The Fort Dodge Daily Chronicle, July 13, 1903
William Carr of Gowrie Kills Town Marshall, Tom Nicholson
Youth Slew City Official Saturday Night with Shot Gun Following Quarrel.
Young Man is Arrested and Put in County Jail
Inquest is Held Sunday Forenoon and Testimony is Incriminating.
Prisoner Waives Preliminary Hearing and Pleads Guilty
Is Held Without Bond to Await the Action of the Grand Jury – Trial Probably in September.
Thomas Nicholson, city marshal of Gowrie, was shot and instantly killed
Saturday evening by William Carr, a young man about twenty-three years of age, who was born and raised in that village. The shooting took place near the Rock Island depot between half past ten and eleven o’clock in the evening and was the result of an attempt to arrest Carr for disorderly conduct.
According to the story which comes from Gowrie Ira Carr, father of the young man who killed the marshal, was arrested on Saturday for intoxication and was sentenced to thirty days in the county jail. This seemed to anger the son and during the afternoon he drank heavily and is said to have made threats. About ten o’clock in the evening he was near the Rock Island depot and being a young man of very violent temper when intoxicated, had a little trouble with a stranger, which ended in the exchange of blows. Marshal Nicholson hearing of the trouble attempted to arrest Carr but he made his escape and went to his home where he secured his gun. Later in the evening Marshal Nicholson was walking along the street in company with two traveling men and when near the telephone station was met by Carr who raised his shot gun to his shoulder with the words: “Now I have got you.” “Don’t shoot,” replied the marshal, at the same time reaching for his revolver for the purpose of defending himself, but the young man pulled the trigger and the entire charge of shot entered the right side of the officer just below the right arm. He sank to the sidewalk exclaiming: “My God he has killed me,” and expired instantly.
There are a great many stories regarding the affair and one is to the effect that after the shooting young Carr stood near the body of the dead officer and cursed him long and loud, inquiring if he was dead and exclaiming “He should be.” Later when the doctor pronounced life extinct, it is said Carr walked to the shadow where he had deposited his gun, picked the same up and said to a man who was standing near: “Well, I got him.” Then he walked toward home and it was while on the way that a full realization of his terrible deed came to him and he broke into tears. Arriving at the house he informed his sister, a girl of about seventeen, of what he had done and calmly waited for someone to take him in charge.
After his arrest he was confined in the village calaboose under guard for the remainder of the night and on Sunday morning was turned over to Deputy Sheriff Woolsey and brought to Fort Dodge in an automobile. Carr is said to have lived in Gowrie all of his life, being a common laborer, and has never borne a bad reputation, although he is a young man with a very violent temper and is considered aggressive when intoxicated.
Marshal Thomas Nicholson, the man who met death while in the performance of his duty, was a man of about forty-five years of age, and has resided at Gowrie for the past twenty-five years. He was a man well liked by all and was an efficient officer. He was a member of the Odd Fellows, Knights of Pithias and Modern Woodmen and his remains were laid to rest this afternoon at two o’clock by the members of these orders. He leaves a wife and five children, four girls and one boy. Three of the children were members of the graduating class at Gowrie this spring.
Prisoner Tells of Shooting.
This morning a representative of The Chronicle called at the county jail for the purpose of interviewing the prisoner and found the young man seated on the cot in his cell crying as if his heart would break. Asked regarding the shooting he at first professed to have little recollection of the same, but later when informed the story would be given to the public exactly as stated by him he answered all questions put to him in a manner which showed he had a fair recollection of all of the incidents of the evening.
“My name is William Carr and I am nearly twenty-three years of age,” was his reply to our question, “and I have resided at Gowrie, Webster county, all my life. Of our family there are living one sister, five brothers and one half-brother, my father and mother. My mother has been adjudged insane and is now an inmate of the state institution. I have always been employed as a common laborer about my home village and of late have worked at tiling. I have a great many friends at Gowrie and have never before been in any serious trouble with any one.”
Asked to tell of the shooting of the marshal, he told the following story in reply to our questions: “I was drinking considerable during the afternoon, drinking both beer and whiskey and it was about ten o’clock in the evening when I passed near the Rock Island depot on my way home. A stranger accosted me and without provocation called me some bad names and struck me. Marshal Nicholson appeared on the scene and attempted to place me under arrest. I stated I had no desire to occupy a cell in the village calaboose and we struggled for a time. Finally I broke away from him and went to my home, about a block and a half distant from the scene of the trouble and secured my gun. The weapon is of “pump” variety and holds six shells. Returning to the depot I met the marshal and fired at him, the charge entering his body, although I cannot say where. After the shooting I walked to my home and told my sister of what I had done and I sat there and waited until I was placed under arrest. I remained in the village jail over night Saturday and on Sunday morning was brought to the county jail by Deputy Sheriff Woolsey. While I was in jail at Gowrie there was no attempt at violence to me and never once after the shooting was I possessed with a desire to make my escape.”
“Never have I held a grudge against Marshal Nicholson and have no reason to assign for the shooting, in fact I can remember little of the affair,” was the answer of the prisoner to a querry (sic) put to him. “I do not know what defense I will have to offer either at the preliminary hearing, or later before the district court, if I am indicted by the grand jury, for the offense. I have not made any arrangements up to the present for counsel and cannot say what will be done.
County Coroner J.D. Lowry accompanied Deputy Sheriff Woolsey to Gowrie Sunday morning and the inquest was held at that time over the body of the marshal. The coroner’s jury consisted of C.H. Woodward, mayor of Gowrie, A.C. Boggs, Jr., of this city and W.J. Moore of Gowrie. The verdict returned by the jury was as follows: “That Thomas Nicholson came to his death on July 11th, 1903, between the hours of 11:45 and 12:00 o’clock P.M. at Gowrie, Iowa, near the Minneapolis & St. Louis crossing of Market street death being due to a gun shot wound, such wound, being inflicted by William Carr, deliberately and premeditatedly.”
Several witnesses were examined at the hearing, the most important testimony being that of the accused man’s sister, Maude Carr and of Ira Gilleland a boy about sixteen years of age. Dr. A.W. Lundvick, the physician who attended the wounded man and was examined as also were several others. The testimony is on the whole a repetition of the story as told above.
His sister stated that she had retired about 10:30 and she heard her bother come home and heard him loading his shot gun. She heard the remark, “I’ll get him,” and when she asked whom he was after Ira Gilleland said that he was after Thomas Nicholson because he had spoiled a brand new suit of clothes. She stated that Will left the house and that she arose and dressed. Shortly afterward she heard a shot and in about fifteen minutes Will came back and put his arms around her and said,” I shot him.” He said that he was sorry and that if he had listened to her he would not have done it.
Young Gilleland told of the altercation between Carr and the stranger and that Nicholson had tried to arrest Carr. He however, broke away taking the marshal’s club. Nicholson is said to have fired a shot into the ground and Carr is said to have gone home and gotten the gun. Gilleland tried to get it away from him and he said, “Let me alone.” Gilleland stated that he then went down to the American House corner and turned east. When near the bill boards he met Albert Rosane and told him that there was going to be trouble. Shortly afterwards, he heard a shot and turning saw a man falling and saw Carr back up and carrying a gun. The boy followed Carr home and the latter when near home met his sister and told her what he had done and said that he had acted in self defense.
Nearly Made Mistake.
According to the story of T.J. Raleigh that person came near to getting what was intended for the marshal. Raleigh states that he got off the Minneapolis and St. Louis train from the south and went west on Market street. When near the bill boards, a man turned the corner from the north and as he came near he raised his gun with the remark, “Where is he?” and went on. Raleigh soon heard a shot and a groan and went back and saw a man standing near some one lying on the ground and a gun was near, having been placed against a building. He heard the man who was standing over the man on the ground and who was the same man who had faced him with the gun, say, “He ought to be dead.”
Dr. A.W. Lundvick testified that he was called to the scene of the shooting shortly before midnight and found Nicholson lying near the railroad tracks with a wound about as large as a half dollar in his right side near the sixth intercostal space. Nicholson lived about five or ten minutes and in the doctor’s opinion death was due to hemmorrhage (sic) produced by shot penetrating the lungs and heart.
John W. Wertz, J.W. Johnson and John Fritz who helped remove the body to the undertaking rooms testified as did also C.W.Safford and C.A. Chalgren who accompanied Carr to the jail. Chalgren said that when he went to Carr’s house and informed him that he would have to go to jail Carr said,” Maybe it is the best after all. If I hadn’t killed him he would have killed me as he had a gun. They are always after a poor boy anyway.” Chalgren testified that Carr was a drinking man.
Andrew Larson, M.A. Guffey and Elmer Martindale were also examined but their testimony developed nothing new.
Men Were Connected.
An interesting fact brought out by investigation is that there is a family connection betwen (sic) the Carr’s and Nicholson, the latter and Ira Carr, Jr. a brother of the prisoner having married sisters.
Prisoner Waived Hearing.
Carr appeared before Justice of the Peace H.E. Busby this forenoon and waived preliminary hearing and pleaded guilty. He will be held without bond to await the action of the grand jury. It is probable that the case will come up in the September term of court.