Frank Prouty

Case # 1900-HM02

August 13, 1900

NEWTON, KS – Murder At Newton.  Frank Prouty, a prominent citizen of this town, was shot and fatally wounded at about 9 o’clock tonight by highway men.  With ex-Marshal Cummings, he was returning from the country when two masked men at the point of revolvers commanded them to throw up their hands.  Cummings replied but Prouty refused, and was shot in the breast as he was about to get out of his buggy.  The robbers fled.  A posse of citizens are scouting the country and blood hounds owned at Hutchinson have been wired for.  The Wichita Daily Eagle, Wichita, Kansas. August 14, 1900.  Page 1. (c) Transcribed by Darren McMannis for Prairie Tales Media.

NEWTON, KS – Highwaymen.  Prouty Is Badly Wounded.  Bullet Entered the Left Breast in the Region of the Heart But Fortunately Missed that Organ.

The series of holdups and highwaymen’s pranks which have occurred in the city for the past several weeks, reached a climax last night when F. A. Prouty was shot and seriously, if not fatally, wounded.

Mr. Prouty in company with his son-in-law, J. A. Cummings was returning from Trousdale, where they are building a large granary for a citizen of that place.  They were on the West Broadway route and when about a hundred yards of the R. B. Lynch corner, two masked men confronted them, one on each side of the road, and in a commanding tone, told them to halt and to throw up their hands.  The horse was traveling at a slow pace, and when the robbers issued their commands, stopped without being told to do so.

Mr. Cummings at once complied with their request, and elevated his hands, saying, “what is the trouble?”  The highwaymen replied, “we want your money.”  Mr. Cummings told them that would not trouble him very much and would not enrich them to any considerable extent.

Mr. Prouty, however, did not take so kindly to the request of the robbers, and told them that “he would not put his hands up for any such as they were,” and immediately got out of the buggy and started for the man who had his gun pointed at him.  The robber, evidently seeing that he was in for a fight, discharged his revolver, the bullet entering Mr. Prouty’s breast, just at the left of the nipple and near the heart.  The ball ranged downward, fractured a rib, and was taken out of the side, having passed through his body.

The robber then displayed a wonderful amount of gall, nerve, or whatever it may be called.  He deliberately proceeded to go through the wounded man’s pockets, and relived him of $4.50 in silver.

What seems strange to a majority of those who have had experience with persons who have been shot, is the fact that Mr. Prouty, after receiving such a serious wound, did not fall, or at the time swoon.  He was in a dazed condition, however, and as soon as the robbers fled, got in the buggy and told Mr. Cummings that he believed he was shot, and then fainted.  Mr. Cummings of course whipped up his horse and came home at a breakneck speed.  He carried his father-in-law into his own home on West Broadway and started after a physician, who was soon on the scene and had little difficulty in locating the bullet which was removed.

The injured man is resting as easily as could be expected today.  If blood poisoning does not set in,  Mr. Prouty’s chances for recovery are very promising, as he is a man possessing a strong constitution and great “nerve,” as was shown in his conversation with the highwaymen.  He is the father of Mrs. J. A. Cummings and Mrs. Charles Kendall, who are both at the Cumming’s home attending him.  Of Mr. Cummings, who fortunately did not leave the buggy, the robbers secured $3.50 in silver, a total of $8.00 in all.  The highwaymen both wore black masks and it was of course impossible to give an accurate description of them, as it was just at the hour before the moon arose, the darkest of the night.  Mr. Cummings says one was a short man of medium weight, while the other was a tall slim man, tallying minutely with the description of the men who held up Charley Sweet in the same place several weeks ago.

As soon as Mr. Cummings reached the city and gave an account of the affair to the authorities, groups of men congregated on the corners and debated what was the proper thing to do.  Some wanted to organize a posse at once and go in search of the would-be murderer or murderers, but lacked a leader.  The sheriff and his deputy, Marshal Ainsworth and several others finally started in pursuit.  Arriving at the Watson home, they arrested his son, George, on a suspicion that he might have been implicated in the affair.  In his preliminary hearing before Justice Mears this afternoon, however, he was discharged, and the officers are at a loss to know who could have committed the deed.

It is strange that in this enlightened age, so many holdups and robberies can be committed without detection.  Something should be done but what that something is, the Kansan is not in a position to say.  To attach any blame to the officers of the law, is doing them a great injustice.  To the writer’s knowledge they are doing everything in their power to ferret out the recent burglaries that have occurred in the city, and disguising themselves, have been in waiting in out-of-the-way places, to apprehend any suspicious characters who might be prowling about, but have so far been unsuccessful in their attempts to lay hands on the right parties. 

An effort was made to secure a pair of blood hounds with which to trail the perpetrators of last night’s dastardly deed, but they availed naught.  Did the city, or county own a pair of these man-hunters, and they had been immediately put on the trail, it is almost a surety the guilty ones would now be languishing behind prison bars, and a quietus put on this holdup business.  Even their presence in the city would be a paying investment, as it would have a tendency to put a check on the nefarious practice.  The Newton Daily Kansan, Newton, Kansas.  August 14, 1900.  Page 1. (c) Transcribed by Darren McMannis for Prairie Tales Media.