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The Vindicator - Valley Falls, Kansas

May 31, 2001

By Joline Clare

Taken from "Valley Falls New Era" Jan & Feb, 1883

"Our citizens were terribly shocked on the afternoon of Saturday last by the intelligence that Constable Daniel Weiser had been shot and almost instantly killed, and his son Robert seriously injured, while attempting to arrest a you man named Charles Cobb at the house of the latter's father, about four and half miles southeast of town. The particulars of the affair are about as follows: On the evening previous to the shooting, Cobb had attended a lyceum at the Pacific Schoolhouse. After the program was over, Cobb engaged in a dispute with a young man named Henry McClenny (20 years old). The dispute soon ended with Cobb threatening to shoot McClenny and firing several shots from his revolver. No one knows as to whether the shots were aimed at someone or if they were randomly fired.

The next morning, Cobb reportedly came to Valley Falls and bought a large amount of cartridges for a Winchester rifle. While in town, he visited a saloon and as he left made threats as to what he would do if someone tried to arrest him.

Soon after, McClenny came into town and procured a warrant for the arrest of Cobb on the charge of disturbing the peace. The warrant was given to Weiser to be served to Cobb. Not being able to find any other assistance, Weiser took his son, Robert, with him. Weiser and his son arrived at the residence of Louis Cobb, who was the father of Charles Cobb, a little after noon not knowing about the threats Cobb had made earlier that morning. Once there, Dan and Robert went to the north door of the house, while Dan stood on the south side of the house. When Robert entered the house he saw Cobb standing in the house with a Winchester rifle thrown to his shoulder. Louis along with other members of the Cobb family, tried to pacify him, then shut the door between the two rooms. As he left the house to meet his father he heard Cobb vow to members of his family that he would not be taken to Valley Falls and while the Weisers were taking him he "would get one of them".

Louis soon came out of the house to see what the charge was. While Dan was trying to explain it to him, Charles came out of the house with a rifle in his hands. Louis and other members of the Cobb family were standing around Charles, trying to keep him from shooting. Dan drew his revolver and shot at Cobb missing him and hitting a younger Cobb child. He told Robert that Cobb was going around the house, Robert proceeded to go the other way. Shortly after he saw Cobb rise from behind the well and before he could do anything, Cobb shot him in the arm. The Weisers then started to run toward a fence on the Cobb property. Just as Dan had gotten through the fence on the south side of the house, Cobb fired another shot that struck him. He proceeded to walk approximately another 50 yards, climbed a stone fence, and sat down on a stone where he died about five minutes later.

D. B. Northrup was summoned to dress the wound of the younger Cobb child. Before another officer could get to the scene to arrest Cobb, he escaped.

According to the Valley Falls New Era, the Cobb family was very well known and highly respected. They had also lived in the county for a long period of time. It was said that Cobb however had the reputation for being a bad, reckless boy from the time of his childhood, in spite of all of his parents' efforts to restrain him.

A little over three years before the shooting, Cobb had run away to Texas and his friends and family had known very little of him until he moved back to the town two or three months before the shooting.

Shortly after the death of Weiser, Jefferson County sent out notices to various counties throughout Kansas, to be on the look out for Cobb. One of the counties that received the notice was Cowley County. Upon hearing that Cobb might be in the vicinity, Cowley County Sheriff Albert Shenneman issued poster, dated Jan 12, 1883 on which he described the fugitive and offered a reward for any information on his whereabouts. Three days later a young man came to the residence of Walter Jacobus, a wealthy farmer residing in the Maple township, near Udall. The man told Jacobus that he had come from Texas to Dodge City with a cattle drive. He said he was on his way home to Pennsylvania and he had run out of money. The man then asked Jacobus if he could give him a job and a place to stay until spring. Jacobus told him that he did not have any work for him but he could stay with them and maybe find a job with another farmer.

A week later Jacobus hired him and soon after noticed that he always carried a gun. Jacobus then became convinced that he must be a criminal, so he wrote to Sheriff Shenneman giving him a description of the man. After reading the description of the suspect, Shenneman decided that it was the fugitive they were looking for. Shenneman went to the Jacobus residence and saw the suspect out in the field working. Shenneman and Jacobus decided to introduce the sheriff as "Doctor James of Udall". While observing the suspect during dinner Shenneman became certain that he was the fugitive they were looking for. After dinner, he attempted to arrest him by pinning his arms behind him. There was a long and hard struggle that ended with the suspect throwing Shenneman to the ground and shooting him twice with a revolver, one of which was later fatal. Not long after being shot Shenneman grabbed hold of the suspect until he sure Jacobus had secured him. Then Jacobus along with the help of his wife put a rope around the man's neck and choked him until he quit struggling. After the Jacobuses had him securely tied up, they gave Sheriff Shenneman first aid and put him to bed. Two days later the sheriff died of the gunshot wounds.

The killer was taken to the Winfield jail, but it was considered unsafe for him, so they moved him to the Wichita jail. While there, the sheriff from Jefferson County went to the jail and identified the suspect as Charles Cobb. Three days later they decided to move Cobb back to the Winfield jail. However, once again they decided that the jail was still unsafe for him and Cobb would be lynched if he stayed, so they moved him again. After moving Cobb a few more times, they finally decided to move him back to the Winfield jail. Early the next morning, after he was moved to Winfield, several masked men went into the jail and took Cobb at gunpoint to a nearby railroad bridge and strung him up on a crosstie.

About six hours later, the body was cut down and taken to the courthouse. A jury was impaneled, witnesses were sworn in, and evidence was recorded. However, there was no proof as to who the lynchers were, so the verdict was returned which read: 'The said jurors upon their oath do say that said Charles Cobb came to his death on Feb. l, 1883, by being hung by the neck from the crosstie of a railroad bridge."

Oskaloosa Independent Feb 10, 1883

"The body of Charles Cobb was bro't to Valley Falls last Saturday, his father having telegraphed to the coroner of Cowley county to forward it. Mr. Cobb opened the coffin at the depot and immediately recognized his son, being greatly affected thereat. The features, it is said, were composed and regular, with no indication of the violent death. The remains were interred at the Spring Grove cemetery: and so ends one of the most terrible occurrences that has ever been known in the history of this county or state. Think of it, young men! Three bloody murders and three families left with lifetime sorrow - all the result of disorderly conduct at a spelling school!"