Testimony of John C. Davidson : The Murder of Charles Dow, Lawrence, KS 1855

The following testimony was given by my husband’s 3rd great-grandfather.  He was not an actual witness to the murder, but he gave testimony as to what he knew.  This was published in Kansas Affairs (Report of the Special Committee appointed to investigate the troubles in Kansas with the views of the minority of said committee) in 1856.

Life in Kansas Territory at this time was definitely not dull!  Charles Dow was murdered on November 21, 1855, near Lawrence, KS.

John C Davidson called and sworn.

I live about 8 miles from here, and about 4 miles from Hickory Point. I know Mr. Buckley and Mr. Coleman and Mr. Hargous, and had seen Dow once or twice before he was killed. Since Dow was killed, I heard Mr. Buckley say, that on the day of the difficulty, he went to Mr. Hargous to help him kill a beef. At dinner time, Mr. Coleman came to Mr. Hargous’ with a gun and looked rather mad; and when asked to eat some dinner, said that he did not want any. They asked him what was the matter? And Coleman said he had been driven off his claim. There was nothing more said about it then; and Mr. Buckley said that after he got through dinner, he got on his horse and went to the grocery near Mr. McKinney’s to get some tobacco and a horn. From the grocery, he said he went to the blacksmith’s shop. At the shop he found Mr. Dow. Someone had told Buckley, so he said, that Dow had said something about him but he did not tell me what it was. He and Mr. Dow said, talked the matter over, and Mr. Dow denied ever saying anything of the kind; and he told me that everything was right between them. He did not tell me how he got to where Dow was killed, and he did not tell me he was there. He said that after Dow was killed, a Dr. Chapman came on, and Coleman said he wanted to give himself up. Buckley said that Mr. Coleman wanted him to go with him and he went to the mission with him. But he said if he had known that he would be implicated in the matter by going with Coleman, he would not have gone. Buckley told me that Coleman had shot Dow – that Mr. Dow had driven him off his claim. He said that before this, Mr. Dow had had his claim marked out, and when the reserve line was run, it threw Mr. Dow’s claim over on Coleman’s claim. Mr. Coleman was engaged in burning of lime, and Mr. Dow came and told him to stop; and he wouldn’t do it. And Dow went down and got Mr. Branson; and when Coleman saw them coming, he left. He told me that the controversy about the lime kiln took place the day of the murder. There were not witnesses subpoenaed in our neighborhood, and no examination made of the charge against Coleman that I know of.

John C Davidson
Lawrence, K.T. May 3, 1856

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  • Debi Austen - October 13, 2011 - 8:17 am

    Fascinating. I wonder why he bought a horn at the grocery store.ReplyCancel

  • Cherie Cayemberg - October 20, 2011 - 4:13 pm

    Very exciting! Love a good story.ReplyCancel

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