The History of the Early Settlement of Norton County, Kansas

Page 43

back

next

table of contents

 
some of the state witnesses were quartered, but Charley Manus, who was a friend of Landis and was afterward murdered by Wyatt, said that there was to be no patrol.  He and Rogers also ordered the guard withdrawn from the stone hotel which was promptly done.  The Regulars remained here until Gandy was discharged.  Cumming's preliminary examination was held before Squire Oliver on Sept. 28, and was completed and the prisoner discharged for lack of evidence on Oct. 8.

During all these trials the Regulars were present armed to the teeth.  About fifty colored men, friends of Landis, were also in attendance to see that the murderers did not get away unfairly.  Landis as deputy surveyor located these colored people, and because Landis was a personal friend of Old John Brown in the border warefare, (sic) they fairly lionized Landis.  For these reasons a deadly conflict was hourly expected.  County attorney Beaumont was assaulted in the night of Sept. 26, after being in court managing the prosecution until midnight; he was struck in the back with a rock and considerably stunned; he fell in his tracks where he was found by some friends and taken home, the assailants running away believing they had killed him.  He was, however, able to be at the trial next day.  On the same night Mr. Lombard a personal friend of the Squire and a member of the Regulars warned Justice Oliver to be very careful, as bodily harm was intended against him.

In May 1880 M. W. Pettigrew, then county attorney, had Dr. Cummings arrested upon complaint filed by O. T. D. La Rue, because of the discovery of new evidence.  In LaRues affidavit before Justice McCrea, he says; While he and Dr. Cummings were sleeping under a wagon in Kirwin, Cummings said to him, "I killed John Landis!"  When the trial came on La Rue did not appear; however, Cummings was bound over to the district court, and Noah Weaver with Doctor Green signed the bond.

It was supposed that the bondsmen were afraid to let Cummings get out of their sight as they kept him with them at Leota pending his trial which came on in October 1880.  This trial occurred before Judge Holt and the following jury: F. M. Snow, Granville Sheley, Jack Rhodes, Reuben Hoover, J. R. Thompson, Philip Michaels, D. A. Blue, E. B. Blue, L. M. Miller, E. Breece, H. C. Fellows and J. D. Carter.

Eight of these were old soldiers and it was thought by the friends of Landis that a conviction was certain.  But after a deliberation of two days they failed to agree, standing eight for acquittal and four for conviction being, Rhodes, Miller, Carter and Hoover.  They were discharged by the court.  Granville Sheley in speaking of the matter with the writer now, says: "Cummings was doubtless guilty, but they failed to prove it."  Snow thinks at present that the foot prints made among the willows, an important matter of evidence during trial, could not have been made by Cummings.

The defense was ably conducted by Randall, of Stockton, G. W. Stinson of Phillipsburg and L H. Thompson.  Pettigrew was assisted in the prosecution by C. Angevine of Mankato, John R. Hamilton and L. K. Pratt.  The prosecution had woven a strong web of circumstantial evidence around Cummings but the Regulars were always present and to use L. K. Pratt's expression, "could outswear the state's witnesses."

The best living witness of the killing of Landis is Belle Maxwell, who now resides in this city; her story now is given to me as follows: She was cooking for Fred Barlow who had a lot of men at work building a store. The campers mentioned before had their wagon in front of the store. When the

Page 43

back

next

table of contents

 


US GenWeb Home Page


KS GenWeb Home Page



Home Page for Kansas



Search  KS GenWeb Project

KSGenWeb logo were designed and are copyrighted by Tom & Carolyn Ward for the limited use of the KSGenWeb Project.  Permission is granted for use only on an official KSGenWeb page. 

web design 2003 by Ardie Grimes,
Norton County, Kansas GenWeb coordinator
Text and photos from this 1894 book are within the public domain