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Murder of
John Simpson
in 1894


"A Foul Murder"

Lincoln Beacon, July 12, 1894

Wednesday morning – yesterday – John Simpson, who lives three miles east and one mile south of Barnard, near the center of Salt Creek township, was awakened at 2 o’clock by a noise in his summer kitchen, which adjoined his sleeping apartment, where he and his wife and two-year-old baby were sleeping. He arose and stepped into the kitchen, and was standing in the outside door of the kitchen when he heard a noise in the outside cellar way. He turned around in the doorway with his right hand on the latch, and called to his wife, "Jennie, bring my pistol."

At this instant a man who was in the kitchen and who was hitherto unobserved, opened fire on Mr. Simpson with a revolver. The first shot was through the right arm, halfway from the elbow to the shoulder. Mr. Simpson whirled around to face his assailant, who also probably changed position, and a second shot struck him squarely in the left side, immediately below the ribs. Mr. Simpson sank unconscious to the floor.

The stranger who did the shooting jumped through the door, over Mr. Simpson, who lay in the doorway, and rushed outside. Almost instantly he and a companion who joined him on the outside mounted horses and dashed away in the darkness at full speed. Mrs. Simpson lifted her husband into the house, but was afraid to go to the neighbors, being unwilling to leave her husband or risk her safety on the outside until daylight, when she went to the nearest neighbor, James Soden, half a mile north, who gave a general alarm.

Mr. Soden did not hear any shooting, but was awakened at 2 o’clock by running horses. Thinking his own horses were loose he sprang from his bed in time to see two men on horseback going along the road northward at full speed. He went back to bed, suspecting nothing wrong, and did not know of the shooting till morning.

As soon as the alarm was given Sheriff Hoover was at once notified and before noon was on the possible trail of the fugitives with a posse. Before he could get to Salt Creek however, 50 or 60 citizens of that township were on the trail on their own motion. We hear that before this affair Sheriff Hoover was notified of the theft of two horses in Lyons county some time last week, and that the thieves had gone northwest. We also hear that two men mounted to correspond with the Lyons county description went through Asherville, 16 miles north of Barnard, yesterday morning.

The evidence object of the men at Simpson’s house was the stealing of something to eat, as they had taken down and were evidently about to carry off several articles of food – butter, bread, fruits, etc. They left outside a small jar of butter brought from somewhere else and not yet identified.

Mr. Simpson died at 5 o’clock Wednesday afternoon, 15 hours after being shot. He suffered very little until about noon, but very much thereafter until death relieved him.

Dr. Newton, who was called early Wednesday morning, informs us that the wound in the arm was comparatively trivial, as Mr. Simpson was the picture of health and an exceptionally robust man – lithe, active, muscular and strong. He was about 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed about 176 pounds. The body wound ranged directly inward, probably through the spleen; Dr. Newton thinks its course afterward to diagonally downward toward the right groin, through the bowels. We understand that no post mortem examination will be held.

Mr. Simpson would have been 29 years old in August. He was born in Scotland, and with his parents and brothers and sisters came from Scotland directly to this county, about 10 years ago. Five years ago he returned to Scotland, was married there and returned to this county.

Mr. Simpson was a standard man, judging him from these qualities which go to make the very best of citizens. He was exceedingly industrious, moral, temperate and honest – a man and a gentleman, in all the relations of life. The desperate deed of a desperate and conscienceless scoundrel could not claim a more unworthy victim.

Lincoln Sentinel, 27 September 1894

Mrs. Jame Simpson, wife of the late John Simpson, who was murdered by some unknown persons last July, left for her former home in Scotland last week, where she expects to remain. Mrs. Simpson is a native of Scotland, and came to this country at the time of her marriage five years ago.

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