The Dead Horse Trader: Murder of William Clugston 1867

Murder Victim

William Clugston
Horse Farmer
Resident of Sandusky County, Ohio
Cause of Death: Mutilated
Motive: Robbery

Murder Scene and Date

Washington Prairie
Near Frankville Township
South of Decorah, Iowa
Winneshiek County
January 1867


By Nancy Bowers
September 2011

Frankville Township is south of Decorah in

Frankville Township is south of
Decorah in Winneshiek County

During the second week of January in 1867, a man’s body was discovered under a haystack on Washington Prairie a few miles from Frankville in Winneshiek County.

A newspaper reported about the body:

“It presented a sickening and ghastly sight.”

He was bruised and had numerous cuts from a large, sharp knife.

But, there was something odd and even more disturbing about the body. The man’s hair and whiskers had been cropped off.

Despite attempts to make the body unrecognizable, local residents identified the victim as William Clugston — described as “a young man” from Sandusky, Ohio — who recently sold valuable horses in the area for a substantial amount of money.

No possessions or money were found on Clugston’s body, indicating robbery was the motive.


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



  • ☛ “State News,” Dubuque Daily Herald, January 15, 1867.

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