Bio: Krueger Boys to Waupun (10 Apr 1919)
Contact: Ann Stevens
Surnames: Krueger, O’Neill, Jensen, Toptine, Gantz, Jaseph, Owen, Kidd, Asplin, Replogle, Taylor, Bufman, Vater, Rush, Marks, Silverwood, Hewett, Weaver, Tufts, Larsen, Reynolds, Jackson, Irvine, Ure, Kutchera, Rude
----Source: Neillsville Times (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 4/10/1919
Krueger Boys to Waupun (10 Apr 1919)
Taken There on Saturday
Begin the Life Sentence Given Them by Judge O’Neill
The jury in the case of Mrs. Karoline Krueger and her two sons, Frank and Leslie Krueger, charged with the murder of Harry Jensen at the Krueger farm September 14, returned a verdict at 3:50 Friday afternoon. Mrs. Krueger was found not guilty, while both Frank and Leslie Krueger were found guilty. Newton Toptine was foreman of the jury.
The statutes of Wisconsin fix the punishment for murder in the first degree, with which these defendants were charged, at imprisonment for life.
Immediately after Mrs. Krueger had left the courtroom Deputy United States Marshal Gantz arrested her on the charge of conspiring to resist the draft laws. She was placed in jail and taken to Eau Claire Friday evening. It is not known when she will be tried on this charge, which is in the federal court.
Mrs. Krueger had a hearing Saturday before the United States Commissioner at Eau Claire and was released on bond. She departed for Wrightstown, where she says she will reside. Her bond is $3,000.
After the verdict had been returned by the jury, Judge O’Neill thanked the members of the jury for their service and discharged them. The defense then made a motion for a new trial and the attorneys were given three weeks to prepare the arguments for this motion.
The state made a motion for a judgment on the findings of the jury.
Thus ends perhaps the most important trial Clark County ever witnessed. The verdict gives general satisfaction. While Mrs. Krueger may have been guilty of conspiring to resist the officers, little or no evidence was produced to this effect by the state. She will now have to answer to the federal court on this phase of the case.
Sol. F. Jaseph, who has been court bailiff in the Clark County circuit court for 40 years, said that the crowd Wednesday was the largest he had ever seen in the court room. Thursday, however, the attendance was even larger than on Wednesday. The room was packed to the limit of standing room.
Clifford Owen, Earl Kidd, Joseph Gantz and Clinton Asplin were called Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Asplin saw a man shot in the Krueger yard, who sank down when hit. He said the shot sounded like it came from far away.
Andrew Replogle and James Taylor of Withee were called, but added nothing new to the testimony. Taylor saw Jensen shot, he said.
William Bufman said the shooting from the crowd was so fast that the guns got hot, and stated that a hog in the Vater pasture was hit by a bullet.
The arguments opened by Attorney Rush’s speech to the jury. Mr. Rush reviewed the case, from the state’s viewpoint, and made an eloquent address. He said that the killing of Jensen was but the culmination of plans that had been maturing since early in 1918. The Kruegers, he said, had defied the laws of their country and two of them became deserters from the army.
“When officers came to try to induce the rest of the family to bring these men back and have them enter the service of their country,” Mr. Rush stated, “they were met with the statement, ‘If you want them, go and get them,’ and “If you ever come after any of us, you had better come well prepared.’” He dealt upon the failure of Frank and Ennis to register September 12 and told of them receiving ammunition and preparing for resistance if the officers attempted to arrest them.
“On the morning of that very day, Frank Krueger had gone to Owen and purchased buckshot shells,” declared Mr. Rush. “This was for the purpose of resisting the officers when they came. These men had purchased and had shipped to them arms and ammunition, costing $42.85, for the same purpose.
“A man with the intelligence of Frank Krueger ought to have known he could not resist the officers and laws of his country, but, with his bulldog determination, he thought he could arm himself and terrorize everyone.
“Just as soon as Frank Krueger knew that Gantz and Marks were United States officers he and Ennis opened fire on them from the cornfield. The officers had a right to arrest these men. They had a right to shoot them if they resisted arrest. They had the right to call every man in Clark County to their assistance and it was the duty of every man to respond to the call.
“It makes no difference who fired first at the Vater place. This posse was there at the officers’ command and it was doing its duty.
“These men were all fugitives from justice on September 14. They were supplied with arms and ammunition and were counseled by their mother to resist the officers, to defy the laws of the country in which they were born and educated. They were prepared to resist even to the extent of murder and they were ready to meet the consequences.
“The state has not shown you who fired the shot that killed Harry Jensen, but it has shown you that these men shot into the crowd and killed him. We only have to show that one of them shot and we have done this. Then all are equally guilty under the law, even if it was Ennis who fired the shot.
“Here is Mrs. Krueger, a gray-haired woman. If she had reared her boys as she should have done, if she had, as thousands of other mothers did, sent their sons to fight for their country, we would today have been paying homage, but she put murder into the hearts of her sons. What are you going to say of her? Do you not think it is your duty to find her guilty of murder? You have soon to do your duty and you must do this. We do not want to disgrace Clark County and the state of Wisconsin by turning this band of murderers loose. It may be a painful duty, but it is no more painful for you than for us nor the court.
The Defense Begins
Attorney Thomas P. Silverwood for the defense began by referring to the importance of this case. He said Louis Krueger is not being tried. Whether he is a deserter or not is not a question in this case. His name is dragged in by the counsel for the state simply to prejudice the jury.
“Your only question in this case is, ‘Who shot Harry Jensen and whether the shot that killed him was justified.’ On your decision rests the fate of three human beings.”
Mr. Silverwood told of the Kruegers coming to Clark County 30 years ago, of their making a home here, “where they felt no man had a right to assault them, and which was the dearest place on earth to them.”
“Put yourself in their place. Dozens of men armed with rifles came and attacked this place. What for? To ‘shoot up the Kruegers.’
The speaker attacked Deputy Marshal Gantz as an incapable officer, inexperienced and inefficient in his work. “If Harry Hewett or Morris Weaver had gone to arrest these men,” he said, “there would have been no trouble. They would not have stood in the road, 50 feet away, and shouted a command to ‘come here.’ If you want to arrest a man, come up to him and tell him. Do not shout at a long distance to him. Any officer should know this.”
Mrs. Krueger wept at different times during Mr. Silverwood’s address.
“Not a man in the jury box, not a man in the courtroom, not a lawyer in the case would have controlled himself as well as Frank did,” continued Mr. Silverwood, referring to Frank’s admission that he was very angry. “He fired one shot up the road. He was an expert shot. He could have shot these men if he had wished to do so, but he fired to scare them.
“There is absolutely no testimony that Mrs. Krueger had anything to do with this case. She was there, it is true. It was her home. Where would she be but there? She could not get away. There was the sharp-shooter behind the tree who had shot Frank. She would have had a fine chance to go anywhere.
“The crowd at Vater’s was shooting in all directions. Tufts was at the Larsen place and shot 20 bullets at the Krueger buildings. The firing was uncontrolled. The shot that killed Jensen may have come from the crowd in the road south or not—no one can tell.
“Gantz did not get Ennis ‘until after awhile’, but he got him. But do not blame the government for the acts of Gantz.”
Attorney John Reynolds next spoke for the defense. He began by saying he was “nearly all in and I believe you are,” referring to the jury.
“If I had been here September 14, I presume I would have been at the Krueger farm,” he commenced, “and I believe you would have been. It was a great occasion. The picnic was being held at Owen and everyone went to the Krueger farm as soon as they heard of the excitement there.
“The Kruegers made a mistake. They lived there. The country got into war. They opposed war. Many able men in this country opposed war. The Krueger should have registered. There they made a mistake.
“Then the government made a mistake. When Louis did not appear for examination February 24, they should have arrested him, if it took 100 men. That should have been done. Yet it was not done and you nor I ever heard of this case until September 14.
“Mrs. Krueger is not liable for harboring her son under the law. You have a legal right to harbor your own family, even if they have broken the law.
“These men should be punished by the United States government for not registering, but that is not in this case. There is no proof here that any of these defendants shot Jensen. If Ennis shot him, it was clearly self-defense. His home and his mother were being attacked by a mob of armed man. He had a right to defend himself and his family.”
Mr. Reynolds closed with an eloquent appeal for careful consideration of the case and gave an apostrophe to human sympathy, “the line of demarcation between the beast and human being.”
“Mrs. Krueger had made mistakes, but she had paid dearly for them,” he concluded. “One son is dead, one a fugitive, and two, with her, are here charged with the highest crime possible.”
Jackson Concludes Arguments
District Attorney Frank Jackson closed for the state. He made an impressive argument and closed with an excoriation of the Krueger home that was unique in the arguments during the trial. Referring to the description of the Krueger home as “a place which the Kruegers loved better than any place on earth,” he exclaimed. “A pretty home indeed. A roost for deserters, a refuge for draft evaders, a harbor for murderers and a shield for assassins.”
“This was indeed a ‘peaceful home’, as the counsel for the defense has described it,” Mr. Jackson continued. “It was so peaceful that these farmers on the Krueger place went to their work with pistols strapped to their belt, with a deserter hidden in the barn and two of the others did not register. It was peaceful, indeed.”
The district attorney asked for justice, but warned the jury not to be misguided by sympathy. He said Mrs. Krueger was just as guilty as her sons. She gave the signal for
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the fatal volley, he said.
The Court’s Instructions
Judge O’Neill then read his instructions to the jury. As had been forecasted in The Times last week, he provided for but one degree of guilt, murder in the first degree, punishment for which is fixed by the Wisconsin statutes as imprisonment for life. The instructions clearly defined the law bearing on the case.
The case went to the jury at six o’clock Thursday evening.
Sentence is Pronounced
It had not been expected that sentence would be pronounced immediately, but Judge O’Neill decided to do this Saturday morning at ten o’clock, at which time the two convicted men were brought into the court room.
Both replied to the judge’s query that they had nothing to say why sentence should not be pronounced at that time.
“It is impossible for me to understand your actions,” said Judge O’Neill. “You have set yourselves up to defy the laws and officers of your country and even resorted to murder to do this. On the part of Russian anarchists your action might be understood, but for men of your intelligence and education to do this is beyond my comprehension. I wish the evidence had been such that the jury might have found a verdict in your favor. I hope you will make good records in prison and it may be possible that at some future time mercy may be extended to you. The court will keep your case in mind. It is the judgment of this court that you be confined to hard labor in the state prison at Waupun for the period of your natural lives.”
Attorney John W, Reynolds for the defense, previous to the pronouncing of sentence, made a formal motion for a new trial, but said he was not ready to argue it at that time. The motion will be argued in two weeks. As grounds for this motion, Mr. Reynolds gave the refusal of the court to give instructions asked by the defense, the overruling of the defendant’s motion to dismiss the defendants at the conclusion of the state’s testimony and the exclusive of certain evidence on the part of the defense.
Mr. Reynolds also asked for an arrest of judgment, pending the arguing of the motion for a new trial, but the court overruled the motion.
Sheriff Weaver, with J.J. Irvine, George Ure, Edward Kutchera and George Rude, left on the 1:35 train Saturday afternoon with the prisoners. They were transferred to the Soo line at Marshfield.
Both the prisoners had a haggard appearance when they appeared for sentence and evidently had slept little the night before. They were unshaven and their appearance was in direct contrast with their appearance throughout the trial. When taken from the jail to the trail, they were handcuffed together.
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