Case # 1854-KM05

November 30, 1854

HICKORY POINT – Terrible Outrage.  Some of the most outrageous conduct that it has been our painful duty to record, occurred on the day after the late election the 30th of November, at the house of Peter Basinger, of Hickory Point, 15 miles south of this place.

Mr. Basinger was a native of Kentucky – had resided a few years in Iowa, but came to this Territory on the 23rd of August, and took up a claim.  He has a wife and 8 children.

He went to the election and voted for Wakefield, the Free Soil candidate, and also distributed a good many tickets for Wakefield.  There was also a man, by the name of Owen, who lived in Missouri, in company with 150 others, at the place of voting.  Mr. Basinger went home and repaired his wagon for the evening, so that he could go to Independence the next day; which he did, taking his son, a young man, along with him.  After proceeding about two miles, they met a stranger, said to be a Dutchman, who inquired about the country, and said that he had heard of Mr. Basinger’s house, and wanted to know if he could get his dinner there.  Mr. Basinger told him that he could get his dinner.  The Dutchman went on and stopped at Basinger’s.  He had been there but a short time, when the aforesaid Owen came in and inquired of the Dutchman where he was from.  He replied by saying that he was from Illinois.  Owen then asked him several questions about claims, which he answered as well as he knew how.  Owen then told him that he stole his meat – that he stole (slaves), &c.

The Dutchman was sitting, all the while, in a chair, saying nothing offensive in reply, when Owen took his pistol from his pocket, and fired at the Dutchman’s head.  The ball – owing to him throwing his head back – struck the upper part of the forehead, and glancing, took off about two inches of skin.  He then arose and walked out, when Owen followed him around the house and knocked him down senseless.

There were about 40 Missourians who accompanied Owen, returning from the election, a short distance from the house.  Mrs. Basinger asked them to take Owen away; but they laughed at her, sitting on their horses seeming to enjoy the scene with considerable gusto.  At this time, one of the 40, or Owen himself – our informant was not certain which – rushed into the house with a pistol, threatening to shoot Mrs. Basinger.  She remonstrated repeatedly for them to desist and be silent; but instead of its having the desired effect, it only enraged him, and called forth more threats of shooting.

He then followed a child of Basinger’s, with his pistol pointed close to the child’s head, around the house, cursing, and swearing he would shoot it.  The mother followed, trying to rescue it, which she succeeded in doing, after great effort.  Owen told the family to leave the house immediately or he would kill them all instantly.  The family left, and went to a neighbor’s house.  Mrs. Basinger, in going out of the door, observed the brandishing of a knife, and upon raising her arm to ward off the blow, received it on the back of her hand.  There was no one near the house at this time, except the Missourians.

A short time afterward, some four of the neighbors approached near the house, when the crowd started off, waveing their hats, threatening to go on toward Westport, and kill Basinger and son.

At Ball Creek, 12 miles from Basinger’s, they, fearing the arrest of Owen, set guard and camped over night.  Mrs. Basinger and a neighbor went to the house soon after, and looked for some money the family had stowed away in a trunk.  There were three Missourians present, who helped to look for the money.  But she soon found, to the sorrow of a poor family, that the money was taken – $500 in gold.  Four hundred dollars were in $20 pieces, and the other $100 was in pieces of a smaller denomination.  The three Missourians were searched, but no money was found.

Mr. Basinger returned on the following Monday, and on Tuesday he went to the Shawnee Methodist Mission, the head quarters of the territorial officials, to procure a warrant for the arrest of Owen.  He applied to the Associate Judge Elmore – Lecompte not then being in the Territory.

The man who was shot, was found some time after the crowd left, about 100 yards from the house, in a state of insensibility.  It was some time before he could speak intelligibly.  He has been partially deranged ever since, his skull being somewhat fractured.  We understand that he is now lying near Santa Fe, Mo., on the point of death.

Mrs. Basinger is not the same person she was before the affair occurred.  We understand that she, in the midst of the affray took up her husband’s gun, but unfortunately it was not loaded.  Probably if it had, she would have sent the fiend to the place he was aiming at, without so much difficulty on his part.  Owen took the gun from her and broke it to pieces on the ground.  The Kansas Free State, Lawrence, Kansas Territory.  Wednesday, January 24, 1855. (c) Transcribed by Darren McMannis for Prairie Tales Media.