Posts Tagged ‘Omaha NE’

Death Follows Disgrace

October 19, 2010




[By “Gazette’s” Leased Wire.]

OMAHA, June 29. — Jesse F. Thayer, formerly a captain in the American Volunteers, but lately retired to private life and working at his trade, committed suicide here this morning. He was horse whipped at Lincoln three days ago by his wife from whom he had separated and this is said to have preyed on his mind.

Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) Jun 29, 1901


Omaha - 16th & Webster (Klondike Hotel) and Jefferson Square (circled)






Scene on the Streets of Lincoln Led Directly to the Tragedy — Downfall Caused by a Woman.

OMAHA, Neb., June 29. — Humiliated by a public horsewhipping administered by his wife and piqued because his guilty love was unrequited, Captain Jesse F. Thayer, formerly in command of the American Volunteer corps at Lincoln, committed suicide in Jefferson square this morning by taking cyanide of potassium mixed with whisky. Three men saw him compound the draught and drink it off and these say that death followed almost immediately. In his pocket was a letter bidding farewell “To mother and those who love me.”

The body was taken to the undertaking rooms of the coroner and a telegram was sent to the widow, Captain Belle Thayer, 1526 O street, Lincoln, who has succeeded him in command of the Volunteers of that point. Messages were sent to several other relatives.

Captain Thayer came to Omaha from Lincoln last Wednesday with a young woman named Dottie Hashberger, a dressmaker. She found employment in Moore’s restaurant on North Tenth street and did odd jobs about the Thurston hotel. They occupied separate apartments at the Klondike hotel.

About 9 o’clock this morning Thayer was seen sitting on the grass in Jefferson square, near the Cass street entrance. He took from his hip-pocket a half-pint flask, wit ha small amount of whisky in the bottom, removed the cork and poured into the mouth of the bottle some white powder from the palm of his hand. This he shook up carefully and held between his eyes and the light as if to satisfy himself that the drug was thoroughly dissolved. Then he raised it to his lips and drank it off at a single gulp. A moment later he fell back upon the grass. There was no struggle, but those who witnessed the proceeding saw something suspicious in it and ran to him. He was then breathing his last. They called Officer Ryan, who was half a block away, and a doctor was summoned by telephone.

The taking of the poison was witnessed by E.D. Whelon, 817 North Sixteenth street; E. Heatman, 509 North Sixteenth street, and D.B. Tatroe 1010(?) North Sixteenth street.

The suicide was about thirty-two years old, a handsome man of military bearing, neatly but plainly dressed. He was formerly a singer in a traveling light opera company and his talent as a vocalist made him especially valuable to the American Volunteers. He had been married twice. To his widow, Captain Thayer, of Lincoln, he had been married seven years. He was in reduced circumstances financially, and when his clothing was searched in the coroner’s office only 7 cents in money was found in his pockets. He borrowed the money with which he bought the poison of F.J. Preston, aide-de-camp of the Omaha American Volunteers.In room No. 8 of the Klondike hotel, occupied by Miss Hashberger, were found two notes written by Thayer, both addressed to her. One assures her of his unfaltering love and begs her forgiveness and the other requests her to send his effects to his mother, Mrs. William H. Thayer, 127 South Galena avenue, Freeport, Ill.

The letter found in his pocket reads as follows:

June 29 — It is not necessary to go into details why I have done this act, but I have determined to rest, to find quiet(?) rest, where I will not suffer. I have meant to be good, and I was for awhile, but now — well, it is all over. And so I bid farewell to all that is dark and to that which has wrecked the happiness of those I love.

Forgive. I know that my loved ones will suffer for a time, but God in His great love will forgive poor, heart-broken


To Mother and those who love me.

While captain of the American Volunteers, Thayer used to frequently tell the crowds that assembled on the street corners the story of how he was saved from suicide four years ago in Des Moines. The story was to the effect that the opera company of which he was a member, was stranded in that city and he was thrown upon his own resources, without money or means of gaining it. He became despondent and one evening started for the river, intending to jump in and end it all.

On the way he heard the American Volunteers singing on the street and paused to listen. The testimonials reached him; one or two seemed exact parallels of his case. He followed the army to its hall and listened to the preaching and the result of it was that he was converted and joined the army itself. The next night his voice, trained for light opera, was heard singing hymns upon the street.

Miss Hashberger, whose home is in Schuvler, was seen at the hotel this morning, when she gave the following account of events immediately preceding the suicide:

“I became acquainted with Captain Thayer and his wife in Lincoln about town months ago, as I was in the habit of attending the Volunteer meetings. I had known him scarcely a week before he began to show me attentions. About this time he left his wife. Then one day he told me he loved me — that I was the only woman he had ever loved, and that he couldn’t live without me. I reminded him of his wife, but he answered that he would not live with her again. I told him I didn’t love him — which was true. I told him I liked him as well as anyone on earth, but that I didn’t love him.

“In spite of this he kept calling on me and improving every possible opportunity to see me and after awhile people began to talk about us. Then his wife gave him a horsewhipping. It was not true, as reported, that I was present at that time, but of course everybody knew that it was because of jealousy for me that Mrs. Thayer did it. This caused our names to be associated more than ever and both of us felt disgraced on that account.

“Captain Thayer had resigned his commission in the American Volunteers and when he asked me to come to Omaha with him I saw nothing to do but to come. Things were getting unpleasant for me in Lincoln. So I consented, and we came. It was with the understanding that I should marry him as soon as he was free to get married.

“For a week or more he has been despondent because I told him I didn’t love him. Yesterday afternoon he repeated the question and when I gave him the same answer, but assured him that I would marry him nevertheless, he told me that he could be satisfied with no such arrangement and threatened to commit suicide. A few hours later he returned with a package marked ‘poison’ and told me he was going to take it. I pleaded with him and finally persuaded him to leave the package with me; also his knife and razor, and this he did, but I learned afterwards that he had opened the parcel and removed enough f the drug for a fatal dose.

“The last I saw of him was about 10 o’clock last night. He was acting very strangely and his friends told me that they had given him a lot of whisky as an antidote for a dose of poison he had taken. That was in his room here in the Klondike hotel.”

Miss Hashberger is a comely woman, perhaps twenty-five years of age. She appears to be deeply affected by the tragic turn of her intrigue.
Lincoln End of the Story.

The news of the death of her husband by suicide reached Mrs. Belle M. Thayer, captain of the American Volunteers’ post in this city, yesterday morning at 10 o’clock. The news came from the Douglas county coroner. Mrs. Thayer at once began preparations for going to Omaha, and left during the afternoon on the Rock Island. She was seen before leaving the city and asked to tell the story that led up to the tragedy. She was much affected by the news, and preferred to say nothing. she did not think the horsewhipping administered by her last Wednesday evening had anything to do with her husband killing himself. She laid the blame for his downfall and death on Miss Dot Hashberger, the young lady who accompanied him to Omaha. She said his mad infatuation for the woman had driven him wild, and that in that state of mind he had ended his life. At that time she knew nothing of the details of the suicide, but she felt sure that he had killed himself because of his intimacy with Miss Hashberger.

Mrs. Thayer said her husbsand’s relatives live in Freeport, Ill. She telegraphed them at once on receipt of the news but had heard nothing from them when she left the city. She said that she and her husband had traveled for several years with an opera company. when they entered the work with the Volunteers he was an earnest Christian. He had grown stronger in the faith the longer he followed the work until he met Miss Hashberger. With him it seemed to be a case of love at first sight. He paid attention to the young woman until his actions began to cause a scandal in the circle of Volunteers. Then he resigned his commission as captain of the post, and his wife succeeded him. He took up his residence at the Walton hotel and began working for a local painter and paperhanger. He never stopped paying his attentions to the young woman and their appearance on the streets together was noted.

Mrs. Thayer had rooms in the Brown block, 1526 O street. When she learned that Miss Hashberger had stopped at the Walton hotel last Tuesday night she at once concluded that the man and woman had occupied the same room, a conclusion that seems to have been in error. The next day she called on her husband at the hotel and found him in the parlor in company with Miss Hashberger. This was more than she could stand. She went out and secured a horsewhip. About 5 o’clock Wednesday evening she met him near the corner of Thirteenth and O streets and administered a whipping to him. He got away from her and went to the depot. He was carrying a grip at the time, supposed to contain Miss Hashberger’s effects. Mrs. Thayer followed him, hoping to find the woman at the train. The woman went away on that train but Mrs. Thayer did not find her. It was said that she went to Omaha and that Thayer followed on a late train.

Since that time Mrs. Thayer has heard nothing from her husband. While she had reason to believe that he was in Omaha she did not know it. He had never written to her. The evening following the horsewhipping scene on the public streets Mrs. Thayer conducted the services at the Volunteers tent on North Fourteenth street. Every evening since that time she had done this work, leading the meeting with a fervor and earnestness that gave little hint of the domestic trouble that was bothering her. She loved Thayer intensely, and the evening after the scene on the streets she told a reporter that should he come back to her repentant and ready to again live right she would forgive him for his misdeeds. When she received the news of his death yesterday she was heartbroken.

Thayer seems to have felt that he had forfeited the love of his wife. In the note left by him he refers to “mother and those who love me.” Not a word was left to his wife.

Mrs. Thayer said yesterday that she had never known him to threaten to take his life, but she had heard that he had talked of it before she married him. She said they had lived at Freport, Ill., Chicago, Des Moines, Kansas City, and Lincoln. They came to Lincoln from Kansas City about April 1. On May 11 he met Miss Hashberger. From that time on he was a different man. Friends of Thayer in this city say he had threatened his life before he went to Omaha to be near his love.

Miss Hashberger worked for a time for Mrs. Alexander in the Hall-Lansing block in this city. IT was because of the devotion of Captain Thayer for her that she was forced to quit this position. Her home is at Schuyler. She has a married sister in this city, who lives on North Fourteenth street. She is twenty-two years of age. It is said that she, too, has threatened to kill herself. She is said to be of a flighty temperament and her friends never attached any importance to her threats which seem to have been made in a jesting manner.

Shortly before going to Omaha Miss Hashberger paid a visit to her parents at Schuyler. Thayer followed her there and was introduced to her relatives.

Friends of the young woman in this city say that she was a good girl, but that her misfortune in meeting Thayer, and in accepting his attentions placed her in a light that she illy deserves. They fear that this tragedy may result in her downfall in one way or another. Her relatives were notified at once to go to Omaha after her, and it is probable that she will be taken to her home at Schuyler.

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Jun 30, 1901

Funeral of Captain Thayer.

The funeral of Captain Jesse F. Thayer, who committed suicide by taking poison in Jefferson square Saturday morning, was held from the undertaking parlors of Coroner Swanson at 2 o’clock. Interment was at Mount Hope cemetery.

The body could not be sent to Austin, Ill., the home of the deceased, because the necessary funds could not be raised.

Captain Ella Thayer, the widow of the deceased, is very bitter against Miss Dell Hashberger, who came to this city with Thayer. She called yesterday at the Klondike hotel, where Miss Hashberger is staying, and asked to see “the woman that murdered my husband.”

The hotel clerk refused to grant the request, fearing that trouble might result from a meeting of the two women.

“I am going to my home in Mankato, Minn., said Mrs. Thayer, “I shall resign my commission in the Volunteers and give up the work of the organization. I cannot say at present just what my plans will be.”

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Jul 2, 1901

Thayer Case Closed.

The last incidents resulting from the suicide of Captain Jesse F. Thayer of the American Volunteers, Lincoln, closed this morning, when the widow, Ella Thayer, and Dottie Hashberger, the young woman with whom the suicide infatuated, left Omaha for their respective homes. Miss Hashberger accompanied her brother Frank to Schuyler, where her parents live. Mrs. Thayer went to Mankato, Minn., where she will rest for a few weeks before resuming her evangelical work in Nebraska.

Both women attended the funeral of Captain Thayer Monday afternoon in the rooms of the coroner and it was observed that Miss Hashberger seemed much more deeply affected than the widow. The latter shed no tears, whereas the former, in spite of her declaration that she did not love the deceased, was shaken with sobs and several times seemed on the verge of fainting. The women did not speak to each other and each was apparently oblivious of the other’s presence.

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Jul 3, 1901

Mayor Dahlman Lassos The Japanese

November 17, 2009


Omaha’s Cowboy Mayor Frightened Oriental Visitors by Lassoing Them.

It came to light recently that James Dahlman, the cowboy mayor of Omaha, “roped” M. Takagi and M. Ogiko, editors of the Law Journal of Tokyo, who are studying jurisprudence in the United States and who stopped over in Omaha for a day and were entertained by distinguished citizens, says an Omaha special dispatch to the New York Times.

The Japanese had heard that Mayor Dahlman had been a cow puncher on the western plains. They asked him about it, and for answer the mayor picked up a rope, and before his visitors knew what had happened he had stepped across the room and thrown it over the head of M. Takagi, immediately afterward picking up another one and lassoing M. Ogiko.

The Japanese did not know anything about roping cattle, and the mayor’s stunt not only astonished, but frightened them, causing them to jump to their feet, their faces pale, and cry out. Their fears were dispelled when the mayor laughed heartily and took the ropes off their necks.

“Do you lasso people and tie them down when they break your laws?” asked M. Ogiko.

“No; we only lasso cattle,” said the mayor, and then he told them all about roping steers, much to their delight.

Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio) Jun 17, 1907

Fred M. Hans: Indian Fighter and Frontier Scout

November 7, 2009

Frederick Hans pic


Train Robbers Fear Fred Hans — Although “Fred” is Mild-Mannered His Colt .45 Has Laid Low Many Western Desperadoes.

Western bandits who prey upon the express treasure and passengers carried by the railroads have been so active of late that the managers of properties in that section are making extra efforts to outwit the robbers. The success of Messenger Baxter in killing a road agent on the Burlington, near Omaha, a few weeks ago has put new life into the railroad people. The Union Pacific, the Burlington, the Rock Island, and the Northwestern out of Omaha are arming their messengers anew with Winchester “pump” guns, having new shells with sixteen buckshot each loaded for them, and in other ways are preparing to exterminate the first road agent band that attempts to hold up one of their trains.

Every large railroad operating out of Omaha employees from one to a dozen men whose exclusive duty it is to protect their trains from bandit raids, trail the robbers after they hold up the train, and chase them into the fastnesses of the mountains and kill or capture them. Of all the famous characters who have made bandit hunting a business, none is better known than Frederick Hans of Omaha, who is chief of the Northwestern bandit hunters. For years it has been the business of Frederick Hans to protect the treasure trains of that company operating through the Black Hills.

fighting a gang pic

From Deadwood to Omaha the Northwestern carries the treasure of the great Homestake mines. During some months this company ships over $100,000 in treasure over this road. The lines of the company are operated for many miles through a wild and desolate section after leaving Deadwood. It is a most inviting spot for the work of road agents. The fact that these treasure trains escape the raids of bandits is undoubtedly due to their fear of the man who is the head of the force of bandit hunters the company employs.

Mild -Mannered but Dangerous.

Fred Hans is a mild-mannered fellow with blue eyes and of most affable address. As he saunters along the streets of Omaha he is about the last man in the world one would pick out for desperate work with rifle and revolver. Yet this same pleasant-appearing fellow, with his careless smile has been in more desperate affrays with road agents, killed more outlaws, and sent more to penitentiaries than any man in the West today. “Fred,” as he is known to nine-tenths of the people of Omaha that he gets a chance to see once a month or so, but most of his time is spent “up in the hills,” circulating among that element that is most likely to engage in hold-ups.

It is his business to locate all these characters the moment train is held up in his territory. This he can very nearly place the responsibility for a train robbery in the Northwest the day after it occurs. Incidentally, it may be said that Fred Hans carries a considerable number of bullet wounds on his person, slight testimonials of his many desperate fights.

Shacknasty Jim pic

Above image from the American Antiquarian Society website.

Another image and The Modoc Indians: A Native American Saga
by Cheewa James, Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma
(Shacknasty Jim’s great-grandson) can be found HERE.

It was Fred Hans who went into the “Hole in the Wall” after “Shacknasty Jim” and his outlaw band and killed the leader and two of his companions before he returned. Again Fred Hans met five members of the famous “Robbers’ Roost” gang one bright morning on the Running Water in South Dakota. He had but shortly before that been instrumental in piloting a posse of Custer citizens to the lair of the band where nine of them had been killed, and they thought to get even. The fire road agents waited until Hans rode close to the sand hill behind which they were hiding, then rode down on him, firing their rifles as they galloped. A fortunate shot passed through the heart of the horse that Hans  was riding. Using the animal for a shield, the railroad bandit hunter got out his heavy pistols and began business right there. He only shot four times. The first bullet he fired passed through the heart of the nearest bandit, the next one struck one of the horses of the oncoming gang and killed it, the third bullet passed through the head of another bandit, killing him instantly, and the fourth passed through the body of one of the gang and he died later. The two remaining members of the band surrendered and were taken into Custer by Hans. The men he killed on the spot were known as “Texas Fleet Foot” and “Mountain Pete.” The other tow, “Long Tom” and “Skinny,” were sent to the penitentiary for life.

Colt’s 45’s His Choice.

This is the kind of a man who guards the Northwestern treasure trains through the territory west of the Mississippi River. He is probably the quickest and deadliest shot with a revolver in the West. He carries two enormous “forty-fives” of the Colt pattern of thirty years ago. The fact that the guns are of the vintage of another generation does not worry Fred Hans. He has been presented by different people with a number of handsome modern pistols, but he says he can’t shoot them like his[he] can his own “irons.”

Discussing bandit hunting and the methods of road agents in holding up trains, a few days ago Fred Hans said recently:

“It requires a man of very desperate courage to undertake to handle a railroad train crowded with passengers. Of course, you find men every day who are willing to take the chances involved in spite of the fact that few of them escape the consequences long enough to enjoy whatever they have secured in the hold-up. In truth, it is not the act of robbing the train that requires the greatest exhibition of skill and daring, but rather the escape after the crime has been committed. You see, in robbing a train the band stands little chance of opposition. Passengers are as a rule unarmed. and the express messengers are not in a position to make much of a fight. The use of dynamite by road agents is a terrifying element for express messengers. The minute the bandits start to make their escape, however, they come in contact with fighting men who are as well armed and well mounted as they are knows how to use their guns. This is the element of danger that deters many bandits from attacking a railroad train.

“When a gang of men contemplate a hold-up now, the first thing they do is to arrange for their escape. A route of retreat is selected, and the bandits go over the trail, so that they can follow it, night or day. They frequently secrete food for themselves and horses along the route and lay in plenty of ammunition. The Black Hills and the country in Southern Wyoming are favorite resorts for train robbers these days. Here most of the desperate road agents live. These men are, however, not of the class that will undertake single handed to rob a train. They operate like the James gang did, but of course are not so dangerous, because they have not the sympathy of the community in which they operate. They are not so expert with firearms as the James gang, neither are they bound together by associations such as made the James gang so successful. Those bandits merely trust each other as long as they are together, and they know it is a matter of self-preservation

Bandits’ Outfits Expensive.

“The same energy, hardship and daring these men expend in robbing trains, if turned into honest channels would reap for them a great deal more substantial profits than the dangerous business they engage in, but they are attracted by stories of enormous hauls, made by train robbers and dazzled by reports in the newspapers that this or that gang secured a hundred thousand dollars in a raid. Of course these raids sometimes net the robbers a big sum, but in most cases they do not get enough to pay the expense of the undertaking. It costs a pile of money for a gang of six or seven Western desperadoes to prepare for a train hold up. They must have the best horses money will buy, they must get a city crook, as a rule to handle the dynamite; they must have white powder for their guns in the event of a collision with a posse, which is quite certain, and a thousand little details. The minute the news of a hold-up is flashed over the wire we start posses from a dozen different points. These close in on the robbers. The road agents are afraid to split up in the face of a possible fight. They know they will be killed one at a time if they do not stick together. That is their only chance and of course it makes the trail easier for us to follow.

Tracking Bandits pic

“The ‘Hole in the Wall’ country is the place these Western bandits now make for. That is a wild section and most difficult of access. If the gang gets in there it is hard to get at them. Usually we merely wait for them to come out, and then we get ’em.

“Most of the bandits we come in contact with are of the most desperate character. Of course they know that sooner or later they will die with their boots on. Most of them are wanted for some crime that would keep them in the penitentiary for life if it would not carry them to the scaffold, and so of course they will not surrender. I usually hunt these characters singly and with only my pistols. It is my experience that in the wild country, a desperate character, seeing a lone man who does not carry a rifle, will permit him to approach where otherwise he would hide if the same man was armed with a rifle or accompanied by others. With my pistols I can get close to a bandit on the plains and then I jump from my horse, use the animal as a breast-work, and begin to shoot before the robber expects the attack. He surrenders or is killed, just as he prefers. My experience is that a quick shot with a pistol is worth a dozen long-range shots with rifles.

Deadly Range of 300 Yards.

“I have had some measure of success hunting road agents and have been forced to kill some of these desperate characters, but all of my work has been done with a heavy revolver. I do not recall a fight I have been in, except possibly when I was scouting in the Indian service, where I used anything but my revolvers. I can kill a man at 300 yards every shot with my pistol. I carry on my watch chain today a rifle bullet I cut from the heart of my horse. It is a souvenir of the fight I had with the ‘Robbers’ Roost’ gang on the Running Water. The man who fired the shot used a Winchester and was firing at me from a distance of 500 yards. Before he reached the range of my pistols he had probably shot at me six times, one of his bullets plowing a furrow through the top of my scalp, but the moment he came within range of my heavy revolver I placed a bullet squarely between his eyes. This was Fleet Foot, probably one of the worst murderers and road agents the West has ever produced.

“I usually carry three heavy revolvers when hunting road agents, and carry about 500 extra shells. I would rather have plenty of cartridges than plenty of food when I am looking for real bad people. My experience, however, is that train robbing has been made so dangerous that it is losing its popularity and will totally disappear in a few years.

Davenport Daily Leader (Davenport, Iowa) Nov 7, 1900

Frederick Hans pic2 full


Frank Daniels of Omaha Placed Under Arrest.

OMAHA, Neb., Aug. 5. — (Special) —

Frank Daniels of this city, was taken to Logan, Harrison county, Iowa, this evening on a requisition charging him with robbing a freight car. His arrest grew out of the arrest of Dick Latta, by Special Detective Hans on the night of July 6, near California Junction on the Northwestern road. The detective secreted himself beside the boxes of goods that had been thrown from the train and Latta and his companion were caught when they came to get the good. Latta was held, but the companion escaped after Detective Hans fired four shots. Latta is a young man twenty-two years old living with his mother at 1622 Burt street. Daniels is one of the Daniels brothers who live near the railroad tracks in a shanty. Daniels proves to be the brother of Officer Hans’ first wife, and it is said by the friends of Latta that the two Daniels brothers got Latta into the trouble for the purpose of making some cheap glory for the detective, the plan being to allow them to escape and to hold Latta. Latta had refused to tell who was with him, and the detective showed a lack of enterprise in finding out. Latta today signed an affidavit implicating Daniels. Daniels once lived at Blair.

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Aug 6, 1901


“Detective Fred Hans, of the Elkhorn road is getting a whole glob of notoriety out of an arrest he made over in Harrison county a few days ago. It seems that Hans got Francis Daniels to go in cahoots with a fella by the name of Dick Latta for the purpose of plundering a freight car so that the great detective could get a chance to arrest someone just to convince the officials of the railroad that he was still true and always working for their interests.

Yesterday’s Bee contained a long article by Daniels’ accomplice laying blame on him and making it look rather ‘fishy’ for Hans when we remember that Daniels is a brother-in-law, and another article gives an interview with Daniels who claims Latta was at the bottom of it. Both Daniels and Latta are in jail in Mo. Valley and the outcome of the robbery will be watched with a great of interest by residents of this place. Daniels was arrested here three years ago for having stolen Emmett Bolt’s carpenter tools and served several months for the job. Everybody here knows Detective Hans and this escapade only brings to mind the time when a couple of men were sent to the pen for stealing corn, when it looked mighty much like Hans had his hand in the planning of the theft. Great is Hans the Detective!”

Blair Courier (Blair, Nebraska) Aug 8, 1901


“Fred Hans is surely getting his share of the ills of life since he did that wonderful piece of detective work when he landed young Latta behind the bars for breaking into a freight car near California Junction a couple of weeks ago. Hans was arrested last week over there on the charge of conspiracy and his hearing set for the 20th inst, but on Monday, Francis Daniels confessed in his part in the crime and ‘peached’ on Hans as the bloke who put up the job, his trial has now been set for September 10th.

The people of Blair and Washington county are watching this case with a great deal of interest and when they think of the ‘smooth’ work of this chief of detectives of the F. E. they are inclined to let their memory wander back to the time when they were kids and read “Old Sleuth” novels behind the corn crib and wonder if that wasn’t where Freddie got his inspiration to become a detective. To hear Hans tell it he has had many close calls and narrow escapes but never got in too late. From reading the World Herald of a couple of years ago we are constrained to believe that paper has a reporter who has a vivid imagination or was allowing Hans to make a big sucker out of him, when it told of Hans being a government scout for a number of years and describing some of his adventures on the border. In the light of this case folks are now bringing to mind many pieces of work that could be traced to his instigation.

Blair Courier (Blair, Nebraska)  Aug 22, 1901


Governor Savage issued an extradition warrant yesterday and immediately evened up the population of the state by issuing a requisition. The man extradited is Special Detective Fred M. Hans of Omaha who is charged with hatching a conspiracy to have a Northwestern train robbed of freight so he could reap the glory of a capture. Hans was sent to Logan, Ia., just across the Missouri river, where he is wanted on the charge of perjury. Frank Daniels, brother-in-law of Hans, was one of the two men implicated in the robbery. Dick Latta who was captured says he was led into a trap. Hans swore at one of he hearings that Daniels was not present when the capture was made, and Daniels testified that he was present. The requisition was for James Toman, under arrest at Cedar Rapids, Ia., who is wanted at South Omaha on the charge of assaulting James Koskeh, August 20, with intent to murder.

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Aug 27, 1901



LOGAN, Ia., Aug. 27, — The latest case of Fred M. Hans of Omaha, the railway detective charged with perjury in the Latta-Daniels arrests, has been set for September 2. He has retained Rodifer & Arthur of this place to defend him.

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Aug 29, 1901





Case Continued Till Tuesday to Give Porter’s Attorney’s Time

Governor Savage sat as a court yesterday and listened to argument from an attorney who told him why he should honor a requisition from the governor of Iowa for the return of Garnett C. Porter to Logan, Ia., on the charge of perjury. He also heard two able attorneys set forth reasons why he should not do any such thing. The day was warm and the governor took off his coat to permit the oratory to have its full effect. At the conclusion of the hearing he gave the defendant until Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. to show further cause why the requisition should not be honored. Mr. Porter was represented by Frank Ransom and Will F. Gurley of Omaha and the great state of Iowa was represented with due dignity by George William Egan of Logan.

Mr. Porter appears to have got into all this trouble through a desire to act as a press agent for a detective who was going out to make a raid on robbers of freight trains. Mr. Porter is a newspaper correspondent living at Omaha. When Special Detective Fred Hans invited him out to see the fun he could not resist the temptation to become a war correspondent for a short time. After two robbers were caught, Dick Latta and another man, the latter escaping in some mysterious manner, it was charged in the newspapers that the detective concocted the robbery and that his brother-in-law was the man who got away. Latta was held and pleaded guilty. The robbery of the cars took place on the Northwestern railroad on the Iowa side of the Missouri river and therefore the trial of Latta took place at Logan. Latta finally signed an affidavit charging that Hans and his brother-in-law hatched the burglary and induced him to enter into the scheme. Hans and Porter both made statements in court in regard to the case which led to the charge of perjury. Hans was taken to Iowa and gave bond for this appearance. Now an effort is being made to get Mr. Porter on Iowa soil to answer to similar charge.

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Oct 23, 1901

scales of justice


Sioux City, Ia., Oct. 24. — Fred M. Hans, formerly a railroad detective, well known in the west, has been found guilty of the murder of David Luse on April, 1901, at Ainsworth, Neb., and was today sentenced to life imprisonment.

The Daily Review (Decatur, Illinois) Oct 24, 1903

I couldn’t find anymore about his murder/conviction, but he must have gotten released for one reason or another.

hans gravestone

Gravestone picture from Find-A-Grave, posted by Dennis & Gal Conn Bell.


Famous Indian Warrior Crushed in Elevator Shaft


Defended Whites in Battle Against Red Men

OMAHA, Neb. — (Associated Press)–

Fighting, smiling, gray-haired, old “Lone Star” Fred M. Hans, Indian fighter, frontier scout and possibly last of the real “two gun cross arm draw” experts net death here last night with his “boots on.” But death did not come on the field of battle where he had so often faced it, nor on the wings of a bullet. He was crushed to death in an elevator shaft at the Omaha World Herald plant where he was night watchman.

Lone Star was caught by the elevator when he attempted to move the control lever from the outside and the lift suddenly shot upward.

Lone Star began his career as plainsman at the age of 16, when he left home to search for a brother kidnapped by Sioux Indians. He broke into fame first in 1876 in the “Hole in the Wall” country, Powder River, Wyoming, when single-handed he shot and killed “Shacknasty” Jim and his two fellow bandits. It was Lone Star’s hammer fanning that won the unequal fight.

The Indians called him “We-Cha-Pe-Wan-Ge-La,” which means Lone Star.


Other high spots of Hans’ life were:

Shot and killed two stage coach bandits April 12, 1877, near Valentine, Neb. Shot five Indians in battle of Little Missouri near Black Hills, August 31, 1877, saving the lives of a party of twenty prospectors. Killed eleven Indians with 12 shots, using both guns, hammer fanning, in the battle of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in 1892 [I think this should be 1891]. Killed bandit Ainsworth, Nebraska in 1878. Shot and killed bandit in Fremont, Neb., in 1897. Was official war department investigator of Custer massacre and followed Sitting Bull six hundred miles on horseback, inducing him and his band to return to the reservation.

Was present at Sitting Bull’s death; was chief scoutmaster for General Phil Sheridan for six years; was chief special agent of the Northwestern railroad for years. In all Hans was credited with having killed eight white and twenty Indians.

“I was never beaten on the draw,” he often declared.

Until a month ago, Hans wore a scalp lock 13 inches long which he kept curled under a skull cap as he sat around in the Herald editorial rooms at night, often displaying his skill with his two guns to reporters and visitors.

“No one is after it now,” he explained when he ordered his lock cut off.

Lima News (Lima, Ohio) Apr 18, 1923



World Herald Company Pays $2,650 to Heirs of Nightwatchman Killed in Elevator.

State Compensation Commissioner, L.B. Frye has approved a lump sum settlement in which the World Herald Building company of Omaha paid $2,650 to the heirs of an employee, Fred M. Hans, night watchman who was instantly killed by a freight elevator of the World Herald building, April 17. The heirs agreed to this and the case was dismissed. The question of whether Hans had dependent heirs or was negligent in starting the elevator which killed him had arisen. The divorced wife, Roberta M. Hans, is alleged to have resumed marital relations. She was given $1,525 of the lump sum settlement and is to pay the cost of burial over and above $150 allowed by law for that purpose. The federal bill was $369. Lillian Caroline Budd, a child of the deceased watchman, was given $875. Grace L. Davis, another child was given $100.

The Evening State Journal and Lincoln Daily News (Lincoln, NE) Sep 21, 1923


great sioux nation-1

Read the book written by Fred Hans: (Google Books link)

The great Sioux nation:  A complete history of Indian life and warfare in America By Frederic Malon Hans. 1907

Jim Dahlman and the Charley Bree Shooting

February 9, 2009


See previous Jim Dahlman related posts:

“Cowboy Jim Dahlman: Perpetual Politician”

“Dahlman and Middleton: Characters of the Old West”







Democratic Nominee Meets Campaign Story Early by Giving Authorized Interview on His Life in the South.

James C. Dahlman “got his man” in Texas thirty-two years ago and came to Nebraska under the name of “Jim Murray.”

In 1884, wishing to marry and hearing that he had not killed his victim after all, he resumed the name of Dahlman.

Because such rumors were afloat and because they would probably be printed before the campaign is over, Mayor Dahlman was asked by The Journal to give an authorative account of his early life before he became known in the political world. He readily agreed to this and told his history in a frank and unhesitating manner. This was on Thursday, when he passed through Lincoln. A reporter met him on his arrival from Beatrice and rode with him to Wahoo. He answered every question, only stipulating that a copy of this interview be submitted to him before its publication. The copy was mailed to him at Central City, where he was to be on Monday, a carbon copy remaining in the office for immediate use. Last night the publication of the interview was authorized by the following telegram:

GRAND ISLAND, Neb., Sept. 27. — State Journal, Lincoln, Neb.: All right. Cut her loose. Except county is Lavaca, if I remember rightly instead of DeWitt that trouble took place.

Mayor Dahlman’s Story.

“My father settled in DeWitt county, Texas, in 1845, and there I was born and raised, with a rope in one hand, spurs on my heels, and a six-shooter on my hip. It was a wild country as early as I can remember and was but little better when I left there. There were seven children in our family, of whom I was the fourth.

During the war and afterwards DeWitt county came to be the rendezvous of about the toughest gang that could be found in the United States. Feuds were common and unrelenting in character between such groups as the Hardins, the Taylors, the Suttons, and the Clemmons factions. I think I am safe in saying that more men died violent deaths in DeWitt county than in any other territory of equal size in the country at any time in the history of Texas. I have seen as many as seven men killed in one fight between these factions.

“This was the atmosphere in which I grew up and naturally as I became a young man about the only right I knew was that of the pistol and a quick hand. The law was but poorly enforced and men lived by the right of might. I got to be pretty tough, I admit it. I went around a good deal of the time with a chip on my shoulder hoping some one would knock it off. The country was full of maverick cattle and no one was a better hand than I with the rope chasing down these strays and putting the branding iron on them. Everybody did it. I was training with a bad crowd, as bad as there was in the country, harum-scarum, devil-may-care fellows, you know. I can see now that it was only a question of time when I would get into trouble. So I came to Nebraska to get away from it.

Dahlman Family 1870 Census

Dahlman Family 1870 Census

Name:  Rosalee Dahlmann
Gender: Female
Marriage Date: 7 Jun 1868
Spouse: Charles M. Bree
Marriage city: Dewitt
Marriage State: Texas
Source: Texas Marriages, 1851-1900

Why He Left Texas.

“The immediate cause of my leaving Texas was this: An older sister married a man named Charley Bree, a shiftless sort of fellow, nothing more or less than an outlaw. They lived together for two years and some time after their child was born he deserted her for no apparent reason than that he was tired of married life, and his innate cussedness. I was a fiery, quick-tempered boy less than twenty years of age. There was scarcely any law in the country and none that was likely to reach a cuss like that. I sent him word that I  would shoot him the first time I saw him. Things went on in this condition for some time and Bree and I did not meet. Then on day purely by accident we met in a town where neither was known. No sooner did we face each other than we both pulled and shot. I got him; he missed me. We shot but once each. My shot hit him about the eye and he dropped like lead. I thought he was done for and wasted no time in getting away. I rode through into Arkansas and stayed there in secret.

“Well, I stayed in Arkansas for six months. Finally my money ran low and dead broke I wrote to a friend in Texas for a loan, meanwhile going to work for a butcher. This Texas friend did not send me the money. It happened that an old-time acquaintance was coming to Nebraska and my friend told him to stop off and get me. He did so and we came by rail to Omaha and thence west on the Union Pacific. He had $350 when he dropped off in Arkansas and divided even with me. I afterward paid him back with interest. It is not true that I followed the trail from Texas to Nebraska. This was in 1878, and I was twenty-two years of age.

His Arrival in Nebraska.

“I guess I was a hard-looking customer. I wore the high heeled boots of the cowboy, with pants tucked in at the top of them. I affected also a mustache and a little French goatee. My luggage was carried in a pair of leather saddlebags. I would give $500 today if I could get hold of those saddlebags. I had never seen snow nor ice until I saw them in Nebraska. Well, we went west on the Union Pacific to Sidney and from there overland north. I remember the stage was so heavily laden that we had to take turns walking. We were not dressed to trapse through snow six inches deep in the midst of a blizzard, and finally I got so mad that I tumbled the whole crowd out at the point of a gun, got in, and threatened to shoot the first man who mentioned walk again. We rode.

“Well, I first got work from a ranchman, known familiarly as “Old Man Newman.” He is still alive and lives in El Paso, Tex. He would not hire me at first because he said I looked too much of a tough, and would be picking quarrels with his cowmen first thing. But I was broke and persuaded the foreman to let me camp with them a while. Finally he gave me a job. I stayed with him for seven years, became his foreman and there was not a better paid cowboy in that section of the country. Newman’s ranch was located twelve miles east of what is now Gordon.

Went Into Politics.

“Finally I got a job as brand inspector for the Wyoming live stock association and held this job two years. In the meantime Chadron had been started and I decided to start into business for myself. I had got a few cattle together and started a ranch. I and my partner also ran a meat market in Chadron. Then I mixed some in politics, was elected sheriff of Dawes county three terms, and mayor of Chadron twice. About the time I quit the position of mayor the hard times were upon us and we all went broke. I was fortunate enough to secure the position of secretary of the state board of transportation and moved to Lincoln. My youngest daughter was born while I lived there. Since then everyone knows of my career as chairman of the democratic state committee, twice member of the national committee from Nebraska and member of the executive committee. I moved to Omaha and engaged in the live stock commission business in South Omaha, meanwhile residing in Omaha. I got into Omaha politics and that is how I came to be elected mayor the first time. And there you are.”

“What became of Bree?”

“Oh, he got well from the bullet wound I gave him, although I did not know for two years that he was not killed. He died several years ago. My sister, over whom we had the trouble, is still alive. She married again.”

Came Here as “Jim Murray.”
“Did you live in this state under an assumed name, Jim Murray, after you came here in 1878?”

“Yes,” and the mayor smiled his appreciation of the question. “When I go to Arkansas I changed my name to Murray. I do not know why I picked that name. I thought I had killed Bree, and I was keeping out of sight, you bet. Strange to say the authorities in Dewitt county never took the matter up and I was never looked for. But I did not know that.

“I kept the assumed name after I came to Nebraska, and cowboys and ranchers in Wyoming where I was brand inspector still know me as Jim Murray. After I knew that Bree had recovered I felt no need for the name but it was easier to keep than to change back.

“I finally changed to my right name for this reason: We used to trade with a trader at the Pine Ridge agency, ninety miles from the ranch., Blanchard was his name. I got to know him pretty well and he often invited me to his house. He had several children and finally secured the services of a young lady named Hattie Abbott as governess for these children. I fell in love with her and decided to ask her to marry me. But before doing so I told her the whole story of my life and took back my real name. This was in the fall of 1884, after I had been Jim Murray for sex years. We were married in Union, Ia., where she had a sister living.

“I think that pretty well covers my life history. I was a tough one in Texas, and I guess I did not change all at once after coming to Nebraska, although I had resolved to live a different life. When one considers the environs in which I grew up and the desperate character of the people of Texas, and later the not entirely tame life on the frontier of Nebraska, you will have to admit that I did pretty well to come out of it no meaner than I am. I did a great many things which I would not do now, but I am not ashamed to tell what they were, and I have told you.”

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Sep 28, 1910

Yellow Bank / Koerth, Texas

Yellow Bank / Koerth, Texas

From Texas Escapes Online Magazine:

Irish settlers arrived three years before Texas Independence was declared. The site was first known as Yellow Bank and later Antioch. St. John the Baptist Catholic Church were built around 1865. German and Czech immigrants replanced the original settlers after the Civil War. Storekeeper C. J. Koerth opened a post office in his store from 1884 through 1910 (although it was closed from 1887-1893). Koerth built a school in 1914.



Harks Back Thirty-two Years to His Own House Warming and Tells Incident as He Saw It and Heard It.

Some weeks ago The Journal printed a biographical sketch of Mayor J.C. Dahlman of Omaha, present candidate for governor on the democratic ticket. This story was authorized by Mr. Dahlman who said it was substantially as he had related it. Comments on this story of the life of Mr. Dahlman as he related it were general. The general opinion was that it would not seriously affect his candidacy one way or the other, whereas if the story had been printed without his having told it, it might have been more serious from a political point of view. Many people, however, declared that the tale was too favorable to the “Cowboy Mayor” and that The Journal had played far too fairly with him in giving all the extenuating circumstances as presented by the relater.

Ten days ago The Journal sent three or four letters to Texas, enclosing a clipping of the story, and asking briefly that if in the neighborhood any old settler resided who could remember the incident of the shooting of Charley Bree, that he be asked to relate it as he heard it, and that the story be sent here to be printed. The idea was that if the story were at all one-sided any old settler of Texas, familiar with the affair, would give the other side, not being actuated in any degree to apologize for the act, as it was charged generally by those opposed to Mayor Dahlman would be the case in taking the story from him.

One of these letters was sent to Yoakum, Texas, as being in Lavaca county where Mayor Dahlman said the shooting occurred. The resulting story here related by a man who saw the whole affair except the actual shooting, and he heard that, being but a few yards distant when the shots were fired.

The tale comes from Texas, a newspaper proprietor of Yoakum being the intermediary. This newspaper man is proprietor of the Yoakum Herald, J.W. Cook. He writes in explanation as follows:

“As per your request of the 9th inst. I am handing you herewith the story of the shooting of Charley Bree by J.C. Dahlman as told by Mr. C.G. Koerth. Mr Koerth is a thoroughly reliable man and any citizen of Yoakum who knows him will vouch for his veracity.

“I have shown Mr. Koerth a copy of the story and he O.K.’d it. Yours very truly, J.W. COOK.”

The Story From Texas.

Here is the old settler’s story:

After making considerable inquiry as to who would likely know something of the shooting case in which J.C. Dahlman was charged with shooting Charley Bree some thirty-two years ago, information was obtained that Mr. C.G. Koerth might remember something of the affair. Mr. Koerth was found. Mr. Koerth is a highly respected and honored citizen of  the city of Yoakum. His is seventy-five years of age and has lived in Lavaca county since 1860. He is a native of Germany. For the past dozen years he has resided in Yoakum and has been engaged in the drug business in this city with his sons, Emil C. and John C. Koerth.

Asked if he remembered a shooting scrape in which J.C. Dahlman and Charley Bree were the principals he replied: “Yes, it occurred at my house. I remember a great deal about it.”

“Would you object to relating what you remember of it.”

“I do not object at all,” said Mr. Koerth.

“The story is about like this,” said Mr. Koerth. “Some time in the late ’70’s, either ’77 or ’78, I was residing near what is known as Yellow Banks creek in Lavaca county. I had established a general merchandise store there and had recently got permission from the department to establish a postoffice there which was given the name of Antioch. During the year in question I had erected a new residence. I did the principal part of the carpenter work on my residence myself but a neighbor of mine, Mr. C. Karney had also had a new home built that year and had employed a carpenter named Eugene Stark. Stark had come to our neighborhood from over near Yorktown in DeWitt county. When he had nearly finished the Karney residence he employed a painter, Charley Bree, who had come to our section from the same place in DeWitt county.

“I needed a painter to finish my house, so Mr. Stark, with whom I had become acquainted and also my neighbor, Mr. Karney, recommended Bree as a capable painter. I employed him. He soon impressed me as being not only a good painter but an intelligent, energetic, good man as well.

“From Stark, the carpenter, I had learned that Bree had been employed some years previous by a Mr. Dahlman as clerk in a store, that he had gained the confidence of the Dahlman family and had married one of the Dahlman girls. Later he was entrusted with a considerable sum of money and sent to New Orleans to buy a stock of merchandise for the Dahlman store. In some way Bree got into trouble on this trip to New Orleans and had lost or spent a part of this money and did not buy near the quantity of goods he was expected to buy. This conduct on Bree’s part aroused the ill will of the Dahlmans and they finally drove him away from home. He located in my community as a painter.

“About the time my new home was finished some young men of the community came to my store one afternoon and wanted to have a dance in my house that night. I objected but the boys saw my wife, secured her permission to have the dance and come back to urge me to yield. I did so, consenting for them to have the dance.

Arrival of Feudists.

During the afternoon of this same day two men, heavily armed rode up to my house and asked for a night’s lodging. As we were entertaining Bree and a drummer for that night we could not accommodate them so my wife sent them to a neighbor, Mr. Gerdes, telling them they might get lodging with him. Gerdes could not take them so sent them on to another neighbor, Schulte, who agreed to keep them over night. These two men later proved to be J.C. Dahlman and “Bud” Seekers.

“When told of the appearance on the place of these two men Bree looked uneasy. We noticed he soon went to his room and in a few minutes left, armed with his pistol and Winchester rifle. We noticed he went to Schulte’s. Upon returning he told us he knew those two men and that he had told Mrs. Schulte to fix them a good supper and he would pay for it. The gentlemen informed him, however, they would pay their own bill.

“Night came on. The young people of the community had assembled and had started the dancing. Soon after the dancing started these same two men appeared at the door and asked me if they could take part in the dance, I told them they certainly could but that they would have to disarm themselves and turn their weapons over to me. To this they readily agreed, handing over to me their six shooters. They had left their rifles on their saddles. So they came in and took part in the festivities. Everybody seemed to have a pleasant time except I had noticed Bree seemed much disturbed about something. I asked him what the trouble was and he evaded answering for a long time but finally said ‘Those two fellows are here to mob me. They will do it tonight if they get a chance.’

“I tried to console him, telling him in the meantime to keep out of their way.
“At 12 o’clock announcement was made that there would be no more dancing, so the crowd began to disperse. Soon, all  were gone except one man — Jim Goodson. His remaining and other occurrences of the evening aroused my suspicions so I took a seat where I could observe what was going in. My store was about two hundred yards from my home and at the rear of the house in the direction of the store was a small orchard of fruit trees.

Slipped Up on Him.

“Presently I saw some one coming up from the direction of the store, through the orchard, on through the back yard gate into the yard.

“I called out ‘Look out Bree, someone is slipping on you.’

“Bree turned, facing the back door, leveled his gun on the approaching figure and shouted ‘Stop there. Don’t slip up on me that way or I will kill you.’

“The fellow took to his heels and left in a hurry.’

“Of course this created considerable excitement and it was some time before my family retired. After they retired I sat up and watched for some time. I suspected that an attempt would be made to rob my store.

“Shortly after this occurrence Jim Goodson left the house and I went to bed but not to sleep. I asked Bree what he intended doing.

“He said he would stay up a while longer to see what he could learn. I asked him to keep an eye on my store while he was guarding himself. As he left he reiterated that he was sure they would mob him if they got a chance.

“Bree had not been away from the house long before I heard three shots in close succession. I knew something had happened, so I jumped out of bed as hastily as I could and dressed myself. Just about the time I got my clothes on Bree reached the back door of my house and said, ‘They have murdered me.’

“I saw he was all covered with blood. I had him come into the house and examined his wounds as best I could. I found he had been struck on the upper left side of the head and a considerable furrow plowed across the skull with a bullet. I was soon convinced that he was not fatally wounded.

“I kept Bree in my house until the following night, in the meantime summoning a physician to dress his wounds.

“On the following night we moved him to a distant neighbor’s house who had a sort of second story or loft to his place and made arrangements with them to keep him and not let anyone know he was there. He remained there a couple of weeks under the care of a physician.

Bree’s Version of Shooting.

“During this period he told me he had come to my store building and was leaning against an old live oak tree that stood near. Around this tree was a large pile of dirt taken from a cellar which I had recently had dug under the store. He was on this pile of dirt. He said that Dahlman and Seekers had discovered him there and opened fire on him. The two first shots missed him but the third struck him on the head and he soon fell to the ground. He had drawn his pistol but the shot had so paralyzed him that he could not use it and that it fell to the ground.

The shot dazed him for only a moment and when he arose he saw the two men running away.

“The two men left the country and I never heard of them again until Dahlman became prominent in his state’s politics, and I was not then sure it was the same Dahlman until I read his account of the shooting which recently appeared in the public prints.

“After Bree recovered sufficiently to travel, he left our section, going over near Lagrange in Fayette county. He promised me faithfully that he would write me when he was located but he never did. I learned that he left Lagrange with a fellow named Barney Brown, who carried him to Alleyton, the then terminus of the Southern Pacific railroad. He then boarded the train and I have heard nothing from him since..

About eighteen months later a skeleton was found up on Ponton’s creek, hanging to a tree. The clothing on it had some paint splotches, and some of my neighbors thought it was Bree, but I did not think so.

“What of Bree’s character?

“He was a nice man. I knew him several months. He did not drink and had no bad habits so far as I knew.”

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Nov1, 1910



To Mayor Dahlman’s version of the incidents leading to his flight from Texas and assumption for several years of the assumed name of Jim Murray in Nebraska, we now add the version of a virtual eye witness with no apparent interest in the matter other than to tell the facts. This is Mr. C.G. Koerth of Yoakum, Texas, whose veracity is vouched for by citizens of that community. His account varies from Mr. Dahlman’s in essential respects.

Mr. Dahlman’s story was that Charley Bree, “a shiftless sort of fellow, nothing more or less than an outlaw,” married his sister and later deserted her “for no apparent reason than that he was tired of married life, and his innate cussedness.” Dahlman “sent him word that I would shoot him the first time I saw him.” Later “one day purely by accident we met in a town where neither was known. No sooner did we face each other than we both pulled and shot. My shot hit him above the eye and he dropped like lead.” Then followed the flight that brought Dahlman to Nebraska as Jim Murray.

Mr. Koerth’s story differs in practically all these details. Bree was “an intelligent, energetic, good man,” who made his living as a painter. Formerly he had been employed by his father-in-law, Dahlman, in a store. Bree failed properly or satisfactorily to perform a business mission for the Dahlmans and “they finally drove him away from home.” To the community where Bree worked as a painter, and where he had become known, followed two men, Jim Dahlman, brother-in-law of Bree, and Bud Seekers. After midnight they fired upon him in the darkness, inflicting the wound in the head, and fled the country.

Dahlman’s own story puts himself in the attitude of avenging a sister abused by a worthless husband, and doing it in fair and open duel. Mr. Koerth’s story has him executing a good man, as men went in Texas in those days, who had been driven away from his wife by the Dahlmans; and moreover, perpetrating the act while skulking under cover of darkness and reinforced by an assistant. There was some frontier romance, a dash of unwritten law, in Dahlman’s act as described by himself. As described by an onlooker the act was unnecessary, unjust and cowardly, the act of a common, craven outlaw.

Which story is true? By the ordinary rules of evidence Mr. Koerth’s story would have the more weight. Dahlman has an obvious motive for glossing over his conduct. Koerth has no interest on way or the other. But except as Koerth’s story discredits that boasted frankness of Dahlman it can hardly make a difference in one’s opinion of Dahlman or in his chances to be governor. If Dahlman’s record in Nebraska politics, his personality, and the things he stands for in this campaign will not put him under the ban of the Nebraska voters, neither will the story, even if accepted, that he ambushed at midnight and shot an inoffensive man.

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Nov 2, 1910

Omaha City Hall

Omaha City Hall

Body of Picturesque Leader Of City for 21 Years Lies in State

(By Associated Press)

OMAHA, Neb., Jan 24. — As the body of Mayor James C. Dahlman lay in state at the city hall today and thousands paid homage to the man who headed their city government for 21 years, the picturesque life of the man was told and retold.

There were those among the crowd who had known him when he was plain Jim Dahlman, the cowboy, feared and loved as one of the best shots and hardest riders on the Western plains. These men were in great demand, for the people of Omaha had never tired of hearing of early exploits of their mayor, who died Tuesday night at Excelsior Springs, Mo.

In all this story telling there came to light a tale which Dahlman’s old cronies said had been revealed to the public only once before and that 20 years ago. It revealed how Dahlman once “got his man” and that this man was his brother-in-law.

The story, as told by Dahlman himself:

“An older sister of mine married a man named Charley Dree [Bree]. He was a shiftless sort, in reality nothing more than an outlaw, and he did not treat her right. They lived together two years. When their child was born, Dree deserted her for no reason the family could see except that he was tired of married life and because of his lack of responsibility, and his meanness.

“I was about 20 at the time, fiery of temper, having gone much in bad company since I left home. I knew the nature of hte man. The law in that country was not likely to reach that sort of a man. So I sent him word that I would shoot him the first time I laid eyes on him.

“We did not see each other for a long time, but I happened to be in a town in Lavaca County (Texas) one night when I saw him in a saloon. He was with a partner and I was with a friend. The whole town went over to a dance on the edge of town and, after it was well under way, we saw him go, too.

“The word must have reached him, for when I approached the dance hall, later in the evening, I saw him coming out with his rifle in hand. Dree saw me about the same time I saw him. He raised his rifle and missed me. I got him over the eye. I was pretty handy with the six-shooter then.

“I ran over to where he was and it looked as if he was done for, so I lost no time in getting out of there. I rode through into Arkansas and remained there in secret, while I sent my partner back to find out what happened. It seemed that Dree lived a few hours.”

Dahlman lived in Arkansas for a time and then went to Nebraska with an old friend. He roped and branded steers in the western part of the State, finally coming to Omaha.

The story of his rise to political fame here, however, was conspicuous, his friends agreed, by the absence of the spectacular.

He recently had filed for re-election for his eighth three-year term. A public funeral will be held tomorrow.

San Antonio Express (Texas) Jan 24, 1930

Dahlman & Middleton: Characters of the Old West

February 4, 2009
Jim Dahlman and Doc Middleton

Jim Dahlman and Doc Middleton

Last Week’s Picture

In 1910 Omaha’s Mayor James C. Dahlman (nearest the camera) used an auto during his unsuccessful campaign, from a “wet” platform, for the governorship. He promised to serve free beer on the Statehouse lawn on his inauguration day, but lost the election to Chester Aldrich.

“Cowboy Jim” Dahlman left Texas in his late teens as a fugitive from justice. In 1878, at age 22, he made his way to Sidney, assuming the name of Jim Murray. From there, in the dead of winter, he took a stagecoach northward. The stage was so crowded that passengers had to take turns walking alongside, despite a six-inch snowfall. This proved too much for Dahlman-Murray, who drew his gun, ordered everyone out of the stage, climbed in himself and threatened to shoot the first man who suggested he walk again.

Dahlman worked on a ranch north of Gordon, then operated a cattle ranch and meat market in Chadron. He was elected sheriff of Dawes County for three terms and mayor of Chadron for two terms, then moved to Omaha. There he soon became involved in politics again and was elected mayor, serving in that office from 1906 until his death in the early 1930s, with the exception of three years.

The man in the left rear seat of the auto is said to be Doc Middleton, another character of the Old West.

Lincoln Evening Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Aug 17, 1975