Bowman, J. H. (Unknown - November, 1887)


J.H.Bowman Shot and Instantly Killed by Harry C. King

Bill Barlows Budget - November 2, 1887

Douglas had a man for breakfast this morning for the first time in its history. The victim is J.H. Bowman, the well-known oil well driller, who is engaged in putting down a well west of Douglas for the Oil Mountain Petroleum association of Omaha, and the man at whose hand he met his death is Harry C. King, who has made Douglas his home for several months, having been on the railroad payroll as a yard hand for a time, and who, at the time of the tragedy, was driving the Douglas-Glenrock stage for Montgomery. The shooting occurred about 9 o'clock last evening. Bowman was standing in front of the Valley house talking with an employee when King came up, and drawing his gun said:
"You son-of-a-b----you seduced my wife!"
Bowman replied: "You're a d----d liar!" when King fired and Bowman fell on the sidewalk. Landlord Champlin, who was in the parlor, ran out and found King standing over his victim, revolver in hand, King said:
"He seduced my wife and I shot him."
Mr. Champlin commanded King to give up his gun, which request was readily complied with, and the two started toward the jail, meeting Marshal Overman who took charge of the prisoner and locked him up. King seemed to fear a mob, and to quiet his fears and to insure his safety, two armed men were stationed in the jail as guard.

Bowman, as soon as possible, was carried into the hotel office, where Doctors Barber and Wilson examined him, but could do nothing for him and a few moments later pronounced him dead. The ball had entered the body near the point of the breast bone, ranging downward and coming out just above and behind the right hip, cutting off the main artery of the heart and injuring the backbone. He gave no sign of life after he was picked up, and to use a common phrase, evidently "never knew what hurt him."

A reporter visited King in his cell this morning, and asked him to make a statement; but he declined to do so. From others, however, who have known both men for some time, it is learned that the trouble between them dates back a year or more. Bowman was drilling a well at Chadron, and King was in his employ. Bowman sent King to Kansas, where he was also putting down a well, and while he was away seduced King's wife. On this point there is little doubt, as the matter was the "town talk" for months in Chadron. Mrs. King never lived with her husband again, but on leaving Chadron went to Lusk and afterward to Cheyenne. King finally came to Douglas, and after Bowman came up and began work on the oil well, they met on the street, in the presence of a well-known citizen. No words passed between them, but after King had passed Bowman pointed him out to his companion and said that King had threatened to kill him the first time they met; that he had written him a letter to that effect and that he had told others he intended doing so; but that he was not afraid, and didn't believe he would. A day later he told a BUDGET representative, in reply to a question, all about the trouble; but claimed to be innocent of the crime charged, and did not think King would carry out his threat. This was seven or eight weeks ago, since which date the men had met several times. Bowman came in from the well yesterday, intending to leave this morning for Pennsylvania and bring back his wife and children and make his home here for the winter. King had evidently made up his mind to "have it out" with him, for he was seen to walk back and forth in front of the hotel several times, just before the shooting, and to stoop and look into the window as if in search of someone. The hotel clerk, also, noticed him looking into the office from the outside, with his face close to the glass, several times. When Major Champlin came out and found him standing over Bowman he says King was as quiet and cool as though nothing had happened much more so, in fact, than the major himself. The revolver, too, which was a Colts 45-caliber, is new, and from the appearance of the enamel has never been carried in the pocket.

On the other hand, however, King's friends claim that Bowman threw his hand to his hip pocket as King accosted him, and that King fired in self-defense. Bowman had no weapon upon his person.

Bowman had few if any friends among those who knew him. His conduct both at Chadron and since he came here, so far as honesty and truthfulness is concerned, has been bad, and he has made enemies instead of friends. King, on the contrary, is a pleasant, gentlemanly young man, who has made many friends during his stay here, and much sympathy for him is expressed. His parents, who are said to be wealthy, live at Morrison, Illinois. They have been telegraphed.

An inquest is in progress this evening, before Judge Usher. King's preliminary hearing will probably take place tomorrow.


It is shipped ast for Interment--King Held Without Bail

Bill Barlows Budget - November 9, 1887

Douglas' first killing-the shooting by Harry C. King of J.H. Bowman for the seduction of his wife-has passed into history. The machinery of the law has been set in motion with all due form, and the final disposal of the case rests with the courts. Drs. Barber and Wilson made a postmortem examination on Wednesday, and found the immediate cause of death to be, as stated in our last issue, a bullet which cut off the main artery near the heart, and the coroner's jury--comprising Messrs, Mewis, McMorris, Decker, Corrao, Garey and Zindel--found that said bullet was fired from a revolver in the hands of one Harry C. King. The evidence adduced before the injury was substantially the same as the presented in THE BUDGET of last week. Mr. Wiser, the only eye-witness of the shooting, testified that he was talking to Bowman when King came up and said:
"Mr. Bowman, you seduced my wife." and "don't you deny it. Throw up your hands!"
Bowman raised up both hands, but lowered his right one, when King fired, and Bowman fell to the sidewalk. King's appeal to Major Champlin for protection from a mob, and his declaration that he had shot Bowman for the seduction of his wife, as related by that gentleman, are matters of record. It was shown, also, that Bowman had no weapon on his person.

King was given a preliminary hearing before Justice Usher on Thursday, and bound over to the district court, Mr. Nichols appearing for the defendent and Mr. Butler for the territory. King is now in jail at Laramie City, where he must remain until the April term of court. His parents, who reside at Morrison, Illinois, and who are said to be wealthy, have wired that they will assist him.

An examination made of Bowman's effects, on Thursday, revealed the fact that the wife of the man who shot him is not the only victim of his lust. Letters from several women were found in his trunk showing him up as unscrupulous and very successful libertine. Among them are epistles from a young lady who is evidently of high standing in society, and of more than average education. Her conscience continually reproaches her for "that one act," and she announces that she has broken off her engagement with an Omaha gentleman because of it. She mentions in one of her letters that she, as a teacher in a local Sunday school, has been selected to manage a church festival to take place soon, and adds:

Little do they know how unworthy I am to fill the positions to which they have assigned me!

Her letters, however, are devoid of both signature and address. When Bowman came in from the oil fields Tuesday he came with the intention of going to Pennsylvania after his wife and children, and one of the letters written by this young lady, dated October 10th, indicates that he had urged her to meet him at Omaha, which assignation she characterized as "wholly impracticable," because of the fact that i would be impossible to satisfactorily explain her absence from home to her friends.

Although King maintains that he has never threatened Bowman's life during the year that has elapsed since he made the discovery that Bowman had seduced his wife, evidence is not wanting to prove that he has told no less than a dozen people during that time that he was going to kill him, and that he had also written Bowman to that effect.

Acting under instructions from Mrs. Bowman Judge Usher placed the remains in a metallic casket, and forwarded them on Monday's train to the home of the deceased, in Pennsylvania, for interment.

Sheriff Campbell left for Laramie on the same train, in charge of King. He seemed in good spirits, and warmly responded to the good-byes of numerous friends who had gathered at the depot to see him off.

In this connection, the following will be of interest:

TO THE PEOPLE OF DOUGLAS: I hereby desire to extend my heartfelt thanks for the kindness that has been shown me by the officers and people of Douglas in the days just gone. You will find, I believe, that you have not misplaced your confidence. Meanwhile I want to ask you to think as well of me as you can, and reserve judgement.

Judge Usher discovered today, the bullet which killed Bowman. It passed entirely through his body, and through the lining of his coat, lodging between the lining and the coat itself.


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