Unwitnessed: Murder of Washington Irving Crow 1875

Murder Victim

Washington Irving Crow
28-year-old Farmer
Civil War Veteran
Company C, IL 133rd Infantry Regiment
Cause of Death: Gunshot
Motive: Argument

Murder Scene and Date

Stephen Crow Barn
Near Woodbine
Boyer Township
Harrison County, Iowa
December 6, 1875


By Nancy Bowers
Written March 2014

location of Woodbine, Iowa

location of Woodbine, Iowa

On the cold, early-winter day of December 6, 1875, two men encountered each other in a rural Harrison County barn owned by the Stephen Crow family of Boyer Township.

No one but those two knew why they met nor what they said to each other nor what provoked the encounter to become violent.

What is known is that only one man — Artemus Baker — walked away alive.

The other lay dead from a pistol wound, which killed him instantly.

The dead man — Washington Irving Crow, who was born on January 20, 1847 in Cass, Illinois — was one of 10 children of Elizabeth Prather and Stephen S. Crow, who named the victim and 5 other sons for important or influential men in America’s early history: Benjamin Franklin Crow, Marquis De Lafayette Crow, Francis Marion Crow, William Henry Byron Crow, and Stephen Everett Edward Crow.

Artemus Baker was charged with the murder of Washington Crow. Because the Harrison County Courthouse was not completed, Baker’s trial was held in the Logan, Iowa, Methodist Episcopal Church two blocks north of the town’s main street, which today is E. 7th (The Lincoln Highway or Old Highway 30).

Baker pleaded not guilty, swearing he shot Crow in self-defense. Because the two men were alone at the time of the killing, there were no witnesses to contradict Baker’s account and a not guilty verdict was rendered of necessity.

Crow’s family, however, believed he was murdered by Baker and that justice was denied;  according to the 1915 History of Harrison County, Iowa:

“A tombstone in the Woodbine Cemetery . . . carries an inscription stating that the young man was ‘assassinated.’”


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



  • ☛ Illinois Roster of Officers and Enlisted Men.
  • ☛ “The Killing of Washington Crow,” History of Harrison County, Iowa, Vol 1. By Charles W. Hunt and Will L. Clark. Indianapolis: B.F. Bowen & Company, p. 289.
  • ☛ U.S. Census.

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