Death by Politics: Unresolved Murder of Silas McCart 1860

Murder Victim

Silas McCart
35-year-old Farmer

Cause of Death: Stabbed
Motive: Political Disagreement

Murder Scene and Date

John A. Mix Home
Batavia, Iowa
Jefferson County
October 26, 1860


By Nancy Bowers
Written August 2015

location of Batavia, Iowa

location of Batavia, Iowa

Few aspects of American culture call up stronger emotions than politics. And there are few times in the country’s history when political sentiments ran higher than the period leading up to the 1860 Presidential election in which Abraham Lincoln prevailed.

At the heart of that political tumult was the issue of slavery and its expansion into western states.

The Democratic Party was split into factions in opposition to the Republicans, and a third party emerged to maintain the status quo.

The months leading to the election were consumed with passionate debates, heated arguments, and violence.

☛ Deadly Disagreement ☚

Out of this volatile environment grew an intense disagreement among individuals in Jefferson County, Iowa, which had deadly consequences.

On Friday, October 26, 1860, six men — brothers Silas and Pleasant McCart, Isaac Gerringer, John McQuerry, a Mr. Nicholas, and a Mr. Prewitt — were spoiling for a fight with John A. Mix, whose political views were at odds with their own.

The men went to Mix’s residence to thrash out their differences, carrying brickbats to throw at the property.

Silas McCart (

Silas McCart (

Amos Wimer, who boarded with John A. Mix, came out of the house to warn the angry men away.

Silas McCart struck Wimer with a brick as the other five men swarmed him.

Wimer drew from his pocket what the Burlington Daily Hawk-Eye described as a “small spring dirk-knife” and stabbed McCart four times.

The attackers quickly fled.

Silas McCart lived for a short time before dying from the stab wounds.

☛ No Justice For the Murder Victim ☚

Amos Wimer, fearful of being lynched, escaped the area and went into hiding. He eventually joined the Union Army and was killed at the Battle of Shiloh in early April of 1862.

Wimer’s death prevented any resolution of the case and denied official justice for Silas McCart.

☛ Silas McCart’s Life ☚

Silas McCart was born in 1825 in Clark County, Kentucky, the son of Matilda Smith and James R. McCart. He had seven siblings. There were five brothers — Albert, James R., John W., Edmond, and Pleasant (who was with Silas the night of the murder) — as well as two sisters: Elizabeth McCart Keith McCleary, and Sarah Ann McCart Wilson.

On March 13, 1842 in Orange County, Indiana, Silas McCart married Keziah E. Holley. The couple had seven children: James H., Alonzo Riley, John Wiley, Albert David, Pleasant Joseph, Martha, and Sarah, who were between the ages of 8 and 18 when their father was murdered.

Before 1856, the family moved from Indiana to Wapello County, Iowa, and by 1860 were living in the Locust Grove community near Batavia in Jefferson County.

Silas McCort is buried in the Batavia Cemetery.


Please note: Use of information from this article should credit Nancy Bowers as the author and Iowa Unsolved Murders: Historic Cases as the source.



  • ☛
  • ☛ “Fatal Affray At Batavia,” Burlington Daily Hawk-Eye, November 6, 1860, p. 2.
  • ☛ “A Political Murder,” The History of Jefferson County, Iowa. Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1879, p. 416.
  • ☛ U.S. Census.

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