Case # 1854-KM04

November 29, 1854

LAWRENCE – We learn that a preliminary examination of Lucius Kibben, charged with the murder of Henry Davis, near Lawrence, on the day of the election, came up before Judge Elmore, Associate Justice of Kansas Territory at the Shawnee Mission on Wednesday, Dec. 6th, 1854.  The interest felt in the second trial ever held in Kansas, attracted a large crowd.  May witnesses were examined, but we forbear giving their testimony lest it might prejudice the case on its final hearing.  The Judge remanded the prisoner for safe keeping till the first session of the U.S. District Court.  The prisoner has been placed in the Guard House at Fort Leavenworth for safe keeping.

Since the above was in type we learn that Halderman and Conway, Esqs., have made application to Chief Justice Lecompte, for a writ of Habeas Corpas, alleging that the detention of Kibbee is unlawful.  The Kansas Weekly Herald, Leavenworth, Kansas Territory.  Friday, December 8, 1854. (C) Transcribed by Darren McMannis for Prairie Tales Media.

LAWRENCE – First Murder Trial In Kansas.  The defendant was imprisoned on a charge of murdering Henry Davis on the 29th of November – the day of the Territorial Election.  Within a few days after the killing of Davis, the prisoner delivered himself up, and, after a hearing, was committed for trial for murder in the first degree.  The Court was opened at ten o’clock, A.M., in one of the halls of the Shawnee Mission of the M.E. Church South.  A good deal of interest was felt in the case, and a considerable number of persons were in attendance.  [The trial testimony below is shortened in summary from the original article].

Sebastian – Was with Davis one hour.  I went half a mile to get him water.  He was dead when I returned.  The shot entered the pit of the stomach on the right side.  I think the pistol was loaded with shot.  There were eight holes in Davis’ side.  I was about 150 yards from the wagon when the shot was fired.  It appeared as if Davis turned round when shot.  Previously he was walking in the same direction as the wagon.  Collins and Davis were together; the former riding, the latter walking.  Davis kept ahead of Collins, holding to the wagon.

Dr. A. Still – I had a conversation with Mr. Kibbee, I think the day after Davis was killed.  I told Kibbee I heard a man from Missouri was killed; that Johnson, a Yankee, killed him.  Kibbee said that was a mistake as sure as he lived.  He said that Kibbee killed him.  I asked if he was the man, and he replied that he was.  I inquired how he came to do it.  He said he and four others were in a wagon, when he saw others ahead a little, and observed one of them on some thatching.  He soon observed smoke and flame, and found that some man was engaged in tearing down a shantee, or cabin.  He asked the man why he tore down and burned the house.  The man said he did not do it.  Kibbee contradicted him, and said he saw him do it.  The man asked Kibbee if he made it his business.  Kibbee said he did – he hated to see a man’s house burnt.  He asked the man his name.  He said his name was J.W. Rollins, and asked how he would help himself.  Kibbee said by reporting him to the proper officers.  The man calling himself Rollins drew a pistol.  Davis said I will report you to hell; and came up to the wagon and attempted to strike or get in.  Kibbee said he pushed, or struck him.  Davis opened a dirk knife, and took hold of it as though he would pitch it at him.  Kibbee dodged.  Davis did not throw.  When Kibbee raised, he made a thrust, grazing his throat.  Davis took hold – then drew back as though he was about to make another thrust.  Said he would take or spill his heart’s blood.  He drew again as if to stab.  Kibbee told him if he did, he would shoot him sure.  He attempted another thrust, when Kibbee shot.  Davis fell back – held to wagon a little – then fell back.  He did not shoot him as soon as he would, if he had been sure that it would take effect.  He thought his life was in danger.

Mr. Chandler – Was present when Davis was shot…. Kibbee told him to let go or he would shoot.  Davis said shoot and be d****d.  I think Davis could have reached him – the blade of the knife was five or six inches long.  Davis said, “Come out, you Yankee son of a b***h, and I will cut you to pieces.”  Kibbee said that he wanted to go home peaceably.

The case was submitted without argument, and the prisoner held to bail in the sum of one thousand dollars – which he gave, and was discharged.  The Kansas Free State, Lawrence, Kansas Territory.  Wednesday, January 3, 1855. (C) Transcribed by Darren McMannis for Prairie Tales Media.