The History of the Early Settlement of Norton County, Kansas

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he was shot in the back from this bunch of willows; the ball entered his right hip and lodged against the skin in his abdomen.  He was attended by Dr. Wilkinson of Bow Creek and Dr. Crane of Norton and everything that medical aid could do was done to save his life.  The bullet that killed him was extracted and is now in possession of Dan Hart, clerk of the district court.  He was buried at his own request on the homestead near the house.  A recent letter from Frank W. Landis, the eldest son of John now living, indicates that he believes that the emigrant who was getting the surveying done, was a party to the murder, but the probability is he was not but the real murderers knowing that he had gone to get Landis to do the surveying, made the arrangements to commit the murder and were lying in ambush waiting an opportunity which came to them that evening The emigrant at once left the country and was never heard of here until after the trial.

During the summer of 1879 J. W. Conway with a couple of other friends went up from Iowa into Southern Minnesota to harvest.  While they were engaged in a field of oats near Grand Meadows the binding became brisk, four men being employed to bind luxuriant oats after a 6 1/2 foot cut McCormick reaper.  One stranger among them was seen to walk along loiteringly and when they were at dinner Conway questioned him about his methods of binding with so much ease.  It was explained and learned. The conversation led to their former haunts, and when the stranger said "Kansas" it was a bond of further confidences; but when both claimed Norton county as their homes - the stranger suddenly become mum.  In talking cautiously of Norton county matters the stranger with much hesitation referred to the Landis murder.  Conway had been taking the Norton "Advance" and knew of the Landis killing.  Finally the stranger gave his name as Benson, he was the man being located by Landis when the latter was shot.  Benson revealed the secret that he was a witness escaped in fear of his life; that all the bonds or laws of Kansas would never take him to Norton county as a witness in behalf of the state - if he could prevent by hiding.  Benson described the shooting fully; that the man who fired stood up, his head and shoulders in full view among some willows; and that after firing he walked away slowly, sideways with his gun across his arm watching the movement of the men about the camp wagon where Landis fell.  He gave a vivid description of their own consternation, and of the murderer, but never his name although known to him.  Landis had been telling Benson of his troubles and that a battle might ensue at any time.  When the shot was fired Benson feared that be would be killed too, so not a move did he make until the murderer had gone out of sight.  Benson has not been heard of since.  This ought to dispel the opinion among the friends and relatives of Landis that the emigrants were in collusion with the murderers.

Landls was shot on Monday at 5 p. m. and died Wednesday at 7 p. m., being 60 hours after receiving the fatal shot.  J. E. Morris (coroner) came to Norton and empanelled the following coroner's jury: W. P. Crevlin, E. Fisher, Dey Smith, John Diffenbach, John W. Beiber, F. M. Duvall.  He took the jury to Landis' house where they viewed the remains.  They then came to Norton and spent three days taking testimony.  The jury brought in a verdict that Landis had been shot and killed by parties unknown to them but recommended the arrest of Doctor William Cummings and Henry Gandy.

On the evening of September 7 William Hepler made complaint in Henry Oliver's court charging Doctor Cummings

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