On This Day

JULY

On July 2, 1929, 75-year-old eccentric recluse Winfield Scott Rouse was found bound, gagged, and beaten in his cabin in Indian Village Township near Montour in Tama County. Before he died, Rouse described being attacked and robbed several days before by three young males disguised as “old men.” The trio apparently believed the oft-repeated local rumor that the old man kept a fortune stashed in his walls. Click here to read “No Women or Children Allowed.”
location of Montour, Iowa

location of Montour, Iowa

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On July 3, 1896, 25-year-old Alta Fisher Paul — a bride of six months in good health — died suddenly in the village of Homer in Hamilton County. Her husband Jim buried her early on the 4th of July and attended town festivities the rest of the day. When Alta’s grandmother Maria “Grandma” Dulin — an 80-year-old midwife — died only 24 days later, suspicious locals demanded an investigation, which revealed the two women were poisoned. Click here to read “A Bitter Taste.”
Alta Fisher Paul

Alta Fisher Paul

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On July 3, 1929, 67-year-old florist and truck gardener George Garlick Shackell was fatally beaten with a baseball bat in his Glenwood home in Mills County. He was one of four elderly recluses rumored to have money stashed in their homes who were assaulted and robbed within a week’s time in the state. Click here to read “Never Three Without Four?”
George Shackell's tombstone

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On July 8, 1864, hotel porter John Allen was shot down in cold blood by a drunken Union soldier in front of the Ensign Livery Stable on Walnut between 2nd & 3rd streets in Des Moines. The suspect was allowed to return to the battlefield and never prosecuted. Click here to read “The Peaceable Negro.”
location of Des Moines, Iowa

location of Des Moines, Iowa

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Robert Lee “R.L.” Clingan, 52, ran the Polk City Post Office out of his mercantile store. On the night of July 10, 1883, he was assassinated by two men who came in at closing time. They fled without taking cash or merchandise. Within weeks, two men were cornered by vigilantes who believed them responsible not only for Clingan’s murder but also for that of Polk City Mayor Robert W. Stubbs in 1882. One suspect was shot, the other lynched without due process of justice or without the certainty that they were the killers. Click here to read “Violent Excitement.”
photo by Roxanne Riggan

photo by Roxanne Riggan

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On July 10, 1888, Ottumwa’s most notorious woman, 28-year-old Alice Kelley, was found slashed and beaten to death in a wooded area north of town. Pinned to her dress was a blood-splattered corsage. Click here to read “Bright, Bold Blackmailer.”
location of Ottumwa, Iowa

location of Ottumwa, Iowa

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On July 10, 1925, sisters Josephine Goodwin — a 59-year-old retired jail matron — and her widowed sister Elizabeth Anthony, 55, were found gassed to death in their “East Bottoms” home in Sioux City. Several valuable diamond rings were missing. Suspicion swirled around an unidentified man who had been staying with the women. Click here to read “Sisters Act.”
location of Sioux City, Iowa

location of Sioux City, Iowa

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On July 15, 1925, 32-year-old farmer Harry Overturf was shot to death in the lane leading to his home while confronting a party of “spooners,” one of whom became known in the press as the mysterious “Woman in White.” The case had unmistakable connections to bootleg alcohol. Click here to read “No Necking Here.”
Harry Overturf with Harry's sister Goldie (Photo courtesy of Robert Swanson)

Harry Overturf with family (photo courtesy of Robert Swanson)

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On July 15, 1984, Arnold Sansgaard, 59, was stabbed to death in his rural Boone County home one mile west of Story City. A week later, Sansgaard’s car was abandoned 460 miles away in Effingham, Illinois. When it had been halted and allowed to proceed in an earlier routine traffic stop, it was driven by a disfigured man who told the officer he was burned in a Viet Nam flame-thrower accident. Click here to read “The Scarred Man.”
photo by Neal Bowers

photo by Neal Bowers

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On July 16, 1921, 49-year-old Walter Baldwin, who drove the mail truck between Union Pacific Station and the Council Bluffs Post Office, was ambushed by three men and shot. Before he died, Baldwin used his own weapon to fend off the assailants and protect the mail. Click here to read “Neither Snow, Nor Rain, Nor Death.”

Walter Baldwin's tombstone

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On July 17, 1905, beautiful and popular 17-year-old Alma Harrison disappeared at Buffalo in Scott County while on a Mississippi River cruise which began in Davenport. Her beaten and slashed body was found in Muscatine County five days later; she was identified by a sash of brocade around her waist. Click here to read “The Beckoning Hand.”
location of Davenport, Iowa

location of Davenport, Iowa

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On the evening of July 17, 1931, 46-year-old farm lighting salesman J.H. Peck and three friends were accosted and robbed by a gunman in Cedar Rapids’s Van Vechten Park. Peck was shot to death and a female in the group was critically wounded. Click here to read “Summer Night in the Park.”
location of Cedar Rapids, Iowa

location of Cedar Rapids, Iowa

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On July 22, 1919, 40-year-old truck gardener Dominic Sposetto was ambushed and shot in the face at the corner of S.E. Seventh & Hartford in Des Moines while hauling produce to City Market. The crime appeared to be part of a Black Hand vendetta. Click here to read “The Gardener and the Black Hand.”
Black Hand symbol

Black Hand symbol

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On July 23, 1931, 33-year-old Night Marshal Virgil P. Untied was shot by three safecrackers as they fled the scene of a crime in Minburn in Dallas County. He died of his wounds on July 27, 1931. The suspects were never apprehended. Click here to read “Gun Battle in the Night.”
Virgil Untied

Virgil Untied

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On July 24, 1925, the body of a young woman was found in a burned strawstack two miles east of Carlisle in Warren County. She was beaten with a hammer or club before the stack was set on fire. Although her jewelry and teeth were displayed in a local drugstore and viewed by thousands of people, she could not be identified. Click here to read “The Redhead in the Strawstack.”
location of Carlisle, Iowa

location of Carlisle, Iowa

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On July 26, 1897, 16-year-old Se-Ton-A-Qua was bludgeoned and raped by outsiders during an annual harvest celebration held by the Meskwaki Tribe in Tama County. Click here to read “Green Corn Dance Tragedy.”
location of Tama, Iowa

location of Tama, Iowa

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On July 27, 1896, 80-year-old Homer midwife Maria “Grandma” Dulin died an agonizing death after lunching with Jim Paul, the widower of her granddaughter Alta Fisher Paul, who died suddenly 24 days before. An investigation revealed that both women were poisoned. Click here to read “A Bitter Taste.”
Maria Dulin

Maria Dulin

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On July 29, 1907, 50-year-old Council Bluffs Police Detective George W. Wilson died of wounds inflicted by a suspect fleeing the scene of another officer-down shooting. Click here to read “Coldblooded Desperado.”
Detective George W. Wilson (Iowa DPS)

Detective George W. Wilson
(Iowa DPS)

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On July 29, 1920, the bodies of 36-year-old Clara Mellor and her son Alfred, 3, were found in a gas-filled room at 625 Hedge Avenue in Burlington. Clara had an apron string tied on one hand, a diaper wound about her ankles, and a child’s stocking looped around her neck. The dining room was ransacked and dishes were broken. The coroner’s jury ruled, however, that she killed herself and her child by opening the gas jets, a verdict met with great skepticism in the city. Click here to read “Gas Light.”
Clara and Bubbles Mellor (Burlington Gazette)

Clara and Bubbles Mellor
(Burlington Gazette)

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On July 29, 1933, Denmark native Nels Petersen Louvring, 51, was ambushed and shot as he entered his Water Street home in Fayette carrying the daily receipts from his service station. Click here to read “Butter and Egg Day.”
Nels Louvering

Nels Louvering

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Comments are closed.