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The Guthrie Daily Leader, June 22, 1899

The Guthrie Daily Leader

Thursday, June 22, 1899

Submitted by: Bob Chada

MURDER WON OUT. A Sister, After 29 Years of Silence, Accuses Her Brother of a Crime.
Paris, Mo. Word was received here yesterday stating that Sheriff Simmons, of Wichita, Kansas, had received a letter from Mrs. Cornelia Street, of Shawnee, Oklahoma, accusing her brother, Alexander Jester of a murder committed in this county in 1871, a crime which has been one of the unsolved mysteries. The letter which Sheriff Simmons received reads as follows:
"I wish to make a statement to you in regard to my brother, whose name is Alexander Jester, who was arrested near Valley Center, Kansas, in the year of 1871, May 2, for killing a young man for his team, watch and clothing. The murder was committed in Missouri, near Warrensburg. My brother was arrested for murdering this young man and I know of my own personal knowledge that he is guilty of the charge.
He was given a preliminary hearing in Wichita and was sent to Missouri, near where the crime was committed, and broke jail. He is my own brother, and I want him punished for that crime, hoping you can and will find on the dockets his preliminary hearing, and will notify officers of the county where the murder was committed. My brother is living here in Shawnee, and is known by the name W. H. Hill. Hoping to here from you in reply, very respectfully, Cornelia Street."
Story of the Crime
The letter is in error regarding the place of its committal, the name of the murdered man, or boy, as he was then, and the place where Jester was confined in jail. The crime was committed or is supposed to have been committed, near Middle Grove, this county, about fourteen miles southwest of here, and an indictment against Jester, bearing date of November 16, 1871, is still on the records of this county.
In the fall of 1870 Gilbert Gates, a young man, started from south western Kansas for his home near Alton, Ill. He wrote his parents that he was in company with a man named Alexander Jester, and that he had with him a buffalo calf, a deer and an antelope. His parents heard from him regularly until he reached Middle Grove, this county, on the old Hannibal and Glasgow road. Here all tract of him was lost.
His father came here and spent a great deal of money investigating the case and finally captured Jester. When Jester was caught, he had the young man's watch and the antelope skin vest. He had sold the wagon and team in Illinois and was making his way back up the Missouri river to Kansas. He was brought back to Paris for trial and placed in jail and a chain of circumstantial evidence wrought about him by F. L. Pitts, now state treasurer, then sheriff of this county, that almost insured a death penalty.
He was given a preliminary hearing and indicted for murder in the first degree. A. M. Alexander, who was afterwards a member of congress from this district, was then prosecuting attorney for this county. A change of venue was secured to Mexico, Mo. A lynching party of several hundred men was organized, but the officials getting wind of it, hurried the prisoner off in the night to Mexico, where he subsequently broke jail and escaped, nothing having ever been heard of him from that time until this.
Body Was Never Found
The young man's body was never found. It is supposed by many that Jester cut a hole in the ice and put him in the creek, now known as Allen's creek, near Middle Grove. The night on which the murder was committed was a very cold one, in January, 1871, and there was snow on the ground two feet deep.
Blood was found at different places where the wagon stopped. Many think that the body of the dead boy was covered up in the wagon and left at Wetmore & Cisseli's livery barn on the night that Jester passed through Paris. Search was made for the body but to no avail. The parents of Gates spent almost a fortune in the search and plowed up acres of ground in futile attempts to find the body. There was no motive known for the murder except robbery.
Some of the county's most prominent men were summoned as witnesses and jurors. Many of the older citizens recall the details of this ghastly crime as though it happened yesterday.
Jester, who is not 80 years of age, is known in Shawnee as W. H.Hill. Sheriff Simmons, it is understood, has requested the Oklahoma officers to arrest Jester.
The death of General J. H. Warren at Lexington, O. T., removes a prominentman from the territory. He was the Indian agent at Anadarko under Cleveland.

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Updated: Wednesday, 06-Aug-2008 22:03:50 CDT

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