DANIEL MCTAGGART GRAVESTONE PHOTO
South Kansas Tribune, August 4, 1897:
It is with profound sorrow that we record the shooting of ex-senator Daniel McTaggert of Liberty, and of his death, and that his slayer was Henry Sheesley, a well known miller formerly of this city, and lessee of the McTaggart Mill, five miles from this city.
Differences had arisen between them about the rent of the mill during high and low water, when the mill did not run, and other minor matters, and McTaggart had brought suit in justice’s court and received a judgement for $90 and costs, and had levied upon Sheesley’s flour, grain and other property in the mill, and yesterday was the day of sale.
Mr. Sheesley was very bitter over the transaction, denouncing it as a fraud, and especially so when McTaggart refused to allow the judgment to be credited on a note for $240 which McTaggart had given to Sheesley, but which he claimed was not then due.
The fact that the money in the flour and grain being sold, had been raised by Mrs. Sheesley, by mortgage on her only property in Missouri, also added to the intensity of Mr. Sheesley’s feelings and he brooded over it and became frenzied. Although ordinarily very quiet and retiring in his manner, he has a high temper and is occasionally violent in his expressions.
Yesterday at 10 o’clock Constable C. A. Davis, with Sheesley and his son, McTaggart and his son, and some neighbors went into the mill and the sale was commenced. The constable had sold one lot, and was standing a little in front of Sheesley who stood a few feet distant from McTaggart, he sat on a sack of shorts and his son on the steps near by. As the auctioneer was crying the second lot, a pistol shot was heard and almost instantly a second shot, and as the constable turned Sheesley’s revolver was pointed toward him, he grappled with him, as Mr. Riley and others jumped forward and got the revolver.
Capt. McTaggart attempted to rise but fell forward towards the door from loss of blood. He was assisted out in the shade, placed on a cot in a wagon to be hauled home, about half a mile, but suffered so that he had to be taken out and place in the shade of a tree by the road side. The ball entered near the left nipple and ranged downward. He suffered intensely and felling that the wound was fatal, set for Rev. Dr. Wright of this city. Later he was removed to his home where he lingered until 2:15 when he died.
The son “Dot” received the second shot, but ran out of the mill before he knew that he was hurt. The ball struck one hand, grazed the breast, and entered the fleshy part of the other arm, but he is not seriously injured.
Dr. Andress was sent for, and a message telephoned to Sheriff Moses, who started at once with Dr. Evans. In the meantime Constable Davis with C. W. Wingate and Tom McGee brought Mr. Sheesley to town and he was placed in jail. Acting county attorney Bertenshaw had him arraigned before Esq. Gilmore, and Hon. A. B. Clark appeared for the defendant. Bond was placed at (unreadable); on the announcement of death, he was again arraigned on charge of murder in the first degree and re-committed to jail. Later in the day the county attorney Bertenshaw, with Drs. Surber and Davis, held a post mortem examination at the McTaggart residence.
Ex-senator Daniel McTaggart was born in Canada, in 1840, came to America in boyhood, and was living in Iowa when President Lincoln called for 300,000 volunteers. McTaggart early in June 1861, at the age of 21, volunteered in Co. B, 7th Iowa Infantry. He was soon sent to the front and was with Gen. Grant in his first big battle at Belmont, Mo., where 36 out of 48 of McTaggart’s company fell dead or wounded. He, with 98 of his regiment was captured and taken to Memphis, and was confined in a loathsome prison four months. After days of starvation and peril he escaped and when 80 miles away, was recaptured, & sent to Jackson, for 27 days. Then he was transferred to Corinth, and during the battle of Shiloh, he escaped from prison, and made his way to Pittsburg Landing where he rejoined the Union army. At the second battle of Corinth, he was captured a third time, but made his escape that night. At Athens, Ga., with 1,200 others he was captured the fourth time, but got away, and helped to retake the city. He raised a Company of colored troops at Pulaski, Tenn., and was made Captain of Co. G, 3rd U S colored troop, and was on many fields of carnage, and always a brave soldier. At the close of the war he was detailed two years as superintendent of National Cemeteries at Murfreesboro, Nashville and New Albany, and with 300 troops re-interred the bodies of 26,000 fallen comrades.
In 1869 he faced westward, and located among the Osages, and in the following year took prominent part in the organization of our county, was appointed treasurer of the county, and made a great fight in ’70 to locate the county seat at Liberty, where they had built a log court house near his 400 acre farm and residence.
The captain came to Liberty with money and a good stock of goods, and prospered. But later lost heavily by crediting the claim takers, and going security, and after the panic of ’73 his own losses, security debts and costs aggregated $17,000, which ex-district clerk Harry Dodd says he paid. When he began to recover, he built the mill which proved unprofitable, and with other security debts coming on, he was swamped the second time. He made heroic struggle to save his home but mismanagement was against him and two years ago the fine farm passed into other hands and he became their tenant. He has been prominent in every public improvement in that part of the county, and a leader in nearly every contest for roads and bridges, and always a good citizen.
Capt. McTaggart was elected by the republicans three times to the House and twice to the Senate, serving for twelve consecutive years in the legislature, and gained wide influence in local and state affairs, and was influential in Grand Army circles. Recently he was appointed Regent of the Hutchinson Reformatory. He leaves a devoted wife, a daughter and three sons—the youngest shot at his side.
Henry Sheesley is aged about 56, is a miller, and an old and respected citizen, quiet and industrious, not taking active part in public affairs.
Both were good citizens, both members of the Masonic lodge, and both with excellent families. Their wives and children have universal sympathy in their deep affliction.
The funeral of Capt. McTaggart tomorrow at 11 o’clock, at Liberty M. E. church in charge of the Masons, the Odd Fellows and Grand Army comrades also attending. Sermon by Rev. Dr. Wright, of Independence.
South Kansas Tribune, June 23, 1902:
Henry Sheesley at Liberty
It is announced that Henry Sheesley who killed Daniel McTaggart in Aug. 1897 will leave the penitentiary today. He was convicted at the November 1897 term of court and on December 15, 1897 was sentenced to five years in the penitentiary. He has received all the commutation allowed by law for good behavior, and with an additional short commutation by Governor Stanley, is now entitled to his liberty. He has been a model prisoner, has had charge of the penitentiary feed mill, and has been allowed to go and come almost at will. His family now lives in Carthage, Mo., where they are doing well and doubtless he will rejoin them at once.
Contributed by Mrs. Maryann Johnson a Civil war researcher and a volunteer in the Kansas Room of the Independence Public Library, Independence, Kansas.