|SECTION 1: The Early Days||SECTION 2: More Early Days|
|SECTION 3: Omaha in 1870||SECTION 4: Present Day (1882)|
Crimes of a Later Date | The Murder of Watson B. Smith|
The Great Strike
|SECTION 6: Fires and Public Works|
|SECTION 7: Health, Parks, Mail||SECTION 8: The Press in Omaha|
|SECTION 9: Press Continued||SECTION 10: Religious|
|SECTION 11: Religious (cont.)||SECTION 12: Cemetery and Schools|
|SECTION 13: Legal and Medical||SECTION 14: Opera House-Hotels-Business|
|SECTION 15: Societies||SECTION 16: Societies Continued|
|SECTION 17: Business||SECTION 18: Manufacturing|
|SECTION 19: Manufacturing (cont.)|
20 - 46:
** Omaha Biographical Sketches **|
| ABLE~BARRIGER | BARTLETT~BOYD | BOYER~BURNHAM |
| BURR~CONKLING | COFFMAN~CREIGHTON |
| CRITTENTON~DIETZ | DINSMOOR~FAWCETT |
| FEARON~GAYLORD | GELATTE~GROSSMANN |
| GROSS~HAVENS | HAWES~HOILE |
| HOLDREDGE~JORGENSEN | JOSLYN~LEISENRING |
| LEHMAN~LOWE | LUDINGTON~MARHOFF |
| MANNING~MILLER | MILLSPAUGH~NINDEL |
| O'CONNOR~PEABODY | PAUL~READ | REDICK~ROGERS |
| ROSENBERY~SCOTT | SEAMAN~SIMPSON | SINCERE~STONE |
| STORZ~UMPHRESON | URLAU~WILBUR | WILDE~WOOD |
| WOODARD~ZEHRUNG | West Omaha Precinct | Douglas Precinct |
List of Illustrations in Douglas County Chapter
The Killing of Patrick McNamara.--Sunday afternoon, August 13, 1871, Charles Phelps shot Patrick McNamara, an expressman, at the saloon of the former, near the corner of Ninth and Farnam streets, from the effects of which he died almost instantly. The murderer escaped, but was subsequently arrested and, upon a preliminary examination, held to await the action of the grand jury.
Murder of Albert Jones.--At an early hour on a Friday morning in May, 1872, the house of Kate McNamara, a disreputable resort on Eleventh street, was the scene of a stabbing affray, in which Albert Jones, a negro, received wounds that resulted fatally during the succeeding day. It appeared from the facts elicited at the Coroner's inquest, that the woman McNamara had passed Thursday night in a debauch, retiring to her home about 1 o'clock. While sleeping off its effects, Burns invaded her premises and, during the altercation that followed, the infuriated woman attacked him with a knife, inflicting two desperate cuts in his abdomen, from which he died, as stated, during Friday.
The woman was arrested, charged with murder, and held to await her trail. She was duly indicted for manslaughter, and brought to trial at the November term of the District Court, before which she was convicted and sentenced to five years in the penitentiary.
A Shooting Affray.--A very serious affray occurred at Elkhorn, a town in Douglas County, about twenty miles from Omaha, on the afternoon of December, 1874, in which Thomas Keeler met his death at the hands of Daniel Parmelee by shooting. It appears that they had some trouble early on the day of the homicide, and met in the evening as both were returning home. At this time they renewed the altercation, when both alighted from the several vehicles in which they were riding and commenced shooting. Keeler started to run, it is said, when Parmelee fired, killing him almost instantly. The latter was arrested and, at the conclusion of the Coroner's inquest, released on $8,000 bonds, pending the action of the grand jury.
Death of Austin Kotiza.--Bohemian Garden, on S. Thirteenth street, was the scene of a tragedy on Sunday night, September 1, 1878, in which Austin Kotiza was stabbed in the neck, receiving wounds which produced almost instant death. On the night in question, there was a ball in progress at the Garden, and among those in attendance were the deceased, Anton Moestrick, George Rider, Patrick Quinlan, and John Lewis. About 11 o'clock, Quinlan stood at one side, with a stick in his hand, watching the crowd, among which was Moestrick. The latter turned toward Quinlan and accused him of a contemplated assault. Quinlan denied the accusation and some words followed, resulting in their leaving the saloon and going outside. A fight occurred between them immediately, in which several others participated, when suddenly the crowd heard the cry. "I am killed! I am killed!" and John Lewis extricated himself from the crowd; a moment later Kotiza unbuttoned and threw back his collar, when the blood gushed forth from a gash in his throat. He entered the building and walking to the counter, asked in a weak voice for a glass of water, remarking at the instant that he had received "a tip." An attendant went out for the water, while Kotiza clasped the wound in his hand and staggered up against the side of the room. A moment later he fell in the door, leading from the saloon to the dancing hall, and died before his body had reached the floor.
The Coroner held an inquest the succeeding day, when the jury rendered a verdict recommending that Anton Moestrick be held for murder, to await the action of the grand jury. He was indicted for an assault with intent to wound, tried at the October term, 1878, of the District Court and found guilty.
Killing a Stockman.-- Morris Weihl, and agent for a Texas stockman, arrived in Omaha, Friday, September 6, 1878, and put up at the Metropolitan Hotel. On Saturday following he met James Burke, a professional gambler and billiard-player, whom he accompanied to Byron Clark's billiard-room, on Thirteenth street, for a game of pin-pool. During the game he became indebted to Burke in a small amount, which he refused to pay. With a reply, "I bet you will," Burke left the saloon.
A short time after 4 o'clock, a company of cattle-men were gathered in G. H. & J. S. Collins' harness-shop, conversing on stock matters. This party was made up of W. A. Paxton, N. P. Clark and Mr. Weihl, standing near the door, with Charles Landreth and A. W. Trumble, the latter of Sarpy County, near by. Burke came walking up the street, accompanied by J. D. Spearman. As they passed the door Burke observed Weihl, and turning, entered the establishment, with a drawn revolver in his hand. He walked up to Weihl, with the remark "You won't keep your word," and placing the revolver at the breast of his victim, fired. Weihl made some remark which was lost by the bystanders, and seizing Burke, snatched the weapon from his grasp, dashed him twice in succession through a glass partition which separated a large show-case from the salesroom, and, following him to the walk, raised the revolver and attempted to cock it; but his strength failed, his hand failed, he staggered, fell into the arms of friends, and breathed his last.
Burke attempted to escape, but was captured in an alley opening out of Thirteenth street, near Farnam, by Officer Byrne, and lodged in the station-house. He was indicted for murder and brought to trial at the December term of the District Court, Judge Savage presiding, District-Attorney Green prosecuting, and C. A. Baldwin, with E. F. Smythe, appearing for the defense, which was insanity. Notwithstanding the efforts put forth, he was convicted of murder in the second degree, and sentenced to twelve years in the penitentiary.
Death of Jacob Daemon.--About 7 o'clock Thursday evening, October 24, 1878, people in the neighborhood of the depot suddenly heard repeated pistol-shots in Kreissman's provision store on Tenth street. Immediately following, Jacob Daemon, one of the proprietors of the St. James' Hotel, was seen to rush from the store and, after a few steps, to sit down upon one of a flight of stairs which form an elevation in the sidewalk. Officer Jacobs, who was on duty at the depot, proceeded at once to learn the cause of the difficulty, and ascertained that a shooting affray had occurred between Daemon and Kreissman, in which the former had been struck by two balls.
Kreissman was arrested and gave bail, but Daemon subsequently died, when he was re-arrested and bound over upon the recommendation of the Coroner's jury to appear before the District Court.
Murder of a Sidney Freighter.--Perry McCormick, a Sidney freighter, was shot and fatally injured at a late hour on Tuesday night, April 15, 1879, by James Davis and wife, in their pawnshop on Tenth street, under the following circumstances. Deceased entered the store during the evening with a revolver and asked to examine some cartridges suitable for his weapon. Considerable discussion followed, and dangerous threats were made by the visitor. He purchased the cartridges and upon receiving change due him, backed to the door with his revolver drawn. At this point, Mrs. Davis obtained a loaded pistol from the show case, and being under the impression that her husband's life was in danger, fired, the ball striking the bone in the small of the back and glancing off. Thereupon Davis fired, and McCormick clapping his hand upon his back started to run. Davis fired still another shot, which, however, took no effect. The wounded man dragged himself to a small house adjoining the Commercial Hotel on Ninth street, where he was found the next morning, taken into the hotel and Dr. Parker summoned. McCormick lingered until Thursday morning, when he died and Davis with his wife were arrested for Murder.
The trial of Mrs. Davis began on Tuesday, June 17, 1879, before the District Court, District Attorney Ferguson and Mr. Bevins conducting the prosecution; C. A. Baldwin and General Cowen appearing for the accused; and the jury, after eighteen hours' deliberation failing to agree, were discharged.
A second trial was had, beginning on June 24 of the same year, when the accused was discharged in accordance with a verdict of "not guilty" rendered by the jury.
End of a Quarrel.--Another murder was committed in this city at about three o'clock on the morning of December 25, 1881. Oscar Hammer, bartender at Treitschke's saloon, on Fifteenth street, being the victim.
Hammer, it seems, had some words with two men, named respectively Frank Kenniston and Charles Kosters, and was standing on the doorstep of the saloon talking to them, trying to quiet them down and go home. The parties were all on the outside, the door being partly closed. Suddenly a sharp crack was heard. Some of the parties inside thought it was a pistol shot. The next moment Hammer tumbled backward into the saloon, the door opening as he fell upon the floor a dead man.
Jerome Pentzel and Valentine Adams, who were among those on the inside, ran to the door and picked him up to see what was the mater. They were astonished to find him unable to speak or move, and they soon saw that he was dead. He must have died almost instantly. Kenniston and Kosters were nowhere to be seen.
Hammer was laid on a billiard table, everybody supposing him to have been shot. But Dr. Peabody, who arrived about four o'clock, felt of the man's head and could find no bullet hole, but discovered a fracture of the skull over the left ear, which had been produced by some instrument, or perhaps, as the doctor said, he might have been knocked down, and struck his head against the iron column or upon the step in some way. One of his cheeks bore a slight bruise. The deceased had bled but very little, only a few drops of blood being seen about his ear, and upon his shirt. Quite a lump had been raised where the blow had been struck. It was quite a singularly appearing injury. Up to 4:15 a. m. no arrests had been made, and the Corner had not yet arrived.
The deceased had been here only a few months, he having come from Chapin & Gore's establishment, in Chicago. He was a young man about thirty years of age, and was well liked by the patrons of Treitschke's saloon. He left a wife and child.
The affair created a deal of excitement in Omaha, as such crimes, it was considered, were getting altogether too frequent.
The accused eluded the vigilance of the police until Christmas day, when both were arrested and imprisoned. The Coroner's jury rendered a verdict recommending that Kosters be held for murder, which was accordingly done; Kenniston being discharged. The former was subsequently released on bonds of $10,000, pending his trial which will occur at the ensuing term of the District Court.
On the night of November 4, 1881, there occurred one of the foulest and most dastardly murders that has ever stained the history of Omaha, the victim being Col. Watson B. Smith, Clerk of the United States Circuit Court for the district of Nebraska. The circumstances so far as they have been made known are as follows: Col. Smith left his home in North Omaha at about 7 o'clock in the evening, with the avowed intention of going to his office in the Government Building, corner of Dodge and Fifteenth streets, leaving his mother alone in the house. Not having returned by 1 o'clock in the morning, Mrs. Smith became alarmed, and going to the residence of Dr. Moore in the same block, induced him to telephone to the drug store of Norman Kuhn, corner of Douglas and Fifteenth, asking Mr. Kuhn, who answered the call, to go to Col. Smith's office, to discover the cause of his detention.
Mr. Kuhn accordingly proceeded to the third story of the Government Building, the suite of offices being located in the northeast corner thereof, and there being no light in the hall, groped his way towards the door of the Colonel's private office. As he neared the door his foot struck an object on the floor, and stooping over, his hand came in contact with the hand of a man, a hand as cold as ice, limp and dead. Without pausing to investigate further, the discovered hastened down the stairs, and ran to Douglas street to find an officer. The first one he encountered was Policeman J. O'Donahue, who returned with him to the drug store, to which Dr. Moore was summoned by telephone. They then repaired again to the third floor of the Postoffice building and the officer lit the gas in the hall.
A fearful sight met their eyes. On the floor to the north of the doorway, lay the body of Col. Smith. His head was thrown back, his face upturned and ghastly in death. A bundle of papers lay in the doorway, and the door stood partly ajar, with the key in the lock. In the lower part of the pantaloons of the left leg, and so far up their length as to be nearly concealed from view, was found a new revolver of the pattern known as the "British bull-dog," of forty-four calibre, one chamber only of which was empty. The position of the body, the strange location of the weapon, and the terrible wound in the skull, plainly evident from the position in which the body rested, at once convinced the beholders that the Colonel's death was the result of most foul and premeditated murder.
The only person in the building, besides the assassin and the victim, at the time of the fatal occurrence, so far as known, was E. C. Kenniston, who was on night duty in the post office, on the first floor. His statement was that he had heard a noise, which he thought was a pistol shot, at about twelve o'clock, but supposing that it was outside the building, and being very busy, he did not investigate the matter. He heard no noise as of any struggling or contention.
A ball was afterwards found near the stairway, and under the north window. It was slightly flattened on one side, as if it had struck the wall, and it fitted the revolver exactly.
The Coroner's inquest was held on November 5, the verdict of the jury being that the deceased came to his death by a gun shot wound through the head, inflicted by some person or persons to the jury unknown, and that the killing was a premeditated and malicious murder. It was shown, on this occasion, that Col. Smith had received letters and postal cards of a vile character, purporting to come from saloon men, who felt themselves aggrieved, because of Col. Smith's actions in behalf of the temperance party, and one of these, at least, under date of October 20, contained threats of a serious nature. It was also stated that the deceased had been in fear of bodily harm for some time, having so informed his intimate friends, and that he had been followed in the night while going home, on at least one occasion.
The belief of very many of the community, in the first heat of indignation, was that the tragedy was directly instigated by those representing the liquor element, against which the deceased had been strongly opposed. It was and is not known that he had any personal enemies except such as he might have made in his energetic action regarding the enforcement of the Slocum law, but while no other adequate motive for the crime has ever been advanced, the public generally, as soon as they had time for reflection, exonerated those who were opposed to the law of anything in the nature of constancy.
There exists, however, a theory at total variance with that of murder, this being that the death of Col. Smith was due to the accidental discharge of his own pistol. On November 15, ten days subsequent to the tragedy and the inquest, the Omaha Republican published a well authenticated article showing that the bull-dog revolver was in all probability the property of the deceased. Col. D. W. Ball having purchased just such a weapon for and at the request of Col. Smith some time previous. The idea of suicide has never been seriously advanced, but many, unable to satisfactorily account for the death as the result of a murder, immediately upon the publication of this article, asserted and have tenaciously clung to the belief that the death was cause by the pistol going off, as Col. Smith was in the act, either of locking the door, or what seems more probable, of stooping to recover something which he had dropped, he being burdened with parcels at the time. On the other hand, he might have drawn the pistol in order to fire at his assailant, or it might have been placed where it was found, by the assassin, in order to create a suspicion of suicide. In any event those who are supposed to be the best informed and who have taken the most interest in the matter, have not hesitated from the first, to claim that however plausible other theories might be, that of murder was the only one consistent with all the circumstances of the case.
On the day succeeding the tragedy, a citizen's meeting was held at the Academy of Music, at which resolutions of the highest respect were adopted relative to the character of the deceased, and a subscription list put in circulation, the result being a reward of $5,000 offered by Mayor J. E. Boyd for the apprehension and conviction of the murderer. Rewards were also offered by the Governor of the State, the Liquor Dealer's Union, and the I. O. G. T.; this last organization, as well as the Omaha Bar Association, holding special meeting in which they testified to the high esteem with which Col. Smith had been regarded.
Every effort was made towards the apprehension of the perpetrators of the crime, but without avail, the only arrest having the least connection therewith, being that of August Arndt, plaintiff in a case of forcible entry and detainer, in which the Union Pacific Railway Company was defendant. The judgment was in favor of the corporation and it being shown that Arndt had been guilty of making threats against the life of the presiding Judge, he was bound over from the December term of 1881 , to the January term of 1882. It being generally understood that the arrest on the charge of making threats was an excuse for holding him to await the action of the grand jury on the Smith tragedy, the prisoner having drawn suspicion upon himself by acts and words. Nothing definite, however, being proven, the grand jury failed to find an indictment, adjourning sine die on December 22, 1881, Arndt being subsequently removed to Lincoln to be tried for the more readily substantial offence referred to.
On February 27, 1882, the laborers in the employ of James Stephenson, a contractor having charge of the grading for the Burlington & Missouri R. R., east of Eighth and south of Farnam streets, struck for higher wages, their demand being $1.50 a day in place of the $1.25 which they had been receiving. The contractor, claiming that he was paying as much as he could afford during the unfavorable weather, refused to accede to their demand, promising to pay higher wages and employ more men later in the season. This concession was not satisfactory, the strikers asserting that they could not live in Omaha for $1.25 a day; that Stephenson had advertised for 300 men, while there was not work for more than seventy-five, the result being to bring strangers in search of employment into the city, causing a supply in excess of the demand, thus allowing the contractor to make unreasonable terms favorable to himself at the beginning of the work.
The strikers numbered about seventy-five men, and during the first day of the strike, a crowd of perhaps 200 others gathered in the vicinity, encouraging them to refuse to go to work except upon the terms of their own dictation. During the day several slight disturbances occurred, the police were called out a number of times, but no arrests were made.
Shortly before 7 o'clock on the morning of March 1, it having been announced that a new gang of laborers had been secured, the strikers assembled at the Burlington & Missouri grounds for the purpose of preventing anyone going to work for $1.25, or any price below that which they now asked--this being $1.75 a day, decide upon after Stephenson, in the spirit of conciliation, had offered $1.40, and finally $1.50, the price originally demanded.
The men at this time marched throughout he streets with a band of music, and carrying at the head of the procession a red flag, having on it the words, "Striking for $.175 per day," finally disbanding at about half-past 11, no noteworthy disturbance having occurred. At 1 o'clock, however, the strikers and their friends reassembled at the Burlington & Missouri grounds and proceeding thence to Tenth street, they marched to the sewer between Douglas and Dodge streets, compelling the sewer force of twenty-five men, who were satisfied with their wages, to quit work. Three of these refusing were threatened with immediate punishment, and one of the three, who persisted in continuing work, was roughly handled and forced to join the ranks.
The line, now comprising over 200 men, next marched to Fourteenth street, endeavoring to compel twenty five men, who were working in a sewer between Harney and Howard, to suspend operations and unite with the procession. In this the laborers were reluctant, being encouraged in their remonstrances by the appearance on the scene of action of Mayor James E. Boyd, Marshal Angell, Deputy-Marshal McClure and Chief-Engineer Galligan, flanked by a couple of policemen. The Mayor ordered the crowd, as an unlawful assemblage, to disperse, and a delay occurring, attended with some disturbance, two of the ringleaders were arrested and taken to jail. A third one resisting arrest, caused something of an affray, during which a revolver was drawn by Engineer Galligan, one of the mob receiving from the butt end of its several severe blows. The result of all this was the final incarceration of the ringleader and the dispersion of the mob. Those arrested were, Earnest Richter, Peter Johnson and Neilson Anderson; and later in the day, a special policeman by the name of Van Orman, charged with assault and battery. No one appearing against them, all of these were subsequently discharged. On March 2, a mass-meeting of the strikers was held, and a committee of six, headed by Edward Walsh, waited upon Contractor Stephenson, the result of the conference being that Stephenson agreed to pay $1.50 a day to such men as would go to work on the following morning, and to increase the wages to $1.75 a day when the weather became settled. At an afternoon meeting this proposition was formally declined by the workingmen, and in the evening the permanent organization was effected of the Omaha labor Protective Union, Edward Walsh being elected president.
On the 3d and 4th, various large meetings were held, but nothing of moment occurred until early on the morning of the 6th, when about 100 men arrived in Omaha on a special Burlington and Missouri train from Plattsmouth, going to work in the place of the strikers at $1.50 per day. A force of about forty special policemen surrounded the grounds to prevent any interference, and in the evening the laborers were conveyed by special train to Bellevue, where sleeping accommodations were provided them. This programme was repeated on the succeeding day, no trouble occurring from any action of the newly-formed Labor Union, who did little but hold meetings and pass resolutions, until the afternoon of March 8. At about 2 o'clock, according to previous arrangements made by the "Association," a large crowd of working men and mechanics assembled at Jefferson Square to unite in a parade, the object being, as was claimed, to thus show sympathy with the men who struck for $1.75 per day at the Burlington & Missouri dumps, and also to demonstrate the power and strength of the working classes in the city. The procession was formed about 3 o'clock, and was headed by a band of music and a banner having on it "O. L. P. U., striking for living wages." Among others who joined in this parade, were laboring men from all quarters of the city, the Molders' Union, 600 men from the Union Pacific shops, the night-gang from the Omaha Smelting Works, and delegates from the nail works, white-lead works, and other establishments. The Union Pacific men who took part in the demonstration did so, not because they were dissatisfied with their wages, but to express their sympathy in this way with the grievance of the Burlington & Missouri men. It is variously estimated that there were in this procession from 2,500 to 3,000 men, the line extending from Ninth to Sixteenth street, the men marching four and five deep. Reaching Ninth street, the line moved south to Jackson, thence east to Eighth, and north on Eighth, passing along the Burlington & Missouri grounds, and being followed by an immense concourse of people. Just as the head of the procession reached Harney street, turning east, those in the rear of the line, about one-third in number, broke ranks, rushing past the special policemen, and across lots to the vicinity of the Burlington & Missouri steam shovel. The Burlington & Missouri workmen, anticipating trouble, had taken a hurried departure just before the mob put in an appearance over the bank, many of them leaving their tools and personal effects behind them. The teams were cut loose from the scrapers and hastily driven to Stephenson's stables and elsewhere. When the union men reached the steam shovel, an altercation occurred between a special policeman and one of the paraders, the former drawing his revolver. A serious result was expected, when two regular policemen interfered, leading the special to a place of safety before releasing him. Various other quarrels took place, the steam shovel was slightly damaged, but no one was seriously hurt. The crowd dispersed about 5 o'clock in the evening, after which several arrests were made of those who were known to have been engaged in the riot. Some of the laboring men tried to excuse the raid, by claiming that it was caused by vagrants and loafers for whom the workingmen were in no way responsible. There is, however, the authority of a member of the executive committee of the union for declaring it to have been premeditated and ordered by the leaders. No attempt was made by the Burlington & Missouri to put men at work on the 9th or 10th of March, the company declaring that it would wait until sufficient protection was guaranteed, either by the city, State or United States Governments. On the latter day, the smelting-works employés, some 300 in number, although declaring themselves satisfied with their wages, quit work in a body, expressing a fear of being driven out by the mob if they did otherwise. At a meeting of the union held in Kessler's Hall on the 10th, it was resolved to "boycott" Boyd's Opera House and the Academy of Music, several business establishments having been so treated previously.
On the same day, in compliance with a request of Gov. Albinus Nance, who acted upon the petition of the leading citizens of Omaha, the President of the United States laid the matter of the labor troubles before Congress, which passed a resolution authorizing the use of troops, the President immediately instructing Gen. Crook to throw a sufficient force of regular troops into Omaha to preserve order and protect property and human life. In accordance with this order, and that of the Governor, the military, both regular and militia, arrived in the city in large numbers on March 12--the first special train having on board the Wahoo Foragers. By noon eight companies had arrived, who marched up to the Burlington & Missouri depot-grounds, where they were joined by three companies of regular troops from Fort Omaha, numbering 125 men, including about twenty sharpshooters. The regulars brought with them from the fort a Gatling gun and a howitzer. At 1 o'clock a special train from Sydney arrived with Companies C and E, of the Fifth Cavalry, and Company F, of the Ninth Infantry, numbering in all about 150 men. The entire military force at this time numbered about 500 men, both regulars and militia being under the command of Col. Colby, of the Fist Regiment, Nebraska National Guards. The troops, upon reaching the Burlington & Missouri dump, cleared the grounds of the crowd that had gathered there out of curiosity, the Gatling gun and the howitzer being at once placed in a commanding position, ready for effective use. A line of sentries was stationed around the grounds, and squads of regulars were located here and there with fixed bayonets. The militia were likewise stationed in positions to keep intruders from the grounds.
At 1 o'clock the Burlington and Missouri ran a special train to the dump, unloading a force of about seventy-five men, who were at once put to work, continuing their labor without interruption all of the afternoon.
In the meantime, the civil authorities were not idle. Warrants were sworn out in the Police Court for the arrest of Walsh, president of the Labor Union; Fonda, Shannon and other ringleaders, charged with committing an assault with intent to murder--reference being had to the attack on the special police force on March 8; as also John Doe and 100 others, names unknown, on a similar charge. All of those whose names have been given were arrested during the day; were taken to the Police Court and furnished bail in the sum of $1,000 each, for their appearance before the court on March 16; the bonds also requiring them to keep the peace and be of good behavior.
On Sunday, March 12, a mass-meeting of laboring men, mechanics and sympathizers with the labor movement, was held at Jefferson Square, there being at least 3,000 men present. Addresses were made by Walsh and others, and by Mayor Boyd, but no satisfactory result was arrived at--the point in dispute being the necessity of having troops on the scene of action. While this discussion, if it can be so called, was in progress, a tragedy was being enacted in another part of the city.
There had gathered in the immediate vicinity of the Burlington & Missouri dumps a large concourse of people, drawn together by the novelty, to them, of the militia encampment. The majority of the crowd were respectable citizens, many of whom resided in the vicinity, and no serious disturbance had occurred up to 5 o'clock in the afternoon, at the time of dress parade, although the soldiers had been more or less annoyed all day by young men and boys, who had kept up a bombardment of epithets and light missals at frequent intervals. At this time the streets were cleared for the companies to move out of camp, after which, several who attempted to cross or drive through the streets were driven back at the point of the bayonet. One of these trespassers, George P. Armstrong, a well-known citizen of about sixty years of age, attempted to cross Eighth street, just above Howard, being met by a guard when about the center of the street, who commanded him to halt. Instead of doing this, Armstrong grabbed hold of the gun, which the soldier was holding crossways, with both hands, attempting to take it away; the guard, however, succeeding in wrenching it from his grip and then to knocking him down with his fist. At this juncture several other guards, possibly half a dozen, rushed up, one of them immediately impaling the prostrate man upon his bayonet. The bayonet entered his left side just below the arm, and went nearly through him in a downward direction, the point reaching the right hip. By this time the excitement of the crowd in the immediate vicinity was intense, only partially allayed by the guards picking up the wounded Armstrong and carrying him to their quarters in the old Catholic Schoolhouse. In the meantime the column formed and, headed by the regimental band, marched up Jackson street, naturally drawing the crowd with them, no one knowing how badly Armstrong was injured, and the fact of his death within thirty minutes after the affray, not becoming public until at least 11 o'clock at night. A Coroner's inquest was held on the succeeding day, the verdict being that the deceased came to his death by a bayonet wound, inflicted by a militiaman, unknown to the jury, and in the discharge of his duty. Various efforts were made to discover the identity of the cowardly scoundrel who exceeded the necessities of the occasion so far, but without avail.
On March 13, Judge Savage, of the Third Judicial District, issued a call for a special session of the grand jury, to take action on the various cases of assault with intent to kill, and other crimes, that awaited its disposal. This jury convened on the morning of the 14th, received a masterly charge form the Judge, and on the 16th returned twenty-five indictments for assault with intent to murder, those at whom they were directed comprising all of the ringleaders of the various mobs and irregular organizations that had held sway for so many days. These men were bound over to the next term of court, giving bonds in the sum of $1,500. The military were gradually withdrawn; the men from the various local establishments resumed work, and after an expense to the State of thousands of dollars had been incurred, an everlasting stigma placed upon the fair fame of Omaha through the injudicious action of a few of its residents, and the privations of poverty inflicted upon very many who were more sinned against than sinning, the great strike ended.