Skip to main content

I'm descended from a murdering pirate

As mentioned in my last post, "Family Secret," I learned that an ancestor, my 3rd great grandfather, was born in England and murdered his wife, my 3rd great grandmother. Today I learned that he was also a pirate. Maybe that is why I changed my language to "Pirate" on Talk Like a Pirate Day.

The following came in an email from a volunteer, Tamara Jorstad, who does lookups on the Nevada Evening Journal.  Thank you to Tamara and all the volunteers.

1853 -- Nevada Evening Journal Centennial Edition -- 1953

Nevada, Iowa, June 13, 1953

Vol. 59, No. 64, Section Page 16

Published June 13, 1953 *copyright protected *

100-Year-Old Court Docket Reveals First Murder Trial

Some of the very first pages of Story county history are unfolded in an old leather bound volume labeled “The First Justice Docket in Story County” the first entry in which is dated June 23, 1853.

This volume, which will be 100 years old this month, came near being burned in a pile of rubbish when the late John V. Waldron of Nevada found it in 1906. This early day record of proceedings in justice court was first presented to the Story County Historical Collection by Mrs. Waldron, October 1912, and since that time has been treasured, with other early day records, in the Story County Auditor’s office.

Page 1 of the Docket records the case of the “State of Iowa vs Barnabus Lowell, Charged with the Crime of Murder.” The warrant for the arrest of Lowell was issued by Eli Deal, coroner, to “Any Constable in the State of Iowa,” following a coroner’s inquest “held upon the body of Ann Lowell and information upon oath being laid before me by Aldophus Prouty, Nathan Webb and Jeremiah Cory. You are therefore commanded to arrest Barnabas Lowell and bring him before any Justice of the Peace in this county. Dated at McDaniels this 23rd day of June, A.D. 1853.”

Justice moved pretty fast in the early days for the next entry of June 26 shows that the defendant was before Joseph P. Robinson, Justice of the Peace, entered a plea of not guilty, and demanded a jury trial.

The jury of six men after deliberation brought in a verdict of first degree murder, and Story county being without a county jail, Lowell was ordered committed to the sheriff of Polk county for safe keeping “until the first day of the district court next to be holden in Story county.”

It must be remembered that while Story county was organized in April, 1853 by the election of county officers under act of the General Assembly of January, 1853, and while the county seat had been established on June 27, 1853, there had not yet been a term of district court.

Was a Pirate

The preliminary hearing on Barnabas Lowell had been held at the home of a Mr. Heald and it was said that Lowell lay on the bed and threatened those who testified against him. He was reputed to have been a pirate in his earlier years and that he carried a sheath knife on his leg.

The district judge at that time was Wm. McKay of Des Moines who convened a special term of court to attend to the Lowell case and court was held in the home of Judge Evans on the west edge of Milford township near Bloomington.

Because Squire Robinson was foreman of the Grand Jury and had been Justice of Peace in the preliminary hearing Lowell asked for, and was granted, a change of venue to Polk county where he was tried, convicted, and sent to the penitentiary for life, dying three and a half years later.

It is interesting that at the conclusion of the first district court case in Story county, the Court ordered the clerk to use the eagle side of the U. S. dollar as the official seal of the court.


Popular posts from this blog

June 6, 1944, D--Day Invasion at Normandy

June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day, is considered the beginning of the end of World War II in Europe. On this day in history, Allied troops (approximately 156,000) invaded Western Europe, completely overwhelming the German forces.

While my father served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he never talked about his experiences or where he had been. Now I wished I had bothered asking him about them.

Wesley enlisted on August 26, 1942. While searching, I came across U.S. World War II Navy Muster Rolls and found my father, Wesley Earl Loghry, on MUSTER ROLL OF THE CREW was "change of resting" on the U.S.S. LST 383 on March 1, 1944, coming from BuPers C.L. 25 & 208-43. More research is needed to figure out what that means.

I became curious about the USS LST 383 and did some research. This ship was an LST-1 Class Tank Landing Ship which was built at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. in Newport News, Virginia. It launched on September 28, 1942, and was com…

Immigrant Ancestors

With all the talk about immigration, immigrants, building a wall, or having to pass a test to come to the United States, I started thinking about my immigrant ancestors. They came for a variety of reasons, including to escape poverty, religious freedom, to avoid prosecution, and the promise of cheap land and a fresh start.

My earliest immigrant ancestors that I have found is probably one of the following:

Macuth Pratt who was born about 1595 and married in 1619 in  England, immigrated about 1637.John Pearson who was born 18 Jun 1615 in North Yorkshire, England who immigrated in  1637.Jeremie Swayne. No information is known about him other than he married a woman by the name of Mary and their son, Maj. Jeremiah Swayne was born on 1 March 1642/43 in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, placing immigration before 1 March 1642.Thomas Starr who was born in 1565 in New Romney, Kent, England and died before 2 March 1640/41 in Dorchester, Norfolk, Massachusetts (no immigration record found), placin…

My Thornton Line

My maternal grandfather, Roy Clinton Thornton, was born at Berwick, Polk County, Iowa on 6 June 1885.  He was the son of  Martin Luther Thornton and Rebecca "Anna" Jones. He was employed as a miner at the time of the 1900 and 1910 U.S. Federal Census, living in the same household as his parents and siblings. At the age of 27, Roy or LeRoy, as some sources list him, married Anna May Rouse at Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa on 15 May 1912. Roy completed only six years of school. His occupation at the time of his marriage was listed as a coal miner.  Roy and Anna had the following children : Children of Roy Clinton Thornton and Anna Mae RouseWilliam Martin Thorntonb. 1 May 1913, d. 26 Nov 1957Carl Roy Thornton+ b. 30 Jan 1915, d. 23 Sep 1990Doris Lucille Thornton b. c 15 Nov 1916, d. 13 May 1918Russell Claude Thornton+ b. 19 Aug 1918, d. 20 Feb 1958Virgil Franklin Thornton b. 3 Jun 1920, d. 21 Oct 1962Kenneth George Thornton+ b. 12 Dec 1922, d. 19 Apr 1988Alta Neomi Thornton+ b.…