could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

 Research Papers

Today is:

             The Tragic Story of a Kearney Boy Gone Bad

About the family

Art’s father born in Virginia, went west to Illinois where he met a girl & married in about 1874.

Two daughters born in Illinois

About 1878 they moved to a farm in Custer County, Nebraska
        Where Art was born in 1882

By 1900 five more children were born, but of these 8, four died
        Parents and three children were living in Kearney
        The location of the eldest daughter was unknown
        Art was 18 and working on a farm, living at home

His Life of Crime

Two years later Art, now 20, was sent to penitentiary for burglary

        After a month he escaped and was captured near the Colorado border

November 22, 1903 – Art was released after serving 1 ½ years in the pen & returned to Kearney

        Probably early in March – Art left Kearney

March 15 – Art, aka Harry Rogers, and a man named Jake Kelly were arrested for intoxication and quarreling and put in the Dodge County jail at Fremont.

        (Kelly, 42, plumber from East Lake, Michigan, well known crook in Nebraska
            Suspected of helping with a murder in Holdrege in 1891)

Next day (March 16) – They were released if they would leave town
        They did not leave; arrested again and given 10 days

        Other prisoners heard them arguing
            Kelly said he would kill Rogers (Art) first chance he got, that Rogers (Art)knew too much about him
               and was likely to “peach”

After 10 days (March 26) they were released again; this time they headed west

Next day (March 27) they were both seen in Humphrey
        That night they burglarized a store in Creston

March 28, 1904 – Art was murdered 12 (or 4 ½) miles from Humphrey, between Columbus and Norfolk.
        Bullet in the head
        Found in a vacant house. Theory he was killed outside the house and dragged in.

Over the next 3 weeks

Identification & Arrest

        At first the identity of body unknown
        Cards in his pocket had the name Harry Rogers, written by a man in Fremont jail when Art was there

Sheriff in Fremont recognized clothes as those belonging to man he knew as Harry Rogers

Body taken to Lincoln to be turn over to medical college if unclaimed

A heavily veiled woman and a man came to the undertaking rooms

        The woman identified body as her son and arranged for burial under the name William Bell.
        She refused to give her name. She may have been a relative.

Sheriff in Columbus was investigating
            He went to the penitentiary and found Art’s record
            Also found a young lady from Hastings knew Art was using the name Harry Rogers

Buffalo County deputy sheriff went to Lincoln and identified Art from a photo

$400 reward for Kelly’s arrest and conviction of murder; Kelly arrested sometime in the next 10 days

Hub report on April 28 –
        Now believed the woman who claimed to be Art’s mother and arranged for his burial was probably his sister
        She was possibly living in St. Louis or Kansas City

        Her parents (Art’s parents) didn’t know where she lived but were looking for her
            They wanted her evidence in Kelly’s trial.

About a week later – A picture of the dead man was brought to Kearney from Lincoln by the Buffalo County deputy sheriff. Art’s parents positively identified him as their son.

Deputy wrote to the Lincoln undertaker asking were the body was buried

Undertaker dodged the question saying it was not Art and that relatives had identified him and paid for burial.
        [never did find where Art was buried]

More evidence against Kelly

A shop in David City was robbed a few days before the murder
        The shop owner identified the shirt and tie Kelly was wearing came from his store.

Search of home of a peddler turned up over $100 worth of clothing; a warrant was issued for his arrest

Peddler identified Kelly as one of men he had bought the stuff from two days before the murder

There was also had evidence Art and Kelly were in Humphrey the day before the murder and Kelly was there the day after, before the body was found

Trial against Kelly took place in Columbus. June 16 & 18

Art’s mother testified and broke down when questioned about the waywardness of her son.

Two men in Fremont jail with Art and Kelly swore they heard Kelly tell Art he knew too much about him, Kelly, and he would have to “put him away”

Peddler swore he bought goods from the two men a few days after they got out of jail

Another man testified when he went to see the corpse, that Kelly entered with a policeman and said “If you send a photograph of this man to Kearney you will find his relatives.”

Kelly testified on his own behalf.
        Admitted they were in jail together in Fremont and both released the same time
        Did not see Art again until he saw the body at Humphrey the day of the murder

After 15 hours of deliberation, jury declared Kelly guilty of murder in 2nd degree & was sentenced to be life in prison

Also: One of the two men from the Fremont jail eluded the Platte County sheriff, jumped from a second-story window of the courthouse and escaped the day after testifying

What happened to Art’s family?

Parents & younger sister moved across the river to a farm in Phelps County
        Sister married; younger brother moved back home to do the farming

February 1932 – Mother died of apoplexy, buried in Kearney Cemetery with the 4 children

Father moved back to Kearney where he died in November 1942 at age 96

A few days later – The youngest son, apparently home from Utah for the funeral, plead guilty to forging a $15 check

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Revised: 02/04/2018