“Foully Treated”: Murder of Thomas McGary 1892

Murder Victim

Thomas McGary
? – 1892
Cause of Death: Crushed Skull
Motive: Unknown

Murder Scene and Date

Milwaukee Railroad Sidetrack
Ottumwa, Iowa
Wapello County
August 17, 1892


By Nancy Bowers
Written August 2017

location of Ottumwa, Iowa

Early on the morning of Thursday, August 18, 1892, the body of Thomas McGary was found lying on a seldom-used sidetrack of the Milwaukee Railroad in the Ottumwa rail yard. His head was crushed.

It appeared that he was run over by a train some time during Wednesday night, August 17.

Authorities speculated that McGary was accidentally hit by an engine.

However, according to the Waterloo Daily Courier, McGary’s friends insisted he was “foully dealt with” and placed on the railroad tracks to simulate an accident to conceal the murder. They believed his head injuries were caused by sandbagging.

On a curious side note, McGary was struck by a train at nearly the same spot almost exactly a year before his body was found. That accident caused him to lose a leg.

No one was arrested or brought to trial for the death of Thomas McGary.


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



  • ☛ “Current Events,” Oskaloosa Daily Herald, August 20, 1892, p. 4.
  • ☛ “Found Dead on the Track,” Anita Tribune, August 25, 1892, p. 1.
  • ☛ “Found Dead on the Track,” Rolf Reveille, August 25, 1892, p. 2.
  • ☛ “Found Dead on the Track,” Northern Vindicator, September 1, 1892, p. 6.
  • ☛ “Goings-On In Iowa,” Waterloo Daily Courier, August 20, 1892, p. 1.
  • ☛ “Iowa News,” Carroll Sentinel, August 24, 1892, p. 3.
  • ☛ “Iowa News,” Le Mars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, August 26, 1892, p. 1.
  • ☛ “News in Brief,” Monticello Express, September 1, 1892, p. 6.
  • ☛ “News in Brief,” Williamsburg Journal Tribune, September 2, 1892, p. 6.

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