was removed to Bullen & Averill's office.  A neat coffin and black suit was furnished by the Edgar bros. who are acquainted with his family.  On Friday a number of citizens and a few from the ranches interred his body across the trail, east of the town site.  When captured he wore Matthews hat and a common suit of clothes.  On his person was found $2.60 in money and a letter from his mother bearing date of Oct. 26 asking him to mend his ways.

In personal appearance he bore some distinctive marks.  His height was about 5 feet 7 inches, weight 140 pounds, light complexion, gray eyes and a triangular face.  He had a slight lameness in his walk on account of his left leg bowing outward.  He was quite young looking and probably not as old as Matthews.  When the excited crowd was yelling "hang him" just after the sheriff brought him from Clark, he very complaisantly smoke a cigar, and when led to where his victim lay, evinced no emotion.  While the smith was making the manacles with which to bind him he talked ready to parties who plied him with numerous questions.  The chains on his legs, he was taken to Loe's restaurant where he ate supper sitting near the door.  After supper, he continued to talk when questioned and as fast as one cigarette was gone he as carefully and neatly made another, as though he was enjoying the freedom of the plains.  He remained near the door all evening and was within easy reach when the mob took him. 

Clark County Clipper, December 18, 1884

The Acquittal.

The preliminary hearing of the person's arrested for being connected with the mob that lynched Mitchell, was held at Dodge Dec. 10th, at 2 p.m. before Justice Cook.  County attorney Whitelaw and Fred Wenie appeared for the state and J. W. Ivey, R. B. Likes and T. F. Jones for the defense.

The witnesses for the prosecution were William Thompson, Rob't Lyons, Clark Chipman and C. C. Lee.  Thompson was the man with Mike Sughrue when Mitchell was arrested, and had charge of the prisoner when he was overpowered by the mob.  Rob't Lyons a resident of the place, was deputized to help guard the prisoner.  Clark Chipman had been on a hunt in the Territory and arrived at Ashland on the evening of the murder.  He also was deputized to guard the prisoner.  C. C. Lyons is the proprietor of the Ashland restaurant, which place the prisoner was guarded until taken by the mob.  Mike Sughrue was the last witness called.  He testified as to who his deputies were and that he had been promised by various persons that if he would go in search of Matthews no harm should come to his prisoner. 

About the only facts were developed by the examination were thus already known to the public.

Mitchell was captured at Clark a few minutes after the murder and taken to Ashland, where he was placed under the guard of the persons who attended as witnesses.  He was taken from there between three and four o'clock the following morning.  The town was all excitement and persons had been passing in and out of the room where the prisoner was being guarded all night.  The first intimation of trouble was the filling of the room by people, and in another moment the murderer was gone.  Further more this testimony was very vague and unsatisfactory.  One witness testified that there were more than one hundred persons in the room, which is rather amusing when it is known that it would have been difficult to have crowed one fourth that number of people into the room.

At the close of the examination of the witnesses, which occupied about an hour, Atty. Whitelaw waived his opening and the argument for the defense was opened by Col. T. F. Jones, J. W. Ivey making the close.  Both gentle men dwelt upon the weakness of the evidence and also upon the peculiar character of the case.  Messrs. Wenie & Whitelaw did what they could to make a case, and have the accused bound over to the next term of court.

The Judge at the close of the argument, stated that he would reserve his decision until the following day and adjourned.  Thursday afternoon, at 4 o'clock, court was called and decision rendered.  The case was dismissed and the defendants discharged.  Thus ends the trouble and turmoil which has agitated this community for some time past.

Submitted by ~Shirley Brier~ in September 27, 2005.



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