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Safe Behind Stone Walls


John B. Walker of Dawson County Hurried
to the Penitentiary.


LEXINGTON NOT A SAFE PLACE


Rumors of the Gathering of a Mob at
Farnam Prompts the Sheriff to
Remove Him


LEXINGTON, Neb., March 4.—(Special.)—John B. Walker was escorted from the county jail early last evening and by team taken to Kearney for safe keeping. This move was made by the sheriff upon receipt of information that at Farnam an organization was being perfected to come to Lexington to take charge of Walker and dispose of him according to the latest modes of Judge Lynch. All is quiet now and no indication of lynchers has otherwise been in evidence at this point.

This is the second move toward lynching him, the first shortly after the commission of the crime, details of which are still fresh in the minds of Dawson county people. Walker lived in Frontier county, about a mile and a half south of the Dawson county line, where he owned a half section of land. He had always been averse to anyone taking land or settling near him, and those who did so were the ones against whom he held enmity. Among this number was [George] P. Stevens, against whom Walker held cause as above stated.

Trouble between the two men was augmented by Stevens’ taking up a number of cattle of Walker’s. The stock had repeatedly trespassed upon the grain fields and Walker ignored all remonstrances and Stevens took decisive steps to stop the nuisance. Litigation resulted over the matter and Walker wasa worsted. He made many threats against Stevens’ life, but they were so consistent with the man’s morbid and well known otherwise eccentric character that Stevens and his neighbors, if at all fearful, made light of them.

On the day of the tragedy Walker came to town and was sitting alone and unmolested on the sidewalk near Dunham’s Drug store. Stevens had just stepped therefrom when his ears were assailed by a pistol shot, the ball of which passed through his right hand.

Without turning to see who his assailant was he commenced running, before he had gone out of reach another ball struck him, passing through the fleshy part of his right arm. The third and last shot to take effect penetrated at the right side of the back about three inches from the spinal column, ranging upward and passing through the middle lobe of the left lung to the upper part of the chest. This was the fatal wound and Stevens fell headlong to the ground. Medical attendance was promptly secured, but the following Monday morning the wounded man breathed his last.

Immediately after the shooting Walker proceeded to his home, and sometime later a posse of citizens armed themselves and followed him. He was arrested and a complaing of attempted murder filed against him. The preliminary hearing resulted in his being brought to this city to await the result of the injuries he had inflicted upon his victim. The day of Stevens’ death a postmortem was held upon the remains and Walker was declared to have caused the death as above stated. What has followed since that date has been reviewed through The Journal columns frequently during the past few weeks.

Walker was about fifty-eight years of age, had no family and had always lived alone. He was a native of Kentucky and served through the rebellion as a confederate. He was said to be a member of Quantrell’s infamous band of guerillas, but he always strenously denied the allegation.

Stevens, the murdered man, left a wife and several children. He was a farmer, about fifty-five years old, a union veteran and a member of the Masonic fraternity.


John B. Walker was placed behind the penitentiary walls last night at 8:30. He was brought to Lincoln by Sheriff Henry Hobson and ex-Sheriff W. H. Hamilton. Mr. Hamilton state that Walker was taken from Lexington to Kearney on Monday by Deputy Sheriff W. H. Cole, the trip being made across the country. Sheriff Hobson arrived at Kearney yesterday morning at 1 a.m. took charge of Walker and with the assistance of Mr. Hamilton brought him to the penitentiary.

The trip was made over the Union Pacific by way of Valley. Walker was not handcuffed, but he made no demonstration while on the train. The train arrived in Lincoln at 6:30 last night. Walker was placed in a cab and driven to the penitentiary, where Warden Leidigh received him. He maintained a sullen silence while in the cab, refusing to speak when spoken to. On the way to Lincoln he seemed to realize where he was going and made no objection, except remarks which conveyed the idea that he thought he ought to be free.

Mr. Hamilton makes light of reports concerning the gathering of a mob and contends that there was no gathering whatsoever. However, he admits that it was deemed prudent to get Walker out of Dawson county, hence the hasty trip to Lincoln. Walker was an inmate of the penitentiary last fall, having been taken there for safekeeping.

The Nebraska State Journal 26:3, Thursday, 5 March 1896

 



Published: 8/12/2022 - http://www.historicfarnam.us
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