“The Whole Affair is a Deep Mystery”: Murder of Adelbert Rowland 1897

Murder Victim

Adelbert D. Rowland
34-year-old Widowed Laborer
Cause of Death: Beaten With Club
Motive: Unknown

Murder Scene and Date

South Fork Township
8 Miles NW of Maquoketa, Iowa
Jackson County
April 8, 1897


By Nancy Bowers
Written April 2012

South Fork Township is of Maquoketa, Iowa in Clinton County

South Fork Township is northwest
of Maquoketa, Iowa, in Clinton County

On Thursday April 8, 1897, 34-year-old South Fork Township resident Adelbert Rowland — a widower who lived alone — was found murdered on a road near his house eight miles northwest of Maquoketa in Jackson County.

He had been horribly beaten, his head crushed by blows from a club-like weapon.

from the Weekly Northern Vindicator

Authorities could not determine a motive, as Rowland was well-liked in his community and had little for anyone to steal.

The Weekly Northern Vindicator — referring to the victim as “Adelbert Rolling,” as did all newspapers which reported the homicide — wrote of the murder and the lack of clues and suspects:

“The whole affair is a deep mystery.”

☛ Adelbert Rowland’s Life ☚

photo by Ken Wright

Adelbert D. Rowland was born August 17, 1862 in South Fork Township of Jackson County, Iowa, to Eliza Jane Hildreth and Isaac Holman Rowland, both natives of Indiana.

Rowland, who worked as a laborer, had five brothers: Thomas E. Rowland, John R. Rowland, Isaac Rowland, Arvellie Rowland, and Emery Rowland.

His wife Addie M. Rowland died September 8, 1894 at the age of 20. They are buried under a large marker in Esgate Cemetery in Jackson County.


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



  • ☛ “All Over Iowa,” Burlington Hawk-Eye, April 14, 1897.
  • ☛ “Found Murdered,” Monticello Express April 22, 1897.
  • ☛ “Found Murdered,” Humboldt County Republican April 29, 1897.
  • ☛ “Found Murdered In The Road,” Weekly Northern Vindicator April 22, 1897.
  • ☛ U.S. Census.

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