Jacob Loy, 1885 Kansas Horse Thief

Charles Jacob (“Jacob”) Loy (ca. 1861 or 1862 North Shade Twp., Gratiot Co., MI–14 March 1885 Brown’s Creek Twp., Jewell Co., KS) was son of Peter Loy (to America from Switzerland 1849) of Otoe Co., NE.

After leaving his father’s household, likely after his mother’s death, Jacob appeared in the 1880 Victoria, Rice Co., KS census, as laborer for the Diggs family. Although he was listed as age 7 in the 1870 Otoe Co., NE census, in 1880 he was listed as age 19. I couldn’t find Jacob in the 1885 Kansas state census, which had official census date 1 March 1885, nearly 2 weeks prior to Jacob’s death. However, I did find Marshal J. F. Harrington, age 39, with wife and three daughters in 1885 Jewell City, Jewell Co., KS state census, who had died on same day as Jacob. (Harrington’s Find a Grave memorial includes a short news clipping from a 15 March 1885 paper, which in turn had been taken from a prior day’s news source, the day of the shootings. As all the facts weren’t in yet, this source gave Harrington’s shooter as [Mr.] Clark.)

A few years ago I came across the first of several 1885 news accounts I would find on “desperado” Jacob Loy. Last week I came across this Leavenworth article I’d previously clipped and saved to my digital files. Curiosity got the best of me and I thought I’d spend a few hours researching where he might “fit.”

As the “few hours” turned into most of the day, I discovered his father Peter Loy (to America from Switzerland 1849) was a Loy immigrant I’d not previously known about. Finding only one online tree of Peter’s family, and that with scant information, I decided to post these census and newspaper gleanings as a benefit to those researching the branch of Jacob’s father Peter Loy.

In my quest, I additionally found more March 1885 news accounts from Jewell and the surrounding counties. Besides the first article I’d found, from the Friday, 27 March 1885 The Leavenworth Times (Leavenworth, KS) pg. 3; there was the Wednesday, 18 March 1885 The Jewell County Review (Mankato, KS) pg. 3; and the Tuesday, 31 March 1885 The Sun (St. John, KS) pg. 1. The most concise account was, of course, one from the town where it all happened. Not only does it contain event data, but family data as well. It’s this account that will be transcribed to this post…


From Friday, 20 March 1885 Jewell County Republican (Jewell, KS) pg. 4:


A Fight With a Horse Thief!

Frank Harrington, Jewell’s
Brave Marshal, Falls in
The Line of Duty


Full Particulars.


   This community never before experienced the terrible sensation that shocked it last Saturday afternoon, when the announcement was made that a desperate fight had just occurred with a horse thief, in which the latter had been killed and our city marshal, J. F. Harrington, mortally wounded. The startling news was brought by C. R. Stout and was in a few minutes verified by the arrival of Cash Cluster in company with the sheriff of Rice county, bringing in the wounded marshal in dying condition, and the dead body of the horse thief. When the people realized what had happened, the scene was only such as intense excitement, sorrow, and fearful indignation can produce upon a great throng. Tears were in the eyes of stout men when brave Frank Harrington was tenderly lifted from the wagon; but as his murderer was dragged out into the street like a dog, they cursed him and wished he were alive to feel their vengeance. The following is the story of the fight and the particulars as we have learned them:

   On the 2d day of last February a man named Jacob Loy was discharged from the service of a Mr. Davis, living near Mitchell, Rice county. Loy lingered in the vicinity until February 10th, when he and another young man, who is described as simple minded, disappeared. The indications were that Loy had stolen and ridden away a fine roan mare, noted for speed, and the property of Wm. Davis, son of Loy’s former employer; and that his companion rode his own horse and a saddle taken from his uncle’s stable. The case was given into the sheriff who, upon investigation, found that a satchel had been consigned at Little River station by Jacob Loy to James Clinton, Jewell City, Kansas. The sheriff telegraphed the agent at this place to have the man who called for the satchel apprehended. Then he and Wm. Davis started across the country for Jewell City, arriving Saturday forenoon. Their first move was to inquire of the authorities for James Clinton to whom the satchel was consigned; but no such man was known. Then they went to the post-office and asked if James Clinton received mail at that office. The post master said he did, and gave description and information that led to the discovery that the man who called out James Clinton’s mail lived in Brown’s Creek township six miles south and one-half mile west of Jewell City, on the farm of our townsman, Daniel Fenstermacher; and was known in that neighborhood as Joseph Clark. The sheriff consulted with Mr. Harrington, our city marshal, and a party was made up consisting of the Rice county sheriff, C. R. Stout, deputy sheriff of this county, Marshal Harrington and D. C. Cluster, to visit Clark’s place. Stout and the sheriff went ahead in a buggy, and Mr. Harrington drove around for Cluster with a light wagon. Cluster took with him a very large shot gun, loaded with buck shot, 15 in one barrel and 13 in the other. At the house of Wm. Whitney, a mile and a half from Clark’s, Stout and the sheriff waited for the other boys to come up. They made inquiries of Mr. Whitney, who stated that the lads he supposed they were after had passed his house early in the forenoon, going toward Jewell, riding slowly; but that about 30 minutes before, one had gone back alone, and his horse was on the jump. The sheriff told the boys to get ready, and they proceeded to Clark’s place. As they drove up a man came out of the house and met Stout and the sheriff, who were ahead. They asked if there was anyone there. He said, no. At this juncture a man was seen to leave the house from the opposite side. One of the men inquired, “Who is that?” The fellow replied, “I don’t see anyone.” The others by this time had come up, and they saw the man that was leaving the house. When he first stepped around the corner, he gave a start backward on catching sight of them, but observing that he had been seen, he walked away from the house deliberately and very slowly, never once looking around. With the long-ranged gun, he might have been halted at a safe distance, but poor Frank! he never knew what fear was, and drove the team up within a few rods of man, and Cluster, bringing his gun to bear, commanded him to halt. The fellow, quick as a flash, wheeled upon his heels, aimed with both hands a big rifle-barreled revolver at his pursuers and fired. As he fired he sprang to one side, and the handful of buck shot from Cluster’s gun whistled by him harmlessly. With remarkable swiftness he fired again; but Cluster was not idle. He realized his situation. He was fighting with a desperate expert and had but one load left; he dared not fail again, and he aimed with fatal coolness and fired, literally riddling the body of his antagonist. It is supposed that the desperado’s revolver which was being aimed for the third time, was discharged by the contracting muscles as the shot struck him. The team started, and Cluster seized the lines, at the same time glancing at Harrington, who had dropped them. His head was thrown back and blood was trickling down his face from a wound in the forehead. The other men came up, and when they saw how sorely Harrington was wounded, they made haste to get him to a physician. The dead man was picked up and thrown in the spring wagon under the seat, while Cluster and the sheriff supported Harrington. Then the man who first came out recognized the dead man and said something to the effect that he was glad he was dead. Then Stout arrested him for harboring a horse thief, and took him and the stolen mare which was found in the barn back with him to town. When the party reached town Frank was first placed on a cot in Angevine & Rockman’s old store building and later was taken home to his family, whose grief was almost too great to bear. Drs. Hughes and Butterfield attended him, but the bullet was in his brain and he did not have a gleam of consciousness after the shooting. At 15 minutes past 10 o’clock that night he died. The man whom Stout arrested went around town with the officers immediately on arriving, endeavoring to identify the partner of the horse thief; but he had evidently left town. A posse pursued, but could get no trace of him; or rather, got so many conflicting and bewildering reports from all directions, that the search proved fruitless. That he rode a pony very much jaded is about all the description we have. Popular feeling against the man under arrest was bitter, and there were dozens of men who believed him to be a brother of the horse thief. A jury was empaneled and coroner’s inquest held on the body of the man shot by Cluster, the result of which we give in full:

   Frederick Berg, being duly sworn says that from what he can learn the dead man’s name is Jake Loy; says that is what he was called in Nemaha county; never saw the man until here; got information from Mr. Clark. Saw two parties pass on the road this morning and thinks this is one of them.

   Mr. Cash Cluster being duly sworn says:

   Mr. Harrington came into my place about one o’clock and asked too for my shot-gun; asked me if I did not want to take a ride out into the country. He told me that there were some horse thieves, or a horse thief, six miles south and he would like to have me go along if I would. I told him that I would go. I went, and down at Wm. Whitney’s house, Mr. Stout and the sheriff stopped, and Mr. Harrington and I caught up with them. When they came out from the house the sheriff said that they were below at the house of Fenstermacher’s, and, said he, “I want you to be ready for them.” We went down to Fenstermacher’s house. Sheriff did not name the man that lived on Fenstermacher’s place that I know of. Mr. Stout and the sheriff were between 30 and 50 yards in advance of Mr. Harrinton [sic] and me, when they stopped on the east side of the house. In a minute or so there was a gentleman came [sic] out of the house on the east side. About that time my attention was drawn to a man who came out from the house from the north-west corner. When I saw him, I said to Mr. Harrington. “What’s that?” He said, “That is one of the men we want.” The man started out west at about an ordinary walk. Frank Harrington whipped up the mules in order to overtake this man, and I reached back and picked up my shot-gun that I had loaned to Mr. Harrington. By the time I got the gun up and turned in my seat (Mr. Harrington was sitting by the side of me in the buggy) we were within about 70 or 80 feet of the man that left the house. I called out to him to halt; just as I called for him to halt, he reached behind him, turned square around, drew a revolver, held it in both hands and fired. At the time he fired I had my gun to my shoulder and was in the act of taking aim. He and I both fired, and at the same instant he sprung to the south and thus eluded my aim. After the first three shots were fired, the man and I shot about the same time, that was his third shot and my second. At that he fell to the ground. I dropped the muzzle of my gun, which I held in my left hand, and reaching to my right hip pocket, took hold of my revolver, but did not draw it. Then the mules that were hitched to the buggy started and I let go the revolver and grabbed the lines. As I did this I looked around and saw Mr. Harrington still sitting beside me with his head turned to the right and thrown back over his right shoulder. By the blood running down his face and something that looked like brains oozing from his forehead, I knew that he was shot. I looked around and saw Mr. Cy. Stout and the sheriff of Rice county and another gentleman coming toward me. The sheriff was the first to reach me. He made some remark which I cannot recall. Then he walked up to the buggy and took hold of Mr. Harrington, straightened his head up so he could see his face, and said “He was a good man, but he is done for,” or something like that; then he turned and went to Mr. Stout who was holding his horse. Then Stout, the sheriff and the other man came toward me a little from where they were, when they stopped Mr. Stout said to the other man, “I will arrest you,” and the other man said, “All right.” Then the sheriff told me to turn the mule team around. This I did, and the sheriff went to where the dead man lay who fell when I fired my last shot. I reined the team around by the side of him and the sheriff said to me, “Hold to the mules till I put him into the spring wagon.” I think it was the sheriff and the man that Stout arrested that put him in the back end of the wagon. Then we waited there until Stout went to the neighboring house west of there and came back. Then we all started east. Stout, the sheriff, and the man under arrest went to the stable to get a horse which the sheriff said he thought was there. Then I drove east 75 or 100 yards from the Fenstermacher house and stopped till those other men came out from the stable. Then Stout and the man under arrest drove off and the sheriff and myself followed with the mule team, having the dead man and Mr. Harrington in the wagon.” In answer to questions Mr. Cluster said:

   The man lying here is the man that did the shooting with the revolver and the man that I shot.

   I have seen the man that was put under arrest a number of times here in town. Have heard him called Clark. He is present here in court.

   I do not know the dead man. Never saw him until to-day to my knowledge.

   I cannot state which of the shots took effect on Mr. Harrington.

   The sheriff of Rice county took the revolver that belonged to the dead man. D. C. CLUSTER.

   William P. Davis being duly sworn says: “I have looked at the dead man; he came to our house and gave his name as Charles J. Loy. I reside in Rice county two miles and a half north of Mitchell. I can’t give the exact date that he came there, it was about the 13th of November, 1884. I did not know him before he came there. Father discharged him on the 2d day of February, 1885. WILLIAM P. DAVIS.
   Joseph Clark being duly sworn testified as follows: “My name is Joseph Clark; the first I knew the dead man was three years ago last fall. He was making his home then 6 miles south of Tecumseh, Neb. Stopped with a fellow by the name Hickey. His name was Jacob Loy. He stayed there in the neighborhood until a year ago last fall. He started from there to Washington Territory. He came to my place yesterday morning about 8 o’clock, he left there this morning before ten some time, it was not later than that; he came back before one o’clock; he came back by himself. This fellow that was with him called him Dawson, also Charley Smith. I know him to call himself Clinton. His real name if I know it, and I think I do, is Jacob Loy. His father lives near Syracuse, Neb. Has a brother by the name of John and a brother by the name of Frederick. I heard the testimony of Mr. Cluster. I am the man that was pointed out by Mr. Cluster as being present at the death of the deceased and was put under arrest by Mr. Stout. The evidence given by Mr. Cluster was correct as far as I know. JOSEPH CLARK.
   Witnesses sworn and examined: Fred Berg; Cash Cluster, William P. Davis, Joseph Clark.

STATE OF KANSAS}ss
JEWELL COUNTY

   An inquest held at Jewell City, in Buffalo township, Jewell county, Kansas, on the 14th day of March, A.D. 1885, before me, David J. Matter, a justice of the peace of Buffalo township in said county, acting coroner on the body of Jacob Loy there lying dead, by the jurors whose names are hereunto inscribed. The said jurors upon their oath do say, that the said Jacob Loy came to his death on the afternoon of the 14th day of March, 1885, in Brown’s Creek township, Jewell county. Kansas, by means of gun-shot wounds from the hands of one D. C. Cluster while the said Cluster was assisting in the arrest of the deceased on a charge of horse stealing, and that the killing of the said Jacob Loy by the said D. C. Cluster was justifiable in that the said Jacob Loy did resist being arrested by shooting and discharging a revolver at him, the said Cluster, and others of the party attempting to arrest him, the said Jacob Loy, deceased.
   In testimony whereof the said jurors have hereunto set their hands the day and year aforesaid.

[names in left column]
J. E. STIDHAM
WM. O’REILLEY
R. W. HILL

[names in right column]
HENRY SHERMAN
THOS. A. MILLER
B. F. WALLACE

STATE OF KANSAS}ss
JEWELL COUNTY

   David J. Matter, a justice of the peace of Buffalo township in said county hereby certify the above to be the inquisition, the written evidence and a list of the witnesses who testified material matter in the above inquisition witness my hand at Jewell City in said county this 16th day of March, 1885.
DAVID J. MATTER, Justice of the Peace.
   After the inquest R. W. Hill sent a telegram to the Frederick Loy mentioned by Clark as residing at Syracuse, Nebraska, and signed Joseph Clark’s name to it. It read: “Charlie has been killed. What shall, we do with the body?” An answer came back, “Bury him there,” signed Frederick Loy. The dead man, Loy, in stature was about 5 ft. 6 in., light complected, brown hair and a sandy mustache: and when dressed, as shown in a photo found, was what would be called fair looking. Nothing of importance was found on his person save the deadly six-shooter, three chambers of which were empty, and a belt of cartridges. In his pocket was a purse containing a few pieces of silver, two pieces of tobacco, a slate pencil, a key and a few other trifles. A gold ring was taken from his finger marked 18k and much worn. The satchel which was still at the depot was sent for by the authorities. The key taken from Loy fitted the lock. The satchel contained a good suit of clothes, some toilet goods, a bundle of letters and a number of pictures. There were three or four pictures of a young lady, probably a sweetheart, and also several cards bearing a lady’s name. Among the letters were three of the same hand writing, postmarked Jewell City, Kan. These were addressed one to C. J. Loy and two to C. W. Dawson, Mitchell, Rice county, Kansas. All of these were signed James Clinton, Jewell City, Kansas. They referred principally to some sort of business transactions which the writer and the party he addressed as “dear friend” had been into in Nebraska. They also referred to the getting out of some difficulty the two had been in. These letters were written last February, and in one of them the writer invites the other to stop with him in the spring, and hints at the possibility of his accompanying him to Nebraska; and adds that he, Clinton, resided 6 miles south and 1/2 mile west of Jewell City, and, it said, the people here call me Joe Clark. As there were no papers on which to hold Clark, he was allowed to go last Saturday night. But Sunday morning at the urgent request of our citizens, Wm. Davis swore out a complaint against Clark as the horse thief’s accomplice. It is not proper for us to draw conclusions; the simple facts we have stated impartially. A preliminary examination was held on Tuesday and a great crowd attended, all bitterly prejudiced against the defendant. Clark has a brother residing in the north part of the county and he appeared to identify the defendant, and that he was the Joseph Clark, that he claimed to be. County Attorney Mechem prosecuted the case and D. L. Palmer defended. The fight was a warm one, and the defence [sic] worked hard to keep the letters that were taken from the satchel, out of court. They were admitted, however, and in the end Clark was bound over in the sum of one thousand dollars to appear at the next term of court. Joseph Myers and Fred Berg, the latter is a brother-in-law, went on his bond.
   The body of the dead horse thief was cared for and put in a decent coffin by the authorities, and during Sunday hundreds of people looked upon the desperado. Monday a grave was commenced in the Wallace cemetery for him and two men took him out there: but when our citizens observed what was being done, they took steps to stop such proceedings, and the body was brought back. The same fate was met at the Jewell cemetery. So they buried the despised man in the woods, where he will return to “the vile dust from whence he sprung, unwept, unhonored, and unsung.”
   A man was arrested at Mankato and lodged in jail on suspicion of being the escaped companion of the horse thief, but was afterward released. Nothing has been heard up to this writing of the man sought.
   Geo. L. Harrington of Sycamore, Illinois, a brother of the deceased, and Wm. B. Durand of Chicago, Illinois, brother of Mrs. Harrington arrived a day too late for the funeral. Mr. Durand returned, but Mr. Harrington is still in the city.


Although this article states that Jacob was buried “in the woods,” there is a marked grave for him at Couch Cemetery in Jewell, no dates on stone. It would be interesting to know if the authorities provided the marker at the time, or if a family member erected a gravestone years later. I imagine had there been a marker in 1885, the citizens would have discovered the grave and tried opposing that one, too!

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